Beatrice J. V. Balfour: Beatrice is Gan Shalom’s Director. 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 (Head Teacher): Inbal 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.

 RobinRobin Mendelson: 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.


Jade Cooper: Jade loves embracing her inner child and channeling that energy to encourage kids to look at the world with limitless curiosity and wonder. She recently graduated with an MSc in Environmental Psychology at the University of Surrey and often finds herself applying that knowledge to the preschool environment. When she’s not teaching kids, she enjoys biking and running outdoors as well as creating innovative food combinations.


Peggy Nesbit Bruner (Head Teacher): Peggy has been a member of the faculty for three years. She is a Bay Area native and has dreamed of being a teacher since the fifth grade. Peggy holds a B.A. in Psychology from UC Berkeley and previously held dual teaching credentials in elementary and special education. She spent many years as a teacher of older children trying to find the age group that suited her best and is thrilled to have found her calling in Early Childhood Education. She is honored to be able to support the development of young children and become a trusted person for them. Peggy’s areas of particular professional interest include inclusive education, communication, and literacy development. Outside of school, she enjoys baking, dance, watching Jeopardy, and spending time with her family.

Iris Greenberg-Smith: Iris is the mother of four daughters who all attended Gan Shalom and who have fond memories of rainbows and cinnamon challah.  Iris served on the Gan Parent Advisory Committee (PAC), co-chaired a director search committee, and helped write an Alameda County grant for the new Gan building.  She has a bachelors degree in social science, and a masters in journalism.  Originally from Israel, Iris is now very excited to be back at Gan as a Keshet teacher, a job which lets her play with beautiful little people and share all those Hebrew songs she remembers from her childhood.  In her spare time, Iris loves traveling, beading, and making art.


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.