We are looking for qualified professionals to join our dedicated team of educators! Contact Tiffany for more information or to apply.
Tiffany Hagemeyer, Early Childhood Education Director
Hi! I’m Tiffany and it is a privilege to lead 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 have a B.A. in Sociology, Religion, and Women’s Studies from Luther College and a M.Ed. in Educational Theory and Social Foundations from The University of Toledo, with focused study on peace education and building educational systems that are responsive to the intersection of race, culture, identity, and privilege. After teaching for several years I welcomed my first child in 2016, and stepped into a new role in school leadership. I had the amazing opportunity to participate a 3-year fellowship with the JCCA Sheva Center Leadership Institute for Early Childhood Professionals, which included a community of practice and study tours in Israel, Italy, Boulder and Portland. The work of educators and children together as global citizens informs my approach to my own work in our Asheville JCC community, seeking meaningful connections to place-based history, context, and humanity.
As a director, my special interests include child-led learning, educational policy and pedagogy, and advocacy for equity and sustainable systems within the field of early childhood. I earned the National Director Credential through the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership at National-Louis University and a Professional Development Endorsement through the North Carolina Institute for Child Development Professionals. I believe in cultivating intentional practices and the potential for systems change rooted in communities that share a culture of learning. Alongside the team of remarkable educators here at the JCC, I strive to build a responsive and intentional school environment that amplifies the voice of the child and grows a community of peace through a model of shared leadership, ongoing collaborative study, and reflective practice. As a working mother, I value children, families, and early childhood educators as integral parts to a whole and uphold a commitment to serve them in authentic ways that empower the community to engage in joyful journeys, build resilience, and lead with love.
Teaching and Learning Faculty
Hannah Adcock, Hilde’s House team
Hello parents and family members, I’m Hannah! I’m originally from New Orleans, but relocated to Asheville in 2007 and have lived here ever since. I have been apart of the Asheville Jewish community for the majority of my life, and I’ve worked in many of the JCC’s various childcare programs. I’m so excited to continue my career here at the JCC at Hilde’s House! Outside of work, I am a student working towards my B.A.S. in Early Childhood Education and Child Development. I love to read, hike, enjoy live music, and spend time with my plants and cat. I’m looking forward to getting to know your children!
Noora Alassaf, floater
Hello, my name is Noora and I’m truly grateful to join the Asheville JCC team. If I had to summarize my character it would be: athletic, lively, and resilient. I have been traveling all over the world beginning at the age of 7 years old. I am trilingual (French, Arabic, English) and have gained an incredible experience at exposing myself to a variety of different cultures and continents which enabled me to generate an objective, accepting, and a complete open mindset. I have 3 years of being an academic tutor and a translator for children in Toulouse, France. I am currently pursuing either a Master’s in Child Speech Pathology or an MD in Child Psychiatry since I have a major calling to provide healing and a source of transformation and growth to the child well-being while also enable them to successfully function and strive in their society.
Linnea Bergvall, Keshet team
Hi, my name is Linnea! This is my third year teaching at the JCC, and I love being part of our caring and supportive community. I was born in NC but mostly grew up in Sweden until I moved to Asheville in 2007. With a Swedish father and an American mother, I have strong ties to both countries and have fond memories of visiting Asheville as a child. I earned my B.A. in psychology at UNC-Asheville and my M.A. in couple and family counseling at East Tennessee State University. I have two sweet sons who are 5 and 9 years old. I love traveling and enjoy being outdoors in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains; hiking, picking berries, and picnicking with my boys.
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!
Shavone Bryson, Keshet team
Hello, my name is Shavone. I was born and raised here, Asheville NC. I am so excited to be part of 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 4 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, Olam Echad team
Hello, my name is Becca, and I am excited 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.
Erin DeBruyn, Reim team
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 20 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 happily returned to early childhood in 2017 at the JCC. 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 am currently in school pursuing a Masters Degree in Early Childhood. 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!
Katlyne Featherstone, Taglit team
Hello JCC families! My name is Katlyne and I am so excited to be working with the Taglit team and I love working with this age group. I was born and raised in Fletcher, not too far from Asheville. I have a passion for science and art. In my free time, you can probably find me repurposing things, painting, or watching tons of marine life documentaries. I enjoy being outdoors and sometimes I force my cat Ollie to go on walks with me, despite his unwillingness to do so. I am currently going to school at AB-tech to get my Associate in Science. I then plan on transferring somewhere to further my degree in marine biology. My dream is to open a place for kids in the mountains where they can learn about the importance of our ocean and marine life. I am honored to get to work with your children and I can’t wait to get to know all of you!
Danielle Groomes, Leviim 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.
Clara Iliff, Keshet team
Hello! My name is Clara, and I am a graduate of UNC Greensboro with a BFA in Art Education. After college, adventure called. I became a Certified ESL Teacher and moved to Guangzhou, China where I taught English and art to elementary school students. I loved using an interdisciplinary approach for art teaching and using a plethora of fun games to enhance language learning. I also had many priceless experiences traveling throughout China and studying Mandarin. Five years later in 2020, I moved back to North Carolina to pursue a career in Early Childhood Education. Education is my passion because I can connect with children in the classroom and I can encourage and foster their independence as individuals. Witnessing children learn, grow, and build confidence is the most rewarding part of being a teacher. I believe that school should be enjoyed by both the students and the teacher – to create positive memories and to develop a life-long passion for learning. When I am not in the classroom, I love to create art – painting, drawing, and printmaking. I enjoy traveling near and far when time allows. My partner and I often play music together, and we love to hike, camp, and backpack with our beloved dog. And we all share a great enthusiasm for food. I am thrilled to be a part of the team here at Shalom Children’s Center! Let’s embark on this learning journey together.
Andrea L. Jacobson, Heart-centered Child Coach
Andrea’s heart-centered, playful, child-led approach guides children toward balanced sensory, motor, cognitive, and social-emotional development leading to comfort and trust in oneself, others, and the world. Andrea strongly believes caregivers who understand how their child’s mind-body-spirit perceives sensory information and impacts their child’s behaviors and engagement feel empowered to recognize, respond to, and plan for their child’s needs. Andrea loves to create enjoyable, impactful, learning experiences out of everyday objects and routines and views parents, teachers, and children as her greatest collaborators. Her newest venture is the Child Coach Approach. To learn more visit www.otadventure.com.
Andrea has a Master’s of Occupational Therapy, Bachelor’s of Science in Health Education, and a master certificate in Intuition Medicine™. She has life-long experience promoting the development of children and has been a pediatric OT for 15+ years. Her work with children and families impacted by neurological, motor, and social-emotional differences, in public school, autism programs, sensory integration clinics, inpatient psychiatry, home, and community settings has shaped her holistic, dynamic-systems approach focused on building a healthy foundation for movement, motivation, social participation, engagement, and learning.
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 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, 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, Mentor teacher, Reim team
Welcome to a new year at Shalom! My name is Sherrill and I have been a teacher here now for 26 years, but have worked with children in other places for an additional ten. I am the Mother of four and the Grandmother of five. My educational background includes degrees in Fine Arts and Education from UNC-CH and UNC-A respectively, but by far the greatest education I have had the honor of receiving has been from the many children and families I have known. My other interests are reading, writing (not so much arithmetic except for at the preschool level!), gardening, storytelling, art and nature study. I also love singing, yoga, and dance parties with the class. I look forward to getting to know you and your children.
Wendy Lawrence, 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.
Lucy MacGregor, Educator Support Specialist
Lucy MacGregor, MEd. works with school communities to support the resilience, capacity, and compassion of children, teachers, and the organizations so they can live and work with vitality, from a center of sustainable well-being, aligned with passion, purpose, and values. Lucy’s work combines 15 years experience as an early education teacher, her background in experiential learning, and her extensive training in mindfulness, communication, and group facilitation. She integrates equity-based, trauma-informed and restorative practices into her work, and orients from a deep focus on social-emotional and brain-based learning. Her methods attend to personal growth, relational well-being, and organization development. Lucy is the co-founder of Design to Connect, LLC, a Program Facilitator with Mindful Schools, and a Mentor with Millennium Forum. She is a credentialed Montessori 3-6 teacher, and is certified in Children’s Yoga and Relax Kids.
Yvonne Marcus, floater
I’m Yvonne and I am originally from a small town east of Knoxville where there were no stoplights and my papaw owned the main attraction, the local diner. I left home in 2000 to get my BA in Political Science from Transylvania University in the big city of Lexington, Ky. My main requirement upon leaving my hometown was being able to order pizza during late night study sessions. After finishing my degree, I moved to Los Angeles, California where I worked for record labels and television production companies. My credits include TLCs hit series The Little Couple and OWNs The Golden Sisters. After marrying Jeremy in 2014 and giving birth to Jackson in 2015, I shifted gears and started to use all the project management skills I’d garnered from my years in production to teach parents project management. When we welcomed Josie to the family in 2017, I shifted to teaching Agile and Scrum project management methodologies for the home. In 2019, I decided to start substitute teaching at the JCC and that has blossomed into many great relationships with parents, teachers, and students. I look forward to getting my early childhood certification next year and continuing on my current journey at the JCC of being a floater.
Miri Massachi, 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!
LaVette McDaniel, Teva team
Hey everyone, my name is LaVette. 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.
Aislinn McShane, Program Engagement
Hey All! My name is Aislinn (Ashlyn) McShane. I started working at the J right out of college and am happy for the opportunity to continue. I originally grew up in Charlotte but went to UNCA and have been living in Asheville since I graduated in May 2020. I’ve been working with Jewish organizations in by helping in Hebrew schools, visiting my mom’s preschool classroom, and being a camp counselor for years. I spend most of my free time watching tv shows, movies, and playing tabletop games like D&D or other board games. I’m thrilled to continue working with the JCC and hope to help people out as much as I can.
Sade Mosley, 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, floater
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 looking forward to joining the JCC team!
Kayla Poginy, Teva team
Hi! My name is Kayla, and I am so excited to be part of the JCC family! I grew up in Orleans County, Vermont, and studied Psychology, Music, and French at the University of Vermont. After college, I worked as a 3rd grade special education teacher before relocating to North Carolina. In my free time, I enjoy reading, hiking, and singing.
Kathy Rennie, 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, Pre-K Science Inquiry & 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. For the past year, I’ve been teaching at Discovery Place, the science museum in Charlotte. After so much moving around, I’m thrilled to be finally putting some roots down in the Blue Ridge Mountains with my fiancé. I’m especially passionate about poetry, birdwatching, and learning Yiddish. I can’t wait to be outside in the mud with your kids!
Tiffany Santiago, Leviim team
I’m Tiffany. 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 13 years ago from LA. My background is in Performing Arts. I have over 20 years of experience as a teaching artist and working with children in kindergarten through high school from Louisiana to Germany, and Los Angeles to Asheville. I served as a mentor/tutor for the esteemed Virginia Avenue Project; an afterschool program in LA that uses the performing arts with long-term, one-on-one mentoring to help kids discover their full potential. You may have seen me at Wortham Center for the Performing Arts, where I was the Operations Manager for the past 8 years. I enjoy baking, photography, hikes with our dog, storytelling, and epic dance parties with our daughter. I look forwarding to 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 and I’ve lived in Asheville for 5 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 back with the JCC team!
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 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.
Penny White, Shabbat Songleader
Shalom y’all! I’m Penny. I was born and raised on the North Fork of Long Island, New York. I came to the JCC in the summer of 1982 (not a typo!) to co-direct the Summer Day Camp and have been here in some capacity ever since! Shabbat is an essential cornerstone of Judaism, and the weekly celebration of Shabbat has been an important component of the Shalom Children’s Center experience since the school’s founding. Upon semi-retiring after 24 years as the JCC’s Youth & Family Director, it has been my great honor to continue leading Shabbat song sessions at Shalom. My approach is one of ‘joyful Judaism’; to introduce and celebrate Shabbat through music in a way that is fun, inclusive, and age appropriate. In addition to singing with the kids at the J, I also song-lead at Blue Star Camps and Agudas Israel Congregation in Hendersonville, Faye’s Place at JFS, and the JCC’s Welcome Shabbat program. My special interests include photography, birding, stargazing and enjoying life in our beautiful mountains with my wonderful partner and our awesome dog Daisy.
Amber Williams, Mentor teacher, 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 to be part of the Shalom family since 2014!