Meet the BEECC Faculty


Robin Cohen
BEECC Director

See "Meet the BEECC Director" for Robin's Welcome Message and Bio.

BEECC Teacher Laurie Diamond photo
Laurie Diamond

Dalet 1 Class
Co-Teacher

Laurie attended James Madison University and earned a BS in Early Childhood Education and Communication, with a focus on Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution.  She taught third grade for several years, piloting a Peaceful Classroom program that focused on student communication and feelings.  She discovered that her passion for teaching centered around literature, so she went on to earn her Master’s Degree in Library Science from the University of Pittsburgh.  She spent the next 17 years as an elementary school librarian in Loudoun and Fairfax County Public Schools before shifting to preschool. One of her favorite parts of teaching is connecting children with literature, from tots to teens!

Laurie and her husband Dave have two school age children and spend a lot of time juggling softball, baseball, soccer, and religious school! In her spare time, she enjoys long walks, reading, movies, gardening, and experimenting with one dish recipes that her whole family will eat!

She enjoys teaching children and learning together! She really likes finding the balance between supporting and challenging each child. She wants to foster their curiosity, facilitate their exploration, nurture their ideas, and develop their sense of awareness. And she always loves weaving literacy into their lives as they develop a lifelong love of reading! 

BEECC Teacher Becky Frank photo
Becky Frank
Gimel 1 Class
Co-Teacher

Becky grew up in Miami, but fell in love with Virginia (and her husband) as an undergraduate at UVA, and never left. She adores working with children, and has been an elementary school substitute teacher for FCPS for 8 years, following a treasured stint as a stay-at-home mom. Before that, she worked for an environmental non-profit, where she helped teach the public (and children) about the importance of protecting our natural resources. Don't get her started on trees!

In her spare time, Becky loves reading, traveling with her family, watching old movies, playing board games, and leading her daughter's Girl Scout troop. Both of her now-teenage kids started their education at BEECC, and had a warm, happy and enriching experience. Becky has often thought about joining the preschool team over the years, and she is so happy to be finally fulfilling this wish!

BEECC Teacher Abby Goldman photo
Abby Goldman
Gimel 1 Class
Co-Teacher

Abby received her Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education from University of Maryland, as well as a Master's degree in Special Education from George Mason University. She has been working with young children for 20 years in various settings, with the most recent one being 13 years teaching Head Start in Fairfax County Public Schools. 

Abby has two children, both of whom are in elementary school. She loves to spend her free time doing some sort of activity outdoors, but also enjoys just cuddling on the couch watching a movie with her family. She has a passion for teaching and guiding children in their exploration of the world around them. She believes all children are capable of amazing things and can't wait to see what amazing things your children will do!

Rabbi Mina at her desk

Rabbi Michelle "Mina" Goldsmith
BEECC Music Teacher

See "Rabbi Mina's Corner" for the Rabbi's Welcome Message, Bio and Blog "Mina's Musings."


Gayle Gropper
Gimel 2 Class
Co-Teacher

Gayle grew up on Long Island, NY where she earned a B.A in psychology from C.W. Post University in 1982. In 1983 Gayle got married to Dan Gropper and moved to northern Virginia after he graduated from George Washington Law School.

Gayle brings over 25 years of Early Childhood Education to BEECC. She began her career at the JCC of Northern Virginia in Annandale teaching 3 and 4 year olds for 13 years. She loves watching the children grow and express themselves in their own ways.

Gayle came to BEECC 12 years ago and continues to find it rewarding as the young children become independent thinkers and self-reliant in their daily lives. She believes that a major key to a successful classroom is when a teacher is supportive, warm and caring to all of her students.

Gayle and Dan have two children. Richard is 30 and lives in Richmond and Allison is 27 and is a nurse in Clemson, SC. Gayle and Dan have a very energetic and smart Welsh springer spaniel named Sophie who enjoys advanced doggy training classes. They can sometimes find her on the kitchen table looking out the front window waiting for them to return home.

Photo Coming Soon

Nell Hirsch
Movement to Music
Co-Teacher

Nell is a passionate believer in the power of music to reach and shape young hearts, minds and bodies. Over the past 17 years, she has shared her love of music with preschool children at the JCC, Northern VA Hebrew Congregation (NVHC) and Reston Children’s Center. A certified Music Together instructor, Nell plays guitar and brings a variety of rhythm instruments, rainbow streamers, singable books and stretchy bands to the classroom. She finds special joy in teaching a love of Judaism and Hebrew through song and dance.

Nell is married and loves making Shabbat dinners for her grown sons and young granddaughter. An active congregant and volunteer at NVHC, she enjoys yoga, knitting, studying piano and reading.

Photo BEECC Teacher Meghan Keyes
Meghan Keyes
Dalet 1
Co-Teacher

Meghan has been volunteering and working with children for a little over six years. Over the years she has worked in a few different childcare and educational environments. Those environments included a youth program at a community center, a lead teacher at a Goddard School, and most recently nannying for a family of four. With working in these environments, she learned she had a passion for teaching, so she decided to get her degree in Early Childhood Development from Purdue University Global. Her favorite reason for teaching is being able to support a child in their social and educational development.

Meghan loves seeing children grow, learn, and develop different skills throughout the school year. She is very excited to join BEECC and to teach in a Reggio Inspired environment. She’s a big believer in the Reggio Philosophy and believes children are capable of anything they put their minds too!

In her personal time she loves to spend time with her friends and family, spend time outside, create different art projects, and follow her favorite football team The Cleveland Browns.


Katherine Klein

Atelierista

Kat has been working with children for well over half her life. She knew from a young age that she wanted to be a teacher. She says, "experiencing the joy & enthusiasm for life & learning that young children possess, always fills me up with joy!"

Kat graduated from Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland with a BA in Elementary Education with a concentration in both Psychology and Studio Art and earned an M.Ed. in Special Education from Towson University, also in Baltimore. She has three school-aged children (ages 9, 8, and 6 years old) and is married to an Air Force Lt. Colonel. Kat and her husband Dave have called many places home since 2002 due to their military moves, and therefore she has taught in many different schools all over the country and even abroad when she ran a preschool program for the Department of Defense.

Kat and her family moved to Virginia in 2014 from San Antonio, Texas where she was an art educator for a non-profit contemporary art organization called Artpace. She taught lessons and led gallery tours for students of all ages--preschool, elementary, middle, high school and even university students. In addition, Kat thoroughly enjoyed her time as both an elementary art teacher and as a docent and Art Strolls program director at the McNay Art Museum, where she implemented and led programming for young children (ages 1-4 years old & their caregivers). These programs included sensory play, themed art activities connected to works/exhibits seen, and a story time with music and movement as well. Here in Virginia, Kat has worked as an early childhood music teacher and she substitute teaches in many Fairfax County Public Schools.  

Lorri Strachman
Kovach
Teacher Mentor

Lorri was raised in White Plains NY and earned her BS in Special Education, with a minor in Psychology from Ohio University. She brings to BEECC years of experience as a preschool teacher, director, mentor, staff trainer, CDA instructor and a student advisor for NAEYC.

Lorri was a Florida State trainer for Early Childhood in the 1980’s-1990’s. While raising her son and daughter, she completed a Master’s degree from St. Thomas University in Florida. Before moving to NOVA 5 years ago, she was an adjunct professor of Early Childhood at Purdue University, and taught preschool at Jewish Federation K’ton Ton in Munster Indiana. Her most recent teaching position was in Reston Va.

Returning to the classroom environment affords Lorri the opportunity to do what she is most passionate about- teaching! She brings a love of children and compassion for all people. She believes children need both support and challenge to grow. Giving a lot of unconditional support to help our little big people get started is what she does best.

Lorri and her husband have five children scattered all across the country, with two of six grandchildren living close by in MD. In her spare time you can find her baking, hiking with family, and listening to rock and roll, jazz and folk music. She looks forward to a thriving school year and pledges to create an environment of healthy community learners.

BEECC Teacher Campbell Kraemer photo
Campbell Kraemer
Dalet 2 Class
Co-Teacher

Campbell recently received her Master of Arts in Teaching and Montessori Licensure (3-6-year-old program) from Chaminade University of Honolulu and American Montessori Society.  She’s also an Air Force Reservist married to an adventurous Air Force husband (Sam). They have three awesome young adults who LOVE to babysit: Daniel-15yrs, Hope-14yrs, & Kaitlyn-12yrs. Snoopy, their fluffy Husky/Sharpei, and Aslan, their Lionhead bunny, complete their family.

Campbell moved here from Coastal Virginia this summer, but grew up in McLean. It’s strange to be back in this area after being away for 24 years! 

She loves singing, playing guitar, dancing hula, reading her Bible, learning & sharing about Montessori, making new friends, & going on adventures with her family.


Neta Litvin
Bet Class
Co-Teacher

Neta has been involved with children's education across Reston’s Jewish congregations for over a decade. She works at NVHC religious school, teaching Hebrew (3-6 grade) as well as cooking, art, and photography (7-12 grade). Neta is also involved with Shoreshim chavurah, teaching Hebrew and Judaic studies in addition to her role as the Educational Director at the religious school.

As a native Israeli Sabra, Neta brings an extensive knowledge of Hebrew and Israeli culture.  She has a degree in Applied Art, Communication Design, and a wide range of hobbies and interests, including playing classical guitar, photography, painting, cooking, nature, spirituality, hiking, and swimming. Neta lives in Reston, and has 2 children, Alison and Daniel, both in their 20s. 

Neta states, "I love being around young children. I love their pure energy, and natural curiosity and zest for life. I love watching their beautiful process of exploration, the thinking, the figuring out, trying out, keeping at it, adjusting, until satisfied. My role in the classroom is to allow and support the flow of their natural process to learn, and to give them a conscious understanding of how capable, powerful, important, worthy, and invincible they are. I believe self-empowerment is the greatest gift I can give to a child. I am completely in sync with Reggio’s approach about children and their learning. I see myself as their inspiring learning partner; we are all in this together! I will stand back as their most avid cheerleader, allowing and encouraging the children to shine. I’m excited to join the BEECC family!"

BEECC Teacher Marcy Mandel photo
Marcy Mandel
Gimel 2 Class
Co-Teacher

While in high school, Marcy first discovered her love of teaching when she worked as a Madricha (teacher) for Beth Emeth's religious school. She later studied at George Mason University, while continuing to work for the religious school as the Special Education Resource Teacher, as well as taking on the role of the Assistant Director of BEECC's Summer Camp. After graduating with her B.A. in Early Childhood Special Education with a minor in Judaic Studies, Marcy then went on to work as an Assistant Teacher for BEECC, and has since worked at the Pozez Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia, and was most recently the lead teacher at a private preschool in Herndon.

Marcy is thrilled to be returning to CBE and BEECC, as she credits her experiences here for setting her on the path to being an educator, which has become a lifelong journey as she continuously works towards becoming the most effective, supportive, and compassionate teacher to each child she has the privilege to work with. Marcy believes that children are naturally curious, inquisitive, and eager to learn about the environment around them; and that it is an educator's responsibility to first listen to the questions being asked by - and recognizing the interests of - each child before creating an exploratory environment that will inspire fun learning experiences that foster the developmental growth and thinking of each individual child.

During her leisure time, Marcy loves creating abstract paintings using soft-body acrylics, and treasures the connections and relationships she has established with others through her artwork.


Anna Nurmi
Movement to Music
Co-Teacher

Anna has been teaching movement to music in private schools in Fairfax County for nearly 20 years, and has been BEECC’s Movement to Music teacher since 2012. She also teaches piano lessons in her home, in which she uses a variety of musical instruments and tools to share the world of music theory with her students. As a Teaching Artist with Wolf Trap Education Foundation for the Performing Arts, Anna is continually trained in using the foundation’s performing arts-focused strategies in schools throughout the metropolitan area. She has a piano pedagogy certificate from George Mason University and a communication studies degree from Virginia Tech, where she met her husband Scott.

For the past 14 years, Anna and Scott have been co-owners of Mojo Factory Productions LLC, focused on digital visual recordings of performing arts in schools and private organizations in the area, as well as providing recording for charitable and educational organizations nationwide, such as In Concert For Cancer and Jazz Education Network. Anna and Scott are the proud parents of Taylor Jimeson, assistant director of membership marketing for University of Maryland’s Alumni Association, and Amanda Nurmi, communications coordinator for GE Johnson, the developer of the Olympic Museum and the Pikes Peak Visitor Center in Colorado Springs CO.

BEECC Teacher Jamie Paul photo
Jamie Paul
Dalet 2 Class
Co-Teacher

Jamie and Martin and their three children, Gillian, Jacob and Madeline, moved to Northern Virginia in June of 2001. The whole family quickly became very active at Beth Emeth. Jamie began working at the religious school immediately and joined the BEECC family the following year. Jamie has now taught Alef, Bet, Gimel, and Dalet classes. 

The family grew when Gillian married Aaron at CBE in 2011, and they now have Jamie and Martin's first grandchild, Daniel. Jacob and Sara will wed in August of 2018. Madeline and Alex are married now and living in Richmond.

Teacher Julie Schwartzman
Julie Schwartzman

Alef Class
(Budding BEECCers)
Teacher

Julie is a 3rd generation Washingtonian and has lived most of her life in the DMV area.  She has a Masters Degree in Education and Human Development with a concentration in Special Education K-12 from The George Washington University and a Bachelors Degree in Broadcasting, Hebrew and Sociology from The University of Maryland, College Park.  She studied abroad on Kibbutz Mitzpe Shalem and at Tel Aviv University during college. When Julie began working with young children as a Youth Group Leader at Ohr Kodesh in Chevy Chase she quickly realized teaching littles ones was her passion. She worked for FCPS as a Special Education Classroom Teacher of students with multiple disabilities and most recently as a middle school AAP Civics Teacher.

Julie adores the wonder, excitement and enthusiasm of children. She feels that if children are having fun, they are open to learning, so a happy, warm and nurturing environment is always her goal. She loves to get to know her students as individuals and from there, extend their knowledge based on who they are and what they enjoy. In 2006 she designed the BEECC brochure with the tag line, “Good Beginnings Never End”. 

Julie, her husband Jeff and their three children Jenna, Alexa and Zach have been members of Beth Emeth since moving to the area 17 years ago. All three of her children attended BEECC (which was a GREAT beginning!) and continued their Jewish education here.  Julie is thrilled to return to BEECC and hopes to give the current families the same genuine experience her children received when they spent their days here. In her spare time Julie loves to travel, read, photograph, socialize, watch her kids play sports and hike with the only family member who is willingly go with her, the family dog, Moose.


Renée Williams
BEECC
Administrator
Email

Renée has been with BEECC for 13 years. Originally from a small town in Western Maryland, she now lives in Sterling, VA, with her husband, Greg.

Renée and Greg have two adult children. When she's not at BEECC, most of her free time is spent spoiling her grandsons.

BEECC Teacher Katie Yoshida photo
Katie Yoshida

Bet Class
Co-Teacher

Katie has 7 years of experience teaching First Grade and Kindergarten and has spent the last 6 years being home full-time with her two young sons.  During this time she has strengthened her commitment to the development of the whole child.  She holds a B.A. from Saint Mary’s College in CA in Liberal and Civic Studies/Spanish minor and attained her teacher credential though the Bilingual Multicultural Education Department at Sacramento State University in California.

Personally, she’s passionate about vegetable gardening and baking (especially with children). She loves to watercolor, do yoga, and frequently visit the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. She and her family relocated to Herndon from California last summer and she is looking forward to making an impact here—inside her classroom walls and beyond. 

She loves spending her days at BEECC, a school that is so nurturing, joyful, and full of wonder.  She’s excited to form strong relationships with her students, colleagues, and parent community, all the while being intentional about her classroom environment and facilitating hands-on, child-led learning opportunities.