On Sunday, June 17 the JCC will begin operating on a summer hours schedule. Please visit lvjcc.org/hoursanddirections for a full list of summer building and pool hours.

Meet Our Staff


Alexa Karakos, ECE Director

I have been in the Early Childhood field since graduating college with my degree in Family/Child Services with a certification to teach preschool through 6th grade.  I live in Stroudsburg with my husband of 39 years. We are proud parents of our daughter and her husband who live in Lancaster and our son and his wife who reside in Seattle, WA.  We have three grand-dogs and enjoy traveling when time permits.  I have begun my second year as Director of the Early Childhood Program at the JCC, and I realize how blessed I am to work with the dedicated and loving teachers you are about to get to know.


Ashley Snyder

I graduated from Penn State Lehigh Valley in 2012 with a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education. I live at home with my parents and my sister. We have two dogs, two turtles, and five fish. Ever since I was a child myself I knew I wanted to work with children. When I got the opportunity to work at the JCC I was thrilled. I started out as a substitute and worked in almost every room and age group. Eventually I was offered a full time position as a young toddler teacher. I love working with that age group, but I have always wanted to work with infants. When I got the chance to join that room, I took it. I absolutely love what I do.


Jessica Smith

I have worked in the Infant Room for 21 years. I graduated from Northwestern Lehigh High School in 1993 with an award from the Vo-Tech Program for Child Care with Best All Around Student. I attended LCCC where I got my Specialized Diploma in Infant Care. I recently celebrated my 20th wedding anniversary with my husband. We have two adorable beagles named Patches and Peanut. I  grew up in Germansville, PA and am now living in Palmerton, PA. I enjoy spending time with family, especially our niece Vanessa who is 9 years old. We’ve babysat her since she was 8 weeks old. I am looking forward to taking care of your children!


Joanne Rothman

I’ve worked at the J since 1995. I’ve worked in different departments over the years, however I currently work with the young toddlers (14 months to 2 years old). I have two children, Lisa and Keith, and four grandchildren, Gabriel, Kyle, Christopher, and Haley. I love working with the children and seeing how they progress from September to June. It’s very exciting and rewarding for me.


Kathy Wentworth

I began my wonderful journey at the JCC thirteen years ago as a substitute teacher. I enjoyed the experience so much that I was asked to be an assistant teacher with Sheryl Block. Over the years I have had the pleasure of working with all of the age groups. This year I am excited to be working in the Infants and Kindergarten rooms, then spending the afternoon with the toddlers. The two-year-olds are so eager to learn and explore; they are like little sponges ready to absorb the ever-expanding world around them! I received my BS degree from the University of Connecticut-School of Family Studies. I continued my education at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, receiving an AAS degree. After 10 years of working in the city, my husband and I moved to Pennsylvania to raise a family. We are blessed to have two wonderful sons, Bruce III and Colin, who are now 23 and 21 years old.


Barbara McGunnigle

I'm a proud mother of two wonderful children and blessed with four amazing grandchildren. I've been at the J for seventeen years and love caring and teaching the children and working with a great staff.


Sara Ritter

Sara graduated from Franklin & Marshall College with a degree in English and from Muhlenberg College with a teaching certification.  She spent five years teaching swimming to preschoolers before making the move into the classroom at the JCC, where she is now in her third year of teaching pre-k.  Sara lives in Allentown and enjoys baking, watching classic sci-fi and horror movies (especially Alien), and reading anything and everything.  At the JCC, you will likely find her lying on the floor of her classroom wearing a Star Wars t-shirt, surrounded by a pile of Legos and several inquisitive children.  Don't be intimidated by her apparent seriousness; it's just her face.  She loves her job and wouldn't want to be anywhere else!


Leslie Bunick

This is my twelfth year working as a teacher at the JCC. I am currently working in Pre-K, but I have also worked with the three-year-olds. My family and I moved to Allentown from Long Island, New York in 1991. All three of my grown children attended JCC preschool and JCC camp. I have a BA in economics and a teaching certification in elementary education from Kutztown.  I love getting to know all the children and their families in my class every year! In my free time I enjoy cooking, reading, and movies and family get-togethers.


Mike Smith

Mike graduated from LCCC with a degree in TV & Film and realized that children are much more fun than Tom Hanks. He quickly returned to college and earned himself a degree in Early Childhood Education and hasn’t looked back. He grew up at the JCC both literally and figuratively. This is Mr. Mike’s second year teaching Pre-K at the JCC. Mike also works year-round as Program Coordinator for Camp JCC, where he attended as a camper and worked as a counselor for almost ten years. Mike enjoys spending time with his dogs, watching Netflix, and Seinfeld. Occasionally he can be spotted walking his classroom guinea pig, Esther, on the second floor of the JCC. 


Debbie Weber

I have worked at the JCC of Allentown in the Early Childhood Education Department for fifteen years. My first three years I was an Aide in the three-year-old class with Sheryl Block. The last twelve years I have been an Assistant Teacher in the kindergarten class. I also worked in the summer nursery camp with the three-year-olds, babies, and one year in the Pre-K room. I am a native New Yorker and I moved to Allentown twenty-two years ago. I am married with two children, ages 20 and 24. Both of my boys attended the JCC Early Childhood Education program from three years old through kindergarten. I enjoy working at the JCC for a few reasons. First, I love to work and play with young children. Second, I enjoy the atmosphere and the people I come in contact with each day. Finally, I feel very at home working in a Jewish learning environment. I also get pleasure by observing them grow socially and emotionally. They love to learn new things and I feel rewarded when I have helped them to achieve a new goal. The children make me smile when I see how excited they get when they make someone else feel good or make a new friend. I have also found that working with young children keeps me young as well!


Holly Hebron

This is my seventh school year at the JCC and fifth year teaching Kindergarten.  During the summer, I enjoy teaching art and swimming at Camp JCC.   Before that, I taught preschool and school age children for approximately 14 years.  I have my Bachelors of Science degree in Elementary Education from Cedar Crest College. I have two children. My daughter Ashley also works in the early childhood field and my son Baily began high school this year.  I love dogs and my pets include Daisy, a West Highland Terrier and Trixie, a Pomeranian and Chihuahua mix. When I am not teaching, I enjoy playing board games, spending time outside, cooking, and watching movies with my family. Kindergarten is such an amazing year in a child’s life!  It is so exciting to watch the children learn and grow over the school year!  I am privileged to be teaching in such a supportive learning environment and I look forward to an exceptional school year. 

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