Our Staff

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

Ms. UD will be teaching her 6th year at CJDS and has over 25 years of experience teaching! She has a master’s degree in counseling and is now working on her doctoral degree in early childhood. Over the past years, Ms. UD has cared for infants and toddlers in private preschool programs and for five years at USC Children’s Center. Ms. UD is known for her vast knowledge of infant development and her meticulous care for each child.

Ms. Aubrey Sizemore will assist Ms. UD. Ms. Aubrey joins our program fresh from receiving her AA degree in early childhood education. Aubrey has most recently worked at Living Springs Preschool. She has been described as a loving teacher who goes the extra mile to communicate with each family and care for each child.

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

Ms. Hannah Hite will start her second year teaching the one-year-olds. Hannah had a great first year in CJDS where she loved and educated the children in her class. In her past school, within the span of six months, she rose in the ranks from assistant teacher to lead teacher. We understand why she was promoted so quickly, as we value Hannah so much!

Ms. Lia Stocker will serve as assistant teacher in the class. Lia has worked with children in summer camps and afternoon programs in Canada, Milwaukee, and California. This past summer she worked in Morah Devorah’s camp and did a great job. Lia’s reference described her as loving and nurturing with each child.

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

Ms. Maggie Cornely will start her second year teaching the one-year-olds and third year at CJDS. 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. The families of her students love Maggie!

Ms. Billie Green-Smith will work with Maggie in caring for the class. Billie is a veteran CJDS educator. Last year Billie took the year off to care for her new grandchild. We are thrilled that Billie will be back at CJDS. Billie will work with Maggie and oversee our end-of-the-day after care program.

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

Ms. Tiffayne Morris holds an AA degree in early childhood education and has eleven years of teaching experience. She has worked for five years at the Federal Child Development Center in the Strom Thurmond Building. For the past six years Tiffayne has worked with both one and two year olds at CJDS. Tiffayne is a highly requested teacher, 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’) has recently graduated with her AA in early childhood education. Sha’ has twenty-one years of experience in the early childhood field. Sha’ has worked as a lead teacher, assistant teacher, and at Edventure Museum. CJDS congratulates Sha’ on her recent graduation and are thrilled to have her on the CJDS team!

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

Ms. Sharny Barhydt 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 9 years. In these years Sharny has gained the reputation of being a great educator and is known for her loving manner.

Ms. Tracy Moore joined our staff this past year and has become an invaluable member. Her early childhood knowhow, love of children, and organizational skills has positively impacted her classroom and the wider school. We feel blessed that Tracy will once again partner with Ms. Sharny and help in our late afternoon care.

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

Ms. Deborah Glass holds a bachelor’s degree from USC in early childhood education with a gifted and talented certificate. Deborah is a military veteran and fluent speaker of Mandarin. Deborah has worked at CJDS as a substitute and took over this year as a permanent teacher in the one-year old class. She has also worked with newborns through third graders. Deborah did a great job stepping into the classroom this year and we are thrilled that she will lead the three-year-old class.

Ms. Breonte Ward will assist Deborah. Breonte has her associate’s degree in early childhood education. She has worked at the Epworth Home, Little Girl’s Clinic and Shandon Presbyterian preschool. Breonte’s references spoke very highly of her and we are thrilled that she will work at CJDS.

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

Ms. Hannah Ganezer will join the CJDS staff as lead teacher of the three-year-old class. Hannah has her bachelor’s degree in education and is a certified teacher. She has over twenty years of classroom experience working with both preschool and elementary school children. Hannah has taught in the UCLA lab school along with multiple schools in Los Angeles and most recently New York. Hannah’s references describe her as highly competent, loving and an enthusiastic educator. Hannah is also fluent in Hebrew!

Ms. Jennifer Whetstone Jackson will assist Hannah in the classroom. Jennifer if our beloved PE teacher and has worked with almost every age group in CJDS. Jennifer holds a master’s degree and is known for her energy, kindness, and strong relationships with children and families. We are thrilled that Jennifer will join CJDS on a daily basis!

Four-Year-Old Class

Ms. Kristen Maxfeild is beginning her ninth 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 13 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.

Linda Blakeny

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.

Preschool Torah Teachers

Morah Devorah and Morah Sarit will again be working with the children in the areas of Judaism and Hebrew. Morah Devorah leads the preschool Torah team and has been with the school for ten years. Hamorah Sarit is from Israel and has a teaching certificate from Amal Technical College in Petach-Tikva, Israel. For four years Sarit taught at a preschool in Florida. Both of these Judaic and Hebrew experts not only do a great job in their classrooms but add to the Jewish ethos of the entire school.


Ms. Becky Lourie will be teaching her 17th year at CJDS and has about 30 years of experience teaching! She has a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood from USC. Becky taught 2nd grade for 14 years before coming to our school and at CJDS has taught K3, K4, and is now teaching kindergarten for her 9th year. Ms. Becky is known for her knowledge of kindergarten standards and her relaxed, nurturing disposition. Ms. Becky assistant will be announced in a future letter.

Ms. Vernetta Fogle will assist Ms. Becky. Ms. Vernetta will begin her ninth 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.

First Grade

Ms. Heather Merson will teach first grade this coming school year. Heather holds duel certification from Columbia College with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education as well as early childhood education certification and has nine years of teaching experience. Heather did a fantastic job at CJDS this year as our second grade teacher. She not only taught our largest elementary class, sixteen students, but also did so by engaging each child on an individual level making sure each child was successful.

Ms. Miri Becker will assist Ms. Heather. Ms. Miri has a bachelor’s degree in engineering and a wealth of experiences working with children. She has taught preschool at her synagogue in California, tutored elementary children in science and history, and has worked in Jewish summer camps.

Second Grade

Ms. Karen will teach second grade. She holds a degree in elementary education and is certified in early childhood along with “gifted and talented” certification. Karen is new to CJDS but has 12 years of teaching experience in second through fourth grade. Karen served as a mentor teacher in RSD1 and has expertise in classroom technology. Karen’s past principal stated, “Without a doubt the most caring and nurturing teacher I ever worked with.” Another reference spoke to her great communication with families.

Third Grade

Ms. Valerie Hoyt has been at CJDS for ten years. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from USC and a Master’s Degree in Education/Divergent Learning from Columbia College. She is now working on writing her doctoral dissertation in curriculum studies. 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 the Star Store recycling project, a school wide mail service and most recently led a mock trial.

Fourth and Fifth Grade

Ms. Robin Lourie will serve as the fourth and fifth grade social studies and language arts teacher. Robin holds a degree from University of Georgia. She has 14 years teaching experience and has been a national board certified teacher for the past 10 years. She has received many accolades during her teaching time including her school’s teacher of the year award and being named an iTech teacher.

Ms. Melanie Pace will teach math and science. Melanie holds a degree in elementary education with a love for mathematics. Melanie is new to CJDS but is familiar to many families as she served as a student intern for a year (100 hours) in our fourth grade and a 12-week student teaching experience with Mr. Brent. She also worked for six years at the Jewish Community Center.


Hamorah Vered has been teaching Hebrew to CJDS students (K-5) for fourteen years.  She was born and raised in Israel, has Bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Computer Science, and is currently working on her a Master’s degree in Contemporary Jewish Studies.  Hamorah Vered uses the Tal-Am curriculum which is based on the notion that the best learning environment for children is one in which knowledge is acquired through immersion and a variety of multi-sensory activities.  Students are encouraged to develop independent learning skills as well as a lifelong love of Jewish study. Hamorah Sarit will also work with elementary students.


Rabbi Hershel and Morah Pesha teach the elementary school Torah (Judaic subjects). Morah Pesha grew up in Toronto and Rabbi Hershel is from Wisconsin. Prior to teaching at CJDS they served as co-directors of Teen and Young Adult programming in Dayton, Ohio. Morah Pesha has taught in locations including New York, Ontario, and Finland.


Ms. Natalie Mullis is a singer, guitar player, hand drummer, and board certified music therapist.  This will be her sixth year sharing the opportunity to explore music with the students at CJDS.  When Ms. Natalie isn’t banging the drums with the toddlers or writing music with the elementary students, she’s off camping, exploring caves, or working with her private music students and music therapy clients.


Ms. Bri Kinard will teacher art to the elementary students. Bri is a ceramic and mixed media artist. Currently she is an Instructor of Ceramics and Head of Technical Operations of the ceramic studio at the School of Visual Art and Design at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina. Bri’s work can found at http://www.brikinard.com.

The Caring Team

Ms. Brown is in her sixteenth year at CJDS. Ms. Brown has worked with every age group in the school, providing children with love and care.

Ms. Sinkler is in her thirteenth year at CJDS. Ms. Sinkler cares for the preschool children in after care till late in the afternoon. She has a love for gardening which is shared with the children.

Ms. Linda J is in her fourth year at CJDS. Ms. Linda cares for children in pre-care and helps with preschool classes. She is known for her love and organizational skills.

Ms. Evelyn will care for preschool children. Evelyn has four years of experience working with young children at the Tree of Life religious school as well as the JCC camp.

Mr. Rogdrick is in his second year at CJDS. Rogdrick cares for preschool children in the afternoon.

Ms. Sonja will care for preschool children from 2:45-5:45. Sonia has substituted in CJDS for the past three years and is one of our most requested substitutes.

Ms. Daizha will care for preschool children in the late afternoon. Daizha returns for her second year at CJDS. She is loved by the children and staff.

Ms. Ieesha will care for preschool children in the late afternoon. Ieesha returns for her second year at CJDS. Ieesha is known for her nurturing care of each child.

Ms. Kaylee will care for preschool children in the late afternoon. Kaylee is new to CJDS and was one of Ms. Kelly’s top USC students.