Faculty Spotlight Week 5

Courtney Collins, 4th and 5th Grade English Language Arts Teacher

How old were you when you decided to become a teacher?

I was about 24 when I decided that working in television was no longer for me and made the long drive back to Houston from Los Angeles to become a teacher.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Trust your instincts.

What is your most memorable moment at BYDS so far?

​I’d have to say the first-day students came to school on campus (versus online). It was so great to see them in person and watch them interact with each other.

What is your favorite meal? (to eat, that is, not cook)

I love sushi, it is definitely not something I could ever make, so I have to rely on the wonderful Houston Japanese restaurants.

Maria Gamero, Lead CDO Teacher

What is your favorite thing about BYDS?

My favorite thing about my job is seeing my babies’ smiles every day when they see me. It is so rewarding because I am able to watch them grow.

What can you cook to perfection? Are you willing to share the recipe?

I’m not the best cooker, but when I have time, I like to cook simple, healthy, and easy meals. One of my family favorites is my special Ahi Tuna Tartare.

Ingredients (for 1)

1 Ahi Tuna fillet

1/2 cup Unripe mango

1/4 cup of edamame 

1/2 avocado

1/2 tsp of sesame oil

1/2 tsp of hoisin sauce 

1/2 tsp of ponzu sauce

Seaweed salad

Plantain chips (optional)

Sesame seeds


Cut the ahi tuna in little squares and toss it with the sesame oil, hoisin sauce an the ponzu sauce. Set aside.

Cut the mango in little squares and set aside.

Cut the avocado in little squares mix the avocado with the edamame and add salt if desire.

In a round cake ring place the avocado and the edamame in the bottom and press it, then add the mango and then the ahi tuna. On top add the seaweed and sesame seeds. Press it with the lid and carefully take the ring out. You can eat it with plantain chips, crackers or by itself. 


What superhero talent would you most like to have?

I would like to read my kids minds so I can meet all their needs and understand them even better.

How old were you when you decided to become a teacher?

When I was in my Senior year of High School I decided to study special education. I graduated with honors when I was 23 years old and since then I have been working with kids. 

Shelly Riklin, J-STEAM Teacher

Did you know that Mrs. Riklin is an Accredited National Geographic Educator? This means she is part of a powerful movement to make the world a better place by empowering students to be informed decision-makers equipped to solve meaningful challenges in their communities and beyond.

How would you describe your role?

Describing J-STEAM is quite fun. I get the privilege of teaching our students about the way the world works through science, technology, engineering, art, and math. We also get to see Judaism through a STEAM lens, linking our holidays and values with relevant STEAM lessons. I get to help our kids look at the world and think about it in an analytical way by using the scientific method as well as the engineering process.

What is your most used emoji?


What are you most proud of this year in regard to your work at BYDS?

The kids! They are excited about our lessons, have learned to persevere through all of the challenges we have been faced with this year, and together we have learned that anything is possible as long as we keep an open mind and work together. 

What is your favorite sport to watch? To play?

Well, it used to be football back when the Chargers still played in San Diego (my hometown) but now I’d say soccer. I don’t really get the opportunity to play many sports these days.

Do you prefer reading paper or electronic books?


Lauren Sorkin, 1st Grade Teacher

What is your favorite dish served in Hot Lunch?

Tomato basil soup

What are your hobbies/interests (other than making BYDS great)?

I like being with my family and friends, watching my boys play sports, making bracelets and reading!

What are you “free” reading right now?

Whatever my book club is reading! Right now, we are reading The Light in Hidden Places

What is your favorite treat?

Chips and Queso

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