Meet Our Team

Gan Shalom’s professional team consists of teachers and resource specialists who are dedicated to your child’s learning. Lead teachers have certifications and endorsements in early childhood development and participate in at least 10 hours of training per year.

“Teachers and staff are very caring. They are very attentive to the needs of the entire family as well as the needs of the individual child. The teachers are most competent, professional, and compassionate.”
— Gan Shalom Parent

Area clergy are also an integral part of our team, providing guidance on subjects of Judaism and engaging with our children for story-time, sports, play-n-pray, and Shabbat activities.

Sophie
  • Sophie Homonoff

  • Sophie grew up in Des Moines and moved to Washington, DC for college in 1995. In November 2012, she moved back to Des Moines with her husband Matt, daughter Hailey, and son Lester. Formerly a Family Care Coordinator at Early Stages with DC Public Schools, Sophie supported families of children ages 0-5 from time of referral through the child’s placement into special education.Sophie received a MEd in School Counseling from George Mason University and a BA in Elementary Education from American University. Sophie taught elementary school in Montgomery County, Maryland and Fairfax County, Virginia for 9 years. Sophie’s primary goal is to support and foster children’s growth and inquiry into Judaism.

Anissa
  • Morah Anissa Deay

  • Prior to joining the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines in 2014, Anissa was the Education Coordinator at Mercy Child Development Center. She is a Doula and taught Childbirth Education at Mercy Medical Center. Anissa taught Pre-Kindergarten in Germany, Massachusetts, Colorado and Des Moines, Iowa over the past 30 years.Anissa attended the University of Maryland, the Institute of American Indian Art and earned her Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education with DMACC. She earned her National Administrator Credential for early childhood programs. Currently, Anissa is the Secretary for the Mid-Iowa Chapter Leadership Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children. She enjoys being a life-long learner and sharing that passion with others.

  • Morah Juli

  • What is your favorite part of the day at Gan Shalom?
    I love reading and when the kids get excited about books. I love it when they find a certain author they like or when they recognize an illustrator. It’s fun to see them make connections between books we have read.
    What does being a preschool teacher mean to you?
    When my students figure out how to do something that has been a challenge for them, such as writing their first and last name or being able to put together a 36 piece puzzle, or being able to hang their coat on the hook in their cubbie because now they are tall enough!
    What is one thing you think all families should know about Gan Shalom?
    We are all about community and taking care of one another. Not only do the staff help out each other, we have our kids help out others, both in our classes and in other classes. Helping out others is an important Jewish value. It is a mitzvah to help others.

  • Morah Lisa

  • What is your favorite part of the day at Gan Shalom?
    Greeting each child and parent in the morning. I get lots of smiles and hugs. Also, I love watching and listening to the children as they converse, play and interact throughout the day. They are so kind and loving with their friends.
    What does being a preschool teacher mean to you?
    It means I have the best job in the world. I get to love, nurture and teach young children. It means giving them the tools to become confident, caring and curious individuals.
    What is one thing you think all families should know about Gan Shalom?
    We really are one big family here at Gan Shalom. We are here for each other and all the children genuinely care for one another.

  • Morah Raizel

  • What is your favorite part of the day at Gan Shalom?
    Going on nature walks abound Caspe Terrace. The children gain an appreciation for all of the plants and creatures growing in our yards. We also always look forward to celebrating Shabbat every Friday morning.
    What does being a preschool teacher mean to you?
    I love welcoming our youngest students. It is a unique opportunity to foster an environment that encourages creativity, independence and hands-on exploration. We lay the foundation of creating their Jewish identities by celebrating Jewish values, culture, and traditions.
    What is one thing you think all families should know about Gan Shalom?
    Our students are learning important life skills that will be used later in their social, academic, and professional lives. We work hard to support each child’s development in becoming well-rounded individuals.

  • Morah Rhonda

  • What is your favorite part of the day at Gan Shalom?
    During free play time as I can spend one on one time with each child interacting with them.
    What does being a preschool teacher mean to you?
    To sing, play, smile, learn, love and laugh.
    What is one thing you think all families should know about Gan Shalom?
    That our children learn within play and exploring.

  • Mr. Zak

  • What is your favorite part of the day at Gan Shalom?
    When we get to go outside! I love being outside with the kids. It’s always an adventure.
    What does being a preschool teacher mean to you?
    It means the world to me. Everyday getting the opportunity to come in and spend time with these children is exhilarating. I always look forward to what the day holds for us.
    What is one thing you think all families should know about Gan Shalom?
    All the time and energy that goes into the behind the scenes work. The teachers at Gan Shalom spend a lot of their free time working to make Gan Shalom what it is. When I walk into the school I can see the love and dedication that has been put into the school since the day it opened.

  • Morah Aline

  • What is your favorite part of the day at Gan Shalom?
    When I get to sit and read with my kids. Reading with them is our daily escape to a magical world together. It’s a chance to see the world from their perspective.
    What does being a preschool teacher mean to you?
    The cool thing about being an early childhood education teacher is that you have to apply different methods to different students. Being in this position gives you a natural ability to connect with kids.
    What is one thing you think all families should know about Gan Shalom?
    The teachers love this preschool. It’s not only our job, but a place that we feel we are a family who, together, love to make our kids feel loved, safe and happy to be here.

Marty
  • Morah Marty

  • What is your favorite part of the day at Gan Shalom?
    When I first arrive and see the children and am greeted by them in the morning. Also, seeing their excitement when a discovery is made outside.
    What does being a preschool teacher mean to you?
    It is something I fell in love with and feel comfortable doing, even at an early time in my career. I have learned patience and compassion for others and to live in the moment.
    What is one thing you think all families should know about Gan Shalom?
    The individualized care for each child. The rooms, equipment, endless art and science supplies, and of course, the beautiful outside areas. We are truly blessed to have such an environment to learn and grow in.

  • Morah Makenna

  • What is your favorite part of the day at Gan Shalom?
    When we get to take the kids outside. I love taking the kids on walks to the garden, and watching them have fun on the playground.
    What does being a preschool teacher mean to you?
    It means that we play an important role in helping the kids develop certain skills that will help them learn of the world around them, and how to navigate through it. Whether it’s socially, physically or emotionally.
    What is one thing you think all families should know about Gan Shalom?
    Gan Shalom invests not only in the kids, but in the families as well. We make an effort to meet each child’s specific needs, and help them progress in the way that is best for them.

  • Morah Samantha

  • What is your favorite part of the day at Gan Shalom?
    When we go outside to explore. Watching the kids’ faces as they discover the world reminds me how wondrous the world is.
    What does being a preschool teacher mean to you?
    It means I get to help shape how the kids grow up. I get to help them grow emotionally and mentally while they develop their own unique personality.
    What is one thing you think all families should know about Gan Shalom?
    That the staff is very supportive of each other and everyone steps in whenever they are needed.

  • Mr. Cole

Contact Us

If you have questions about our team or would like to get to know us in person, contact Anissa Deay at 515-987-0899 ex. 233 or at ganshalom@jewishdesmoines.org to get more information.