Our Staff

School Director Hasia Monselise was born and raised in Israel. She studied art education at Beit Berl College and graduated from SUNY Empire College with a BA in Education and Art.

She taught at many schools in the New York area, including Solomon Schechter , Beit Rabban School  Stein Yeshiva,Chabad Palisades and Jcc Harrison .

Hasia has always loved working with children and believes that educating our future generation is the most rewarding work. She helps them prepare to become Jewish adults.

"Our children have the fullest potential to speak Hebrew.  I am happy to see children gaining more knowledge every day. That’s what makes me happy and motivated to continue to teach." 

Barb Duchemin, Curriculum Director has been a teacher at Temple Emanuel and has been on the religious school committee since 1995.  She has a B.S. in Biochemistry from Wayne State and a B.S. in Health Science from University of Detroit.  She also has a Master in the Art of Teaching from Aquinas College.  She is married to Steve and they have three children – Adam, Brian and Lauren.  Currently, Barb works as a Physician Assistant at Grand Valley Health Plan.

Gan Katan Melissa Weinhaus

Melissa and her family recently relocated to Grand Rapids from the Washington DC area.Melissa was born and raised on the Southern California coast.  After graduating with a BA in sociology from San Diego State University, Melissa went on to earn her teaching credential in elementary education.  Melissa has lived and taught in a variety of locations including Fairfax County, VA, Managua, Nicaragua, and the suburbs of Detroit.  Her son and daughter, along with a labrador retriever, orange tabby and leopard gecko keep her busy. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, and exploring new places.


  Pre-K  Allison Lucas

Allison and her family relocated to Grand Rapids last fall following stints in San Francisco and Chicago. Allison grew up in Illinois, graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism, and went on to get her Masters Degree in Information Systems from DePaul University. She works at Herman Miller as a Senior Manager of Supply Chain Technology. She and her family love impromptu dance parties, riding bikes, exploring different playgrounds around Grand Rapids, being silly, and reading too many stories before bed. Allison is also currently learning how to play the guitar and hopes to bring the magic of music to her classroom this fall

Teaching Assistant -Aleks S-Hay

Kindergarten Claire Fisher

Claire Fisher is a recent graduate of Grand Valley State University.  She studied Multimedia Journalism there. Currently, Claire is living in Grandville and working as a technical writer.  For the last six summers, Claire worked at a Jewish summer camp and loved getting to know all the kids and planning fun activities for them.  She loves making jokes, playing games, and reading books. Claire is really excited to be a part of the United Jewish School team.
Teaching Assistant Tal Emesh

1st Grade Linda Zizos is VP of Membership Development for the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.  Off time, she and her husband, Gregg enjoy working in their garden, spending time with family and friends and pampering their Shi Tzu Lily.  Linda has been teaching at Beit Sefer B'yhad for several years.  She enjoys the curiousity and fun of first graders, and loves helping them connect to Judaism in a way that is meaningful to them.  Linda's students are the reason she looks forward to Sunday mornings!

2nd Grade 

Abby Billington and her family recently relocated from Fayetteville, North Carolina. Abby grew up in the Washington D.C. area, went to college in California, and received her graduate degrees in Organizational Psychology from MSU. She has been at home with her young daughter for the last few years and, prior to that, worked with the Army on the selection and training of Special Operations soldiers. Abby, her husband, Robert, and their daughter are enjoying exploring all of the amazing parks and resources in the Grand Rapids area and look forward to getting to know the UJS community.

Teaching Assistant Sarah Krishef 

3rd - 4th Grade Sharon Spungen 

 Sharon Spungen is a martial artist and Taekwon-Do instructor, mom of two fabulous young men, published writer, attorney, substitute teacher, and committed volunteer in numerous education-related organizations. She has been teaching Taekwon-Do since 2005 where she discovered her love of teaching and brought it into the "regular" classroom in 2017 as a substitute teacher. 
Sharon has grown up all around the country and returned here to Grand Rapids with her family in 1998 shortly after the birth of her oldest son. She has a commitment to helping all learners succeed and find meaning in their Jewish heritage and community. When not teaching Sunday School, Sharon can be found cheering on the Forest Hills Northern marching band, working the front desk at the Mary Free Bed YMCA, pounding on her computer keyboard (or her punching bag), and serving as a sub in any class in the area so long as it does not involve math.
Sharon is excited about teaching the 3rd and 4th grade classes and bringing Judaism to life with and within them.
Teaching Assistant Shira Schadic 


.5th/6th Grade Newman Nicole

Nicole Newman has been a member of Temple Emanuel since 2014.  She currently works as an Anesthesia Clinical Nurse at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital. Before becoming a nurse, Nicole was an officer in the US Marine Corps and worked as an Air Traffic Controler. She lives in Grand Rapids with her husband Jordan, her cat Allegra and her dog Pavlov. She enjoys traveling and listening to music.



.5th/6th Grade Jordan Newman 


Jordan Newman has been a member of Temple Emanuel since 2014. He is a pharmacist and works for Priority Health.  He lives in Grand Rapids with his wife, Nicole and their pets. He has a dog and a cat. Jordan likes biking, reading and spending time up north at his family’s cabin.




Staff Continued