About Our Staff

staff.jpg

The adult’s role in children’s journey is to support and facilitate their growth and development. To assume this role, to teach young children, is a great privilege and responsibility. Teaching is a mission - a valued and time-honored Jewish tradition. We look for teachers who are passionate and will offer a nurturing experience for the children. Our teachers have a deep understanding of children and the way they think, and have the desire to create meaningful relationships with the children. All our teachers believe in the importance of seeing each child as an individual. Our teachers plan and adapt the curriculum and the environment to meet the needs of each child.

According to the Reggio Emilia approach, the teacher sees herself as a learner – alongside the children - open to new thoughts and ideas. The teacher listens carefully to the children, observes and documents their work, and provokes and stimulates their thinking. As teachers, we are committed to strengthening and enriching our knowledge of young children by continuing our own education.

Our teachers are teachers who encourage our children to reflect, to be independent, to explore, to cooperate, to negotiate, to wonder, to love and to laugh.

Esty Marcus
Director


Esty Marcus, Director

Early Childhood has always been my passion. I have a Masters Degree in Education, have been involved in Education for 20 years and am pleased to be returning for my 16th year at Chai. I’ve always been drawn to young children and their sense of wonder and excitement for the world around them. I was a teacher for 10 years and for the past 15 years have directed the Chai Jewish Preschool. Together with the wonderful teachers, families and children, we have created a school where each child is respected and cherished.  I look forward to another wonderful year together as we watch our children grow and flourish.

Two/Three Year Old Class

Evelyn Mira

My name is Evelyn Mira and  have been teaching toddlers and preschoolers for 12 years.  I love working with children and watching them grow and learn. I look forward to my 9th year at Chai Preschool, and welcoming the new families and children.

Maggie Cruz

I am so excited to meet you, if I haven’t already met you during the summer already. I am from Orange County and have been around children my entire life as I am one of 13 siblings. I started my childhood education journey nearly 30 years ago and most recently I have spent the last 14 years running my own infant home care. I loved the time I spent with my MemoRuiz infants, watching them grow and learn so much. I’m excited for this new chapter with Chai Preschool as I am eager to help and teach them many skills, while giving them loving guidance to explore and learn everything we can possibly share. 

I am thrilled to meet each and every one of these amazing teachers and to meeting the children’s parents and family members too. I look forward to a great new beginning at Chai, and to work with all staff to continue making your child’s days memorable so they can carry the greatest memories with them.

Judaic Specialist: My name is Rivky Spalter and I’ve been teaching children for 8 years. I’ve taught children between the ages of 18 months to 5 years of age in preschools in New York and Toronto and currently starting my 6th year at Chai Preschool. I love being with children: observing, interacting and playing with them. I’m inspired by the way that young children are intrigued and filled with wonder by the everyday world. They are incredible little people who have the potential to change the world, and my hope is to help nurture within them the confidence, skills and compassion to do so. I am looking forward to another wonderful year with the children of learning, discovery and growth. 

Three/Four Year Old Class

My name is Rhonda Gamblin and I am so happy to be returning for my 9th year as a part of the teaching team here at Chai Preschool. My first experience with preschool was with my mother who was a preschool teacher. She would allow me to go to work with her and I could see firsthand the amazing work she did at school and how much the children loved her. I was inspired by her dedication to become a preschool teacher. I have been a teacher, Asst. Director, and a Director, and I am still so excited about the development of children. I have been teaching for over 20 years and I have taught ages 18 months to 5 years. I really look forward to teaching in the Toddler class. This is such a critical time in a child’s life and I am more than happy to be a small part of all the wonderful changes that will take place. My hope is to form a partnership with the families, develop a relationship with each individual child, and provide long, loving memories that will extend into the lives of each child. So, let’s have a wonderful, fun-filled, exciting, exploratory year!

Hi! My name is Lindsay Swanson and I am so excited to be apart of the Chai Preschool community! This is my first year teaching and I couldn’t be happier to begin this new chapter.  From a young age I knew that I was passionate in working with children. I started as a babysitter for family friends and neighbors at a young age, which has turned into part time nannying for the past several years. I have also had almost 10 years of experience working as a camp counselor for children at various summer camps, and this past summer I had the opportunity to be a camp counselor and volunteer at a camp for children with special needs, which was an extremely inspirational and rewarding experience! I am looking forward  to being apart of the children’s learning experience here at Chai Preschool!

Judaic Specialist: My name is Rivky Spalter and I’ve been teaching children for 8 years. I’ve taught children between the ages of 18 months to 5 years of age in preschools in New York and Toronto and currently starting my 5th year at Chai Preschool. I love being with children: observing, interacting and playing with them. I’m inspired by the way that young children are intrigued and filled with wonder by the everyday world. They are incredible little people who have the potential to change the world, and my hope is to help nurture within them the confidence, skills and compassion to do so. I am looking forward to another wonderful year with the children of learning, discovery and growth.

Four/Five Year Old Classes

Hello, my name is Lilach and I am very excited to be beginning my 12th year at Chai!  I have a bachelor’s degree in Art and I taught art both here and in Israel. Then I discovered early childhood education and I fell in love. I adore spending time with the children, watching them discover the world around them. I enrolled in Early Childhood Education courses, and am now a qualified preschool teacher. I am looking forward to spending another year with your wonderful children.

My name is Akemi Hamada, and this will be my third year at Chai Preschool! I love working with children and have been nannying and teaching children for five years. I’m currently pursuing a degree in early childhood education because I feel that these early years in a child's life are so important. I believe in providing each child with the utmost care and respect, and through fostering and supporting each one they are able to open up to their unlimited potential.  I am so excited to learn and grow with the students in such a positive encouraging environment!

Enrichment/Subsitute Teachers

Hello my name is Madeline, and it has been a pleasure working at Chai Preschool as a substitute teacher for the past six years.  I taught kindergarten and pre-kindergarten many years ago before I had my first child and have enjoyed the opportunity to continue teaching. I have three children, my youngest having gone to Chai for her three years of preschool. Working with Chai Preschool teachers, as a teacher, has been inspiring.  Chai Preschool teachers are a caring and dedicated team. Working with the children and learning from them keeps teaching exciting and new and I am looking forward to another year working here. I will be continuing to serve as a substitute in all the classes, as needed.

My name is Yoshiko Oehlerking. This will be my sixth year at Chai Preschool and I am very excited! I have completed my ECE units and have 3 years of preschool teaching experience. I enjoy working with children. I believe every child possesses the highest potential within them and, as a teacher, I want to support and help them to unlock their possibilities. They always amaze me with their natural ability and I learn so much from them. I’d like to grow as a teacher together with children. I was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan and moved to the US almost 20 years ago. I am the mother of three children who helped inspire me to become a preschool teacher. I am looking forward to meeting you and your child here at Chai Preschool!

Afternoon-Gardening Teacher 

Greetings, my name is Marion van Heteren. I have been a teacher at Chai since 2013. Previous to coming to Chai, I spent 5 years teaching at several schools in Palo Alto and Portola Valley. I took my Early Childhood classes at Canada College, and  have a site supervisor permit, I also have a BS in History from Humboldt State University. I am certified as a Master Gardener in San Mateo and San Francisco counties, I love gardening with the children.