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About Us

WELCOME to Gan HaYeled Preschool!
Gan HaYeled is Hebrew for “Garden of the Child,” and this name beautifully defines our approach to learning. We nurture the whole child (their mind, body, and soul) into becoming a kind, compassionate individual with a connection and love for themselves, family, community, Judaism, and the world. Our expressive, caring environment, along with our play-based emergent curriculum, enables our children to develop a strong foundation for the skills and tools they will need as they grow.

"Gardens and children need the same thing - patience, love and someone who will never give up on them.

~ Nicolette Sowder

GAN HAYELED is guided by Jewish teachings and culture, including the value of treating each person in a way that makes them feel respected (kavod) and cared for, as well as focusing on the importance of community (kehillah). Inspired by these values, we respect each child as an individual and integral part of our Gan community. We welcome both Jewish and non-Jewish children. The Jewish values that guide our school are universal and resonate with all cultures and backgrounds.

Our Mission

Gan HaYeled is an integrated, play-based learning environment founded on Jewish values and culture, with a focus on social and emotional development.

PHILOSOPHY
We are a warm and loving environment, respecting and valuing each person as an individual and as part of our community. Our program focuses on developing the mind, body, and soul within a secure, nurturing environment that encourages exploration and the process of discovery. We constantly strive to develop curiosity, imagination, self-esteem, empathy for others, and the ability to play both cooperatively and independently. We nurture a positive sense of identity by exploring Jewish values, culture, traditions, holidays, heritage, and the celebration of Shabbat on Fridays.

Meet Our Staff

Our compassionate, creative staff love what they do and radiate that love.

OUR STAFF is a highly experienced group of dedicated professionals who combine a strong educational background with a passion for and appreciation of young children. Our teachers are a community of lifelong learners, with ongoing professional development training based on the most current research and philosophies for early learning.

Marla Becker
Director

Hi, I’m Marla! I love to run, hike, and bike. I really like being in nature. I enjoy listening to live music, especially bluegrass and folk. I have 3 daughters and 2 dogs.

Efrat Arad
Teacher

Hi, I’m Efrat. My family and I moved to Madison from Israel 3 1/2 years ago. I like hiking. I like baking. I like to spend time with my family and friends. I really like ice cream.

Sheila Endres
Teacher

Hi, my name is Sheila! I love flowers, and I live on a prairie. I also love to read and travel with my friends. I like the outdoors and hiking with my dog, Mayzie.

Roxana Florescu
Teacher

Hi, I’m Roxana. I’m from Israel, and I’m the mother of Tamar and Benny who both go to Gan. I like doing art, listening to music, and reading books by myself and with children. I believe in “Spread a little happiness as you go by!”

Jerri McCallum-Schwartz,
Teacher

Hi, I’m Jerri. I like to grow flowers and vegetables. I like cats and dogs, but not snakes. I like vanilla custard and chocolate frozen yogurt. I love being a “Gigi” to Oliver, Rory, and Teddy.

Jonah Shapiro
Teacher

Hi, I’m Jonah. My favorite things to do are making things out of clay and going canoeing. I love cats, but I do not have one right now. I almost always wear something blue.

Nora Simani
Teacher

Hi, my name is Nora. I am studying to become a nurse at Edgewood College. I am so excited to be at Gan HaYeled since I was once a student here myself! I enjoy living in Madison, biking, sunny weather, the color green, and playing guitar.

Carrie Sweet
Teacher

Hi, my name is Carrie. I love to dance, sing, and play. My favorite color is pink, and I have a silly dog named Copper, who I love very much. I also love to read stories and be with my friends.

Annie Wanless
Teacher

Hi, my name is Annie. I love to cook, dance, and sing a lot! I have 4 grown children and a new grandson born on June 18, 2021.