2019-20 Faculty Team

Donna Smith Aranson

Donna Aranson Jewish Preschool Daycare Child Care Childcare Roswell GA Seeds Wonder Journey School

Founder & President  


A native Atlantan, Donna Aranson graduated with an undergraduate degree in Education and a Master's Degree in Special Education from The University of Georgia.  Donna taught in both public schools and Jewish day schools for 30 years.  Donna has been the Administrator at Intown Jewish Preschool since 2011.  


Donna and her daughter, Hannah, were so excited to make their long-time dream of opening a child-centered preschool a reality by bringing Seeds of Wonder Journey School to downtown Roswell and the Temple Kehillat Chaim community.  She is proud to provide an environment wherein each child has an opportunity to explore the world around them in a creative, Reggio-Inspired Jewish environment, and where each child’s individual style of learning is valued and nurtured.


In her spare time, Donna enjoys traveling, gardening and spending time with her 6 grandchildren!

Hannah Aranson Williams

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Executive Director/Infant Teacher


 Hannah Williams holds a BA in Middle Eastern Studies from Emory University and an MA in Jewish Studies Education from Siegal College. After teaching for fifteen years, Hannah was the Preschool Director at Lerner Jewish Community Day School in Durham, NC for 5 years.  Hannah served as the founding Director of Ahava Early Learning Center in Atlanta and served as the Chair of the Jewish Early Childhood Council of Atlanta from 2015-2019, and is now the JECCA Administrator.


Hannah’s professional development includes participation in The Covenant Foundation Fellowship for Leadership in Early Childhood Education and The Covenant/JECEI (Jewish Early Childhood Education Initiative) Fellowship. These prestigious national programs incorporated in-depth study of Jewish Early Childhood Education with a focus on the Reggio-Emilia Approach, a Study Tour in Israel and site visits to vanguard preschools throughout the United States and Israel.  


Hannah is passionate about supporting teachers, children and families along their journey! 

Merry Bentley-Barlow

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Pedagogista/PreK Teacher

 

Merry Bentley-Barlow joins the Seeds of Wonder Journey School Faculty as a Teacher and as our new Pedagogista (Curriculum Coordinator/Mentor Teacher).

Merry grew up in New Jersey and spent time living in NYC and Boston. She holds a BS in Human Development and Family Studies from Cornell University and an MS in Early Childhood Education from Boston University's Wheelock College of Eduation. 

After teaching children, ages 2-8, for 10 years, Merry took time off to start a family. 


Merry started Hands on Learning, her personal business, in which she develops and facilitates workshops for preschool teachers in 2012. She returned to the classroom in 2015, and most recently she has been teaching PreK at Northbrook Preschool in Roswell. Merry also is an instructor at Barre3. 

Shawn Hodges

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Toddler Teacher

 

Shawn Hodges earned two Master's Degrees - one in Education and one in Special Education with a specialization in Early Childhood Education from Ashford University in San Diego, California. She also obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Workforce Education and Development at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. 


Over the past 10 years, Shawn taught in Reggio-Inspired programs. Most recently, Shawn was a teacher at Mt. Vernon Presbyterian Preschool. She has more than twenty years of experience working with children of all ages, and her passion is working with children birth to five years of age. 


Shawn enjoys watching movies, spending time with her friends, traveling, and going to dinner with her family.


From Shawn: I am looking forward to growing with the children, families, colleagues and the entire school community Seeds of Wonder Journey School!

Dania Michel

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PreK Teacher

 

  Dania Michel is originally from Switzerland and grew up in Baton Rouge, LA. She knew from an early age that she loved working with children and wanted to work in the education field. Dania graduated with honors from Thomas University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Interdisciplinary studies, along with minors in Education, Art, and Psychology. Dania has worked in various non-traditional and traditional teaching environments. She taught English as a Second Language abroad, including three years independently teaching English as a Foreign Language in Israel in both Jewish and Arab communities, and children with Special Needs. Since returning to the states, Dania has worked in private and public settings in Special Education. She is currently pursuing a masters in the field of Special Education. Dania is excited to have the chance to work in a Reggio classroom and to be part of something new and inspiring in Roswell where she also resides with her family.   

Becca Mattace

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Early Preschool Teacher


Rebecca Mattace was born and raised in West Islip on Long Island in New York. In 1999, she and her husband moved to Southern California. After substitute teaching and teaching as an assistant at a private school, she decided to return to school to add to her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management. She received her Teaching Certificate in Elementary Education from the University of California Irvine. Shortly thereafter her two sons, ages 11 and 13, were born. In 2008, Becca's family moved to Roswell, Georgia. Becca taught at the preschool her sons attended for five years. Onceh her oldest son began kindergarten at Sweet Apple Elementary, Becca began substitute teaching there. Becca has experience working with children of all ages, 2 years old through 5th grade and even subbed in in the Clinic for the past few years. 
In her free time, she loves baking, cooking and helping friends and family plan vacations. Becca and her family love traveling and exploring all new places!!!
From Becca: I am so excited to have the opportunity to get to know your children and love, nurture and teach them. 

Jennifer Keeney

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Early Preschool Teacher


 Jennifer Keeney  studied Environmental Science and Forestry at SUNY Morrisville in upstate NY, holds certification in early childhood, and is an internationally certified Kindermusik educator. She began pursuing her interest in early childhood education with her own children by volunteering at summer camps, school and as a Girl Scout leader for 5 years. 


Experienced in Reggio Emilia philosophy, Jennifer most recently taught at Ahava ELC in Buckhead.  She also taught for the Fulton County Public School System for 8 years. Jennifer incorporates her love of music and learning through her thriving piano/percussion/Kindermusik studio for students ages 1 month to adult. 


In her spare time, Jennifer loves spending time with her better half, Greg, her 3 teenage daughters, a rescue dog named Joey, and 2 rescue bunnies, Franklin & Nightfury. Jennifer shares the love and joy of learning that she has shared with her own children with the parents and young children with whom she works. Jennifer is delighted to share her love of education and to instill her passion for learning within every child’s heart and soul.  


Your Picture Could Be Here!

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 Interested in joining our faculty?  Check out our Careers page for more information! 

Marlene Chastain

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Whole School Teacher


Marlene Chastain is originally from Nashville, Tennessee, and enjoys spending time in all of our classrooms - infants through PreK! Marlene helps each classroom teacher and steps in as our in-house substitute when needed. Marlne holds a B.S. in Education from George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville. Marlene moved to Atlanta in 1979 for her first teaching job, teaching 6th grade in Cobb County. For the past 20+ years Marlene has been a devoted and dedicated assistant teacher in Kindergarten and First grade at Torah Day School of Atlanta. 


Marlene’s interest and talents include Storytelling, Art, Singing, Humor and Drama. Marlene uses these outlets to bring fun and excitement into her teaching. Marlene has a great love of children of all ages and believes every child deserves great consideration of their unique and individual needs. 


From Marlene, "To be a part of this new and exciting venture is an honor and a privilege." 

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