2016-2017 Faculty and Staff
Gan/Kindergarten Lead Teacher
Director of Family Engagement
Amy was one of the first teachers hired at LGA, teaching at the school from 1997 to 2001. After taking a break to raise her two daughters – one now in 8th grade and one in Kitah Vav/6th grade at LGA – she returned to LGA in 2009. Amy holds a M.Ed. from Smith College and a BA from Wesleyan University. She also spent two years as a fellow at Drisha Institute for Jewish Studies. She has worked as a wilderness guide and outdoor educator, and is especially proud of her role in founding the Teva Learning Center. Amy is the author of two children’s books, A Mezuzah on the Door and The Shabbat Princess and contributes to several websites and newspapers. In June of 2015 Amy received the Covenant Award for Excellence in Jewish Education. For the 2016-2017 school year Amy is the newly appointed Director of Family Engagement.
Gan/Kindergarten Teaching Team; Kitot Bet, Gimel & Dalet/Grades 2, 3 & 4 Judaics
Andrea is in her fifth year as part of the Gan/Kindergarten team and in her third year teaching Kitah Gimel/Gr. 3 Judaics. She is very excited this year to be teaching Kitah Bet/ Gr. 2 and Kitah Daled/Gr. 4 Judaics while still being able to spend time in the Gan/Kindergarten. Andrea received her BA in History from UConn and her M.Ed. in Secondary History Education from UMass Amherst. Prior to teaching history, Judaics and Hebrew at the Jewish Community of Amherst from 2002–2012, Andrea worked as a costumed historical interpreter and museum teacher at Old Sturbridge Village. She is a 2005 recipient of the Grinspoon-Steinhardt Excellence in Teaching Award and Pioneer Valley Excellence in Jewish Teaching Award. Andrea has three children, the youngest of whom is in Kitah Gimel/Gr. 3 at LGA. In her spare time she enjoys reading, cooking, playing her guitar and digging in her garden.
Kitah Alef/1st Grade General Studies
Rana arrived at Lander-Grinspoon Academy in 2004 and has since been known as one of the most creative teachers on staff — both personally and academically. Her sense of style and artistic outlook help to inform the creative energy of the school and students – and parents – always look forward to the art projects in Kitah Alef /1st grade. Rana earned a BA in Education from UMass Amherst. She lives in Amherst with her husband and has two children, both LGA alumni.
Kitah Bet/2nd Grade General Studies
Lauren is entering her fourth year of teaching second grade. She previously taught second grade at Homer Street School in Springfield and at Leeds Elementary School. Lauren graduated from Westfield State University in 2013 with her BA in Elementary Education. She currently lives in Easthampton with her fiancé and five-year-old daughter. She enjoys dancing, hiking, painting and spending time with her family and friends in her free time.
Kitah Gimel/3rd Grade General Studies
Julie came to LGA in 2007 after ten years at the Bement School where she taught grades 1 and 3, and summer programs in ESL and science. At LGA, she sets a wonderful and cheerful tone in her classroom that helps all her students feel comfortable. Julie holds a BA in Political Science from Bowdoin College and a M.Ed. from Antioch New England Graduate School. In her free time Julie attends her sons’ sporting events and visits historical sites with her husband. Her family also enjoys hosting students from around the world.
Kitah Dalet/4th Grade General Studies
Hilary joined LGA in 2001 after many years teaching high school students. Her passion for literature and humor are major components of life in her classroom, as are assorted creative student nicknames. Hilary received a BA from Brandeis in English and American Literature, her M.Ed. in Special Education from UMass Boston, and a C.A.G.S. in Social Justice Education from UMass Amherst. Hilary coaches LGA’s Ultimate Frisbee team, The DISCombobulators; she loves many sports and being in the outdoors. Hilary has two children; one in Kitah Dalet/Gr. 4 at LGA.
Kitah Hay/5th Grade Language Arts & Math
Cindy joined LGA in 2001 to teach the first 5th grade class. Cindy loves finding creative ways to teach math, incorporating games and Pi Day into the curriculum. She also works with students on math placement and enrichment. Cindy has a BA in Journalism and International Relations from the University of Wisconsin, and a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from Loyola University, Chicago. She has a busy life outside of school with her two young daughters. She enjoys playing soccer and volleyball, cooking, and renovating houses. Cindy also sings with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Kitot Hay & Vav/ Grades 5 & 6 Science
Kitah Vav/Grade 6 Language Arts & Math
Becky came to LGA in 2002 to teach the first 6th grade class as the General Studies teacher. She currently teaches 6th grade Language Arts and Math, as well as 5th and 6th grade science. Becky received a BS in Biology, as well as her M.Ed in Secondary Science Education, from UMass Amherst. She is enjoying our new outdoor learning options with Abundance Farm. Outside of school, Becky enjoys spending time with her husband and three children, playing recreational soccer, and refueling at Bueno y Sano. Her twin sons are in Kitah Bet/Gr. 2 this year.
Kitot Hay & Vav/Grades 5 & 6 Social Studies, Judaics & Hebrew
Neil has taught at LGA since 2002. He studied Anthropology at UMass, Yiddish Language and Literature at The Oxford Programme in Yiddish, and Jewish Education at Hebrew College. Before coming to LGA, he worked for many years at the National Yiddish Book Center helping collect Yiddish books and match them with new readers. Neil loves having fun with his family, reading and exercise. Neil and his wife, Amy, have two children: an LGA alumni and a fifth grader.
Kitty joined LGA in 2009 after volunteering many creative hours on special art projects and set designs while a parent in the school. She earned her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design with a major in Photography, Design, and Textiles. Later she studied at NYU and the Art Institute of Chicago. Kitty worked many years for Very Special Arts as a photographer and Artist in Residence, providing arts in education for children with special needs. Most recently she worked as an art teacher in Holyoke, bringing art programs to high-risk teens. When not teaching, Kitty owns and runs a local antique and interior design business.
Felicia is a Jewish “Entertain-ucator” who uses music, percussion, dance, puppets, sign language, shtick (and anything else she can think of) to entertain and inspire people of all ages to celebrate Jewish holidays, culture and values. Her classical vocal training began when she was nine years old. At Oberlin College, Felicia studied musical theater and spent a semester at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, learning about sign language and deaf culture. Her “Jewish Family Jam” classes are known throughout the community. She is the cantorial soloist for High Holidays at Congregation B’nai Israel and leads Kabbalat Shabbat and Family Shabbat programs throughout the Pioneer Valley and beyond. Felicia’s CD of Jewish children’s music, Zeh Hayom, is sponsored by the PJ Library. Her son is in Kitah Dalet/Gr. 4 at LGA.
Kacey joined the LGA staff in fall of 2015 after having been an elementary physical education teacher at Crocker Farm Elementary in Amherst for 22 years, after earning her BS at UMass (a long time ago). Along the way, she also taught and coached gymnastics at Hampshire Gymnastics School in Amherst, which she still does, part-time. Kacey has directed summer sports camps for the town of Amherst for many years, and also coaches varsity softball and volleyball at Amherst High School, where she has even coached some wonderful LGA alums! Kacey has three children and just became a grandmother this summer! She lives in Amherst with her husband Tim and youngest son Brendan. Needless to say, she enjoys lots of different sports (playing, watching, and coaching/teaching), reading, gardening, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.
Ziona Gavish Itzhack
Kitot Bet, Gimel, Dalet, Hay and Vav/Grades 2-6 Hebrew Teacher
Kitah Dalet/4th Grade Judaics
Ziona Gavish Itzhack is in her third year at LGA. She is Israeli born and has taught for 16 years in secular Israeli schools. She most recently taught Judaics, Hebrew and General Studies to grades 5 and 6. Ziona has a BA in Social Science from the Open University in Israel. Her teaching certificate is in Mikra (Judaics) and she just completed her MA in Jewish Education at Hebrew University. Since moving to the United States Ziona has traveled far and wide exploring the beautiful sights of this country.
Tamar Fields is LGA’s part-time reading specialist. She is passionate about collaborating with teachers and parents on how best to meet the language arts learning needs of each individual child as well as each unique class. Tamar is a Licensed Reading Specialist with a Masters in Early Childhood Development and Education. She has completed additional classes in the Wilson Reading Program and the Telian Reading Program as well as Creative Arts in Learning. Her goal is to help children discover their strengths while addressing their challenges and to come away empowered by the learning process. Tamar weaves together her skills and knowledge as an educator and a parent to address a full range of reading challenges taking into account individual learning styles, social, emotional and cognitive development. Tamar also loves to garden and cook, take long walks with her dog and spend time with her husband and four sons (whom all attended and graduated from LGA).
Ellen is now beginning her second school year as LGA’s Executive Director. She has over a decade of experience in independent school advancement, and served most recently as Director of Donor Relations at the Williston Northampton School. Previously, she worked as Assistant Vice President at Republic National Bank of New York. Ellen brings an exceptional administrative capacity, fundraising expertise, and believes in the importance of raising our children in a nurturing, enriching Jewish environment. Ellen, her husband, her three boys, and their dog Panko, live in Northampton.
Deborah Bromberg Seltzer
Principal; Kitah Alef/Gr.1 Hebrew & Judaics
Deborah joined the LGA staff in 2003 bringing ruach (spirit) and song from her many years of experience working in day schools and summer camps. Her goal at LGA is to instill a sense of curiosity and fun in Jewish learning. Deborah is a 2012 recipient of a Harold Grinspoon Foundation Award for Excellence in Jewish Education and a 2012 recipient of the national Grinspoon-Steinhardt Award. She holds a BA in American Literature from Barnard College, Columbia University, a BA in Midrash from the Jewish Theological Seminary, and an MA in Jewish Education with a concentration in Day School Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary. Deborah lives in Northampton with her husband Bruce and four children (an LGA student in Kitah Dalet/Gr. 4 and three LGA graduates). She enjoys reading children’s literature, doing arts and crafts, and Israeli dancing.
Director of Admissions and Marketing
Gail joined the LGA staff in fall 2013. Previously, she worked at Amherst Cinema as the Outreach and Development Director. In 2010 Gail was the director of LGA Discovery Camps. From 2005-2009 she was the National Director of B’nai Tzedek, the teen philanthropy program created at the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. She had been the Visitors Center Director at the Yiddish Book Center, Amherst. She has a BA in Special Education from UMass Amherst. Gail is Vice President of the UMass Hillel Board of Directors and is involved in development committee work at the Amherst Survival Center. She lives in Amherst with her husband Aaron, and has two daughters who live in New York City.
Bianca joined the LGA staff in June 2011 after relocating from Florida with her husband. Bianca has spent many years working in general accounting both in and outside of the Jewish synagogue community. She says, “I love what I do, working with people and numbers.” Bianca feels right at home in a Jewish day school. Both of her grown children attended Jewish day school – kindergarten through high school. Bianca enjoys the cooler New England weather and is happy being closer to her children, and her grandchildren who live in Montreal. Bianca is also LGA’s resident chef, preparing tasty hot lunches for our students and staff.
Ashley joined the staff in the fall of 2008 and brings a special mix of professionalism, office experience, and knowledge of young learners to this very crucial position. She is highly committed and excited to help the school succeed and grow into the future. In 2007, Ashley earned a BA in Psychology from UMass Amherst with a minor in Elementary Education. She is a native of Western MA where she lives with her two children. Ashley enjoys photography, running, Pilates, and reading.
Office Administrator, After School Program Coordinator, Gan/Kindergarten Teaching Team
Tyler came to LGA in 2012 as the after-school care provider. Currently, he works part-time as the office administrator, runs the after-care program, will be teaching in the Gan/Kindergarten this year and also serves as a general school resource. Tyler attended UMass Amherst, where he studied comparative literature with a focus on English and German languages, and translation theory. When not at LGA, Tyler enjoys fixing, riding, and racing bicycles, and playing (and listening to) music.