About Our Staff


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

Preschool Director

My name is Esty Marcus and I a pleased to be starting my 18th yeat at Chai, which means Chai is now entering it’s 18th year! Early Childhood has always been my passion. I have a Masters Degree in Education, have been involved in Education for over 25 years. I’ve always been drawn to young children and their sense of wonder and excitement for the world around them. 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.

Office Manager

My name is Elizabeth Guerrero and it is my pleasure to be working at Chai Preschool as the office manager while concurrently pursuing a MA in Higher Education and Student Affairs at USF. I have over 5 years of experience working in K-12 education. Previously, I was a 7th/8th Grade Math teacher in East Oakland. Although I miss the classroom, I am excited to support teachers and families in the office. I am looking forward to a great school year!

Rimon Class 2-3 Year Olds 

My name is Evelyn Mira. I have been teaching toddlers and preschoolers for 13 years and this is my 11th year at Chai. I love working with children and watching them grow and learn. These early years are so important, and our primary focus for this age group is to support their social and emotional development. I am looking forward to welcoming your children to our Rimon Class.

My name is Gisselle, I am so happy to be working at Chai! I have experience with children of all ages, including children with autism. I love the joy and happiness each child brings to my life in any circumstance, it really is fulfilling. I believe each child has their own individual personality and each needs different things. I adapt easily to whatever that would entail. If a child needs cuddles, they will get cuddles, if they need space, they will get supervised space. Most importantly, I love giving children the love, care, and time they deserve to grow happy and healthy.

Tamar Class 2-3 Year Olds

My name is Rivky Spalter and I've been teaching children for 12 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 8th year at Chai Preschool. I love being with children: observing, interacting and playing with them. I am 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.

My name is Lexi Alcordo and I'm very excited to be a part of Chai Preschool! I recently obtained my Bachelor's Degree in Liberal Studies with a minor in Early Childhood Education from Sonoma State University. I have been working with children, ranging from infancy to preschool age, in school settings for 4 years. My passion for early childhood education started when I volunteered at a child development center during high school. I am in constant awe of the way young children think and view the world. I hope that I can further their development by creating positive, meaningful experiences through play and exploration. I'm looking forward to learning and exploring alongside the children, families, and Chai team!

My name is Monserrat, but I go by Monse. I was raised in the Bay Area my whole life and am currently in college working towards becoming a history teacher. I love working with children of all ages and hope to help them grow to the best little humans I know they can be. I have been working in  child care for about 5 years. Working with children from a young age has always been a passion of mine from a young age. I was able to experience being a camp counselor, a nanny and preschool teacher at my previous school! I look forward to continuing to work with the amazing staff and kids at Chai preschool.

Hadas Class 3-4 Year Olds

My name is Lilach. I was born and raised in Israel and came to America to pursue my art degree. It happened for a reason that I discovered my love for early childhood education and my appreciation to the Chai community. I have been a teacher at our school for 15 years and I cannot imagine it differently. Coming to preschool and spending time with the Children, getting to know them, listening to their interest and curiosity is why I choose to be a teacher.

My name is Gabriella! I am thrilled to be apart of the Chai Preschool team. This will be my 2nd year as a teacher at Chai and I’m very excited to be a part of your children’s preschool experience. I am a 3rd year college student on the path to receive by Bachelor’s Degree in Child and Adolescent Development. I have a great love for working with children and I strive to provide patience and respect for every child. The early childhood years are some of the most important and I am privileged to be supporting the children in this stage of their development.

My name is Amy DeBevoise, and I am thrilled to be teaching at Chai Preschool! I have worked in early childhood education for seven years and consider myself a "teacher-researcher" who learns and grows alongside the children. I hold an MFA in Children's Literature and currently take graduate courses in Library and Information Sciences at San Jose State University. My focus of study is the information behaviors of young children. Wherever my path leads, I know my work will always endeavor to honor what librarian Gertrude B. Herman refers to as "children's insistence upon their right to knowledge.

Erez Class 4-5 Year Olds

My name is Akemi Hamada, and this will be my sixth year at Chai Preschool! I love working with children and have been working with them for over 10 years. 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 continue to learn and grow with the students in such a positive and encouraging environment!

Hello Chai preschool parents, I am Miri Sagy. I am very excited to be starting my 2nd year at Chai. I have been a preschool teacher for the last 10 years, working with children ages 2-5 years old. I love working with children and observing how young minds see the world around them and learn. Young children are filled with curiosity, wonder, imagination, creativity and as a teacher I love helping them learn skills that will help them grow into confident, caring and independent individuals. Teaching young children has been a passion of mine for many years.  I live in the bay area with my husband and 2 children. My youngest daughter went to Chai preschool for her three years of preschool and had a wonderful time here. I have a B.A in International Business and took my ECE classes at Canada and Skyline colleges. I am looking forward to a wonderful journey of learning and growing with your children, and excited to meet you all in this coming school year.

Alon Class, 4-5 Year Olds

My name is Helen Luis. I am happy to be re-joining the Chai Preschool team this year! This is my 13th year at Chai.  I love early childhood education and especially enjoy the Pre-K age group.  I have spent the better part of the last 25 years in the field of early childhood education, in both teaching and administrative roles throughout the Bay Area.  I enjoy the child centered, Reggio-Inspired approach to learning that Chai embraces, especially the view of the child as competent, capable and creative learners.  I hold a BA in Child Development and a Program Director Permit through the CCTC. I am looking forward to a fun year, learning alongside your wonderful children in the new home of Chai! 

My name is Lindsay Swanson and I am so excited to be a part of the Chai Preschool community! This is my 4th year teaching and I could not be happier to continue this chapter. From a young age I knew that I was passionate about 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 a part of your childrens' learning experience here at Chai Preschool!


My name is Madeline Flanagan, and it has been a pleasure working at Chai Preschool as a substitute teacher for the past eight 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.

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.