"We recognize that a highly qualified and well-trained staff is among the primary factors that contribute to a program of excellence."
Each of our classrooms has two lead teachers with a minimum of a bachelor's degree and four additional training courses in the field of early education. The vast majority of our staff, however, hold early education master's degrees, far exceeding the standards set by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care.
Each classroom is enriched by additional assistant teachers, equally qualified with degrees and continued education. All of our classrooms see our full time Judaic Coordinator several times a week for Jewish learning and enjoy weekly visits from musician-educator Wayne Potash for music and movement.
Even with our staff's exceptional credentials, professional development and academic training are ongoing to continually bring innovative and best practices to our school.
Helen Cohen, Director
Helen Cohen has been at the forefront of shaping the direction of early childhood education in the Boston area for over two decades, receiving significant recognition and accolades as a leader in the field. She is the Founding Director of the FJECC at Temple Israel, where she has served as Executive Director since 1994.
Helen is a graduate of McGill University and received her master’s degree in Early Childhood and Special Education from Lesley College. She has taught both graduate and undergraduate student-teachers at Wheelock and Hebrew College and has presented at numerous conferences, including those hosted by the Bureau of Jewish Education of Boston and the Early Childhood Educators of Reform Judaism.
Helen has served on the Educational Advisory Council of Brookline and is a past board member of the Boston Association for the Education of Young Children. Her work with parents, both on a daily basis and in more formal settings such as workshops, lectures and parenting programs, enable her to understand the challenges of parenting and how best to be a support.
Jenny Gamson, Assistant Director & Admissions
Jenny joined FJECC as Assistant Director/Director of Admissions in August 2018. She has been working in the field of education, and in some capacity with children and families, since graduating from the University of Michigan over 25 years ago. Jenny has held both teaching and leadership positions at schools and nonprofit organizations in the US and in Israel, where she lived for 8 years. Jenny also attended Wheelock College, where she obtained her Master’s Degree in Infant and Toddler Behavior and Development, and received a certificate from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem for Early Childhood Administration.
Jenny assists with all administrative aspects of running our busy program, and is the point person for prospective families as well. Her interest in children’s literature and art often bring her into the classrooms to engage with kids or, as she says, “to hear their sometimes hilarious and sometimes astounding observations, and to witness their creativity and engagement with one another.” Jenny and husband, Stephen, raised three children in Newton who are now in their twenties.
Vanessa Gay, Office Coordinator
Vanessa graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2018 with a BA in Economics and a concentration in Mathematics and Statistics. Vanessa honed her skills in customer service and developed a billing background from 2015 to 2017, during which she served as an Administrative Assistant for UConn’s Accounts Payable Office and UConn’s Residential Life Department. During her summers from 2013 to 2016, Vanessa interned in the Human Resources department at Boston Children’s Hospital where she served as a Program Coordinator for a High School Internship Program called COACH. In 2018, Vanessa concluded her senior year as a Research Assistant in the Bio-statistics department. Vanessa enjoys solving problems, interacting with people, and seeing her contributions improve daily processes which is why she loves her work at FJECC.
Jess Jarvis, Extended Day Coordinator
Jess has been in the field of education since 2000. She joined the FJECC teaching staff in 2009. In addition to pursuing her Master’s degree in Jewish Early Childhood Education at Hebrew College, she coordinates our very popular Extended Day program. Jess loves the creative process that each teacher uses to develop the wide variety of classes, and then seeing the students' enjoyment and participation in the different offerings.
Iryna Zakhozha, Judaic Coordinator
Iryna has joyfully taught in Jewish Education since 1992. Her first few years of teaching were in the Ukraine (where she was born), before continuing her career in England for several years. Since 2006 Iryna has been working at Jewish preschools in Newton and teaching 2nd grade and Kindergarten at Temple Israel's Religious School. Iryna holds a Master's Degree in Early Childhood and Jewish Education. Her love of young children and passion for Judaic teaching creates a perfect combination for integrating Judaics into every aspect of the FJECC curriculum and guiding the children through their Jewish journey.
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