Faculty and Staff
Ellen Alt is an artist, teacher and community arts facilitator. She has exhibited her mixed media artwork in the U.S., Israel, Germany, Russia, China and England. One of her pieces was presented to Hillary Clinton in Jerusalem on the occasion of the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan. Ms. Alt received a BFA in art education from the Massachusetts College of Art and an MA in studio art from New York University. She is currently the artist-in-residence at the Park Avenue Synagogue, instructor of mixed media to adults at the 92nd St. Y and the art coordinator at Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan. Ellen summers at Brandeis University where she is the visual arts instructor for the BIMA and Genesis high school programs and teaches creativity in the DeLet Master’s program. In addition, Ms. Alt organizes community sculpture and mural projects. She has worked with Arab/Jewish groups in the Middle East, Catholic/Protestant groups from Northern Ireland and multicultural groups throughout the United States. Web sites: www. ellenalt.com, www.ellenalt.org.
Ivy Beth Delaney Ivy ED 107a, Teaching and Learning Reading in Elementary and Preschools. She is a veteran teacher and currently working at the Conservatory Lab Charter School in Dorchester, MA. Ivy has taught grades one to five, Reading Recovery, Special Education and English Language Learners. As a volunteer in Kiribati, South Pacific, Ivy worked with teachers to lift the quality and delivery of their English language instruction. When she returned to the United States, Ivy moved to Manchester, England where she taught English as a Second/Foreign Language to adult learners. Ivy is a graduate of Bank Street College of Education. She received her Reading Recovery training at New York University.
Sharon Feiman Nemser is the Mandel Professor of Jewish Education at Brandeis University and the founding director of the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education. Before coming to Brandeis in 2001, she served on the faculties of the University of Chicago and Michigan State University where she directed innovative teacher education programs and did research on learning to teach. Sharon came to Brandeis because it offered a unique opportunity to combine her expertise in teacher education with her deep interest in Jewish education. This combination is reflected in the Delet/MAT program which she started and which prepares teachers for Jewish day schools. Sharon has written extensively about mentoring, new teacher induction, teacher education and the role of experience in learning to teach.
Shira Horowitz is a Lecturer in Education. She co-teaches ED 264a, Foundations of Education, a course taken during the first summer of the Public Elementary and Delet Concentration of the MAT. Shira has also been a mentor teacher in the Delet Concentration since 2002.
Danielle Igra is an Assistant Professor of Practice in Education and the Director of Teacher Education. She currently teaches Fundamentals of Teaching, Pedagogy of English, and Reflective Teaching. Her research areas include the Pedagogy of Teacher Education and the Teaching of English Language Arts. Before coming to Brandeis, Danielle worked at Stanford University, where she also earned a PhD in teacher education, an MA in English, and an MA in teaching. Danielle taught high school English for 9 years in public schools and has taught in graduate programs in secondary, elementary, and early childhood education. As a teacher development and research consultant she has worked in the fields of: literacy, large scale assessment, higher education, and Jewish education.
Aja Jackson teaches the Foundations in Education course for the public elementary MAT program. She received a Bachelor degree in Sociology from Simmons College and later studied at Harvard University in the Graduate School of Education. She obtained her teaching certification through the Urban Teachers Program at Wheelock College. After over a decade of educating Boston Public Schools students, she became more interested in school leadership and has a principal licensure from the Center for Collaborative Education/Northeastern University. Aja currently works with Social Science teachers as a District K-8 Instructional Coach. Her interests include new teacher development, authentic assessment, and multicultural curriculum rooted in Social Justice.
Orit Kent is a Senior Research Associate at the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education at Brandeis University, where she also teaches in the Delet/MAT program. Orit co-designed the Beit Midrash Research Project at Brandeis and has taught in it since 2003, where she has developed an approach to the teaching of havruta and the close study of student learning. Orit's interest in havruta stems from the years she worked as a community organizer, helping diverse groups of people to successfully and respectfully work and study together. In her current work at the Mandel Center, Orit continues to research student learning and pedagogical approaches to havruta text study and draws on her research to help teachers create learning environments that foster high quality study of Jewish texts and values. Her related research interests include the teaching and learning of Jewish texts, learning across the lifespan, teacher professional development and alternative leadership paradigms. In her research, teaching and professional development work, Orit seeks to help Jewish education develop into a field that not only fosters strong knowledge of content and skills but also the creation of self-aware, values-based, action-oriented Jewish leaders. Orit has taught in a wide variety of educational contexts and works as an educational consultant in the Boston area. Orit is an alumna of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship and holds a doctorate in Judaic Studies and Education from Brandeis University and an MEd in Learning and Teaching from Harvard University. Orit has also studied in the Batai Midrash at Midreshet Lindenbaum, the Hartman Institute and Drisha Institute.
Rachel Kramer Theodorou is the Faculty Leader for the Brandeis Education Program’s Elementary Concentration. She teaches ED 100a, ED 111e/263b, ED 175 and selected mini-courses in ED 101b. She was a classroom and English as a Second Language teacher for eighteen years in both public and private elementary schools in New York City and Massachusetts. Rachel is also a certified trainer for the WIDA consortium in training teachers to work with English Language Learners. She has her M. Ed. from Bank Street College of Education. Rachel’s first book and blog is Heart of the Matter: The Role of Attitude in Teaching which proposes a new perspective on teaching and learning that explores a multi-dimensional view of the student and subject matter.
Noreen Leibson is the Delet faculty leader and comes to the Mandel Center after twenty years as the Education Director at Temple Beth Abraham, a Conservative synagogue in Nashua, NH. She has also worked as an informal Jewish educator and yoetzet at Camp Ramah in New England for ten summers. Noreen is a graduate of The Mandel Teacher Educator Institute and is known for her sophisticated professional development program at her school as well as her adult teaching, notably a Torah study class that has been in existence for eight years and more recently her work in Christian Jewish study groups. Noreen has her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from SUNY New Paltz and earned a Master of Social Work from Boston University. She received her Master of Arts in Jewish Studies from Hebrew College.
Marya R. Levenson is Professor of the Practice in Education and the Harry S. Levitan Director of the Brandeis Education Program. She was a teacher in the Boston Public Schools, principal of Newton North High School, and superintendent of the North Colonie Schools. Prof. Levenson is the author of Pathways to Teacher Leadership: Emerging Models, Changing Roles.
Jon Levisohn is the Assistant Academic Director of the Mandel Center, Associate Professor of Jewish Education in the Department of Near Eastern & Judaic Studies at Brandeis, and is also affiliated with the Philosophy Department, The Hornstein Program in Jewish Professional Leadership, and the Education Program. As a philosopher of education, his research and writing has encompassed three broad areas. First, he has sought to bring a critical lens to issues in contemporary Jewish education (e.g., curricular integration, community as a goal in Jewish education, and the future of modern Orthodox education). Second, he has developed and led a research initiative at the Mandel Center on the teaching and learning of classical Jewish texts (Bible and rabbinic literature) in multiple settings, from early childhood through university. This project, the Initiative on Bridging Scholarship and Pedagogy in Jewish Studies, has involved a diverse set of educators in research seminars and large conferences, and has generated a series of working papers and a manuscript of an edited volume. Third, he is pursuing a book-length project on the teaching and learning of history. In addition to his university teaching, he has taught Jewish Studies in a day school, in supplementary schools, and in adult education programs. An alumnus of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship program, he holds graduate degrees from Stanford in Philosophy, Religious Studies, and Philosophy of Education. He is active in the Network for Research in Jewish Education, the Philosophy of Education Society, and the Association for Jewish Studies.
Marjorie Margolis is a Lecturer in Education who returned to the Brandeis directly from the high school classroom where she spent the last thirty years teaching English. Before that, she studied English at Brandeis and received her teaching certification then specialized in literacy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Joan D. Martin has been a mathematics educator for over thirty years with experiences ranging from pre-K through college level mathematics. She has been a classroom teacher, math curriculum coordinator, specialist, coach, and author. She graduated from Boston College, Harvard, and Tufts University and currently is on the board of the Association of Teachers of Mathematics in Massachusetts. She will be teaching ED 262a-Teaching Mathematics in Elementary Classrooms.
Orah Minder graduated from Bryn Mawr College with a degree in English and religion. She completed a Masters of teaching at Lesley University in 2007. She went on to teach at a Boston-area Jewish day school where she taught middle school English. While teaching, Orah completed a Masters of English at Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English. Orah is currently a doctoral fellow in Jewish Education at Brandeis University; her research focuses on the teaching and learning of Jewish literature to and by Jewish students.
Tracy Polte teaches Inquiry-Based Science Teaching and Learning for the elementary concentration.
Joe Reimer has been at Brandeis since 1986 where he has been director of the Hornstein Program and the Institute for Informal Jewish Education. Trained as a developmental psychologist at Harvard, he has written several books and many articles on moral education, kibbutz education and Jewish education. He is considered by many as a leading expert on experiential Jewish education.
Francesca Stark has been a Delet instructor since 2005. She teaches a course called, Getting Started: Creating a close community and clear systems for a meaningful year of teaching. Francesca has taught 4th & 5th grade in the Brookline Schools since 1993. She has designed integrated curriculum across all subject areas and gives workshops to educators in areas such as differentiated instruction, writing, connecting home and school, curriculum design, literacy strategies, and poetry.