Ilana Tenenbaum- Pre-K Head Teacher

Ilana has been teaching students at HGECC for over 27 years, almost 20 of which was as a head teacher of the Pre-K program, preparing students for the transition to kindergarten. Ilana received a BA in Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education from Kean University. In addition to HGECC, Ilana has been teaching Hebrew School for the past 29 years. Ilana currently teaches Gan (kindergarten) students at BBRS, where she has been for the past 15 years. She lives in Livingston with her husband, and has three children and two grandchildren.

“Children are like sponges. They can absorb whatever comes their way. I love watching their bright faces as they accomplish new tasks. Our school offers them a stimulating, warm, creative and loving environment where they can achieve all their goals.”

Paula Schultz- Pre-K Head Teacher

Paula first began her association with HGECC over thirty years ago as a parent. After her children graduated, Paula began to work as a Teaching Assistant and over the years, taught in the Two’s, Three’s and Pre-K programs. In 2001, after completing teaching requirements at Kean University, Paula joined the Pre-K program as a Head Teacher. Paula then taught the Three-Year-Old program as Head Teacher for several years before returning to Pre-K. Paula lives in Somerset, with her husband and has two children and three grandsons.

“The two hardest days in a teacher’s life are the first day of school and the last day of school. The first day you hope and pray that you will make a difference, and the last day you hope and pray that you did.”

Nealy Troll- Three’s Head Teacher

Nealy holds a BA in Psychology from Ohio University, an MA in Applied Child Development from Tufts University, and an MS in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Bank Street College. She is New Jersey State Certified in Elementary Education. Prior to working at HGECC, Nealy was a kindergarten teacher at the Montclair Kimberley Academy; she has also worked in preschool settings and early intervention programs. Nealy grew up in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and currently lives in Short Hills with her husband and three children. She enjoys art, hiking, traveling, and spending quality time with her family. Nealy’s teaching philosophy focuses on creating a safe, secure learning environment, which focuses on the whole child – socially, intellectually, physically and emotionally. In addition, emphasis is spent on creating a community classroom feeling where kindness, curiosity, helpfulness, and respect is cultivated and nurtured.

Francine Nelson- Three’s Head Teacher

Fran joined the HGECC Three’s team in September of 2011 after teaching at the Thelma K. Reisman Preschool at Congregation Beth El in South Orange for seven years. There she taught the three- and four-year-old classes. Prior to that, Fran taught kindergarten in the New York City school system. She has a BA in Early Childhood Education from Brooklyn College and an MA in Education from Seton Hall University. Fran is a certified teacher and school counselor. She resides in Maplewood and has four grown children whom she home-schooled.

“Since we provide the children with their first experience of school, I believe it is imperative to offer the warm, nurturing and safe environment that exists here at HGECC.”

Samantha Raymon- Two’s Head Teacher

Samantha joined HGECC after staying home with her children for 11 years. As a mother loving time with her kids, she realized she wanted to continue to work with children. As a result, she went back to Montclair State University and completed her teaching certification. She truly loves working with our early learners and looks forward to many more years at HGECC. In the summer, Samantha runs the lake at a JCC MetroWest camp, again working with children throughout the summer. Samantha lives in West Orange with her husband and three children.