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Gan Yeladim Staff

Meet the Team

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Rabbi Eliyahu and Draizy Junik

Executive Directors

Rabbi Eliyahu Junik grew up in Brooklyn, New York. He spent 4 years studying in Israel, before returning to Brooklyn for rabbinical school. Eliyahu has since spent six years in Vermont and has developed a deep love for Burlington. He appreciates the pace of life here, and all of the wonderful opportunities Burlington provides. When he is not teaching, he can be found baking challah and spending time with his family.


Draizy Junik grew up in Burlington. She studied in Brooklyn and Israel before moving back to Vermont to develop programming for the Jewish community. Draizy loves spending time with her family, going on adventures and experiencing the world. She believes that there is something to learn every moment, everywhere. 


Holly Bolsta

Director of Operations

Holly has worked in Early Childhood Education for fifteen years beginning as a preschool teacher in a non-profit child care that fostered a love of child directed education. Sparked by a desire to support children across classrooms, Holly completed her Masters of Education with a focus in ECE Administration through Champlain College and moved into the administrative sector. She believes strongly in providing access to high quality early childhood education for every child in the community that is founded on supporting the needs of families. 

Holly has spent the past ten years in Chittenden county moving here from central Vermont to attend UVM for a B.A. in Anthropology. She currently lives in Williston with her husband and six year old daughter, who attends Tamim Academy. 

Brendan Rooney

Director of Education

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Brendan is a lifelong learner, tinkerer and 'what-if' thinker. He loves empowering teachers to explore their creativity and curiosity in the classroom. He is a strong believer in the power of play and in the importance of treating each child's unique perspective with the respect and attention that it deserves. In the six years that he has spent as an early childhood educator, Brendan has grown to appreciate and advocate for the importance of a child-driven curriculum. He is excited to find rich pathways for learning in the many  interests of the children at Gan Yeladim. Brendan has a B.A. in Anthropology from SUNY Purchase, and is always searching for new subjects to dive into; he loves to incorporate his own creative pursuits into his teaching -whether it's music, sewing, crating, gardening or building, there's always something new to explore!

Patty Mello



Stacy Crosby


Sam Hartman

Jr. Waddlers 

This will be Sam's second year leading the group that has become our Jr. Waddlers. She offers a warm, inviting approach that encourages the youn

Stacy Crosby is beginning her 14th year at Gan Yeladim. 

She graduated from the University of Vermont in 2005 where she majored in animal science.  Stacy grew up in Colchester and currently resides in Milton with her partner Jacques and their two sons Ottis and Felix. She is proud that Ottis and Felix are part of our Gan family. Stacy has a great interest in homesteading, gardening, swimming, crafting  and taking drives around the state. She enjoys sharing her love of animals and the outdoors not only with her family but all those around her..

Patty is part of the infant teaching team, currently working with the youngest babies. She has been with Gan Yeladim for four years and has worked with all ages in our program. She comes to us with an extensive amount of teaching experience at the early childhood/ elementary level in addition to holding advanced degrees in the education field. In her spare time, Patty enjoys taking nature walks with her dog Buddy as well as visiting with her son & daughter.

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Maeve Farnum-Rendino

Floating Teacher

This is Maeve’s fourth year at Gan Yeladim! She comes from Hinesburg, a town just south of Burlington. Before Gan, she was a full time UVM Psychology student with an unfulfilled desire for real world experience. She continues her studies at a more digestible pace, and is delighted to be a part of the Gan community for another year. Her past experience working with children includes elementary tutoring, home childcare, and shadowing her own past childcare provider. In her spare time she enjoys expanding the edges of her education, nurturing a porch garden, yoga, and puzzling. Maeve applies a constructivist manner and accommodates a plethora of learning styles. In her opinion, the best teacher has always been the experience.

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Maya Robbins


Barb Roscoe is beginning her sixth year at Gan Yeladim working as a Preschool teacher. Barb grew up in Bristol, Vermont. She graduated from University of New England with an Environmental Science degree with a focus on wildlife. In her spare time, she enjoys working with rehabilitating birds of prey, hiking, live music, and playing outdoors! She is the loving mother of a golden retriever Sandy and two birds Simon and Bodhi. Barb is looking forward to spending the year exploring the curiosities and building a community with the Pre-K class this year! 


Shannon Melnick


Shannon grew up in Southern Vermont and moved to Burlington in 2001. She attended the University of Vermont and Northern Vermont University (formerly Johnson State) where she completed her Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies concentrating on Psychology Medical Anthhropology, and English. Shannon has a wide variety of experience working with children of various ages in both the private and public sector. This is Shannon’s first year at Gan after working in the South Burlington School District for three years as a Behavior Interventionist. She is excited to work at Gan because her daughter Shira attended the school and summer camp. In addition to her daughter Shira, Shannon also has a ten-year-old son, Max, and a new six-month-old baby, Miriam, and a chocolate lab named Shadow. Shannon loves the curiosity, compassion and unique perspectives that children contribute to the world and all its beauty. One of her favorite times of the day is eating dinner with her own family and hearing about everyone's day. She also enjoys writing poetry, painting and dancing in the living room with her children. She is excited for the new school year and can’t wait to spend time with all the children this Fall

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Beth Starger


Beth Starger is starting her third year as the Gan Yeladim Atelieista. She is an artist who specializes in a myriad of different mediums. She uses art as a door between emotion and expression, and loves to guide children as to how to unlock their own passion using all the languages of expression. These languages can include painting, singing, building, dancing, drawing; the possibilities are limitless. Beth was a preschool teacher at Gan for five years. Along side being the Atelieista she is also an activities specialist at a nursing home, a privet art instructor, and a commissioned painter. She has a BA from Hampshire Collage in Literary Journalism and Photography, with a minor in Psychology. She lives in Burlington with her two daughters, Addy and Tully, and her husband Dan.


Joanna May

Music Together

Joanna studied voice, theater and literature at Indiana University and received a Vermont teaching license and Master's degree in Integrating the Arts into Education from St. Michael's College. 2019-20 marks Joanna's 8th year as a center director/teacher of Music Together®. Joanna teaches preschool music classes at The Schoolhouse, Gan Yeladim, and the Heartworks Burlington, Essex, Williston & Shelburne schools, as well as family

classes in Richmond and Burlington. 

Joanna has also been a singer/facilitator with the Noyana Singers for 12 years, bringing music to community members on hopsice and their families. Joanna is the mom of 2 teenagers (ages 15 & 17) who introduce her to a wide

variety of new music daily!

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Mazal Portnow

Hebrew Learning Specialist 

I believe every child should be taught according to their own needs and in their own way. I graduated in 2017 from the University of Florida with a Bachelor’s in History and a minor in both Education and Innovation. Teaching Judaics is my passion (you might hear me singing in the halls!) and I have been teaching children the weekly Torah portion, Hebrew reading, and holidays since I was a teenager volunteering at my local Hebrew Sunday school. Since then, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work at many Chabad Houses and Camp Gan Israel summer camps, instilling each and every day with love and positivity. I cannot wait to meet and interact with my new students. I am so thankful to be joining your wonderful community this year!

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