Educator Spotlight2021-09-30T15:12:44-04:00

Educator Spotlight- COVID 2020

Chumi Millman, M.S., CCC-SLP, SHEMESH Special Education and Support Consultant, Posted 5/19/202021-02-23T14:09:57-05:00

What’s your role with SHEMESH? 

Providing consultative support to teachers, administrators, and parents, and supporting our schools, teachers, families, and children any way I can.  

How have your activities for SHEMESH changed since COVID-19 closed schools? 

I am providing early literacy support, social skills lessons, speech-language therapy services, and parent support remotely. 

What practical suggestions do you have for parents with Children at home? 

  • Have lots of snacks on-hand. Being home means your children are non-stop eating machines. Snacks can also gain you a short break. 
  • Plan your week ahead of time. I always look up my kids’ schedules and print and organize all the papers they will need for the week on Sunday. 
  • Invest in new activities that will expand your children’s world while hopefully giving you some much needed down-time. These do not need to be expensive. Ideas include walkie talkies, tee-ball set, pop-up tent, some highly rated kids’ card games, and a build-your-own toy car set. 
Sarah Ottensoser, M.S. CCC-SLP, SHEMESH Executive Function Coach, Posted 5/26/202021-02-23T14:09:35-05:00

What’s your role with SHEMESH? 

Helping students via strategies for organization, time management, planning and other brain-based weaknesses. I collaborate with teachers & parents and provide educational training of effective teaching methods for all students.  

What does your role look like during Covid 19?  

Many of my students are finding distance learning extremely difficult. Weak working memory makes is difficult to complete tasks when given only verbal directions. Students with ADHD need multiple modes of modality to learn and long-distance learning may prevent this. There are many distractions to tune out and lessons are not always as stimulating long-distance. Via ZOOM, I continue to teach students about their executive function weaknesses; We read books, work on habit development, create incentive programs and schedules, and even organize their learning environments together! I have been working with their parents to support them in other ways, too. 

What practical suggestions do you have for parents now? 

Provide structure, rules and expectations, but be flexible and positive. If the schedules aren’t working for your family, re-assess what absolutely needs to get done vs otherwise. Your family’s mental & emotional well-being comes 1st. 

Eileen Norris, M.A., SHEMESH Reading Specialist, Posted 6/2/202021-02-23T14:14:40-05:00

What’s your role with SHEMESH and what does it look like now? 

As the Reading Specialist for Kindergarten students at Bais Yaakov, I’ve since been making weekly LOOM videos and learning packets for my students.  

What’s your favorite part of working for SHEMESH?  

The SHEMESH team shares excellent, professional resources, tips, and ideas with each other. It is clear that we want the best for all students, not just the students in the schools where we work. 

What practical suggestions do you have for parents now? (adapted from 

  • Point out print everywhere: cereal boxes, toys, shop and traffic signs 
  • Sing songs, recite short poems/nursery rhymes, & play rhyming games 
  • Encourage older children to read with younger children
  • Encourage your child to read (or pretend read) to you and make it enjoyable. Applaud your child’s efforts to read even if they can’t read correctly. 
  • Let your child see you reading & keep books/magazines/newspapers around  
  • Encourage your child to write messages such as grocery lists, to-do lists, postcards, or short messages to family members/friends. Don’t worry about conventional spelling,but encourage your child’s first efforts at authorship. 
Susan Garfinkel, M.A., SHEMESH Reading Specialist, Posted 6/16/202021-02-23T14:09:14-05:00

What do your activities for SHEMESH look like now? 

I am doing 30-minute individual tutoring sessions with my students & I so enjoy the connections I have formed with each of them. We have fun while learning using educational games that address each phonics skill. We review sight words and practice phonemic awareness skills using the whiteboard on Zoom. 

What tips do you have for parents to help support their children’s early literacy or reading skills over the summer? 

  • Read with your child every day. Take turns reading or read to them.  
  • Keep a summer journal and have them write a sentence the best they can. Don’t worry about spelling or punctuation, let them free-write and draw a picture.  
  • Help them to develop a love for reading. Set aside a time to read alone a couple days a week and let them see you reading.  
  • Books on tape are great. Listen together and ask questions. 
  • Most importantly, make reading and learning fun!! Throw plastic letters in the pool and have your child dive for them, play tic tac toe with letters, use hands-on multisensory games for the little ones 
Faye Friedman, M.S. CCC-SLP, SHEMESH Program Director, Posted 7/7/202021-02-23T14:08:26-05:00

What’s your role with SHEMESH? 

I’ve been program director for SHEMESH since it started in 2009. I love working with our community’s children, helping them build their skills & enhancing their self-image as successful learners. I also feel privileged to work with the talented and dedicated SHEMESH staff. As a speech-language pathologist, I am also able to provide a range of services such as speech-language therapy, reading intervention & social skills instruction. 

How have your activities changed as a result of covid 19? 

I’ve transitioned to working fully online. I’m appreciating the opportunity to learn a new skill (teletherapy) & am very gratified to see excellent results.  

What practical summer tips do you have for parents? 

  • Make learning experiential- reading directions for a project & measuring ingredients for a recipe are great ways to maintain skills while having fun.  
  • Let your child’s interests guide you. Let them choose topics for exploring online and books to read.  
  • Spend time outdoors. Reading outdoors under a tree, in a tent, at a picnic table can be so much more pleasurable. 
Eileen Himmelrich, SHEMESH Reading Specialist, Posted 7/14/202021-02-23T14:08:01-05:00

What’s your role with SHEMESH?

I am responsible for teaching children with language-based learning differences who require an approach to reading instruction tailored to their needs.

What kind of reading instruction do you provide?

I follow an Orton-Gillingham approach. It is a multisensory, explicit, structured and sequential reading program. I plan and create lessons that engage the students and make learning to read fun.

What is your favorite part of working for SHEMESH?

Working with my students and seeing their skills develop! I love seeing them smile when they achieve a goal that initially seemed difficult. I enjoy seeing their excitement and confidence grow as their reading skills become stronger.

Summer Tips?

  • Create your own books. Choose a topic and write a story. Use only illustrations or only words or a combination.
  • Play brainstorming games with your child. Brainstorming is a good skill for organizing, staying on topic, generating ideas and promoting thinking.
  • Read to your child each day (or night). Talk about the story and pictures.
Debbie Logue, SHEMESH Reading Specialist, Posted 8/5/202021-02-23T14:12:58-05:00

What’s your role with SHEMESH?

My name is Morah Debbie Logue and I am a reading specialist for Shemesh. I provide reading support to the preschool students at TA. Other than working with students, I so enjoy my interactions with parents and teachers.  It makes my heart happy to assist them in any way that I can.  For example, providing materials to help individualize student learning. Since going virtual, I have been able to suggest a variety of websites to assist with learning and as well as websites with fun read alouds.

I very much want to give an enormous Hakaras Ha Tov to all parents and caregivers. It is not easy homeschooling when one chooses to homeschool.  Being thrown into the role without warning and some preparation time is super difficult.  I think that it is very important not to beat yourself up about what you are or are not doing and just remember that you are doing the best that you can.  Even the littlest amount of work given over to your child with conviction and love will leave an everlasting imprint and may be the most important learning your child receives.

What do you want parents to know?

Summer is a time to relax and enjoy your family – especially this year. Unfortunately, the dreaded ‘summer slide’ may be a concern. Rather than have your child/children do workbooks or worksheets here are some suggestions that may be a bit more fun.

  • Family read alouds.
  • Family memory book.
  • A round robin story that is written down and then illustrated.  For example, begin with a simple prompt like On the path… and then have each family member add to the story.  Write it down and then illustrate it.
  • Family cooking nights – read and discuss the recipes and do the math to make more or less of the recipe.  Adding, subtracting, and fractions can be discussed in a fun way.
  • Family game night.
Michal Tessler, SHEMESH Behavior and Education Consultant, Posted 9/1/202021-02-23T14:07:40-05:00

What’s your role with SHEMESH?

I provide consultation to administrators and teachers, helping with classroom wide positive behavior and individual students’ needs. I also try to support the parents of children who are struggling in the school system.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned during this time homeschooling your own children?  

I have learned how much children benefit from being with their parents! Time, love, and connection from a parent can be more healing than many hours of professional help.

What do you want parents to know?

As we start the first week back to school and hopefully return to “normal” life, take a moment to think about what your family can hold onto from quarantine days. Was there anything that you or your children benefited from that can become a part of your family lifestyle even when you’re all back to work and school?

One last message:

For those of you who are desperate to have your children out of the house and back to a school routine, enjoy your well-deserved break! And for those of you who are wishing you could hold on to just a few more hours of having the kids around, enjoy your last licks! (Most of us fit into both of those categories at different times of the day!)

Aviva Weisbord, Ph.D., A’H, SHEMESH Founding Executive Director, Posted 9/16/202021-03-03T09:59:37-05:00

What’s your role with SHEMESH?

It’s my privilege to lead our extraordinary staff, maintain communication and the flow of information within SHEMESH. In addition, I manage SHEMESH relationships with our partner schools, write grants for funds from foundations, represent SHEMESH on the federal, state and local levels, raise funds to continues our services, present the SHEMESH story to lay leaders and professional groups and work to help as many children as possible get the services and support they need.

How have your activities for SHEMESH changed since COVID-19 closed schools?

Not only schools closed!  Businesses, offices and individual homes closed. Everything is now online or on Zoom, with no in-person meetings. We have to work harder and smarter to accomplish our goals.

What do you want parents to know?

We are working harder than we thought possible to keep your children – OUR children – up to par. We know it’s been a struggle and will remain a struggle; WE ARE HERE TO HELP!!!

Penina Goldstein, M.A., SHEMESH and Bais Yaakov Learning Center Coordinator, Posted 11/10/202021-02-24T11:56:37-05:00

What’s your role with SHEMESH?

I supervise the Learning Center teachers at Bais Yaakov, who are all special educators. We work together to serve students who attend Bais Yaakov but need educational support and skills. I also work with classroom teachers to help them understand the needs of children with learning disabilities and provide ideas, observations, and assessments. I collaborate with administrators and school counselors to help all students and address their needs.

How has your role changed during covid 19?

I have found myself supporting more parents in helping their own children both at home and in school.

What do you want parents to know now?

It’s okay for children to be challenged by this pandemic. Acknowledge your child’s feelings, be positive, and encourage open conversation about whatever it is he/she may be feeling. Have conversations about how school is different and help them manage these new expectations.

Any suggestions for parents with regard to online learning?

I think it’s wonderful for parents to have an opportunity to observe their children’s learning, especially when they are working with their Learning Center teachers (but just be a quiet observer). Also, allow your child to take breaks throughout the day, and don’t overload the learning; it could backfire.

Rivka Danziger, M.A., SHEMESH and TA Learning Center Director, Posted 11/18/202021-02-24T11:56:56-05:00

What’s your role with SHEMESH?

As a Learning Center Director at TA, I consult with parents, rebbeim, and teachers to help them understand the challenges some students face in their academic journey. I also assess students and observe them in their classroom environment to better understand the barriers they are facing and to individualize recommendations. To be effective, accommodations and modifications need to be fine-tuned to address the individual student and individual classroom setting. The satisfaction of knowing that small changes can make the difference between failure and success is the most meaningful part of my job!

What’s your favorite part of working with SHEMESH?

SHEMESH “has our back”! Aside from the direct services SHEMESH provides to the preschool (behavioral support, and early reading intervention) and to our elementary and middle school (executive function coaching), we rely on SHEMESH to provide good quality professional development opportunities.

How many children do you think you impact in a school year?

We directly service 45-50 students per year in our Learning Center and Small Classrooms, but reach many more students via consultative services with parents and classroom teachers. I love walking through the halls of TA and being able to greet so many students by name – students in our LC, LC graduates, and others!

Leah Golfeyz, M.A., SHEMESH Special Education and Support Consultant, Posted 08/23/212021-09-30T15:43:28-04:00

What’s your role with SHEMESH?

I am excited to join SHEMESH’s team as a Special Education and Support Consultant to assist schools and families with meeting the needs of diverse learners in the classroom.  Through classroom observations, coaching, and providing professional development, we will focus on strategies that support classroom management, differentiated instruction, center-based learning and promoting active student engagement.

Tell us about your background.

Working previously as a director of Special Education Services in grades K-8, Early Childhood Center Director, a Professor of Instructional Design at Maalot- Gratz College, and having also taught in Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle and High School, I enjoyed a unique insight and experience across various developmental stages and ages.

What’s something you love about your job?

As a lifelong learner, I cherish the professional development opportunities I have had in supporting students with diverse needs, coaching teachers, and administration. Some of my favorite professional development training included Hidden Sparks, the Jewish New Teachers Project Administrator Training, Mariposa, and other empirically-based reading strategies such as Orton Gillingham, Phono Graphix, and Visualise and Verbalise. I am currently participating in a Conscious Discipline training and look forward to continued personal and professional growth!

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

Spending time with my family and raising happy, healthy children is my biggest joy! Some of our favorite activities together include art, reading, waterplay, and other outdoor fun. I am a strong believer in play-based learning for children and some of our best time we spend together is simply playing!


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