Meet the Preschool Staff

Preschool Administration

Kirstin Springer – Preschool Director
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  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.

Maggie Heidema- Preschool Assistant Director

Alex Band – Pedagogista
I am very excited to begin this new position at the EDCJCC! 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, Preschool Director 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 Pedagogista, 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, our daughter Dalia and our dog, Astro!

Miriam Szubin- Director of Preschool Admissions, Director of Parenting Center

Preschool Teachers

Allanah Rocha
I grew up in a small town named New Kent County, twenty minutes outside of Richmond, Virginia. I attended Radford University in the fall of 2011. I graduated in December of 2015 with a bachelors in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Education and English. During my time at Radford, I gained experience in the education field including an internship at an after school program and three summers as a counselor at the Weinstein JCC's Camp Hilbert. I am excited to make this move into a classroom and be apart of the DCJCC Preschool team! 

Betty Otten

Chris Maddox

I am a fun-loving person who enjoys working with children! I also enjoy relaxing with a good book and spending time outside with friends. My future career plans are, to receive a Master's in Family Therapy, specializing in families with young children, and to start my own clinic. I look forward to working with you and your children!

Evan Crocker

Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I attended the School Without Walls High School while simultaneously studying at the George Washington University. In 2013, during my senior year of high school, I spent many of my weekends building Lego sets with an incredible 7 year old boy, which eventually turned into a position amongst the staff of the EDCJCC Summer Camp. For the last four years, during which I received my B.A. in English from the Florida State University, the summers and winters I spent with the children at the EDCJCC brought me more joy, laughter, and satisfaction than I could have ever imagined possible. As a child who cringed at the thought of becoming a teacher when I reached adulthood, I feel both a sense of thrilling excitement and irony as I begin my second year of teaching at the EDCJCC Preschool in the Prachim classroom.

Jerry Miller

LaTasha Sanders

Leila Naitove
I am so excited to be joining the teaching staff at the DCJCC! I am a recent graduate of Brandeis University, where I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Near Eastern/Judaic Studies. During my years in college I taught religious school and worked as a writing tutor for international students. I originally hail from Philadelphia, where I spent the past five summers working as a counselor for Ramah Day Camp. When not teaching, I can be found listening to and singing Jewish music, enjoying long walks outside, or curling up with a good book. I am grateful to have the opportunity to join this wonderful community, and I am looking forward to the beginning of the school year!

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.

Maria Chamorro
I am very excited to be joining the EDCJCC Preschool Program this year. I previously taught in the DC public school system for 10 years at Ross Elementary School. Through my education, I have obtained a CDA and other responsive classroom training certifications. I gained knowledge and effective teaching skills and strategies from my prior work experience. Over the year, I gained a stronger passion for educating children in early childhood. 

I have been a DC resident for over 20 years, and I love the city. I was born in Granada Nicaragua, just like my parents. I come from a large family, however it is bitter sweet because the majority of my family reside in my hometown in Nicaragua.  I am fortunate to have my parents and older brother living here in the city!

As a new non English speaking student I struggled in school, but with the help of my parents I overcame my language barriers.  I am proud to be in the world of education because I remember what my own experience was as a student myself and that motivated me to stay in the education world and inspired me to learn how to become a good teacher for the students.

Growing up in a city away from my hometown gave me the opportunity to travel back and forth between countries.  I got the best of both worlds. It’s safe to say that I love to travel. I one day hope to have the opportunity to travel to many other different parts of the world.

I have a great appreciation for the ARTS and enjoying being artsy and crafty myself in and out of the classroom.  I’m also a fan of Mother Nature. I love listening to music, eating different types of foods, getting involved in sports, going out and experiencing new things, and spending quality time with my friends and family. 

Maynetta Lee (Lee)
Hi! My name is Maynetta Lee, I prefer to be called Lee. I've been teaching EC for a little over ten years, six years in Reggio Emilia form. I am an artist by heart, my mediums painting and sketching. I love all other forms of art sis H as music, singing, dancing, and theater. 

I believe that all children are small "people", therefore they can learn and accomplish anything with the right motivation and curiosity from the big people; teachers. 

I also believe that everyone, child and adults are "teachers". We can learn forever and from everyone. No mind is too small or too great for knowledge

Melanie Schwartz
I am excited to continue teaching at the EDCJCC for my third year! Every day is a learning opportunity for myself and for the students, and I love guiding and watching their growth and progress. I have only lived on the east coast of the U.S. but I like to travel and visit my friends, cook and bake (with the children too!), and have dance parties in the classroom! I am also a kindergarten Sunday School teacher in Chevy Chase. Prior to living in DC, I taught preschool and religious school in NYC, where I earned my master's degree in Jewish Education. Prior to that, I earned my BA in Psychology at UCF. I look forward to a great year getting to know the children and families, and working with an energetic and supportive staff.

Sarah Springer
Born and raised in Fort Wayne, IN, Sarah pursued her love of movement, color, and shape through dance, photography, and interior design first at Purdue University and then Ohio University. Moving to NYC, Sarah worked as assistant manager for two creative excercise programs for children. As the assistant manager at Excerblast and Kidville, Sarah worked to give children high quality experiences while moving their bodies. She also coordinated birthday parties at both places - a job that combined her love of working with children with her organizational skills and creativity. Sarah recently moved to D.C. and is excited to join the EDCJCC Preschool team.

See See Savannah

I am 23 years old, and I have been working with children since 2011. My passion for child development has grown since I've been working with the children at the JCC. Everyday I look forward to teaching new lessons, and watching the children grow intellectually.

Tana Mcarthur
This will be my 10th 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 five 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!

Valencia Steen

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 Collage 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 over 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 EDCJCC. 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 in my art, being outdoors, and discovering new hobbies. I also love spending time on Capitol Hill, which is my neighborhood. This will be my forth year at the EDCJCC! I am looking forward to another year of working with an amazing supportive staff, loving families!

Yaye Fall

Heather Markowitz - Yoga Specialist
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.

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Kirstin Springer
Preschool Director
(202) 777-3256

Maggie Heidema
Preschool Assistant Director
(202) 777-3271

Alex Band


Alison Rubin

(202) 777-3267

f. (202) 518-9420