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Noah Hichenberg

Gan HaYeled Preschool Director

Noah joined the Gan team in July 2019 as the school Director. Noah brings with him a deep understanding of children and families and demonstrated leadership and excellence in the field. He formerly served as Director for The Saul and Carole Zabar Nursery School at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan for six years; he was a classroom teacher in the same school prior to becoming the director. He completed his Ed.D. in curriculum and teaching with a focus in early childhood education at Teachers College, Columbia University. At Teachers College, Noah's research and dissertation focused on the power and agency that a two-year-old child brings to the world, by examining the ways children actively change the world through their intentional efforts. Noah received his master’s degree in early childhood and childhood education (birth through eight) from Fordham University and his bachelor’s degrees in American history from Columbia University and Jewish history from the Jewish Theological Seminary.


Darci Lewis

Assistant Director & Curriculum Specialist

Darci has an extensive background in early childhood education, with a particular emphasis on Pedagogy, school environment, administration, and professional development for Early Childhood Educators in progressive Jewish environments focusing on intentional, reflective practices. She has served the Gan as a Professional Development Consultant over the past three years and she is excited to officially join the Gan community.



Stephanie Slater

Director of Early Childhood Development and Family Support 

Stephanie Slater has worked in the area of Early Childhood Special Education for 25 years.  She has a Master’s Degree in Social Work and has done some post-graduate work in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy with Children and Adolescents.  Stephanie completed a Graduate Certificate Program in Early Intervention at Georgetown University – School of Continuing Education in 2014.  She has worked in the DC area community preschools for 12 years and is currently our full time Director of Early Childhood Development and Family Support.  Stephanie is also a certified children’s yoga teacher and founded Paper Crane Yoga in 2012.  She lives in Bethesda with her husband and two daughters, ages 16 & 12.  Stephanie is committed to advocating a preschool environment where all children can develop and thrive.

Our Educators

We are proud of our 55-person teaching faculty. Please read the following bios to get to know some of our staff:

Espy A. - Originally from Ecuador, Espy has been working at the Gan for 25 years. She has studied English at UDC and earned her CDA certificate. She has completed many hours of continuing education workshops, seminars, and conferences over her years at the Gan.

Isabel B. - Isabel was born and raised in the Washington, DC area. She worked with children in experiential education settings before becoming a preschool teacher. She has a degree in Studio Art and Education from Transylvania University and is hoping to begin her Masters in Education soon. Isabel speaks English, Spanish and Hebrew and loves to share her love of art with children!

Jonathan B. - Jonathan started working at the Gan in 2014. He was born and raised in Cleveland Park and attended the Adas Israel religious school. He even had his bar mitzvah at Adas! Jonathan is married and has a daughter who was born in 2016. 

Rae B. - Rae has been year teaching in early childhood Jewish education for more than 20  years. Her career first began in the pre-school at her home synagogue where she also taught in the religious school for fifteen years.  In 1994 she began teaching at Ohr Kodesh Early Childhood Center, where she continues to teach in the afternoon full day program.  Rae has taught at Beth El in Bethesda and is now in her second year teaching at the Gan.  In order to stay current in early childhood practices Rae enjoys taking courses at Prince George’s Community College, NAEYC, PJLL, and Montgomery Child Care Association. One of the highlights of Rae’s teaching career was to travel to Israel in 2007 with fellow early childhood educators as part of a joint program with the Partnership for Jewish Life and Learning and Jewish Federation.

LaVonda B. - LaVonda is the mother of two beautiful children and has an amazing fiancé. She was born and raised in Prince George's County, Maryland. Her teaching career began in high school. She worked at a daycare as a teacher's assistant, and also become a volunteer teacher's assistant at her mothers job, the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Institute, where she worked for over 10 years working closely with special needs children. Her passion is to educate, love, guide and support children. 

Lauren C. - Lauren has been in early childhood education for 11 years. She is currently attending Trinity Washington University furthering her education in early childhood. She has been with the Gan HaYeled preschool for 4 years.

Becca C. - Becca started her teaching career in her home town of Wilmington, DE before moving to DC in 2017. She is grateful to develop her passion for working with all types of children with her work at the Gan. She continues to learn both in and out of the classroom from various conferences such as the Read Aloud conference and Special Olympics. She looks forward to a wonderful year at the Gan with many more to come.

Daniel D. - Daniel has been working at the Gan for more than a decade!. With a passion for video games and art, he attended the Art Institute for Video Game Art and Design. His favorite medium is clay, and he integrates his design and art passions with his love of teaching as an assistant teacher and as our STEAM specialist.

Jocelyn D. - Jocelyn was born in Washington, DC and grew up in Arlington, VA. After leaving the area for school to obtain a Master of Education in counseling and a Master of Science in psychology, she returned home to begin her career of working with children. Before coming to the Gan, she was an educator at the JCC of Northern Virginia’s Early Childhood Learning Center. In addition to her teaching duties, she is the Engagement Coordinator for Families with Young Children here at Adas. She loves being a part of the Adas community and hopes to be here for many years to come!

Diane F.  - Diane has been a preschool teacher for a number of years.  She has worked in different preschool and school settings.  Over the years, Diane has been an assistant teacher, a senior staff/assistant teacher and a substitute Sunday school teacher.  She's very excited to be working at the Gan!  

Mary Lynn G. - Mary Lynn majored in Early Childhood Education at the University of Maryland and continued her studies, attending all conferences including all NAEYC conferences since 1980.   She has been a teacher at the Gan for more than 30 yrs.  Before joining the staff of the Gan, Mary Lynn was a teacher for 15 years. at Bannockburn Co-op Nursery School. She started the pre-school program for the Department of Recreation at Hine Junior High School in DC and worked the after school playground program before having children of her own.

Keisha G. -  Keisha started her teaching career here at the Gan, where she worked for 5 years. Since leaving the Gan, Keisha has taught in the D.C Public Schools where she worked with children with special needs and has also worked as the director of an after school program. She has participated in numerous NAEYC conferences and professional development workshops related to early childhood education.

Adelina G. - Adelina is from El Salvador. She is married and has 4 children and 4 beautiful grandchildren. She studied in El Salvador and came to Maryland at the age of 22. She has worked with children almost her entire my life. She has been working at Gan HaYaled for almost 19 years and loves working with children. Adelina believes that every single child is unique like a garden of God, each flower with its unique color.

Janet H. - Janet Harari was born in New York and spent most of her adult life in the NY/NJ area.   After graduating from Rutgers University and completing her Master's Degree in Business from Pace University, Janet returned to school to complete her Teacher's Certification. Janet taught for several years in public preschools in the NY area. While raising her three children she volunteered with several Jewish organizations  and was involved in creating educational Jewish programming for children. Janet began her work at the Gan as an assistant teacher in 2010 after relocating with her family from NY.  She enjoys teaching early childhood in the Gan's warm and nurturing community.

Noa L. - Noa was born on a Kibbutz and as a teenager started working with children. After high school, she volunteered for one year serving as a counselor for children in under-served communities. She was selected to the competitive Program of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel. Before long, she became a counselor (and a certified Tourist guide) teaching children, teenagers, adults, and leading groups on hiking trips (up to six day long). After completing her studies, she became a certified teacher and shortly afterwards earned her Bachelors degree in special education at Tel Aviv University, Israel. She has worked with children with special needs and typically developing children in different frameworks, such as summer camps for the blind and for children with Down Syndrome. She served as a director of summer camps. While her children were young, she continued to teach young children part time. Currently, Noa teaches a mixed-age class at the Gan and provides inclusion programs focused on the child’s social skills and family counseling services focused on children behavioral issues.

Yolanda L. - Yolanda was born and raised in Washington, DC. She has studied Elementary Education at Trinity University and has been an assistant teacher at the Gan for more than 5 years. 

Menuhah P. - Menuhah has been a Jewish educator at Gan HaYeled for more than 15 years. She studied at Birmingham Southern College in Birmingham AL, Northern Virginia Community College and the University of Denver in Denver CO. To keep up with the latest in early children philosophy she has attended NAEYC and CAJE conferences. For Jewish study Menuhah received a scholarship to attend a Hebrew summer study program for teachers at Ulpan Akiva in Netanya, Israel. In addition she has been a recipient of the Doris Herman Educator Recognition Award which recognizes excellence in teaching. Menuhah brings her love of Judaism and travel to Israel into the classroom with tefillot (prayers), niggunim (melodies) then taking the children on pretend adventures to Tel-Aviv, Eilat and Jerusalem. On Shabbats and High Holy Days, Menuhah is the prayer leader for family & tot based services at Adas.

Allanah R. - Allanah was born in Texas and raised in Richmond, Va. She studied at Radford University where she received her bachelors in Interdisciplinary Studies with concentrations in Elementary Education and English. Prior to working as a preschool teacher, Allanah worked in elementary and middle school after school programs as well as worked as a camp counselor for three summers. Allanah is drawn to the Reggio Emilia curriculum and loves helping children learn in an organic matter. She’s thrilled to be a part of Gan community where she can help children grow and thrive!

Carolyn R. - Carolyn started teaching in 1984 while still in college as part of her educational coursework and has been teaching ever since.  She graduated with a B.A. in Sociology and a minor in Education from Beloit College in Beloit, WI. Carolyn has taken additional early childhood courses in Israel (Birth to 3 years sponsored by the Ministry of Labor) and at De Anza community college and University of Santa Cruz extension. She has experience teaching both in Israel and in the United States for ages 1-4 and kindergarten.

Ashley R. - Ashley is a native Washingtonian who has stayed local her whole life. She took three early childhood education courses while in high school and has worked in early childhood education for more than five years. She has been an assistant teacher at the Gan for more than five years and aspires to own her own childcare center some day.

Kristein R. - Kristein has been in early childhood since 2004 working with ages 6 weeks to 10 years of age. Before she came to the Gan she was a teacher at an early childcare center in Maryland for 8 years. She has been working in the Gan since 2014 and is currently attending Trinity Washington University to get her Associates degree in Early Childhood. She also has two school-age children at home. She loves being around children every day; they put a smile on her face.

Lourdes R. -   Lourdes, who moved to Maryland from Quito-Ecuador at the age of 15, has been working as a Teacher's Assistant at Adas Israel's Gan HaYeled for more than 10 years.  She has completed the 90 Hours in Early Childhood Education course as well as additional professional development courses, including 4 Hours in Principles of Positive Discipline and 4 Hours in Learning Environment That Works. 

Davonna S.- Davonna has over four years of experience working with children ranging from the ages of three months up to six years old. She has a degree in Early Childhood Education and a passion for working with children.

Jordan S. - Jordan was raised in Upstate New York where she worked with children for over 10 years. She moved to DC in 2014, and found her love for teaching toddlers. 

Dale S. - Dale is a native Washingtonian and grew up at Adas Israel Congregation. Her children, ages 16, 14 and 11, are 4th generation at Adas, and are all active in the religious school and youth groups. She attended the University of Michigan and has 2 masters degrees, one from Lesley college (M.Ed.) and Hunter School of Social Work (MSW). She worked in NYC for 11 years, mostly in the field of deafness and hearing-impairment, as a movement/art therapist and child and family therapist and has worked in the field of social work for the past 25 years. Dale has been working at the Gan on and off for more than 17 years, and is now our parent/toddler teacher.

Natilya (Tallie) S. - Natilya was born in Maryland and recently graduated from high school in 2017. She's thinking of furthering her education, but she's not set on exactly what to do yet. She loves children! Natilya worked with her mom in her home-based daycare, and joined the Gan in January of 2018. She really enjoys what she's doing!

Neidia S. - Neidia was born in Jamaica, but was raised in Bowie Maryland. She started her career as an administrative assistant with middle school age children. Later, she decided to venture out in a career as a nurse in an Internal Medicine office in Waldorf Maryland, and later as a Health Information Management System Specialist at Children's National Medical Center here in Washington DC. After starting her own family Neidia discovered her love for young children and opened up her own home-based daycare in 2012. She joined the Gan family in 2016, and is the assistant in the Barvazim class. She is currently working on her associate degree in early childhood education.

Ana V. - Ana is one of the true native Washingtonians, having been born right here in DC!  Ana earned her CDA and has been an early childhood teacher for 24 years. She has been a teacher at the Gan for more than 15 years.

Rachel V. -  Rachel comes to the Gan with more than 30 years teaching experience. She was a preschool art coordinator for more than 20 years, created and directed a preschool after-school enrichment program, and served as a teaching assistant as well. She has taken numerous early childhood education classes in the community and through Montgomery College. 

Ben W. - Ben grew up outside Ft. Lauderdale, FL and graduated from Florida Atlantic University in 2008 with a degree in Political Science and Jewish Studies. He worked in the Jewish nonprofit community, including GW Hillel, and then built his experience working as a sales rep at a software company. He's very active in the Jewish community and was a madrich on 3 Birthright trips. He has been a teacher at the Religious School at Adas Israel since 2012 and joined the Gan staff in 2016.  

Su W. - Dawosu was born in Monrovia, Liberia. She went to Montgomery Blair High School and P.G. Community College where she and took classes in early childhood education. She taught at Ohr Kodesh for over 15 years and she has been at the Gan for almost 5 years.

Erin W. - Erin has Bachelor's degrees in Early Childhood Psychology and Early Childhood education from Tulane University in New Orleans. Originally from California, Erin is inspired by Reggio Emilia every day and loves the Gan community.

Gan Advisory Committee

The Gan HaYeled Preschool Advisory Committee recommends policies and standards for the school. It acts as liaison between the school and the synagogue board of directors, and advocates for the preschool before the membership of the congregation. The chairperson of the committee reports to Adas Israel’s vice president of education and is a member of the Adas Israel Board of Managers. A seat on the Gan HaYeled Advisory Committee is open to any member of Adas Israel who has had a child in the Gan for at least one year, and commits to being on the committee for an entire year. If you are interested in learning more, please contact the chairperson.

The Mildred and Jess Fisher Early Childhood Center - Gan HaYeled Preschool |Adas Israel 2850 Quebec Street, NW Washington, DC 20008 | p: 202.362.4491 | f: 202.363.7236

Wed, October 28 2020 10 Cheshvan 5781