Gayle Elster, Guidance Support Specialist and Gurim Guidance Counselor, believes that fate brought her to CESJDS as a professional after her daughters, Hannah and Madelyn, attended the school from Kindergarten through 6th grade.
With a Bachelor Degree in Special Education from Dowling College and a Master's in Social Work from VCU, Gayle works with children that require more social-emotional support, and also provides support to teachers to ensure that all students needs are met. She not only assists students and parents in the school building, but helps families access services in the community and is an educational advocate.
"It's all about the relationships," said Gayle. "My day does not end at 3:45. I am constantly writing lists, thinking about the next day, and also what is going on in other people's lives."
This year, Gayle took on the role of Gurim Guidance Counselor. She provides our youngest students the social-emotional skills they need as a foundation to be successful, including friendships and conflict resolution. Gayle also works with the Gurim teachers to create lessons that are developmentally appropriate, and supports the class with games, discussions, and pull-out groups.
She considers her office to be everyone's home. "It's amazing how a short break, and a drink/snack can have a shifting effect on a teacher or parent's day."
Gayle knew at a very young age that she wanted to work with children that were not in typical classrooms. She was always drawn to working with people and performed/performs a great deal of volunteer work. Her career began in the Fairfax County Public School system doing educational testing and working with early childhood families. In her most recent role, she was a learning specialist at the Bender JCC, a position she created.
When Gayle is not at work, she is spending time with her family, socializing with friends, and going to the movies.
An aspect that Gayle loves about CESJDS is that the School continues to support families even after they have moved on for a variety of reasons, and she continues to support those families.
"I love this environment," she says. "I love the way it feels, I love the people. I love the work that we are doing, and the supportive community, and I feel lucky to be here."