Meet the Early Childhood Teaching Staff

karenblancqKaren MacLean Blancq
Orange Room

Karen MacLean Blancq hails from Warwick, NY, but has lived in NYC for decades. Originally moving here to attend NYU Film School and spending some time in the film and TV industry, she decided to return to school and received her Bachelors in Psychology from Hunter College. Discovering a passion for working with children she went on to attend Bank Street College earning a Masters in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. Over the past twenty years she has taught at two prestigious private nursery schools, Beginnings and Madison Presbyterian, as well as Kindergarten at PS 75. She lives here on the Upper East Side along with her husband, who is a teacher at LaGuardia High School, and their two children. In recent years she has been busy working with Special Needs clients at a number of NYC private schools. Karen is thrilled to be returning to full time classroom teaching at Temple Israel and feels that her educational philosophy and the school’s are a perfect match!

elysecrescitelliElyse Crescitelli
Green Room

Elyse graduated Northeastern University with a dual degree in Psychology & Education and is a licensed Elementary Educator. She is also a yoga instructor for both adults and children, and loves to incorporate yoga into the classroom. When she’s not at the ECLC you can usually find her reading a book or traveling to a new adventure.

danielladennDaniella Denn
Parenting Center & PJ Library Coordinator

Daniella Denn was born in Dallas, TX and moved to New York in 2013. She was lucky enough to find herself at Temple Israel on her first day as a New Yorker. Daniella continues to study her passion – Early Childhood Education, while leading Parenting Center classes Playgroup and Temple Tots. She is able to further her love for children and teaching through her position as PJ Library Coordinator. Daniella is a self-proclaimed foodie who loves traveling, comedy shows and spending time with her friends and family.

laureldeutsch2Laurel Deutsch
Yellow Room

Laurel is starting her third year in the ECLC and is thrilled to be in the Yellow room! After getting her MA in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street College, Laurel started her career at Park Avenue Synagogue’s Early Childhood Center where she worked for 8 years – starting as an Assistant Teacher and working her way up to Head Teacher of their young 3s program. Laurel also worked in Admissions for two years at Avenues. Laurel is a proud UES mom to Jemma and Liam (who is in the Orange room this year). She loves spending time with family and is a fantastic cook!

emilywalshfox2Emily Walsh Fox
Blue Room & Camp Director

Emily Walsh Fox holds Joint Masters Degrees in Jewish Education and Jewish Nonprofit Management from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and is an alumna of the Wexner Graduate Program. She discovered her passion for Early Childhood Education while directing programming for families with young children at B’nai Jeshurun, and then taught pre-K at the JCC of Central New Jersey. Emily has spent many summers working at Jewish day and overnight camps. She is trained in various storytelling methods, and loves bringing Jewish stories and traditions to life. In her free time, she enjoys outdoor adventures – both above and below sea level!

ariellagoldberg2Ariella Goldberg
Movement Specialist

Ariella Goldberg was born and raised in Syracuse, New York. Her passion for ballet began at a very young age. Ariella trained at the Conservatory of Dance at SUNY Purchase. She began teaching movement at the ECLC in 2011. Ariella also currently teaches at Ballet Academy East, where she is presently a senior staff member.

laurenhaberLauren Haber
Green Room

Lauren is so happy to be back at Temple Israel! While she was gone, she graduated with her master’s degree in Early Childhood General and Special Education from Hunter College. She earned her BA in Human Development and Family Studies from The Pennsylvania State University. She enjoys eating out and taking in all the city has to offer!

leslieharrisLeslie Harris
Yellow Room

Although this is Leslie’s first year teaching at the ECLC, her oldest daughter actually graduated from here years ago! For the past 4 years, Leslie has worked at Epiphany Community Nursery School (ECNS) in their 2s classroom. She has a BFA in dance and is a mom of 3 fabulous children. Leslie has spent most of her life right in this neighborhood – several years on this exact street!

alisahartmanAlisa Hartman
Yellow Room

Alisa Hartman is a recent graduate from a dual masters program in education and social work. She studied infancy and family development at Bank Street College of Education, and Social Work at Hunter. She was born and raised in Riverdale, New York and currently lives on the Upper West Side. Alisa enjoys running, cooking and all outdoor activities. Alisa has a wide range of experience working with toddlers and families, and is looking forward to this wonderful opportunity at Temple Israel.

nicolejadidianNicole Jadidian
Red Room & Enrichment Coordinator

This year, Nicole will be in the Red room and will also be coordinating all of our enrichment classes. She has been teaching at the ECLC since 2010. Prior to that, Nicole spent time working at the Bank Street School for Children, Manhattan Country School and PS 142. During that time, she also received her MA in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street College. Nicole is a master block builder and loves to incorporate block building into her classroom. She is an avid bike rider and loves to cook.

sophiekatzSophie Katz
Orange Room

Originally from Connecticut, Sophie first came to NYC to study Classical Archeology at Hunter College. After graduating, she worked as a nanny and then as a preschool teacher in CT before moving to NYC last summer to start at the ECLC. This fall, Sophie will be returning to Hunter to begin her Masters in Early Childhood + Special Education. Sophie loves to knit and enjoys running by the river in Astoria Park. She is fascinated by the innate creativity that young children demonstrate and particularly likes to encourage them to get messy!

shirakobrenwasserman2Shira Kobren-Wasserman
Music Specialist

Shira Kobren is a performer, songwriter, and educator whose body of work spans stage, film, TV, commercials, recorded albums, and of course, classrooms. She loves spending her days singing songs, being silly, and stretching the imaginations of the amazing children of the ECLC. In addition to teaching music, Shira also performs with her kindie rock band, “Shira & Friends”.

lauriekorngoldLaurie Korngold

Laurie Korngold currently is a teacher in the Parenting Center. She began teaching at the ECLC during the summer of 2011 at Camp Chaverim, and has spent the last three years with the Playgroup. Prior to coming to Temple Israel, Laurie was an early childhood teacher for more than twenty years in New Rochelle, where she was instrumental in beginning the twos program at her former synagogue. In her spare time, Laurie is a practicing attorney specializing in house and apartment closings, and for the past 10 years she has been a Board member of the New Rochelle Bar Association, where she previously served as President and is currently the Secretary of that organization. Laurie is married to Paul Korngold, also an attorney, and they have two married sons and a new grandson.

gwenlefkowitzGwen Lefkowitz
Blue Room

Gwen Lefkowitz is originally from West Hartford, CT and joined Temple Israel in 2016. Gwen has been teaching for 25 years in NYC, taking some time off to raise her own children, 14 year old daughter Alexandra and an 11 year old son Benjamin. Gwen attended undergrad at Boston University and received her Masters in Early Childhood Education from Hunter College.

drewlittleDrew Little
Red Room

Drew Little received his BFA from The Boston Conservatory in 2004. Shortly after graduating he toured with the National Tour of CATS. While on tour he was able to teach dance to many children throughout the U.S. He has always loved teaching in any capacity whether it’s teaching children music and dance, or any other curriculum. After living in NYC for 10 years, he was able to work in Administration at a dance school located in TriBeCa. He started substitute teaching at Temple Israel last Spring, and is super excited to be a part of the full time teaching staff.

samanthamalen2Samantha Malen
Green Room

Samantha started teaching at the ECLC in 2007 – her first job after graduating from college. She received her BA in Child Development from Tufts University and her MA in Early Childhood Education from Hunter College. Samantha loves theater and takes advantage of some of the amazing productions and opportunities New York has to offer. She looks forward to spending time each summer at the beach.

hilarymersonHilary Merson
Purple Room

This is Hilary’s 10th year at the ECLC, where she has taught in almost every age group! Before finding her home here, she taught pre-K and K at the Trevor Day School. Hilary received her MA in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Bank Street College and has focused her career on preschool education. Hilary’s daughter, Parker, graduated from the ECLC in May and her son, Cole is starting in the yellow room. In her free time, Hilary loves to explore NYC with her family and spend time at the beach.

jenniferoppermanJennifer Opperman
Orange Room

Jennifer is enjoying her journey at Temple Israel! She previously worked at the New York Kids Club for 3 years as a Pre-K teacher before joining our team. Currently, Jennifer is working on her Masters in Early Childhood Education at Hunter. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to apply what she learns in her graduate program to the ECLC. In Jennifer’s free time, she enjoys discovering new music and attending concerts. Jennifer loves the way children are free-spirited and celebrates creativity with her students all year!

hadarorshalimyHadar Orshalimy
Parenting Center

Hadar Orshalimy currently leads the Bim Bam Bunch class for children starting at 8 months. She grew up in Tel Aviv, Israel, and after serving in the Israeli army for 2 years, Hadar moved to the US to attend “Berklee College of Music” as a scholarship student. After graduating with honors Hadar moved to NYC and started serving as a song leader and Cantorial soloist. She began leading services at Temple Isreael in 2010, and started teaching the Bim Bam class last year.

stephanieglorioso2Stephanie Plutzer
Purple Room

Stephanie is a teacher in the Purple room this year. Stephanie also worked previously at Kidville and at Claremont Children’s School. She received her MA in Early Childhood Education from Hunter College. Stephanie enjoys exploring the city and spending time with her husband.

emmarobinsonEmma Robinson
Purple Room

Emma grew up in Westchester, New York, where she fell in love with working with young children as a camp counselor at Camp Hillard. After graduating from the University of Hartford in 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in English/Literature she began to truly miss working with children and watching them succeed. Emma is now attending Hunter College to begin her Masters in Early Childhood Education and is very excited to be at the ECLC. Emma is a self-proclaimed “big kid” that loves coloring, kid’s movies and children’s literature.

rachelrosenbergRachel Rosenberg
Red Room

Rachel is originally from Memphis, Tennessee (home of Elvis and the world’s best BBQ) and has lived in New York City for six years. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Memphis and a Master’s degree in Literacy from Bank Street College of Education. Since finishing graduate school, Rachel has worked as a Literacy Specialist and a private tutor for many young readers. During her free time, Rachel enjoys baking, traveling, and discovering new parts of the city to explore.

hannahruppelHannah Ruppel
Blue Room

Hannah started in the ECLC in 2014. She previously worked at the Jewish Community Project and as a kindergarten teacher at Columbia Grammar. In addition to earning her MA in General and Special Education from Fordham University, Hannah holds a health coaching degree from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She loves to cook, travel and spend as much time as possible with her family. Hannah lives on the Upper West Side with her husband Tyler, her son William and their dog, Stella.