Meet the Preschool Staff

Preschool Administration

Bini Silver – Director, Early Childhood, Youth & Family Programs
I am very excited to be a part of the DCJCC as the Director of Early Childhood, Youth and Family Programs.  Prior to coming to the DCJCC I was the Head of School of The New Jewish School-Hebrew Day Institute, a private school in Rockville, MD.  Before moving to the D.C. area I served as Head of School of the Lerner Day School in Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina, for several years, which had three-year olds through Fifth Grade students.  I was also the Headmaster & Director of Education at Kol Ami Emanu-El in Plantation, Florida, where I oversaw the 900 children involved in the Temple’s Day School, Religious School and Early Childhood programs for nine years.  I began my Day School career as the Principal of The Davis Academy, Atlanta’s Reform Jewish Day School.   I also worked in Temple education as the Director of Education at Temple Beth Shalom in Needham, MA for 12 years. Prior to becoming involved in formal Jewish education, I served for many years as the Director of Camp Young Judaea-Midwest and as the Executive Director of the Westchester and Midwest Regions of Hadassah’s Zionist Youth Movement – Young Judaea.

I earned my B.A. and M.A. degrees from Columbia University in Judaic Studies and Middle-East Studies.  I also studied at M.I.T. in a PhD. Program and at the Jerusalem Institute in Israel.  I earned my Principal’s Certificate in Advanced Jewish School Administration from Hebrew College in Boston.

I grew up in the Boston area and have two sons - Joshua and Eric.  I enjoy outdoor activities, including hiking and tennis, as well as movies, reading, and Jewish storytelling. 

Alex Band – Preschool Director
I am very excited to begin my seventh year at the DCJCC! After graduating from the University of Maryland, I moved into DC to work as a teacher at the DCJCC Preschool.  I taught in the four-year olds’ class for several years before becoming the Judaics Specialist and eventually the Pedagogista (curriculum specialist). In 2011, I took on the role of Assistant Director of the Preschool where I was able to use my experience and background to enhance the learning and teaching in our classrooms. In my role as the Director of the Preschool, I focus on overseeing the curriculum in the school and work closely with the teachers to dialogue, collaborate, and create meaningful learning experiences for our students.

I have participated in national seminars and conferences focusing on both early childhood education and, specifically, the philosophy of Reggio Emilia. Recently, I participated in a Jewish Early Childhood Seminar in Reggio Emilia, Italy where I had the opportunity to visit some of the schools in Reggio Emilia and learn with other fantastic early childhood educators.

Although I currently live in DC, the Philadelphia area will always be my home. When I’m not at the DCJCC, you can find me cheering on the Philadelphia Eagles with my husband, Zvi, and our dog, Astro!

Kirstin Springer – Preschool Administrator
After spending the first part of my life in Fort Wayne, Indiana, I discovered a love for the city of Washington, DC while serving as the education intern at the Genocide Intervention Network. I knew that I wanted to move back here eventually.  Prior to moving to DC, I was the Assistant Director of the Simpson Academy and Child Care, a non-profit urban preschool in Fort Wayne.  I developed an understanding of and respect for the Reggio Emilia philosophy at SACC.  This philosophy reflects the love I have for children and the investment I want to make in their early education.  I have a bachelor’s degree from Indiana-Purdue University Fort Wayne in Political Science.

Preschool Teachers

Alex Tieberg-Bailie
I am so excited to begin the school year at DCJCC! I hail from Illinois, and my childcare experience began by caring for my stepsister with special needs. After studying psychology at George Washington University, I fell into the childcare profession and have not looked back since. I work well with very young children, and I dream of eventually furthering my career in infant care. Every day is a wonderful adventure in early childhood education, but when I am not at work you might find me engaging with dance culture on U Street, enjoying the city's art galleries, or sitting down in the park with a book of poetry

Alisa Berkovich
Before I was old enough to have a job, I remember spending my summers assisting my mom in her preschool classroom.  Since then I have worked as a camp counselor, nanny, substitute, and teacher for preschool-aged children.  Through these opportunities, I discovered my passion for early childhood education.  I graduated from the University of Texas, where I worked as a teacher's assistant at the Child Development Center and earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Art History.  Before relocating to DC, I taught at the Beth Yeshurun Day School in Houston.  I am so happy to be returning for my fourth school year here at the JCC.  The wonderful families, close community, inspiring Reggio Emilia philosophy, and talented staff has made this an amazing experience for me, and I look forward to another great year!

Amanda Litan
I am looking forward to my first year in the Bogrim Room. Originally from Stony Brook, Long Island, I earned a Bachelor's in Elementary Education from Florida Atlantic University and a Master of Science degree in Literacy and Language from Kaplan University. Prior to joining the DCJCC, I taught PreK at Jewish Community Project in New York City. I also taught Kindergarten and First Grade in South Florida. 

Aryeh Schwartz
I was born and raised in the great state of Minnesota and made the move to DC in the summer of 2013. I grew up with two younger sisters and have always enjoyed working with children! Prior to moving to DC, I spent four years as a preschool teacher in Minnesota. When I am not at the DCJCC, you can find me around the DC area with my camera! I am an aspiring photographer. I love nature, long walks on the beach, and making people smile!

Cidney Goldberg
I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas, where I spent every summer from when I was 15 working with children at summer camps.  I attended the University of Arizona where I graduated with a BA in Elementary Education.  I student taught in a 1st grade classroom and also assisted in a Kindergarten and combined 4th/5th grade classroom.  Since graduating I worked in a Reggio Emilia-inspired preschool in Dallas for a year where I was introduced to the teaching style.  I then moved to San Diego, CA where i worked in a play-based preschool for 2 ½ years in classrooms with 5 year olds and 2 year olds.  I have always known I wanted to work with children and believe teaching is one of the most important jobs.  We are shaping the lives of our future leaders and I look forward to doing this for the years to come here at the DCJCC.

Ellen Gurss
I grew up in Bethesda, MD and graduated from Syracuse University (Go Orange!) with a BA in Psychology and Advertising. During college, I worked at the DCJCC as a counselor with the summer camp. I loved the community here so much that after I graduated I came back to become a part-time teacher with the preschool. This year marks my second year as a full-time teacher, and I am excited to learn and grow with the class! I am looking forward to getting to know my class and their parents this year as we go through this wonderful journey together.   

Heather Markowitz
I am a graduate of Northeastern University, majoring in psychology and elementary education. I also completed coursework in Applied Behavior Analysis and is now a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst. After graduation I traveled for about 9 months, spending a large majority of the time living in northern Israel. I moved to DC in the spring of 2013 and have fallen in love with the city. I love living on the H Street, exploring different neighborhoods, practicing yoga and meditation, cooking and eating vegan treats, and bike-sharing around the city. After growing up in a JCC near my hometown of Fairfield, Connecticut, I am excited to join this vibrant community in DC. 

Heather Nibur
I grew up in Hastings-on-Hudson New York, a small town about twenty minutes north of Manhattan. I completed both an undergraduate and a graduate degree at Clark University in Worcester Massachusetts. My undergraduate degree is in Women and Gender Studies, and my Masters degree is in Public Administration. Currently I am pursuing a second Masters in Early Childhood Education at the University of DC. Throughout my life I have had many opportunities to work with children from being a camp counselor to ski instructing and substitute teaching. These opportunities gave me a passion for working with children that influences my teaching every day. I look forward to meeting you and am very excited to be starting my third year teaching at the DCJCC.

Isabel Barr
I received my Bachelors from Transylvania University with a degree in Studio Art and minor in Educational Studies. Right after graduating, I spent a year in Israel volunteering my time as an English teacher as well as working with special needs children. In my spare time, I can be found pinning delicious recipes on Pinterest, making these recipes, crafting, or snuggling with my dog Daisy. This is my first year working at the DCJCC. I am incredibly excited to join the team at the DCJCC Preschool and begin working with the Yanshoofim class! 

Jenny Orel
Originally from Cherry Hill, NJ, I graduated in 2012 from The George Washington University with a BA in Psychology. During college, I sought out local opportunities to work with children in a variety of settings ranging from hospitals to after-school programs. In addition, I worked as a Judaic Studies teacher at Agudas Achim Congregation in Alexandria, VA. In the last two years, I worked as a clinical research assistant in the schizophrenia lab of the National Institute of Mental Health. All of these experiences have reinforced my interest in working with children and desire to continue learning about early childhood development. Therefore, I am really excited to begin my first year teaching at the DCJCC.

Jessica Katz
Teaching is a joy and an academic pursuit for me. I am fascinated by the learning process and seek to meet each student at their unique place are in order to best support their growth. I have a Masters in Teaching. I have taught toddlers through adults at charter schools, private schools, an online classroom, and two Hebrew schools. I am also a student of Judaism. I study Torah at my congregation and moved to Jerusalem in 2012 to study Talmud. I value the richly diverse community of the DCJCC where I like to participate in classes, performances, and events. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn with this community, first and foremost with our Etzim!

Kavon Williams
I was born and raised in Washington, DC. After graduating from Dunbar Senior High School, I attended Cheyney University.  I am currently pursuing my masters in Elementary Education. At the beginning of my career, I began by volunteering to watch children, and I loved every minute of it!  I wanted to enhance my knowledge so I furthered my education by receiving my CDA.. While participating in the child development program, I had the opportunity to work at Adas Israel Preschool.  In the fall of 2012, I was offered a substitute teacher position the DCJCC. While working at the preschool as a substitute teacher, I was able to teach at Friendship Public Charter School after care as a lead teacher.  I have a passion for working with young children. I am very excited for this school year at the DCJCC. In my free time, you can find me with my family around town or at home cooking.

Marian Smith
I am excited to be joining the DCJCC Preschool staff.  I was born in New York, on Long Island, and grew up in Potomac.  I have a B.S. degree in education from the University of Maryland and have been teaching children, ages 2-6, for over 18 years.  I have a daughter Lindsay, 25, who lives and works in New York City, and a son Jason, 19, who is currently attending Indiana University (go Hoosiers).  Both my children and I graduated from the same high school – Wootton High in Rockville.  I love working with young children and I always knew that I wanted to be a teacher.  When not teaching I enjoy helping people with their real estate needs (both buying and selling), and getting together with friends.

Melanie Schwartz
I'm very excited for my first year teaching here at the DCJCC! This past summer I worked with Bogrim (Bogos), and the past three years I taught in preschools in NYC. I have also worked with children at the Manhattan JCC in an art program, and at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires. I earned my MA in Jewish Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary and my BA in Psychology from UCF. I am originally from Philadelphia, and you can find me wearing my Phillies hat exploring my new city of DC, trying out new recipes, eating ice cream, working on an art project, dreaming of the beach, and, best of all, learning and engaging with the children!

Mike Negrin
I was born in Norfolk, Virginia on February 13, 1990.  Although I am most well-known for my knowledge of world national anthems, I prefer to be recognized as an early childhood educator at the Washington DCJCC.  I stepped into this position after graduating from George Mason University with a major in English and a minor in Spanish.  In 2011, I realized my desire to enrich children’s lives after working as an English tutor for elementary students in South America that year. 

Pam Wilcox
I was raised in Skokie, Illinois, twenty minutes north of the city of Chicago. Four years ago I ventured out from the Midwest with a BFA in Fine Arts from Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington-Normal, 2009 and came to Baltimore. I have traveled the U.S. as a freelance theatre artisan, costume designer, and wardrobe person until finding a permanent home in Takoma Park, Maryland. Early on in my childhood I became involved in working with the special needs community in Skokie and those experiences have shaped my path today. It was working as a Sunday school teacher and youth adviser at Temple Shalom of Chevy Chase, Maryland, that my passion for early childhood education and youth support were fully realized.  I have recently changed career paths and am so excited and grateful to be a part of the DCJCC Preschool- I am even an alumna myself, from the Meyer Kaplan JCC of Chicago! Currently I am pursuing a Child Development Certificate and continue to work with young children and teens in multiple capacities. I look forward to encouraging creative explorations and being a part of this supportive, resourceful group of teachers! 

Stephanie Goldberg
The 2014-2015 school year marks my third year as a teacher at the DCJCC! As a South Florida native, I naturally love the beach and summer, but I found that I wanted to experience seasons and decided to move up North for college.  I love the Steelers and the Miami Hurricanes, especially because my brother plays for them. Football fans- he is #79!  My obsession with football originally led me down the “I want to work for ESPN” path, and then I discovered how wonderful children are. My job never feels like work and is enjoyable because I love what I do. I am grateful to have the opportunity to teach, learn from and play with so many great kids. I went to American University and majored in Broadcast Journalism.  I received my CDA and I am thrilled to be starting my masters in Curriculum and Instruction (Transformative Teaching Concentration).  

Tana Mcarthur
This will be my 8th year teaching at the DCJCC. I love being a teacher every day, and every year is a new adventure! Throughout my years here I have had the amazing opportunity to work with many different age groups. I really enjoy watching children grow and flourish. Working with children has taught me several things about life and myself:

  • It is important for everyone to laugh more.
  • Teachers can come in all ages, young and old!
  • There’s no such thing as asking too many questions
  • You never stop learning.
  • The power of a smile is tremendous

Aside from being a teacher I am also a mother to an amazing two year old boy! Being a mother has deepened my passion for teaching. I look forward to learning and growing with you all this year!

Tawanda Davis
I was born and raised in Washington DC. I graduated in 2007 from Friendship Collegiate Academy and am currently working towards a degree in Accounting and Education. For seven years, I worked as a community activist and program coordinator for a non-profit in DC. My love and passion for working with children began when I observed that there are not many leaders fighting for the needs of young child in my community. I felt empowered to step up and make sure that each child I come in contact with has the opportunity to be themselves without judgment. I want each child to know that there is someone who cares about their well-being.

Teaven Woody
I was born and raised in Washington, DC. I have an associates degree in child development. I am currently studying psychology at Bowie State University. I am very excited to join the Bogrim classroom this school year! I strive to provide leadership through compassion, positive reinforcement and effectively using objective observations to grow with the Bogrim class the year. Before joining the Bogrim I worked as an assistant teacher in the Prachim classroom, a substitute teacher (primarily with the Bogrim class) and afternoon teacher.  I graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in Silver Spring Maryland where I played football and basketball. When I eventually retire, you'll be able to find me in Pittsburgh, watching my beloved Steelers win more Super Bowls!

Vanessa Glick
After growing up in Stafford,VA,  I moved north to pursue my education in teaching. While earning my degree in early childhood from Northern Virginia Community College I worked as an instructional assistant in Virginia. After graduating I worked in DC, then as a lead teacher and art teacher for Rosemount Center, a bilingual early learning inclusion center.  There I discovered my love for teaching children by learning with them, and my passion for children with special needs.  So I dedicated myself to a year and a half of working with children with intellectual disabilities at St. Coletta of Grater Washington. As someone who holds her community very close to  her heart I was naturally  drawn to the early childhood program at the DCJCC. I take pride in my career of working with diverse groups of Students. I believe children are the adults of tomorrow and that they are the future! When I am not working I enjoy expressing my creativity with art, being outdoors, and discovering new hobbies. This will be my second year at the DCJCC and I am excited! I am looking forward to another year of working with an amazing supportive staff, and loving students and their families!

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Kirstin Springer
Preschool Director
(202) 777-3256

Shula Cooper
Preschool Assistant Director

(202) 777-3271

Alex Band


Alison Rubin

(202) 777-3267

f. (202) 518-9420