We are looking for qualified professionals to join our dedicated team of educators! Contact Jaimee Rizzotti for more information or to apply.
Amber Williams (she/her) Early Childhood Director
My name is Amber and I am excited to be at the JCC! I was born and raised here in Asheville, and I love being outdoors. I have an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education and over 13 years of experience in the field. I am currently in school at UNC-G to obtain my Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood. I deeply believe that children learn the most in an environment that is rich in opportunities to learn independence, self-value, and respect for themselves and others. I believe that each child has something unique and awesome to bring to the classroom and work to showcase their special qualities. I welcomed my own little bundle of joy in 2017, his name is Austin and I am overwhelmed with joy to have him. I am happy to be part of the Shalom family since 2014!
Clara Iliff (she/her), Associate Director of Staffing
My name is Clara Iliff and I am so proud to be a member of the Shalom family. I moved from Philadelphia to North Carolina in 2012. In 2014, I received my BFA in Art Education at UNC Greensboro. Shortly thereafter, I obtained my TESOL/TESL/TEFL Certification and landed a job in Guangzhou, China. I taught English as a second language to children and taught art classes on the side. Studying Chinese, immersing myself in different cultures, and traveling were all so fulfilling to me that I ended up staying for five years. When I moved back to the US in 2020, I pursued a career in Early Childhood Education. I decided to make this shift because I have always found working with younger children to be so magical – I love their imagination, creativity, and overall sense of wonder about the world. I worked at a Montessori school for a couple years, and then I was hired at the JCC in 2022 where I worked in the Pre-K Keshet classroom. Teaching under the Reggio-Emilia approach has changed how I view teaching. I love creating a classroom environment where children are allowed to lean into their interests and where teachers find ways to expand upon them. The learning that takes place at Shalom is so meaningful and ever-evolving. I am thrilled to be a part of it. I have the privilege of learning from and working with an amazing team of teachers. As an Associate Director I am honored to take on the role of supporting and guiding our teachers who are such a valuable part of our community.
Let me know if you have any questions!
Lauren Wood, (she/her) Associate Director of Childcare Compliance
I am so excited to take on the role of Associate Director of Childcare Compliance. In my most recent role as Behavior Support Specialist, I had the opportunity to work alongside Camp Ruach kids and staff. In previous positions in childcare, mental health, and licensed residential house management, I was able to better develop skills such as management, teaching, and collaboration. I hope to bring my love for organization and working with kids to this role and continue to help the JCC reach 5 star ratings in our programs.
While not at the JCC, I enjoy being at home in Arden with my husband and our cats.
Let me know if you have any questions!
Aislinn McShane (she/her) Program Engagement Coordinator
Catherine Brockwell (she/her) Hilde’s House team
Hi! I am Catherine. I have worked at the JCC since May, 1997. I was born and raised in Asheville. My husband and I have raised two children here as well. They both grew up at the JCC. This has been my home away from home for two decades! In my time here, I have worked with several age groups. The past twelve years have been spent in the infant room. The babies are where my heart and talent flourish. I continue to be amazed every day watching them grow and interact with each other. I am a nurturer by nature and feel that parents/caregivers of infants need nurturing, too! I feel very blessed to be a part of the JCC family and these babies lives!
Shavone Bryson (she/her) Keshet team
Hello, my name is Shavone. I was born and raised here, Asheville NC. I am so glad to be part of the JCC! I’m a proud auntie of several nieces and nephews, whom I love dearly. I am next to the youngest child on both side of my mom and dad’s children. I believe in treating everyone with respect. I take pride in being a loving and caring person to everyone. I absolutely love shopping, eating out and spending time with my family. I have a little over 5 years of childcare experience. I love watching children grow, learn, and become independent. My main priority is to teach them, love them, and keep them safe.
Becca Coulson (she/her) Olam Echad team
Hello, my name is Becca, and I am happy to be a part of the Asheville JCC family! I am originally from Jersey City, New Jersey. My family and I would vacation in Asheville before we decided to move here in the summer of 2008. We all have loved it here ever since! I graduated from TC Roberson High School in 2014. After graduating High School, I was not sure of what career path I wanted to take. I had babysitting experience and I have always liked school, so I decided to achieve my dreams in Early Childhood Education, and I am currently working on getting my Associates through Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. In my spare time, I love to read, listen to music, and practice photography. I also love being around my friends and family. I love getting to know new people and I am extremely excited to meet all of you at the JCC.
Jeannie DeWeese (she/her) All school floater
I’m Jeannie DeWeese. I have worked in child care for 20 years, and have been at the JCC for 8 years as an assistant teacher, substitute, and floater. I have my Early Childhood Credential from AB-Tech. My husband is retired and I have two children who are now grown adults. I am proud to be a part of the JCC! I love your children and enjoy meeting you as parents. My focus is to make every child feel special and loved. Thank you for allowing me to care for your children, they are blessings to me!
Sue Ford, Song Leader & Music Specialist
Hello. My name is Sue Ford and I am very happy to be able to share my love of music with the children of Shalom. I have over 20 years’ experience teaching general music, drumming, marimba band, and chorus to all ages from preschoolers to adults. My Previous employers include Evergreen Community Charter School, Womansong of Asheville and Rainbow Community School.
I have studied music education at UNC-A, Western Carolina, and also the University of Kentucky where I became certified in Orff Schulwerk, a holistic philosophy of music education that combines music, speech, movement, and drama. In my general music and marimba programs, I have composed and originated songs with and for children.
For years I have directed them in whole school performances and shows in the community. I continue to be a lifelong learner and I enjoy playing guitar, banjo and percussion instruments which I share with the children. My primary goals with Shalom classes are to help the children learn to feel the steady beat in a variety of tempos while loving to sing and express themselves both in music and movement.
Danielle Groomes (she/her) Taglit team
Hello my name is Danielle Groomes, I’m 22 years old and I graduated from TC Roberson High School in 2018. For two summers while I was in Middle School I worked as a counselor in training at the JCC. This will be my third year as floater in Leviim, and I’m happy to be working there alongside Amber and Tiffany! I am also looking forward to getting to know the Leviim kids. I love working with the little kids and have my Early Childhood Credential from AB-Tech. I plan to pursue nursing at AB Tech as the next step in my career. I have had the love and interest in babies and small children since I was 10 years old, and I want to become a labor and delivery nurse. My mother Gina Groomes was also a teacher at the JCC for 5 years. My hobbies are watching Netflix, drawing/sketching, hanging out with friends, working out, and going shopping.
Karla Johnson (she/her) Hilde’s House team
Hello, my name is Karla. I started working at the Asheville JCC in 2016 as substitute teacher in Shalom and Hilde’s House, and then was promoted to full-time floater in 2017 and then classroom teacher in 2018. I have my NCECE Credential and I am currently enrolled at AB Tech working towards my Certificate in Early Childhood Education. I enjoy working with infants and toddlers, and I am learning and growing every day alongside them!
Zequoia Jordan (she/her) Olam Echad team
My name is Zequoia, and my husband and I are both Asheville natives! We have two goofy children, Bently and Coryn. I graduated from SILSA at Asheville High School in 2010 and I am currently studying at AB Tech to earn my Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education. I have more than 15 years of experience working in early childhood education. I have worked in various programs in the area as a volunteer, substitute, floater, assistant teacher and now lead teacher. While working in these programs, I enjoyed working with a range of different aged children from infants to pre-kindergarten. I’m proud to have been a part of Shalom Children’s Center since 2011! My special interests include arts, conflict resolution, encouraging movement and dance, reading, and encouraging self-help and confidence.
Wendy Lawrence (she/her) Aquatics Director & Swim Instructor
I am a native of Asheville, having been raised in the Candler area. Ironically, after traveling and living in other areas, found my way back to Candler where I now live with my partner Kristin and our three fur children. When I was 11 months old, my father was in the Army and my family lived in the Panama Canal for four years. It was while living in Panama that my love for water and swimming began. At 18 months I was swimming independently, according to my mother, and I cannot remember a time in my life that swimming didn’t play a big factor in my world. I was a member of the first graduating class of the Early Childhood Program at AB-Tech Community College and have worked with children of all ages from birth through high school. In the last 10 years my teaching experiences with children and my love for swimming collided, resulting in my role today as the Aquatics Director for the Asheville JCC. The best aspect of my job continues to be teaching swimming. I am a firm believer that learning how to swim is one of the utmost important skills in a person’s life. Not only is it a major life skill from a safety standpoint, but it also offers so many open doors for social/emotional growth in addition to a healthy active lifestyle.
Miri Massachi (she/her) Music & Movement Specialist
I have been working with kids for over 20 years. I am a strong believer in the importance of developing and enhancing gross motor skills during early childhood. Through building these skills, children build self confidence and learn to love themselves and their bodies. Children explore the world using their senses and physical abilities and through creative movement they have opportunities to live up to their full physical, mental and emotional potential. In my classes we focus on coordination, balance, midline crossing, jumping and dancing to name a few. We practice calming our bodies, listening to our breathing and finding peaceful focus. We play with many different textures and sounds. We listen to different kinds of music and hold an instrument circle that gives exposure to active listening and quiet anticipation. We play with hoops, balls, buckets, ropes, pool noodles, frisbees and much more, using everyday objects in non traditional ways! Through my class kids practice following direction, sharing and taking turns and the value of teamwork. Most importantly, we always have a lot of fun together!
Porsche McCranie (she/her) Hilde’s House team
Hello! I have two sons, and am married to a wonderful man. I’ve been working in childcare for about the last three years, and I intend to spend many more years enjoying my career in the field. I grew up around childcare providers, and have always valued the importance of education, in all forms. I received my Early Childhood Credential from Blue Ridge Community College and I’m always looking for new ways and activities to help children learn and grow. I’m very interested in learning about the Jewish culture and traditions. I love spending my free time crafting or being creative, and spending time with my family.
Sade Mosley (she/her) all floater
My name is Sade and I am a fun-loving person with a bubbly personality. I have been at the JCC since 2017, and I am a highly motivated and hardworking individual and I take pride in working well with my teacher cohort. I am also a dedicated person that you can rely on and believe in the importance of communication. During my time working and volunteering in early childhood, I have developed strong skills in supporting young children, and I am genuinely passionate about providing the best child care and play experiences. I believe in working closely with families in all settings and take pride in being able to handle difficult situations with empathy and professionalism.
Jay Mullins (they/them) substitute teacher
Hi all! My name is Jay and I was born and raised here in Asheville. I love the mountains and the parkway and I don’t think I ever want to live anywhere else! I’m a recent graduate of UNC Chapel Hill, where I studied linguistics and child language development. I have my NC Early Childhood Credential and I plan on pursuing further certification. I have worked in childcare since 2016 and I absolutely love it. My favorite thing to do in a classroom is story time, but I’m also a big fan of arts and crafts! In my free time I like to read, write, and spend time outside. I also have two cats at home, and I’m happy to be part of the JCC team!
Francis Osting (he/him) Ahava team
Hi! I’m Francis Osting. I spent my childhood on a farm in rural Tennessee, and I recently graduated with a BA in History & Political Science from Warren Wilson College. I have always been particularly interested in teaching and fell in love with early childhood education during my time in college. I’m excited to have the opportunity to foster wonder in young minds and hearts at Shalom Children’s Center! In my free time, I enjoy reading nonfiction, rock climbing, making collage art, and being outside in the sun.
Kathy Rennie (she/her) Ahava team
Hello lovely JCC families! My name is Kathy. My husband and I moved down from New Hampshire in 2010 and now we share our home with our son Alex and our three cats. Prior to discovering my passion for watching little minds at work, I spent over a decade as a veterinary technician. I am now working on obtaining my Associates in Early Childhood Education from AB-Tech. I joined the JCC community in March of 2021 and I’m so happy that I did. I believe that working with children is more like gardening than carpentry. I can’t wait to watch these minds grow as they’re nurtured!
Jamie Samdahl (she/her) Early Childhood Judaics and Nature Specialist
Hello, my name is Jamie! I grew up on a farm in Massachusetts and earned my Bachelor of Arts from Smith College. After graduation, I spent summers working as an interpretive park ranger in New Hampshire, Colorado, California, and Nevada. My husband and I moved back to North Carolina to be closer to his family in 2021. I’ve worked at the J since spring of 2022 and I earned my Early Childhood Credential from AB Tech that fall. I’m especially passionate about birdwatching, camping, and learning Yiddish— but nothing makes me happier than experiencing the garden with your kids!
Leigh Schuller (she/her) Hilde’s House
My name is Leigh and I am proud to be part of the teaching staff at Shalom Children’s Center. I have worked at the Asheville JCC since 2006 and have “worn many hats”, including substitute teacher, classroom teacher for the toddlers, 2’s, 3-4’s, and Pre-K age groups, interim director, BBYO youth advisor, bus driver, and Early Childhood Assistant Director. I have a large scope when it comes to the many aspects and programs the JCC has to offer. I received a Bachelor of Instrumental Music Education (k-12) from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2002, and have continued my education professionally and academically in the field of Early Childhood Education (birth-Kindergarten). In 2014, I became a trained facilitator of “Parenting the Love and Logic Way”. I play the trumpet and guitar. I also enjoy seeing live music shows, being in nature, cooking for friends, and crocheting. During the pandemic, I developed my affinity for plants into a full-fledged hobby and I love spending time with my plant babies at home. I am grateful to spend my days surrounded by curious children. In this environment of experiential wonder, we can grow and learn from each other.
Bryanna Shelby (she/they) Taglit team
Hello! My name is Bree and I’ve lived in Asheville for 6 years now! I moved from Johnson city Tennessee, where I grew up. Shortly after I moved to Asheville, I started to pursue my career in early childhood education. I have my early childhood credential from Haywood Community College, and working with children is my passion and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else! During my free time I do love to hike with my dog Charlie, read, pet my cat named danger, and craft. I also love taking care of my plants, I have close to 50 plants! I can’t wait to meet everyone and I’m so very excited to be with the JCC team!
Jill Smith (she/her) Reim team
Hello Friends! My name is Jill. I’m 100% Asheville native. I’ve always wanted to work with little children and I’m so happy to join JCC! For the past 11 years I’ve worked at Ingles markets. I have my Early Childhood credential, and working on an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education at AB-Tech. My friends describe me as an overly happy bubbly person! I am super excited to get to know you and your children!
Amalya Stone (she/her) substitute teacher
Shalom, Chaverim! Hello, friends! My name is Amalya, and if you are thinking to yourself, “hmm, she looks familiar,” you would be right! I worked at the JCC from 2017-2020 where I wore many hats including Shalom sub, JCC Kids group leader, PJ Library Coordinator, and Front Desk Gal Extraordinaire. Although my career path took me away from the J for a little bit, I am so excited to be back as a sub, and I can’t wait to reacquaint myself with familiar faces and introduce myself to some new ones. During my day at the JCC, you may find me interacting with the children by singing songs, reading books, and blowing bubbles. Outside of that, on my personal time you may find me knitting, embroidering, roller-blading, sewing, or making hair accessories.
Will Tocaben (he/him) Hilde’s House team
Hi, I’m Will. I have two boys, Noah and Elliot, both of whom went to Hilde’s House and on through Shalom. They loved their experience and I was impressed with the level of care they received. I am from New York originally and moved to Asheville in 1998, and have been working at Hilde’s House with the infants and toddlers since 2013. I play music in my spare time, focusing on the lute and early music. I have a B.F.A. In guitar and lute performance and received my early childhood education certification at AB Tech. I love working with the toddlers, playing with them, and feel honored to be a part of their lives and development.
Melissa Vlahos (she/her) Teva team
My name is Melissa Vlahos. I started working in the JCC school-age programs and subbing in the preschool in the fall of 2021. I grew up in Westport, CT where I discovered my love for teaching at the Unitarian Church Preschool in Westport. After graduating from high school, I continued my passion for teaching by achieving a degree in Early Childhood from the University of New Hampshire. After graduation, I moved to Melbourne, Australia where I taught Pre-K for three years. From there I traveled home through Southeast Asia and Europe before returning the States and taught Pre-K at the JCC in Peabody, MA for 10 years. I also was the director of a summer camp for children ages 3-5 at the JCC. I have two kids, Kelsey and Max, who are now grown adults. My family moved to Boxford, MA where I worked at Harry Lee Cole Elementary as a paraprofessional with the preschool through second-grade special education for 22 years. I moved to Asheville in 2019 and I am now semi-retired, but still feel the calling to work with kids at the JCC. I am looking forward to getting to know you and your wonderful children!