Instructor Bios

Jennifer Gensior

Throughout her career in education, Jennifer has supported students with disabilities and their teachers in a variety of settings and capacities and has developed an expertise in evidence-based literacy instruction, especially in the areas of writing and curriculum. Before joining Shefa, Jennifer worked for the New York State Office of Special Education as a Literacy Specialist in the Lower Hudson Regional Partnership Center, helping districts, schools, and teachers improve the literacy outcomes of their students with disabilities. She has also served as the Director of General Studies Curriculum at Carmel Academy, a Jewish day school in Greenwich, CT, and was a faculty member of The Writing Revolution. She started her career as a special education teacher at the Solomon Schechter School in White Plains, NY. Jennifer has presented at literacy conferences in both NY City and Albany, and had an independent consulting company where she focused on helping Jewish day schools and educators advance the success of their students through the implementation of research based and evidence proven practices.
Jennifer received a B.A. from Tufts University and has Masters Degrees in School Leadership and in Childhood and Special Education from Hunter College and Manhattanville College, respectively. Prior to becoming an educator, Jennifer spent 10+ years as a marketing/public relations professional in the software industry.

Cara Jordan

Carais the Middle School Language Arts & Writing Coordinator and was a founding lead teacher at the Shefa School. Cara graduated with her B.A. in English from the University of Michigan and completed her Masters in Childhood Regular and Special Education and Literacy from Manhattanville College. Prior to joining Shefa, she was a Language Arts and Writing teacher at the Windward School in White Plains. With over 12 years of teaching experience, Cara collaborates with and mentors the Language Arts and Writing teachers as well as creates curriculum with a focus on integrating the Language Arts and Writing program throughout content areas. She presents professional development workshops in reading, vocabulary and strategies for writing and study skills. Cara has extensive experience with The Hochman Method and the PAF Reading Program and provides training and coaching to teachers in their implementation of the programs.

Linda Maleh

Linda is the Assistant Head of the Lower School and Lower School Math Coordinator at Shefa. Prior to joining Shefa as a founding lead teacher, she taught at the Mary McDowell Friends School in Brooklyn. Linda has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and English from Hunter College, a Master of Science in Childhood General and Special Education from Bank Street College of Education, and a Masters of Education in Teacher Leadership from Brandeis University. Linda has spent the past eight years implementing Marilyn Zecher’s Multisensory Math program at Shefa by coaching the lower school math teachers, delivering training and professional development for faculty, and overseeing math curriculum development and assessment. Linda is currently completing her instructor of Multisensory Math teachers certification with Marilyn. She has presented with Marilyn at the IDA conference in Atlanta in 2017 and has taught workshops at other schools.

Deirdre McKechnie

Deirdre “Dee” is a Lower School Reading Coordinator at the Shefa School. She was formerly Coordinator of Educational Outreach for The Windward Institute and for the past three years has provided PAF professional development to individual schools and teachers. Additionally, she was a Language Arts and Writing teacher in Windward’s Lower School for six years, where she taught 2nd and 3rd grade. Dee earned her Bachelor of Science in communication studies from Northwestern University and completed her postgraduate degree in education at the Institute of Education, University of London. During her twenty-plus years of experience, she has served as a reading support teacher in a general education school and has used multisensory reading instruction in a range of educational settings. She is also a certified IMSLEC (The International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council) Instructor. Dee was the recipient of the Sandi Galst Scholar award, which recognizes an outstanding Windward reading teacher

Danielle Morris

Danielle Morris is the Assistant Head of Teaching and Learning at The Shefa School, a Jewish day school in New York City serving students with language-based learning disabilities. At Shefa, Danielle oversees the Teacher Residency program and supports faculty across the school. Through the Shefa Center, Danielle presents on a range of topics and consults with mainstream Jewish day schools to help build their capacity to better meet the needs of students with learning challenges.
Prior to joining Shefa, Danielle worked at The School at Columbia University, serving in various capacities including Lead Teacher, Instructor of Professional Development Workshops, and Literacy Liaison. Her prior experiences include working for the New York City Department of Education and presenting at numerous workshops and conferences.
Danielle is a graduate of the Literacy Specialist Program at Teachers College, Columbia University and holds a Masters degree in Early Childhood and General Education from Bank Street College. She is a member of both the national Reading League and the New York chapter and is passionate about staying at the forefront of educational practices and research.

Rebecca Ritter

Rebecca has been working to support underserved students for the past 15 years – both as a classroom teacher and instructional leader in NYC low-income public and independent schools. Prior to joining Shefa’s founding leadership team, she ran NYC Collaborates, a Gates Foundation-funded initiative to promote collaboration and sharing of best practices across NYC public schools. Rebecca’s areas of experience and interest include language-based learning disabilities, designing and facilitating professional development, mentoring and coaching, and school culture.Rebecca has conducted and presented research on teachers’ experiences of professional growth and has served as a co-instructor for a graduate course in the school leadership program at Bank Street College.
Rebecca holds a B.A. from Harvard College and a Masters Degree in School Leadership from Bank Street College, as well as NYS certification as a School Building Leader (SBL). She is a proud graduate of the NYC Jewish day school system and is thrilled to be serving this community. She and her husband and four children live in New York City.

Ilana Ruskay-Kidd

Ilana has been serving the Jewish educational community in New York City in multiple capacities for over 20 years. Most recently, she served as the Director of The Saul and Carole Zabar Nursery School at the JCC in Manhattan. Prior to being named to this position in 2006, she worked at the JCC as Director of Young Families and then as Senior Director of Family Life, supervising programs serving families and children from birth to eighteen years old. Ilana began her teaching career at the Central Park East school in Harlem and went on to become a founding teacher at the Ella Baker School, an alternative public school in Manhattan. She then worked as an Early Childhood Curriculum Consultant for the Children’s Aid Society where she developed curricula with directors and teachers in day care, Head Start and private nursery school programs throughout the city.
Ilana received her B.A. from Harvard College and a Master’s Degree in Education from Bank Street College. She was born and raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and now lives there with her husband and three children. Ilana was a recipient of the Covenant Award in 2016.

Yoni Schwab

A clinical psychologist, Yoni served as the Psychologist at The Windward School and on the faculty of the Windward Teacher Training Institute. He is an Adjunct Clinical Supervisor at Ferkauf Graduate School of Yeshiva University and has had successful private clinical practices in Riverdale and Scarsdale. Yoni conducts research, consults, and lectures extensively on social-emotional learning, progressive behavior management, and raising the achievement of students with behavioral and learning challenges. He serves on the Expert Panel of Parents.com, the website of Parents Magazine.
Yoni holds B.A.’s from both Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary and earned his doctorate in clinical psychology at Rutgers University. He also trained at the NYU Child Study Center in the treatment of ADHD and disruptive behavior and at the Institute for Behavior Therapy. Prior to his career in psychology, Yoni was a management and development consultant to Jewish and Israeli nonprofits at Perry Davis Associates. He lives in Riverdale with his wife and their three children.

Danielle Segal

Danielle is the Assistant Head of the Middle School and Middle School Math Coordinator at Shefa. She has been teaching middle school math for over a decade and joined Shefa in 2016 as a founding Middle School Lead Teacher. In her current role as math coordinator, Danielle coaches teachers, oversees the math curriculum, and teaches multisensory math at the middle school level. Danielle holds a Bachelor of Science in Special Education with a concentration in mathematics and a Master of Arts in Special Education from the Neag School of Education at The University of Connecticut. Danielle also earned a Masters of Education in Educational Leadership from Bank Street College and maintains teacher certifications in multiple states. Danielle has trained with Marilyn Zecher in implementing her Multisensory Math program with middle school teachers and students and has successfully used the approach across middle school levels.

Angie Swenson

Angie Yucht Swenson is the Hebrew Language Department Chair at the Shefa School. Angie pioneered Shefa’s multisensory Hebrew reading program and continues to work to identify best practices in teaching Hebrew to students with language-based learning disabilities and ensures that each of the students feels confident in his/her Hebrew language skills. At Shefa Angie develops curriculum, coaches teachers, works with small groups of students and presents at multiple workshops for teachers. She has presented on multisensory Hebrew reading instruction and on the integration of Hebrew language with Shefa’s approach to writing and language instruction. Prior to joining Shefa, Angie was a classroom teacher at an independent special education school where she was trained in Orton-Gillingham. She also served as a Hebrew language learning specialist at the Heschel School. Angie received her B.A. from Cornell University and a Masters Degree in Special Education from Hunter College. She also completed a Masters Degree in School Leadership from Bank Street College.

Brittany Zucker

Brittany is a Lower School Reading Coordinator at the Shefa School. She is ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) certified, is certified in Orton-Gillingham at the Associate Level through the Orton-Gillingham Academy (OGA) and is a certified Structured Literacy Dyslexia Interventionist through the International Dyslexia Association (IDA). Brittany earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Communicative Disorders from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her Masters of Science degree from Hunter College in Speech-Language Pathology. She is trained in the PAF Reading Program, Heggerty and The Hochman Method and works closely with Shefa’s lower school reading teachers by providing training and coaching. Additionally, she creates curriculum with a focus on integrating language and literacy and presents professional development workshops. Most recently, Brittany co-authored the book The Speech-Language Pathologist’s Guide To Dyslexia, which assists professionals in identifying and providing evidence-based intervention to children with dyslexia.