Laura Lipman: Laura is Gan Shalom’s Director. Laura came to teaching at the Gan in a roundabout way. Her children attended Gan Shalom, after which she became a Hebrew school teacher, then a public school teacher, and then the much beloved director of the Gan. For Laura, Torah comes alive each day at Gan Shalom in learning about the lives of parents, teachers and young children.


 Beatrice J. V. Balfour: Holding dual-citizenship, Dr. Beatrice Balfour grew up in Italy and came to the U.S. to attend U.C. Berkeley. Her passion for progressive pedagogies, particularly the so-called ‘Reggio Emilia approach,’  led her to obtain a Ph.D in Early Childhood Education from the University of Cambridge. She has taught early childhood education at the University level and was a project manager for the creation of an experimental school in Ecuador. For Beatrice, Gan Shalom’s progressive educational methodologies are filled with the beauty and richness of the Jewish curriculum and culture. Dr. Balfour is honored to be part of Gan Shalom’s special, welcoming, and inclusive community!


InbalInbal Cohen-Sadi is an energetic and passionate Jewish Educator. Inbal views teaching as a blessing and joyful privilege. Inbal was born and raised in Haifa, Israel, and she brings to the classroom her love to Israel through songs, stories, and other art forms. Besides teaching Inbal loves cooking, gardening, and spending as much time as she can with her family.


Robin MendelsonRobin: When Robin opened her eyes, she knew she was supposed to teach young children. It is her passion and blessing. Her other passions include her cats, the Beatles, hula hoops, dancing, pomegranates and studying Torah. Robin won the prestigious Diller Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Education in 2011.


RisaRisa Dye:  As a former princess, Risa has great experience enchanting youth. She weaves her training as a physical performer and a textile artist into her educating.Risa’s extraordinary background includes a year in Paris studying movement and circus arts, and her creativity and warmth are contagious.

MelitaMelita Doostan:  Melita currently works in a number of schools, and also runs a music school from her home for parents and children.  Using puppets and an array of acoustic instruments, she inspires little ones to discover their creative spark through song, story, movement, and dance.



Joelle Yzquierdo, Preschool Administrator
Joelle makes sure everything runs smoothly. Joelle can be reached at (510) 843-5246 or