Our Team


Jodi Gladstone: Early Childhood Education Director

Jodi Gladstone has been teaching young children for over 20 years. She is currently the Director at Beth El Nursery School. Jodi has been a member of the BENS staff since 2007. She has taught in the 3 year old and 4year old classrooms as well as the Kindergarten class of Kadima. Before moving to the Bay Area in 2003, Jodi was the Artist in Residence for Pinat Shorashim, a hands-on learning center and biblical park located at Kibbutz Gezer in Israel. There she created curriculum and community art experiences for children, teens, families and educators based on nature and Torah. She enjoys combining her love of art, nature and Judaism to make meaningful and memorable educational experiences for children and their families.

Jodi holds a Bachelor in Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and attended the WUJS post-Graduate Institute, in Arad, Israel in 1994 where she studied Hebrew and Judaism. She is a graduate of the first cohort of the Jewish Early Childhood Education Institute (JECELI). She received her Jewish Early Childhood Education certification from Gratz College and currently is earning her Masters Degree in Jewish Early Childhood Education from the American Jewish University. Jodi won the Diller Education Award in Early Childhood Education, an annual award recognizing excellence in Jewish educational programming. Jodi has been a nature and art materials workshop presenter at Jewish ECE conferences nationwide. She can be found dancing and making whimsical works of art in her spare time. She lives with her husband, Gordon and their two sons, Gefen and Nitzan.

Emily Yerlick: Beth El Nursery School Associate Director

Emily has been a member of the Beth El community for over 25 years and is so excited to be a part of the Beth El Nursery School team! Having always had a love for kids, she began working as a CIT at Camp Kee Tov in 2003 and worked for the next 15 years. She climbed the ranks of Kee Tov, culminating her time as Administrator and Director from 2012-2018. Throughout those years, she learned that there is a special joy she got from working with our youngest community members, and when it came time for a professional transition, she didn’t have to look very far. Emily was over-the-moon excited to join the BENS team in 2018 as the Gan Shemesh Coordinator and is even more excited to continue working as the Associate Director.

Emily studied Biology and Education at UC San Diego and loves learning about child development, especially as it relates to physical, cognitive and social development. She’s taken Early Childhood Education classes to further her learning and practice. Staring in 2019, she has participated in the Alternative Jewish Resource Specialist Program through the Jewish Community Federation and was selected to be a part of the first Bay Area cohort of the Jewish Early Childhood Education Institute (JECELI) during the 2020-21 school year.  In her spare time, she loves to hike and camp throughout Northern California with her husband Misha, a Beth El and Berkeley native, daughter Lia and doggo, Riley. She loves being outside, going to concerts at the Greek and watching all Bay Area sports teams during their respective seasons. Come say hi to her any time- she’d love to meet you and welcome you into the BENS community.

Jill Rosenthal: Katanchicks Coordinator

Jill Rosenthal is so excited to become part of this most warm and vibrant BENS community! She looks forward to facilitating the expansion of the Katanchicks program. She has been in the field of early childhood education for over 20 years and most recently was on staff at Gan Avraham Preschool in Oakland for 13 years as a teacher and for the last 5 years, as co-director. Jill deeply values this work and sees our youngest learners as capable, inspiring beings with a drive to learn, love and play and understand the world around them! She greatly appreciates opportunities to develop meaningful partnerships with parents, offering guidance and empathy as their children develop socially, emotionally, cognitively and physically. 

Before becoming an educator, Jill was a clinical social worker and worked with children, young adults and families in a variety of settings. She received my undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a Masters in Social Work from the University of Michigan. She is originally from Cleveland, Ohio (yes, she is a proud midwesterner at heart!). She has lived in the Bay area for over 25 years and absolutely feels blessed to live in such a beautiful part of our country! Jill and her husband Steven have two sons, ages 20 and 27. In her spare time Jill  enjoys singing, cooking and exploring the outdoors in the Bay.

Gloria Bocian: Gan D’vorim Teacher


Rachel Wiley: Gan D’vorim Teacher

Rachel has been teaching since 2003. She started out at a co-op preschool in Orinda, first as a teacher’s aid and before starting her Early Childhood Education at DVC. After that, she became a head teacher and then an art teacher. She has a passion for creating art projects with children. The process focused art projects are wonderful for sensory, color theory and fine motor development. She is truly a kid at heart and has worked with all ages of preschool and last year taught a kindergarten pandemic pod. 

When she’s not working at BENS, Rachel enjoys gardening, playing video games, listening to her vinyl records, snuggling her cat Magoo and walking her dog Sugar.

Susan Sterling: Gan D’vorim Teacher

Susan arrived at BENS in early 2014 to work with the twos in Gan Dvorim and knew that she had landed in the right spot. She loves this age and our work with them. She love the twos’ physicality and their total engagement in the task at hand, which can be as simple as rubbing their hands in the dirt of the Nechama Garden. She loves our work focusing upon building their self care skills and in our unhurried approach to spending time together developing these skills. She loves our weekly Jewish rituals and our yearly holiday cycles and our focus upon concrete and physical means of observing and learning about these holidays. 

Prior to landing at BENS, Susan taught textile art to children and adults, got a masters degree in art history and raised two children who are now in their twenties. She worked with twos in a preschool setting when she was younger but her fascination with and love for children really grew after she became a mother. Parenting is hard work and it was work that she loved doing. As a twos teacher, Susan really values establishing strong and respectful connections with all of our parents and believe that good teaching is founded upon this collaboration. She spends a lot of time outdoors at BENS, and when she is not there, she likes to hike the hills of Wildcat Canyon and explore artmaking on her loom. 

Wendy Brooks: Gan D’vorim Teacher

Wendy is a native Californian and has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area most of my life. She is also a veteran preschool teacher and has worked in the field of early childhood education for more than 25 years. She strongly believes that the most qualified teachers should be working with the youngest children. She received her masters degree from Mills college in ECE (1993) with a special emphasis on working with hospitalized children. Her favorite assignment at Children’s Hospital was the neonatal ICU- she loved being around all those babies! She is also a single parent to two young adults, Kyle and Olivia. 

Wendy is a rat enthusiast and has three baby girl pet rats, Chili, Salt and Pepper! She loves communicating her love of small creatures to the children in her class. Music is another passion of hers, she plays woodwinds, has sung in a professional choir, and really enjoys singing with her students! One of the most satisfying aspects of her work is building relationships with children and their families. She very much looks forward to getting to know all of you better, and building a sacred kehilla together! 

Elizabeth Martinez: Gan Galim Teacher


Nina Veliz: Gan Galim Teacher

Ninoscka Veliz, “Nina”, was born in a small town, Santiago Humberstone, in the north of Chile. It was a mining town that no longer exists. She has a degree in child development and a teacher permit. She has three children and three grandchildren. Nina loves to run and to swim in the ocean. She could spend hours contemplating the salty water. She meditated and is still learning to be patient with herself. She is a vegetarian and likes to eat fresh and simple foods and also enjoy a glass of wine with a friend. Her favorite writers are Milan Kundera, Jane Austen, and Amy Tan and her favorite children’s books are Goodnight Moon and the Secret Garden.

​​Sarah Kator: Gan Galim Teacher

Sarah was born and raised in Berkeley California. She went to Whittier College in Southern California, and received her BA in Child Development in 2016. She has been working in early childhood since 2014 and started at Beth El in 2017. She was volunteering in a kindergarten class when she knew she wanted to teach and work with kids. She loved to see their smiling faces when they understood their work. She loves being a preschool teacher at BENS because it provides her with the chance to see children grow and learn in a safe environment. As a child, Sarah loved biking, climbing on monkey bars, and jumping rope. Now, she loves cooking, yoga, and being outside with friends and family.

Shayna Fleishman Roller: Gan Galim Teacher

Shayna April Fleischman Roller is a Bay Area Native with roots in many of the Bay’s communities. As a small business owner, massage therapist, and educator, Shayna has developed and fulfilled her passion for co-creating meaningful community experiences. You may recognize her alongside her sustainable body products and selling at local Farmers Markets, helping clients feel comfortable in their bodies while providing body work, reflexology and polarity, and educating the Bay Area’s youth from ages 0-18 years in public, private, and religious schools. 

All of her education happened right here in the East Bay and at Beth El. Shayna started attending Beth El for Hebrew School in 1993 and has since became a Bat Mitzvah, attended the Berkeley Midrasha program, taught 2nd grade Kadima, is currently teaching at BENS, and is now raising her own children to be involved in Kadima and their Jewish community. Her educational accomplishments include studying over 24 ECE units, a B.A in British and American Literature, and a Single Subject CA Teaching Credential in the Language Arts. Shayna enjoys spending quality tech-free time with her loved ones, being in nature, doing pottery, reading, gardening, and learning new languages. 

Teresa Marylander: Gan Galim Teacher

Teresa began her Early Childhood career in Hong Kong, first as a teacher and later as the director for a prestigious preschool.  After moving to the United States, she moved into the corporate world, working for a financial Big Five firm, hi-tech companies, and UCSF. Leaving the corporate world to follow her bliss, I became an SF SPCA-certified Dog Trainer, and taught fun puppy classes and specialized in helping dogs with serious behavioral problems. She loved being surrounded by dogs and becoming an accomplished dog whisperer. She left dog training to devote her full attention to my children. As they grew and developed in delightful ways, she felt a deep resonance back to her preschool teaching days. She recertified her Early Childhood Education degree at Chabot College, coming back to her roots. 

Teresa began her Early Childhood career in Hong Kong, first as a teacher and later as the director for a prestigious preschool.  After moving to the United States, she moved into the corporate world, working for a financial Big Five firm, hi-tech companies, and UCSF. Leaving the corporate world to follow her bliss, I became an SF SPCA-certified Dog Trainer, and taught fun puppy classes and specialized in helping dogs with serious behavioral problems. She loved being surrounded by dogs and becoming an accomplished dog whisperer. She left dog training to devote her full attention to my children. As they grew and developed in delightful ways, she felt a deep resonance back to her preschool teaching days. She recertified her Early Childhood Education degree at Chabot College, coming back to her roots. 

Teresa loves BENS because it gives her the space and support to be the teacher she always wanted to be. She is totally in love with the children in her care, feeling that they motivate her to be a better teacher every day as well as inspire her creativity when teaching and playing with them.  When not at work, Teresa avidly practice yoga, chauffeurs her teenagers to their myriad of events, and loves to cozy up with her cats and family in the evenings.

Carol Brownstein: Gan Hadar Teacher

Carol Brownstein has worked at BENS since 2012 when Jodi Gladstone convinced her to substitute teach. She has never looked back, working as a Gan Hadar teacher, Gan Shemesh coordinator and Garden Fairy.  Her motto at BENS is “Kindness, Kavod (respect) and Kehillah (community).”

Carol is eager to create experiences of risk, joy and deep engagement.  Ultimately her goal is for the children to know the reward of self-determined discovery, growth and learning. During the summer of 2020, Carol reviewed the BENS library books and created an Anti-Racist/Anti-bias book catalog for the BENS teachers. Carol also is a certified Outdoor Classroom Specialist. 

Carol is a second generation Californian and attended public schools from kindergarten through to graduate school. She studied both biological science and history at U.C. Berkeley.   After graduation Carol worked for Walter Mondale’s Washington D.C. press staff and then for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.  After D.C., and much to her parents’ delight, she returned to Cal, studying in Berkeley Law’s Jurisprudence and Social Policy PhD program.  

When not working, Carol is reading, walking with friends, practicing yoga, or hanging out with her cats and husband, David.

Eli Mizock: Gan Hadar Teacher

Eli Mizock was born and raised in Berkeley- his younger sister, Clara, is even a BENS alumna! He graduated from Reed College in Portland, OR and made his way back to Berkeley in March 2020. Eli has always felt close to Berkeley and Congregation Beth El having grown up at Camp Kee Tov- first as a Rishonim camper entering Kindergarten and most recently as the Program Director of Chalutzim (7th and 8th graders) He is so excited to work at BENS in the Outdoor Classroom and brave the rain and other weatherly elements in his second year.

When Eli isn’t working at BENS, he is either walking his pug puppy, Kirby, or experimenting with new cuisines in the kitchen!

Jamai Ellis: Gan Hadar Teacher

Jamai Ellis was born in Oakland CA and raised in Berkeley Ca where he lived the entirety of his life until recently moving to El Cerrito. He is currently attending Cal State East Bay University in Hayward and is set to graduate in the summer of 2022 with a Bachelors Degree in Liberal Arts. He has been in working in Early Childhood Education for 3 years, starting his journey here at BENS! Before BENS, Jamai worked for the after school program at Prospect Sierra. It was here that he first fell in love with working with children. Jamai is still very much in touch with his inner child and working with kids, especially at BENS, tends to bring out his silly side. He love sports and fitness, as well as relaxing during his free time. If he’s not at BENS, you can find him at the gym or at his desk doing homework.

Nurit Garner: Gan Hadar Teacher

Nurit Garner is so excited to be a part of the Gan Hadar team here at BENS. Just over 20 years ago she  joined the Beth El community as a teacher and she is so glad to still be here. Being a teacher was always a dream of hers- as a kid, she used to gather all the other children in her neighborhood who didn’t have a camp to attend and they would play together outside, exploring and using their imaginations to enjoy the day. Growing up in Israel, for a part of the time she was in the IDF and was on a kibbutz working with 1st and 2nd graders. From then, it only made sense to continue her passion of educating and playing with young children. In her spare time, she loves to be with her family and friends. Being social is a big part of her life. Besides her love for baking and reading, she is also extremely passionate about traveling around the world and experiencing different cultures. She is looking forward to getting to know all of you better!

Zenaida Alberto: Gan Hadar Teacher

Zenaida was born in Mexico City and came to USA when she was 13 years old. She graduated from Richmond High and attended to Contra Costa College. She has two children- a 7 year old and 10 year old.  She has been working as preschool teacher since 1998! Right after she graduated from high school, she joined a Montessori program and realized that she really enjoyed working with children. She decided to enroll in classes to officially become a preschool teacher. She has worked in different programs and learned a lot from wonderful co-teachers.

Zenaida love seeing her influence on the children’s lives. It is satisfying to see how much they grow and learn each year! She loves her work and learning from them. She enjoys interacting with them across many different activities and sharing lessons in Spanish.