Our Administration and Teachers
Cantor David Fair is proud to have joined the United Jewish School in 2021, as its Cantor-Educator. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, he earned a B.A. in Theater and a minor in Music from the University of Maryland College Park. He received a Professional Studies Diploma and an Artist Diploma from the Cleveland Institute of Music. He received a Master of Sacred Music degree from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City in 2020, where he wrote his Cantorial thesis on the topic, “Tsiporah’s Children: The Music and Lived Experiences of Black Jewish Americans.” He was ordained in 2021.
Before coming to Grand Rapids, Cantor Fair served as the Cantorial Intern at Temple Beth Israel in York, PA; Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (CBST) in New York City; and Washington Hebrew Congregation in Washington, DC.
As the Cantor-Educator of the United Jewish School, Cantor Fair guides teachers in bringing innovative ideas and techniques to the classroom. He has taught religious school for well over a decade and specializes in teaching Hebrew, Biblical education, Israel education, and of course, Jewish music. He believes that in every lesson, kids can be engaged through a mix of touch, smells, physical activity, multimedia, taste, and of course, music! He believes kids should be doing most of the talking throughout a class—whether to the teacher, or to each other in small groups. If learning isn’t fun and interactive, it isn’t being done right.
Cantor Fair is an antiracism educator and has given sermons, lectures, and led workshops in this topic at Synagogues, Hillels, and Jewish organizations throughout the country. He believes that this is holy work. He is honored to have the opportunity to speak to people who are interested and open to learning about how we can all challenge our role in systemic racism. This past summer, Cantor Fair taught a three-class series with the children’s educational organization “Tkiya,” where he focused on teaching how to have these powerful conversations in a developmentally appropriate way for children ages 3-10.
Outside of his Cantor-Educator duties, Cantor Fair loves practicing yoga, making vegan feasts, buying cat toys for his cat, Mordechai, and spending time with his partner, Corey.
Cantor David Fair
Our director of administration
Janice Schwartz Fonger joined the UJS Staff (again) in 2023. Janice grew up at Temple Emanuel, teaching in the Temple religious school and UJS for more than 20 years. She also served as a Temple youth leader and Board member. Janice spent most of her career in the nonprofit arena currently serving as Director of Training with Michigan CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). Among Janice’s blessings are husband Lindsay, daughter Celia (UJS alum), son-in-law Nick and grandpuppy Goose.
Janice Schwartz Fonger
Tom Hales (Gan Katan)
After receiving an undergraduate degree from Grand Valley State University in Music Education, Tom went on to work as a non-certified teacher in a self-contained room for autism. During this time Tom earned their Master’s Degree in Special Education with an emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis through Arizona State University. Tom is currently the owner of The Applied Behavioral Science Institution with their spouse Ash; together they have 6 children in the Rockford area. He/Him/They/Them
Shoshana Stoll (Pre-Kindergarten)
Claire Fisher, Kindergarten Teacher, UJS
Rachel Plowman (First & Second grade)
Rachel Plowman is new to UJS this year but has taught for many years in synagogues in Florida and Washington State. Rachel lives in Zeeland but grew up in the Pacific Northwest. She has 4 boys who are excited to make new Jewish friends in the area. In her (limited) free time she loves to read, hike, camp, and hang out with her menagerie of animals.
Elisabeth Rosewall (3rd and 4th Hebrew) is a native Californian with a BS in Design from the University of California at Davis and has lived in Grand Rapids since 1985. She has taught both 4-7th grades and Hebrew since 1990 both at Temple and Ahavas as well as in South Haven. She currently focuses on Hebrew and tutors b’nei mitzvah students at Temple Emanuel. Elisabeth has a passion for learning and Jewish education and loves teaching Hebrew classes for adults. She especially enjoys those who learn differently and tries to find the spark in each. She feels blessed by her two children, Emily and Eric, (and the presence of cats in their lives).
3rd & 4th Grade Hebrew Curriculum
Avi Forstein (3rd & 4th grade Judaics)
I was born and raised in Sioux Falls, SD. My Abba was the only Rabbi in South Dakota for the 1980s and most of the 1990s; CBS News did a story on him in 1980, you can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/
Sharon Spungen (5th & 6th Grade Judaics)
When not found resolving car accidents as a Sr Liability Claims Adjuster, teaching Taekwon-Do, playing her very sparkly tambourine or singing with the Temple Chorus or the West Michigan Gay Men’s Chorus, Sharon will often be found happily baking challot, chatting with friends, or taking long walks. She returns to UJS after a multi year absence because while her life is full, teaching 5/6 graders is what her heart has been missing.
Shoshana Jackson (5th & 6th grade Hebrew)
Shoshana Jackson has been teaching with UJS in the 5th & 6th Grade Hebrew classroom since her family moved to Grand Rapids in 2015. They are members at Congregation Ahavas Israel. Previously, she has taught both Hebrew and Judaics for Reform and Reconstructionist schools in Ann Arbor and served the JCC there as their Youth, Teen & Camp Director. Shoshana loves languages: she has formally studied six languages, including Arabic during her time as a linguist in the US Army. She is neurodivergent and believes all students can be successful with the proper application of the right coping tools! Shoshana thinks being Jewish is the coolest thing ever and wants to share that enthusiasm with students and their families in UJS.
Lindsey Summers (7th Grade)
This is Lindsey’s first year teaching with the United Jewish School. Originally from Traverse City, Lindsey moved to Grands Rapids in 2019 to attend Grand Valley State University, where she graduated with her degree in International Relations and Human Rights. In the past year, she has discovered her love for working with children and teaching. Currently, she works as a reading teacher for the Godwin Heights school district and plans on returning back to school to become an general elementary school teacher. In her free time, she enjoys doing every craft under the sun, spending time outside, reading and listening to books, and collecting vinyl. She is very excited to learn and grow alongside her 7th graders this year.
Rabbi Michael Schadick (8th Grade)
Rabbi Schadick, of Temple Emanuel, is excited to be leading the 8th graders this year. As the “mitzvah core, jr” class, we would like to get the students out of the building on many Sunday mornings and perform mitzvot around our Grand Rapids community. Rabbi looks forward to brainstorming ideas with the students themselves to guide how to organize and arrange class structure this year.
Rabbi Michael Schadick
Shelby Denhof (Mitzvah Core)
Shelby Denhof is a certified educator with more than seven years of public school teaching experience. Embedded in her practice is her passion for experiential learning, storytelling, and service. Her reflections on teaching can be found on websites such as Cult of Pedagogy, McGraw-Hill Education, and Edutopia. Shelby is a National Writing Project fellow, a National Geographic Certified Educator, and a two-time National Endowment for the Humanities fellow at both Stanford University and the University of Utah. Outside of teaching, she enjoys the outdoors, traveling abroad, and cooking. She lives in Grand Rapids with her partner Fred and their two cats.
Kreenah Dunsmore (Music)
Kreenah Dunsmore performs and teaches music around Grand Rapids. She currently plays clarinet with the Grand Rapids Symphonette, and plays piano with The Good Medicine Band and at Von Maur at Woodland Mall. She teaches all subjects as a substitute teacher with EduStaff in GRPS, FH, and Northview Districts K-12. She also teaches music at The Piano Cottage on Boston Street SE. As a member of Temple Emanuel, you can find Kreenah attending most services, and Torah classes, along with special activities in the Jewish community in Grand Rapids. Morah Kreenah seeks to assist young Jewish students in learning Hebraic and Judaic standards in close connection with their classroom teachers at The United Jewish School 2023-2024. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, movies, yoga, the outdoors, and visual art creations of a variety of styles.
Susie Yoder (Art)
My name is Ms. Susie Yoder. I graduated from Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD) with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Art Education. I love learning and trying new things, & I love sharing what I’ve learned. When I’m not teaching, my hobbies include reading, playing board games, cooking, yardwork, & spending time with my spouse & our cat.
Zoe Post (Baking Expert)
Zoe Post is from Holland, MI and studied Religion at University of Evansville in southern Indiana. During the summer after their freshman year of college, they participated in an internship in New York state that centered on interfaith dialogue through sustainable agriculture. This was the first time Zoe met a Jewish person and was introduced to Judaism. After Zoe graduated college, they served two years in Peace Corps in the agricultural sector. It was in rural Paraguay where Zoe began to perfect their challah-baking skills.
Upon their return to the States, Zoe moved to Grand Rapids to be closer to their now-wife Susie. Zoe converted to Judaism and became a member of Temple Emanuel in 2020. Currently, Zoe is a full-time ceramic artist, part-time gardener, and hobbyist baker.
Melinda Frank (Office Assistant / Teachers Aide)
Melinda has been a teacher’s aide for many many years (too many to count). She has helped out with the students from tots to fourth grade. Why? Because she loves working with the kids and can’t imagine not being a part of the school. Melinda also likes cooking and helping in the kitchen.
Alex Sherman-Hay (Teachers Aide)
Alex Sherman- Hay is excited to return for her 11th year as a classroom assistant at UJS. She graduated from ( FHC). She is taking educational classes through Noortheok academy (Grcc) and currently works in a Retirement place as a server in the dining hall at Sentinel Pointe .
In her spare time, she likes to play sports on the Grand Rapids Eagles Sports team, Special Olympics team for soccer and bowling, loves spending time with friends, family, her brown tabby cat Eve who is 11 years old, loves reading romance books, and loves riding her bike with her really good friend Maggie.
She looking forward to another wonderful year of learning at UJS.