Elementary Team

Selma Laurence
Kindergarten Lead Teacher

Selma Laurence was born in Peru and grew up in Surfside, Florida. She graduated from Florida International University with a Bachelors of Science in Recreation & Sports Management. Selma  has worked in camp and park settings since college and even  worked as a Park Ranger in the Grand Canyon. When Selma returned to Miami she decided to change careers to Education. She earned her Teaching Certification and worked for Miami-Dade County Schools as a Reading Interventionist and Kindergarten teacher for the past three years. She has been a member of Temple Beth Sholom since she was fifteen. Selma was married at Temple Beth Sholom and has recently become a new mother. She is very excited to be able to continue her connection with this temple by teaching here..

Sarah Penalver
First Grade Lead Teacher
First Grade Lead Sarah Penalver is a South Florida native and MIami Beach local. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with endorsements in ESOL from Florida International University. She has over six years of teaching experience, and before joining The Innovative School she had previously taught at a Montessori school on Miami Beach. Besides her love for teaching and working with children, Sarah has a passion for traveling, spending time with friends and loved ones, and caring for animals. She is plant-based, and has spent time volunteering at the Soffer and Fine Pet Adoption Center of North Miami. Sarah is extremely excited to join The Innovative School family.
Natasha Stapleton
Second Grade Lead Teacher

Natasha is Colombian American and was born in Kentucky. She grew up near Cleveland, Ohio and moved to Miami Beach when she was 15. She graduated from Miami Beach Senior Highschool and then FIU in Elementary Education. Natasha has taught grades K-2. Natasha is an artist and designer and loves dancing, yoga and many outdoor sports like mountain biking, kayaking, surfing, snowboarding and skateboarding. She loves traveling around the world, seeing new landscapes and learning about new cultures. Natasha spends her days with friends, family and her cute little maltipoo Pluto. She is so excited to get creative and have fun learning with the students of Temple Beth Sholom Innovative School. 

Aleeza Haas
Third and Fourth Grade Lead Teacher
Aleeza Haas was born and raised in South Florida. She received her Bachelors in Exceptional Education and her Masters in Exceptional Education with a certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorder from the University of Central Florida. She holds endorsements in Reading, ESOL and is certified to teach Elementary Education K-6 and Exceptional Education K-12. She has over 7 years of teaching experience, and loves working with children. Currently she is working on becoming a certified children’s yoga instructor. Aleeza’s greatest passions include her family, traveling, spending time with her loved ones, yoga and teaching. Beth Sholom holds a special place in her heart as she was married in the synagogue in November 2019 to her husband Adam Haas, son of Cantor Haas. Aleeza currently resides in North Miami Beach with her husband and her dog, Morty.
Rachel Unger
Fifth Grade Lead Teacher

Rachel has been a Miami Beach resident since she was 2 and ½ years old. She graduated from Ransom Everglades High School in 1996 and then The University of Miami in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science in Education.   In 2002, Rachel earned a Master of Science in Education with a specialization in Reading and Learning Disabilities and graduated with Honors from the University of Miami.  Rachel began her career teaching 3rd grade at North Miami Elementary and went on to teach at South Pointe Elementary, then Temple Beth Sholom and finally has been teaching at North Beach Elementary since 2013.  Rachel has been an active congregant of Temple Beth Sholom since 1983.  She is currently co-chair of the Social Justice Network, has led Direct Service Projects, has been a Mitzvah Day Captain and has been Vice President on the Board of Trustees. Rachel is on PACT’s Executive Committee as the Vice President of Media Relations and PR. Rachel is also Vice President of Fundraising for the National Council of Jewish Women.  Through all of this community involvementRachel recognized that a major issue in the community is food insecurity.  Rachel learned about and became involved with Food Rescue US- South Florida. For over three years, every Sunday at 8 am Rachel goes to Whole Foods and “rescues” excess food and delivers it to Lotus House or drops the food at a community fridge run by Buddy System US. In addition, to receiving The Emerging Leader Award from NCJWRachel was recognized as a “Woman Worth Knowing in Education” on Miami Beach, awarded Teacher of the Year and the Rookie Teacher of the Year at North Miami Elementary, and was earned the Outstanding Associate Teacher’s Award at the University of Miami. When Rachel finds spare time, she loves living a plant-based lifestyle, enjoys exercising (she is addicted to her Peloton bike and treadmill) and loves spending time with her husband Michael, as well as with her greatest accomplishmentsher children Max and Ellie, and their 100-pound puppies Lincoln and Duke.  

Miriam Cruz
Associate & Studio Teacher
Miriam Cruz has a background  in the arts and healing arts with an apprenticeship with Miami Artist Carlos Alves, organizing studio space, exploring color scapes, kiln work and glazing, making sculpted pieces, creating tiles and participating in mosaic tile installations and commissioned pieces throughout the South Florida community.  It's in the healing arts, however,  where Miriam spent the last two decades as a student, therapist and educator. She has a degree in Chinese Medicine and a degree in Liberal Arts and Education.  After years of facilitating inner process work with people, she has decided to go back to childhood itself to bring to children all the resources and knowledge her education and unique perspective can offer to serve children and their families in their pursuit of growth, education and happy, healthy living. In her Education tract, she pursued and spent countless hours in both Reggio Emilia, High Scope and Montessori settings to better understand the pedagogies and systems by which children can access the best growth and learning. She is interested in Project Approach (project based learning)  and its interface with the empowering art and community approach of Reggio Emilia as a foundation for children’s learning and development. She is excited to join the Temple Beth Sholom community and work alongside children to build strong foundations, make connections, uncover their innate genius and talents, develop the language to express themselves and develop these in pursuit of constructive learning.
Natasha Hanono
Associate Teacher
Barbara Schpilberg
Judaic, Foreign Language and Physical Education Specialist
Barbara Schpilberg grew up in Argentina and moved to Miami in 1997. She graduated Cum Laude from Florida International University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and a Minor in English. She also holds a Master's Degree in Business Administration. She has earned her Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential, which is the most widely recognized credential in early childhood education. Barbara currently teaches Spanish, Hebrew, Judaic Studies and Physical Education to all elementary level learners. Barbara is a Jewish educator and teaches Hebrew and Jewish education in the School for Living Judaism. She teaches different dance disciplines such as Modern Dance, Zumba, and Hip-hop, as well as Yoga, Music and Mommy & Me classes. Barbara, her husband Brian and Victoria (10), Isabella (9) and Noah (3) truly love Temple Beth Sholom.
Yael Kleinman-Hyk
Music Educator
Yael has had a musical career that has taken her all over the world. Initially a violinist, she switched to viola under the guidance of Prof. David Chen in the Israel Conservatory in Tel Aviv when she was 16. At the age of 18 she joined the Israel Army in the unit of “Outstanding Musicians” for a period of 21 months. After being released from the army, Yael moved to The Netherlands to pursue her Bachelors Degree in Music at the Academy for Music in Rotterdam. From 2004-2008, Yael was a member of the UBS Verbier Festival Orchestra under music director Maestro James Levine. Yael studied for one year at the Manhattan School of Music with both Irene Breslaw and Daniel Avshalomov. From 2007-2010, she was a fellow with the New World Symphony under music director Michael Tilson Thomas. Yael was principal viola of the Amarillo Symphony in Texas from 2015-2018, regularly plays with the Florida Grand Opera, Miami City Ballet, Naples Philharmonic and is currently principal viola of the Nu Deco Ensemble based in Miami FL.
Nancy Gould
Educational Consultant
Dr. Gould is a licensed, Clinical Psychologist with over twenty years of experience providing neuropsychological and educational evaluations to children, adolescents, and young adults in the public and private sectors. In addition to her private practice on Miami Beach, Dr. Gould works as a consultant for Temple Beth Sholom Innovative School to support the academic, social and emotional needs of their learners. Dr. Gould has an extensive history providing individual and family therapy. In addition, Dr. Gould has over 10 years of experience working as an Executive Leadership Coach with the Center for Leadership at FIU. In 2011, Dr. Gould was hired to initiate a Guidance Department for the Lower School at Hillel. In her capacity as a Guidance Counselor, she created and implemented a Character Development Program and a Bully Prevention Program. Dr. Gould received her Bachelor of Science from Washington University in Saint Louis, and completed her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Nova South Eastern University in 1995. Dr. Gould is also the mother of three adult-children, and a member of Temple Beth Sholom.
Shannon Koonin
Reading Specialist/ Educational Consultant
Shannon Koonin is the founder and owner of Koonin Education Services, LLC, an education services company that provides academic assessment, intervention and consulting services. Shannon has 14 years of classroom experience teaching grades Kindergarten through 6th, in both the private and public sector, including South Pointe Elementary on Miami Beach. Shannon has also served as a mentor and undergraduate professor for Touro College, in the field of Education. Shannon is trained in both the Lindamood Bell Visualization and Verbalization program, and the Seeing Stars Program, as well as the Wilson Reading System. Shannon has a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from McGill University, and a dual Master’s Degree in General Education and Special Education from Touro College. Shannon grew up in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and moved to Miami Beach in 2004, where she continues to reside with her two children. Shannon is truly passionate about helping children feel confident and successful, helping parents feel supported and reassured and helping teachers and school administration to feel informed and prepared.
Angela De Vincenzo
Angela studied at New York University, Bank Street College of Education, Columbia University and Harvard University. She has worked in NYC independent schools for the past 20 years. Most recently, she served as Packer Collegiate Institute’s Lower School Learning Specialist. In addition, Angela held teaching tenures at The Chapin School and City & Country School - the pedagogy and teaching philosophies of these schools range from highly academic to the most progressive. Angela’s teaching methods combine direct instruction with open-ended learning opportunities through her devoted work with unit blocks. In the summer of 2015, Angela launched Blocks, Trucks + Art, a multi-sensory summer program for children based in the Hamptons, NY. Currently, she will soon open her first brick-and-mortar location in Brooklyn, NY - the program, Reading + Riding, will focus on academic and physical learning - reading instruction and biking take center stage. A proponent of life-long education, Angela regularly attends as well as speaks at conferences and workshops around the country, offering professional development to educators.
Fran Rubio-Katz
Parenting Coach | Non-ABA Behavior Consultant | Social-Emotional Learning Specialist
Fran is a parent and educator who guides schools and families in the realms of social-emotional intelligence, mindfulness, and behavior. She is a thought leader in human potential and her niche is to see the best in others, especially children who have challenging or concerning behaviors. She has practiced Conscious Discipline®️ for over fifteen years and was a Certified Instructor for seven. In the summer of 2019, she became a certified Breathe for Change (B4C) Wellness Champion to support schools’ and families’ social and emotional well-being at an even deeper level by incorporating mindfulness into her work. Her current clients include parents, teachers, and school leadership teams. She draws from the inevitable ups and downs of her own life’s journey and shares tools for hope, purpose, passion and inner peace. Her integrative approach to coaching and consulting is both enlightening and practical and is always delivered with profound wisdom and wit.
Lori Ryan Ph.D.
Reggio Educational Consultant

Lori Ryan PhD. is Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Colorado Denver’s School of Education and Human Development. Lori’s work focuses on early education, educational leadership, equity and inclusion. Lori’s teaching, research, and coaching build the capacity of teachers and leaders where in partnership with early childhood communities, she promotes a strong image of children, families and leaders as co-constructors of their own learning stories within unique cultural contexts.

As co-director and faculty of the Buell Early Childhood Leadership Program, Lori leads a $475,000 annual grant project where a cohort of graduate fellows engage in transformational learning to co-create opportunities with Colorado’s children and families. In this work she co-leads and co-researches constructivist leadership learning design principles.

Lori serves as lead faculty in CU Denver’s Master’s degree in partnership with Boulder Journey School, and along with the school leadership serves as participating founder of the Foundation Reggio Children Loris Malaguzzi Center and on the Ph.D. Board of Reggio Childhood Studies.

Lori has been a member of the early childhood field since earning her doctorate from the State University of New at Buffalo where she studied infant toddler education. From the early 1990s-2009 Lori served as the Pedagogical Coordinator and Director at Clayton School District’s Family Center, one of the three schools of the St. Louis-Reggio Collaborative.