AJ Preschool

  • Phone: 502.451.3434
  • Mail: preschool@adathjeshurun.com
  • Website: http://ajpreschool.com
  • Address: 2401 Woodbourne Ave. Louisville, KY 40205

Sara Gambrell


I love being a part of the AJ Preschool community! I have lived in Louisville for the past twelve years, and taught in a preschool classroom of four- and five-year olds for nine years. I completed both a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Social Work, with a clinical focus. I also completed a specialization in School Social Work through the Kent School of Social Work at the University of Louisville. I live with my husband David, two teenage daughters, Miriam and Noa, and a beloved cat Opal.

William Lee

Accounting Administrative Assistant

With both of my children attending AJ, in early 2020 when the Accounting Administration Position opened I jumped at the opportunity to dive deeper into the AJ family! I had spent the previous five years chasing babies and toddlers around my own home as a Dad. Prior to parenting I had an extensive career in the accounting and business fields. I spend much of my free time advocating for Foster Care and Adoption. I’m excited to be at AJ!

Michelle McCarty

Childcare Coordinator

AJ has always been a part of my life. I went to preschool here as a child. My mom (Barb Bennett) has been a teacher here for over 30 years. I worked here all through high school and college. After graduating from Bellarmine with a BA in Psychology, I worked for the Division of Child Support Enforcement and at First Steps before being a stay-at home mom for a few years. When my children were old enough they all attended AJ and it seemed a natural progression for me to return "home" when my kids went off to grade school. I have been back at AJ since 2006. Outside of school, I am married and have 3 amazing daughters. I spend most of my "free time" chauffeuring them to their activities.

Karen Carroll

Late Day Coordinator

In June 2003, Kathy Ralston hired me to work late day during Summer Camp. After that summer she offered me the positions of a substitute, librarian and science teacher… all of which I emphatically said YES to! Since then I have had the unique opportunity to get to just about every child that has come down the hall. Thirteen years later I still enjoy exposing these young minds to the wonders of science.  Along with this, I also enjoy spending time with my two kids, our dog, sewing & quilting.

Sean Haggerty


Army brat, Born in Ft. Leavenworth, KS; Lived in Italy for 3 years; Raised in Frankfort, KY; Attended UK; Worked 10 years for the Applebee's Corporation; Chef and Sous Chef at Big Dave's Outpost, Old Stone Inn, Club Grotto, Crawdaddy's; and now Café AJ for 3.5 years!
Younger Infants

Sarah Brant

I started working for AJ in January of 2020. I have previously worked in childcare for 3 years and earned my associate's in early childhood education at JCTC. I love working with the infants and toddlers and watching them grow. In my free time I like to read, watch movies, enjoy nature and spend time with family and friends.

Patti Ford

I have worked at A.J. Preschool in the Infant Room since 2011 and LOVE IT!  I earned my Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Missouri.  I grew up in Louisville and am a member of AJ Synagogue.  I have three children who attended AJ Preschool.  I enjoy good food, shopping and spending time with family.  I look forward to each day at AJ with the sweet babies.

Jennifer Keener

I have been at AJ for 6 years now with the infants.  I have been working in childcare since I was 18 years old and have always especially loved being with the babies!  I was a foster mom for several years and have adopted three boys. I love being a part of the AJ family!!
Older Infants

Jordan Leanhart

Hi, I’m Jordan! I started at AJ in September of 2016 as a floater and became a full-time teacher in 2018. I graduated from Ballard High School in 2010 and received a BA in Theatre from Northern Kentucky University in 2014. After graduation, I moved to Orlando, FL and worked at both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort. I moved back home in April of 2016. I have loved children since I was a child myself and working at AJ has only strengthened that passion. My husband and I got married in October of 2018 and we welcomed our son, Sawyer, to the world in October of 2019! In my free time, I enjoy reading, going for walks, and singing

Leah Zellers

I’m the grateful mama to four year old Elle and dog mama to a large and playful one year old puppy. I studied communication and social work at U of L, and I love meeting new people from all walks of life. I’m happy to be at AJ with the infants, and one of my passions is helping children learn mindfulness and healthy emotional expression. I’m thankful for the opportunity to care for the precious babies at such a highly reputed school.

Sheila Rodriguez

I am beginning my 5th year at AJ. I was an adult critical care/burn unit nurse prior to having my two sons. I became a "stay at home" mom for 25 years and then found my new freedom (which I enjoy) to be lacking the joy and sense of wonder that comes only from being with young children. It is a pleasure and privilege to be able to spend time with your children and watch them grow.

Barb Bennett

My career at AJ started in 1984 when the director, Mary Artner, invited me to be a sub and 30+ years later I’m still here.  I am a wife, mother, and grandmother.  My 3 children and 5 grandchildren all attended AJ.  Before starting at AJ, I worked as a R.N. in a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  You could say that working with children has always held a special place in my heart.  When not at work I enjoy my family, gardening, sewing, cross-stitch, and knitting.  You may see me walking through the neighborhood alone or with my dogs.

Sherry Fischer

Hi! I am thrilled to be a part of this loving AJ Family. I am "Mom" to Rebecca & Ryan, and "Mimi" to Liam & Vega. I enjoy traveling, walking, and gardening.

Olly James

I started working at AJ in October 2019 working in the young toddler’s classroom. Toddlers are my favorite age group! In the classroom I like to work on emotional intelligence and self-confidence. I love hands-on learning and getting messy! I’ve been working in childcare centers for 6 years. I have 2 associate’s degrees, one in Early Childhood Education and another in Art. I also have my bachelor’s degree from The University of Louisville in Psychology. I plan on continuing my education and pursuing a Masters in Art Therapy. In my spare time I like to read, paint, take photographs and listen to music.

Brittney Horn

Born and raised in Louisville, I graduated from Waggener Traditional High School in 2009 with a focus in Early Childhood Education. I attended Spalding University and graduated with my BS in Communications in 2014. Aside from working at AJ Preschool, I work third shift at UPS. Though I haven't been at AJ for that long, I absolutely love it! Ever since I was little I have had a passion for children. They are one of the greatest blessings in life and it brings joy to my heart to watch them learn and grow. In my free time, I love to spend it with my friends and family; I am also an active member of The Order of The Eastern Star - an organization that does a lot of charity and community service.
Toddlers (Continued)

Joan Epstein

Jimae Edwards

I graduated with a degree in Early childhood Education from Sullivan University. I have worked in childcare for a total of 15 years, and was at my previous place for 11 years. I have been married for eight years and have a nine-year old daughter. When I'm not at work, I love anything to do with fantasy/fiction! I also love doing a lot of crafts.

Melissa McPeck

Stephanie Phillips

I’ve only been working at AJ since last year as a Floater, and had a wonderful time, but I am happy I was given the chance to be a more permanent figure in one of the toddler classes this year! I have two children of my own at AJ, Dorothy (Pre-K) and Theodore (Younger Infants). Our time at AJ has been brief, but it has always been warm and welcoming. I hope to bring the same welcoming feeling to each of the kids I have the privilege or teaching this year! Outside of work I enjoy baking, arts & crafts, puzzles, s'mores around the campfire, and snuggles with my kids whenever I can.
Two Year Old

Livy Broussard

Maddie Halloway-Brown

I've been at AJ since December of 2016. AJ truly has become a second home for my daughter and me. My daughter is currently enrolled in a two-year old classroom at AJ and the community has been so welcoming, encouraging, and nurturing to us both. Outside of AJ, I'm enrolled at Bellarmine University working on my bachelor's degree in Education. Family life and work keeps us pretty busy, so our hobbies include a lot of local outdoor play and getting food with family and friends.

Adrienne Pfannerstill

I have been at AJ since April 2018 and have loved every minute of it! I am married and have a daughter, Maddie, who is an AJ alumnus. I remember her days here fondly and was thrilled when the opportunity to join the AJ family came available. I absolutely love working with children. I can't imagine not having children be a part of my life. I grew up in a home with a home daycare and loved helping my mom with the children. I knew from a very young age that is what I was meant to do. My favorite thing about AJ is working with amazing, caring, and talented teachers and being in a place that is more than a job, it's a family.

Mona Schramko

Born and raised in Louisville, I am a third generation member of Adath Jeshurun. After graduating from Bradley University with a double major in Creative Advertising and Public Relations and a minor in Marketing, I moved to Chicago and worked in healthcare advertising for a large agency. My husband Frank and I moved to Louisville in 1999 and I started working at AJ as the Youth Director for the synagogue’s two youth groups, USY (high school) and Kadima (middle school). I also started a third group for 3rd -5th grades called Shalom Club. My three children: Bennett, Eli and Carly, are all AJ graduates. I started teaching at AJ in 2006, when Carly was old enough to attend. I love teaching at AJ, it truly is the best preschool in town!
Two Year Old (Continued)

Kelly Wilcher

I'm excited to start my journey with AJ. I graduated from Bellarmine with a degree in Communication and Business. I have lived in Louisville my whole life, except for a two-year stint in Germany. I have worked with children since the summer after freshman year in high school when I was a camp counselor at the JCC. After college, I was a preschool teacher at the Virginia Chance School for three years. I was a stay-at-home mom for many years and was eager to go back to work. I have an amazing husband, a son, and daughter who both made me a heart mom, and 2 very mischievous doggies. I'm also a board member of the Pediatric Congenital Heart Association of Kentucky (PCHA-KY). I love spending time creating memories with my family, reading, and watching all sports! I have a favorite team for every sport.

Lilly Rich

I am an alum of AJ Preschool, and my mom is Ms. Karen, the science teacher (you can also find me on the AJ sitter list). In my free time, I enjoy making art and spending time outside. I love animals and have a passion for the environment. I’m looking forward to a great year at AJ!!

Shelly Zeiden

I have dedicated my life to two passions:  children and art.  I have worked with children for the past 40 years.  During that time I have owned an art studio, Artclub in the Highlands, where I taught art classes to children of all ages.  I returned to AJ Preschool where I make sure that every day is filled with imaginative play and creative activities and projects.  My classroom is filled with puppets, paint, music, books, love, and laughter.  With a graphic design degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology, I have much experience and many talents that I always enjoy sharing with those around me.

Abigail Terry

I am so excited to have started my journey with AJ in July of 2019. My love for working with children and their families has led me to three years of working in childcare, two internships at Walt Disney World, and now here! In the future, I hope to continue working with children in pediatric occupational therapy. I enjoy spending my free time going to concerts, watching Cubs baseball, traveling, and playing with my cat Opal.
Three Year Old

Robbin Lester

I am a proud staff member of AJ Preschool since 1998! It is a joy and blessing to play, discover, and learn along with your children in their 3's class journey!

Sheila Ellis

I have been a proud teacher at AJ for 23 years. I have had the privilege to be in childcare for over 40 years as a teacher and a nanny. I have watched many AJ alumni grow from toddlers to college graduates. I have been happily married to my husband Paul for over 30 years. A few hobbies: I love to go shelling and shark tooth hunting. I also enjoy gardening.

Peyton Andres

I love being a floater and getting to interact with all of the kiddos. AJ is like a second home to me, I went to preschool here myself and have been working here the past 5 years off and on while I am in school. I have graduated from Bellarmine and am currently pursuing my doctorate degree in Psychology at Spalding University. When I’m not working or studying, I love to travel with my grandparents, play tennis and spend time with my family.

Diane Howell

Prior to working at AJ Preschool, I directed a religious Sunday school program for 8 years.  I began my career here 32 years ago as a teaching assistant when my youngest daughter was in kindergarten at AJ.  Both of my older daughters are also graduates!  I have three grandsons and two granddaughters.  I delight in gardening, reading, and cooking but my greatest pleasure in life is the time I am able to spend with my family.

Heather Wells

This will be my fourth year as a Pre-K teacher at AJ.  After earning my Bachelor's degree from Ball State University, I worked in sales and marketing, then was fortunate to stay at home and raise my children until they went to school.  My husband Scott and I live in St. Matthews with our three children.  I am very active at our parish, Our Lady of Lourdes, where I serve on the Executive Team for the Booster Club as well as volunteering at Trinity High School.  I also serve as Co-chair of Bearcats for Baldrick's which has raised over $500,000 to help fight pediatric cancer.  In my free time I love to spend time with my family and friends, watch my children play sports, all UofL athletics, and exercising at the JCC.  I feel extremely fortunate to be a part of the AJ family!

Hannah Allen

This is my first year working at AJ. I love to create arts and crafts, spend time outdoors, and have fun. I am an alum and very excited to spend the school year with all the kids here at AJ!

Tera Allen

I began teaching at AJ in the spring of 2003 with Harriet Waldman, who had taught children at AJ since 1971.  My two oldest children, Hannah and Joe, started the following fall and my youngest, James, began the following year.  I’ve had the pleasure of teaching with Carter Gaw, a wonderful woman, and cherished friend.  I am a native of California and have made Louisville my home since 1999.  I am grateful to have found such a loving work environment.  I have learned so much about teaching and parenting from the AJ staff and can call them all my friends.  I have met many wonderful families and am proud to be a part of the AJ family.

Barbara White

My journey with A.J. began when I attended Sunday School as a child. I am married to Roger White and we have two children, Whitney & Matt  When our youngest, Matt, entered Mrs. Waldman’s class in 1979 she recommended I come to A.J. and the rest is history. I am busy with my family of 5 granddaughters and, of course, working at A.J.  It is hard to believe 40 years have passed and I am still at A.J. and loving every minute!
Pre-K (Continued)

Laura Obenauf

I fell in love with AJ's when my daughter began attending last year. To me, what makes AJ's so special is how cherished they make our community of children feel by focusing on empathy and each child's emotional, artistic and physical development. As an artist myself, I am delighted to bring my love of expression in it's different forms: music, dance, crafts, dramatic play, and nature into the classroom to help our kid's minds and hearts grow.

Dede Oldham

Kenzie Boone

I first began working with children while attending Martha Layne Collins High School. I spent half of my days  during senior year working at a childcare center as a floater, and later as a 4 old teacher. I realized how fulfilling and fun I found working with children to be, and have been working with kids and aiming to make it my career ever since. I am currently enrolled in school working towards a degree in education. I hold a very deep passion for creativity through arts and music, spending time outdoors, and my dog!!

Evelyn McCarty

I attended AJ as a child and it has been a part of my life ever since. On days off from school I would go in with my mom (Michelle McCarty) and spend time in my grandma’s (Barb Bennett) classroom. Outside of AJ, I’m a senior at Atherton High School and I plan to further my education at Bellarmine or UofL.
Special Areas

Mary Jane Baker

Speech/Language Pathologist

I have been on staff since 1990 as A.J.’s speech pathologist.  My focus has been working with children with speech and language delays and disorders, including articulation/phonology, receptive and expressive language delays, autism spectrum disorders, fluency, voice and central auditory processing disorders.  During the year I screen all children in the 3’s and 4’s classes and younger children by referral.  Comprehensive evaluations may follow screenings and individual therapy is offered at school (cost of therapy provided by parent).  In addition, I consult with parents and teachers throughout the year.  I received my B.S. from Purdue University and my Masters from Ball State University both in speech and hearing.  I have four adult children, and 7 grandchildren ages 21 months to 23 years.  Yes, I love to observe their language development!  I love to read, play tennis, walk my dogs, and travel!

Jane Biek

Movement & Spanish

Hola. I am very excited to be teaching your children Spanish and Movement this year. All of my children attended AJ preschool, and I am so happy to be a part of the AJ community again. I am so pleased I can join this great group of teachers as we mold your precious children’s minds and bodies. I have a B.A. in Foreign Languages from Lewis and Clark College and I spent a semester in Seville, Spain, where I learned a great deal about Spanish history and culture. I have many Spanish Songs that are a big part of my curriculum. I have been teaching Preschool Spanish for 10+ years, and this is my 4th year teaching movement. I love all exercise! I am a swimmer, a runner, a cyclist, and I walk everywhere, so Movement comes naturally to me. I also have been taking Boot Camp for the last 8 years, and I get a lot of good ideas from the classes I take. AJ students are such a bright and eager group and I know we will have a wonderful time learning together. If you have any questions about the curriculum, or if you are just curious to know about your child’s progress, please don’t hesitate to send me an email. jane@biek.org

Karen Carroll


In June 2003, Kathy Ralston hired me to work late day during Summer Camp. After that summer she offered me the positions of substitute, librarian and science teacher… all of which I emphatically said YES to! Since then I have had the unique opportunity to get to just about every child that has come down the hall. Thirteen years later I still enjoy exposing these young minds to the wonders of science.  Along with this, I also enjoy spending time with my two kids, our dog, sewing & quilting.

John Gage


I am a Louisville based singer/songwriter who performs my music, originals, and covers, from roots deep in the tradition of folk, blues, gospel and 60s rock.  I am a founding member and host of the Kentucky Homefront radio show heard on WFPK FM 91.9 on Saturday mornings at 8:00 am.  I enjoy working with preschoolers in building their appreciation for and ability to respond to music as a medium of self-expression.  With much the same goal I also perform in clinical settings and nursing homes to support the healing process for patients.  For me, music is a life-long joy and ongoing learning process that keeps me connected to creativity and the gift of life.
Special Areas More

Kaitlyn Weir

Kaitlyn is originally from Louisville, KY and attended duPont Manual High School as a dance major at the Youth Performing Arts School. She went on to further her arts education at Western Kentucky University with a double major in dance and psychology. After getting married and beginning a family she decided to follow her passion for working with children in getting her Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy from Spalding University. She now in pediatrics both in the outpatient clinic setting as well as at AJ Preschool. She has two kids attending AJ Preschool and is lucky enough to be able to be a part of the AJ community both personally and professionally.