Faculty & Staff Spotlight

Lisa Gerstenfeld, Early Childhood Judaic Studies Program Coordinator & Music Specialist
Levine Academy

Where are you from and where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in New Jersey, but moved to the Washington, DC area (McLean, VA) when I was 11. When asked, I always say I'm from VA.

What is your favorite part of the school year at Levine Academy?
My favorite thing about working at Levine is getting to be part of so many families lives. I love watching the kids grow up, see who they become when they’re older, and know that I had something to do with that.

When you aren’t teaching, what do you enjoy doing (hobbies)?
When I'm not teaching I love to read,  play mah jongg, cheer on the Georgia Bulldogs, and watch my boys play rugby.

Where is the best place you've traveled to and why?
The best place I've ever traveled to is Israel. I went as a 40th birthday present to myself. It was a trip of a lifetime! I felt such a connection there that I've never felt anywhere else.

If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be and why? 
I can't just pick 3 people. I'd want to have dinner with my 4 grandparents.  Now, as an adult, there are so many questions that I wish I had known to ask when I was a child.  There are so many stories that I wish I had listened and paid more attention to.

Anything else you would like us to know?
I have a B.Mus in Music Therapy from the University of Georgia and a M.Ed in Special Education from Texas Woman's University.
My husband Philip and I are College sweethearts, meeting in the music department at Georgia.  We have been married for 23 years. We have 2 boys - Seth who is a Sophomore Cadet at The Citadel and Saul who is a Junior at Plano West. We also have a 10-year-old boxer named Jazzy and a 7-year-old English Bulldog named TX.

Shelly Derdiger, Dean of Learning Support
Levine Academy

What/Who motivated and inspired you to teach?
One of my college professors inspired me to enter the educational profession. I took his class titled, Abnormal Psychology. After that class, I knew I wanted to be in the profession of helping students with academic and/or behavioral struggles. I continued with graduate school in the field of special education with an emphasis in behavioral disorders and autism.

What is your favorite thing about working at Levine Academy? 
I love working at Levine because I look forward to each day working with so many wonderful colleagues.

If you had not become a teacher, what is something else you would be doing?
If I did not become a teacher, I would be an occupational therapist.

Where is the best place you've traveled to and why?
My favorite place to travel is Hawaii. I hope I can visit again in the next few years. My husband and I went on our honeymoon there 20 years ago.

If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be and why? 
If I could have dinner with any three people in the world, living or deceased, it would be Oprah Winfrey, my paternal grandfather, and Abraham Lincoln.

Anything else you would like us to know?
I am married to my best friend Jeff and we have two wonderful daughters Haley and Brooke. We have a dog as well-named Remi. I love going out with friends, swimming, and playing cards.

Heidi Bacon, 5th & 6th Grade Science
Levine Academy

I served as a United States Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala (1991-1993) to teach farmers about agriculture and epidemiology. What intrigued me the most about choosing Guatemala, were the indigenous people, the Mayan. I read about them in National Geographic in 1989.  One famous Guatemalan is  Rigoberta Menchu’, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for her ethno-cultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous people. (1992) Her struggle was real. She lost most of her village in a raid, while my struggle was just trying to just find a job after graduating college. That is when I decided to try something new, a new culture, work on my language skills in Spanish, meet new people and travel.  I will never regret going to the Peace Corps. It made me more of who I am today.  

* Heidi graduated from Kansas State University with a degree in Biology.  After college, she served in the Peace Corps in Guatemala.  She taught for several years in DISD schools and in private and public schools in Houston. She likes the outdoors, attends concerts, and loves cooking.  


Megan Rosenthal, 4th Grade General Studies
Levine Academy

This summer, Megan Rosenthal, 4th Grade General Studies Teacher will be on a teaching fellowship in Israel with TALMA. She was 1 of 185 applicants chosen out of 3,000+ from around the world.

Ms. Rosenthal will be in Israel for 1-month, working in low-income school communities on the Israeli border. While she will be teaching in the mornings at her placement school, Ms. Rosenthal will gain professional development through inspirational enrichment – hearing first-class speakers, and working with entrepreneurs and startups to collaborate in the movement for education equity.

Check out Megan's summer journey with TALMA on YouTube!

TALMA’s Vision:
TALMA seeks to cultivate a pipeline of social justice change agents who will use their experience in Israel as a launching point for a lifetime of leadership. By investing in the personal and professional development of today's proven achievers, TALMA anticipates a return on investment in the sphere of influence that an alumni-base of future CEO's, policy makers, politicians, educators and entrepreneurs will have on the world of tomorrow.

 *Megan Rosenthal, 4th Grade General Studies Teacher, is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin concentrating in Advertising and Public Relations; she also completed her studies at the McCombs School of Business at UT. Before she came to Levine Academy, Ms. Rosenthal taught 4th Grade and 1st Grade in Lubbock, Texas. She holds certifications across K-12. Aside from her passion for teaching, she loves to travel, eat delicious food, practice yoga, hike at her favorite destinations, and be with friends and family.