Director of Judaic Studies
I have been at Halpern Akiva Academy since 2009 and take great pleasure seeing our students grow and mature into fine young men and women. I grew up in Toronto and am 5th generation Canadian on my mother's side. My Great-Great Grandparents were settlers in Lipton Colony in Saskatchewan. I am the proud father of seven children who all have or currently attend Halpern Akiva. In my spare time, I enjoy hiking in the mountains and playing ice hockey in the Calgary Jewish Hockey League. I studied in Rabbinical Seminary of America for 10 years where I earned semicha-rabbinic ordination and was the rabbi in Boulevard Alp in Queens NY. My education includes a MEd with a focus on educational leadership from Touro University and two Harvard Graduate school of Education Principal Certificates.
Mr. John Hadden
Our family has resided in Calgary and area for over one hundred years. I was born in Calgary and grew up on a farm near Priddis. Being surrounded by family and friends is very important to me. My wife, Heather, and I have four amazing children and six wonderful grandchildren. I am an avid sports fan, and spend my free time travelling and gardening.
I am so pleased to be in my 15th year at Halpern Akiva Academy. I count myself lucky each day I walk into this building to work with the students, staff and parents. Prior to coming to Halpern Akiva Academy, I was an elementary teacher with the CBE. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree and a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Calgary.
I joined Halpern Akiva Academy in September 2019 as the Administrative Assistant/Secretary.
I have a Bachelor of Communications degree from the University of Calgary. The majority of my previous work experience has been in post-secondary institutions. I previously worked at Bow Valley College and St. Mary’s University in various administrative capacities.
My family is originally from Vietnam and immigrated to Canada when I was two. We moved from Charlottetown, PEI to Calgary when I was four. My husband and I will be celebrating our 15 year wedding anniversary this year.
In my spare time, I love spending time with family and friends, reading, watching Netflix, drinking Tim Hortons’ French Vanillas and cooking with my husband.
I am enjoying my new role at Halpern Akiva!
Kizhakke Vendekkan is a daycare director at Halpern Akiva academy. She earned her Bachelor of Education degree and Masters in Mathematics from India in 2008. Kizhakke moved to Canada in 2009 with her family and started her career as a teacher assistant. She holds a child development supervisor and a Montessori certificate from Canada and has worked at various preschools and daycares. She loves teaching all ages, but most of her experience involves the three to six age groups.
Her goals are to continue growing professionally as well as sharing her love for teaching and guiding children while providing a fun and creative environment. Kizhakke is a passionate educator who is always looking to perform at the highest standards. She respects children’s rights at all levels and is a committed team member of Halpern Akiva’s philosophy. As Director of the Centre, Kizhakke take great pride in knowing that our Centre is one that strives for excellence and quality in child care while promoting our Co-operative spirit. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, reading, biking and hiking etc.
I have been employed at Halpern Akiva Academy since May 2018 as a Daycare Assistant. I migrated from Jamaica in 2005 with my husband. I attended the Academy of Business College in Toronto, where I obtained my Diploma as a Medical Receptionist in 2008. Although certified in this field, I prefer working with children. I pursued a career in Early Childhood Development and obtained certification as Child Care Development Assistant in 2013. I have over 9 years experience working in Child Care, including working as a Room Leader in different age groups, ranging from infants to kindergarten.
Prior to working in Child Care, I worked in Tourism for more than 10 years. I believe that working with children requires patience, sincerity and openness. My goal is to ensure that each child in my care feels loved and valued. I am excited to contribute to the Halpern Akiva Academy family.
In my free time I enjoy reading, listening to music, going to the gym, watching movies and sports.
Nursery and Pre-K Teacher
Since 1985, teaching 3 and 4 year olds has been an integral part of my life. For the last 15 years, I have been teaching Early Childhood Education at Halpern Akiva Academy. Playing and learning alongside my Nursery and Pre-Kindergarten children has continuously impacted on me how unique each child’s emotional, intellectual, physical, social and creative developments are.
Outside the classroom, you will find me going for walks, reading, cooking and visiting with friends. I also enjoy researching creative projects for young children. Most of all, I enjoy home time with my family of seven.
Mrs. Marina Kaufman
This school year marks my 21st year at Halpern Akiva Academy. I received a Masters in Mathematics with Honors in the Soviet Union, where I taught advanced mathematics to junior and high school students. After my family and I immigrated to Israel, I continued to teach mathematics to grades seven through twelve, and participated in many teaching initiatives such as adult learning and working with new Olim from Ethiopia. In Israel, I received multiple accreditations including a Certificate in Teaching Jewish Subjects, a Permanent Teaching License, and a status of The State Employee. I’m happy to take all the experience I have gained and use it in my role as a Hebrew Language Teacher. To further extend my knowledge and become familiar with a unique curriculum of Hebrew Language and Jewish Studies, I attended ten TaL AM Training Institutes in Canada and the United States. I am committed to enriching the realm of Jewish education in the Hebrew language, and to using the latest educational technologies and modern teaching methods. The learning environment in our classroom promotes critical thinking, growth, a sense of family and a welcoming atmosphere.
In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my family, cooking, baking and reading. My husband and I have lived in Canada for 22 years, and have two daughters who both reside in Calgary and work in the home building industry.
I was born and raised in Israel. I attended the University of Lethbridge where I received my BSc and MSc degrees in Physics. I met my wife Tammy at the University of Waterloo. We moved to Calgary from San Diego and have two sons ages 16 and 12. I received my BEd degree from the University of Calgary. I am passionate about cultivating critical thinking and life-long learning in children through science and math. I enjoy cycling, drawing, Origami, and computer programming.
My family and I moved from West Hartford, Connecticut to teach at Halpern Akiva in 2014. My five children, four of which are proud students in our school. This year, I teach Judaics to Grades 3, 4 and 5, and Talmud to a combined class of Grades 7 to 9.
I grew up in Miami, Florida and graduated from Yeshiva Toras Chaim. I spent ten years in Yeshiva Zichron Aryeh/Beis Medrash Zichron Ezra in Bayswater, New York, achieving a Second Talmudic Degree. I received Rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Moshe Heinemann in 2010.
I love to learn and create. I am an author or co-author of 10 educational books, all of which I use in the classroom. My creative hobbies include woodworking, marquetry and intarsia, boatbuilding, car repair, technology, saxophone, contact juggling, unicycling, and graphic design.
This is my 5th year as the Kindergarten teacher at Halpern Akiva Academy. I also teach English Language Arts and Social Studies to both Grade 2 and Grade 4. I received my Bachelor of Arts from Saint Thomas University and my Bachelor of Education, specializing in Elementary Education, from the University of New Brunswick. I possess my Alberta Permanent Professional Teaching Certification in addition to my New Brunswick Teaching Certification.
I am from Fredericton, New Brunswick, and devoted much of my youth training to become a competitive figure skater. From the time I was a teenager, I taught children to learn-to-skate and this is where my life-long passion to teach children began. I enjoy attending Calgary Flames hockey games and concerts. I also enjoy camping, hiking and walking my three-and-a-half-pound Chihuahua, Baxter.
I teach Kindergarten Judaics and have been working at Halpern Akiva for 6 years. I studied education in England and Israel for 3 years. I am married to David Doctor and together we are raising two adorable children, Yoseph and Bea.
Ms. Doctor's Favorites:
Hobby: Organizing closets, rooms, homes. (Really, anything that can be organized!)
Hello, I’m Ms. Filewich. Teaching is in my blood. My grandmother was a teacher, my sister was a teacher, and I have three cousins who are teachers. Having taught children from pre-school to junior high, every subject, at almost every grade level, I like to think I can tackle any classroom challenge put in front of me--if not, I'll give it everything I've got. I am currently enjoying my third year at Halpern Akiva Academy, and have been blessed to teach a variety of General Studies classes at many grade levels.
I have always been a reader, a writer, and a creator, but after 20 years in the classroom, I have developed a passion for teaching math so that children can understand it and build critical thinking skills. I love my job, my students, and being part of the Halpern Akiva family.
I mentioned that I am also a creator. I dabble in many art forms, but my passion is playing with fire. Melting glass, turning it into beads, and creating sparkly jewelry is something I wish I had more time for. In my spare time, you can usually find me hanging out with my hubby, Doug, enjoying everything our community has to offer.
I continue to look forward to working with the Halpern Akiva family as we travel our learning journey together!
Bio coming soon
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Ms. Waseem joined the Halpern Akiva family in September 2017 and has been teaching a variety of secular subjects including Music. Her love for learning began in Africa at a time and place where one was lucky to receive a good education. She was further lucky enough to receive music lessons and pass the United Kingdom’s Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Musicians exams in piano performance and music theory. When she moved to Canada at the age of 14 with her family, Ms. Waseem continued studying hard in school and taking music lessons after school. She then went on to pursue an Honours Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Toronto.
During her time at UofT, Ms. Waseem volunteered her spare time providing conflict resolution education to grade 5 students in various schools. At one of the sessions, a student told her that she was really making a difference in their lives. This phrase tugged at her heartstrings and convinced her to pursue a Bachelor of Education degree from York University. She then moved closer to her parents in B.C. where she took on various substitute and temporary teaching assignments, and completed her Master's in Education degree through Distance Education at the University of Alberta.
Ms. Waseem moved to Calgary a few years later to be closer to her sister. She first worked as a quality assurance educator in a chemical laboratory by day, and a painting instructor by night. She then moved on to a role as a kindergarten teacher and then 3 years ago, finally found her way to Halpern Akiva Academy. And as they say, the rest was history!
My named is Morah Mickaela. I am a teaching assistant at Halpern Akiva Academy.
I was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta. I am a proud Halpern Akiva Academy alumna.
I graduated from Beth Jacob High in Denver, Colorado.
I have my PSW certification and Level 1 certification. One of my first work experiences was a sales person at B Gifted that was once located at our Calgary JCC.
I have also worked as a companion for seniors in their home or nursing home. While living in Toronto for 3 years I gained more experience working with seniors in health care settings.
I have been employed at Halpern Akiva Academy for 11 years. I learn something new every day from our wonderful students.
Miss Thiessen has been a teacher at Halpern Akiva Academy since 2017. She teaches grade 2 and 3 secular subjects, elementary and junior high physical education, and junior high environmental and outdoor education. Miss Thiessen graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree and a Bachelor of Education (Elementary) Degree from St. Mary’s University.
Ms. Josie Lugada
Ms. Lugada joined Halpern Akiva Academy in March 2019 as a Teacher Assistant. Before joining Halpern Akiva Academy, she worked as a Child Development Worker at Global Kids Academy from 2015 to 2018.
She was a Registered Nurse in the Philippines, worked several years in a Special Unit (Nursery Neonates) at Makati Medical Center. In 1991, she worked at ARAMCO Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a Nurse until 1994. She moved back to the Philippines to start her own family. She is married to a loving husband and was gifted with four wonderful children, three boys and a daughter. She enjoyed rearing her children full-time and it was at this time where she developed to be more patient, understanding, caring, committed which are very useful in her work as a Child Care Professional.
Her family moved to Canada in 2007 as immigrants and chose Calgary as their permanent residence. She continued to be a fulltime housewife and mother until her youngest child was in his elementary school. As she took care of her family, she also used her spare time to Volunteer at a Senior Home in Shawnessy. She took some small courses at Bow Valley College, finished a Computer Literacy Program and took her Child Development Worker (Level 2) Certificate.
She feels satisfaction in her profession as a Child Care Professional as she can contribute in rearing children and making them enjoy life and be ready for the future ahead of them.