Richard Brownstone, English Teacher
Richard Brownstone teaches English at Kehillah. He holds a B.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing from SUNY Empire State College and an M.A. in the Teaching of English from Columbia University, Teachers College. A native New Yorker, Richard taught high school English at The Packer Collegiate Institute for eleven years while also serving as Upper School Dean, and he then served as Head of Upper School at The Kew-Forest School and Director of Middle School at International School of Brooklyn. Prior to his career in education, Richard was a professional ballet dancer, actor, singer, musician, and database designer/programmer. He is looking forward to returning to Northern California (where he spent his late teen years), enjoying the outdoors here with his family, and finishing his next novel (under the pen name R.B. Woodstone).
Erin Bennett, Ph.D., Computer Science Teacher
Erin came to Kehillah after getting her Ph.D. in Cognitive Science from Stanford University, where she worked on projects in Natural Language Understanding and Computational Linguistics.
Erin has taught many high school, college, and graduate students in classes at Stanford and UC San Diego and one-on-one online tutoring. She has taught a range of topics including Computer Science, Calculus, Statistics, Psychology, and Robotics. She loves combining her interests and skills in interdisciplinary projects.
Outside of teaching, Erin enjoys rock climbing, quilting, juggling, acting, and spending time with her partner and her cat.
Max Daniel, Ph.D., Jewish Studies Teacher
Raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Max Daniel is a teacher, writer, and scholar of Jewish history who is passionate about exploring the range and diversity of Jewish experiences across time and space. Max comes to Kehillah from the University of California, Los Angeles where he completed his PhD in Jewish history and taught several classes. Before graduate school, he received BAs from Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary in American Studies and Jewish Literature. Max also spent time in Eastern Europe as a Service Corps Fellow with the Joint Distribution Committee, working with Moldova’s Jewish community.
Max’s teaching interests include Jewish cultures and languages (especially Ladino and Yiddish), Sephardi/Mizrahi studies, race and ethnicity, immigration, and California history. In his free time, Max enjoys playing guitar, seeing live music, playing video games, and spending time in nature.
Jeff Holcomb, Math Teacher
Jeff has been teaching math for the past 32 years. His career has taken him from California to China, Israel, and the Netherlands. On each new adventure he had opportunities to learn from a wide range of people and expanded his love of mathematics and teaching. One of the most impactful experiences he had was in The Netherlands when he was able to work with the Freudenthal Institute to develop his understanding of RME, and learn from his Japanese colleagues to better understand lesson study. He is excited to bring his knowledge, and enthusiasm to Kahillah. Jeff lives in Santa Cruz with his wife and their two children. When not teaching, Jeff enjoys riding his bike, working in the garden, baking bread, roasting coffee, and working on their house.
Christopher Kuszmaul, Computer Science Teacher
Chris Kuszmaul has taught nearly two dozen topics from Aikido to Computer Science to Creative writing in contexts from MIT, at Palo Alto High School and Tblisi State University for students ranging from elementary to undergraduates and then to NASA scientists. He was the first high school teacher of the Stanford Logic Curriculum invented the data structure known as a Shadow Heap and holds a 6th degree black belt in Aikido. He retired from his position as a Senior Research Scientist at NASA to join a second (then a third and fourth) startup. He re-retired into teaching and public service where he has functioned as the president of: Mountain View Kiwanis, The Slater PTA, and the Computer Science Teachers Association of Silicon Valley. Chris lives in Mountain View with his wife, Dr. Tracy King. They have two grown children — Jane is a farmer in Colorado and James is a robotics engineer in Mountain View. In his spare time Chris enjoys walks, tea, and announcing robotics matches at FIRST competitions. He teaches with the primary goal of knowing his students and adjusting to their needs: He combines project based and group work with the opportunity to work independently or to follow a tightly defined curriculum, and believes the best results happen when students grapple with complex challenges.
Scott Legallet, History Teacher
Scott Legallet grew up on the Peninsula and has since lived all around the Bay Area and beyond. After an undergraduate degree in Entrepreneurship from Chapman University he began his career in the culinary arts and organic agriculture. He then pivoted to education and led garden/cooking programs. He went back to school for a Master’s in Teaching from Saint Mary’s College of CA and began teaching history in Berkeley and Alameda public schools. He has taught middle and high school social studies courses from ancient civilization, world history and geography to US History, philosophy and psychology. He is a down to earth teacher who understands the importance of relationship building and connection in the classroom. Scott enjoys outdoor adventures with his wife and 2 dogs. Most weekends you will find him, his wife, and exuberant pups soaking up the sun with a frisbee and tennis ball on a continuous loop. If not, he could be cooking an intricate meal, getting dirty in a garden, engrossed in a book, or playing in a pick-up soccer game.
Michelle Morris, Sous Chef
Michelle’s love for baking started at 8 years old with her first batch of chocolate chip cookies. Over the years she has lead many successful events, providing foods that cater a range of palettes and modifying recipes for friends with dietary restrictions where needed. Michelle enjoys experimenting with unexpected flavor combinations and making decadent treats that are surreptitiously vegan. Some of her memorable creations have been requested on a regular basis. Most recently she started honing new Indian & Israeli inspired dishes.
When Michelle is not wowing folks with her delicious fare, you will find her in the surf at a Bay Area beach, the local pinball tournament or playing board games at home with friends.
Harjit Punj, Math Teacher
Harjit Punj was born and raised in India. Upon completing his BS in Electronics and Electrical Communication Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India, he completed his MS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. After a successful career as an Information Technology professional in the Silicon Valley Semiconductor Equipment industry, he obtained his California Math teaching credential and has been a Mathematics teacher for the past ten (10) years. As a teacher in primarily private schools, he has welcomed opportunities to teach AP Physics, AP Chemistry, Computer Science Principles, and Principles of Engineering. As electives, he has taught Financial Literacy, Entrepreneurship, Financial/Business plan development and Bollywood/Bhangra dance. Harjit enjoys every opportunity to play golf! Knowing that every child wants to learn, be happy and be successful, his educational philosophy is to create an environment that nurtures a positive self-image and self-confidence with the belief and message that success can and will happen with effort, discipline, and developing faith in one’s capabilities. His wife is also in the teaching profession and his two sons are married and live in Seattle and Austin. Harjit has one beloved grandson.
Hsin-Ling (Hope) Tsai, Mandarin Teacher
Hope Tsai is a passionate Mandarin language educator dedicated to fostering a motivating language learning environment with “5C” (Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities) and project-based learning (PBL). She was born in Taiwan and came to the States 16 years ago to pursue her graduate study in second language education in Connecticut. She later earned her Ph.D. in Education from Pennsylvania State University (PSU). She has taught Mandarin in both school and private settings to individuals or groups from TK to adult learners in Taiwan, Germany, and the USA for over 10 years. She was also a diversity specialist and an online campus tech support with PSU. In her Mandarin language classes, she always connects lessons with real-life topics to cultivate students’ interest and critical thinking, to be more creative, and to collaborate and communicate with other classmates and teachers. She believes everyone can learn different languages and that teaching is a work of the heart! She also advocates classical Chinese philosophy where an educator not only transmits knowledge, and provides classes, but also guides students through any confusions (师者，所以传道，授业，解惑也). Outside of the Mandarin classroom, she is a curriculum designer, career coach, world traveler, hiker, and connoisseur. She also enjoys volunteering, music concerts, sports games, Chinese chess, windsurfing, and cooking.