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.

Learn More About Lower School

Jenny PalmerK, 1-2 Team Coordinator and Kindergarten General Studies Teacher, earned her B.S. in Elementary Education from St. Cloud State University and her M.A. in Classroom Instruction and a K-12 Reading Endorsement from Concordia University. Jenny joined the Heilicher faculty in 2004. She enjoys attending workshops and observing in other schools to gather new ideas to apply in her own classroom. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, baking, playing games, traveling, being crafty, and practicing sign language when she can. Jenny is also happily embracing married life with her husband, Mark.


Ilena Marron, M.S., Academic Council Math Coordinator and Grade 4 General Studies Teacher, earned her B.A. in Art History from Brandeis University and her M.S. in Elementary Education from Fordham University. Ilena is currently Teacher Leadership Master's Candidate at Brandeis University. Ilena joined the Heilicher faculty in 2002 and brings to the school four prior years of teaching experience including teaching 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.


Adam Barth, Grade 1 General Studies Teacher, earned his B.A in International Relations from St. Cloud State University, Graduate Certificate in Chinese Language and Culture from Yunnan Normal University and M.A. in Teaching from Concordia University. Adam believes education is the key to transforming our world into a place where every child has an opportunity to find success and happiness. For the past ten years Adam has been teaching in both China and Minnesota and strives to build positive relationships and design engaging lessons for all of his students. Adam spent four years living in China where he was blessed to meet his wife, Sofya who is from Israel. Together they have two young children, Leo and Mila and love to travel the world together. During his free time, Adam enjoys spending time with his family, playing guitar, traveling, sports and learning about new languages and cultures.


Britton Cook M.S., Grade 5 General Studies Teacher, earned her B.A. in English from the University of Florida and her M.S. in Education from Neumann University. Britton has taught at the upper elementary level in both public and private schools in Florida, Alabama, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania before moving to Minnesota and joining the Heilicher faculty in July of 2015. Britton lives in Edina with her husband, Tom, and daughter, Candy. Her sons currently live in Pennsylvania and Washington State. When she is not at school, Britton can be found reading, doing anything outdoors, or traveling.


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 7th grade special education classroom. Sammi 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.




Sheree Goldblatt, M.A., ED.S.Grade 2 General Studies Teacher, earned her B.S. with Distinction in Elementary Education from the University of Minnesota and her M.A. in Curriculum & Instruction and ED.S. in Educational Administration from the University of St. Thomas. Sheree joined the Heilicher faculty in 1998. Prior to joining the team at Heilicher, Sheree taught for four years in the public schools and at West Suburban Summer School for Gifted and Talented. She enjoys blending her exciting experiences of 18 years in corporate and non-profit marketing and communications into her classroom teaching, including her work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Sheree loves bringing to life her curiosity about other cultures, and sharing with students her amazing adventures on all of the seven continents. With the hope of better serving her students, Sheree recently attended the Writing Institute at Columbia University Teachers College and continued her studies in brain-based related research.


Polly Holzman, 3-5 Team Coordinator and Grade 4 General Studies Teacher, joined the Heilicher faculty in 2016. She holds a B.A. in communications and a certificate in Women's Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison as well as a certificate in Day School Teaching as part of the DeLeT Fellowship at Hebrew Union College. Previously she taught second and third grades at the Brawerman Elementary School in Los Angeles, CA, and first grade at Temple Isaiah Religious School. Polly is a native Minnesotan.



Crystal ReeseGrade 1 General Studies Teacher, joined Heilicher in 2016 after four years teaching second grade at The Community School of Excellence in St. Paul. Crystal has a Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education and a Masters in Education, both from the University of Minnesota. She brings a varied skill set, pedagogical knowledge, passion for teaching the whole child, and palpable enthusiasm for her work with children.



Niza SchearGrade 2 Teaching Assistant, was born in Haifa, Israel.  She lives in Minnetonka and is blessed with three beautiful children; Ahmree (21), Kobi (17) and Sofie (16).  She has been a classroom teacher for more than 30 years, holds an M.A.Ed from Hamline University and is a licensed K-6 teacher. She has worked with children and adults of all ages throughout the community.

Niza is thrilled to be assisting Mrs. Sheree Goldblatt, a fabulous team of professionals and wonderful families at Heilicher where she began a career as a first grade and kindergarten teacher for her 15 years. She enjoys writing and is the author for a published book: My Pixie Dixie, and is currently writing a children's book about peace called "Best Falafel Friends." She is very excited to help Heilicher students develop their skills and talents, build strong self images and build community to become life long learners!


Rebecca (Becka) Steinberg, M.A.Ed., Academic Council Language Arts Coordinator and Grade 3 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 current Heilicher students), and dog Snickers. Her other hobbies include music, reading, walking, watching Twins games, and traveling.




Susan Vlodaver, Academic Council Science Coordinator, STEAM Instructor and Lower School Science Teacher, 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.