Welcome new staff

Berman welcomes several talented new Middle School, Preschool and Lower School staff members for the 2016-2017 school year.  Each person brings their own special background, strengths and attributes, but above all, they share a passion for children and a belief in their unlimited potential.

Ephraim Cook is teaching Resource in the Middle School.  A graduate of Ner Israel Rabbinical College with a degree in Talmudic Law, Mr. Cook went on to earn a Masters degree in Mild and Moderate Disabilities at Johns Hopkins University. Mr. Cook believes that students thrive when they are in a positive and supportive environment.  He also feels it is important to support their individual learning needs and encourage their success and is excited to join the Berman staff to be able to do so.

Rabbi Shragi Rothman joins the Berman staff as a Middle School Judaics teacher.  A graduate of Ner Israel Rabbinical College with a degree in Talmudic Law and a rabbinic degree (semicha), Rabbi Rothman went on to earn a Masters of Science in Clinical Counseling from Johns Hopkins University.  Rabbi Rothman believes that students learn best through different modalities and teaches with a variety of methods including interesting powerpoints, projects, chavruta time, props, review sheets and other creative outlets. 

Webster Gray, the new Middle School Science teacher, comes to Berman with a Masters of Arts in Special Education from Wilmington University and a Bachelors of Science from the University of Maryland.  He is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education in the area of innovation and leadership.  Before he arrives at Berman in the afternoons, Webster teaches Applied Aerospace and Geosience at Parkland Magnet Middle School, one of several teaching positions he has held in MCPS. Webster believes in rigorous and relevant instruction that reflects the interests of his students. He recognizes that children learn best when they feel learning is meaningful. 

Nitsa Ford will be teaching Hebrew language in the Middle School.  A graduate of the Hebrew University School of International Relations and Political Science where she earned her B.A., she went on to earn a Masters of Public Policy and Management at the University of Pittsburgh. Nitsa is a fierce advocate for Israel and has devoted much of her time to promoting its positive side to the general public.

Yelena Kott graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a degree in Music Performance. She is a Berman parent and will be teaching music in the Preschool and Lower School. She has extensive experience teaching music to young children, both in a school setting and through private lessons. Yelena’s love of music and children is evident to anyone who observes her classes.


Stephanie Brown is our new 4th grade General Studies teacher and Educational Support Services staff member. Since graduating from the University of South Florida with a B.S. in Elementary Education with ESOL certification and Masters in Gifted and Special Education, Stephanie taught third and fifth grades at Hillel Academy in Tampa, FL. She is passionate about developing each child's individual talents and fostering work habits to support a lifelong love of learning.


Rachel Cohen is our new teaching assistant in Mrs. Arzouan's 3rd grade and Mr. Becker's 2nd grade.  A Berman alumna, Rachel earned her B.A. in Sociology from Queens College with a BA in Sociology and a Masters in Education from Touro Graduate School. Rachel formerly worked at Hebrew Academy of Long Beach and has been recognized for Exemplary Volunteer Service at two organizations- Shalem/Young Judea and EMET Outreach. A fun fact about her is that she participated in the first big Berman Upper School Mission to Israel in 2002.
Lordslienne Exantus (Mrs. E) joins our staff as a 1st grade General Studies teacher. She graduated from the University of North Florida with a BA in Prekindergarten/Primary Education.  She has teaching certifications from the District of Columbia and Florida. Mrs. E previously taught 1st grade and kindergarten in DCPS and Jacksonville, FL.  She believes that all children are interested and capable of learning and that it is the job of the teachers, parents and community to ignite their spark.

April Johnson (Coach J) is the new physical education teacher for all students in 1-4th and the girls in grades 5-12.  She graduated with a B.S. in Sports Management from Coppin State University. She has worked as a teacher and coach in Prince George's County Public Schools and DC Public Schools and has also been a Physical Education teacher in Upper Marlboro. In her free time, Coach J is a certified personal trainer and a Mid-Atlantic Rugby All-Star. Coach J is committed to making sure that the students are having fun while they are active.
Zak Kalusin (Mr. Zak) is the new Lower School Guidance Counselor.  After graduating from Berman in 2006, Mr. Zak went on to earn a B.S. in Psychology from Towson University followed by a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology from Loyola University.  Mr. Zak has worked with many different populations of children including students at the Frost School, Mount Washington Pediatric Hospital and Johns Hopkins Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.  Mr. Zak enjoys fitness, skateboarding, and art.

Rachael Gargulinski (Mrs. Garg) is the Lower School Science teacher and STEM coordinator, directing the STEM playground. She comes to Berman from the Fairfax Christian School  where she taught all levels of science and some math.  Another Floridian, Mrs. Garg graduated from the University of Miami with a BS in Chemistry and a minor in Biology. Mrs. Garg feels that children learn best from practice and observation and loves to pass on that enthusiasm for science to the students with the use of labs and hands-on activities.

Eva Wildavsky is a Berman graduate from the class of 2012, after which she went on to earn a B.A. in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University. Eva will be an assistant in the 3rd grade and brings lots of experience to the position from her work in several different elementary schools, preschools and summer camps.


Yahav Jacobowitz recently arrived from Israel with her husband Aryeh to serve as the Youth Directors of the Kemp Mill Synagogue.  Yahav will be working with Morah Edna's classes as a teaching assistant.
We are delighted to welcome back veteran teacher Elise Schloss as a Pre-K teacher this year.  Morah Elise is a graduate of Stern College for Women at Yeshiva University and Michlalah, Jerusalem College for Women.  She brings years of experience at Young Israel Shomrei Emunah, the Jewish Community Center and even at Berman to her position. Morah Elise is happy to be back at Berman Preschool as she loves the Preschool director, the other teachers, and especially the children.

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