Early Childhood

Family Inspired by a Strong Start in Gan

When the JCA building renovations are complete, there will be a dedicated lounge for educators in Michele Block Gan Yeladim Preschool & Kindergarten. The heartwarming story behind how, why and who the lounge will be named for started more than three decades ago when Helen Rowan and Paul Halloran moved to our area.

When they came to the JCA, Helen and Paul enrolled their daughter Diana in our school when she was two years old. The family grew and when it was time, their other children, Sean and Margaux, joined us at Michele Block Gan Yeladim preschool too. All three experienced their 3 to 4-year-old Teddy Bear program in Deanna Lissner’s class. In addition to being a long-time teacher, Deanna was instrumental in founding our school 50 years ago.

“We met Deanna when Diana was at a very formative stage of her development. Deanna’s warmth, professionalism, and resourcefulness helped us to channel Diana’s energy and encourage her interests – even at such a young age. No question that Deanna helped us to be better parents, and we were (and are) grateful for the advice and encouragement she gave to us,” remembers Helen. “Deanna’s ability to listen, teach, and encourage students also influenced Sean and Margaux. We have many wonderful memories from our children’s time in her classroom. Deanna profoundly impacted our family, and it was an easy decision to name the new lounge in her honor.”

Even though their children are grown, Helen and Paul continue to enjoy their decades-long JCA membership by taking regular group fitness classes and working out with our incredible personal trainers. In fact, staying in shape at the JCA is a family tradition; any time Helen and Paul’s children are in town, they come for a workout too.

So, what are Helen and Paul’s Gan grads doing now?

Diana is in her fourth and final year of her Emergency Medicine residency at Northwestern Hospital in Chicago. When she finishes at the end of June, Diana will then move to Indianapolis to complete a one-year fellowship in palliative care at the University of Indiana. Diana recently announced her engagement to fellow ER resident Dr. Rafael Lima. Mazel Tov!

Sean graduates in June with his medical degree from Dartmouth Geisel Medical School, and an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Sean is planning to do his residency in Internal Medicine and eventually specialize in Interventional Cardiology or Oncology. Mazel Tov!

Margaux graduated from Parsons School of Design in 2023 with her bachelor’s in fine arts and now lives in London. Next on Margaux’s list of achievements is earning her master’s degree in sculpture at the Royal College of Arts in London. While much of her art practice focuses on oil painting, Margaux loves both practices and often paints at home after doing sculpture work in her school studio. Mazel Tov!

Whether healing bodies medically, souls artistically, or inspiring others with their incredible gifts – our future is bright at the JCA thanks to the generosity of Helen, Paul, Diana, Sean, and Margaux.