Kate Brantley, Early Childhood Education Director
Shalom Y’all! My name is Kate and I am the Director of Shalom Children’s Center. I have been working in Early Childhood Education as a teacher, specialist, and administrator.
I began working in the field of Early Childhood Education as a teacher at the Apple Orchard School. This is a pre-school located on the last working farm in the Boston area. Working with 3-5 year olds in an outdoor setting inspired me to continue my education towards a teaching degree. My undergraduate degree is in Creative Writing from High Point University. While in Boston, I also ran an outdoor education camp for school age children at The Park School, volunteered teaching writing with Citizen Schools, and attended Boston University where I obtained a MA in Elementary Education.
In 2007, I moved to Asheville and taught Head Start in Madison County. I then taught Kindergarten at Evergreen Community Charter School and at Maccabi Academy of Asheville. While I was at Maccabi, I was immersed in Jewish culture and values through our Global Concepts curriculum. This enabled me to enhance the already thriving values based curriculum at Shalom Children’s Center when I came on as Director in 2010. In 2013, I was accepted into the Early Childhood Directors Leadership Institute- a statewide initiative to cultivate leaders in the field. I have also been working with the JCCA to develop our school as a SHEVA center and continue toward the designation of a School of Excellence.
I enjoy helping to build young minds during their first 2000 days- a crucial time for brain development! I work very hard at Shalom to enhance our Early Childhood community- because it is my community! I have a daughter named Harper and a son named Jefferson- both members of the JCC! When I am not at Shalom, I enjoy music, hiking, traveling, and cooking. Thank you for sharing your children with me!
Tiffany Hagemeyer, Early Childhood Program Coordinator
My name is Tiffany and I am so happy 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—from infants and toddlers in a developmental day program, to adolescents and families in behavioral and mental health treatment services. 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 an Early Childhood Credential. I take special interest in brain-based learning strategies, educational policy, cultural competency, and peace education. I am honored to be a Fellow with the Sheva Center Leadership Institute for Early Childhood Professionals and engage in study and advocacy to build and strengthen the field of early childhood. I believe in creating a positive school environment that is child-centered, and understand how teachers build a community of peace each day through word and action. As a working mom, I value our children, families, and teachers as integral parts to a whole and uphold a commitment to serve them in ways that build our community to be stronger, happier, and full of love!
Catherine Brockwell, lead teacher
Hi! I am Catherine. I have worked at the JCC since 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 ten 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!
Zoe Castellino, teacher
My name is Zoe. I grew up in North Carolina and first began working with children by assisting my mom with her in-home day care. Later, I worked as a camp counselor and sailing instructor for young girls on the coast. After graduating from Appalachian State University with degree in Art and a minor in Sustainable Development, I sought opportunities which allowed me to work creatively and engage meaningfully with members of my community. While living in Colorado, I worked as a Reggio Emilia-inspired preschool teacher for toddlers. I completed courses in Early Childhood Education and earned my Early Childhood Professional Credential Level 1 Certification during the time I spent teaching in Breckenridge. Upon returning back to NC, I continued teaching in the Reggio-inspired approach at a preschool in Durham, working with 2 and 3-year-olds. It wasn’t long before I felt drawn back to the Blue Ridge Mountains, where my husband and I are now here to stay. I am grateful for the opportunity to join the passionate team of teachers at Shalom Children’s Center and to grow as an educator among a supportive community. I possess a deep commitment to teaching children through Reggio-inspired practices and creating active learning environments for children that encourage their inquisitiveness, exploration, imagination, and connection with others. I spend most of my spare time outdoors, regardless of the weather, and I especially enjoy mountain biking, practicing yoga, and cooking.
Brittany Cook, lead teacher
Hello, my name is Brittany. I am originally from Miami Beach, spent 4 years in Charlotte before moving to Colorado. After 12 years in Boulder my family has just relocated to Asheville to be closer to our family and we couldn’t be happier to be here. During my time, I earned my undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado in Architecture and Design and my Master’s in Educational Psychology. My master’s study and teaching experience has focused in the Reggio Emilia Approach. I have been working with young children in one capacity or another for the past 15 years. I couldn’t be happier to be working in such a rewarding field- supporting young children and their families during such an amazing period of growth and development is the best! Being new to Asheville, I am grateful to have found the inspiring JCC community! When not working with children, I enjoy spending time with my husband, daughter, and black lab. I enjoy photography, traveling, hiking, paddle boarding, and just about anything that gets us outdoors! Both my daughter Wilder and I are excited to join Shalom Children’s Center.
Erin DeBruyn, teacher
Hi, I’m Erin! I grew up in New York, and came to Asheville almost 20 years ago seeking warmer winters and a life in the mountains. I have a Bachelor’s degree in English, and about 18 years experience working with preschoolers and school-aged children. I have spent the last few years working with k-5 kids in an after school setting, and am excited to return to early childhood. I believe in building a classroom community that is sensitive to each child’s needs, focused on learning by play, sometimes messy, and full of wonder. I have two teenage boys who keep me very busy, and in my spare time, I like to take walks with my dog, read, bake, do yoga, and work on projects around my 90 year-old fixer upper. I’m so happy to be part of the Shalom family!
Haviva Dror, lead teacher
My name is Haviva, and I was born and grew up in Israel. I moved to Asheville in 2001 with my husband and three children, and began working at the JCC in 2003. After working a short while at the JCC, I began my studies in Early Childhood Education, and successfully completed my AAS degree at A-B Tech. I love working with pre-k children. I feel that I learn just as much from the children in my class as they learn from me. In addition to working at the JCC, I also teach Hebrew. I enjoy reading, cooking, yoga, Pilates, and spending time with family and friends.
Gabby Feinstein, teacher
Shalom! My name is Gabby, and I am a recent graduate at UNC Asheville with a degree in Psychology and course concentrations in Neuroscience and Music. While I am newer to the classroom, teaching is familiar to me as I am the third generation to teach in my family. Working with children is a remarkably rewarding experience, and it deeply fulfills me to work with the young minds of our own Jewish community. I started my JCC career in Raleigh serving as a Sayarim Lead Counselor for their summer camp, working with 5th-6th graders. I have a deep passion for music, playing multiple instruments and have performed at the White House in 2016. My favorite instrument right now is the banjo, which I play and sing for my local bluegrass band Mama Danger!
Emily Fishman, floater
My name is Emily and I have been living in Asheville since 2016. I am originally from New York and I went to college at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA where I received my degree in Art Therapy. Throughout college, I pursued a passion in art and psychology as well as working with children and adolescents. I was drawn to the Blue Ridge Mountains and the unique qualities of Asheville and moved shortly after graduating. In my free time I enjoy making art such as painting and collaging, hiking and exploring Asheville, cooking and yoga. I am so excited to be part of the community at the Asheville JCC and Shalom Children’s Center!
Rosa Friedrichs, floater
My name is Rosa and I am a graduate of Earlham College where I studied Ceramics and Outdoor Education. While at Earlham I taught art for 3 years in a preschool/kindergarten class at a Quaker Elementary school. I incorporate art and the experience of facilitating and nurturing the confidence and creativity of young children into my work as a floater. I have worked at the JCC since 2015 as a floater and Nature Specialist for Camp Ruach. The opportunity to observe the details of nature is ever-present and I look forward to sharing the wonders of nature with the children. So much learning takes place in the first five years which influences the way the child views themselves in the world, how they learn, and how they interact with their peers, laying the roadwork for a positive future. I know the teachers at Shalom have those learning experiences foremost in their minds and I am excited to be part of the teaching team that will help your child lay the foundation to the positive futures they have ahead of them! In my free time I like to work on my ceramics, rock climb, dance, write letters, read, and learn French and American Sign Language.
Rasheeda Hampton-Johnson, teacher
My name is Rasheeda and I was born and raised in Washington, D.C. I am a published author of two children’s books inspired by my children. I have over 12 years of experience in the early childhood field, and I am excited to share my love for children with the JCC. I am the mother of four awesome children, Dorian Mackayla, Judah, and Amorah. You may see them here, if not at Camp Tikvah, working and volunteering with me in the classroom. I am eager to work with your children, and with the wonderful community of the JCC.
Karla Johnson, teacher
Hello, my name is Karla. I started working at the Asheville JCC in 2016 as substitute teacher in Shalom. In 2017 I became the floater at Hilde’s House. I am currently enrolled at AB Tech working towards a Early Childhood Education Certificate. I enjoy working with infants and toddlers, and hope to get to know you all better.
Zequoia Jordan, lead teacher
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 13 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.
Lily Kane, teacher
My name is Lily and I am originally from western Massachusetts. I was raised by a preschool teacher and spent many afternoons volunteering at the school with my mom. I worked at throughout my adolescence and began substituting when I was on breaks from college. I received a B.A. in Dance and Psychology focusing on trust development from Marlboro College in Vermont. When I moved to Asheville, I was unsure of how long I would stay and what I would do, but I knew I wanted to work with children. Luckily, a spot opened up in the Shalom Pre-K program in 2016 and I found my place and I am happy to have roots. The JCC is such an incredible community to be a part of and the pre-k is a wonderful place to spend each day. When I am not at school, I enjoy dancing, doing yoga, cooking, reading and being outdoors.
Sherrill Knight, lead teacher
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.
Monica McDaniel, lead teacher
My name is Monica, and I was born and raised in Asheville, NC. I am a mother of one, and her name is A-iah. I have been working in early childhood for over 19 years. I have worked with children of all ages and stages of life. I am currently in school at Blue Ridge Community College working on my Associates Degree. I love working with children, I feel that they keep you youthful! I am also a writer and two time author. My books of poetry and short stories are The Soul of a Poet and Misty’s Blues- Secret Diaries. I am currently working on my first novel in a miniseries. I have also written and produced a play at A.C.T. based on my first book. I am excited to be at Shalom Children’s Center!
Carolyn Myers, lead teacher
My name is Carolyn, and I started teaching at Shalom Children’s Center in 1991. Overall, my years of experience in teaching, directing, and owning a preschool through second grade covers 45 years. I also have a firm background in Montessori philosophy, as well as Jewish education. I have over 30 years of experience in developing and implementing inter-generational activities between young children and senior citizens around the Asheville area. I am happy to be in my 27th year at the Asheville JCC.
Emma Parham, floater
Hey, everyone! My name is Emma. I joined Shalom in August 2018. I am an Asheville native and recently graduated from UNC Asheville with a bachelors degree in psychology. As an undergraduate student, I learned about the universal cognitive and physical development of children through the lens of influential psychologists and their studies. Developmental psychology taught me an appreciation for healthy human development and its critical nature. It sparked the desire for me to want to help children navigate their early years in the best way possible. I believe Shalom, with its mission & values, is the perfect place for me to begin my journey in early childhood education. Along with gaining priceless classroom experience, I am furthering my education by taking early childhood classes at AB Tech. I am SO excited to be a part of the Shalom team!
Gina Romberg, floater
My name is Gina. I have been working with kids in one form or another since I was 12 years old. I was a professional baby-sitter as well as tutor, camp counselor, and youth group leader. After high school, I took a break before college and was a nanny full time. I graduated with my bachelors in Art in 2013. Quickly realizing that the art I wanted to do would not provide a stable income, I began work in the early childhood field as an infant room teacher. Following this position, I also worked as a floater for birth through five and a lead teacher in a two-year-old classroom. It was upon taking this position that I decided to make early childhood education my profession. In 2015, I moved to North Carolina and went back to school for early childhood. I did my internship in Wilmington, NC and taught in a 3-4 year-old classroom and obtained by B-K license. I then moved to Asheville in July 2018 and joined the Shalom Children’s Center team. Some of my interests outside of work include hiking, powerlifting, art, video games, learning, and traveling.
Leigh Schuller, lead teacher
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.
Jennifer Tevis-Bhuiyan, teacher
Hello, I’m Jennifer. I’m very grateful and excited to be working at Shalom Children’s Center. I moved to Asheville in 2018 from Charleston, South Carolina. My daughter and I are originally from Kentucky. I have a bachelor’s degree from Berea College in Child and Family Studies, including dual concentrations in Child Development and Family Studies. During my time in Berea I worked at the Boyd and Gaynell Fowler Child Development Laboratory and also Berea College’s Campus Chapter of Habitat for Humanity. I strive to create a positive, and safe environment to facilitate learning. I enjoy traveling, hiking, music, and new learning experiences.
Will Tocaben, teacher
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. 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, lead teacher
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 10 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, floater
Hi, my name is Sara! I am an Ohio native and I lived there until I graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 2012. I moved to Raleigh after graduating and began working in the field of early childhood about a year later. I became a certified postpartum doula in 2014 and did that work along with nannying for several years. I moved to Asheville in 2017 and started working at the JCC as a substitute teacher in October of 2017. I now work with the infants and toddlers as a floater and absolutely love being a part of this community!
Dehlia Zietlow, floater
Hello! My name is Dehlia. I am a recent graduate from the University of North Carolina at Asheville with my bachelor’s degree in psychology. I was born in Montana, but moved to western North Carolina when I was eight years old. I have been a nanny for around six years now and I am so excited to be a part of the team at Hilde’s House. I have always loved working with children because I love the way they see the world. I can’t wait to meet more of the JCC community!
Jacqui Childs, Garden Specialist
Penny White, Judaics Specialist
Miri Massachi, Music & Movement Specialist
Carrie Wax, Yoga & Mindfulness Instructor
Substitute Teaching Staff
Suzanne “Oma” Friedrichs
Jo Ann “Savta” Kelvin