OUR STAFF

Our early childhood program is led by our Director and inspired through collaboration between our teachers.

Professional, dedicated, and loving—these words speak volumes about the team at Burbank Jewish Preschool. Equipped with years of study and professional experience, our staff strives continuously to respond to the individual needs of each child and offer cutting-edge methodology in education.

In order to uphold the high standards of our program, staff meetings and constant development are ongoing throughout the year. This ensures that our teachers remain alert to the ever-changing needs of today's families and to the findings of current research.

 

Our coordinated curriculum has both English and Hebrew, which leads to a high level of academic rigor and an opportunity for interdisciplinary learning that is engaging and meaningful. Current research shows that second language acquisition is highly beneficial to the development of brain functions and cognitive skills.

 

Our teachers are an unusually dedicated group of professionals whose level of commitment to each child does not stop at the classroom door, and whose commitment to early childhood education is truly an avocation. As a result, they bring to their jobs a unique and special blend of professional skills and personal experience.

Rabbi Shmuly Kornfeld

Administrator

I grew up in Seattle, Washington where my father is a leading Rabbi of the Jewish community and serves as the Educational Director of Chabad of Greater Seattle. Growing up in the warm and giving environment of Chabad outreach profoundly affected my dreams and goals.  I attended school in Detroit and at the educational institute Oholei Torah in Brooklyn, NY.  I served as a mentor to students in Kfar Chabad, Israel, worked in several day and overnight camps and headed the learning department in Camp Gan Israel, Montreal.  I visited many cities in the United States, but my favorite travel experience was a summer spent in Ireland, where I was able to provide educational programs and holiday events benefiting the Jewish community there. I studied for my Rabbinical Degree at the Rabbinical College of America, and received it in 1997.

Elana and I married in 1998, and just six months later we opened Chabad of Burbank.  We started out small, in our home, grew into a storefront, and approximately six years ago, bought the building we are currently in, with dreams of the future.  Walking into Chabad daily, gives me personal pleasure, because it serves as a multi-purpose institution for adults and children alike.  All are welcome to our Chabad, and I feel blessed to be able to do what I love—to teach and inspire others, and hopefully add in acts of goodness and kindness into this world, making it a better place for all.

Elana Kornfeld

Director

From a very young age, I always knew I wanted to work with children.  My father is a Cardiologist/Nephrologist and my mother has her PhD in Art Therapy and Counseling.  My parents brought us up in a loving home, with good values and a strong work ethic.  I met my husband, Rabbi Shmuly, in 1997 and we married in 1998. We moved to Burbank just six months later, as soon as I finished college, and opened the Chabad Burbank Jewish Center. We have eight children, and we work together as a family. I can honestly speak on their behalf to say that we all feel blessed to be a part of such a special community. 

 

I originally got my Degree in Speech & Language Pathology & Communication Disorders, interning with special needs children.  I loved playing with them and seeing their wonder and excitement for the world around them.  I slowly transitioned into general education have been involved with teaching children of various ages for the last 14 years.  I found my calling when we opened  Burbank Jewish Preschool.  Together with our wonderful staff, families and children, we have created a school where each child is cherished and loved. I absolutely love coming to school every day (with some of my own children), and it is truly an honor being able to participate and watch the children in our school grow and flourish.

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Brittany DeWeese

Office Administrator

Hi, my name is Brittany DeWeese. I have been working here at BJP since my second day in LA upon moving here from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania almost 4 years ago. I loved the school right away!

 

I am a professional dancer and choreographer. I graduated from Point Park University with a BA in Dance. Teaching has always been my passion which is why I received a second BA in Dance Pedagogy (theory of teaching). I am so thankful to have been a part of Point Park’s amazing education program and to have had the opportunity to grow as both a dancer and educator throughout my college experience.

 

I have spent many years teaching dance and gymnastics to preschool age children all the way up to high school. This year I am working in the office as the BJP Administrator but I love every opportunity I have to get back in the classroom with the children.

Morah Sophie 

Second grade Sophie declared she wanted to be a teacher when she grew up. My principal at the time told my mother she thought I would “run the place one day”. I guess you could say I have always had a passion for learning, leading, and well, kids.

 

I grew up here in Burbank, and spent my high school days babysitting, tutoring, and teaching piano to children in my neighborhood, and it was one of the biggest highlights of my teenage years. I am so grateful to say that as of Fall 2020, I posses a Bachelor of Science degree in Liberal Studies, with a concentration in Child Development. I completed my studies at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and I plan on continuing my education by pursuing my Credential and Master’s in Education. 

       

I am very passionate about positively shaping our future generations and I take that job seriously. I want to inspire kids, just like my second grade teacher inspired me. I want to help kids find their own internal motivation and love for learning. Inclusive teaching is also extremely important to me, as well as fostering a growth mindset with the kids I am lucky enough to be surrounded by here at Burbank Jewish Preschool. Overall, I want to love children, and lead with that in the classroom.

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Morah Mara 

Hello! My name is Mara Lopez Higuera. I am excited to be part of the Burbank Jewish Preschool family enriching the lives of the students we are so blessed to teach every day. It has been an amazing journey learning alongside the children and families we serve. 

 

I am a proud mother of six incredible children. While raising my children, I had the privilege of volunteering as much as possible at their schools and learned a lot from their teachers and staff.  Additionally, I babysat several wonderful children at home for eight years. Once my children were older, I decided to pursue a career in early childhood education. I received my
training through the West Valley Occupational Center in their Early Childhood Education and Development Program. Throughout my career, I have worked with children of all ages and backgrounds. 

 

In my free time you will find me working on a variety of different projects and crafts. Pinterest is my go-to inspiration app! I enjoy singing, cooking new recipes, and spending time with my amazing family, and dogs Nutella and Fluffy.

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Morah Ciara 

Hi, my name is Ciara Espinoza. This is my first year at BJP and my first year in a teaching position. Currently, I am an Early Childhood Education major at Pasadena City College and plan on continuing to a university in 2021 to get my bachelors degree in Education. Before coming to BJP I studied the theories and practices of the Reggio approach and was determined to find a school that followed this approach. I feel so blessed to have found one! I absolutely love my career choice! Teaching Children is my passion and I truly leave feeling fulfilled each day that I go home.

 

When I am not in a classroom, you can find me at home cooking and doing crafts with my two beautiful daughters, Ruby and Estella and my amazing husband, Fernando. As a family, we love to travel, read books, watch movies and spend time at the beach and local parks. We travel a lot to Las Vegas, Nevada to visit my family and also to Mexico to visit my husband's family. Our dream destination is to one day travel to Europe. But for now we are settling down in Pasadena and enjoying our time together.  

 

I am super excited to get to know the amazing families at BJP. I am confident that, despite the challenges we face, this year will be one of the most memorable and most cherished for the children at our school. 

Morah Natasha

Hi my name is Natasha George! 

 

Here is a little bit about me: Being the oldest grandchild of 22, I have always known I wanted to work with children. I started babysitting all age groups and working at a daycare in my early 20’s. I then went to community college for child development and psychology and that is where I discovered Occupational Therapy. I found a private trade school, signed up and started two weeks later. I did 2 internships, one at an elementary school and the other at a children’s mental health hospital inpatient unit. Two years later I graduated Occupational Therapy school with my Associates Degree in Applied Science. After finishing school I took some family time off from my studies and Burbank Jewish Preschool offered me a job. I have been with this amazing school for almost a year now. I started with the infants and now I am with the 3/4 year olds. I am so blessed to be apart of BJP today. 

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Morah Stacy

My name is Stacy Herman and I am so excited to be teaching Pod 2 this year! I am proud that I helped build the foundation of our school with Elana Kornfeld from the very beginning, and I am beyond thrilled to be back home!

I started working in a preschool when I was 17 and I loved everything about it. Working with children was definitely a calling, and I received my degree in Early Childhood Education from Long Beach Community College.

When I'm not in the classroom (my happy place!) you can find me spending quality time with my husband and four children, often at Disneyland (the “Happiest Place on Earth” ™ … outside of the classroom)!

Morah Dee 

Hi, my name is Dee Moore and I’ve been an Early Childhood Educator for 27 years. I received my B.A. Degree in Psychology from California State University of Long Beach, and then continued my education in Early Childhood Education at Los Angeles Valley College in order to obtain the education I needed to teach young children.

 

My passion for teaching young children began in high school when I interned in various elementary schools in Redlands, California. I assisted children in 2nd and 5th grade with homework, tutored students in Math and English, and assisted teachers with test grading.

 

After receiving my education, I was offered a teaching position with young toddlers at The Nurtury Preschool in Sherman Oaks. I immediately accepted the challenge and in time found the love and passion to teach. As my teaching experience broadened, I pursued the challenge of teaching children ages 3-5 years old, which led me to become the Lead Teacher. Years later, I accepted the position as the Senior Head Teacher of all the classrooms.

 

After many years of teaching at the Nurtury Preschool, I accepted a Lead Teacher position with ages 3-5 years old at Warner Bros. Studios Children Center. I then taught there for 17 years.

 

I am very pleased to be a part of a great team and family at Burbank Jewish Preschool. I love how the children continue to help me grow and challenge my teaching skills. I also love the children’s ability to give me laughter and strength to continue my passion, which is teaching young children. I look forward to working as a team with each family.

Morah Faygie 

My name is Faygie and I have loved playing with, babysitting and being around children for as long as I can remember. Every child in my classroom is special, and watching them grow each day is so rewarding and amazing! I love Burbank Jewish Preschool’s philosophy of promoting school readiness by educating the whole child while laying the foundation for creating a strong Jewish identity. I am particularly passionate about helping children develop socially, emotionally, cognitively, and physically in a hands-on environment centered around Jewish principles. I feel truly lucky every day for this special opportunity I’ve been given. I am so happy to be teaching in Aleph 2!

 

When I am not in school I love spending time with family and friends, and I also enjoy crocheting. I especially love snuggling with my new baby!

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Morah Blanca

Hi, my name is Blanca, and I this will be my second year teaching and learning in the Nook! We have so many fun activities and lessons planned for this year; I can’t wait to get started!

 

I got my degree in teaching in Guatemala in 2002, and worked for three years there. Since that time I have spent my career working with babies and children, and I absolutely love my job!

 

A few facts about me: My favorite store is Target, and I love listening to music! My favorite drink is tea and my favorite season is winter.

 

I am thrilled to be back in the Nook, and am looking forward to a special and exciting year ahead!

Morah Simi Stiefel

Hi, my name is Simi Stiefel, and I am so excited to be teaching at Burbank Jewish Preschool this year! I love being with the children every day and watching them grow and flourish. What makes all the work I put into teaching so rewarding is watching the children grasp the concepts and put them into practice in their everyday play. I love all of my students and feel so loved in return. What better place to be every day than a place filled with so much love and happiness. This will be my sixth year working in a preschool and I can’t wait for the year to start!

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Morah Ilana

Hi! My name is Ilana Coen and I have the pleasure of being one of the Kita Aleph Morahs. This will be my first year lead teaching and I’m so excited for the year ahead!

 

Being blessed to have grown up in a large family, I have always been surrounded with children. I’m one of eight kids and I currently have 19 nieces and nephews... don’t ask me how many cousins I have! Fun fact: I became an auntie at the young age of 6! 

 

I grew up as a traditional sunny LA girl, loving beach days, collecting sea shells and just enjoying all the beauty that surrounds us! I currently live in West LA, and I just celebrated my first anniversary with my high school best friend turned post-high school sweetheart! I feel so lucky to be a part of this beautiful Burbank family and I can’t wait to get to know each of the precious children and families here at Burbank Jewish Preschool. I know we’ll have an incredible year full of learning and growth—I can’t wait to see what we learn from each other!

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Aliza Litwin is a teacher and parent at Burbank Jewish Preschool and feels absolutely blessed to be apart of such a warm and loving institution. Aliza has worked with children her whole life in summer camp settings and has taken care of her nieces and nephews from the ripe age of 7. Aliza has a Bachelors of Science in Accounting, Art, and Judaic Studies from Stern College for Women. She believes that she can contribute all of these skills into a classroom setting with ease and fervor. Aliza is currently taking Early Childhood Education classes at UCLA and is also in the Interior Architecture Program at UCLA. She works as a teacher by day and a mother and Interior designer by night and she could not ask for a better setup.

Morah Aliza