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Meet Our Speakers

JECCA Kallah Speakers

Dr. Tamar Andrews

Dr. Tamar Andrews has been working in the field of Jewish Early Childhood Education for over 30 years. She began her career as a classroom teacher and then moved into early childhood administration working in schools that were affiliated with Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox philosophies, and has served as the early childhood education director at Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles since 2003. As a university professor at the American Jewish University, Dr. Andrews has taught courses ranging from the theoretical foundations of growth and development to how social policies affect children and their education. As a consultant and trainer, Dr. Andrews has spoken at over 400 conferences and symposia where she has presented on curriculum models, theory, and administration issues. A California Mentor Director and international consultant and trainer, she has worked both extensively in California, the United States as well as in countries as far away as Azerbaijan and China.

Jennifer Carvajal

Jennifer Carvajal is the Senior Educational Director of “Teaching Beyond the Square” and is on the Board of Directors. Jennifer has a passion for literacy, emergent curriculum, and open-ended learning experiences. She has consulted for Teaching Beyond the Square since 2013, leading professional development workshops and partnering with teachers and directors in the tri-state area as they strive to take a more progressive approach to education. She has partnered with The Jewish Education Project to lead special projects and cohorts, and she has presented at several conferences including Come Learn with Us and the Jewish Early Childhood Association's Long Island and Manhattan conferences. Jennifer taught at Beginnings Nursery School from 2002 to 2009 and participated in a study group in Reggio Emilia, Italy in 2007. She received her B.S. in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, PA and her M.S. in Education, with a concentration in Literacy, from Hunter College in New York, NY.

Jonathan Shmidt Chapman

Jonathan Shmidt Chapman is an award-winning artist, writer, and Jewish educator. As the founder of The K’ilu Company, Jonathan reimagines Jewish early childhood engagement through theater and play. His projects have reached thousands of families and classrooms across the country. Jonathan was named the Covenant Foundation’s inaugural Jewish Family Education Fellow in 2023. He is also the recipient of a Pomegranate Prize, the Jewish Education Project’s Young Pioneers Award, and the Children’s Theatre Foundation of America Medallion Award. He was invited to join the inaugural cohort of the Mandel Institute’s Jewish Education Leadership Program. As an internationally recognized artist creating theater for kids and families, Jonathan’s work has been presented by Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Kennedy Center, and Seattle Children’s Theatre. His work has been featured by NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, The New York Times, and American Theatre Magazine. Jonathan is the author of two forthcoming books, both scheduled to be published by Behrman House in 2024: Let There Be Play: Bringing Bible to Life with Young Children and In the Beginning: Bible Stories for Young Children. He currently serves on the faculty at Northwestern University. He holds an M.A. in Educational Theatre from New York University. He lives in the Chicago area with his husband, Rabbi David Chapman, and their two children Elior and Amitai.

Lauren Schwartzberg- Gordon

Lauren is a licensed professional counselor, registered drama therapist and certified professional counselor supervisor, implementing emotional wellness programming in the school setting. Before joining Strong4Life, Lauren provided direct therapeutic services in schools as well as program management and clinical supervision for other school-based therapists. In addition, she has provided therapeutic support to children, young adults and their families across three states in a variety of settings. Lauren continues to provide peer consultation to help support the growth of clinicians newer to the field. Lauren received her undergraduate degree at Binghamton University and her Master of Counseling Psychology from California Institute of Integral Studies. Lauren’s biggest parenting challenge is finding creative ways to incorporate feelings identification into daily activities as a way to support her toddler’s emotional wellness. When she’s not working, you can find Lauren cooking and baking with her little one, hiking with her family, and engaging in various crafty pursuits.

Sasha Kopp

Sasha Kopp is the senior director of education and engagement for ElevatEd, a new initiative working on the recruitment of educators into the early childhood Jewish landscape. Sasha cares deeply about supporting the early childhood Jewish community and has held many roles supporting the field including classroom teacher, assistant director of Central Synagogue’s early childhood center as well the Senior Consultant for early childhood and family engagement for The Jewish Education Project. She earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and education studies at Brandeis University and master’s degrees in Jewish education and Jewish nonprofit management from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Additionally, Sasha is a fused glass artist and facilitates mezuzah making workshops. Through both her work in early childhood and glass art, Sasha hopes to bring more play and creativity into everyday life and learning.

Allison O’Hara

Allison O’Hara is a Senior Wellness Program Coordinator at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) dedicated to the development and implementation of behavioral and mental health prevention initiatives in schools and early childhood settings. Allison earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Kennesaw State University and went on to earn both an Education Specialist and Master of Science degree in Professional Counseling from Georgia State University. Allison has provided direct therapy services, training and coaching to well over a thousand families, educators, and early interventionists across more than 60 counties in the state of Georgia. Allison has worked within some of Georgia’s most reputable child-serving organizations, including the Marcus Autism Center, the Center for Leadership in Disability at Georgia State University, and the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning. Allison’s areas of expertise include positive behavior supports, inclusion, infant and early childhood mental health, practice-based coaching, training, and implementation science.

Orna Siegel

Orna Siegel has worked in the field of Jewish education for over twenty years and previously served as a senior administrator at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School. Throughout her career in formal and informal settings, Siegel has always strived to transform the lives of students and their communities through education. She is pursuing her Doctorate in Education at JTS and earned a master’s degree in Jewish Education as a Legacy Heritage Fellow at Hebrew College where she received the school’s prize for Outstanding Achievement in Jewish Education. Previously, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Government from Wesleyan University and studied at Yeshivat Nishmat in Israel. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with her husband and four children.

Megg Thompson

Megg Thompson, a former Kindergarten teacher of ten years, is a Certified Behavioral Consultant and Certified Life Coach working with children, adults and families. Megg is also the founder of Megg Thompson Behavior Consulting. To get to where she is today, she has interned with Bev Bos at the Roseville Community Preschool in Roseville, CA while getting her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of New Hampshire. Through these experiences she has adopted a proactive and strength-based approach to behavior. She uses this model to help ALL children and adults find success and empowerment through their natural design. She spends her days in both public and private schools, early learning centers, preschools and in homes helping children of all ages be the best they can be.

Nicole Weinstein

Nicole Weinstein currently serves as the Director of Clinical Programs at Jewish Family Career Services of Atlanta. She brings over a decade of experience in community mental health. Originally from Southeast Florida, she spent 11 fruitful years in Chicago, graduating with her MSW from Loyola University Chicago in 2015. With a strong focus on Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) principles and evidenced-based clinical services, Nicole is committed to providing effective and quality care to clients and directing clinical services. Her warm and compassionate approach fosters meaningful relationships with staff, clients, and the community, creating an environment of collaboration and support. Nicole's passion lies in increasing access and building capacity for behavioral health services, empowering individuals on their journey to healing and well-being.

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