Leadership and Administration

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Sara Berk

Director of K-12 Learning and Inclusion 

Pronouns: She/Her

sberk@tbsneedham.org

 

All children can succeed when they are provided with the right tools and support, which is why I love working at Temple Beth Shalom! TBS is a place where curriculum and support are provided in a way that allows each child to be successful. 

 

As the Director of K-12 Learning and Inclusion, I collaborate with Jewish Learning Guides (JLGs) and families to ensure that all children can successfully access the curriculum. I provide training for the K-12 faculty in order to support each child and teen in the Mayim and Etzim learning programs.

 

Prior to joining the team at TBS in 2013, I worked as a special educator in MA and NYC. I am a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and have a Masters Degree in Special Education. In January 2021, I founded Sara's Joyful Baking, which allows me to combine my love of teaching with baking.

Julia Zinn

Assistant Director of K-12 Engagement 

Pronouns: She/Her

jzinn@tbsneedham.org

As an educator, I do my best to get to know each child and allow them to learn and grow in their own way. I believe in meeting children where they are and giving them the tools and support that they need to thrive. I am constantly impressed by the creativity and curiosity children share when presented with the proper environment and something to sparks their interest. I am incredibly passionate about Judaism, and it brings me immense joy to share that with my students and see them excited about being Jewish.

I first started working at TBS in November 2016, and am so thrilled to be able to continue my journey here. I grew up with a family of Jewish professionals in Worcester, MA and have a degree in Psychology and minors in Judaic Studies and Theater from the University of Delaware. I have spent the past 8 years working in Synagogues and Jewish Camps, focusing on Jewish Life, Education and General Programming. I currently live in Chestnut Hill with my dog, Madeline, and enjoy crafting, cooking, and spending time with my family and friends.

Liron Riess

Director of Mayim Tamid

Pronouns: She/Her

lriess@tbsneedham.org

 

As an educator at TBS I am committed to creating an environment that welcomes each individual child with warmth, joy and a feeling of safety and acceptance. I provide structure, I encourage an interest in learning and I always look for ways to support each child in feeling successful, in a surrounding that meets all needs. I work tirelessly to connect with parents and sometimes with school so all are on the same plan for success. Family engagement and communication is essential in creating a home away from home in Mayim Tamid Shanah Alef.


During the year we will foster a sense of a family like, tight community, respect for each other and respect for all that’s around us, and we will focus on ways we can contribute to our world. Raised in Israel, I am passionate about sharing experiences and memories from my upbringing, and I find myself using content I remember enjoying as a child. I grew up on Kibbutz Ginnosar, right on Lake Kinneret. The Jewish education I received was centered on love for the land of Israel, the history of the people, and had a strong focus on celebrating the holidays and the traditions that kept Judaism alive all around the world for all these years.


I had gained incredible experience working with children at the Kibbutz, as well as teaching young women during my service at the Israeli Army, so when I arrived to the US over 20 years ago, I began working with children in a Children’s Center in Cambridge and then in Foxboro. My college courses focused on Child Psychology and Child development and added to my passion in continuing working with children at TBS. Here I found a warm community, that is open and inclusive. I feel fortunate to have been a part of developing and delivering the Mayim Education for KG/1st Grade, Kindergarten Enrichment on Fridays , Hebrew learning and Mayim Tamid.

Jodi Fletcher

K-12 Logistics and Communications Manager

Pronouns: She/Her

jfletcher@tbsneedham.org

I am very excited to be a part of the TBS Learning Program team! For several years, I have been on the other side of things - I am a TBS member and a parent of 2 current Mayim students. I am so grateful to be connected to such an amazing, inclusive learning community, and I continue to be impressed by the experiences that the TBS Learning Programs have provided our family. I grew up in Newton, and I am fortunate to have my extended family in the area... we've been able to gather for so many important milestones in my children's lives - including Consecration and name celebrations at TBS! I currently live in Needham with my husband (Jason) and our children (Lilly and Aaron). We all feel so lucky to be a part of the Needham and TBS communities!

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Rachel Happel

Senior Director of Learning and Engagement

Pronouns: She/Her

rhappel@tbsneedham.org

 

Rachel joined the Temple Beth Shalom team as the Director of Elementary Learning in September 2013, after having served as one of the key educational consultants in the development of the Mayim program for the three preceding years. In July of 2014, Rachel assumed the role of Director of K-12 Learning and oversees all aspects of our children's journey from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Rachel has over twenty years of experience in a variety of settings, working with children of all ages and their families to create rich, engaging, and dynamic learning experiences. Prior to joining TBS, Rachel worked for six years at Brandeis University as the Director of BIMA and Genesis, two immersive summer programs for Jewish high school students. From 2002-2007, Rachel worked at Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley, where she founded and directed their Havayah Program: a mixed-age, elective-based program for grades 8-12. Rachel received an MA in Jewish Communal Service and an MBA from Brandeis University, as well as a BA from Williams College. She lives in Natick with her husband and two daughters.

TBS Learning Team

 

The Mayim leadership team also works in close partnership with our Director of Early Childhood Learning, Ellen Dietrick. This partnership ensures that TBS provides smooth transitions into and out of the K-5 experience. 

 

 

Involvement of TBS Clergy

Our clergy team is excited about the Mayim program and is involved in myriad ways in the children’s learning. Learn more about our clergy team here.