Gan Shalom Team Members
Heidi Cooper, Director of Early Childhood Education
I joined Temple Sholom of Chicago in 2012 as a teacher before stepping into the role of Early Childhood Education Director. My husband and I relocated to Chicago from New York in 2004 where I spent most of my adult life working with young children. While teaching full time in New York City, I earned my M.A.Ed. from Hunter College in New York. After spending 15 wonderful years in the classroom, I decided to bridge my teaching experience with my love for working with parents and children and earned my MSW with a clinical concentration from Columbia University. Before leaving New York, I worked as a director/social worker in an integrated preschool program helping young families receive services for a variety of special needs. I have dedicated the last 20+ years to becoming a strong leader, educator, advocate for young children while bringing a positive, nurturing energy to Gan Shalom/Temple Sholom. The other loves in my life are my husband, Stuart and my 13-year-old son, Max.
Lauren Tabloff, Assistant Director of Early Childhood Education
I’ve always loved working with young children, but it wasn’t until a friend of mine brought me to Gan Shalom that I knew this was the place I wanted to be. I fell in love with the community, atmosphere, and teaching preschool-age children. This is my eighth year teaching the 2-year olds and my first year as the Assistant Director. The best part about teaching the 2’s is watching them enter as toddlers and seeing them finish in May as “big kids”. By the time the year is over, they are interacting with children, sharing, initiating conversation with peers and teachers, waiting their turn, following routines and directions, learning about the Jewish holidays and much more. Here, the children learn the fundamental skills of being part of a group while also being an independent and successful individual. I grew up in Northbrook, Illinois and attended the University of Illinois where I received a Bachelor’s in Human Development and Family Studies and a Master’s in Early Childhood Education from National Louis. I live in the Gold Coast with my husband Matt.
Helena Solomon, Program Coordinator of Parent/Infant Programming
I was born in Jerusalem, Israel and served in the Israeli army for two years before moving to America at the age of 24. My husband Don and I have a wonderful son,Yoni, who is a Gan Shalom graduate. He started with baby classes and continued all the way through the Gan program. I have been teaching at Gan Shalom for the past 35 years and I have taught all ages, from 3-month old babies to our JK program. Also, I also teach Hebrew enrichment classes and incorporate music, for 3 and 4 years olds. These classes are Ulpan inspired and are designed to teach basic language skills. My infant/parent-child classes are filled with English and Hebrew vocabulary through music, finger play, stories, and fun! I studied Early Childhood Jewish Education at Spertus college and continued to study infant/toddler development at Oakton college. I strive to help children develop healthy social and emotional skills from the very earliest stages of their lives. My passion is to integrate my love of Israel, the Hebrew language and Jewish culture into my classes.