Our highly skilled middle school teachers also serve as advisers to our middle school students. They are confidants, counselors, and experts in the teen years who motivate their students with meaningful literature, math concepts, Talmudic studies, science labs, and more.
Shannon Ahlstrom, Middle School Language Arts Teacher, earned her B.A. in history from the University of Utah and her J.D. from the University of the Pacific. After more than a decade of practicing law, Shannon began her teaching career in 2010. At Tucson Hebrew Academy she worked with individual students in grades K-8 as a member of the academic support team, emphasizing reading and writing skills. She taught first grade, middle school history, middle school science, and developed and taught a course on executive functioning skills for rising middle school students. Shannon taught third and fourth grade at Yeshiva Torat Emet in Houston. In San Antonio she taught lower and upper elementary grades in a Montessori setting. Shannon is a parent to four adult children and a labrador retriever. In her free time she enjoys hiking, kayaking, and reading.
Batsheva Berman, Hebrew Language Coordinator/Grades 5, 7, and 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 Holy Studies/Limudei Kodesh/לימודי קודש 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 at the Pardes and Herzog Institutes in Israel.
Simcha Cohen, Grade 6 Hebrew Teacher/Programming, has a background as a Jewish experiential educator. He worked for 8.5 years at Gann Academy in Boston first as the Jewish and Student Life Program Coordinator and then the Assistant Dean of Students. Simcha also has extensive camping experience working at Camp Interlaken JCC in Wisconsin as well as the Herzl Camp as the Assistant Director, where he found his love and passion of windsurfing, ultimate frisbee, and working with youth. Simcha has an executive master's in Jewish educational leadership from Hebrew Union College - Institute of Religion and a master's concentration in Israel education from the iCenter. He also has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in Hebrew, Jewish studies, and Middle Eastern studies. Simcha lives in Minnetonka with his wife, Julie, and their three kids, Rory, Eden and Lilah.
Davida Cytron, Middle School Math Teacher, earned her B.A. in history and Hebrew from the University of Wisconsin and her master's in adolescent education from Bank Street College. Prior to joining the Heilicher faculty in 2007, Davida taught fourth grade at the Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School in Chicago. Davida is also the parent of two Heilicher alumni. In her free time Davida enjoys cooking, reading, yoga, and amateur mixology.
Dalia Davis, M.A., Grade 8 Jewish Studies Teacher, Dalia 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 Yeshiva University’s Graduate Program for Advanced Talmudic Studies for Women. Prior to joining the Heilicher faculty, Dalia taught at Heritage Academy in Springfield, Massachusetts, and served on the Jewish education/chinuch/חינוך staff at Camp Ramah in New England. She also served as Head of Torah Study Hall/Rosh Beit Midrash/ראש בית מדרש for the Merkavah Women’s Torah Institute in Berkeley, California, 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.
Mollie Divine, Middle School Math Teacher, earned her B.S. in elementary education with a minor in health education from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In addition to teaching, she has taken graduate level courses at Hamline University with a focus on math education in both elementary and middle school. Prior to joining the Heilicher faculty in 2007, Mollie taught a fourth- and fifth-grade resource class at Shabonee Elementary School in Northbrook, Illinois. Mollie currently resides in Minnetonka with her husband, Jason, and her sons, Rudy and Arne. When she is not at school, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, watching sports, attending yoga classes, cooking, and being at the lakes as often as the Minneapolis weather will permit.
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.
Annika Graif, M.A.T., Middle School Social Studies Teacher, earned her B.A. in history with a religious studies certificate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her Master of Arts in teaching from Hamline University in St. Paul. She has taught a variety of grades, including fourth, fifth, and sixth, and currently teaches middle school social studies. No matter the grade or subject, Annika enjoys cultivating students' curiosity, creativity, and love for learning. She lives in Minnetonka with her husband and three sons. In her free time, Annika enjoys spending time outdoors, traveling, visiting museums, and knitting.
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.
Sarah McFinkel, Grades 6-7 Science Teacher, earned a B.A. degree in neuroscience from Wellesley College and M.A. and M.Phil. degrees in biological sciences from Columbia University. Prior to joining the Heilicher faculty, Sarah was a researcher investigating the genetic basis of organ development. She is looking forward to exploring science with students at Heilicher! Sarah lives in Saint Paul with her wife and two cats.
Dana Provus, M.A., Middle School Learning Specialist, earned her B.A. in elementary education from the University of Iowa. She also has a master's degree from Concordia University in reading and literacy and another from National Louis University in school administration and supervision. Dana began her career in Skokie, Illinois, teaching sixth-grade language arts and then went on to teach third grade in a neighboring district. Before moving to Minnesota, she served as a literacy coach in Deerfield, Illinois, collaborating with administration to improve student learning, coaching teachers to improve upon their craft, and helping both struggling and gifted students. Outside of school, Dana loves to cook, exercise, and spend time with her husband and young children.
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.
Beverly Thorne, Grade 8 Science Teacher, earned a B.S. in chemistry, a doctorate of pharmacy, and a Ph.D. in clinical pharmacy from the University of Minnesota. After many years of practicing retail and clinical pharmacy, Bev began teaching math and physics at the Torah Academy middle school and at Bais Yaakov High School of the Twin Cities (where she is currently teaching geometry). Bev is married to husband Irv and lives in St. Louis Park. Bev is the proud bubbie (grandmother) of nine grandchildren. Days off are spent babysitting and having fun with them and enjoying all of her family.