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Lower School Bios

 
 
Halle Dubin
Director of the Lower School 

Halle Dubin has taught at Joseph & Florence Mandel Jewish Day School since 1995 and since 2005 has served as a lead teacher for grades 1-5. Halle has a Masters degree in Education from John Carroll University and a Masters of Educational Administration from Ursuline College. She has also served as the lead mentor for the Masters Apprentice Program at Ursuline College and Mandel JDS, coordinating masters degree students’ placements as student teachers; and as a Praxis III Assessor for the State of Ohio’s Department of Education. In this latter capacity she is responsible for interviewing and evaluating first year teachers.

Halle has been a member of Mandel JDS’s Educational Leadership Team since 2005, and has played a significant role in developing the Lower School’s team of teachers. She’s assumed these responsibilities – and the added duties of the Lower School Coordinator going forward – while she remains committed to and excited by her role as a classroom educator.

Ines Ades
Hebrew Teacher
Ines Ades has been teaching Judaics and Hebrew for over 30 years.  She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Judaic Studies from Siegal College and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Early Childhood Judaics from Montevideo, Uruguay.  Ines moved to Cleveland from Uruguay in 1989, where she had been teaching Kindergarten Judaic Studies for ten years. She is a past recipient of the National Grinspoon-Steinhardt Award for Excellence in Jewish Education and the Ratner-Goldberg Israel Fellowship, which honors outstanding teachers in Jewish Day Schools. Ines is married and has two children, both of whom graduated from Mandel JDS.  She has also lived in Israel for three years and continues to visit frequently.
 
 
 
Shlomit Avisar
Judaics Teacher

Shlomit Avisar has taught at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School since 2013. In 2005, she started as a substitute teacher and a volunteer tutor. In 2013, Shlomit began teaching Hebrew in the Ma’ayan program. Since 2014, Shlomit has taught Hebrew and Judaics for 1st through 3rd grades. Shlomit has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Ben Gurion University in Israel.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Nurit Barnard
Judaics Teacher

Nurit Barnard has taught at Joseph & Florence Mandel Jewish Day School since 2014. She served as a Judaics teacher for 1st through 5th grades. Nurit graduated from Siegal College and has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Judaic Studies.  Nurit is a proud recipient of the following awards: Ratner – Goldberg Israel Fellowship Award in 2006, The Grinspoon Award for Excellence in Jewish Education in 2006, The Gross Award for Excellence in Teaching at Solomon Schechter Day School in 2001, and The Libby Braverman Award for Outstanding Teaching at Fairmount Temple in 1994. Nurit is currently serving as the school T’fillah and Spirit Coordinator.  In her free time, she enjoys creating Hebrew games and learning aids for her students.

 
 
Mitch Borrow
Math Teacher

Mitch Borrow has taught at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School for the past 12 years.  Originally from Montreal, Canada, he graduated from Babson College in Boston with an MBA and recently went back to school for a Masters in Education from John Carroll University.  Prior to changing his career to Education, Mitch was a Director of Marketing for various consumer product companies. He is currently a 3rd grade homeroom teacher as well as a math specialist for grades 1st through 5th. In his free time, Mitch enjoys running, biking, swimming and hiking with his family in Boulder, Colorado.

 
 
 
Altina Nudelman Buchris
Judaics Teacher

Altina Nudelman Buchris recently came to the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School as a Shlicha from Israel. She teaches Hebrew, Tanach and Parashat Hashavua in the 5th grade and she teaches Hebrew in the 7th grade. Altina holds a Master’s degree in mathematics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Ben Gurion University of Beer Sheva.  While in Israel, Altina taught high school students mathematics.

 
 
 
 
 
Christine Catalogna
2nd Grade Teacher
Christine Catalogna has worked at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School as a Second Grade General Studies Teacher since 2009. She also currently serves as the Language Arts Department Head for the Lower School. She began her career at Mandel JDS as a student teacher in Halle Dubin’s 3rd grade classroom. Prior to that, Christine graduated from the University of Virginia in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Cognitive Science. She went on to earn an M.A.Ed. and K-12 Reading Endorsement from Ursuline College’s Master Apprenticeship Program in 2009. Teaching is Christine’s true passion in life and she is grateful for the opportunity to inspire young minds every day. In her spare time, Christine loves reading books (particularly memoirs), swimming, traveling and spending ample time with her family and friends.
 
Jessica Dorner
Kindergarten Teacher

Jessica Dorner has taught at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School for the past four years. She has previous experience teaching Pre-Kindergarten in Chagrin Falls. Jessica has a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education (Prek-3rd grade) and an Early Childhood Generalist Endorsement in grades 4-5 from John Carroll University. She also has a Master’s degree in Education with a K-12 Reading Endorsement from John Carroll University. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family. Jessica also enjoys cooking, exercising, traveling and spending time outdoors, especially by the water.

 
 
Mindi Goldberg
1st Grade Teacher
Mindi Goldberg has been teaching at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School since 1997. Her passion is to ignite curiosity and help students develop a love for life-long learning. She received her degree in elementary education from Indiana University in 1995, with a concentration in reading and literacy. In addition, she is certified by The Ohio Department of Education as a Mentor Educator, which helps Resident Educators (new teachers) work towards receiving their professional licences. She has mentored numerous teachers at Mandel JDS. Mindi has two children who are Mandel JDS graduates. She enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, reading, exercising, and watching her children golf and surf.  
 
 
Steve Karl
Math Teacher

Steve Karl has been a teacher for 16 years and has worked at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School for the past 11 years. He teaches math and science to Lower School students. He earned a Master’s degree in Education from Baldwin Wallace College in 2002. His goal is to instill in his students a life-long love of learning and to persevere through difficult situations. He enjoys working with children, watching sports, and playing golf. He is married and has two children; Hannah is a sophomore at the University of Arizona and Sophie is a Junior at Beachwood High School.

 
 
 
Illy Massey
Kindergarten Hebrew Immersion Teacher
Illy is extremely excited to be part of the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School community both as a teacher and as a parent.  She completed her graduate studies and earned a MSEd in Early Childhood Education at Hunter College in New York City. Illy began her teaching career as a Morah Chayelet (soldier teacher) in the I.D.F. while living in Israel. Since she moved back to the United States fourteen years ago, she has taught in various educational settings. Her experience includes working for private and non-profit organizations as well as in NYC public schools. For the past two years, she taught 3-5 year olds at Luria Academy of Brooklyn. Prior to that, she spent eight years teaching kindergarten at The Abraham Joshua Heschel School in Manhattan. She looks forward to continuing her commitment to educating young children at Mandel JDS.  
Mary Jo Murino
3rd Grade Teacher

Mary Jo Murino is a Third Grade General Studies teacher at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School. This is her first year teaching at Mandel JDS. She recently graduated from John Carroll University in May of 2018 receiving a Bachelor’s degree in both Early Childhood Education and Italian Studies. At John Carroll University, she was also a member of the Women’s Lacrosse team. Teaching is something Mary Jo is very passionate about and she is so grateful to have the opportunity to work with children who will learn, grow, explore, and create each and every day in her classroom. In her free time she enjoys cooking, living an active lifestyle, spending time with family and friends, and playing the guitar.

 
 
Kayla Musso
Math Teacher

Kayla Musso is a Third and Fourth Grade Math and Enrichment teacher at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School. Having graduated from John Carroll University in May 2018 with a Bachelors degree in Early Childhood Education, this is her first year teaching at Mandel JDS. While at John Carroll, she was a member of the Varsity Volleyball team and also participated in multiple service opportunities. Kayla has always had a passion for working with children and helping them grow. She is so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of such a wonderful and welcoming community. In her spare time, Kayla enjoys baking, coaching, living actively, and spending time with her family. 

 
 
Sarit Ost
Kindergarten Hebrew Immersion Teacher
Sarit Ost is a Kindergarten Hebrew Immersion Teacher and this is her first year teaching at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School. Sarit has been an educator and a professional teacher in Israel for the past 18 years in Hebrew, Math and Science. Sarit has Masters in Education Management and a Bachelor’s of Education in Elementary School Studies. Sarit also managed 41 Kindergarten's camps in Israel and served in the Army as a Hebrew teacher for new immigrants from the Soviet Union. Sarit is very excited to start the school year and proud to be part of the Mandel JDS family. Sarit is proud to have three children who are also Mandel JDS students.  
 
Rachel Patena
Math Teacher

Rachel Patena recently joined the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School community as a mathematics teacher. She attended John Carroll University and earned her Bachelors of Science in Business Administration.  While in her undergraduate program, she discovered a deep love of working with and teaching children. After finishing her degree, she stayed at John Carroll to earn her Masters in Education concentrating in middle school science and mathematics. During her graduate program, she had the opportunity to observe and shadow in a variety of school districts including Shaker, Solon, and Cleveland Heights/University Heights. Outside of the classroom, Rachel enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, and cooking.

Dina Rock
4th & 5th Grade Teacher

Dina Rock is in her 31st year of teaching and is passionate about education in our country. She has a Master’s in Education and has taught grades first through sixth throughout her career and is passionate about honing her craft each year. For the last eight years, she has been working with the Washington based education organization, Hope Street Group. HSG was one of the first organizations to recognize the important role teacher voice and engagement need to play in order for there to be thoughtful change and elevation of the education profession. Since then, along with teaching, Dina has been active as a national team leader, fellow and consultant, training new state and national HSG teaching fellows in their work to elevate the profession.

Dina also served on the Teacher Advisory Council for the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), an organization dedicated to studying the world of education in our country. "My passion for teaching and my love for my students drive me to maintain a commitment to thoughtful and sustained education reform.”  In her own classroom, Dina strives to maximize the individual potential of the whole child by creating a nurturing and engaging environment. “It is my goal to educate children to think critically, care deeply, question unendingly, feel intensely, and communicate clearly and openly. I strive to help each student maximize their unique and promising character.”  

Sari Schneider
Kindergarten Teacher
Sari Schneider has been a teacher for the past 12 years.  Four of those years have been at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School. After graduating from The Ohio State University with a degree in Interior Design, she went back to school and received her teaching license in Early Childhood Education from Ashland University.  She then continued her education to earn a Reading Endorsement and Master's of Education in Literacy Instruction. Sari has taught students ranging from Pre-K through fourth grade and brings an element of positivity and excitement to every teaching experience. She has two children in the Early Childhood Program at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day school.  
 
Karen Shiffman
Kindergarten Teacher
Karen Shiffman has been teaching at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School for 29 years. She has a Bachelor of Science in Art Education from State University at Buffalo and an M.Ed. in Early Childhood from Kent State University. Karen is a native New Yorker who before moving to Cleveland, lived on Kibbutz Lotan in the Aravah Valley in Israel. As a kibbutz member, she taught art at the regional school and was the manager of a date plantation. Since arriving in Cleveland, she has been a faculty member at Agnon/Mandel JDS. She is a recipient of the Grinspoon-Steinhardt Award for Excellence in Jewish Education and the Steiger Family Grant for excellence in Jewish education, both of which honor outstanding teachers in Jewish Day Schools. Karen brings creativity and an in depth understanding of how young children behave and learn in a school setting. She is also the proud mother of three Agnon/Mandel JDS school graduates. When not at school, Karen enjoys time with her family, snuggling with her dog, and creating colorful batiks in her studio.
Michele Sudow
1st Grade Teacher

Michele Sudow has been teaching for over 40 years, 37 of which were at Agnon/Mandel JDS. She graduated from Kent State University in 1975 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education. In 1980, she completed a Master’s in Early Childhood Education from Kent State University. At Mandel JDS, Michele has taught Preschool, Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, and recently First Grade along with Second Grade math. She is the recipient of the 2009-2010 Plain Dealer Crystal Apple award for educators and the 2013 recipient of the Ratner Goldberg Teaching Award from the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland. She is the proud mother of three Agnon/Mandel JDS school graduates. Michele enjoys walking, working out at the JCC, reading, and playing with her grandchildren.

Malka Weil
Hebrew and Judaics Teacher

Malka Weil has taught at Joseph & Florence Mandel Jewish Day School for 22 years as a Judaics and Hebrew Teacher. Previously, she has taught at Solomon Schechter Day School of Cleveland, the Cleveland Hebrew School, Siegal College of Jewish Studies, Kent State University, Akiva High School, and local Hebrew / Sunday schools. Malka graduated from The College of Jewish Studies in 1978 with a Master’s in Hebrew Literature and exceeded the required number of credits hours by 36. She has been the proud recipient of the following awards:  Distinguished Teaching Award from the Cleveland College of Jewish Studies in 1988; the Solomon Schechter Gary L. Gross Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1994; The Steiger Family Education Grant in recognition of the dedication and devotion of teachers in Cleveland Jewish Day Schools, Exceptional Teacher, Mentor and Leader in 2008; and the Grinspoon Steinhardt Award for Excellence in Jewish Education for exceptional teaching, mentoring and leadership in 2008. Malka truly loves and enjoys teaching. She also has worked in summer camps in Cleveland and Wisconsin. In her free time, Malka enjoys reading, spending time with her grandchildren, other family members and friends. She also enjoys dancing, traveling and learning.