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  • Hillel Day School
Mind and Soul. Better together.
Faculty & Staff

Meet the Teachers

List of 6 items.

  • Aaron Newman

    Newman, who teaches kindergarten through fourth grade science and math, plunges into laboratory work with his young students. “Even young learners can collaborate with guidance, and bounce ideas off of one another.” As he teaches students animals and astronomy, he incorporates Torah whenever possible, with lessons on kashrut and the Jewish calendar. “Students see how subjects travel from one room to another, and are not isolated from each other. It’s a blessing to integrate lessons this way. Hillel gives students the skills to succeed in the future and a strong Jewish education at the same time.”
  • Barbara Dworin

     As a teacher in the ECC, Barbara Dworin is committed to helping every child feel competent, empowered, and successful, and she does this in a play-based, developmentally appropriate classroom. She believes every child is capable of success and our lessons weave a love of Torah and strong Jewish values into everyday activities. These lifelong lessons promote a positive Jewish identity and help students understand they are an integral part of the world in which we live. Her goal is to provide students with a variety of open-ended activities, which provide a strong academic foundation where they are comfortable taking risks in order to become creative, responsible, and independent thinkers. Children are encouraged to question, explore, and discover and you can often find her students in the woods taking care of the beautiful world GOD created, creating original masterpieces, or looking for ways to make the world a better place.
     
  • Joan Freedman

    Director of Curriculum Joan Freedman insists on giving students opportunities to think. “Their time is precious and we have a responsibility to find their unique gifts and talents.” Freedman works closely with teachers and educational leaders to create a curriculum that inspires a passion for learning, in accordance with the latest educational practices. She especially enjoys combining literature with hands-on experiences to encourage or foster further exploration of a concept or subject, and serving as a resource for the integration of Judaic and general studies. Joan has been named one of the top five teachers from Metro Parent.
  • Nicole Miller

    Athletic Director Nicole Miller started at Hillel in 2004 as a physical education and health teacher. She has been involved in the exponential growth of the school’s athletic programs, from adding golf teams to a brand new gymnasium to robust intramural sports offerings. “By providing these opportunities we speak to everyone’s athletic side – to help build skills for the lifelong enjoyment of physical activity.” Promoting a healthy lifestyle at Hillel is informed by our core value of Derekh Eretz (honor and respect) and good sportsmanship. Under Miller’s leadership, even entry to a basketball game requires a good deed: the donation of a non-perishable food item.
  • Tami Brown

    Brown has taught third and fourth grade general studies for 18 years. For her, teaching “is all about seeing the change in students from the beginning of the school year to the end, and seeing the excitement in their eyes when they learn something.” Brown often relates the curriculum to the students’ own lives. “By making a connection to a topic, the material sticks.” And because of the school’s core Jewish values, “we can talk about empathy and feelings and connect lessons to our history as Jews, which allows us to connect to others. I love that I can do that here.”
  • Josh Cutler

    Inspired by his own history teachers, seventh grade American history and eighth grade world history teacher Josh Cutler not only prepares students for high school, but “to become excellent people,” using the lessons of history to guide them toward the future. “We study not only what happened, but the impact of events on the world, understanding how these events impact generations.” Cutler graduates many future history majors, and is proud to have “played a small role” in their college careers. “My teachers nurtured my love of history and I can show students they have a talent for something they didn’t know they have.”

List of 7 items.

  • Heather Moss

    Moss, who has taught the 2-year old class in the ECC since it opened four years ago, holds to a vision for first-time learners: that their first experience away from home makes them feel safe and secure. She provides warmth, hugs, and a helping hand, and always keeps activities play-based and child-centered. “Kids are at school to begin to understand process, to take initiative in their projects. When they create, it’s their own creation.”
  • Julie Tigay

    Julie Tigay is K-4 curriculum language arts coordinator and a general studies second grade teacher. After 11 years, Tigay loves teaching reading and writing as much today as she did when she started. “I may even love it more. Literacy at a younger age helps students build confidence as a learner. The more literate and expressive you can be as a member of society, the more you can contribute and partake of conversations with all types of people.” As curriculum coordinator, Tigay loves helping teachers become more confident instructors, helping them transition into best practices.
  • Adina Levin

    Adina Levin, a Judaic studies teacher for kindergarten and first grade, is committed to a stimulating learning environment. Her award-winning methods embrace a variety of learning styles, and set off a spark in each child’s heart to practice a Jewish way of life. In the teaching of Hebrew, “It is so exciting for me to explain to the children that this is the language of the Torah and the language of the Siddur.” Beyond literacy, she fosters love of Torah. “As I tell them the Biblical stories, the children are fascinated, not only by the narrative, but by the morals the Torah teaches.” Levin also cultivates a love of Israel, sharing stories of the land and her experiences growing up. In all of this, she adds, “I always emphasize Derekh Eretz, the respect and kindness with which we must treat one another.”
  • Dave Venning

    As an eighth grade science and math teacher for eight years, Venning is known for his creativity and hands-on approach to teaching. “These methods give kids the experience of science and how it applies to daily life. With that understanding I hope it instills a love and passion for the concepts we study.” With each set of new faces he greets at the start of the school year, Venning recommits to help students not only acquire skills, but to also make gains in the critical skills of collaboration and communication, which can be harder to discern, but “are so important in achieving our goals.”
  • Clara Gaba

    Clara Gaba’s desire to instill Jewish values in her fifth and sixth grade students hasn’t waned over her 20 year career at Hillel; rather it grows stronger. “Teaching is like taking a new trip every day. Just as I see a different side of my students from day to day, there are different angles to explore with Torah. I want students to appreciate our past, present and future.” In addition to teaching Torah and Hebrew language, Gaba also teaches Mishna. “I want students to understand that our ancient writings have meaning to us. We fill in the gaps in the stories with our feelings and experiences; this makes every document relevant and alive.”
  • Dawn Straith

    Dawn Straith has been teaching Math Trailblazers, the gifted math program, for eight years. “I’ve wanted to be a teacher since first grade. Even as I initially pursued other career paths, I always had a passion for education.” Straith, who credits her first grade math teacher for recognizing her abilities in math, says she sees the world through “mathematical goggles. Everything relates to math. As a teacher, I try to inspire that way of looking at the world with my students.” What’s interesting, Straith notes, is that geometry, the subject that was most challenging for her as a student, is her favorite unit to teach. “Spatial reasoning is a skill we all need to master.”
  • Rabbi Jonathan Berger

    Rabbi Jonathan Berger has served as Rav Beit Hasefer for eight years. In addition to rabbinic responsibilities, Berger teaches seventh grade Jewish history and Rabbinics, and eighth grade social action and Rabbinics. “Through our history study we explore Jewish identity and Jewish encounters with the larger world.” Both seventh and eighth grade Rabbinics classes help students join the millennia old conversation on Jewish thought. “We want them to develop a connection to the rich traditions and sharp critical thinking that emerge from Jewish text study.” The social action piece of the curriculum spurs students to act with kindness and take responsibility for problems they can help solve.
Critical Thinking חשיבה ביקורתית
Creativity יצירתיות
COLLABORATION שיתוף פעולה
COMMUNICATION תיקשורת
CHARACTER אישיות
COMMUNITY קהילה
CORE JEWISH VALUES ערכים יהודיים עיקריים
Welcome to Hillel Day School of Metropolitan Detroit, a vibrant community Jewish day school filled with joy, rooted in core Jewish values, committed to halakhah, and devoted to academic excellence. Our families are diverse in their beliefs, affiliations and observances; we work together to create a welcoming community based upon mutual respect and shared values.
Early Childhood Center, Ages 2-5 | Day School, Grades K-8 | 248-851-3220 | 32200 Middlebelt Rd. | Farmington Hills, MI 48334