An early childhood learning community for the mind, body and soul
Welcome to Shalem
Welcome to Shalem Early Childhood Learning Center for the mind, body, and soul in Manhattan Beach. Shalem is the Hebrew word for wholeness and defines our approach to learning. At Shalem our children experience a unique and nurturing environment - one where our highly qualified and creative staff guide and facilitate a play-based emergent curriculum that allows our students to build a strong foundation for the skills and tools they will need as they grow both academically and socially. We focus on developing the whole child into a kind, compassionate individual with a connection to and love for family, community, Judaism and the world beyond.
Shalem is guided by Jewish teachings and culture, including the value of recognizing that every individual is created B’tzelem Elohim (in the image of God), and the importance of Kehillah u’Mishpacha (our community of family and friends). Inspired by these values, our preschool emphasizes the importance of fostering relationships and social development, recognizing each child’s distinct abilities and talents. Every child is respected as a competent and capable learner, full of potential and promise.
Though separate entities, Shalem is an integral part of Congregation Tikvat Jacob Beth Torah’s Lifelong Learning Community. CTJ is a warm and engaging synagogue with much to offer both young and old. Some of the many benefits of belonging to CTJ are the constant support of the clergy and staff, a caring, committed community of members who care about each other and Judaism, and helping to secure a home for liberal Judaism in Manhattan Beach for future generations. Because of the relationship between our communities all CTJ members are given priority waiting list placement.
Shalem welcomes both Jewish and non-Jewish children. Our programming incorporates Jewish traditions throughout the week while also finding ways to celebrate our students of various faiths and backgrounds. The Jewish values that guide our school are universal and speak to our shared humanity as they resonate with all cultures and backgrounds.
Children and families of all shapes, sizes and religions are welcome to join our warm and vibrant Shalem Early Childhood Learning Community and/or CTJ as a whole.
The word curriculum encapsulates the environment, the programming, plans and the interactions that happen within our walls. Each and every piece is developed with the intention to foster a love of learning and exploration. Whether building towers of wooden blocks, measuring sand into buckets, or painting a bright rainbow, children make sense of their world and learn new skills through play. Our play-based learning environment is supported by the most current child development research, and engages young minds to expand their problem solving skills, creativity, curiosity, and imagination. Children are naturally motivated to learn skills that translate to success in school and life through experiences that are multi-sensory and encourage growth. Through our well planned activities throughout the day, we help our students hone their fine and gross motor coordination, sensory integration, cognitive and adaptive skills, brain development, socio-emotional development, language development, and moral development.
Mind: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT
Early literacy, foundational mathematics, science exploration, music, language development, and creative arts
Body: PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT
Motor development, personal hygiene, nutrition, safety, music, and movement
Soul: SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
Respect, Self-esteem, social interaction, self-control, conflict resolution skills, self-help skills, and confidence
Children play percussion instruments, sing, and dance during bi-weekly classes with a music specialist. They learn all about rhythm, and most importantly, to celebrate their own voices.
Climbing through obstacle courses, tumbling and practicing yoga poses — our weekly physical education program fosters gross motor development and balance through a wide array of games and activities. Through a Jewish lens, this program nurtures a love of physical activity and encourages children to develop lifelong, healthy eating habits.
EXCEPTIONAL STAFF MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE...
Our warm and caring staff love what they do and transmit that love onto their students and their families. Our staff is an experienced group of dedicated, early-childhood professionals who combine a strong educational background with a love for and appreciation of young children. It is important to Shalem that our teachers are a community of lifelong learners, with ongoing professional development training based on the most current research and philosophies for early learning.
Rabbi Selilah Kalev, Founding Director
The Founding Director of Shalem, Rabbi Selilah is dedicated to building learning communities where the whole person is encouraged to develop and thrive. As an educator for over 25 years, she has taught learners of all ages and stages, while running preschools, religious schools, high school programs, adult education and even founding a musical theater camp.
Rabbi Selilah is passionate about creating an environment where the children, staff and families love coming to school. Rabbi Selilah believes that nurturing and education are inherent in the Jewish culture and are foundational cornerstones to building an engaged community.
Raised in Alaska and the granddaughter of a Protestant minister, Rabbi Selilah found herself drawn to the values of the Jewish community that focus on the ethical and consistent treatment of others as well as the world around us. Consequently, she converted to Judaism in college, and after receiving her bachelor’s degree in music from the California Institute of the Arts, she earned two master’s degrees in Jewish education and Rabbinic studies. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Hebrew letters. She received her ordination from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles in 2003.
Rabbi Selilah is married to Rabbi Joshua Kalev the Rabbi of Congregation Tikvat Jacob Beth Torah (CTJ) and they have two delightful children; their daughter Noa, age 13 and their son Jacob, age 11.
Malorie Kole, Assistant Director
Ms. Malorie is the Assistant Director of Shalem. Malorie played an integral part in the opening of Shalem and every day since has put her entire soul into the school’s success. She studied Early Childhood Education and Development and holds a Director’s Certificate. Malorie loves her role as it gives her the opportunity to engage with the children, the parents, and the staff. She strongly believes that learning through play is the most effective way for children to grow and develop and loves getting to help each student on their journey. As a deeply inquisitive learner, she loves to foster the children’s interest in always learning more. When not at Shalem, Malorie enjoys being outside, playing with her dogs, and sewing.
Jessica Zatir, Director of Curriculum
Ms. Jessica is Shalem’s Director of Curriculum. She has given her heart and soul to the Shalem community from the very first day and played a key role in the opening of our school. Jessica found her passion for early childhood education while she was earning her degree in art and since then, she has worked with children in a number of ways. However, she has come to realize that her favorite place to be is in a preschool classroom where she can engage and empower children through play. Jessica believes that every child should learn in an environment that fosters independences, encourages participation, and makes each child feel proud of themselves. A basis for her approach to teaching comes from one of her favorite sayings, “Teaching kids to count is fine, but teaching them what counts is best.” When not at Shalem, Ms. Jessica enjoys playing with her dogs, feeding her passion for art, cooking and being outside.
Micaela Diaz Brambila, Teacher
Micaela Diaz Brambila is one of our beloved, founding teachers here at Shalem. A graduate from Cal State Dominguez Hills with a B.A. in Liberal Studies, Ms. Mickey loves being around children and sharing their moments of growth with parents and staff. She is honored to be a part of a team of amazing and creative teachers at Shalem where she is committed to providing each family with a loving and developmentally sound foundation for a lifetime of learning. Ms. Mickey loves being a teacher, especially being around all the funny, silly, and precious moments that take place in the classroom. She is constantly exploring new techniques and experience to create the most dynamic learning environment possible for her students. When not at Shalem, Ms. Mickey is caring for her two sons, Noah & Andrew and working on arts and crafts projects.
Gema Martin, Teacher
Ms. Gema has always had a passion for working with children, and the Shalem community is honored to have her as one of our devoted teachers. From a young age, Gema has spent a lot of time teaching, tutoring, and taking care of children in her community. She has volunteered in mentorship programs and eventually took the role as a lead teacher in a YMCA program allowing her to help students gain a love of learning. Gema feels fortunate to have found a teaching role at Shalem. We love when Gema shares her culture with our community and her dance parties and knowledge of everything Disney are legendary amongst the students.
Judy DiPasquo, Teacher
Ms. Judy comes to Shalem with over twelve years of experience in early childhood education. She has a passion for observing children and helping them grow into kind, confident human beings. Ms. Judy believes the most important skills to bring to the classroom are patience, flexibility, and love. While watching Judy in action, it is evident that she is deeply dedicated to the social and emotional development of each child. Each day, Ms. Judy’s students are excited to see her classroom setup, her special projects, and the exciting games that will be explored during their learning. The Shalem community loves learning about Judy’s unique background and the rich culture of her family. Judy has honed her teaching skills during her many years in the classroom as well as being a mother to five wonderful kids and an auntie to eight!