One of the strongest features of the Brandeis Teacher Leadership Program is the depth and experience of our coaching staff who oversee ED 294 or “the Practicum.”
Teacher leaders register for the Practicum in both the fall and spring semesters, and it is an integral component of both the AGS and EdM courses of study. It is here, outside the formal classroom setting, that theory and practice truly come together as the teacher leaders design and implement a teacher leader initiative in their school with the support of their coursework and their own individual coach.
Teacher leaders are paired with their coach during their first summer at Brandeis, and they continue to meet twice a month for the duration of the program. Our coaching staff is a distinguished group with impressive academic credentials as well as invaluable practical experience. They are current and retired department chairs, principals, superintendents and leaders of professional development, and many of our own professors and instructors also serve as coaches.
Coaches help the teachers to develop new leadership skills and dispositions and also to move their initiatives forward in their schools. At the beginning of the school year, coaches and teacher leaders set goals, and coaches assess growth at the end of each semester. They also make at least one site visit to each teacher leader’s school in which they meet with administrators and observe the teacher leader in action. Teacher leaders report that having an experienced professional to consult with who is not connected with their school is a tremendous resource as they navigate new relationships with school leaders and colleagues.
Meg Anderson brings more than 30 years of experience as a teacher, curriculum leader and principal in traditional and alternative education settings. In addition, she has had 11 years of experience as the director of the Principal Residency Network, a principal training and credentialing program (a partnership between the Center for Collaborative Education and Northeastern University), and as a school redesign coach, advising principals and district leaders and providing professional development for teacher leadership, advisory programs, curriculum development, teacher evaluation and team development. She is currently an educational consultant and facilitator.
Mira Angrist is a lead advisor at HATC (Hebrew at the Center), a national nonprofit organization advising schools on revising Hebrew curricula to meet the proficiency standards, providing face to face and online webinars and mentor Hebrew teachers. Angrist is also the head of the Hebrew program, full-time lecturer and lecturer’s coordinator at the Department of World Languages and Literatures at Boston University. She is an active member of NAPH (National Association of Professors of Hebrew), an Hebrew OPI (Oral Proficiency Interview) tester and active presenter in language/culture conferences.
Barbara Collins has been coaching teacher leaders since the Teacher Leadership Program began in 2015 and teaches ED 259, an online course on the uses of data for teacher leaders. Collins is passionate about supporting institutional change through shared leadership, instructional practices that meet the needs of all students, and systems to implement best practices in the field of literacy. She was a literacy specialist for the Newton, Mass., Public Schools for more than 25 years and went on to become an elementary school principal and then K-8 District Literacy Director and Title 1 Director for the Needham, Mass., Public Schools. In addition to teaching at Brandeis, she consults and coaches individuals and school districts.
Jan Darsa is former director of Jewish education at Facing History and Ourselves, where she facilitated Facing History workshops, seminars and other professional development programs for teachers across the country and in Israel. She has developed curriculum materials designed for educators in Jewish day schools and supplementary schools and has written numerous articles on Holocaust education.
Prior to Facing History, she taught English and social studies in public and Jewish middle and high schools. Darsa received a BA in English literature from the University of California at Berkeley and an MEd from Boston University, and has studied Hebrew and Jewish Studies at the World Union of Jewish Students in Israel.
Sharon Feiman-Nemser is the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Professor of Jewish Education. Since coming to Brandeis in 2000, she founded the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education and the DeLeT Fellowship which evolved into the MAT program with concentrations for public school and Jewish day school teachers. She also co-directs the Brandeis Teacher Leadership Program. A former high school English teacher, Feiman-Nemser is a scholar of teacher education and learning to teach. A collection of her writings, Teachers as Learners, was published by Harvard Education Press.
Marion Gribetz is a faculty member of the Shoolman Graduate of Jewish Education and is the director of educational initiatives at Hebrew College in Newton, Mass. She teaches in, oversees and directs all aspects of many professional learning programs at the college including the Pardes Educator Program and community initiatives in teacher learning.
Before coaching teacher leaders, Marion taught in the Jewish Day School track of the MAT Program on topics of Jewish content and education.
Minna H. Heilpern is a veteran Jewish educator with a passion for nurturing and supporting teachers and administrators and significant experience as a Jewish educational leader in teacher education and mentoring. She is a trained mentor through the Jewish New Teacher Project and was a fellow in Cohort IV of the Mandel Teacher Educator’s Institute.
In addition to being a coach in the Teacher Leadership Program/Jewish Day School Fellowship, Heilpern is also director of professional development at the Jewish Educational Center in Elizabeth, NJ. Prior to her work as a coach, Heilpern was an assistant principal at Yavneh Academy in Paramus, NJ. She also served as the director of the Teachers’ Center and director of Teacher Education at Jewish Educational Services (JES) of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey. Heilpern holds a BA in Judaic Studies from the University of Massachusetts and an MA in Jewish Communal Service, with a concentration in Jewish Education from Brandeis University.
Shira Horowitz co-teaches ED 264a Foundations of Education, a course taken during the first summer of the public elementary and Jewish day school concentrations of the MAT. Horowitz spent many years teaching kindergarten and first grade in a Jewish day school in the Boston area. She also worked as a mentor teacher and field instructor in the Jewish day school concentration of the MAT Program from 2002 to 2015.
Aja Jackson currently teaches the Foundations in Education course for the MAT program and coaches public school teachers in the Teacher Leadership Program. After more than 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. Jackson 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.
Jody Klein brings more than 25 years of experience in education as a teacher, program director, curriculum developer and trainer. She has taught pre-service and in-service education courses to teachers from pre-K through the university level, often around topics related to English Language Learning. She currently works for Newton Public Schools and as a consultant for Research for Better Teaching. Klein’s beliefs about access and achievement for all students are what fuel her work in and out of the classroom.
Marya R. Levenson is Professor of the Practice in Education and Director Emerita of the Education Program. She was a teacher in the Boston Public Schools, principal of Newton North High School, and superintendent of the North Colonie Schools. She is the founder of the Brandeis Education Studies Program and codirector of the Teacher Leadership Program. Levenson is the author of Pathways to Teacher Leadership: Emerging Models, Changing Roles.
Shira Loewenstein spent 10 years as a classroom teacher before working for Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools as the program director for Teacher and Leadership Development and at the Yeshiva University School Partnership supporting teacher learning. Loewenstein is particularly interested in the pedagogical practices of teachers and thinking about how kids think. She holds a master’s degree from Brandeis University, where she is an alumna of the Jewish Day School track of the MAT (DeLet) program and is currently writing her dissertation as part of the Azrieli doctoral program of Yeshiva University.
Gary Pretsfelder is principal, K-8, of the Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan, a student-centered, Constructivist-oriented school. He has been a member of their Educational Leadership Team for 18 years and a teacher and administrator in elementary and middle schools at three different Jewish day schools since 1989.
In addition to being a coach in the Teacher Leadership Program, Pretsfelder has also mentored aspiring administrators through the ELAI program of the Lookstein Center at Bar Ilan University. Pretsfelder has a BA from New York University and an EdM from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Ned Rossiter has spent more than 50 years in the classroom and in schools as a history teacher and history department head. After earning a BA from Yale and an MEd from Harvard he spent three years in England working in the United World College program and helping to develop the International Baccalaureate. He returned to the U.S. to take a position in the history department at Newton North High School, where he spent the rest of his career, becoming department head in 1976. After retirement from the Newton Schools, Rossiter has worked as a teacher, coach and as a field supervisor in the Brandeis Education Program.
Aviva Scheur teaches ED 253 Improving Teaching and Learning in the Classroom and serves as a coach in the Brandeis Teacher Leadership Program. She also works as the Shin Shin supervisor for the Combined Jewish Philanthropies in Boston. Previously, she served as education director at several synagogues, and was the head of the Tanakh department and leader of professional development at Gann Academy. Aviva has taught Pedagogy of Tanakh in the Brandeis MAT Program, presented at many conferences on teaching and learning and is a contributing author to The Power of Teacher Rounds: A Guide for Facilitators, Principals, and Department Chairs, by Vivian Troen and Katherine C. Boles.
Cynthia Shulak-Rome has been working as a coach for the Teacher Leadership program since it began in 2015. She serves as the alumni specialist for the Delet Alumni Network, planning and facilitating professional development programming for Brandeis' Delet/MAT alumni and day school teachers in our partner day schools. Prior to Delet, Shulak-Rome worked as a Jewish educator with her primary focus being supplementary school education.
A founding member of Congregation Dorshei Tzedek in Newton, Mass., she also served as education director of the congregation’s religious school for five years. Shulak-Rome served on the Board of the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation (JRF) from 1998-2004, and on the JRF Executive Committee as Education Vice President from 2006-2008. Shulak-Rome received a master’s degree in education and speech-language pathology from University of California Santa Barbara and did her undergraduate work at University of Michigan. She also participated in the two-year Mandel Teacher Educator Institute, a rigorous professional development program for teachers of teachers in Jewish education.