Our Specialists

Wendy Baumgard — Early Childhood Science

Wendy Baumgard loves working with children and wanted to be a teacher for as long as she can remember. She has numerous years of experience in both public school and Temple Beth Am Day School. Wendy received Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Florida International University, and she is certified in several areas including Elementary and Early Childhood Education. Additionally, she holds a Level 2 Judaic Certificate from the Center for Advancement of Jewish Education. Wendy combines academics with Jewish values by teaching her students not only to think, but to strive to be a mensch and have rachamim (compassion) toward others. She likes to read, go to the theater, listen to music and enjoys bicycle riding with her husband. One of Wendy's greatest joys in life is spending time with her grandchildren.

Lauren Bercuson — Library Media Specialist

Lauren Bercuson began her education at Temple Beth Am in 1981, and she now enjoys seeing her own boys flourish in the Day School. After receiving a business degree from Tulane University in 2001, Lauren attended the University of Miami School of Law and graduated in 2005 with a juris doctor. She was a practicing attorney for more than 12 years, but upon having her children, she decided to pursue her passion of children's literature. Lauren began the popular children's book review website, Happily Ever Elephants, in 2016, and her blog has received recognition from award-winning authors, illustrators, agents and publishers for its thoughtful and comprehensive book lists and reviews. She became the children's librarian at Temple Beth Am Day School in 2016 and has loved work every day since. Lauren seeks to help all of her students fall in love with reading, and her goal is to help each child find books that are not just magical, but meaningful, too.

Jackie Berney — Elementary School Music

Jackie Berney, who has more than 30 years of teaching experience, received her degree in education from Washington University in St. Louis and is certified as a Music Specialist by the state of Florida. She is fluent in Hebrew and understands the liturgy since she has studied Tanach. Jackie is also certified on multiple levels as a Jewish Reform Educator. Among her many loves are her youth choirs which bring her great joy. Grounded in Jewish values, this exemplary teacher nurtures students by sharing her passion for Judaism and music. Jackie skillfully leads holiday services, minyan and life cycle events, and she mentors Hebrew and B'nai Mitzvah students. Jackie has received a National Hadassah Leadership Award for Exemplary Deeds and was honored by Temple Beth Am as a Woman of Valor.

Dr. Rosalie Binder — Elementary School Learning Specialist

Dr. Rosalie (Lee) Binder is a highly experienced educator in South Florida. She served as Head of School at the Gordon School of Beth David, Director of Ben Gamla Charter School (as well as reading intervention specialist), and Head of School at Greenfield Day School for over 10 years. Her early years of professional life began as a 4th grade teacher in Montgomery County, MD. She later became a Reading Specialist, working at South Dade Hebrew Academy. She coordinated a number of reading initiatives that promoted student learning and growth in reading comprehension. Dr. Binder also taught at St. Thomas University, as well as Barry University as an adjunct professor. Dr Binder has written and received several grant awards. Furthermore, she was President of the Jewish Day Schools Association in Miami-Dade County for several terms. Additionally, she serves on the Board of Trustees at The Union Institute, where she received her Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership.

Jaime Dreilinger — Elementary School Learning Specialist

Jaime Dreilinger is a Florida certified Educator with a teaching certificate in Exceptional Student Education, Pre-Kindergarten/Primary Education, and an Endorsement in Pre-Kindergarten with Disabilities. She received her Master of Education degree in Early Childhood and Bachelor of Education in Special Education from the University of Florida. She is currently completing her Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership at Nova Southeastern University. She has taught both Special Education and General Education and enjoys helping children to thrive in their developmental and cognitive learning. She values her time spent helping children to achieve overall growth and success. Jaime is a Miami native and lives here with her husband, Aaron, and their three children: Derek, Jadon and Aviva. She is happy to be a part of all aspects of the Temple Beth Am community as a Day School Teacher, parent and congregant. In her free time, Jaime enjoys art and photography, cooking and spending time with her family.

Jeremy Ivans — Elementary School Physical Education

Jeremy Ivans is certified in Physical Education for grades K-12, and holds a Bachelor of Science in Education. Jeremy has worked with children of all ages for many years, including summer camps, high school girls' basketball coaching, and elementary P.E. at Temple Beth Am Day School. He is very passionate about helping children try a sport or game activity that they may feel is challenging for them. Seeing a look of satisfaction after accomplishing a personal goal is priceless to him. Jeremy follows football, basketball, professional wrestling, and MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). Jeremy is an avid Florida State Seminole football fan, and he enjoys rooting for his alma mater. Jeremy loves working with children and has a great love for sports and recreation. He truly enjoys being active on a daily basis and participating with young people as they develop and grow in the gym or on the field.

Keith Krotenberg — STEM Teacher

Keith Krotenberg was born and raised in Miami. After graduating from Florida State University in 2001, he moved back to his hometown to begin his teaching career. After substituting for a few years, he decided to pursue teaching as a full-time occupation. As a middle school science teacher in the Dade County public school system, Keith learned to turn ordinary science lessons into exciting, information-packed lectures and labs. After coming to Temple Beth Am, and being trained in the Pitsco education curriculum, he has learned to combine the Pitsco lab-based curriculum, and his unique lecture style to create a memorable educational experience for all of his students. Keith is married and has three children, 4-year-old twins and a six-year-old.

Amy Kutell — Elementary School Art Teacher/Specialist

Raised in upstate New York, Amy Kutell has called South Florida her home since 1991. An art educator since 1996, she received her Bachelor’s of Fine Arts from Cornell University and her Master’s in Art Education from Florida International University. Amy enjoys sharing her love of art with students of all ages, and engages her students with cross curricular multi-media art lessons of all types. When not teaching or making art she enjoys long walks with her family and dog Tripper, cooking, gardening, reading and traveling. Stop by Room 109 anytime to see what’s happening at the TBAM Art Studio!

Aranza Llanos — Elementary School STEM Assistant

Aranza Valentina Llanos Ruiz was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, and after graduating from high school in 2012 moved to the United States with her family. She studied English for a year and then started working on her Associates in Arts at Miami Dade College. Even though she has always wanted to work with kids, she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Communication/Broadcast Media at Florida International University. She has worked with kids since she moved to the States, began at ASU and during the summers worked at Riviera Summer Camp. For the past two years she has worked at Beth Am Day Camp as well. When she’s not working, Aranza likes to spend her free time with family and friends. She is very excited to join the Beth Am family as a Science Teacher Assistant. She loves to work with children because she feels she can also learn something from them every day.

Craig Mankoff — Elementary School Physical Education

Craig Mankoff was born and raised in Rye Brook, NY, a suburb of New York City. He moved to Florida to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he majored in Journalism, and also began his coaching career as a volunteer assistant at a local high school. Since graduating from UF, Craig has taught and coached in New York, California and Florida, and most recently was the Athletic and Physical Education Director at Hebrew Academy in Miami Beach. In addition, Craig is continuing his education at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, where he is pursuing an MBA in Sports Management. Craig is passionate about athletics and education, and credits his teachers, coaches and athletic experiences in elementary, middle and high school for helping shape his values today as an individual and an educator. At Temple Beth Am Day School, it is Craig's goal to give students the experiences, skills and tools to enjoy and learn the lifelong benefits of Physical Education, while also helping them succeed in the classroom, at home and in the community. In his free time, Craig enjoys playing basketball and tennis, reading, and following Florida Gators' football and basketball.

Julie Pfeiffer — Elementary School Learning Specialist

Julie Pfeiffer was born in Akron, OH. She attended The Ohio State University where she received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology in 1989. Then, she attended the University of Miami and received a Master of Science in Physical Therapy in 1992. Julie worked with adults and children at Baptist Hospital for many years. She became a Senior Therapist, and the Clinical Coordinator for students from UM and FIU who interned at Baptist. She also worked in pediatric home healthcare for a few years. In 2006, Julie began teaching at L’Atelier preschool and learned about the Reggio Emilia Approach and Making Learning Visible strategies in teaching. She taught Kindergarten and Preschool at St. Philip’s Episcopal School for eight years. She completed both the Comprehensive and Advanced Teacher trainings of the Orton-Gillingham method, and she worked with students in small groups emphasizing phonics and literacy skills. Julie currently holds a Professional Educator’s Certificate from the State of Florida Department of Education for Prekindergarten/Primary Education (Age 3–Grade 3). Last year, she was a co-presenter of “Learning to Think, Thinking to Learn” at the International Conference on Thinking at FIU. As a teacher, she strives to provide engaging environments for all types of learners, facilitating students to reach their potential. She also taught enrichment Yoga and Mindfulness classes at St. Philip’s. When she is not teaching, Julie enjoys yoga, mindfulness meditation and spending time with her family.

Ashley Reed — Technology Teacher and Integrator

Ashley Reed was born and raised in Ohio where she attended Ohio University. Ashley earned a Master's degree in Computer Education and Technology, and also holds a Bachelor's degree in 7–12 Social Studies Education, with a minor in History and a minor in Coaching. Previously, she was a K–5 technology teacher and later became a technology resource teacher, both in Ohio. She is very excited about this opportunity at Temple Beth Am, where she gets to have the best of both jobs. Ashley was a varsity gymnastics coach for five years and a track and field coach for three years. She is very passionate about working with students and teachers in the technology field. She loves spending time in the sun and at the beach, which is why Ashley decided to make the move to Miami, along with being closer to her sister who also lives here.

Debbie Roman — Elementary Enrichment Specialist

Debbie Roman is a Florida certified educator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education from The Pennsylvania State University and a Master of Education degree in Exceptional Student Education from Kean University in Union, New Jersey. She also holds a Level 2 Judaica Certificate. After working as a learning consultant for several years in Bridgewater-Raritan, NJ, Debbie moved with her husband and two young children (Beth Am graduates) to Miami, where she began teaching first and second grade at Temple Beth Am Day School. After more than 30 years here, she still is amazed at the enjoyment that teaching brings to her life. Debbie is intellectually curious, versatile, sensitive and, above all else, constantly challenging her students. She sets high expectations while encouraging each child to persist and strive to reach his/her personal goals. The old saying that “inquiring minds want to know” defines Debbie’s philosophy about what she wants her students to achieve. To these ends, she has dedicated her career. In addition to her love of teaching, Debbie enjoys traveling, reading, cooking and spending time with her family.

Patti Sacks — Early Childhood & Kindergarten Music

Patti Sacks graduated from the University of Miami with a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education. She maintains an active membership in CAJE, where she was the recipient of the CAJE Targum Shlishi Teacher Excellence and Creativity Award. Patti has always had an intrinsic connection with children and tries to see the world through their eyes by creating loving and sensory stimulating experiences that will empower them to grow toward themselves and others. She has created a great wealth of her own materials and writes original music, stories, poems, plays and programs that give every child the chance to shine. With the exception of her own children, teaching multiple generations of unlocked treasures has brought Patti the greatest sense of accomplishment and infinite optimism where every day is a good day when she is teaching a group of precious, energetic children for whom nothing is impossible. She finds it a rare and sacred privilege to connect with these “little people,” who will someday change the face of tomorrow. In addition to this rewarding career, she has a beautiful, supportive family, six grandchildren and, with whatever time is left, she spends her time hiking, gardening, meditating, writing and thanking God for it all.

Liora Vogel — Elementary School Spanish

Liora holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from Universidad del Nuevo Mundo. She brings knowledge, experience and creativity to her profession every day. A Mexico City, Mexico native, Liora earned her Child Development Associate credential while working at Temple Beth Day School. A loving mother of three children, she is driven to learn new and creative ways to educate the children in her class. Liora is trilingual, fluent in English, Spanish and Hebrew.