Faculty and Staff

Faculty

Katy Ailes

First Grade Teacher

Katy Ailes

First Grade Teacher

This is Katy’s fourth year at Park Day School. Previously, Katy taught at a small private school in Sacramento, California for two years and, before that, she was an early childhood teacher for six years in progressive public schools in New York City. She received her training at Bank Street College of Education in New York City while assistant teaching at Trevor Day School in Manhattan. Katy also taught for GO Project in New York City- an academic outreach program for at-risk youth.

During her time at Park Day, Katy has been a member of the Agency by Design fellowship along with second grade teacher, Susan Lee and Design Make Engage program Director Ilya Pratt. This program brings together teachers from diverse schools around Oakland to collaborate and to consider ways of integrating maker-centered learning practices and routines into the classroom. Katy has enjoyed bringing this work into her own classroom as well as leading staff in professional development opportunities related to maker centered learning.

Katy is a trained ballet dancer and she received her BFA in Ballet Performance from the University of Utah. She continues to enjoy taking class and going to watch the ballet. She also enjoys teaching ballet to children of all ages. In her free time, Katy likes to spend time with her husband Derek and their four cats, and she is expected her first child in September 2018.

Jeff Allen

7th & 8th Grade Math Teacher

Jeff Allen

7th & 8th Grade Math Teacher

Jeff grew up in Albany and Berkeley and received his BA in architecture at UC Berkeley. He spent fifteen years in the design, engineering and construction industry in Saudi Arabia, arctic Alaska and throughout the “lower 48”, followed by fifteen years in computer hardware and software development. He volunteered weekly for math labs in his two kids’ Albany school classrooms which prompted him to make yet another major career change. Jeff has taught high school and middle school, Albany, Berkeley, Richmond and Oakland schools. Jeff joined Park Day School in 2012.

Jeff has presented his strategies for using a model railroad as a vehicle for learning at conferences throughout the US.

Lisa Appleyard

Middle School Math Specialist

Lisa Appleyard

Middle School Math Specialist

Lisa has been teaching since 1995, just after earning a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from St. Mary’s College. She’s taught at several Bay Area schools, most recently Nea Community Learning Center, Archway Middle School, and Windrush School (2000-2012) where she instructed students in Math, Science, and Performing Arts. Lisa was thrilled to join the Park Day community last year and is looking forward to another fun year.

As Middle School Math Specialist, Lisa enjoys designing authentic learning opportunities with the students in math class and incorporating projects involving art and design into the curriculum. Recently, Lisa has had the opportunity to participate in a number of math professional development programs including Action Research Cohort at Nea, a “teaching fractions” intensive with Professor Wu at UC Berkeley and Math Teachers Circle at AIM, a weeklong workshop for math teachers focusing on problem solving strategies.

When she is not teaching, you might find Lisa running, strolling with her dog, Ramona, bike riding with her two sons, or performing on a local stage.

Yamil Assi

Middle School Spanish Teacher

Yamil Assi

Middle School Spanish Teacher

Yamil was born and raised in Patagonia, in southern Argentina. He began teaching social studies in his home town, and since moving to the United States 10 years ago has transitioned into teaching Spanish. He has an MA in Latin American History from the University of Patagonia, San Juan Bosco. Outside of school life, Yamil enjoys going on hikes in the East Bay with his wife and children, as well as taking care of their backyard chickens and garden. Argentina is famous for its passion for soccer, and Yamil and his family embrace this passion as well.

Noreen Axelson

3rd-5th Learning Specialist

Noreen Axelson

3rd-5th Learning Specialist

Noreen graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in Psychology and Social Welfare. She put those skills to work in the practice of corporate finance law for several years and began a family before returning to her college passion to earn a Certificate in Educational Therapy and a Masters in Education. She has worked as a learning specialist and educational therapist for almost 20 years and has been a learning specialist at Park Day School since 2012.

Noreen has three grown daughters and lives in Berkeley with her husband (a retired lawyer and newly licensed registered nurse), her younger daughters who are saving rent by living at home, two cats, and a step-cat. She spends her free time reading, gardening, and experimenting with gluten-free cooking.

Vera Balarin

Lower School Math Specialist

Vera Balarin

Lower School Math Specialist

Vera joined PDS in 2016 as a math consultant. Vera graduated with a degree in mathematics, statistics, and computer science from the University of Zagreb in Croatia. After working as a programmer for several years in Switzerland, Austria, Croatia, and the U.S., she discovered her passion for teaching in 1999. She has been teaching mathematics and working as a math consultant and coach in various independent schools in Bay Area. Vera is looking forward to spending more time at PDS this school year and sharing her love and enthusiasm for mathematics with our young mathematicians.

Grecia Bloom

K-2nd Spanish Teacher

Grecia Bloom

K-2nd Spanish Teacher

Grecia was born in Mexico to a family of teachers and has been working in the classroom for years, most recently in Orinda Public Schools. She has a BA degree in Communications from the University of Veracruz and a Scientific Film Minor from the International School of Film and Video. Since 2006, Grecia has been teaching Spanish and art to Kindergarten through fourth grade students and has found her passion in teaching Spanish. She brings her cultural roots to her teaching, as well as her interests in art and Mexican folk dancing.

Becky Bob-Waksberg

Sixth Grade Math-Science Teacher

Becky Bob-Waksberg

Sixth Grade Math-Science Teacher

Becky grew up in the Bay Area playing math games and taking the redwoods for granted. After receiving her BA from Oberlin College, she came back to get her teaching credential and MA at Mills College. She has taught a variety of subjects in 4th through 8th grade, and she especially loves giving students tools and opportunities to think critically and creatively about their environment and world.

Becky is a Teacher Leader with the Park City Math Institute. She has training in teaching mindfulness, English language acquisition, and conflict resolution, and is certified in facilitating and mediating with a social justice lens.  Outside of school, Becky sings with the Oakland Symphony and volunteers with the Ella Baker Center in their work against mass incarceration. She and her sister have a sibling cover band in which she sings and plays the ukulele and autoharp.

Amida Cary

Kindergarten Teacher

Amida Cary

Kindergarten Teacher

Amida began her teaching career at Montessori school in Santa Fe, New Mexico. After working there for several years she and her family moved to the east coast where she spent over 20 years teaching in a progressive school in grades K, 1 and 4. There she created new curriculum including, for Kindergarten, “Festivals of India,” and for fourth, “Ecosystems of the Chesapeake Bay” and “The Travels of Ibn Battuta” which received awards from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the National Geographic Society respectively.

In 2004 Amida moved to Berkeley and taught for a year at North Oakland Community Charter School before joining Park Day School’s staff as a Kindergarten teacher in the fall of 2007. Amida is pleased to have found an educational home at Park. As a lover of cultural variety and the natural world, a perennial student, a teacher of Sufi meditation, and an advocate for children and Earth, she is especially proud of and resonant with Park’s emphasis on building a diverse community of learners, supporting changemakers, teaching ecoliteracy, and introducing mindfulness training to children.

Sonya Coles

Fifth Grade Teacher

Sonya Coles

Fifth Grade Teacher

Sonya was raised in southern California and has lived all over the state but Oakland is her favorite. She graduated from Westmont College with her BA in Elementary Education and completed her MA in Curriculum and Instruction at University of the Pacific. Sonya has been teaching for 7 years in public, independent and charter schools here in the United States and abroad in Saudi Arabia. Sonya has a passion for social justice and educational technology and hopes to bring both to her students through authentic and hands on learning. In her free time Sonya loves to travel, bake, and watch Warrior games!

Ben Doyle

Second Grade Assistant Teacher

Ben Doyle

Second Grade Assistant Teacher

Ben is a teaching assistant as part of his internship with the Bay Area Teacher’s Training Institute, a 2-year graduate program, in Oakland. The parent of a 3 year-old and an avid rock climber, Ben is a West Virginia native and got to California after a lengthy climbing-pilgrimage.

After graduating from Guilford College in Greensboro, NC, Ben worked for Second Nature Wilderness Therapy in Georgia and then in Utah. In 2008, Ben made a trip to Yosemite and fell in love with the Sierra. He became an EMT and joined Yosemite Search and Rescue in spring 2009, working in Yosemite for 6 years as a Search and Rescue Technician and then as a Park Ranger.

He left Yosemite in 2014 and landed in the Bay Area to support his (ex) partner. Ben now lives in Oakland and spends much of his time parenting and making trips to the Sierra to climb and the North Coast to dive. Ben loves to ramble in the wilds with his son, Sam and partner Tay.

Gina Giarmo

Kindergarten Assistant Teacher

Gina Giarmo

Kindergarten Assistant Teacher

Prior to joining the Park Day team, Gina spent two years as a preschool teacher at Step One School in Berkeley, where she also substitute taught while completing her B.A. in Psychology from UC Berkeley. Gina’s passion for working with children grew from her summers spent as a teacher at the Peninsula School in Menlo Park, as well as from her years as a nanny and children’s cooking teacher. After graduating, Gina spent a few years developing a career in sustainable food systems before returning to Step One. She is currently pursuing her Master’s in Education & Multiple Subject Teaching Credential through the Bay Area Teacher Training Institute (BATTI). Outside of school, Gina enjoys cooking, listening to live music, and spending time outdoors. Gina will be assisting in Elizabeth’s Kindergarten class.

Jeanine Harmon

Director of Community Outreach & Service Learning

Jeanine Harmon

Director of Community Outreach & Service Learning

Jeanine Harmon has over 25 years of experience working in both public and private schools as a classroom teacher, administrator and consultant. Prior to her position as Director of Community Outreach and Service Learning at Park Day, Jeanine was the public school liaison for the Bay Area Teacher Training Institute (BATTI).

Jeanine has taught courses for student teachers in math and science curriculum development at St. Mary’s College in Moraga. She has a master’s degree in Educational Technology from San Francisco State University and is rarely seen without her camera. Jeanine enjoys working with PDS staff and students to design service learning projects that connect the students with the local community and the world at large.

Marisa Hatcher

Fourth Grade Assistant Teacher

Marisa Hatcher

Fourth Grade Assistant Teacher

Marisa is so excited to be apart of the Park Day community this year. She is passionate about mentoring and teaching students and athletes to help them obtain their goals. She is currently working on her Single Subject Physical Education credential at Touro University in Vallejo, Ca. Prior to Park Day she was a substitute teacher for Vallejo Unified School District. She is proud to now call the east bay home where she referees high school basketball and also coaches for the Golden State Warriors Jr. NBA camps.

Jennifer Hoggatt

Seventh Grade Humanities Teacher

Jennifer Hoggatt

Seventh Grade Humanities Teacher

Prior to joining Park Day School, Jen taught Middle School English for four years at the Alta-Vista School, a progressive, independent school in San Francisco. In addition, she also taught upper elementary grades for eight years on the Peninsula. Jen comes to us with a B.A. in Child and Adolescent Development from San Francisco State University; an M.A. in Elementary Education and Teaching and a C.L.A.D. Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, both from USF. For the past thirteen years, Jen has been an educator committed to helping students become successful, lifelong learners who are eager to contribute to their community. She especially enjoys supporting middle school students as they travel, change, and explore through the written and spoken word. Lessons place an emphasis on critical thinking, skill building and conversation. By pushing in these directions, Jen’s students leave the classroom with a greater appreciation and respect for themselves, each other, and our global communities. In her free time, Jen enjoys practicing yoga, reading, creating fiber art, traveling, and tasting all the delights that Oakland has to offer.

Devin Homme

Third Grade Teacher

Devin Homme

Third Grade Teacher

Devin was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN by a community of teachers. He graduated from Macalester College in Minnesota where he studied education and creative writing. Before teaching at Park Day, he taught in a variety of educational settings ranging from running his own 5th grade classroom, to coaching soccer, to creating and implementing educational programming for youth and their parents at Planned Parenthood.
He has been at Park Day for five years and his Masters Degree in Education is through the BATTI program which he completed in May 2016. When he’s not in the classroom, Devin can be found building forts and eating burritos with his three daughters. He can also be found laughing with his wife at the amount of children under five they have. If you look hard enough, you’ll hopefully see him playing more soccer again.

Lamont Horston

Kindergarten Assistant Teacher

Lamont Horston

Kindergarten Assistant Teacher

Lamont was born and raised in East Oakland and grew up playing basketball in middle school and all through High school taking him to Merritt College to continue. Lamont studies child development and has already obtained his AA and is currently working on his BA with the goal of getting his teaching credential. Lamont has been working with children since the 9th grade in summer camps, after school programs and coaching basketball. Lamont has coached 2 seasons of middle school boys varsity basketball, 2 seasons of middle school flag football, and 1 season of middle school varsity volleyball, and 1 season of middle school girls varsity basketball. Last year he assisted in all double PE classes. Additionally, he runs multiple sports enrichment classes each year for the after school program, which is where he got his start at Park Day. He also started Park Day’s first basketball camp two summers ago, and looks forward to starting it up again this coming summer.  He is a big kid at heart and takes pride in making sure kids are always fit, engaged, and learning new things to the best of their ability!

Jahi Johnson

First Grade Teacher

Jahi Johnson

First Grade Teacher

Jahi was born and raised in the Bay Area. He obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from UC Riverside and returned to the Bay Area after finishing his coursework. For the past three years, Jahi has been working at Head-Royce School in grades 1-3. Jahi strives to give children the education, skills and tools they need to be successful in life. Jahi has worked with youth of all ages in various capacities prior to completing his Multiple Subject Credential and Master’s of Education program at Holy Names University. He has worked as both a short and long term substitute teacher in multiple school districts, and coached basketball at Berkeley High. Jahi is the oldest of six and loves to spend time with his family whenever he can. He also enjoys being outdoors, running, cooking and reading.

Monty Joyce

Lower School Physical Education Specialist

Monty Joyce

Lower School Physical Education Specialist

Originally from New York City, Monty has worked in youth development and education for almost 10 years and holds a BA in Communication and Media Studies from Fordham University. Originally working in the non-profit sector, Monty ran a local branch of an award winning childhood obesity prevention program called CATCH Healthy Habits for almost 3 years, working with youth in low income communities and teaching healthier nutrition habits and physical activity. His work in children’s health and wellness lead him to the San Francisco Bay Area where he worked as Playworks Coach in San Francisco’s Bessie Carmichael Elementary School for 2 year where he taught social emotional physical education classes, coordinated recess and coached intramural sports. This is his 3rd year at Park Day School where he also coaches for The Mighty Apples teams in various sports.
When Monty isn’t teaching, he enjoys playing sports, traveling, reading and exploring the wonders of Northern California.

Carrie Kartman

Middle School Learning Specialist

Carrie Kartman

Middle School Learning Specialist

Originally from Ithaca, New York, Carrie has lived in the Bay Area since 1979. She holds degrees in Drama, Creative Writing, and Educational Therapy. She began her teaching career in the Creative Writing department at S.F. State University in 1995. Since then she has taught at Everett Middle School as a member of San Francisco WritersCorps/Americorps, tutored in the East Bay for over ten years, taught drama as a Teaching Artist with Walnut Creek Civic Arts, and been a classroom teacher at  Raskob Day School and Bayhill High School. She  was a Learning Specialist at The Mills College Children’s School, conducted psycho-educational assessments for The Ann Martin Children’s Center, and most recently was the District Reading Specialist in Piedmont Unified’s Special Education Department. For over ten years she has maintained a private practice in educational therapy. She has also published essays, articles, and short fiction, and her plays have been seen in local theaters. Carrie was a founding board member of Twins by the Bay, a local support group for parents of twins. In her free time she can often be found at the theatre, or enjoying the outdoors.

Susan Lee

Second Grade Teacher

Susan Lee

Second Grade Teacher

Susan has taught second grade at Park Day School since 2004. She grew up in southern California, and received her Bachelors as a double major from U.C.L.A. in Psychology and Asian American Studies. After teaching English to elementary and middle school children in Japan, she earned her California multi-subject teaching credential and M.E.D. from U.C. Berkeley through U.C.B’s Developmental Teacher Education program. She is a teacher consultant for the Bay Area Writing Project, has co-coordinated BAWP Young Writers Camps, and enjoys spending summers teaching writing to enthusiastic Young Writers. She has also participated as a fellow with the Agency by Design Fellowship in Oakland.

Sara Levine

Fourth Grade Teacher

Sara Levine

Fourth Grade Teacher

As a Berkeley native, Sara is deeply rooted in the Bay Area and is thrilled to join the Park Day team. For the past 8 years she taught fourth grade and middle school math at Oakland Hebrew Day School, and previously worked in special education in Berkeley Unified School District. She got her BA in Psychology from UC Santa Cruz and her Teaching Credential and Masters Degree in Education from Mills College, focusing on how high achieving math students respond to challenge. In her teaching, she cares deeply about social emotional learning, perspective taking, and developing strong growth mindsets. In her free time she loves to make art, go to comedy shows, take nature breaks, and sing around campfires in the redwoods with her friends.

Miguel Martinez

Middle School Music Teacher

Miguel Martinez

Middle School Music Teacher

Born in Chiapas, México, Miguelito Martinez studied Music Education and Transversal Flute from the University of Science and Art in Chiapas and La Universidad Veracruzana with trained in Kodaly and Dalcroze and he has his Orff Schulwerk music certification by the San Francisco Orff International Levels. He has an intensive experience teaching multicultural music from pre-school to the post-graduate level in Mexico, Cuba, and the US. Miguel has been a guest clinician for the AOSA (American Orff-Schulwerk Association), CMEA (California Music Education Association) and The OUSD (Oakland Unified District).  He has been a music teacher and multicultural arts educator since 2004 in the bay area. Miguel was a music teacher specialist for Young Imagination, Youth in Arts teaching all over the bay area from Kinder garden until High School.  Miguelito was working at Escuela Bilingue Internacional for many years developing an IB (International Baccalaureate) music curriculum. He is the founding director of Corazon Sur a Mexican-Caribbean fusion ensemble and co-director of Balamcoatl; a collaborative project focused on diffusing the vibrant music and dance traditions of the indigenous people of México. Miguelito stays busy in the San Francisco Bay Area’s Latin music scene, playing Afro-Caribbean Music and  Latin Jazz with Internationally renowned musicians. In 2009 he was selected by the Santana Milagro Foundation to be on the Voces del Cambio show on the Discovery Channel in which he shared his insight on how to utilize music as an instrument for newcomer children from Latin America to integrate into their new community.  In the same year, he was awarded the best Latin Jazz Flautist of The Year for the Latin Jazz Corner. Besides his busy musical career as a composer, musician, and educator, He enjoys cooking, traveling, and hiking with his daughter Ollin.

Michelle McAfee

Second Grade Teacher

Michelle McAfee

Second Grade Teacher

Michelle was born in Irumagawa, Honshu, Japan and moved to Cape Cod, Massachusetts when she was three years old, later moving with her parents to Northern California. From Japan to Cape Cod to the East Bay, through her exposure to a wide variety of cultures and experiences, she enveloped the concept of E Pluribus Unum (many uniting into one), the axle from which her teaching philosophy and curriculum stem. Teaching is her route to help build cultural bridges of understanding for young minds to traverse while they are developing empathy and learning to embrace diversity. Michelle attended UC Berkeley for her undergraduate degree in Mass Communications and later completed the multi-subject credentialing program at San Francisco State. Through the program, Teachers of Color in Independent Schools, Michelle taught at The Hamlin School for Girls in San Francisco, and later, The East Bay Sierra School (currently Prospect Sierra) before coming to Park Day in 1992. During her sabbatical year at Park, Michelle was accepted for a research fellowship with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance Project in Montgomery, Alabama. There she wrote literary reviews for classroom and professional development material, published articles, led classroom workshops, and made presentations at southern universities. Michelle has been trained as a teacher consultant for UC Berkeley’s Bay Area Writing Project, and brings this program to teachers in Oakland through workshops, and students during the summer through BAWP’s Young Writer’s Camp. Michelle has two sons, Alessio and Nolan, the latter a PDS alum. Michelle enjoys beading, reading, nature, photography and digital art, attending plays, scrapbooking and writing.

Elizabeth McDowell

Kindergarten Teacher

Elizabeth McDowell

Kindergarten Teacher

Elizabeth grew up on the East coast as well as in the West Indies, on the small island of Bequia. It was there that her love of teaching was born as she volunteered at a small local school. Elizabeth graduated from Guilford College, a Friends school in North Carolina, with a BA in socio-anthropology. She received her Masters in Early Childhood Education from Norfolk State University. Before moving to Oakland, Elizabeth taught kindergarten for 12 years in the public school system in Norfolk, Va. Elizabeth has been working at Park Day School for 8 years. She began as the kindergarten assistant before stepping up to lead teacher three years ago.
When she’s not teaching, Elizabeth enjoys singing, reading, traveling and being silly with her daughter Sophie, a student at Park Day School.

Sara Mohn

K-2nd Learning Specialist

Sara Mohn

K-2nd Learning Specialist

Sara holds a Masters Degree in teaching from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA, and a graduate-level certificate in educational therapy from Holy Names University. Before joining Park Day, she was a classroom teacher for seven years, including one in Japan. She has taught grades 2-4 as a self-contained classroom teacher, and has been a reading support teacher for third-graders. Additionally, she has worked as an intervention tutor while completing her educational therapy studies. She has training in Orton-Gillingham, Slingerland, and Lindamood Bell structured reading methodologies. Sara is an 80% employee here at Park Day School. Outside of her professional life, Sara likes to spend time with her husband and two daughters, take long runs on trails, and play fetch with her furry pup, Millie.

Denise Montgomery

First Grade Teacher

Denise Montgomery

First Grade Teacher

Denise returned to Park Day School in 2014 after a 5 year stint at St Paul’s where she went through the BATTI Program (Bay Area Teacher Training Institute) and then taught kindergarten. Previously Denise taught k-2 Spanish at Park Day for one year covering a sabbatical, and also assisted and taught after school drama. Having received both a BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) and an MFA (Master of Fine Arts) in acting, Denise loves to weave theatre into her teaching. Don’t be surprised if you find puppets, plays and a range of entertaining characters in her classroom. Denise lives in Oakland with her husband, Spencer. In her spare time she enjoys gardening, yoga, Tibetan Buddhist meditation and outdoor adventure.

Lisa Ostapinski

Lower School Art Specialist

Lisa Ostapinski

Lower School Art Specialist

Originally from San Diego, Lisa has been an Oakland resident for 23 years. She is a professional painter who has taught art in the Bay Area for over 16 years, in independent school as well as through the Museum of Children’s Art in Oakland. She holds a BFA in studio art from Mills College and an MA in art and art education from the Teachers College in New York. Lisa started making art when she was about three years old with her grandparents at home who were both artists and she never stopped. She believes in the power of the arts to transform, to inspire, to imagine, to bring people together, and in the words of Toni Cade Bambara to “make the revolution irresistible.”

When Lisa isn’t painting or teaching art she is spending time with her family including her seven year old son, hiking, cooking, gardening and dancing.  She has enjoyed the study of African Brazilian and Haitian dance for 20 years.

Joseph Patton

Gardening Specialist

Joseph Patton

Gardening Specialist

Joe is thrilled to be a part of the Park Day School community as the Learning Garden teacher. With over five years of experience in gardening education, he recently graduated with a master’s degree in Geography at the University of Arizona, focusing on local food systems and public art. In Tucson, he worked as a field coordinator for The Community and School Garden Program, developing and leading garden education curriculum for K-12th grade students and assisting with the designing, planting, and maintaining of fruit and vegetable garden sites. Prior to graduate school, Joseph served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nicaragua, working on issues relating to food security and sustainable agriculture. His projects included designing and implementing food-processing and agribusiness workshops, leading a school garden program for youth, and installing solar panels in the community with the assistance of a USAID grant. Joseph is excited to collaborate with his fellow Learning Garden teacher, Amelea Canaris, on developing curriculum that nurtures Park Day School students’ academic, social, and emotional learning.

Joey Peña

First Grade Assistant Teacher

Joey Peña

First Grade Assistant Teacher

Joey is a new addition to the Park Day team and will be joining as a Teaching Assistant in first grade. Joey graduated from Stanford University in 2017, studying Learning in an interdisciplinary program called Symbolic Systems. They have previously worked at St. Paul’s Episcopal School in the after-school program and as a caretaker. They are currently pursuing a Multiple Subject Credential and Masters Degree in Education with the Bay Area Teacher Training Institute (BATTI). Joey is non-binary, grew up in the suburbs of Dallas, TX, and calls Oakland home.

Dr. Andrea Peoples-Marwah

7th and 8th Grade Science Teacher

Dr. Andrea Peoples-Marwah

7th and 8th Grade Science Teacher

Dr. Andrea Peoples-Marwah is an educator and researcher. Trained as a Biologist, she has 25+ years of teaching experience in the sciences incorporating her research within Multiple Intelligences. Andrea has made numerous contributions to education organizations abroad, in the United States, and within her community. She holds a Doctorate in education, administration,and policy studies from The George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development – Washington DC. She currently spends her time between the San Francisco Bay and greater Los Angeles areas with her husband who is a Professor in Justice and Policy Studies/Criminology, a daughter who is an actress and a bearded dragon named Sister Pickles.

Alisa Peres

3rd-5th Spanish Teacher

Alisa Peres

3rd-5th Spanish Teacher

Alisa joined the staff of Park Day in 2014.  She grew up in Brooklyn, NY and fell in love with Spanish in the fourth grade through a weekly class offered in her school.  She told her parents she was going to live in a Spanish speaking country one day and since then, has travelled or lived in Ecuador, Chile, Peru, Argentina, Mexico, and El Salvador.  Alisa went to Boston University, where she received her teaching degree in elementary and special education.  One of her first jobs as a young teacher in California was teaching Spanish at the Walden School in Berkeley, where she was deeply and permanently impacted by progressive education.  After seven years at Walden, Alisa went on to teach Spanish and music in a number of other schools in the east bay, including Manzanita SEED Dual Immersion Elementary School in Oakland.  Through her work with an organization called Guitars In The Classroom, she has also taught many classroom teachers throughout the Bay Area to play guitar and integrate music into all aspects of their curriculum.  In 2015, Alisa earned her Masters in Education with a concentration in Language and Literacy.
 Alisa was a founding member of the performing group Colibrí, with whom she performed Latin American folkloric music for twenty years.   She lives in in Berkeley with her teenage son, and enjoys travel, playing music, gardening, and hiking.

Cristina Portela

Middle School Art Specialist

Cristina Portela

Middle School Art Specialist

Cristina was born in Puerto Rico and still has all of her family there. She loves the Island’s warm ocean breeze. Her first degree was a BBA, in Marketing. She worked in the field for a few years before hearing the call to pursue her real passion. That’s when she moved to San Francisco to attend the San Francisco Art Institute, were she obtained a BFA, in Sculpture and Photography and MFA, in Sculpture. 

Cristina’s first teaching experience was at Creativity Explored, a San Francisco non- profit that helps people with disabilities become artists within their own right. “These artists with disabilities are true to who they are,” says Cristina. “They aren’t afraid to create. Experimenting with materials gives them freedom and joy.” Cristina’s artwork resonates with this joy; the playfulness and the process of experimentation. She has been teaching Art to children for over a decade, and joined Park Day School in January 2013.

Ilya Pratt

Director of Design+Make+Engage Program

Ilya Pratt

Director of Design+Make+Engage Program

At the heart of Ilya’s educational practice is a deep curiosity about out how things work, whether it is a child’s approach to problem solving or an engineering design solution. Ilya has worked with children and educators for over three decades, in school and non-school settings. As the director of Park Day School’s Design+Make+Engage program and the Innovation Workshop, Ilya provides integrated and collaborative programming supporting STEM, community service and social justice curricula. In addition, Ilya is a member of the Agency by Design Oakland leadership team, facilitating a teacher fellowship in maker-centered learning classroom practices. Ilya was a Maker Leader for Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) Project Zero, Agency by Design, a research project exploring the promises and practices of maker-centered learning. She has also been an instructional coach for the HGSE online course, Thinking and Learning in the Maker-Centered Classroom. Previously, Ilya founded Park Day School’s Learning Resource Program, one of the first in Bay Area independent schools. She has taught for the Boston Children’s Museum, Ullens School in Nepal, and the Sonoma State University Maker Certificate program. Ilya’s lifelong learning includes B.A. Studio Art/Art History; M.A. Special Education and Certificate in Educational Therapy; extensive trainings in neuropsychological perspectives and addressing learning differences; and a host of workshops related to industrial arts, digital fabrication, and maker-centered learning.

Jackie Rago

Lower School Music Specialist

Jackie Rago

Lower School Music Specialist

Jackie has more than 20 years experience teaching music to preschoolers through adults, most recently serving as Teacher and Music Program Director at Escuela Bilinque Internacional (EBI) for 10 years. Jackie holds a BA  from Holy Names College / Music and Arts Insitute of San Francisco and completed Orff-Schulwerk teaching certification from Dominican College, San Francisco. She is also an accomplished performer and continues to keep that aspect of her musicianship alive. Last summer, Jackie studied music in Ghana with a group of teachers that included Jim Santi-Owen, our middle school music teacher. Jackie will bring her Venezuelan culture and expertise to our music program, as well as incorporate robust Spanish language learning. She has been a highly sought after presenter, inspiring teachers around the world. Jackie will bring much joy and heart to our program and community. She is creative, passionate and her approach fits beautifully with Park Day’s progressive model.

Ramon Ramos Alayo

Kindergarten Movement and Dance Teacher

Paul Rendón

Fourth Grade Teacher

Paul Rendón

Fourth Grade Teacher

Paul has 21 years experience in education. His professional philosophy is based on the constructivist teaching model. He is a relational teacher and seeks to provide connection for students, drawing on promoting the growth mindset and implementing the Responsive Classroom model. His teaching has a strong emphasis on integrating science and outdoor education with literacy, social studies, and mathematics. Paul rigorously utilizes professional development to find the best practices to reach and teach all of his students and to make all students feel included. He applies strands from various methodologies in his classroom, such as Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, Guided Language Acquisition Design (GLAD), and the Daily Five. He has incorporated service-learning projects for the environment into the classroom curriculum. Paul believes that It is vital for all children to know that we are all part of the community and that we must all give service to the community. His Master of Arts degree from San Francisco State is in Education, with a special emphasis on multicultural education, and his thesis was “Student Video Production in an Urban Classroom: Effects on Language Arts Skills and Family Involvement” (2003). Paul also earned a Clear, CLAD Multiple Subject Credential from San Francisco State. His Bachelor of Arts degree is in Social Sciences from UC Berkeley with a minor in Ethnic Studies. He also has a background in film and video production, which include co-producing an award-winning documentary. Paul has great interest in using video as an educational tool. He currently lives in Berkeley, CA, with his wife and two children.

Andrew Risinger

Eight Grade Humanities Teacher

Andrew Risinger

Eight Grade Humanities Teacher

Born in Washington, D.C., Andrew was raised in small-town Pennsylvania in an area that is affectionately called “the Wilds”. Educated at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, he has taught a variety of grade levels at a number of independent schools in the East Bay and Seattle Areas. In addition to teaching, Andrew helps lead youth outdoor programs in the California wilderness.
 
When not teaching, Andrew can be found changing diapers, fixing something on his house, walking in the woods, listening to music a little too loud, or dreaming of big league baseball.

Sarah Sheaffer

Fifth Grade Assistant Teacher

Sarah Sheaffer

Fifth Grade Assistant Teacher

Born and raised on the coast in the Pacific Northwest, Sarah graduated with her Bachelors of Arts degree in 2001 from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. Feeling pulled to make a choice between teaching and psychology, she chose psychology and graduated in 2007 from John F. Kennedy University with her Masters degree in Counseling Psychology-Holistic (integrating body, mind, spirit, and culture). She provided individual, couples, family and child therapy before before getting hired as an Inclusion Facilitator (one-on-one aide). In this role she was able to fuse together the two areas she loved: teaching and holistic psychology. During that time she also assisted in the classroom as well as substitute taught. Sarah has been working in both private and public schools since 2002 and has been with PDS since 2012.
In her free time Sarah enjoys crafting (knitting, crocheting, quilting, making necklaces and hair accessories), going to concerts, and supporting local sports teams at games (go A’s)! She especially enjoys spending time with family and friends and visiting Washington and the ocean as much as possible.

Rachel Stone

Sixth Grade Humanities Teacher

Rachel Stone

Sixth Grade Humanities Teacher

Originally from Oakland, Rachel has a BA from Wesleyan University focusing on gender and ethnicity in a post-colonial context. Trained at Mills College, her philosophy of teaching has been shaped by her own experiences in Bay Area progressive communities, including Park Day School since 2005. Rachel strives to help the next generation understand the world critically, find their voices, and become citizens that support and transform their communities. Rachel has worked with students from the third grade to the twelfth, and is partial to the middle schooler’s combination of openness and sense of humor. Outside of teaching, Rachel can also be found walking her Shiba Inu around the Dimond district or at Jordan park with her toddler. As an artist, she uses calligraphy, paper cutting, and embroidery to express herself and her vision of social justice.

Joyce Ting

Middle School Drama Teacher

Joyce Ting

Middle School Drama Teacher

Born in Rochester, NY and having called Boston home for 11 years prior to moving to the Bay Area, Joyce is a Taiwanese American educator and performing artist. She holds a Bachelors and Masters of Music in Vocal Performance from Wheaton College (IL) and Boston University, as well as a Masters in Education for Middle School Humanities from Lesley University. In 2006, Joyce debuted with Boston Lyric Opera as La Charmeuse in Massenet’s Thais, went on to sing in multiple productions with BLO, and performed in Opera Boston’s Boston-based premiere of Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar. She is a graduate of Luna Dance Institute’s SI program, and has also taken part in Alameda Department of Education’s Integrated Learning Specialist Program. In her work with arts and education, Ms. Ting has been a middle school humanities teacher, director, and arts administrator. Most recently, Ms. Ting served as Program Director at zSharp and is the current Co-Managing Director at Ailey Camp, hosted by Cal Performances at UC Berkeley. In her spare time, Joyce loves traveling the world with a team of global music educators as part of the Glocal Collective, hiking with dogs, salsa dancing and eating her way through farmers markets.

Eileen Walker

Fifth Grade Teacher

Eileen Walker

Fifth Grade Teacher

Eileen joins Park Day School after teaching 5th grade in Oakland for the past two years. Prior to that she was teaching in the Los Angeles area. Eileen’s educational philosophy emphasizes the development of critical thinking, creativity, personal responsibility, and social-emotional development. During the past two years, she served as the schoolwide lead Science Teacher, helping to develop Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) competency amongst the teaching staff while also leading the school science fair for 150 students. Additionally, Eileen hones her passion for teaching writing by emphasizing collaborative and intensive reading and writing workshops. She cannot wait to exercise her educational creativity in an independent school environment! Eileen’s BA is in International Relations, with a Spanish minor, from UC Santa Barbara. Prior to teaching, she worked in environmental sustainability, specifically focusing on water conservation. Her Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential is from Cal State Northridge. She is a social justice activist, volunteers at Berkeley Free Clinic, and works in Adult Literacy and at a youth Rescue Mission. While teaching is her professional passion, Eileen is also a traveler. She has spent two of the last three summers serving as a volunteer English teacher in Peru and Costa Rica, respectively.

After School Program

Jalen Cole-Williams

Enrichment Program Coordinator & ASAP Teacher

Jalen Cole-Williams

Enrichment Program Coordinator & ASAP Teacher

Jalen started working in our ASAP program in 2014. A Park Day alum, he attended ASAP as a student before graduating in 2008. This past summer he returned to work at Steve and Kate’s camp on the Park Day campus. His constant goal is to facilitate a fun, safe environment in which kids can play and connect with each other. He particularly enjoys art and is thrilled to return to his alma mater!

Dani Herrera

Director of After School Activities Program

Dani Herrera

Director of After School Activities Program

Dani grew up in the Bay Area and attended college at Holy Names University (HNU), where she earned a degree in Psychology. She played soccer for HNU and became involved in the theater program. Before joining Park Day’s staff as ASAP director, she worked for two years as an after-school coach for Playworks, a nonprofit dedicated to teaching students conflict-resolution skills through creative play. Dani has a beautiful daughter named Hayley. Dani’s favorite part of her job is having fun with the kids. She loves to sing, craft, take pictures, act, and play soccer. This is Dani’s fifth year at Park Day!

Concha Toscano

ASAP Teacher

Concha Toscano

ASAP Teacher

Concha started working at Park Day School in 2002, and she has a deep connection with the community. She is amazing at teaching a number of classes, but the fan favorite is her beloved cooking class. Concha is adept at working with large numbers of kids at once, and as she works, her love for the kids shines through. She is a very hardworking staff member with creative ideas to make ASAP fun for all. Be sure to smile and say hello to her when you are picking up your kids from ASAP!

Reanna Gray

ASAP teacher

Reanna Gray

ASAP teacher

Reanna grew up in a small beach town on the Central Coast of California and recently re-settled in Oakland. She is finishing her last semester through Peralta Community College and plans to transfer to Mills College and major in Education by January 2020. Reanna has held a deep passion working with kids for the last 7 years and has done everything from nannying, tutoring, teachers aide, to summer camp counselor. She enjoys improv/theater, crafts, storytelling, cooking delicious food, puppet creation, games of all kinds, nature adventures, being silly and having fun. This is her first year at Park Day School and she is really looking forward to developing some lasting connections with this beautiful community.

Juan Castrillon Galvis

ASAP teacher

Juan Castrillon Galvis

ASAP teacher

My name is Juan Daniel Castrillon Galvis. I was born in the city of eternal spring; Medellin, Colombia. I grew up in three different countries in less than five years: U.S, Mexico, Colombia.

I’m a young man who believes that change can come through the way we educate. I have a strong passion for working with kids. I started volunteering throughout a non profit called the MOSAIC project as a camp counselor for 5 years. I became a part of the youth board, helped organize open mics, teen forums and much more. After I graduated I started working in a bilingual summer camp as arts and sports specialists for 2 years.

Program Leadership Team

Erik Carlson

Interim Head of School

Erik Carlson

Interim Head of School

For over twenty years Erik has served as a teacher and senior administrator in a wide range of independent schools. The common thread among all of the schools – from large to small, from co-ed to single-sex, from secular to faith-based, from boarding to day, from traditional to progressive – is that focus on the whole child is the source of excellence. In the Bay Area since 2001, Erik has most recently served as Interim Middle School Director here at Park Day School. Previously, he served as Head of School at Saint Andrew’s Episcopal School, and Associate Head at Phillips Brooks School, Middle School Head at Hamlin School, and Dean of Students at Woodside Priory. He serves on the Board of Trustees at Mid-Peninsula High School in Menlo Park.

Erik earned degrees in Art History at Princeton University and New York University and his earliest teaching experiences were leading student tours through museums in Europe. His first classroom was at his alma mater, Harvard-Westlake, where he taught Middle School Social Studies and coached baseball and girl’s soccer. Erik lives in Palo Alto with his wife and two daughters, who are both in high school.

Karen Colaric

Director of Lower School

Karen Colaric

Director of Lower School

Karen joined Park Day in 1985 from Pacific Primary School in San Francisco, and has been an educator since 1980. During her tenure at Park, Karen has taught second through fourth grades before taking the Lower School Director position in 2005. Park Day’s progressive philosophy and political values have been a perfect match for Karen, who enjoys experimenting with and creating curriculum and grappling with issues related to school leadership and social justice. Karen migrated to California to put herself through school at SFSU, earning both her BA in liberal studies and completing post-graduate credential work. Karen has published Creating the Bedroom of Your Dreams in the California Mathematics Council Communicator in June, 2002, and was a contributing author to the Great Explorations in Math and Science guide, Math on the Menu: Real Life Problem Solving. She has presented several workshops for Oakland public school teachers and was the Keynote speaker for a seminar for California Subject Matter Projects, UCB in 2007 titled Educating for Sustainability: Principles and Projects that Build Ecological Literacy. In 2009, Karen presented Social Justice in Action: Proof and Practice at the Progressive Educators Network conference in Washington, DC. In 2011 she presented SDA: Support, Development and Assessment of Teachers at PEN. In 2004, Karen was awarded the Fulbright Memorial Fund and traveled to Japan with a contingent of 200 American teachers. She also had the privilege of leading a group of fifteen BHS students to Costa Rica, to take part in sustainability work through Ecology Project International. Recently, Karen attended the Project Zero Institute at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she furthered her expertise in the Teaching for Understanding model in practice at Park Day.

Karen is the mother of two Park alums, Celeste (’99) and Spenser (’02).

Ashley Foster

Middle School Dean of Students

Ashley Foster

Middle School Dean of Students

Prior to joining Park Day School in 2018, Ashley taught upper grade elementary school in Berkeley and Oakland for nine years.  During her time teaching in the Bay Area she has developed her passion for and acuity at helping students grow into socially responsible, fulfilled and achieving students.  While teaching at Oxford Elementary, Ashley served as Equity Teacher Lead and Technology Teacher Lead. At Crocker Highlands Elementary she was selected to model Caring School Community curriculum, a strategy for creating inclusive and socially/emotionally skillful student communities, for the district.

Ashley played basketball at Holy Names University where she later earned her M.A. in Urban Education.  Ashley enjoys any kind of physical activity with her dog Peppy, watching the Warriors dominate and spending time with her family, especially reading books to her newborn son, Owen.  

Margaret Piskitel

Assistant Head of School

Margaret Piskitel

Assistant Head of School

Margaret joined the Park Day School staff in 2016 and brings almost two decades of experience working as a teacher, curriculum coordinator and division head in public and private schools in New York City and San Francisco. Before joining Park Day School she worked for 12 years at Children’s Day School in San Francisco, most recently holding the role of Early Childhood Program Director where she served on the senior administrative team, led the early childhood program staff, ran parent education and and professional development initiatives, participated on the board, and collaborated with staff and families to meet student needs. Margaret brings to Park Day deep passion for progressive, child-centered education, a commitment to social justice, and dedication to helping children see that one little person can make a difference in the world. She holds an M.S. Ed in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Bank Street College of Education and earned her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Washington. Margaret lives a few blocks from the house where she grew up in Oakland with her husband, Noah, and two children, Zach (Park class of 2023) and Sebastian (Park class of 2027). When she’s not at school, Margaret enjoys yoga, reading, cheering the Warriors, and leading tadpole-finding expeditions in the hills of Berkeley and Oakland.

Arjuna Sayyed

Lower School Dean & Director of Equity & Inclusion

Arjuna Sayyed

Lower School Dean & Director of Equity & Inclusion

Arjuna joins the Park Day administration from his previous position as the Admission and Outreach Director at the East Bay School for Boys. Previously, he served as the Childhood Development Center Manager at Wu Yee’s Children’s Services and Program Director at the After School Enrichment Program. Throughout his professional and personal life, Arjuna has sought to cultivate authentic relationships with community stakeholders in the service of equity and inclusion. Arjuna is familiar with Park Day School as a parent of a first grade student.

Administrative Staff

Josie AG Shapiro

Director of Admissions

Josie AG Shapiro

Director of Admissions

Josie has been working in youth-serving organizations for nearly 15 years, and has been at Park Day since 2016. She is a proud Park Day School alum, and credits her Park Day educators with teaching her how to love learning, approach challenges with creativity and kindness, and stand up and take action when something isn’t right. She has a B.S. from Cornell University, and taught English and Creative Writing at the University of Montana where she received her MFA. An avid cook, Josie works on the side as a freelance recipe developer, and has taught cooking classes to first and second graders. She and her husband Alex have two daughters who attend Park Day School.

Jane Angeles

Office Associate

Amalia Bob-Waksberg

Digital Media Manager & Enrollment Associate

Tatiana Gazieva

Business Office Controller

Victoria Jones

Registrar/Office Associate

Victoria Jones

Registrar/Office Associate

Victoria is an Oakland native who joined Park Day in 2014. Victoria has over 15 years working in education, partnering with children and their families. Prior to working at Park Day, Victoria worked as a preschool teacher at, The Child Day Schools in San Ramon. She also worked as an after school teacher for a non-profit program called Ala Costa Center, where she worked with children and teens with developmental disabilities. Victoria attended California State of the East Bay, and earned her degree in Human Development. Victoria loves spending her weekends in the outdoors with her daughter and husband, swimming, hiking and biking! Victoria is also a foodie, and loves all things from the 80’s and 90’s.

Jill Knowland

Director of Finance and Operations

Jill Knowland

Director of Finance and Operations

Prior to joining the Park Day School staff in September 2017, Jill served as the first female Executive Director of the USS Hornet in Alameda. Before that, she was the Chief Finance and Operations Officer of the Chabot Space and Science Center. In both of these previous positions, an area of focus beyond finance and operations was advancing these organizations’ skills and capacities in the area of STEM education.

Jennifer Lucas

Assistant to the Head of School

Jennifer Lucas

Assistant to the Head of School

Jennifer brings over 15 years’ experience as an Executive Assistant, having worked for several area businesses including Autodesk and Leapfrog. A lifetime Bay Area resident, she is passionate about all things Oakland and currently spends her free time acting, motorcycling throughout NorCal and volunteering at a local animal shelter.

Cassandra McCraw

Office Manager

Cassandra McCraw

Office Manager

Cassandra came to Park Day School in 1997 having worked for years in the Astronomy Dept at UCB. She was drawn to Park Day because she wanted to be a part of a workplace community, especially one that dedicated itself to the important work of educating children. Since coming to Park Day, Cassandra has been an important member of our Diversity and Justice Alliance Committee. She is proud of the work that the DJA does bringing the questions to the community about issues of race and equity.

Chris Miller

Events and Fundraising Manager

Chris Miller

Events and Fundraising Manager

Chris grew up with her younger brother and sister in San Francisco—the feral children of local street level superstar musician The Space Lady—and she went on to graduate from UNLV with an interdisciplinary degree in Cultural Studies.

After beginning her career as a teacher in SoCal, she returned home to the Bay where she joined the crew of the USS Hornet Museum. Chris managed large scale youth programs aboard the historic aircraft carrier best known for its role in the recovery of the Apollo 11 & 12 astronauts after the first manned lunar landing missions. She was later promoted to a Senior Director role, supporting a highly skilled and dedicated staff across the Visitor Experience departments, including Exhibits & Collections, Education, Public Programs and Community Events, Docent Volunteers, and Visitor Services.

Chris enjoys playing volleyball, binge watching both lowbrow and high-concept tv, and she inherited an obsession with the golden age music of Motown. She lives in Alameda with her husband Lance, is a proud mom to Skyler and Anika, and a reluctant caretaker of the family’s obnoxious tuxedo cat, Oreo.

Jennifer Young

Human Resources

Buildings & Grounds

Jennifer Cooper

Director of Facilities

Jennifer Cooper

Director of Facilities

Jennifer has been following her interests in creating, designing, fixing, building and growing things since she was young, and is delighted to be able to do all those things at Park Day School, especially when kids are involved.  She was instrumental in starting the gardening program at Park and later took over as the learning gardening teacher. As she taught, Jennifer also spearheaded and managed various projects on campus, from the Innovation Workshop to the chicken coop, yurt, and the rainwater catchment system, and has worked with students to build many campus projects.

Jennifer received a Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University, and later completed graduate work in Architecture and Planning at U.C. Berkeley.  She has over 20 years of experience in commercial and residential design, construction and project management, sustainable and green building design, and community organizing and public speaking.  An avid gardener, cook, and maker, Jennifer is the mother of 2 wonderful children (both Park alums) and loves spending time outdoors with her family and friends.  

Hannah Davis

Gardener

Hannah Davis

Gardener

Hannah has been a landscape designer/gardener by profession since finishing the Merritt College Landscape Design program in 1988. Prior to that she received a BFA from California College of Arts and Crafts (now CCA) after moving from Virginia at 19. She has been caring for our beautiful grounds since her oldest son came to Park for kindergarten in 1999. Hannah worked on the PDS annual Garden Tour fundraiser for over a decade: chairing, selecting gardens and editing the booklet. She is dedicated to preserving the grounds as a green oasis in the middle of Oakland and as an inspiring outdoor classroom.

When not at Park she designs and maintains small residential gardens for private clients. Soon to be an “empty nester” with her husband, Mark, she hopes to find some time to get back to making art, doing some creative writing, and traveling a bit. Both of their sons are Park Day alums.

Zikar Ebong

Gardener

Jesus Valdez

Facilities Technician