Meet Our Staff
Elyssa Schick, Interim Preschool Director Elyssa Schick is excited to stepping into the interim directors’ role after being a dedicated teacher here in the Kofim classroom for the past 12 years. Elyssa holds a BA in Psychology and Liberal Arts from Skidmore College and a Director Certification in Early Childhood Education. Prior to joining the team at KI, Elyssa taught at Boston Children’s School in Boston and interned at a psychiatric hospital in New York. Elyssa is also proud of her athletic ability, as she annually completes the Spartan Race, a series of obstacle races of varying distance and difficulty ranging from 3 miles to marathon distances.
Valerie Kiviat, Office Administrator Valerie Kiviat has been working with the preschool for 14 years. She holds a BS and Ed.M. from Boston University. Valerie is married to a Brookline native, whose parents were married at KI! She lives in West Roxbury and has been privileged to share in raising three super awesome stepchildren, along with Dakota, the family cat. Valerie’s warm and welcoming presence is an integral part of the KI community.
Ruth Walsh Ruthie is a certified Lead Teacher who attended Lesley University. She has been involved in children’s education for many years — owning and running her own family daycare, and teaching at a Cambridge preschool. Ruthie has also worked as a birth and post-partum duola. She has been a familiar face at KI for the past 10 years; first as a volunteer, then as a substitute teacher, and as a teacher for the past eight years. Ruthie is a welcoming presence for KI’s youngest students and she is looking forward to another exciting year at KI!
Priscilla Restago Priscilla has a BA in Psychology with a minor in Studio Art from Boston College, and she has been teaching for 5 years. She is originally from Florida and travels home as often as possible! In her spare time, Priscilla enjoys reading, singing, and playing with her cat Teddi. She is very excited to begin her first year at KI with Ruthie!
Deirdre O’Neill Deirdre is delighted to be returning to the KI Preschool community. Deirdre has been teaching for the past several years at the Trust Center for Early Education at Temple Ohabei Shalom. Before her sojourn at the Trust Center, she taught here at KI Preschool for many years in the Kofim classroom. Deirdre is particularly passionate about literacy and uses storytelling, drama, and poetry in the classroom to wrap preschoolers in the magic of language. Deirdre began her teaching career as a Parent Educator for Early Intervention. She has a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Emerson College. She has two almost grown-up daughters, and in her free time she tends her organic garden and writes poetry and children’s stories.
Carrie Merriman This is Carrie’s thirtieth year with the Preschool! She is a graduate of the Threshold Program at Lesley College. She first came to KI Preschool as a student teacher in 1987 and decided to stay on as a teacher’s assistant. Carrie is an avid pet lover and a proud owner of three wonderful pets: her dog, Kilvert; her horse Limelight; and her cat Oliver, and enjoys spending her “down time” with them on the North shore. Carrie brings her warmth and love of children directly into the classroom. She is a wonderful storyteller! This year she will be joining the Kofim team.
Aida Fedotov. Aida (“Mimi”) is super excited to join the KI preschool team this year. Mimi studied at the International University of Sarajevo, majoring in Political Science and Journalism and speaks both Bosnian and German. She also has 15 years of experience as a preschool teacher. Mimi is a proud mother of 3 smart and beautiful children and is fond of music, the visual arts, dancing, organizing, reading, traveling and loves, loves children!
Eileen Walfish Eileen first came to Boston 15 years ago for a quick weekend getaway (she’s born and raised in Montreal, Quebec) and shortly after was hired by the JCC Early Learning Centers. She ran an art program for seven year and taught in the Pre-K class for 15. Eileen has a degree in Early Childhood Education and has studied at Hebrew College in Jewish Early Childhood Education. She has 24 years teaching experience with children ages two to nine years. Eileen resides in Brighton with her boyfriend and two cats, and loves music, dance, theater, cooking, travelling, and visiting art museums. Eileen truly believes, “Every child is a different kind of flower, and all together makes this world a beautiful garden” and is so happy to be at KI!
Elizabeth Portello Lizzie is excited to be part of the Parparim team for the second time this school year. She has spent the last 6 years at KI as a student teacher and as a substitute. She recently graduated from UMass Boston with her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. Before taking a teaching position at KI, Lizzie nannied for a former KI family and thoroughly enjoys being a part of the KI community. Lizzie is very excited to be a part of the Parparim team with Tirzah and Eileen!
Tirzah Katz Tirzah is joining us for her fourth year as a teacher at the preschool. Tirzah has a degree from Wheelock College in Human Development with a Child Life concentration, and she has a certificate in Early Childhood education. Her work experience includes working at Brigham and Women’s Hospital as a Child Life intern. She has been a Training Coordinator at LilleBaby Corporation and at Brighton Hospital Child Care Center where she served as a teacher for three years. Prior to teaching at KI, Tirzah was a much-loved nanny for several families in the area. Tirzah is so proud of her two KI Preschool alumni (graduating classes of 2016 and 2019). She is excited for another year in Parparim.
Joyce Naggar Joyce has a degree in Early Childhood Education and is a seasoned Early Childhood teacher with over twenty years experience. This will be Joyce’s fifth year teaching at KI Preschool. She grew up in Brookline where she currently lives with her husband and four children. In her free time she loves to read books and travel to different places with her family. Joyce is always cooking up something fun in her classroom and she is looking forward to the new school year!
Gaby Zwiebach Gaby has over fifteen years of experience as a childhood educator serving as both a preschool teacher and director at Beth El Preschool in Newton. She received her MA degree in Japanese studies from Harvard and a BA in Political Science from University of California, Berkeley. Gaby also holds an early childhood certification from Mass Bay Community College. Gaby is fluent in English, Hebrew, and Spanish. She is excited to be returning for her third year at KI!
Philip Alexander, Music Philip Alexander is one of New England’s premiere children’s entertainers. He’s an an alumnus of Boston’s renowned Berklee College of Music and performs throughout the Greater Boston area. As a children’s musician, Philip delights young and old alike – with interactive performances featuring voice, guitar, dulcimer, bamboo flute, ocarina and percussion. In addition to teaching his own weekly parent/child music classes, he performs in schools, libraries, summer camps, and at concerts,birthday parties and corporate events. Philip is delighted to be working with the children and staff at KINS for his fourth year.
Jenn Harrington, Creative Movement Affectionately known as “Miss Jenn,” Jenn will be starting her ninth year at the preschool. For over ten years Jenn has worked with children of all ages, ranging from one year to eighteen years of age, teaching creative movement and gymnastics classes through her business, Imagination Runs Wild. Every class that Jenn teaches at KINS incorporates fun and planned out themes that help the children stay physically fit, as well as give them the opportunity to practice their hand-eye coordination and gross motor skill development. Jenn will teach creative movement classes on Mondays once a week to each preschool class. She also teaches an enrichment program on Wednesdays from 2-3PM for preschool children. This program will incorporate gymnastics into her movement activities.