Meet Our Staff
Elyssa Schick, our Director, is excited to be entering into her second year as director after being a dedicated teacher in the Kofim classroom the previous 12 years. Elyssa holds a BA in Psychology and Liberal Arts from Skidmore College and a Director Certification in Early Childhood Education. Prior to joining the team at KI, Elyssa taught at Boston Children’s School and interned at a psychiatric hospital in New York. Elyssa is also proud of her athletic ability, as she annually completes the Spartan Race, a series of obstacle races of varying distance and difficulty ranging from 3 miles to marathon distances.
Valerie Kiviat, our Office Administrator, has been been working with the preschool for 15 years. She holds a BS and Ed.M. from Boston University. Valerie is married to a Brookline native, whose parents were married at KI! She lives in West Roxbury and has been privileged to share in raising three super awesome stepchildren, along with Dakota, the family cat. Valerie’s warm and welcoming presence is an integral part of the KI community.
Ruthie is a certified Lead Teacher who attended Lesley University. She has been involved in children’s education for many years — owning and running her own family daycare, and teaching at a Cambridge preschool. Ruthie has also worked as a birth and postpartum doula. Ruthie is a proud mom to two daughters and two wonderful grandchildren. She has been a familiar face at KI for the past eleven years; first as a volunteer, then as a substitute teacher, and as a full time teacher for the past nine years. Ruthie is a welcoming presence for KI’s youngest students and she is looking forward to another exciting year at KI!!
Priscilla has a BA in Psychology with a minor in Studio Art from Boston College, and she has been teaching for seven years. She is also Lead Teacher certified and working on her Master’s. In her spare time, Priscilla enjoys reading, singing, and playing with her cat Teddi. She is very excited to begin her third year at KI!
Deirdre has taught at KI Preschool for many years, mostly in the Kofim classroom. Deirdre is particularly passionate about literacy and uses storytelling, drama, and poetry in the classroom to wrap preschoolers in the magic of language. Deirdre began her teaching career as a Parent Educator for Early Intervention and welcomes engagement with her students’ families. She took a few years away from teaching at KI to explore teaching at other Brookline schools and is delighted to bring that experience and knowledge back home to KI Preschool. She has a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Emerson College, and in her free time she writes poetry, children’s stories, and is currently working on a book, Strong Words, about teaching conflict resolution skills to young children. She has two (almost) grown-up daughters, and outside of school she can usually be found in her backyard tending her organic vegetable garden, or playing with her mischievous young pup, Giuseppe.
Carrie has been with the preschool for over twenty years! She is a graduate of the Threshold Program at Lesley College. She first came to KI Preschool as a student teacher in 1987 and decided to stay on as a beloved member of KI Preschool’s staff. Carrie is an avid pet lover and a proud owner of three wonderful pets: her dog, Kilvert; her horse Limelight; and her cat Oliver, and enjoys spending her down time with them on the North shore. Carrie brings her warmth and love of children directly into the classroom. She is a wonderful storyteller! This year she will be joining the Kofim team.
Eileen first came to Boston 19 years ago for a quick weekend getaway (she’s born and raised in Montreal, Quebec) and shortly after was hired by the JCC Early Learning Centers. She ran an art program for seven years and taught in the Pre-K class for 15. Eileen has a degree in Early Childhood Education and has studied at Hebrew College in Jewish Early Childhood Education. She has 25 years teaching experience with children ages two to nine years. Eileen is an animal lover who resides in Brighton with her fur babies Bailey and Harley, and loves music, dance, theater, cooking, traveling, and visiting art museums. Eileen truly believes, “Every child is a different kind of flower, and all together makes this world a beautiful garden” and is so happy to be at KI! Eileen is also excited to add the role of Judaic Coordinator to her repertoire!
Lizzie Portello is excited for her third year as a part of the Parparim team! Before that she spent 8 years at KI student teaching, substituting and working during the summer program. She recently graduated from UMass Boston with her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. Before taking a teaching position at KI, Lizzie nannied for a former KI family and thoroughly enjoys being a part of the KI community. Lizzie is very excited to be a part of the Parparim team with Tirzah and Aida (Mimi)!
Tirzah is joining KI Preschool for her sixth year. Tirzah has a degree from Wheelock College in Human Development with a Child Life concentration, and has a certificate in Early Childhood Education. Her work experience includes working at Brigham and Women’s Hospital as a child life intern, and has been a much-loved nanny for many families in the area. Tirzah is so proud of her two KI Preschool Alumni (graduating classes of 2016 and 2019). She’s excited for another year in Parparim!
Aida (“Mimi”) is super excited to join the Parparim team. Mimi studied at the International University of Sarajevo, majoring in Political Science and Journalism and speaks both Bosnian and German. She also has 17 years of experience as a preschool teacher. Mimi is a proud mother of 3 smart and beautiful children and grandmother of Victoria. She is fond of music, the visual arts, dancing, organizing, reading, traveling and loves, loves children!
Joyce has a degree in Early Childhood Education and is a seasoned Early Childhood teacher with over twenty years experience. This will be Joyce’s seventh year teaching at KI Preschool. She grew up in Brookline where she currently lives with her husband and four children. In her free time she loves to read books and travel to different places with her family. Joyce is always cooking up something fun in her classroom and she is looking forward to the new school year!
Gaby has more than twenty years of experience as a childhood educator serving as a preschool lead teacher, kindergarten Hebrew teacher, and as director of the Beth El preschool in Newton. She received her MA degree in Japanese studies from Harvard and a BA in Political Science from University of California, Berkeley. Gaby also holds an early childhood teacher and Director 1 certification from Mass Bay Community College. Gaby is fluent in English, Hebrew, and Spanish and conversant in Yiddish and Japanese. She is excited to be returning for her fifth year at KI!
Philip Alexander, Music Philip Alexander is one of New England’s premiere children’s entertainers. He’s an an alumnus of Boston’s renowned Berklee College of Music and performs throughout the Greater Boston area. As a children’s musician, Philip delights young and old alike – with interactive performances featuring voice, guitar, dulcimer, bamboo flute, ocarina and percussion. In addition to teaching his own weekly parent/child music classes, he performs in schools, libraries, summer camps, and at concerts,birthday parties and corporate events. Philip is delighted to be working with the children and staff at KINS for his fourth year.
Jenn Harrington, Creative Movement Affectionately known as “Miss Jenn,” Jenn will be starting her ninth year at the preschool. For over ten years Jenn has worked with children of all ages, ranging from one year to eighteen years of age, teaching creative movement and gymnastics classes through her business, Imagination Runs Wild. Every class that Jenn teaches at KINS incorporates fun and planned out themes that help the children stay physically fit, as well as give them the opportunity to practice their hand-eye coordination and gross motor skill development. Jenn will teach creative movement classes on Mondays once a week to each preschool class. She also teaches an enrichment program on Wednesdays from 2-3PM for preschool children. This program will incorporate gymnastics into her movement activities.