Nursery School Teachers & Staff
Merril Feinstein, Director. Merril has been involved in early childhood education for her entire professional life. Before coming to Brotherhood, Merril was at the All Soul's School and the AJ Heschel School, both in Manhattan. She served as a mentor for students at the Jewish Theological Seminary and as a literacy staff-developer for the NYC Board of Education. Merril was a member of the education department at Stern College for Women, Yeshiva University. When Merril is not functioning as the director at the Brotherhood Synagogue Nursery School she serves on the board of the Jewish Early Childhood Association. Recently, Merril helped to train UPK staff in mathematics for young children. On the national level, Merril has been involved in professional advocacy issues for early-childhood professionals as a staff member for the Coalition for Advancement on Jewish Education (CAJE). Merril holds a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education from the Bank Street College Graduate School of Education.
Michelle Raphael, Assistant to the Director. Michelle grew up in England U.K. and is now happy to call New York her home. She earned a Bachelor's Degree in English Studies from the University of Nottingham and holds a Masters in Professional Acting from the London Academy of Live and Recorded Arts. Michelle acts in theatre, film and TV, writes and workshops plays, and edits for an independent publishing company. She has taught Drama, English Literature and Jewish Studies to children of a variety of ages. Michelle spent three years working for the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London, and is now delighted to be joining the Brotherhood community and nursery school.
Rivki Diamont, 2s teacher. Rivki began teaching preschool in Center City, Philadelphia, after studying in a girls' teaching program in Jerusalem. She moved to New York in 2007 and currently resides in Brooklyn with her husband, Yossi, and their three wonderful children, Mendel, Henna and Dovid. Rivki went to Touro College where she earned her B.A. in Liberal Arts (concentrating in psychology, early childhood and special education) and M.A. in special education. No stranger to the Brotherhood Synagogue Nursery School, Rivki has worked here since 2007. For the first three years Rivki worked as the director's assistant, after which she began teaching in the Yellow Room.
Jonathan Berk, 2s teacher. Jonathan grew up and became a bar mitzvah at the Brotherhood Synagogue. He began working in early childhood education at the 14th Street Y in 2000, and taught at the Brotherhood Hebrew School for six years as well as the Brotherhood's Tikvah program for students with learning disabilities. Jonathan began teaching in the Yellow Room in 2009. Outside of the Brotherhood community, Jonathan is writing a dissertation on philosophy at the New School for Social Research, while teaching at Pratt Institute and Parsons School of Design. Jonathan lives in Astoria with his wife Amy and two children, Oscar and Gus.
Melissa (Mel) Rose Corning, 2s teacher. Mel Corning lives in Brooklyn and has a background in performing arts and education. She came to New York City from Southern Indiana in 2005 for professional training at Alvin Ailey American Dance School. In 2015 Mel began studying under the Scholars Program at Brooklyn College with a focus on Speech, Language, and Gender development in children. Mel has worked alongside a myriad of artists and educators from diverse disciplines and has taught a broad range of classes for children and adults. From hula hooping to outdoor early childhood programs, Mel brings her passion for learning into every type of classroom—she was thrilled to join the Brotherhood community in 2016.
Katie Shea, 3s teacher. In addition to teaching in the Red Room, Katie is the music specialist and extended day coordinator for the Nursery School. She earned her Bachelors of Music in Music Education/Voice from the Hartt School of Music as well as her Masters of Education in Early Intervention, Special and General Education from Bank Street College. Katie has taught music in Connecticut public schools, at Apple Seeds, and at the Goddard School in Massachusetts. Katie began teaching at the Brotherhood Synagogue Nursery School in 2013.
Jaime Strumeier, 3s teacher. Jaime has been working with children for many years. After earning her Bachelors degree from Rutgers University, Jaime taught pre-k at Preschool of the Arts in Manhattan. She earned her Masters degree in Early Childhood Education from Hunter College. Most recently, Jaime was the head teacher of a 2 year old classroom at Explore+Discover Early Learning Center. She is very excited to join the Brotherhood team and is looking forward to an amazing year.
Sunju Han, 3s teacher. Sunju graduated from Hunter College with a bachelors in nursing and practiced at urgent care centers in NYC. Through substitute teaching at the Brotherhood Synagogue Nursery School, she discovered a love for teaching young children. She is excited to continue her passion for teaching at the Brotherhood.
Mira Shaar, 4s teacher. Mira has taught at the Brotherhood Synagogue Nursery School since 2006. Before coming to Brotherhood, Mira taught at the JCC of Manhattan's Zabar Nursery School for five years. In addition, she has taught at the 92nd Street Y Parenting Center and the Two-by-Two Program at the 14th Street Y. Mira holds an M.A. in early childhood education, a B.A. in art, and is certified to teach preschool through sixth grade. She has lived in Israel, speaks Hebrew, and has enjoyed teaching in the Brotherhood Synagogue Hebrew School since 2012. Mira lives in the East Village with her husband Eldad and is the mother of two children, Maya and Alon.
Debbie Rabinowitz, 4s teacher. Debbie joined the Brotherhood Synagogue Nursery School in 2016. She came to education after a career in graphic design and time spent raising her daughter. Debbie has taught in a preschool classroom since 2007, and during that time earned a M.A. in Early Childhood Special and General Education. She began at Brotherhood in 2016 after eight years at Corlears School and two at The Cathedral School. Debbie is thrilled to teach in New York City where her love of architecture, city life and neighborhoods are able to be explored.
Isabel Schein, L.C.S.W. Early Childhood Consultant. Isabel received her B.A. in psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her M.S.W from New York University. She then received certification in the advanced training program in child psychotherapy from the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services. Isabel wears many hats, leading workshops for parents as well as staff development and collaboration, performing classroom observations and offering parent guidance. In addition she gives assistance to parents who might need outside referrals and interventions. In addition to her role at Brotherhood Nursery, she is also the parent educator at Shaaray Tefila Nursery school, and the learning specialist at the JCC of Manhattan.
Naoko Moriyama-Robbins, movement. Naoko was born and raised in Hiroshima, Japan. After arriving in the United States in 1988 she established the Japanese parenting and nursery school program for Japanese-American children at the Educational Alliance. At the same time she started to teach creative movement and Ballet at Peridance. Now she teaches at several schools including the 92nd Street Y, Park Avenue Synagogue, and Peridance. Naoko is also a master trainer and owner of GYROTONIC® on Broadway.