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.
Margaret Piskitel - Assistant Head of School
Margaret joined the Park Day School staff in 2016 bringing 14+ years 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 (in preschool).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.
Karen Colaric - Lower School Director
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).De Shan Alexis Lett - Middle School Director
De Shan was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. Having identified her passion for history and culture at an early age, She attended Wayne State University in Detroit, where she obtained her B. A. in Africana Studies and International Studies. De Shan also studied Africana Studies at Cornell University, specializing in Hip-Hop and Black Feminism. In 2002, she relocated to New York City as a New York City Teaching Fellow and later obtained her Master's Degree in Childhood Special Education from CUNY-Lehman College.
De Shan has taught in public, charter, and independent schools. Some of her past experiences include serving as the Director of Cognitive Skills at Emma Willard School in Troy, New York, a boarding and day school for girls. She also served as a middle school learning specialist and head fifth-grade teacher at The Packer Collegiate Institute. She was previously a special education teacher for the first through fourth grades at New York City Public School 90, The George Meany School; and a special education teacher for both the fifth and sixth grades at New York City Public School 126, Dr. Marjorie H. Dunbar Elementary.
In addition to her experience as a classroom teacher, she was also a Fellow Advisor and Adjunct Instructor for the New York City Teaching Fellows program, training new special education teachers. De Shan currently serves as the Director of Academic and Student Support and Interim Middle School Head at Burgundy Farm Country Day School in Alexandria, Virginia.
De Shan will be relocating to the Bay area with her tiny gang of intelligent misfits that include two 16-year-old, foot-long red-eared slider turtles, Lilo and Sukie, a 13-year-old miniature dachshund, Sasha, and a 6-year-old cat, Lola. They love each other, harass each other, and sometimes get into mischief together.Josie AG Shapiro - Admissions DirectorJosie has been working in youth-serving organizations for over a decade. She is a proud Park Day School alum, and credits her K-6 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 taught English and Creative Writing at the University of Montana, and has spent the majority of her career in community building and development. Most recently she worked for San Francisco's largest private preschool provider and supported fundraising for a variety of youth initiatives. 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.John Orbon - Director of Development and Communications
John joined the staff at Park Day in 2012. Prior to Park, John was a partner for 13 years at a San Francisco branding and graphic design firm. In this role, John led the firm's relationships with some of the area's largest and best known organizations, and was integral to the firm's business development, marketing and strategy efforts. John has been a member of the Park community since 2005 when his oldest child entered the Kindergarten. Two of his three kids are still at Park Day.Jill Knowland - Director of Finance and OperationsPrior 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.
Dani Herrera - Director of After School 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'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 third year at Park Day!Jeanine Harmon - Director of Community Outreach and Service LearningJeanine 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.
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.
Office StaffCassandra 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.
Victoria Jones - Office AssistantFacilitiesSuzann Grody - FacilitiesBusiness OfficeTatiana Gazieva - Accounts ReceivableVictor Mudenda - Accounts Payable
GroundsZikar Ebong - GardenerHannah Davis - GardenerHannah 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.