Lauren Berman: OFJCC Leslie Family Preschool Director
Lauren Berman is the Director of the Leslie Family Preschool. A dedicated community leader and Palo Alto educator, Lauren is known for her humility, warmth of personality and long-standing professional and personal commitment to the JCC and creative, holistic education for the young.
Lauren has held leadership positions in education, human resources and healthcare, always managing and inspiring large teams of staff. She is quick-thinking and fast on her feet.
She also believes in infusing warmth and operational excellence into everything she does. Lauren has served as a Care Actor and Communications Coach for Kaiser Permanente, helping hundreds of healthcare professionals better communicate with their patients.
Her passion for encouraging empathy and self-expression in people also has deep roots in children's education. Lauren has served as a teaching artist at the Tony Award-winning TheatreWorks of Silicon Valley, where she taught the Concepts at Play program, bringing creative and theatrical pedagogical techniques to a core curriculum of math, science and technology for children in kindergarten through 6th grade.
Jewish learning and education are also significant areas of leadership for Lauren. She was the founder, director and lead teacher of the Hagigah Theatre Program at Beth Am Congregation in Los Altos Hills. Designed as an alternative to traditional Sunday school, the program incorporates student-led learning to promote positive Jewish values in young people. Lauren is also a city producer for the Jewish Plays Project and has served on OFJCC lay leadership for over 12 years, including five on the Board of Directors.
Lauren has called the Bay Area home for many years. A Jew by choice, she is passionate about developing children who are not just ready and excited to learn academically, but who have kavod and know what it is to be part of a community. She lives in Los Altos, CA with her husband and two children, both of whom are graduates of the Palo Alto JCC preschool.
Mykenzie Busser: Assistant Director, Education
Mykenzie Busser has been a proud member of the OFJCC and Leslie Family Preschool for over 25 years, working both as an educator in the classroom and as an administrator. Mykenzie focuses on bringing the educational philosophy of Reggio Emilia and Constructivist Education, Judaism and the school's vision into the classrooms and community. She works closely with the educators, children and families to develop curriculum, provide professional development and to create an engaging community built on trust, relationships and partnership.
Mykenzie is a graduate of San Jose State University with a degree in child development and is a fellow in the SHEVA Leadership Institute through the JCC Association of North America. She is a passionate educator and life-long learner that believes every child, family and educator deserves to be seen, heard and have their own unique story be told.
In Mykenzie's free time she can always be found outside in the sun, at the beach or by her pool with a good book. Her favorite thing to do is spend time with her husband Mike and her two boys, Ryan and Jake, who are both Leslie Family Preschool alumni and her dog Samson.
Ilana Gelemovich: Assistant Director, Operations
Ilana has worked in education for over 20 years. She began her career at Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School, teaching both kindergarten and third grade. She then moved on to serve multiple roles here at the OFJCC Leslie Family Preschool for over 15 years. She was a classroom teacher for many years, worked as the preschool's Curriculum Coordinator and most recently the preschool Assistant Director of Operations.
Ilana holds a BA in psychology and a specialization in educational psychology from the Anahuac University in Mexico City. She is a fellow for the MTEI program, which focuses on Jewish educational leadership. She is simultaneously working on a masters in educational leadership through the University of Cincinnati. She is the proud parent of two OFJCC Leslie Family Preschool alum!
Anna Kuchuk: Enrollment and Business Manager
Photo and bio coming soon!
Kristin Green: Preschool Summer Camp Director
Photo coming soon!
Kristin Green has lived in the Bay Area since she was three years old and feels very fortunate to still be living home. She has always had a passion for working with children and helping their imagination blossom. She has worked at the OFJCC Leslie Family Preschool since 2009 in the two-year-old program.
Kristin has also been the Summer Camp Director since 2016. While working at the JCC she has learned to collaborate with families and co-teachers to create age-appropriate experiences and incorporate the whole child curriculum. As an educator, Kristin strives to foster compassion, nurture strong lasting relationships, and cultivate a love for learning. Her vision is to always see the competency and potential of each child, to believe in children, and to commit herself to helping the entire family find their connection with this community. In her spare time, Kristin enjoys having dance parties with her husband and two children, traveling and enjoying good food.
OFJCC Leslie Family Preschool Program Directors
Annette Medrano: Toddler Program Director
Annette is a native Californian who received her Bachelor of Arts in Child Development from Whittier College in southern California. She has had the opportunity to teach in Germany, Spain and Los Angeles before finding her home here at the Palo Alto OFJCC preschool.
Annette is entering her fifteenth year of early childhood education and as an educator, she aims to make a lasting impact in the lives of her students and community. Annette has been with the OFJCC since 2012 and in addition to being Toddler Program Manager, leads the Staff Sunshine Committee. In the classroom, she strives to foster compassion and intellectual curiosity, ignite imagination and instill a love of learning. In her spare time, Annette enjoys spending time outside with her husband and daughter, getting up early for a sunrise trail run in the Marin mountains, salivating over sweets and being enthralled by the latest thriller novel.
Lital Goldberger Raz: Ulpanon Hebrew Dual Language Program Director
Lital was born and raised in Israel in Kibbutz Gesher Haziv in the western Galilee. She received her B.Ed. in Special Education with honors in Beit Berl Academic College in 2002 and worked with children of various age groups in Israel, Canada and Germany. She is a proud mother of two JCC preschool alumni, Sheera and Daniel.
Lital has been teaching at the OFJCC since 2008, and held positions in the Hebrew immersion program and in English-speaking classes. She has led the Ulpanon program since 2018, supervising and mentoring both Ulpanon Geffen and the Ulpanon Yasmin classroom.
Lital enjoys introducing kids to the wonders of nature, friendships and arts. She strives to develop the child's natural curiosity, self-exploration, sense of humor and independence. She is committed to advancing acceptance of multiculturalism while strengthening core Jewish values and love for Hebrew and Israel.
Lital enjoys spending her free time with her family, baking, laughing, traveling, gardening and reading.
Shuly Paret: Yad B'Yad ("Hand in Hand"), Parent/Toddler Program Director
After two decades of deeply loving, serving and being an integral part of the OFJCC community, Shuly Paret is known for her passion for working with, playing, guiding and learning from her students. Born and raised in Israel, she completed her army service as a special education commander then received a B.Ed in Special Education from Seminar Hakibutzim College in Tel Aviv. She worked there for ten years as a kindergarten teacher. In addition, she established and managed her own preschool for several years before moving to the US at the end of 1999.
Shuly has been part of the OFJCC since 2003, teaching three- and four-year olds. She started the Yad B'Yad (Hebrew for "hand in hand") program, known for its dynamic, fun, warm and welcoming community of families, and rooted in Jewish values.
In July 2014, Shuly completed an eighteen-month program of the Jewish Early Childhood Education Leadership Institute (JECELI) and began directing an expansion of the Yad B'Yad programs, mentoring and growing a new generation of Yad B'Yad staff. In July 2019, she completed training of Ayeka's "Becoming a Soulful Parent" to further deepen the parent connection, creating opportunity for growth, learning and creativity. When COVID hit, Shuly applied it all with a swift move of the program to a "Yad B'Yad at the Park", continuing to bring love and laughter to the community.
Shuly is a mother of three and loves singing, dancing, listening to music, hiking, working out and baking. She enjoys people and fostering long-term relationships, values and loves her family, and appreciates life. She has a particular love and passion for working with children and their families. Shuly respects and strives for diversity, and values integrity and trust. She sees depth in Jewish tradition. Its values are important to her, and she is happy sharing them with the community.