Today is October 2, 2022 ()

Staff

We have a team of outstanding classroom teachers for all of our classes. As early childhood professionals, each one of our teachers has a love of children and expertise in child development. They work with each child to provide experiences and opportunities that foster curiosity and exploration and develop the child’s unique talents. We recognize that a highly-qualified and well-trained staff are among the primary factors which contribute to an excellent and high-quality educational program. Ongoing training is a requirement of our Massachusetts licensing agency, and is central to our program. Our goal is to exceed the minimum number of professional development hours per year.

Aileen Landau

Director of Early Childhood Education and Young Family Engagement

Aileen enthusiastically joined the Gan Aliyah team in 2020. Aileen has worked in the field of early childhood for over 20 years. She has taught infants through Kindergarten aged children. Aileen was the director of a synagogue preschool program in the Chicago area prior to relocating to Boston. She holds a Master of Science degree in Elementary Education and a second Master of Science degree in Early Childhood Education, with an emphasis on Leadership and Advocacy. Aileen has 3 children (Bess, Skye, and Henry) and lives in Newton. 

Gabrielle Amdur

PreK Teacher, Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Gabby is excited to be a part of the Gan Aliyah team and bring her clinical experience as a licensed social worker into the classroom. She is passionate and dedicated to working with young children and believes in creating a safe and nurturing environment where children feel comfortable to take risks, discover and make connections. Gabby holds both a Master of Social Work and a Bachelor of Science in Applied Psychology from New York University and has several years of experience as a child and family psychotherapist. Gabby recently completed a CDA program to become certified as a lead teacher.  Gabby grew up in New Jersey and lived in Manhattan before moving to Boston, where she began working as a school based therapist in a Boston Public School.  She places a strong emphasis on social and emotional development and fostering a child-centered learning environment where children are engaged in play based exploration.

Stella Kamenetsky

Preschool Teacher

Stella is an enthusiastic and experienced teacher who engages the children in both English and Hebrew. It is her passion to observe children incorporating the knowledge she has given to them in their play and hear them formulate their own interpretations. Stella is truly passionate about Israel and enjoys making it come to life in her work. Stella arrived here in 1999 from Israel, where she completed a four-year program at David Yelin Educational College in Jerusalem, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. Since then she has worked in Jewish early childhood education, including preschool and Day School settings here as she did in Israel. Stella also teaches at Temple Emanuel on Sundays, with children ages 5-6. She lives in Sharon with her husband Alex, and their two boys Nathaniel, and Ben.

Makayla Leite

Toddler Teacher

Makayla has had a lot of experience with children from birth to 5. She is the oldest of 4 in a family of six. Being an older role model and interacting constantly with her younger siblings have aided in her desire to nurture and protect. She also has a cousin who was born with Down Syndrome who continues to be an integral part behind her career choice and work experience. She gravitated towards early childhood because of how fragile little minds can be; She wants to impact their life and help them grow. Her experience includes work in a preschool for 7 years. During that time, she attended both Massasoit Community College and Bridgewater State University to pursue a BA in sociology with underlying classes in ASL, child development, and communication sciences and disorders. As a teacher, she once taught a child who required early intervention. The impact of working with the child led her to working in Early Intervention in the greater Plymouth area for a few years. She witnessed the success ABA had for Autistic children and decided to begin an adventure working with autistic children for the past year. She finds working with kids to be rewarding in so many ways! All her experience has aided in her ability to individualize based on each child’s needs and better help them to succeed.

Joyce Levine

Afternoon Enrichment Teacher

Joyce is very excited to be part of the Gan Aliyah preschool and work with such amazing teachers and children. Joyce became very interested in working with children as she saw her daughter with Asperger’s syndrome grow up. Spending lots of time at the library made her daughter happy and led to Joyce’s love of children’s books and being with children. This brought her to a career as a children’s librarian. Later, Joyce began to work as a preschool teacher. Joyce lives in Westwood with her husband and adult daughter. Her son is in Los Angeles, which is too far away but makes for a nice vacation.

Opal McDonnell

Lead Teacher, PreK

Opal loves leading our PreK team at Gan Aliyah. She comes to us with experience teaching preschool to kindergarten age children. Opal holds a Lead Teacher Preschool certification from our licensing agency, along with an initial license in PreK-2 from the Massachusetts Department of Education. Opal grew up in Brockton and graduated from Brockton High School. She continued to obtain her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Lesley University. After graduating, Opal went on to teach at a local Jewish Preschool. During that time period, she continued her academic path by enrolling in the Special Education Master’s degree program at Bridgewater State College. Opal believes in fostering a kind, nurturing and independent environment. “Being able to witness and help foster a child’s natural curiosity and willingness to learn is a gift.” Opal is married and has two children. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, reading and cooking.

Sara O'Brien

Older Toddlers Teacher  

Sara grew up in Westwood, MA, the third born in a family of six. Having always had a fascination with psychology and development, she realized at a young age that a passion of hers was working with children. In her teen years she found experience by working in the daycare program at Westwood Children’s school, she continued working with children of various ages throughout college spending 3 consecutive summers as a camp counselor at Dedham Health and Athletics Center. She also spent 3 years nannying for a family she has come to consider part of her own, as well as being part of the Gan Aliyah family since 2016.  Recently she began her studies at Becker College – completing her certification for teaching toddlers and preschoolers. Sara strongly believes that children are able to best express themselves when taught with joy, excitement, and compassion.

Miriam Valenzuela-Oliveira

Preschool Teacher

Miriam comes to us with several years of experience as a teacher. She also spent 3 years working with Early Intervention; working with children with special needs and their families. She is excited to be back in a preschool classroom. Miriam is originally from Guatemala, where she received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of San Carlos of Guatemala. Miriam lives in Sharon with her son.