25 Aug 2017
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Avra Appelbaum

Another South African joins Talmud Torah! Originally from Cape Town, Avra Appelbaum is very excited to be joining Talmud Torah as the Library Technician for the Learning Commons. She graduated in 2016 from Langara College in the Library and Information Technology program, fulfilling her dream to work with books, information and children.

Avra lives in Coquitlam with her husband, 3 children and 2 dogs… surrounded by lots of trees! She maintains strong ties with her family in Cape Town and visits often. When not driving kids or walking the dogs, Avra is an admitted Netflix addict, partial to any show with subtitles, and balances this addiction with some yoga and, of course, reading.

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8 Sep 2016
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Danica Burpee

Danica Burpee joined VTT in 2015, and was very excited to join the Athletics department. Previously, Ms. Burpee taught at West Point Grey Academy (WPGA) for five years in many different roles: primary support, Grade 3 Homeroom, Grades 6/7 French, and Volleyball and Track & Field Coach.  Prior to WPGA, Ms. Burpee taught Physical Education at an IB international school in Singapore.  She spent almost a decade living in Calgary, completing her Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology as well as a Bachelor of Education.

Ms. Burpee grew up in Vancouver, and has a great love for the mountains, the ocean, and all of the natural beauty that Vancouver has to offer.  She is an avid skier, and outdoor enthusiast, and now enjoys her active lifestyle with her husband and their 3 year old daughter.

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4 Oct 2015
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Pat Girling

As a third generation educator, following in the footsteps of her beloved grandmother and mother, Pat Girling has always known teaching was a “natural fit.” “The children bring me incredible joy and positive energy. I love what I do.”

Born in Daysland, Alberta, Mrs. Girling and her three siblings grew up in Saskatoon. After graduating from the University of Saskatchewan with a Bachelor’s of Education in 1981, Mrs. Girling taught in Saskatchewan for four years, and then spent 10 years in the Edmonton public schools where she taught additional subjects like music and French, and applying her talent all the way up to grade 9. Increased opportunities in the film industry brought Pat and her husband, a self-employed interior designer/set designer, to Vancouver in ’96.

Mrs. Girling’s first introduction to Jewish education were the two years she spent at Hebrew Academy. She joined VTT in 1998. At both schools she has been “treated like gold.”

In the last several years, Mrs. Girling has earned a Master’s in Leadership and Counseling to add depth to her teaching practice.  As our Learning Enrichment teacher for the past 7 years, Mrs. Girling provides opportunities to enhance the classroom curriculum by challenging and stimulating students’ passion for learning, creativity, and intellectual growth. She initiated and leads the Young Earth Savers Sprouts Club (Y.E.S.S.) that offers to educate our students about the importance of protecting our environment.

A dedicated daughter to her parents, and a devoted stepmother and step-grandmother, Mrs. Girling enjoys her creative side where in her pastime plays the piano, makes jewellery, dabbles in water colour painting and is very happy living in North Vancouver exploring the natural beauty that surrounds her.

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3 Oct 2014
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Jim Hopson

Jim Hopson is the Band specialist at VTT elementary. He holds a Bachelor of Music Degree (with distinction) from the University of Victoria, and has been a freelance musician (trombone, low brass) in the Vancouver area since 2007. An active performer, he has played concerts all over the world (Australia, Europe, Asia, and all over North America). As a session musician, he has performed and/or recorded with K-OS, Hedley, VEJI, Chucho Valdes, Said the Whale, Nikki Yanofsky, Brasstronaut, Dan Mangan, and countless local bands and orchestras. Current touring/gigging projects include: Ten Souljers, Tubes & Grooves, AJA, and S-Bahn Band.

As an educator, Jim has taught literally thousands of private trombone/low brass lessons to hundreds of students over the past ten years. He has presented masterclasses and clinics at UBC, the North American Alphorn Retreat, the Envision Jazz Festival, and at high schools across the lower mainland. He has been the Band specialist at VTT since 2008.

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25 Aug 2013
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Etti Kaplan

Morah Etti has been teaching Judaic Studies at Talmud Torah for over 37 years! She is now teaching the children of her former students and inspiring these children with a love of Judaism and a menschlekeit as much today as when their parents graced our school’s hallowed halls.

Morah Etti received her teaching degree from Shein College in Petah Tikvah Israel after she completed her service in the IDF. She continued her professional education while a teacher at Talmud Torah earning a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership in 2004.

Morah Etti believes that the secret to the generational success of Talmud Torah is dedicated teachers, involved loving parents and students who learn and practice the Jewish values of learning, collegiality, and mutual respect. She says those values have been nurtured and have thrived at Talmud Torah since she first started teaching here.

But Morah Etti has a special, now famous, secret of her own. We all learned this secret one year from one of her students who told the whole school at one of our year-end assemblies about the magical secret that Morah Etti has had for years and years. She told us that in Morah Etti’s class there is a special angel that lives behind the clock. This angel makes the time in Morah Etti’s class fly by as fast as anything. Today that angel is living behind a new clock–one given to Morah Etti by a student who wanted to make sure that the angel had a shiny new home and would never leave Morah Etti’s classroom. Time is “flying” in Morah Etti’s classroom as students work and laugh, and laugh and work, and learn the about Judaism’s beautiful teachings and what it means to grow into loving, responsible, giving members of our community.

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2 Oct 2012
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Colette Leisen

Ms. Leisen, originally from Alberta, moved to Vancouver in 1987 and was hired to teach at Talmud Torah later that year. She graduated from the University of Alberta with a degree in Special Education and a minor in French Revolutionary Art and Printmaking. She also attended Emily Carr College of Art and Design and more recently completed a Master’s of Education and Leadership focusing on math methodology. Ms. Leisen is an exhibited artist and published writer.

It is in the art room that her love of teaching art is realized on a daily basis. Her personal goal is to ensure that every student exits the school feeling confident in his or her abilities. Being nominated by students and winning a provincial excellence in teaching award was one of the proudest moments of her life.

Ms. Leisen is the mother of a wonderful college aged daughter who benefited greatly from attending VTT’s early childhood program (she is still one of the only non-Jews who can daven!) and she will always be in debt to the teachers of VTT from whom she’s learned volumes about teaching excellence.

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2 Oct 2011
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Gerrald Lotzkar

Mr. Lotzkar is one of those rare breeds having been born and raised in Vancouver (not too far from our school). He is even a VTT graduate, sort of. That is, he attended Talmud Torah afternoon school on Wednesdays and Sundays, and attended Eric Hamber High School with many VTT parents.

Mr. Lotzkar has two Bachelor’s degrees: one in psychology and one in education. His original intention was to teach humanities and literature, but fell into Physical Education when a position opened up several years ago while substituting for both VSB and VTT. Mr. Lotzkar claims it is the perfect fit as he loves being active and enjoys the many important life skills sports impart to the students: teamwork, effort, dealing with adversity, sportsmanship, and a positive attitude. Mr. Lotzkar also runs our very successful intramurals program and has been offering after-school athletics programs with Mr. Noel.

Outside of school, Mr. Lotzkar enjoys basketball, yoga, hiking, hockey and working out. He also considers himself a bit of a movie buff.

Mr. Lotzkar lives in Richmond with his wife and two adult sons.

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2 Oct 2010
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Sylvester Noel

Sylvester Noel has been destined for his career as a Physical Education Specialist since his early elementary school years. Whether engaged in softball, football, basketball or track and field, Mr. Noel has always excelled in sports and has felt most invigorated when physically active. Born in Trinidad but raised in Toronto, Mr. Noel moved to Vancouver at age 15 and graduated from Steveston Secondary. He then earned a Bachelor of Human Kinetics degree and an English degree from UBC. With careers in personal training and sales, Mr. Noel hopes to impart the values of physical education to the students, especially the benefits of exercise and being active and the value of healthy living. He also believes in teaching the skill of good sportsmanship.

Did you know that Mr. Noel has a secondary career acting as a movie extra? He has also been volunteer coaching boys basketball in Kitsilano and girls basketball at Crofton House for over a decade!

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22 Aug 2009
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Boaz Rotaro

“For me, technology is a means to interact and work with people,” says VTT’s IT Support Specialist, Boaz Rotaro. Israel-born, he came to Canada in 1997 and has been working in tech support ever since. “I enjoy helping teachers and students by trying to make their digital lives better and easier, setting up their computers and building their online tools and presence such as websites and social media profiles.”

Boaz followed his journalist wife’s dream to live in British Colombia, moving from Toronto in 2008 where he worked at Bialik Hebrew Day School. “I just love it here, and frankly, I got a bit tired of shoveling snow every winter in Toronto!” mused Boaz.

In his free time, Boaz likes to ride his bike along the beautiful Vancouver seawall and other bike trails and works with his wife on their arts and culture online magazine, Mashu Mashu.

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15 Aug 2009
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Monica Schwartzman

Monica, a singer-songwriter, was born and raised in Mexico City.  She attended Jewish day school from preschool to high school and was an active member of the school choir, performing not only at assemblies, but also for several years at the Yom Yerushalayim Festival at the Jewish Community Centre in Mexico.  Monica attended Berklee College of Music in Boston for a summer and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies (with a minor in performing arts) from the Iberoamericana University in Mexico City.  She was part of the Mexican cast of the Broadway musical, Spring Awakening, and she composed most of the songs for two seasons for the Mexican television series, Bienes Raíces.  She is also the singing voice of several television commercials for brands such as Mattel. Monica was a music teacher in Mexico City and is very excited to share her passion with VTT’s students.

In 2011, Monica and her husband moved to Vancouver with only a couple suitcases and her guitar. Since then, they have had one son, inspiring Monica to write music for children (and leading her to pursue early childhood education studies).

Outside of motherhood and music, Monica loves going for walks with her rescued dog, Luna.

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