Our Staff

Infant Class – Hebrew Name – T’Nokeya (Colloquialism for young child)

Ms. UD has over twenty years experience in education. She holds a degree in home economics (from her native country of Nigeria), a master’s degree in counseling, and an EDS degree in early childhood education. In Nigeria she served as a director of education for the agency of Adult and Non-Formal Education. She also has taught in a teacher’s training program. Since moving to America Ms. UD has cared for infants and toddlers for the past 11 years, four years in private preschool programs and five years at USC Children’s Center. Ms. UD joined CJDS in 2012 as a star toddler teacher.

Ms. Evelyn has four years experience working with young children at the Tree of Life religious school as well as the JCC camp. Her references describe her as very nurturing with the children and very professional. Ms. Evelyn has visited with Ms. Ud a number of times during the past month and they are both looking forward to working with the class.

One-Year-Old Class – Hebrew Name – Zereh – Seeds

We are exited to announce that Ms. Hannah Hite will join the CJDS staff. Hannah was a beloved student of Ms. Kelly’s who graduated with a four-year-degree in early childhood education in 2015. Hannah spent last year working at a private preschool program working with one-year-olds where within the span of six month she rose in the ranks from assistant teacher to co-teacher to lead teacher. Hannah’s reference spoke of her professionalism and love of her students. A reference commented that Hannah is known for her dedication to making each family’s needs her top priority. We welcome Hannah to CJDS!

Ms. Linda Blakeney will co-teach our one-year-old class. Ms. Linda has over twenty years of early childhood experience. She has worked with infants through elementary age students. She began her career as a teacher’s assistant, has served as a lead teacher, and has overseen an after school program. Linda most recently has worked at Bethel United Methodist Preschool. Her director of eight years describes Linda as, “Loving to children, a very good communicator with families, and a very nice person.” Another one of Linda’s colleagues described her as,  “a positive role model, loved by all the children, and a real positive person.” This past year Ms. Linda did a great job in our one-year-old class and I am excited for her to be working with our upcoming class.

One-Year-Old Class – Hebrew Class Name – Shoresh – Root

Ms. Maggie Cornely will be the lead teacher in the one-year-old class. Maggie has served as a first grade teacher, has worked at Hammond School with international students and has interned at the USC Children’s Center. Maggie’s references described her as a person dedicated to excellence with the love of the children at the heart of all she does.

Ms. Leah Shabkie McClesky joined the CJDS team to work with Ms. UD two years ago. This year she is excited to work with the ones! Ms. Leah has a four-year degree in sociology. Prior to joining our school she has worked as an Early Intervention Specialist with Easter Seals. As an early interventionist she worked with children and families in their homes. Ms. Leah is nurturing, professional, and attentive to detail.

Two-Year-Old Class – Hebrew Name – Giv’all – Stem

Ms. Tiffayne holds an AA degree in early childhood and has ten years of teaching experience. She has worked for five years at the Federal Child Development Center in the Strom Thurmond Building. For the past five years Tiffayne has worked with both one and two year olds at CJDS. Tiffayne is a highly requested teacher at CJDS, as she is known for her warmth towards each child and family. CJDS is blessed to have Tiffayne on staff.

Ms. Shalome Mangan (who goes by Ms. Sha’) will assist Ms. Tiffayne. Sha’ has twenty years experience in the early childhood field. Sha’ has worked as a lead teacher, assistant teacher, and at EdVenture Children’s Museum. Sha’ holds an early childhood certificate and is working on her AA degree. This past year we have all seen her high level of nurturing professionalism and attention to detail.

Two-Year-Old Class – Hebrew Name – Nevet – Sprouts

Ms. Sharny holds a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. She started her career by teaching at Burton Pack Elementary School and at the Main Street UMC Child Development Center. Sharny has taught at CJDS for the past 8 years. In these years Sharny has gained the reputation of being a great educator and is known for her loving manner.

Ms. Abigail Sexton will join the class as teacher assistant. Abi holds a Bachelor of Arts degree has had wonderful experiences working with children. She has been a lead dance instructor for children of all ages, an assistant teacher in elementary and middle school, and has served as a translator for children speaking Spanish. Abi’s reference spoke of her professionalism and suggested we “hire her immediately.” We are thrilled that Abi will join the CJDS team!

Three-Year-Old Class – Hebrew Name – Alva – Leaves

Ms. Amy Pacholski has had a fantastic two years at CJDS – she is truly amazing. Amy was a student of mine for three semesters at USC and graduated Magna Cum Laude. These past two years families commented on her amazing inquiry projects, love of each child and great communication. Amy is a blessing to every student she teaches!

Ms. Vernetta will begin her eighth year at CJDS. She holds a master’s degree in physical education and has a wealth of experiences working with young children in many different settings. Ms. Vernetta is known as a brilliant educator! Her nurturing disposition and organization is a blessing to CJDS.

Four-Year-Old Class – Hebrew Name – Tzemach – Plant

Ms. Rachael Cummings holds a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and a master’s degree in Language and Literacy. Along with being highly educated, Rachel has 5 years’ experience teaching four year olds at the University of South Carolina’s Child Development Center and two years in our school. Rachael is one of our most sought after teachers and I believe that is due to her ability to balance a high level of academic expectation with nurturing care for each child.

Ms. Michelle Brigman will assist Ms. Rachael. Michelle graduated from Columbia College with a degree in Family and Child Studies with an emphasis in early childhood education. Michelle did a great job these past three years in CJDS. Michelle has been described as “great with children” and “very organized.” Michelle contributes to the amazing weekly blog along with co-creating lesson and leading ASQ meetings.

Multiage Kindergarten

Ms. Kristen is beginning her eighth year of teaching at CJDS. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Furman University and a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education from USC. Ms. Kristen has 12 years of teaching experience in preschool, special education (K-5), Kindergarten, and first grade. Ms. Kristen is a lifelong learner who continually seeks out opportunities to learn more about how to best teach her students and she hopes to create this same love of learning in her students.

Ms. Courtney Dallas will assist Ms. Kristen. Ms. Courtney has worked with children from nine months old to ten year olds. Courtney was a favorite substitute at CJDS and joined the staff full time two-years-ago and is loved by all! Ms. Courtney is currently working on her AA degree.

Kindergarten

Ms. Becky will be teaching her 16th year at CJDS and close to 30th year of teaching! She has a Bachelor degree in Early Childhood from USC, taught 2nd grade for 14 years before coming to our school, and at CJDS has taught the 3 year old class, the 4 year old class and is now teaching kindergarten for her 8th year. Ms. Becky is known for her firm grasp on kindergarten standards and her relaxed, nurturing disposition.

Ms. Britney Hinson will assist Ms. Becky. Britney is a graduate from Columbia College with a degree in Family and Child Studies with emphasis in early childhood education. Britney did a great job these past three years being both the kindergarten teacher assistant and caring for the children in after school care.

First Grade

Virginia Walters had a wonderful year teaching first grade at CJDS. Many families knew Virginia as she has subbed in CJDS. She holds a master’s degree in elementary education. Outside of school she has worked as a head swim coach for a team of 60 children. Virginia’s references described her, “as a teacher who gives her all, not resting until every child is successful.” Another reference stated, “she is not only a knowledgeable teacher, but she is kind and patient as well.”

Second Grade

We are excited to announce that Ms. Heather Merson will join the CJDS family as our second grade teacher. Heather holds duel certification with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education as well as early childhood education certification. Heather comes to our school with a wealth of teaching experience including four years as an elementary school teacher in the public school system and four years in private preschools. Heather has primarily taught second grade and third grade in the Carolina School for Inquiry and Lake Murray Elementary School. The bulk of her preschool teaching was at the USC Children’s Center. Along with her teaching, Heather has taken educational leadership roles such as serving on Lexington-Richland District 5’s early childhood committee, presenting at state conferences, and presenting at USC’s Career Center Roundtable discussion.

Third Grade

Ms. Valerie has been at CJDS for nine years. She has a Bachelors Degree in Psychology from USC and a Master’s Degree in Education/Divergent Learning from Columbia College. Ms. Valerie brings her passion for environmentalism, her love for children, and her wonderful creativity to her classroom. Her goal is to create an eco-friendly, tolerant and open-minded learning environment in which young minds can aspire to great heights. Ms. Valerie has developed and led many school wide projects, including her Star Store recycling project and a school wide mail service. Ms. Valerie will focus on third grade South Carolina standards, which she will supply at the beginning of the year to all families.

Fourth Grade

Ms. Kim is beginning her eighteenth year at CJDS! She holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree from Clemson University, a Master’s degree in Education/Divergent Learners and advanced training in the Orton Gillingham reading approach. Year after year Ms. Kim has successfully created an environment that has led her students to become avid readers, authors and social scientists.

Ms. Jenny is beginning her ninth year of teaching at CJDS. She has Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Chemical Engineering from Georgia Tech and worked for 5 years in the chemical industry. Her experience in higher mathematics and in the science field helps her teach elementary school math in a unique way, giving her students a deep understanding of numbers, a love for science, and a strong foundation for middle school and beyond. Ms. Jenny combines hands-on, inquiry-based learning and traditional teaching techniques in a well-balanced learning environment.

Fifth Grade

Ms. Kim is beginning her eighteenth year at CJDS! She holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree from Clemson University, a Master’s degree in Education/Divergent Learners and advanced training in the Orton Gillingham reading approach. Year after year Ms. Kim has successfully created an environment that has led her students to become avid readers, authors and social scientists.

Ms. Jenny is beginning her ninth year of teaching at CJDS. She has Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Chemical Engineering from Georgia Tech and worked for 5 years in the chemical industry. Her experience in higher mathematics and in the science field helps her teach elementary school math in a unique way, giving her students a deep understanding of numbers, a love for science, and a strong foundation for middle school and beyond. Ms. Jenny combines hands-on, inquiry-based learning and traditional teaching techniques in a well-balanced learning environment.