Lower School

Lower school teachers impart their love of books, geography, science, and Torah to their students. Trained at Teacher's College Columbia University summer workshops in Readers and Writers Workshop, our general studies teachers have taken student writing to new heights.

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Sara Wolk Bernstein, M.A.Ed., Grade 3 Hebrew and Jewish Studies Teacher/Hebrew Language Resource Specialist, grew up in Minneapolis and has been at Heilicher since 1992. She earned a B.A. in theater with a minor in Hebrew from the University of Minnesota. She attended American Jewish University where she earned her master's degree in education and administration with additional credits equal to a second bachelor's degree in Jewish studies. Before returning to the Twin Cities, Sara held positions with the Jewish Community Centers Association of Greater Los Angeles, LA Unified Public Schools, and LA Bureau of Jewish Education. During her years at Heilicher, she has continued her professional learning in areas of foreign language acquisition, special education, curriculum design, and instructional differentiation.


Jodi Danovsky, M.A., Grade 3 General Studies Teacher, joined Heilicher in 2016. She holds an undergraduate degree in therapeutic recreation and a master's degree in K-12 special education with an emphasis on learning disabilities from the University of Minnesota as well as a teaching license from Concordia University. She is also trained in Orton-Gillingham and Responsive Classroom. Previously she taught kindergarten through fourth grade at Talmud Torah of St. Paul for 15 years and worked in inclusion at Mt. Zion Temple and Yachad. Jodi enjoys running, reading, and watching her children in various sports and theater endeavors.



Sammie DanovskyGrade 1 General Studies Teacher, attended Drake University and earned her B.S. in elementary education with an endorsement in K-12 special education. Previously she taught preschool at People Serving People. During her time as a student teacher, she taught in a kindergarten classroom, a multi-age elementary special education classroom, and a seventh-grade special education classroom. Sammie spent six summers working at Camp Olami in the roles of program director, advocate, and counselor. In her free time she enjoys being outdoors, reading, and spending time with family.


Jen GilbertsonGrade 4 General Studies Teacher, earned her B.S. in elementary education from Valley City State University in North Dakota. She joined Heilicher in 2018 after several years teaching preschool, kindergarten, and first grade in the metro followed by several years working for Fraser. During her tenure at Fraser, she worked as an advocate serving families and children with extraordinary needs. Jennifer enjoys traveling, especially coast-bound, reading, baking, and spending time with her husband and children.



Wendy Goldberg, Grades 1 and 7 Jewish Studies Teacher, is a veteran Jewish educator who joined Heilicher administration in 2017. Previously she taught at the Talmud Torah of St. Paul day school for seventeen years, and for the past seven years she served as the Director of Spiritual Engagement at Shir Tikvah Congregation. She also leads Shir Harmony, a women's a cappella group dedicated to raising funds for local and Israeli women's groups and "serenading people at meaningful moments." Educated at Brandeis University, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and at Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies, Wendy brings a depth to prayer life. She has a long history of working on issues of race and class, which will intersect with Heilicher initiatives toward social justice. Wendy is also a Christensen Interfaith Fellow at Augsburg University. Wendy is a Minneapolis native and parent of two Heilicher alumni.


Elena Levitt, M.A., M.A.Ed., Grades 4-6 Jewish Studies Teacher, earned her B.A. in Hebrew letters and M.A.Ed. from American Jewish University. She also earned her B.A. in political science and journalism and M.A. in liberal studies with a concentration in Jewish studies from the University of Memphis. Elena has worked in formal and informal education in both teaching and administrative capacities in Memphis, Los Angeles, St. Paul, and Minneapolis. Elena joined the Heilicher faculty in 2007. She is very happy to have come home to St. Louis Park to raise two amazing daughters. She has a great passion for sharing the breadth and depth of Jewish learning with her students. In her free time Elena enjoys reading, walking, and spending time with family and friends.


Ilena Marron, M.S., Grade 4 General Studies Teacher/Curriculum and Instructional Coordinator, earned her B.A. in art history and M.A. in teacher leadership from Brandeis University and her M.S. in elementary education from Fordham University. Ilena joined the Heilicher faculty in 2002 and previously taught in New York City public schools. Ilena has a passion for teaching reading and writing workshop and has attended Columbia Teacher's College Writing Institute several times. Ilena is committed to creating a nurturing and caring environment to help students meet their potential. Beyond education, Ilena loves spending time with her family, watching movies, cooking, and attending cultural events.



Maayan Scholder, Grade 2 Hebrew and Jewish Studies Teacher and Grades 6-8 Hebrew Teacher, was born and raised in Gedera, Israel, where she taught elementary education for the past 11 years. A recognized leader in Israel’s education system, Maayan pioneered a unique chavruta partnered learning method for successfully teaching Jewish Studies to grade-school students and has served in many educational leadership positions such as pedagogical coordinator and field studies facilitator. Maayan holds a B.A. in criminology from Bar Ilan University and studied elementary education at Achva College with a focus on Hebrew linguistics.  Furthermore, she has a special accreditation in teaching Israeli Jewish Culture from the prestigious Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. She moved from Israel to the Twin Cities with her family and joined Heilicher in 2022.


Hadassa SlagerKindergarten Hebrew and Jewish Studies Teacher and Grade 4 Hebrew Teacher, earned a B.Ed. in ESL from the University of Applied Sciences of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and a Certificate of Jewish Studies from the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs in Israel. She is working toward a master's degree in Jewish education at JTS. Hadassa was born and raised in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. She made aliyah to Israel and studied and worked there for 11 years. Hadassa moved to Baltimore with her family and then relocated to the Twin Cities in 2005. She has taught Judaics, Hebrew, and ESL in the Netherlands, Israel, Baltimore, and here in the Twin Cities. She taught International Baccalaureate Hebrew language at St. Louis Park High School, where many Heilicher alumni were among her students.



Lynn Slobodien, M.Ed., Grade 5 General Studies Teacher, earned her B.A. in history from Wesleyan University and her M.Ed. from UCLA. Lynn started her teaching career with toddlers in Roxbury, Massachusetts, and taught writing and literature for almost 15 years at the middle and high school levels in California. She relishes the opportunity to work with middle schoolers as they construct a more complex understanding of themselves and the world. She joined the Heilicher faculty in 2007 and previously served as the teacher development coordinator. She lives with her family in St. Paul.



Rebecca (Becka) Steinberg, M.A.Ed., Grade 2 General Studies Teacher, earned her certificate in elementary education from Grinnell College and her M.A.Ed. from Hamline University. Becka joined the Heilicher faculty in 2000. Outside of school, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Dan, sons, Andrew and Ryan (both Heilicher alumni), and dog, Snickers. Her other hobbies include music, reading, walking, watching Twins games, and traveling.




Susan Vlodaver, Lower School Science Teacher/Makerspace Educator, earned her B.A. in child study from Tufts University and has completed coursework toward an M.A. in public affairs from the University of Minnesota. Susan joined the Heilicher faculty in 2005. Previously Susan taught for several years in early childhood programs in the Boston area. She also has studied child and family policy at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota and has worked as a policy analyst for the state of Minnesota. Susan enjoys reading, knitting, walking, and spending time with her family.