Allison Colker

Director of Early Childhood Education and Engagement

Allison Colker

Allison joined the Shaare Torah community in June of 2015. She has worked in the fields of early childhood education and Jewish education since 1992. Allison’s role at Shaare Torah is two-fold:  she directs our Early Childhood Center, private Kindergarten, and ECC Summer Program; and she leads our family engagement, special events, and Shabbat and holiday experiences for families with children 5 and under. Allison’s passion as an early childhood educator is to help young children develop a love of learning and learn how to learn. Understanding the process of learning and constructing knowledge provides a foundation for the children’s future academic careers and their entire lives. Allison herself is a lifelong learner and a co-learner with the children. She believes that the most important part of early childhood education is social-emotional learning, which fosters in the children independence, self regulation, social skills, problem solving, and conflict resolution. Allison partners with parents and teachers to raise good humans who are citizens of the world. She can always tell when she encounters an adult who did not go to a good preschool (ha ha!).

Allison is excited to lay the first foundation of Jewish identity and community by instilling a joy for Shabbat and Jewish holidays, a connection to Israel, and a set of Jewish values that are truly universal human values. In addition to her work directly with the children, Allison spends much of her time mentoring teachers and coaching parents. She is committed to developing a strong early childhood educator workforce within STECC/STK and in the broader community. Allison provides partnership, resources, and support for parents on a variety of topics, such as morning and nighttime routines, potty training, welcoming new babies, and moving to a new home.

Outside of Shaare Torah, Allison is an active participant in the Greater Washington Jewish Early Childhood Education Directors’ Council. Allison and her husband Ryan both grew up in active synagogue families, spending summers at Jewish sleepover camp, were actively involved in Jewish youth group and later in Jewish life on campus, and started teaching religious school as teenagers.

Beth Ann Katz Schools Administrator

Schools Administrator

Beth Ann Katz

Beth Ann Katz joined the STECC/STK faculty in June 2021. Beth Ann is our school administrator as well as the school administrator for the Religious School. She has worked in the world of Jewish preschool and religious education for the better part of the past 30 years. Creative Movement, Israeli Dance, Parent & Child, Toddlers, 2s, 3s, 4s… she’s taught them all. Beth Ann has been a teacher in our religious school for the past three years. She was the Education Office Program Coordinator for 6 years at a synagogue in Washington, DC. She has a master’s degree in education and human development. She lives in Gaithersburg with her adorable dog, Buddy, and she has two amazing grown daughters.

Kindergarten at STK

Morah Nicole Martin

Morah Nicole Martin joined the STECC/STK faculty in August 2017.  Morah Nicole teaches rising kindergarteners in the STECC summer program and teaches Kindergarten at Shaare Torah Kindergarten (STK) during the school year. She previously taught Pre-K at STECC. Morah Nicole has a bachelors in Early Childhood Multicultural Education, that spans birth to 3rd grade, with a focus in prekindergarten through 2nd grade and a specialization in reading instruction. In addition, she worked in a 1st and 2nd grade public school classroom which means that not only does she have experience where many of our kindergarteners have come from (prekindergarten), but she also has intimate knowledge of where they will be going in the next two years. Because of this, she can take what they currently have, and prepare them not only for the standards of 1st grade, but to make sure they have the foundations that will become necessary for second grade and beyond.  Morah Nicole and her husband, Josh, have a daughter, Teddy, who is an STECC alumna and a rising 1st grader at The Banner School. Morah Nicole loves being a part of the STECC/STK community and her favorite things are having students for multiple years and having her former students’ younger siblings!


Morah Rachel Martinez

Morah Rachel Martinez joined the STECC faculty in August 2020.  Morah Rachel teaches Pre-K. She spent her early years in Baltimore, Maryland. She went to Vassar College (graduated in 1989), majoring in Psychology and Education. Morah Rachel spent a semester during her junior year in England, student-teaching elementary age students and studying at Oxford University. She was also lucky enough to meet her husband-to-be, Tony, while a student at Vassar. After graduating, Morah Rachel moved to the beautiful, tiny, island of Guam where she lived for ten years. She taught kindergarten, fifth grade, and sixth grade to a largely international community in a private school there. Morah Rachel and her family moved back to Maryland when her son, Trey, was two. He is now 24 years old and a Towson University graduate. He is currently a baseball coach there (after playing for four years). Morah Rachel’s daughter, Leilani, is 19 years old and is a rising sophomore at University of Maryland in College Park.  After being a stay-at-home mom for many years, Morah Rachel taught for four years at Gates of Discovery: The Rose and George Teller Preschool of Shaare Tefila in Olney, a Reggio-inspired preschool.  Most recently she taught at a play-based preschool in Derwood.  During her free time, Morah Rachel loves reading, knitting, and watching TV. Morah Rachel loves teaching here at Shaare Torah ECC!


Morah Karen Bakalis

Morah Karen Bakalis joined the STECC faculty in August 2020.  Morah Karen teaches 3s. She has been in the field of early childhood education for over twenty years. She was previously a teacher/facilitator at Gates of Discovery: The Rose and George Teller Preschool of Shaare Tefila in Olney, a Reggio Emilia preschool.  Previously, Morah Karen has worked as a teacher/site supervisor in two different Head Start programs, owned and operated a licensed home childcare, as well as taught in several different preschools. Morah Karen loves early childhood education and especially loves teaching here at Shaare Torah!


Morah Dawn Gladstone

Morah Dawn Gladstone joined the STECC faculty in January 2022. She has been a resident of Montgomery County for over fifteen years. Morah Dawn started her career by volunteering and then substituting at her son’s preschool beginning in 2007. She attained her 90-hour preschool certification and has taught children 2-4 years of age. Her experience includes 10 years of experience in both play-based and Reggio Emilia philosophies. Morah Dawn has been married for 25 years and has a son who is attending Indiana University, Go Hoosiers! Cooper, the fourth member of their family is a Cavalier King Charles who wins over everyone he meets.


Morah Stacy Loewentritt

Morah Stacy Loewentritt joined the STECC faculty in 2018.  Morah Stacy will teach 3s/Pre-K during camp. She teaches Pre-K during the school year. Morah Stacy’s family has been members of Shaare Torah for the past six years. She lives right here in Gaithersburg and has a daughter, Ilyssa, going into sixth grade who also attends religious school here at Shaare Torah. Morah Stacy has been married to her husband Neil for almost 17 years. She is originally from New Jersey and moved to this area for college and has never moved back. Morah Stacy is so excited to be continue with some of her children from the current school year and to welcome new children to our school this summer!


Morah Sharon Goldrich

Morah Sharon Goldrich joined the STECC faculty in June 2021. Morah Sharon teaches 2s and serves as a mentor teacher.  Even after working with children for over 20 years, Morah Sharon continues to be amazed by their brilliance – their ideas, questions, and thoughts are eye-opening and inspiring to look at the world in a new perspective. Morah Sharon earned a BA in Jewish Social Studies from Hunter College and an MSED in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Bank Street College of Education in New York. Since the beginning of her career in New York City (a native New Yorker), she has worked with children of all ages, as young as two years old and through high school (during a stint in Indiana), but early childhood is her passion and focus. She has worked as an instructional coach for DC Public Schools and a pedagogical coordinator in the Jewish community over the recent last few years and is now thrilled to be back in the classroom. Discovering and learning outdoors is a key component to Morah Sharon’s work with children and strongly believes in the adage, “there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.” Morah Sharon is also a trained yoga instructor and always incorporates yoga practice into the classroom. Personally, Morah Sharon loves spending time with her husband and two teenaged children, watching movies and making them take walks as a family. She is a sucker for fantasy and will watch or read anything with dragons or magic. Recently, Morah Sharon has taken an interest in the Danish concept of Hygge which is about creating a culture mindful togetherness, comfort and coziness.


Morah Joelle Spector

Morah Joelle Spector joined the STECC faculty in November of 2021. She is an assistant teacher in the toddler classroom. Joelle graduated from Quince Orchard High School in 2019, where she received her 90-hour clockwork course certification. Prior to working at STECC she was a personal childcare provider as well as an assistant teacher at the Congregation Har Shalom religious school. Joelle completed an internship at Rachel Carson Elementary School in 2019 working in a Kindergarten classroom. For the past 3 summers she was a counselor at Camp Ramah in the Poconos which she also attended as a camper for 8 years. Joelle is excited to work with the children of STECC this year and watch them grow!


Morah Alicia Andrews

Morah Alicia Andrews will join the STECC faculty in August 2021.  Morah Alicia will teach Toddlers. She has worked with infants and toddlers over the past sixteen years in three center-based programs, the most recent of which being inspired by the philosophies of Magda Gerber and the schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy. At the Child Study and Development Center, a laboratory school affiliated with the University of New Hampshire, she has had the dual responsibilities of teaching infants and toddlers while also mentoring pre-service teachers in their Child Development and Teaching and Learning in Early Childhood Settings internship experiences. In this role, Morah Alicia has practiced responsive, respectful caregiving and enjoyed watching the children learn and grow, as they developed their own hypotheses about the world and made new discoveries as co-constructors of their own knowledge and learning.  Morah Alicia’s personal philosophies revolve around building strong connections and lasting relationships with children, families, and the teaching team. She values respectful caregiving and acknowledge each person as an individual, with unique strengths, needs, and preferences. She views children as capable and having the capability to construct their own knowledge, and thus follow their lead when planning curriculum, investigations, and provocations  Morah Alicia has lived her entire life in New Hampshire and will be relocating to Maryland with her husband, Courtney, and their two children, Charles (age 12) and Susan (age 9) over the summer to be closer to their extended family who live in Clarksville and Port Republic, Maryland and Arlington, Virginia.  Morah Alicia is excited to join the STECC community!


Morah Viviana Samiotes

Morah Viviana Samiotes joined the STECC faculty in August 2020.  Morah Viviana teaches 2s.  She has 16 years of experience teaching in early childhood education. In 2011, she graduated from The College of St. Rose in Albany, New York, with a Bachelor of Arts degree focused on early childhood studies. She also has an Associates degree in early childhood education with a certification from SUNY Adirondack. Morah Viviana was accepted into the graduate program at Hunter College in New York City and she completed twelve credits towards her master’s degree. She plans to complete her coursework for a Master’s degree in early childhood in the near future. Morah Viviana and her husband have two beautiful twin girls. She has enjoyed many years of performing on stage in high school, college, and adult theater groups. In addition to acting, Morah Viviana is very artistic and she enjoys creating art activities in the classroom and bringing art center learning experiences to the children.  Morah Viviana is thrilled to be part of the STECC team and looks forward to her own daughters starting in the toddler class this summer!


Morah Chanel Ortiz Medina

Morah Chanel Ortiz Medina joined the STECC faculty in 2020.  Morah Chanel teaches Toddlers and 2s. Previously, she was an assistant teacher at Franklin Montessori during the 2019-2020 school year, where she worked both in the toddler room and with older children. She has taken the 90-hour course in early childhood education, as well as all of the other required trainings. Morah Chanel moved to Gaithersburg three years ago from her native Dominican Republic. She received her bachelor’s degree from the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo. Morah Chanel is so excited to welcome new children to our school this year!