The SAM School | Faculty - The SAM School


Meet our Team!

We are incredibly excited to present our elementary school faculty. Each teacher was carefully selected to be part of our team based upon their personal attributes and professional qualifications. Together, they embody a range of competencies that will enable us to provide your children with a distinctive educational experience that is rooted in tradition while building for the future. We feel very fortunate to introduce our faculty.

Classroom Teachers:

Morah Rebecca Lavian, Lead Teacher
Mrs. Lavian earned an M.A. in General and Special Childhood Education from Bank Street College and a B.A. from Stern College. She has additional training teaching multisensory reading and math and in the Montessori method, a child-centered educational approach that encourages independence, hands-on learning and collaborative play. Passionate about Jewish education, Mrs. Lavian has taught at the Heschel School, Park East Day School, and most recently, Luria Academy in Brooklyn. She is especially excited to bring her full range of knowledge and experience to the classroom and implement our integrated approach to Jewish and general education.

Moreh Daniel Cohen, Associate Teacher and Hebrew Immersion Specialist
Mr. Cohen was born in Israel and has strong command of both Hebrew and English. He has taught extensively in Hebrew schools throughout New York and New Jersey, working with children ages 3-13. Mr. Cohen holds a bachelor of fine arts degree in theater from New York University and uses this expertise as he engages children in acting out words, phrases, songs and stories in Hebrew. Mr. Cohen believes Total Physical Response, coupled with intentional scaffolding of lessons and continuous exposure to Hebrew language will provide a solid foundation for developing skills and confidence in the comprehension, speaking, reading and writing of Hebrew.

Rabbi Ephraim Gabbai, Jewish Studies Teacher
Rabbi Ephraim joined SAM as an administrator last spring and has collaborated in planning the curricular implementation of our vision. He is also a rabbi at Sephardic Institute where he serves the congregation and teaches hymns pizmoneem) and Torah-cantillation to elementary aged students. He has taught elementary students at the Yeshivah of Flatbush, and graduate level courses at Yeshiva University and the Allegra Franco School of Educational Leadership. In addition, he served as assistant director of inter-religious and inter-group relations for American Jewish Committee from 2012-2017. Rabbi Ephraim is passionate about empowering students to approach the classic texts of Torah independently. He believes doing so will grant them access to practical and intellectual aspects of Sephardic religious humanism and enable them to merge tradition with modernity successfully.

Co-Curricular Teachers:

Mrs. Babette Marciano, Art Teacher
Mrs. Marciano is an artist and educator who has been teaching in New York’s public, charter and private schools for over thirteen years. She attended Stern College, School of Visual Arts, and Slade School of Art in London. Her painting series “My Morocco” was recently featured in the Jerusalem Biennale and explores her roots as a Sephardic Jew. Having grown up severely dyslexic, one of Mrs. Marciano’s missions as an artist and educator is to use art at various levels to enhance all learning. She believes art can be used as a means of interconnecting all disciplines to make the greatest learning impact.

Coach Nicola Spencer-Coye, Physical Education Teacher
Coach Nicola was born and raised in South Africa where she graduated with a bachelor of arts in physical education from the University of Witwatersrand and a graduate degree in education from the University of South Africa. She completed the USA Gymnastics Safety and Risk Management Certification and has been teaching in schools in America and abroad since 2005. Coach Nicola believes that physical education is a vehicle for exercising body and mind, and is passionate about developing interpersonal skills like teamwork and sportsmanship on the playing field.

Mr. Jason Balish, Guitar Teacher
Mr. Balish is a classically trained guitarist and a Suzuki certified teacher. He received his formal training from the Manhattan School of Music and holds a Master of Music in Performance and a specialized Professional Studies Diploma with a focus in performance. Though he has performed in Asia, Germany and throughout the east coast of the US, Mr Balish’s true passion lies in teaching students of all ages and experience levels. Nothing makes him happier than seeing his students develop a true love for the guitar and he creates a fun and exciting environment for them to do so.

Mrs. Sari Caine Glickstein, Chess Teacher
Mrs. Glickstein has been teaching chess in NYC schools since she was 13. She loves the art of teaching chess to children and says, “I love seeing the effects of chess on the choices children make in life, how they grow to understand the connection between actions and consequences, the importance of thinking before you act, and planning ahead.” Mrs. Glickstein has taught at numerous public and independent schools, including The Harlem Children’s Zone, Packer Collegiate School, the Dwight School, and more. Currently, she is teaching at St. Bernard’s, the City and Country School and Gillen Brewer.