Our Staff

Michelle Ruder, Early Childhood Education (ECE) Center Director

Michelle Ruder

The ECE Center happily welcomed Michelle Ruder as its new Director in July of 2012. Michelle comes to the school with a wealth of experience in early childhood education. She worked as a lead teacher at the Ann Newman Preschool at Temple Sinai in Dresher, Pennsylvania, for 13 years. She spent over ten years of that time teaching the two-year old class and most recently taught the four-year old class. Her experience there also included running the “before school early hours” program, teaching an afternoon kindergarten enrichment class, and teaching four year old enrichment classes for which she also created the curriculum. The enrichment classes included a Torah Time session. Michelle is passionate about early childhood education. She loves spending time with children and watching their development. She subscribes to a play-based educational philosophy and believes in an experiential, hands-on approach to learning. Significantly, she considers a warm and nurturing environment the most beneficial for early childhood education. It is particularly important to Michelle to work in a Jewish setting. “I believe Judaism teaches the important themes of tolerance and caring,” Michelle says. “Incorporating these lessons, Jewish values and mitzvot into the classroom experience is a wonderful way to reinforce the Torah’s rules for guiding our behavior toward others and toward the world around us. Children who attend our school should complete their education as confident, competent and curious students who exhibit pride in their identity as Jewish children.”

For fourteen summers, Michelle worked at Sesame/Rockwood Day Camps, most recently as a Divisional Group Leader. In this position, she supervised approximately thirty counselors and had primary responsibility for preparing and executing staff development programming.  Michelle brings that experience to the summer camp at Or Ami as she plans and executes the ECE Center summer programming.

Michelle and her husband Barry have lived in the Plymouth Meeting/Lafayette Hill area for over 20 years. They have three children, Ariel, Ian and Sophie. Ariel is 25 years old and following her mom’s footsteps in the field as she pursues a Master’s Degree in education. Ian is 23 years old and majored in finance at Temple University. Sophie is a senior at Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School and is considering her college options.

When not working, Michelle engages in a variety of volunteer activities. She is an active member at Temple Sinai where she has chaired the PTO, the Preschool Committee, Co-Chaired Synaplex, and served on the Sisterhood Fundraising Committee. She is also a former president of From the Heart, a charitable organization which raises money for local philanthropic organizations. She serves as Treasurer of From the Heart. Volunteer work is important to Michelle.

Michelle also enjoys reading, baking and gardening. In fact, she had a baking business prior to becoming involved in education!.


Our Early Childhood Education Center Staff

Our ECE Center Director and teachers have many years of experience. They understand child development and are dedicated to providing our children with developmentally appropriate learning experiences in a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Each year we evaluate our programs, making changes consistent with what we know about how children learn.  We coordinate with the local school district in planning curriculum and plan in-service programs that enhance teacher education and their ability to stay current with educational best practices.


2016-2017 ECE Center Staff


Education Administrative Assistant

            Breana Linder

Teaching Staff

Baby Steps Class

            Sarah Ozwirk, Melissa McDowell, Cyndi Balin and Joan Grzybowski

Bright Beginnings Class

            Britny Wombough, Mikinna Everette

Little Learners Class

   Yanshoofeem (Owls) - Kim Kriebel and Karen Milligan

Two Year Old Classes

            Shefaneem (Bunnies) – Ashley Tepper and Beth Abelman

            Kofeem (Monkeys) – Lisa Smith and Courtney Meyer

 Three Year Old Classes

            Tzaveem (Turtles) – Cathy Schaffer and Alycia Zenstein

            Parpareem (Butterflies) – Carly Rubin and Linda Weaner

 Four Year Old Classes (Pre-K)

           Chatooleem (Cats) – Ronnie Haislup and Ann Kaplan

           Klaveem (Dogs) – Cheri Kaliner and Stacey Zickerman

Staff Picture 2014 006Front row (l to r):  Ashley Tepper, Beth Abelman, Linda Weaner, Leslie Berman, Ellen Barbash, Alycia Zenstein, Kim Kriebel

Back Row (l to r): Michelle Ruder, Kristi Yablon, Carly Rubin, Ronnie Haislup, Lisa Larney, Lisa Smith, Stacey Zickerman, Susan Silverman, Valorie Merkle