In its 15th Year, the Shehechyanu Teacher of the Year Award Continues to Honor Life and Love


With a smile on her face and a creative project on her mind, Lisa Keller comes to work at the JCC North preschool in Dublin eager to greet her students and share her day with them. Keller’s infectious enthusiasm for learning and love for her students is especially evident to the numerous parents who nominated for her this year’s Shehechyanu Award.

Keller is honored to be the winner of this year’s Shehechyanu Award, which is presented to a teacher who has demonstrated the JCC Early Childhood Education program’s high standards and commitment to quality in her classroom by giving her all to the children and families with whom she works.

30 parent nominations were submitted for the 2013 Shehechyanu Award, but one teacher stood out among the rest. This teacher’s dedication to her students and to the JCC North is seen each day in her love for her students and her creative and joyful approach to teaching and to life.

One parent explained why they felt Keller was most deserving of the prestigious award. “Lisa is very enthusiastic and generous of energy and spirit. Her own creativity and joy are infectious: there is not a child in the Sun Room who does not brighten in her company and become engaged in the classroom explorations and play,” they wrote in their nomination form. Rabbi Rick Kellner, JCC North parent and Rabbi of Congregation Beth Tikvah, also praised Keller for her love of all the children.

Keller’s love of children truly comes out in her work, as she explained why she has worked at the JCC North for over 12 years. “The greatest joy of my job is seeing the children’s milestones and being a part of their early development,” said Keller, who taught in the Infant classroom for many years, and this past year took on the role of lead teacher in the Two-Year-Old classroom.

Each May, a well-deserving preschool teacher, making a difference in young children’s lives at the Jewish Community Center, is recognized by the JCC for their outstanding work. Brad and Holly Kastan, along with their children, Sam, Rebecca, and Jacob Kastan, created the Shehechyanu Award in honor and memory of their daughter, Sarah. This year marks the Shehechyanu Award’s 15th anniversary of honoring the teachers who make the JCC preschool one of the finest programs of its kind in Central Ohio.

Brad Kastan presented Keller with her award at the JCC’s Annual Meeting awards night and dinner, which took place this past Tuesday, May 28. He shared how much it means to him and his family to have been able to celebrate Sarah’s life in such a meaningful way for the past 15 years, by honoring the many teachers who have helped children such as their own. “Our family always looks forward to presenting the Shehechyanu Award in memory of our beloved daughter, Sarah Stone Kastan. The word, Shehechyanu, comes from the Hebrew word, chai, which means life. Although Sarah’s life was short, she taught us all how very precious and fragile the gift of life is,” said Kastan.

“While the award is our community’s chance to honor and recognize the contributions of all the teachers working at the JCC, we recognize Lisa Keller of the JCC North this year for her outstanding contributions to the program, carrying out its high ideals,” said Brad Kastan, who established the award along with his wife, Holly, and children, Rebecca, Jacob, and Sam, in 1998.