Visionary directors strengthen our centers by creating a shared vision for our schools. Our directors are the cornerstone of our centers. They are more than just managers; they are engaged leaders. Our directors partner with teachers and families to create an environment that cultivates a diverse and vibrant community.
Marilyn Fox Building in Chesterfield
Marilyn Fox Building in Chesterfield
Debi has been a part of the J family, in a variety of positions, since the Marilyn Fox Building in Chesterfield opened in 1997. In addition to her commitment to the J’s vision, Debi has had an extensive career working with early childhood centers and educational institutions. She had the opportunity to teach preschool and gym in Ladue School District, and she was a Parent Educator in the Ladue Parents as Teachers program. While Debi continued working with PAT, she moved to Temple Israel, where she taught, directed camp and ran the Jewish Parents as Teachers program. She also had the opportunity to become the Center Director at Cornerstone Center for Early Learning in South City.
Debi’s love of working with children, coupled with her passion for helping students learn through play, afforded her the opportunity to use her talents as a dancer to teach in studios across the country. When she is not hard at work supporting teachers in creating engaging, experiential opportunities for students at the J’s Early Childhood Center, she can be found spending time with her family, socializing with friends and eating out.
Staenberg Family Complex in Creve Coeur
Jody has have been working at the J in Early Childhood and Day Camps since 1986. She worked in an early childhood classroom for 10 years before accepting the position of Resource Director for Early Childhood and Family Engagement in the Jewish Life Department. She then became the Early Childhood Director. Jody had the privilege of seeing her own five children attend the J’s Early Childhood Center.
After initially training in the Montessori Method, Jody has embraced the Constructivist philosophy in early education. She believes that children learn best by doing and that they should have lots of opportunities to explore and play indoors and out. She sees our Early Childhood Center as a community committed to the safety and education of children. She is dedicated to serving families, offering support and resources to parents and providing the well-being of knowing that their children are in a nurturing and warm place. All of this takes place in a Jewish Community Center that emphasizes the best in Jewish values, which she puts into practice daily.
Ellen has worked at the J for 24 years. She began working in Children’s Activity Centers and then moved to the J’s Early Childhood Center in 1998 in a role working with preschool children. During the summers, Ellen enjoys working at Camp Nat Koplar, where she was a counselor, Assistant Director, and, eventually, Director. One summer, Ellen had the opportunity to work with the infants, and that is when she found her true calling. She began teaching infants and toddlers and loved spending her days with them. She became Co-Director of Early Childhood in June of 2015. Additionally, all three of Ellen’s children are graduates of the J’s Early Childhood Program.
Ellen feels passionate that children should always feel safe and loved, and they should have the freedom to be their true selves. She believes that educators give children the tools to become lifelong learners and to function in our world as helpful and kind human beings. She believes that the J is the perfect place to foster these skills. Ellen is a lifelong “J person.” She remembers swimming as a child at the outdoor pool, joining BBYO and coming back after college to use the fitness facilities. She has been lucky enough to experience the J throughout various life stages, and she has fond memories of everything.