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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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.


BatSheva BermanHebrew Coordinator, Grade 6 Judaic Studies, and Grades 4, 6, 7, 8 Hebrew Teacher, was born and raised in Israel and served in an education unit of the Israeli Army. BatSheva teaches both Hebrew Language and Limudei Kodesh in Hebrew and has pioneered a Torah study track conducted entirely in Hebrew, for which she wrote the curriculum for grades 5-7. Before coming to Heilicher she taught Hebrew Language at Torah Academy in Minneapolis for 20 years and wrote all of the holiday programs for the school. She was also in charge of the summer Hebrew program at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin for 20 years. BatSheva continues her education by taking summer classes in teaching a second language at the Karla Institute at the University of Minnesota, and taking Torah study classes in at the Pardes and Herzog Institutes in Israel.


Sara Wolk Bernstein, MAEd, Hebrew Resource, Grades 3 and 4 Judaic Studies, and Grades 3-4 and 5-6 Hebrew, is a native of Minneapolis and has been on faculty at Heilicher since 1992. She earned a B.A. in Theater with a Minor in Hebrew from the University of Minnesota. She attended the University of Judaism in Los Angeles for graduate school (now called the American Jewish University) where she earned her Master's 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 worked at the LA Bureau of Jewish Education. She has traveled to Israel many times, including as a chaperone/leader for High School educational touring programs. During her years at Heilicher, she has continued her own learning in areas of Special Education, Multiple Intelligences, Curriculum Design, Instructional Differentiation, and held numerous positions including Assistant Principal, Director of Judaic Studies, Hebrew Resource Coordinator, and classroom teacher.


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.


Dalia Davis, M.A., Grade 5 Judaic Studies TeacherDalia double majored in Jewish History and Dance at Barnard College, prior to studying at Israel’s Nishmat Center for Advanced Torah Study for Women. She has an M.A. in Jewish Education and a certificate in Talmud and Halacha from YU’s Graduate Program for Advanced Talmudic Studies for Women. Prior to joining the Heilicher faculty, Dalia taught at Heritage Academy in Springfield, MA and served on the chinuch (Jewish ed.) staff at Camp Ramah in New England. She also served as Rosh Beit Midrash for the Merkavah Women’s Torah Institute in Berkeley, CA and has taught several courses for the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning. Dalia is the creator of Beit Midrash in Motion, a fully embodied approach to Jewish text study. Dalia is blessed to be married to Rabbi Max Davis, and to have four amazing daughters, Revaya, Hodaya, Tifferet, and Kalaniya.


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 3 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.



Ann Hunegs, General Studies Support, earned her B.S. in Elementary Education from the University of Minnesota and has been involved in elementary education for over 35 years. Her teaching experience includes St. Louis Park classroom, Title One, early entrance assessment, private and ESL tutoring, and substitute teaching. Additionally, Ann has worked for a local nonprofit serving the Minneapolis public schools. In that role, she worked with at-risk elementary aged students supporting them in learning healthy and safe life skills. Ann sat on the National Young Women’s Leadership Cabinet of UJA. A former Tychman Leadership Award winner, Ann has sat on several organizational Boards of Directors. Ann joined the Heilicher faculty in 1999. She loves to read and is passionate about encouraging a lifelong enjoyment of reading for her young readers. Ann's family was one of the "pioneering" Heilicher families.


Karen Malka, M.A., Grade 2 Hebrew and Judaic Studies Teacher, earned her bachelor's in Hebrew and Semitic Studies from the University of Wisconsin and her M.A. in Elementary Education from the University of St. Thomas. Prior to joining the Heilicher faculty in 1996, Karen taught at Meadowbrook Elementary, Park Valley Catholic, and Hale School in Minneapolis. She has also taught at Adath’s Jeshurun’s Gan Shelanu and Talmud Torah. During her time at Heilicher, Karen has taught both first and second grade Hebrew and General Studies. Karen is fluent in Hebrew and she has a strong connection to Israel. She studied for a year at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and she taught English to Israeli children through a cultural ambassador program in Givat Olga. In addition to teaching, Karen is also a strong community advocate for families raising children with mental health struggles. Karen sits on the Hennepin County Children’s Mental Health Collaborative, Karen received national certification as a Parent support provider and she facilitates a monthly parent support group. Karen enjoys cooking, music, and spending time with her family.



Alona Manore, B.Ed, Grades 3-8 Hebrew Teacher. Alona earned her B.Ed & teaching certificate in the English Language & English Literature in Tel-Aviv Israel and was employed by the Ministry of Education as a full time English teacher in high schools for 13 years. In addition she was employed at Beit-Berl, Academic College for Teachers, in Israel, as a mentor for students who were qualified to be English teachers. During her Sabbatical year, she took various academic courses in Academic Teacher Colleges such as; Art Therapy and Teaching Students with Learning Difficulties, Psychology & Psychotherapy and Neuropsychology. Prior to coming to Heilicher, Alona lived in London, UK and gained a UK Qualified Teacher Status by the General Council of England. She taught Modern Hebrew in Jewish high schools for the past 11 years. In addition, she was the Head of the Modern Hebrew Department in the Jewish Community Secondary School in Barnet, London. Alona joined Heilicher school in 2018. 



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.



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, Grade 1 General Studies Co-Teacher and Science Specialist Teacher K-4, 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.




Nechamit YaariGrade 1 Hebrew and Judaic Studies Teacher, earned her B.S. in Education from the University of Wisconsin and is a graduate of the Levinsky Teachers Seminar in Tel Aviv and has completed coursework in Bible and Hebrew Literature at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. An Israeli native, Nechamit served in the Israeli army for 2 years and then taught 7th and 8th grade in the Harvah School, before moving to the United States. Nechamit joined the Heilicher faculty in 1997. She has an enthusiastic approach, incorporating dance and music into Hebrew and Limudei Kodesh lessons. In addition to her work at Heilicher, Nechamit has spent more than 40 years teaching at the Minneapolis Talmud Torah and serves on their Educational Board and Ethics Committee. She has completed courses for the Tal Am Hebrew/Judaics Program. Nechamit is a recipient of the Vivian Mann Jewish Educator of the Year Award and the Grinspoon-Steinhardt Award for Excellence in Jewish Education. She is the proud mother of three daughters who all graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin.