Faculty & Staff

At The Newman School, we are blessed with an amazing faculty and staff. Our teachers are deeply committed to our school, to our mission, to their professional growth, to their subject matter, and most of all to our students. They create wonderful learning environments in which children can discover and grow.

Heidi Tarshish

Director of Education

Heidi’s journey into Jewish education was fostered by her close relationship with her grandparents and parents who lived Jewish values and practiced Jewish ethics. A native of Minnesota, Heidi grew up in St. Louis Park, participated in Jewish life, attended Jewish camps, B’nai Emet Synagogue, and youth group. Interested in theater, education and Jewish studies, Heidi attended the University of Minnesota where she graduated with a degree in Elementary Education and a minor in both theater arts and Jewish Studies. Heidi taught in both the public and private sector before going back to the U of MN to receive a certificate in early childhood and kindergarten education. Heidi traveled extensively as a recipient of the Mann Teacher of the Year Award and the National Grinspoon-Steinhardt Educator Award.  Her travels took her to Lithuania, Russia, Italy, Spain, Morocco, Turkey, Greece, and Israel to learn about Jewish diversity, culture, and history. Heidi’s interest and passion for social justice, inclusion, and diversity brought her to Temple Israel where she spent several years developing and implementing an education program for teens and their families.

Dan Estey

Early Childhood

Our lead Gan Katan teacher, Dan Estey, graduated from Bethel University (Arden Hills, MN) in 2000 and has been teaching within the Early Childhood field since. He has worked with all ages from toddlers to kindergarten. His background is in Montessori, Reggio, and Creative Curriculum. By combining different “styles” of teaching, he creates something original and unique. Dan’s passions include his family, friends, and teaching. He enjoys nature, camping, working on his house in South Minneapolis, and rock climbing.

Briana Lavintman

Elementary Teacher

Briana Cohen Lavintman is our kindergarten and first grade teacher. Briana is a passionate, enthusiastic, talented, and experienced teacher. She holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Education from the University of Minnesota. As part of her education, she student taught in the Minneapolis Public Schools. Briana has tutored Hebrew at the Talmud Torah of Minneapolis and taught Hebrew and Judaica at Temple Israel. She also taught online learners from across the world through VIPKID. Not only is she an excellent educator when it comes to STEAM and Judaica, she is an extremely talented baker, taught virtual cooking classes to kids and has on online gluten free bakery, Tastes Like Gluten. She enjoys music, art, cooking and has many other interests which she is excited to share with her students. Briana is a Birthright Israel Fellow and has led several trips to Israel. She is very much looking forward to bringing her love of Israel to her students. Briana believes that education is a two way street and a shared process. As she teaches her students, she is also learning from them.

Noi Maodi

Teacher Aide

Noi Maodi moved from Israel to St. Paul with his wife, Sophia, in 2016. Born in 1994 in Be’er Sheva, Noi lived most of his life in a small settlement called Yated in the south of Israel. He went to Yuvalei Habsor Elementary School and graduated from Nofei Habsor High School in 2012. He served in the Israeli Defense Forces as a Sergeant in the Kfir Brigade of the Infantry. Noi graduated from Saint Paul College with a Health Science degree and has also taught Gimel and Dalet Hebrew in Talmud Torah of St. Paul’s Afternoon School. By way of hobbies, he enjoys playing volleyball, swimming, hiking, camping, fishing, cooking, going to music festivals, and playing video games.

Lydia Schultz

Elementary Teacher & Media Specialist

Dr. Schultz has wide-ranging experience in education. She earned her BA from the University of Chicago and her PhD from the University of Minnesota in English and spent many years teaching traditional college students and adults. In 2001, Dr. Schultz transitioned to TTSP to become the Librarian and has held various roles at TTSP and the Newman School–curriculum development, Media and Technology Specialist, and homeroom teacher. This school year she will once again serve as a homeroom teacher for Kitah Bet-Gimel-Dalet as well as continuing as the Media Specialist for all Newman School students. Dr. Schultz is married to Leonard Oppenheimer and has two sons, Daniel and Miles, both graduates of the TTSP Day School and Midrasha programs. She is also relishing in her new role as grandma to Eleanor, daughter of Daniel and Paige. Dr. Schultz enjoys reading, cooking, and walking, but most of all she loves being a life-long learner. She looks forward to sharing that love of learning with all of her students this year.

Becky Carlson

Specialist Teacher and Aftercare Coordinator

Becky Carlson came to the Newman School 18 years ago as a volunteer in the Art Department. From there she was hired as a teacher in the Hugim (after school) program. Becky enjoys teaching a variety of subjects from Art to PE. She has also taught a summer class focused on STEAM art and science projects. Several years ago, Becky became the aftercare coordinator as well as the Day School Educational Assistant. In 2014, she added teaching art and music for the Gan Katan class. In 2016, she became the specialist teacher in art, music and PE for the Kindergarten. She is currently the art, music specialist for the Early Childhood class and the art, music and PE specialist for grades K and 4. Becky enjoys encouraging children to explore their creativity and promoting the importance of play. An important focus for Becky is to create and maintain a joyful learning experience for students.

Becky likes to travel and she is an avid crafter, gardener, and reader. She has a BA from the University of Minnesota and has done graduate work in Human Development at St. Mary’s University. She has completed the two-year Melton program of Jewish learning and continues to participate in ongoing adult Jewish learning classes.

Shira Cohen Lavintman


Shira Cohen Lavintman is an inspired, passionate Jewish Youth Worker. She first began working for the Talmud Torah of Minneapolis as a Hebrew tutor and Music Educator in 2009. She continued on her path of Jewish Education when she received a Bachelor of Arts in Youth Studies with a minor in Jewish and Hebrew Studies from the University of Minnesota. Shira worked at Temple Israel for 4 years, specializing in Hebrew and Jewish music education. She also worked for the Jewish Family and Children’s Services of Minneapolis in the Jewish Big Brother/Big Sister and Healthy Youth/Healthy Communities programs. At age 21, Shira led her first Birthright Israel trip, fell in love with connecting people to Israel and their Judaism, and continued to lead 10 more Israel experiences. Shira is a proud member of the Minnesota Hillel community and worked there as the Jewish Educator for 2 years before moving to Jerusalem in September of 2018.

Besides her love of Judaism and Israel, in Shira’s free time she tends to make music, relax in front of Netflix, spend time with family, and chill outside as much as possible. Shira is thrilled to be part of the Newman School family!

Sara Lynn Newberger

Jewish Studies

Sara Lynn Newberger (BS, University of Illinois; MA, Brandeis University, Hornstein Program in Jewish Communal Service and Education; Jerusalem Fellow) remembers receiving her first chumash (volume of Torah) in 3rd grade – and thus was born a life-long love of studying Torah. Born in Chicago, she landed in St. Paul in 1989 where she came work at the Talmud Torah of St. Paul Day School because the mission and vision resonated with her soul. At TTSP has had many jobs. Her favorite is what she is doing now, exploring Jewish texts, customs, values and ideas with students. Sara Lynn is the director of TTSP’s Hineni: Adult Jewish Learning and Contemplative Practices. She believes passionately in the importance of Jewish learning and the impact it can have on people’s lives. When not working, Sara Lynn enjoys cooking, visiting with friends, singing, and being outdoors. Sara Lynn is married to Barbie Levine and is Savta to Ruby. Sara Lynn has recently begun to explore, both in her own learning and teaching, areas of Jewish mindfulness and spirituality. In addition to planning programs for Hineni, she is facilitating groups in Jewish Meditation, Torah and Mindfulness, Mussar/Middot, and Contemplative Chanting. She is teaching the Rhythms of Jewish Living course in the Melton core curriculum.

Susan Cobin


The foundation of Susan’s education was laid in Illinois by her parents and grandparents and nurtured in the early 1960’s by her involvement in the Reform Jewish Youth Movement and the Civil Rights Movement. Her formal education continued at Northwestern University where she received her BA in English and American Literature and History and a teaching certificate in secondary education. After teaching in Illinois, Boston, and the California Bay Area, she got an M.Ed. from Lesley College Graduate School in Cambridge, MA. After moving to Minnesota she taught in the public schools before coming to work at Talmud Torah in 1982. Susan has studied at Tufts University, Hamline University, University of Minnesota, and Hebrew University, and has been given extraordinary opportunities to learn with colleagues through faculty development opportunities in Jewish education.