Faculty & Staff

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

Jessie Lavintman

Newman School Director

Jessie Lavintmans has joined the Newman School team as the Newman School Director for the 2022-23 school year.

Jessie brings with her a strong background in administration and Jewish education. Since 2018, she has served as Assistant Director at Park Avenue Synagogue Congregational School in Manhattan. Jessie has extensive experience in the Jewish educational world. She has worked as a synagogue educator, a congregational school teacher, and a Hebrew specialist. She has spent summers as a camper and a counselor at Ramah Wisconsin and has staffed several Birthright Israel trips.

Jessie earned a BA from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and an MA in Jewish Education from the William Davidson School at JTS. As a part of her MA program, she spent a year in Jerusalem studying at Pardes Institute, where she received a Certificate of Advanced Jewish Studies. She recently returned to Pardes in Jerusalem to complete their yearlong Senior Educator’s fellowship. Jessie has taken courses in Torah Yoga and in Jewish spirituality. Trained as a life coach and a birth doula, she believes in bringing out everyone’s unique gifts.

Jessie is thrilled to be returning home to Minnesota and to share her love of Hebrew, Torah, and Judaism with the TTSP community.

Heidi Tarshish

Newman School Advisor

Heidi joined the Talmud Torah of St. Paul in 2015, as Director of Education for The Newman School, Afternoon School, and Midrasha program.

Her 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, and youth group at B’nai Emet Synagogue, and graduated from the Talmud Torah of Minneapolis’s Midrasha program.  Interested in theater, education, and Jewish studies, Heidi attended the University of Minnesota where she graduated with honors, with a degree in Elementary Education and a minor in both theater arts and Jewish Studies. Heidi taught in both the public and private sectors 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, as Director of Education for the “Na’aseh V’nishma” teen program, where she spent several years developing and implementing an education program for teens and their families prior to coming to the Talmud Torah of St. Paul.  Heidi is also the proud parent of 7 children, (including a son-in-law and 2 daughters-in-law),  and 5 grandchildren.

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 Judaics, but she is also an extremely talented baker, taught virtual cooking classes to kids, and has an 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 enjoys 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.

Jorie Bernhardt

Elementary Teacher

Mrs. B is our 2nd-3rd grade teacher. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from Illinois State University and a Master’s of Science in Public Health in Community Health from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Originally from the Chicagoland area, Mrs. B spent the first seven years of her career working in museum education, including for the Chicago Botanic Garden and the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. She moved to Saint Paul in 2017 and served as the Director of Youth & Family Programming at Temple of Aaron Congregation.

She lives in Saint Paul with her husband, daughter, and border collie mix. In her free time, Mrs. B loves to play pub trivia, bake bread and desserts, spend time in nature, and solve crossword puzzles. Mrs. B loves to integrate her background in STEAM and environmental education into learning about Jewish holidays and traditions. She brings a depth of experience teaching elementary-age children in a creative and challenging way. She looks forward to getting to know her students and their families!

Jaime Dale

Elementary Teacher

Jaime Dale is our 4th-5th grade teacher and Art teacher.

Jaime holds two bachelor’s degrees in Journalism and Art from Colorado State University and a Master’s of Arts degree in Teaching – Secondary Pedagogy from the University of Northern Colorado. She has six years of experience educating Kindergarten-8th Grade students in Jewish, experiential, and traditional public school settings. Her primary goal is to help students reach their full potential through creative, active, and project-based learning.

For most of her adult life, Jaime has prayed, played, worked, and volunteered in the Jewish community. Some of her most memorable experiences include cooking large Shabbat dinners at the Hillel at Colorado State University clubhouse, touring Israel with friends on Birthright, volunteering as an artist-historian in Wroclaw, Poland for the Gwozdziec Synagogue Replication Project with Handshouse Studio, and taking middle schoolers on adventures across the state of Colorado as a camp counselor with the Jewish Community Center of Denver.

Jaime enjoys reading, hiking, cooking, skiing, and playing the flute in her free time. She looks forward to growing new roots and sprouting new wings in St. Paul with her husband Jeff, her son Elijah, and her dog Jet.

Jhax Berryhill

Specialist Teacher

Jhax Berryhill (they/them) joins the Newman School faculty as our Music, Technology, and PE teacher for the 2022-23 school year.

Jhax is a teacher, performer, and artist within the twin cities. In 2012, they earned their K-6 teaching license and theatre minor and haven’t stopped running since! They have been a classroom teacher for grades 3-6, a middle school art teacher, a code.org certified technology teacher, and a theatre and improv teacher for kids with disabilities. They have also instructed parkour, a sport founded in France, to kids and beginning-level adults. As an educator, they believe that movement, creativity, and connectivity are essential to helping build curiosity. Through project-based learning and teaching independent learning skills, Jhax loves to help students follow their interests in whatever subject they lead.

Outside the classroom, Jhax does a myriad of activities, including stage combat, parkour, traditional dance, swing dance, theatre, improv, storytelling, singing, drumming, playing the ukulele, cosplay, and cuddling with their adorable pet snake, Linguine Riggaleto. They also have a small business named “Chaos&Quirk” for selling their art. Part of their business is to sell art, but part is to teach as many people as much as they can: knitting and crocheting, needlepoint, machine sewing, hand sewing, drawing, painting, pyrography (wood burning), block printing, and more.

Shira Cohen Lavintman

Hebrew Teacher

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. Shira has been living and working in Jerusalem ever since.  

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!

Ezra Blankenbaker

Aftercare Staff

Ezra Blankenbaker is our Aftercare coordinator for the 2022-23 school year.

Ezra is currently studying Psychology at Macalester College. He is most recently from Vermont, although he spent much of his childhood in the midwest. This past summer he was in St. Paul, working for Breakthrough Twin Cities, where he taught Literature to incoming 9th graders. He is passionate about ensuring equitable, accessible, and inclusive educational spaces for all students. He knows it is essential all students feel they have a place in academic spaces.

In the upcoming year, he hopes to continue to expand his knowledge of the Twin Cities area. He also looks forward to forming connections with local Jewish spaces and communities outside of the Macalester Jewish Organization.

In his free time, Ezra enjoys writing, theater, and the chance to get outside. He also enjoys watching the shows Infinity Train, and Hilda as well as listening to the podcast Juno Steel.