Meet Our Faculty
Yafa is a native Israeli. She received her certificate in Early Childhood Education from Oranim Teachers' College and a degree in Art Education from Betzalel College in Israel. Yafa teaches preschool at the Gordon JCC and has been teaching our first graders on Sundays for several years. Yafa teaches Hebrew to our Sunday Akiva students and advanced level Hebrew and T'filah midweek. Yafa's energy and enthusiasm keep everyone smiling and coming back!
Elaine has been teaching at WES since 1988 and is as enthusiastic today as she was then. During the week, Elaine is a special education teacher for emotionally disturbed children for the Rutherford County School System in Murfreesboro where she lives. Elaine completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Tennessee and received a double M.A. in Early Childhood Education and Special Education from George Peabody College for Teachers and a Masters Plus 30 from MTSU. She has been a teacher for 38 years and has taught children who are gifted, learning disabled, autistic, mentally retarded and bipolar. She loves technology and incorporates it into her teaching. Elaine also prepares and leads the K'toni High Holiday services for our preschool age children.
Ur spent a year at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and received a B.A. in History from the University of Alberta, in Edmonton. He completed a B.A. in Religious Studies and a Bachelors of Education from York University in Toronto and earned an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from the Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. During his summers, Ur worked as a Unit Head at Camp Judaea in Hendersonville, NC and was staff for the Young Judaea summer courses in Israel. Ur taught for several years at Beth Shalom Synagogue and at the Leo Beck Day School in Toronto and at the Midrasha Hebrew High School in Hamilton, Ontario before moving to Nashville. He has been on faculty at WES Religious School for several years and loves teaching both at the high school level and at the elementary school level. Ur taught the Kallot, preparatory classes for the Get Connected Israel program. Ur will be teaching third grade Jewish Studies, Israel 101 to our 10th graders and Israel 202 to our 11th grade graduating class. Ur is married to Rachel Goodrich whom he met at Camp Judaea.
Joanna loves working behind the scenes, creating curricula, projects and programs for our students and for our families with young children. Joanna focuses on making meaning from direct Jewish experiences with hands-on, practical and fun activities that include stories, songs, movement, food and crafts. She has a Masters in Jewish Studies from Vanderbilt University and has worked as the reviewer, editorial assistant and columnist for BookPage (Book Review) since 1989. Joanna is creating Jewish experiences for Families with Young Children here at WES and her touch can be felt in our elementary program! Joanna is married to Michael Rose and they have two children both of whom are in WES Religious School!
Nili is an unofficial member of the Religious School faculty. She will be our Shabbat B'Yachad Coordinator planning the services for our young children every 2nd and fourth Shabbat of the month. Nili is a graduate of Brandeis University and received her M.A. in Education, Elementary Education from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. Among her teaching experiences, Nili taught at Akiva School for six years and was the Family Educator here at WES for five years.
This is Rachelís first year as a member of the WES Religious School Faculty and she is very excited! Rachel is a graduate of the University of Georgia (UGA) where she received a B.A. in History and of UGA Law School where she received her J.D. Rachel was very active in Young Judaea growing up in Millegeville, GA. She worked at Camp Judaea in Hendersonville, NC for three summers where she met her husband, Ur Barzel. She spent a year in Israel on the Young Judaea Year Course program. Rachel is a Staff Attorney at Sarah Cannon Research Institute here in Nashville. We are happy to welcome her to WES. She will be teaching Jewish Studies to our second graders, a course on Struggling with G-d to our Bnai Mitzvah students and team teaching "Leadership Through a Jewish Lens" with Lisa Perlen to our 11th graders.
Daniel received his B.A. from Yale University with a double major in psychology and Judaic Studies. He was involved at Camp Yavneh in Northwood New Hampshire in many capacities from counselor to the Assistant program Director and participated in the Teach for America Program in New Orleans. He also worked for a time as an Emergency Medical Technician in Gretna, Louisiana. Daniel is the Judaic Studies teacher at Akiva School for 5th and 6th graders. He frequently comes to WES to lead Tífilah or to participate in a program. He will be teaching the Tallit, Tífilin and Tífilah class for 6th/7th graders.
Carol will be returning to WES this year as a Jewish Studies teacher in our religious school. Karr is a former Director of Jewish Student Services at the State University of New York at Albany. She received her bachelor's degree in sociology and Jewish Studies from the University of Rochester and her master's degree in Jewish Studies from George Washington University. At GW, Carol attended the Jerusalem Cairo Institute on the Middle East Conflict. She participated in the World Union for Jewish Students WUJS Graduate Center for Hebrew and Jewish/Israeli Studies Program in Arad, Israel and served as a volunteer teacher in the Sherut La'am Volunteer Program in Kiryat Gat, Israel. Carol is a substitute teacher with Metropolitan Davidson County Public Schools. She will be team teaching the 6/7th grade Parashot Exchange class with Josh Koller. She is looking forward to having a very successful school year teaching her students and being part of the religious school staff.
Josh is excited to be returning to West Endís religious school. A native of Knoxville and a University of Tennessee graduate, he is currently a Masterís Student at Peabody College in the Higher Education Administration Program. Prior to Nashville, heís worked as an admissions counselor in Jackson, MS and at a boarding high school in Greensboro, NC. Josh has served religious schools of congregations in Nashville, Knoxville, and Jackson, MS as a teacher. Outside of school, Josh enjoys spending time as an advisor to Athens of South AZA #258 and playing ultimate Frisbee. Josh is married to Megan Roberts Koller, who is also a member of our faculty.
Megan Roberts Koller
Megan grew up in Knoxville, TN where she was very involved in BBYO. Megan received her B.A. in Jewish Studies and History with a Minor in Hebrew from Indiana University and will earn her M.Ed. in Human Resource Development/Organizational Leadership at Vanderbilt University, Peabody College in 2012. Megan was the Director of Special Projects at the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute for a year before coming to study at Vanderbilt. She has taught in religious schools since 2006 and this will be her second year as a teacher here at WES. Megan will be teaching Hebrew to our second graders, the MYV challenge to our 10th graders and Jews in American History to our 8th /9th graders. Megan is married to Josh Koller and our teens know them as their BBYO advisors!
Miri is a native Israeli and was a young teacher at WES from 1970-1972. Since that time, Miri studied Religious Studies and Secondary Education Mathematics at the University of Tennessee and has many hours of continuing education in Hebrew Language Instruction, Child Care Licensing, and Computer Technology. Miri has a wide range of Jewish teaching experiences from the Epstein School in Atlanta, GA to Temple Shalom in Dallas, TX to Heska Emunah in Knoxville, TN. She has been a member of the WES faculty since 2004 and will be teaching Hebrew and Jewish Studies to our 4-6th graders.
Lisa grew up in Memphis and was active in USY and BBYO where she first became interested in leadership. Lisa graduated the University of Memphis as the Cecil Humphreys Presidential Scholar and received a law degree (J.D.) at the University of Houston Law School. She practiced law for 18 months with Chamberlain Hrdlicka in Houston (one of 10 largest firms there) in tax and bankruptcy. Lisa moved to Nashville and served as the Chief Deputy Clerk of the Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of TN. She married Arthur Perlen and is mom to Whitney (WES graduate 2011). Lisa has been a very active volunteer in the Nashville Jewish Community. She chaired the Women's Division of Federation Campaign for two years; facilitated a two-year program for young leaders, (and wrote the curricular materials for year 2); chaired several wonderful events for WES: the Big Megillah 2, Tel Aviv @ 100, Miriam's Reunion for WES and formed a task group to design a potential board development program for all the boards of Jewish Nashville, which is still in the works. Lisa will be team-teaching a course for our 11th graders on "Leadership".
Beth is an accomplished musician. You may have seen or heard Beth Sass at one of our Friday Shabbat Family Services or you may know her from the JCC preschool where she was the Early Childhood Music and Movement Educator for 8 years or you may know her as the Elementary Music Educator at Akiva Day School. Beth received her B.A. from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA and is a seasoned performer: a pianist, vocalist, guitarist, mandolinist and a choir director. Beth will be teaching Jewish music to enrich our Jewish Studies curriculum to our preschoolers through our fifth graders on Sunday mornings.
Merav is a native Israeli and grew up on Kibbutz Dan in northern Israel. She taught dance and choreography at the Gaa'ton Dance Academy at Kibbutz Gaaíton and received a B.A. in Special Education and Multidisciplinary Studies at Tel Chai Academic College. She completed a Masters in Education from Lesley University Cambridge, MA (Israel branch). Since 2002, Merav has taught modern dance and classical ballet for children and youth and has tutored children with learning disabilities in "Academic writing and Academic Skills". Merav came to Nashville with her husband Haggai who is a Cardiovascular Research Fellow at Vanderbilt and their one year old daughter, Na'ama. She will be teaching Hebrew to our third graders and movement and Israeli dance to our kindergarteners and first, second and third graders