Sara Abrams is excited to be in her sixth year teaching Middle School humanities. This is her twelfth year at Pardes and her seventeenth year of teaching. Miss Abrams graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Florida Atlantic University and her Master’s degree in Secondary English education from Arizona State University. As a part of her Master’s work, Miss Abrams studied abroad at Cambridge University, where she studied Shakespeare in depth. More recently, she took her education further at Columbia University, where she participated in the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Summer Institute. She brings with her a deep-rooted passion for William Shakespeare, the written word, and a perfect cup of tea.
An Arizona native, Jennifer Adams is excited to start her second year with the Pardes family! Having trained with world-renowned vocal instructors across the U.S., her passion has always been for the classical voice, but her love for music theater has grown over the years. She has been seen on the stage and working extensively as a professional in both Operatic and Music Theatre repertory across the southwest for over 30 years, including Broadway tour contracts, as well as World and Arizona Premiere Productions. An award-winning actor and singer, Jennifer loves sharing her knowledge, experience, and love of the arts with her students. She has also been the music director for countless award-winning productions over the past 25 years, including many youth productions. She has taught music and theatre for numerous performing arts schools, which includes creating and heading the music theater program at the prestigious Arizona School for the Arts in downtown Phoenix. Her students have performed all over the country and abroad, including the Metropolitan Opera, Broadway, Carnegie Hall. She is also the owner/proprietor of a private voice and piano studio in the valley.
Rabbi Pinchas G. Allouche teaches seventh and eighth grade Jewish Studies. Additionally, he is the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Tefillah. Rabbi Allouche is a sought-after lecturer and popular author of many essays and writings on the Jewish faith, mysticism, and social analysis. Rabbi Allouche was born in Toulouse, France and grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa and Jerusalem, Israel. His travels have also taken him to Geneva, Switzerland where he provided Jewish Learning Opportunities and activities to adults and youth alike, and to Milano, Italy where he received his rabbinic ordination. Besides his academic pedigree, Rabbi Allouche is highly respected and tremendously involved in the Jewish community of Greater Phoenix. He is a member of the Think Tank Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix. Additionally, Rabbi Allouche is a member of AIPAC’s National Council, and here locally, he is also a member of the Vaad Harabanim, the Orthodox Rabbinic Council – Arizona’s Committee of Orthodox Rabbis.
Melinda Berko is in her seventh year teaching fourth grade at Pardes Jewish Day School. Before coming to teach at Pardes, Mrs. Berko taught fourth grade for eleven years at another Jewish Day School in Scottsdale in addition to first grade in public school. Mrs. Berko graduated with a Bachelors of Art degree in Psychology from Stetson University in Deland, Florida and a Post Baccalaureate in Elementary Education from Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. She is certified to teach Kindergarten through sixth grade. She also has experience developing training materials and computer based training from her time working at a Fortune 500 company in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The 2019-20 school year is Laurie Burckhardt’s seventh year as part of the Pardes family. She’s been a professional educator for 24 years. Mrs. Burckhardt teaches middle school classes, including 6th Grade Earth Science, 7th and 8th Grade Pre-Algebra, and electives. She also serves as an advisor and is the 6th Grade Dean. Previously, she taught math, science, language arts, and general studies to fourth through ninth grade students in public schools, private schools, Jewish day schools, and tutoring centers in Illinois, Colorado, and Arizona. In addition, she has run remedial, resource and gifted enrichment programs and served as a tutor and academic coach. Mrs. Burckhardt’s undergraduate degree is in journalism and political science from the University of Arizona. She has a Master’s degree in education, is a licensed teacher in the state of Arizona, and has an endorsement in gifted education. Her passion is teaching all types of learners and helping each child build knowledge and self-confidence while developing 21st-Century skills and a love of learning. Mrs. Burckhardt is a proud Pardes parent, too. Her son is currently in seventh grade at the school.
Rabbi Micah Caplan is the spiritual leader at Congregation Or Tzion and joins our Pardes students each Monday for a very successful, optional Lunch and Learn program. Additionally, he teaches a Middle School Jewish Studies Symposium. He has long-standing ties to Phoenix, having grown up here as a young child. Previously, Rabbi Caplan has served congregations in Florida and California where he introduced adult learning and youth programming. His vision is creating a place of learning, sharing and celebrating Jewish living together as a Kehillah Kedosha — a holy community. Rabbi Caplan and his wife Michelle are the proud parents of three children: Brianah, who is a Pardes graduate; Julia in eighth grade; and Avi in fourth grade.
Allison Clark, who teaches middle school math, is excited to be a member of the Pardes Middle School team. This is Ms. Clark’s second year at Pardes and twelfth year teaching. Prior to joining Pardes, Ms. Clark worked in Atlanta, GA for 4 years, taught Pre-K and first grade in Kuwait for 3 years, fourth grade in India for 2 years, and sixth grade math in a Phoenix public school. Ms. Clark graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Elon University. She also earned a Master’s of Art in Elementary Education from the University of Phoenix. In addition to her degrees, she holds an endorsement for middle school math. When Ms. Clark isn’t inspiring her students to love math, she enjoys watching hockey, playing card games, eating out, and going to the movies.
Lisa D’Onofrio is thrilled to be returning to Pardes for her second year as our full time school nurse. Lisa comes to us with a wealth of experience in healthcare and a background in coronary intensive care, dermatology, and school nursing. Lisa holds a BA in Sociology and psychology from Caldwell, University in NJ and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Most recently, she spent 8 years as the school nurse for Tesseract School grades 5-12, where she developed and implemented a comprehensive growth education curriculum.
Kathy Davis graduated with a Bachelors of Art degree in English from UCLA and has a Post Baccalaureate in Education as well as a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction. Her education includes a one year program studying English literature and history in a castle north of London. She is licensed to teach grades 1-12 in Arizona and has an endorsement in Structured English Immersion. Before joining the Pardes family, Mrs. Davis taught grades 4-8 privately and was an academic coach for online students. She also taught middle school English and math at a Jewish Day School and fourth grade in public school. Prior to teaching, she managed an avionics repair station at Honolulu International Airport in Hawaii for 16 years. Mrs. Davis was born and raised in Hawaii and earned her college degrees on a surfing scholarship. She is the proud parent of her son Davis, an aerospace engineer, and her daughter Carson, a behavioral health therapist.
Jennifer Eckstein is excited to be in her twelfth year at Pardes and her eighteenth year of teaching. She taught third and fourth grade in public schools for six years before coming to Pardes. She spent three years teaching second grade and eight years teaching third grade before moving into fifth this year. Ms. Eckstein graduated from Chapman University with a degree in Criminal Justice and earned her post baccalaureate in Elementary Education from Grand Canyon University. Ms. Eckstein has had the privilege of attending both reading and writing institutes at Teachers College at Columbia University. She also has an endorsement in Structured English Immersion and is certified in the Collaborative Literacy Intervention Project (CLIP). When she is not at school, Ms. Eckstein can be found on the tennis court, with family and friends, or curled up with a good book.
Sarah Ettinger received her associate’s degree in 2007 from Pierce Community College in California American Sign Language Interpreting. She attended California State University Northridge (CSUN), where she received her bachelor’s degree in American Sign Language Linguistics and Literature in 2009. She began working as both an interpreter and teacher while pursuing her master’s degree from CSUN in Linguistics with an emphasis on Teaching English as a Second Language, which she received in 2012. Upon graduation, she taught international adult students academic English at a variety of colleges in the Los Angeles area. In 2017, Sarah was accepted into the rigorous Day School Leadership through Teaching (DeLeT) program at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where she earned her K-8 teaching credential. She has taught at Sinai Akiba Academy in Los Angeles and 32nd Street USC Magnet School. In 2018, Sarah moved to Phoenix with her husband, Cantor Ettinger, and young son, Ronen. Sarah began working at Gesher Disability Resources as a teacher serving students with disabilities in the local Jewish Day Schools. She has also worked at Shearim Torah High School for girls as an English Language Arts instructor for grades 9-12.
Mark Evans started teaching as a second career almost ten years ago. He earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in Economics from the University of Illinois, and a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education, graduating with honors. He enjoys teaching middle school mathematics at Pardes and is looking forward to another great year. Mr. E leads the student council, working with students to develop and practice their leadership skills. He enjoys cooking, traveling, and spending time with his family.
Orit Feinberg has been teaching art at Pardes for the past 19 years and still loves to be part of the Pardes family. Additionally, she taught in a Chabad-Montessori school in Palm Springs for six years before moving to AZ. Orit was born in Israel where she finished Art and Graphic design school.
As part of the Teacher Institute for the Arts, she brought Jewish studies and art together and, along with the jewish study teachers, created a beautiful school Haggadah. Her love of art and Jewish education led her to create a unique art program and art night for Pardes that encourages students and their families to experience Jewish and non Jewish artists and art styles. She brings her passion for art, reading, nature, music, and Jewish history to all her classes.
Susan Finks is beginning her sixth year teaching at Pardes, having been in education for 21 years. She is starting her second year in the Makerspace, and taught Math for four years at Pardes. Susan loves teaching Makerspace as it combines her love of technology, math, science, engineering, problem-solving, and crafts into a fun Project-Based Learning environment. Prior to coming to Pardes, she taught multiple levels of math, at Deer Valley Crossroads Alternative School and Westview High School in Tolleson, as well as the Assistant Director at the Beth El Preschool. Graduating with a BS from Northern Arizona University, a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, and a M.Ed. in Educational Administration and Supervision from Arizona State University, Mrs. Finks is certified in both Secondary and Community College Mathematics. She also serves on the Board of Directors as Secretary for the CREST Parent Group at Paradise Valley High School. Mrs. Finks enjoys travel, theater, crafting and crossword puzzles. She and her husband Alan are the proud parents of Marcus and Matthew, both Pardes graduates.
Addi Fraser is excited to be in her third year teaching Kindergarten. Morah Addi graduated with her Bachelor’s degree from the Honors College at University of Arizona in Retailing and Consumer Sciences and her Master’s degree in Elementary Education from Arizona State University. After moving to NYC to pursue a career in the fashion industry, she realized she missed the constant sunshine and lifestyle of her hometown, Scottsdale. She quickly moved back and found Pardes Jewish Day School, which combined her true passions of teaching, Judaism, and doing mitzvot. She loves the opportunity to teach young minds and give back to Jewish community she grew up in. Morah Addi recently attended a summer program at Columbia University, where she participated in the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Summer Institute. She’s been nicknamed the energizer bunny – when she’s not at school, you can find her teaching workouts at local barre studios. She brings with her a love of writing workshop, learning through movement, and boundless imagination!
Achia Gafni Mor moved to Phoenix with his wife and two children from Israel in August 2019. Both he and his wife, Maya, came to Arizona to teach Hebrew at Pardes because they felt it was their calling and their privilege to teach Hebrew in a Jewish day school, to share their love for the language and its bond to the Jewish people.
Achia’s education includes a B.A in Jewish Thought (Magna Cum Laude), and LL.B (Bachelor of Laws) from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In addition, he spent many years studying Torah in different Yeshivas and in the Shalom Hartman Institute in Israel. He also taught Hebrew to new immigrants in an Ulpan in Israel.
This is his second time as an emissary in the United States. He previously worked in Atlanta, Georgia as a Hebrew teacher where he taught Hebrew, Judaism, and Israeli culture.
Achia loves practicing mindfulness and meditation, learning Torah, reading and collecting various books, exercising in the gym, and getting to know people from different backgrounds.
He is very excited about the opportunity to be back in the United States again, this time as a Hebrew teacher at Pardes Jewish Day School.