Tiffany Hagemeyer, Interim Early Childhood Ed Director
My name is Tiffany and it is a privilege to be part of the Shalom Children’s Center team. I moved to Asheville in 2012 after spending most of my life in the Midwest, and I love the community I have found here in the mountains. I am a former classroom teacher and I have several years of experience working with children in a variety of settings, with focused work in behavioral and mental health treatment services for children and families. I have a M.Ed from the University of Toledo in Educational Theory and Social Foundations, a B.A. in Sociology, Religion, and Women’s Studies from Luther College, and completed the National Director Credential through the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership at National Louis University. I take special interest in child-centered learning strategies, educational policy and pedagogy, cultural competency, and peace education. I am honored to be a participant in a 3-year fellowship with the Sheva Center Leadership Institute for Early Childhood Professionals to build leadership and advocacy within the field of early childhood. I believe in creating a responsive and intentional school environment that amplifies the voice of the child and strives to grow a community of peace through ongoing collaborative study and reflective practice. As a working mom, I value our children, families, and early childhood educators as integral parts to a whole and uphold a commitment to serve them in authentic ways that empower our community to engage in joyful journeys, build resilience, and lead with love.
Andrea Jacobson, Learning Community Support Specialist
My name is Andrea and I am thrilled to be with the Shalom Children’s Center team as the Learning Community Support Specialist. I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, and have lived in Chicago, Denver, and San Francisco. I heard the Blue Ridge Mountains calling and moved to Asheville in 2018. I earned a Master of Occupational Therapy from Cleveland State University, B.S. in Education from Ohio University, and certification in Intuition Medicine™ from the Academy of Intuition Medicine.
I have been a pediatric OT for 13+ years with life-long experiences promoting the development of children. My work with children and families impacted by neurological, motor, and social-emotional differences, in public and private schools, autism programs, sensory integration clinics, in-patient psychiatry, home, and community settings has shaped my compassionate, wholistic, dynamic-systems, playful, child-led, heart-centered approach focused on building a healthy foundation for movement, motivation, social participation, cognitive development, engagement, and learning. Additionally, I served as a consultant for the San Francisco Inclusion Network, developed exploratory play classes for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, and developed a private practice specialized in supporting children who are highly sensitive. I love creating and presenting interactive workshops for parents and teachers and encouraging self-care. I view children, teachers, and parents as my greatest collaborators.
I believe behaviors communicate needs. By observing how each child perceives and processes his/her world; being aware of each child’s assets, gifts, and sensory, physical, cognitive, social, and emotional needs; considering the dynamics within the classroom/family; and the impact of co-regulation we create nourishing and motivating routines, roles, and environments. Guiding children towards a balanced mind-body-spirit-environment connection focused on preventive and holistic health we shift away from the concept of behavior management. Teachers and parents feel empowered to prepare for and support needs, make struggles more successful, and promote independence, joy, comfort and trust in oneself, others, and the world. I am excited to be part of the JCC’s brave, growth-minded community, support the wholistic health and wellbeing of each member of our community, and co-create a new paradigm in early childhood education as we navigate these unprecedented times together.
Aislinn McShane, Program Engagement Assistant
Shalom, my name is Aislinn. I just graduated from UNCA with a BA in Mass Communications and Psychology, and I am really excited to be working at the JCC. I grew up in Charlotte where I helped with local Jewish groups frequently and I am happy to be able to continue that. I love talking about TV shows and movies and love tabletop gaming. I am really glad to have this opportunity and can’t wait to see more of the Asheville Jewish community.
Susan Anderson, Keshet team
My name is Susan and I am thrilled to be joining the JCC community as lead teacher in the Keshet classroom. I was born in the foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, but spent most of my life in Bloomington, Indiana before I moved to Asheville in July 2020. I feel a little bit like I am returning to my roots to be surrounded by the beautiful mountains again. In Indiana, I taught at Gan Shalom Preschool, an early childhood center in the Beth Shalom synagogue for 9 years. During my time there, I was the lead teacher of the oldest Pre-K classroom as well as the Assistant Director during the school year and the Director of Kaytana, during the summer.
As a teacher, I feel that it is my job to be an active observer and facilitator in the classroom, constantly seeking to curate a classroom full of wonder and inquiry for the children to explore at their own pace. A firm advocate for child-led, inquiry based, creative approach education, I believe that children are competent and capable and require non-judgmental support and facilitation from the adults in their life. Through a partnership with the families in my class, we create a community that flows beyond the boarders of the classroom walls and extends to the community of the school, the home, the city, the state, the country and the world. One of my favorite experiences in the classroom is watching a child persevere through a challenge and the look on their face when they succeed at something they didn’t know they could do. As a professional musician, I incorporate music into all aspects of the classroom by both playing and singing, bringing in instruments for the kids to learn about and try, listening to a diverse variety of music in the classroom and learning about famous works of music. As the Assistant Director at Gan Shalom, I worked with staff to develop a deeper connection with child-led learning and documentation as inspired by the Reggio-Emilia educational philosophy.
When I am not teaching, my wife and I spend as much time as possible outside. We especially love hiking near water and are excited to explore all the amazing waterfalls nearby! Before March 2020, I spent a large portion of my time playing music and attending live performances. I hope to be able to do both of those things again, safely, soon! I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone at the JCC and am looking forward to a really great year!
Hannah Adcock, floater
Hello, my name is Hannah! I’m originally from New Orleans, but relocated to Asheville in 2007 and have lived here ever since. I enjoy working with children of all ages, but have worked mainly with toddlers and pre-k. I’ve worked in Shalom and JCC Kids, and had the privilege to spend three months abroad in Spain nannying and teaching two boys. I’m currently working towards my AA in (Spanish) Foreign Language and am hoping to receive my BA shortly after. In my free time, I love to read, hike, enjoy live music or spend time with my kitten. I grew up attending the Asheville JCC’s childhood programs and have greatly enjoyed the chance to stay involved throughout the years. I’m looking forward to getting to know your children!
Linnea Bergvall, Keshet team
Hi, my name is Linnea, and I am so excited to be part of the JCC community! I was born here in NC but spent most of my childhood and adolescence in Sweden, a country of beautiful lakes, wildflowers, midnight sun in summertime, and dark, snowy winters. With a Swedish father and an American mother, I have strong ties to both countries and have many fond memories of visiting the Asheville area as a child. I moved back to NC in 2007 with my husband to study at UNC Asheville, where I received my B.A. in psychology. Our oldest son was born the following year. After spending some time at home caring for him, we moved to Johnson City, TN where I obtained my M.A. in couple and family counseling. During my studies, I had the opportunity to intern at a Children’s Advocacy Center, providing counseling services to abused children and learning about play therapy. I finished my studies in 2016, and while expecting our second child, we returned to the Asheville area which has always been close to my heart. I consider myself to be both bilingual and bicultural and am endeavoring to raise our sons to be both as well, speaking Swedish and English at home and celebrating holidays from both cultures. In my free time I enjoy being outdoors in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains; hiking, wading in streams, picking berries, and picnicking with my family.
Lexi Binns-Craven, Taglit team
Hi, my name is Lexi. I’m excited to be part of the JCC community! My two sons – Oren and Cullen – currently attend JCC. I have my bachelors in Elementary Education from Mississippi College and my Masters in Entrepreneurship from Western Carolina University. I’ve lived in Asheville officially since 2014. I grew up in Michigan on the banks of Lake St. Claire. I love the Redwings! I’m a Lions fan, I stand by that statement regardless of how many times they lose a game. One day I hope to go to a Lions game and bring the boys. For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to work with children, I was a teen leader in my 4H club in high school, I’ve worked with neurodiverse children, as well as been a classroom teacher. I’m honored to be in the lives of your children.
Catherine Brockwell, 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 eleven 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!
Erin DeBruyn, Reim team
Hello, my name is Erin DeBruyn! I grew up in NY, and have called Asheville home for many years. I have many years’ experience working with children of all ages, including school aged children. Three’s and Four’s are the age group I love working with the most; I understand and connect with them. I have a BA in English, and over the years I’ve added to my education with many hours of early childhood classes. This year I am starting on a new educational journey: I will begin working on my Master’s Degree in Early Childhood at UNC-Greensboro. I’m looking forward to expanding my knowledge base and gaining leadership skills.
Outside the classroom, I’m a mom to two sons, ages 19 and 15. I love to read, bake muffins and cookies, practice yoga, and take long walks with my dog, Delilah (who will come up in conversation frequently since she is a constant source of interesting stories!). I love to travel, both close to home around the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, as well as much further and exotic locations.
Sarah Hartnett, Reim team
Hi, I’m Sarah! My wife Kate and I keep busy with Jack, seven years old, Preston, six years old, and Bella, three years old. We have been in Asheville for 16 years, and twelve of those years we’ve been together. We were a licensed foster family for four years, as well, and now proudly get to call Preston and Bella our son and daughter. Officially a family! I am known for my ability to try out and work in a variety of jobs. Over the lifetime of my work life, I have 15 years of experience working in pre-k, elementary, and middle school settings. Generally, my approach to work is to give it my best, to do what it takes to get the job successfully completed, and to sit back and enjoy it whenever I can. My college career started at Northern Illinois University pursuing a bachelor’s in early childhood education. I transferred and graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies. Currently, I am in graduate school to earn a master’s degree and licensure as a clinical mental health counselor. I connect with the importance of serving others and do so through volunteering whenever possible. Over the years in Asheville, I have volunteered with Girls on the Run as a site liaison and coach, community volunteer with Our Voice, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville: Leadership Development Committee, American Red Cross blood drive coordinator, Make-A-Wish Trailblaze Challenge participant & volunteer, Equity Leadership Team, Community Engagement Subcommittee at Evergreen Community Charter School, and work with the WNC Immunization Coalition.
Heather Harty, Leviim team
My name is Heather, and I have over 20 years of experience working with children. I have had the privilege of working in childcare classrooms, and homeschooling co-ops. I have also cared for children in my home for several years. I am a mother of two incredible teenagers. I have worked with children of all ages, but for the past 6 years worked primarily with infants and woddlers. I am currently enrolled at AB Tech working on my Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education. In my free time I enjoy spending time with my kids, playing the piano, reading, hiking, and creating art. I love the mountains and have lived here for almost 20 years, I am originally from the Midwest, but moved to Asheville from Tybee Island.
Karla Johnson, 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 am currently enrolled at AB Tech working towards my certification in Early Childhood Education. I enjoy working with infants and toddlers, and I am learning and growing every day alongside them!
Zequoia Jordan, 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.
Sherrill Knight, Reim team
My name is Sherrill and I grew up in Charlotte, NC. I graduated from the University of North Carolina with a degree in Fine Arts. Later, an interest in education took me to UNC-A for a degree in Elementary Education. I have now been teaching for over 30 years. I am the mother of two daughters, two sons, and the grandmother of five grandchildren. The heart and soul of my teaching philosophy is expressed in our class motto: “We’re all friends at school” – from the microcosm of the preschool community to the world, our island in space. Outside of school, I enjoy reading, science and nature documentaries, art, sewing, gardening and spending time with friends and family.
LaVette McDaniel, Teva team
Hey everyone, my name is LaVette and I am so excited about starting my journey with the JCC family. I was born and raised here in Asheville. I am the proud mother of one beautiful daughter JeNaya and a proud Auntie of 3 beautiful nieces. I am the oldest of 2 brothers and 1 sister. I attended Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, NC majoring in Elementary Education. I also attended AB-Tech Community College majoring in Early Childhood Education. My love for education started as a volunteer library assistant at Hall Fletcher Elementary School. I have worked teaching kindergarten as an assistant, and then later accepted a position as the behavioral management specialist, and second grade teaching assistant. My journey continued with teaching at Childcare Network here in Asheville for 3 years as a lead 3-year-old teacher and Educational Curriculum Coordinator. My number one goal is to open up my own afterschool in memory of my beautiful mother. I also plan on finishing my Early Childhood Education degree so that I can continue to make a difference in the lives of each child that I am blessed to teach. I absolutely LOVE what I do.
Adam Mills, Teva team
A native of Asheville, I attended the JCC as a preschooler and as a summer camp kid. I taught at Shalom from 1997 – 2011, first as an assistant teacher, then as a lead teacher beginning in 2004 after receiving my lead teacher status in North Carolina through the equivalency exam for the NC Credentials coursework. During my years as a teacher at Shalom, I was also a JCC summer camp counselor and an afterschool group leader in the Just Kids program. In August of 2011, I moved to Washington, DC, where I taught at the Washington, DC JCC. While teaching at the Washington, DC JCC, I guided preschoolers in learning experiences through a Reggio-inspired curriculum. What I appreciate most about this curriculum is the focus on children learning through exploration instead of instruction. Thus, teachers are involved in guiding children in explorations as opposed to being involved in teaching explorations. Ultimately, children are highly empowered in their learning processes. As of September of 2019, I have taught in early childhood education for 20 years, and returning to Shalom as a teacher in Teva I am very happy that I have been given the opportunity to once again be a part of Shalom and the JCC community.
Stephanie Proffitt, Taglit team
I was born and raised in Marion, North Carolina. I am the mother of two boys, ages ten and two. I have worked in licensed childcare centers since 2008. I have experience in all ages up to pre-k, but I have the most experience with infants and toddlers. I recently worked at a Montessori school in Key West and gained skills and experience that I use in my classroom of two-year-olds. I completed my Early Childhood Associate Degree at AB Tech. This is my second year at Shalom, and I look forward to continuing my journey at the JCC and getting to know the children and families.
Desiree Reynolds, Reim team
Hello, my name is Desiree and I was born and raised in Asheville. I have lived in Asheville my whole life. I have two daughters by the names of Tre’Ana & Ma’Raya. In my spare time I like spending time with my girls at the park. In 2012, I volunteered at the Hillcrest Head Start, and it was a blast working with the children there. I started at the JCC as a sub working with the children at Hilde’s House and Shalom and I’m grateful to have been part of both buildings and be involved with all ages and see them grow. It’s a pleasure to be here!
Tiffany Santiago, Leviim team
Hi! I’m Tiffany and I’m thrilled to be at the JCC! I’m Cajun French and grew up in Lafayette, LA. My husband and I moved to Asheville a little over 13 years ago from Los Angeles, CA. My background and studies are in Performing Arts. I have over 20 years of experience as a teaching artist and working with children within the school system in grades Kindergarten through High School across the globe from Louisiana to Germany, from Los Angeles to Asheville. It was an honor to serve as a mentor/tutor for the esteemed Virginia Avenue Project; an afterschool program in Los Angeles, CA that uses the performing arts in conjunction with long-term, one-on-one mentoring to help kids discover their full potential. You may have seen me at a matinee school show at the Wortham Center for the Performing Arts (aka Diana Wortham Theatre), where I was the Operations Manager for the past 8 years. I enjoy cooking/baking, photography, family hikes with our dog, storytelling, and epic dance and singing parties with our daughter and family. I’m looking forwarding to spending time and getting to know your children!
Leigh Schuller, Hilde’s House team
My name is Leigh and I am proud to be part of the teaching team at Hilde’s House. I have worked at the Asheville JCC since 2006 and have “worn many hats”, including substitute teacher, classroom teacher for the 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. I am grateful to spend my days surrounded by professional educators and curious children. In this environment, we can all grow and learn from each other.
Bryanna Shelby, Taglit team
Hello, my name is Bree. I was born in Kentucky and raised in Tennessee. I moved to Asheville 3 years ago and shortly after started to pursue my education in early childhood development. I’ve always had a passion and love for children. I also love to hike and knit on my days off. I have a 1-year-old puppy named Charlie and a pet rat named Clementine. I can’t wait to grow and learn while at the JCC. I’m very excited to be a part of the JCC team!
Natalie Sheppard, Ahava team
Hello everyone! My name is Natalie, and I am excited to be a member of the Asheville JCC Team. I was born and raised in Winston Salem, and I have lived in Asheville since 2017. I have over 15 years of childcare experience. And I have worked with birth to school age children as a teacher, administrator, as an Americorp Member in after school programs, and as a Program Coordinator for a school age program. I am excited to bring all of these skills, talents and creativity with me to the awesome environment of the JCC. In my spare time, I enjoy creating art projects, doing crafts and writing poetry. I look forward to being an integral part of the JCC community.
Will Tocaben, 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 for the past five years. 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.
Amber Williams, Leviim team
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 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 that we are part of the Shalom family!
Sara Zeller, Hilde’s House team
Hi, my name is Sara! I am an Ohio native and I graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 2012. After graduating, I moved to Raleigh and discovered that I wanted to work with children. In 2014, I became a certified postpartum doula and did that work along with nannying for three years. My career at the Asheville JCC began in October of 2017. I started as substitute teacher, became a part-time floater for the infants and toddlers, and am now part of the full-time teaching team for the Toddler Room. I love working at Hilde’s House and being a part of the JCC community!
Jacqui Childs, Garden Specialist
Penny White, Judaics Specialist
Miri Massachi, Music & Movement Specialist
Substitute Teaching Staff