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Faculty Directory

Inspired, creative, caring

Intellectual rigor and creative thinking characterize our faculty. Teachers and students alike actively pursue interests within and outside the school, which results in the creation at CDS of an inspiring and happy environment in which to learn.

Preschool Team

Guillermo Cortez

Guillermo Cortez joins CDS this year as a Starfish Teacher after holding various teaching positions in San Francisco and in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Most recently, he was a first grade co-teacher at San Francisco Day School, and prior thereto was a paraprofessional teacher at Presidio Early Education School, an inclusive, Reggio Emilia preschool, and a lead science instructor at Galileo Innovation Camp for Kids. He holds a BA in Child Development from Tufts University and is trained in Responsive Classroom. Guillermo is fluent in Spanish. 

Diana Dembeck

Teddy Bears Teacher Diana Dembeck holds a BA in Spanish Language and Literature from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. She first joined CDS in 2015 as a long-term substitute teacher and after school enrichment instructor, and during 2016 became the maternity substitute teacher in the Teddy Bears classroom. She has taught English to children ages 4-12 in Seville, Spain, and taught Spanish to third through fifth graders at Waubesa Intermediate School in Wisconsin. She also has served as Assistant Director of Education at Brain Bounce, a San Francisco-based after school and summer enrichment program. Diana is fluent in Spanish.

Jasmin Flores

Prior to joining CDS as a Leaping Lizard Teacher in 2015, Jasmin was a preschool teacher for 14 years at Buen Dia Family School in San Francisco, an arts-focused English-Spanish bilingual preschool program. Prior thereto, she taught at Guided Discovery, an inclusion preschool that is a program of the YMCA in Boise, Idaho. Jasmin earned her Early Childhood Education units through City College of San Francisco and has received training in mindfulness in education. She is fluent in Spanish. 

Greg Gardner

Greg Gardner, Starfish Teacher, joins us from Presidio Early Education School, an inclusive, Reggio Emilia preschool. Prior to that he was a substitute for special ed/child development classrooms through San Francisco Unified School District. He also owns his own independent record label, performed with Conspiracy of Beards and has been an instructor at the Thrive Foundation for Youth in San Francisco.

Christy Kyong

Christy Kyong joined the Teddy Bears team in 2015 after working for five years at the Bentley School String Academy, where she created and taught a curriculum for violin and cello instruction. She has also been a classroom and music teacher at Nomura School in Richmond and the Crowden School of Music in Berkeley. Christy earned her BA in music and interdisciplinary studies in early childhood from University of California, Berkeley. She also has a MM in violin performance/pedagogy from Northwestern University.

Candy Mabry

Candy Mabry, Teddy Bear Head Teacher, joined CDS in 1990 as a preschool teacher. During the 2004-2005 school year, Candy was the Assistant Head of School and from 2006-2008, she taught kindergarten. During the 2003-2004 school year, Candy served as the early childhood representative for the California Association of Independent Schools Northern Professional Services Committee. Candy earned her BA in music at San Francisco State University and received certificates from City College of San Francisco in early childhood education and early childhood administration. Candy is certified in the Project Approach and has received training through All Kinds of Minds. Prior to joining CDS, she spent eight years as a head teacher at the Jewish Community Center, Rosenberg Early Childhood Center in San Francisco.

Gretchen Ott

Gretchen Ott, Starfish Head Teacher, returns for her 15th year as a preschool teacher at Children’s Day School. She received her BA in child development from California State University, Humboldt. Gretchen served as a faculty representative on the CDS Committee on Inclusion and Diversity for over five years. She has been a presenter at the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) Regional Conference and in 2011 authored an article for the CAIS quarterly publication on using online blogging as a communication tool to make preschool learning visible to parents. Gretchen is certified in the Project Approach, a teaching approach where teachers guide students through in-depth studies of real-world topics, and is trained in Responsive Classroom.

Alicia Perdue

Alicia Perdue, Leaping Lizard Head Teacher, has been teaching at CDS since 1997. Alicia earned her BA in elementary education from Grand Canyon University. She has a child development master teacher permit with the State of California, is certified in the Project Approach, trained in the Responsive Classroom and in 2004 served as the early childhood representative for the California Association of Independent Schools Northern Professional Services Committee.

Ngoc Tran

Ngoc Tran, Leaping Lizard Teacher, came to CDS in 2000 from Head Start, where she worked for five years. Ngoc received her AA degree in child development and a certificate in child development administration from City College of San Francisco; she has a child development site supervisor permit with the state of California. Ngoc is certified in the Project Approach and trained in Total Physical Response (TPR). She continues to pursue child development coursework and classes in English as a Second Language. Ngoc has two children and, in addition to English, she speaks and writes Vietnamese, Cantonese and Mandarin. She enjoys sewing and is passionate about sharing her culture and learning about other cultures in the CDS community.

Transitional Kindergarten Team

Radha Kindler

Radha Kindler, Transitional Kindergarten Teacher, joined CDS in 2005. Radha earned an Associate Degree in Child Development and a Certificate in Child Development from City College of San Francisco. Radha has 10 years of experience teaching according to the Reggio Emilia philosophy at the Jewish Community Center and over 15 years teaching experience all together. Most recently, Radha has been the Lead Volunteer and Childcare Coordinator for Project Homeless Connect, an agency that connects San Franciscans experiencing homelessness with the care and support they need to move forward. 

Divya Vyas

Divya Vyas, Transitional Kindergarten Head Teacher, joined CDS in 2014 with more than ten years of experience in curriculum planning, classroom teaching and documentation of different early childhood settings. Divya earned a bachelor of arts in psychology and child care from S.N.D.T University, Mumbai, India and a master of arts in English literature from J.N.V University. In May 2014, Divya earned her master’s in early childhood education at San Francisco State University.

Elementary Team

Kristina Berman

First Grade Hawks Teacher Kristina Berman received her MA in education and her multiple subject teaching credential from the University of California at Berkeley. She has a BA in history with a double minor in Spanish and education from the University of California, Davis. Prior to joining CDS in 2014, Kristina was the lead teacher for four years in kindergarten at Cherry Chase Elementary School in Sunnyvale, California. During her summers, Kristina serves as a site director for the Aim High summer program at The Urban School campus in San Francisco. She is proficient in Spanish.

Lesley Chapman

Lesley Chapman, Kindergarten Redwoods Teacher, earned her master in education from Antioch University and her BA in African American studies; feminist, gender and sexuality studies; and psychology from Wesleyan University. While at Wesleyan, she served as a facilitator for the university’s diversity education programming for students. Lesley holds a New Hampshire Teacher Certification in Early Childhood and Elementary Education as well as a California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. Prior to joining CDS in 2014, Lesley spent two years teaching at Marin Country Day School in kindergarten and second grade classrooms. Prior thereto, she was a student teacher in a multi-aged, combined class of first and second graders at Rumney Memorial School in Middlesex, Vermont, where she also was a kindergarten, first and second grade teacher in the after school academic and enrichment program. Lesley is trained in Responsive Classroom.

Taryn Colonnese

Taryn Colonnese joined CDS in 2015. She holds a BA from Swarthmore College with a Special Major in educational studies and sociology/anthropology. She will complete her masters in education and her California teaching credential at University of the Pacific, Bay Area Teacher Training Institute this school year. Taryn is trained in Responsive Classroom. Prior to joining CDS, Taryn taught hands-on science, cooking, and sustainability to kindergarten through fifth grade students at Spring Valley Science School through Education Outside, a nonprofit organization that advances science education and environmental literacy by teaching outdoors in public schools. Prior thereto, she student-taught in second grade in Costa Rica. Taryn is proficient in Spanish.

Spencer Donaldson

Joining CDS this year, Spencer Donaldson holds a BA in English from Occidental College and is in his first year of the Bay Area Teacher Training Institute, a masters and teaching credential program through University of the Pacific. He has been a counselor at various camps for elementary-aged children, including working with third grade students at the summer academy of Growth and Learning Opportunities (GLO), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower youth and families to be leaders toward equitable communities. Spencer is an experienced podcaster, blogger, and writer, focusing on sports topics, and an accomplished musician. 

Reggie Foldes

Reggie Foldes, First Grade Teacher, joined CDS in 2012. Reggie received a multiple subject teaching credential and MA in curriculum and instruction through the Bay Area Teacher Training Institute (BATTI). Reggie also has a BA in history with a minor in education studies from The Colorado College. She brings experience teaching environmental education to elementary-aged children with Vida Verde Nature Education, The Marine Mammal Center and the Richardson Bay Audubon Center and Sanctuary, with a focus on hands-on, inquiry-based and experiential learning. When not teaching, Reggie loves to hike in beautiful places, listen to bluegrass music, and cook delicious fresh foods.

Belinda Gray

Belinda Gray, First Grade Owls Teacher, joined CDS in 2014 with nine years of teaching experience, including six years lead-teaching first grade at the San Francisco Day School and at the Keys School in Palo Alto. Belinda has an MFA in photography from the San Francisco Art Institute and a BA in photography from Humboldt State University. She holds a California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential through the San Francisco State University, Bay Area Teaching Training Institute. Belinda has received mindfulness curriculum training through Mindful Schools, a leading nonprofit in the field of mindfulness in education. She is trained in the Lucy Calkins Reading and Writing Workshop at Columbia University Teachers College and in Responsive Classroom.

Tristan Jemiolo

Tristan Jemiolo will assume teaching responsibilities in the Kindergarten Sequoias classroom during Jodi Kraning’s maternity leave. Tristan holds a BA in Film from Vassar College and is a graduate of the New Teacher Institute at Town School for Boys. While at Town School, Tristan was an intern teacher in kindergarten and in third grade, where his duties included supervising digital literacy classes and lessons on Scratch coding. He currently is Commissioner of the Boys U-13 and U-15 Divisions of the Northern California Junior Lacrosse Association, and has coached lacrosse, soccer, and basketball at Town School and at Stuart Hall for Boys. 

Melissa Kline

Prior to joining CDS this year as a Third Grade Quails Teacher, Melissa Kline was with Education Outside (a nonprofit organization that advances science education and environmental literacy by teaching outdoors in public schools), first as a kindergarten through fifth grade teacher at Sherman Elementary School and subsequently as a Program Manager. She also has taught K-12 science and environmental education at nonprofits in Colorado, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Virginia. Melissa holds a BS in Environmental Studies from the University of North Carolina at Asheville and an MA in Environmental Education from Prescott College in Arizona. 

Jodi Kraning

Jodi Kraning joined the Kindergarten Sequoias team in 2015. Jodi has held a variety of teaching roles, including positions at The Children’s School in La Jolla, CA, St. Therese Community Preschool in Sydney, Australia and the Boulder Journey School in Colorado. She earned her bachelor’s degree in human development and family studies with an emphasis on the young child from Michigan State University. Jodi also holds an MA in education and human development from University of Colorado, Boulder Journey School with a specialization in literacy. 

Madeleine Lavender

Madeleine Lavender, First Grade Teacher, joined CDS in 2013 and has a BA in child development with an emphasis on early childhood education from Tufts University. She recently received her master in education and California Preliminary Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from the Stanford University Teacher Education Program. Madeleine has co-taught in kindergarten and third grade classrooms in the South Bay and was a teaching intern for kindergarten through fourth grade at the San Francisco Friends School. She is trained in Responsive Classroom.

Alex Miller

Alex Miller, Second Grade Co-Head Teacher, joined CDS in 2013. He earned a BA in communication studies from the University of San Diego and an MA in elementary education from the University of Phoenix. Previous to CDS, Alex worked as a 3rd grade intern and a 1st grade intern at the Town School for Boys-New Teacher Institute. Alex has extensive experience in athletics, serving as a head coach for 6th grade baseball and soccer, 8th grade basketball, 5th-8th grade golf, and 1st grade baseball. He also was a 5th grade after school teacher with Growth & Learning Opportunities in San Francisco. Alex is trained in the Responsive Classroom. Away from school, Alex enjoys cooking and exploring new hiking trails with his dog, Bear.

Alison Orrey

Alison Orrey, Kindergarten Sequoias Co-Head Teacher, has a BS in communication with a minor in sociology from Boston University and is working on a BS in communicative disorders through Utah State University’s distance learning program. She earned her early childhood units through California State University, Northridge and Santa Monica College. Prior to joining CDS in 2013, she spent four years as the lead teacher in a developmental kindergarten in Beverly Hills, California, and she has also worked as an elementary education tutor and instructional aid. She is trained in Responsive Classroom, an approach that implements classroom practices that build academic and social-emotional competencies. 

Luisa Pinto

Luisa Pinto, Kindergarten Redwoods Co-Head Teacher, joined CDS in 2008 after teaching kindergarten, first and second grade at Ring Mountain Day School in Mill Valley. She previously taught elementary school at The Nueva School in Hillsborough. Luisa has an MA in early childhood education and a multiple subject teaching credential with a focus on early childhood education from Mills College, and holds a BA in liberal studies from San Francisco State University. She is fluent in Portuguese and enjoys yoga, traveling, cooking and biking to the beach.

Christine Poon

Christine Poon, Fourth Grade Teacher, holds a BA in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Prior to joining CDS this year, Christine was a Youth Development Professional with the Boys and Girls Club in Santa Monica, where she developed and executed educational programming. Christine also has worked as a Head Specialist/Counselor at UCLA UniCamp, a nonprofit organization that provides summer camp programming to underserved children ages 10-17; and was a volunteer teacher at Sustainable Youth at UCLA, where she taught environmental sustainability to fourth graders at Warner Avenue Elementary School in Los Angeles. Christine is trained in Responsive Classroom. 

Josephine Saunders

Josephine Saunders, Second Grade Dolphins Teacher, holds a BA in English with Qualified Teacher Status from Liverpool John Moores University in England. Prior to joining CDS this year, Josephine was a third grade teacher at Concord Hill School in Chevy Chase, Maryland for two years. Prior thereto, she was at The British Schools of America for 12 years, where she held several positions, including classroom teacher for various grades, Instructional Coach, Literacy Subject Leader, International Primary Curriculum Coordinator, and Director of Lower School. She also taught elementary grades at St. Margaret Mary’s Primary School in Liverpool, England. Josephine has received extensive professional development in the area of multicultural education and while at Concord Hill School was the school’s Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator. 

Becky Sawada

Becky Sawada, Fourth Grade Head Teacher, has a multiple subject teaching credential from the University of San Francisco, a BA in liberal arts from the University of Texas at Austin, and a master in teaching from the University of San Francisco. Trained in All Kinds of Minds, Becky joined CDS in 2009 after teaching for three years at the Creative Arts Charter School.

Skye Scarbrough

Skye Scarbrough, Fourth Grade Head Teacher, joined CDS in 2015 with seven years of classroom teaching experience in California as well as Georgia and Florida. Most recently, Skye was a third grade teacher at Stratford Elementary School in San Francisco. Skye has a MA in teaching from the University of South Florida and a BA in public policy from Georgia State University. In addition to her work in schools, Skye was a lobbyist for the Georgia state judicial system and has been a project manager in both the public and private sectors.

Kelsey Siegel

Kelsey Siegel, Third Grade Teacher, originally joined CDS in 2009 as a substitute Farm and Garden teacher and is now back as a BATTI (Bay Area Teacher Training Institute) teacher/member. He has a BA in environmental studies from Oberlin College and recently worked as a garden educator with SAGE: Sustainable Agriculture Education, Pacific Primary School and the San Francisco Victory Garden. He was the lead teacher and garden manager at the Edible Schoolyard from 1998-2007. In his free time he plays Brazilian percussion, is an active member and mentor with Loco Bloco, and can be found at Bay Area beaches riding his long board.

Kay Washington

Kay Washington, Second Grade Co-Head Teacher, joined CDS in 2011 and holds a BA in English literature and child development from Mills College, and an MA in curriculum and instruction and a California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from the University of the Pacific, Bay Area Teacher Training Institute. Kay also has experience working in the elementary grades in the Oakland Unified School District. She is trained in Responsive Classroom and is fluent in Spanish.

Colette Zee

Colette Zee, Third Grade Head Teacher, holds a multiple subject teaching credential from San Francisco State University, a master of music in piano performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and a bachelor of music from the University of California at Santa Cruz. Prior to joining CDS in 2007, Colette taught first grade for five years at Keys School in Palo Alto.

Middle School Team

Terry Ashkinos

Terry Ashkinos, Eighth Grade Homeroom & Middle School Humanities Teacher, was the middle school social studies and journalism teacher at Everett Middle School for six years before joining CDS in 2005. Prior to working at Everett, Terry was an ESL teacher in Los Angeles and Bratislava, Slovakia. He has a BA in philosophy and humanities from UC Santa Barbara and an MA in philosophy from San Francisco State University. Terry has been trained in the Responsive Classroom. He and his wife have two sons, Cash (CDS ‘17) and Catcher. Terry is an occasional writer of fiction as well as a local musician.

Kirk Bell

Kirk Bell, Fifth and Sixth Grade Science Teacher, joined the CDS middle school team in 2005 with 17 years of teaching experience, largely in Washington state. He also worked for five years in a non-profit organization training teachers and school administrators about diversity and harassment issues. Kirk attended the University of Manitoba in architecture and land use planning for three years and received his BS in land use planning and environmental design from the University of Minnesota. He has a Washington teaching credential from Western Washington University and is trained in the Responsive Classroom. Kirk lives in SF with his husband, Paul who is from London, UK. They both enjoy maps, hiking, more maps, watching documentaries, and very spicy food of all types.

Barbie Brannon

Barbie Brannon joins CDS this year as a Fifth Grade Humanities Teacher with more than ten years of teaching experience, most recently at St. Philip Elementary School in San Francisco and prior thereto at St. John School in San Francisco. While at St. John School, she was a lead teacher in second and fourth grade, taught fth grade history for four years, taught fth and sixth grade language arts in the 2007 summer program, and was principal of the summer program in 2009. Barbie holds a BA in psychology from the University of San Francisco and an MA in Cross Cultural Education and a California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from National University. 

Shannon Comer

Shannon Comer, Seventh/Eighth Grade Science Teacher, joined CDS in 2015. Previously, Shannon taught middle school science for several years at the International School of Zug and Luzern in Baar, Switzerland. She has also taught in Uganda and was an earth science teacher at Progress High School in Brooklyn, New York. Shannon has a BS in environmental geology from Northeastern University and an MA in middle school education from City University of New York at Brooklyn College.

Jeri Countryman

Jeri Countryman, Director of the Innovation Lab, brings to CDS a rich and diverse background in technology, innovation and design thinking. Previously, she was a senior project manager at Chabot Space & Science Center and has served as a curriculum and technology consultant for various educational organizations. Jeri earned a BS in mathematics from Simmons College, a master’s degree in interdisciplinary computer science from Mills College and a master’s degree in education from UC Santa Cruz. Jeri is a parent at CDS.

Sydelle Hoffman

Syd Hoffman, Fifth/Sixth Grade Math Teacher, joins CDS this year with almost thirty years of experience teaching mathematics at all grade levels. From 1994-2006 she was the Principal of Bright Beginnings, a K-8 school in Chandler, Arizona, where, in addition to leading the school, she taught middle school mathematics, developed the school’s K-8 mathematics and science curricula, and served on the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Board for Standards in Mathematics. Syd has a BA in Mathematics from Queens College and an MA in K-12 Mathematics from Arizona State University. 

Art Oloresisimo

Art Oloresisimo joins CDS this year as a Sixth Grade Humanities Teacher after teaching middle school social studies for nine years at St. Philip School in San Francisco. He also has taught social studies in middle and high school with the San Francisco Unified School District, and has taught advanced reading to adult ESL students at the College of San Mateo. Art holds a BA in Philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley and an MA in Teaching English as a Second Language as well as a Single-Subject California Teaching Credential from the University of San Francisco. 

Samuel Sevett

Samuel Sevett joins CDS this year as the Innovation Lab Intern. Before joining CDS, Sam was a teaching assistant for two years at Sinai Akiba Academy in Los Angeles, where he worked with elementary and middle school students in programming, 3D modeling, computer simulations, and other STEM learning. Prior, Sam served two years as the Sports and Judaic Studies Program Developer at Sinai Temple Religious School in Los Angeles, where he created a unique curriculum blending aspects of traditional Judaic values with sports and athletics. While in Los Angeles, Sam also was a Hebrew tutor at Temple Israel of Hollywood. Sam holds a B.A. in psychology from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Ryan Trutner

Ryan is our new 7/8 Math teacher. A graduate of Head-Royce School and the University of Oregon, Ryan was teaching 6th, 7th, and 8th grade math last year at the Hillcrest School in the East Bay. Ryan is a former semi-pro soccer player and has played professional soccer in Spain.

Christopher Wachter

Christopher Wachter is our Seventh Grade Humanities Teacher. Prior to joining CDS, Christopher was a language arts and math teacher at St. John School here in San Francisco. He also has teaching experience abroad, having worked as an English as a Second Language Instructor for high school-aged students in Pokhara, Nepal. Christopher earned a master of arts in teaching from the University of San Francisco and also holds bachelor’s degrees from San Francisco State University in psychology (child development) and literature.

Laura Wolfram

Laura Wolfram, Learning Support, joined CDS in 2015. Most recently, Laura taught at the Town School for Boys, where she was the Inquiry Project Coordinator for Town School’s eighth grade cross-curricular course. She has also served as a seventh and eighth grade English teacher at Town and was the school’s Directory of Library Services. Her prior teaching experience includes positions at The Marymount School and Horace Mann School in New York City. Laura earned her BA from Swarthmore College, her MA in art history from the Institute of Fine Arts in New York City and an MLS from Queens College, City University of New York.

Specialist Teachers

Xochi Batlle

Joining CDS this year as the Farm & Garden Associate Teacher, Xochi Batlle holds a B.S. in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation and a B.A. in anthropology from the University of Florida. Prior to joining CDS, Xochi taught a science-based curriculum to preschool through fifth grade students at Fairmount Elementary School through Education Outside, a nonprofit organization that advances science education and environmental literacy by teaching outdoors in public school. Most recently, she taught life sciences at SF Expeditionary School, a small school providing individualized instruction to students in grades 4 through 7. She also has been a lead teacher at Aim High, a summer learning and enrichment program that serves under-resourced middle school students; and a teacher-in-residence at Slide Ranch, leading outdoor experiential learning programs that emphasized farming, cooking, caring for animals, and exploring the wilderness and the coast. 

Diana Bennett

Diana Bennett, Lower School Physical Education teacher, comes to CDS with previous experience serving as the Director of Athletics at Buffalo Seminary High School in New York and as a personal trainer and wellness instructor at the University of Pennsylvania. Most recently Diana worked at Lycée Français de San Francisco as a physical activity coordinator and staff trainer. Diana earned a BA in American studies from Boston University.


Alexsarah Collier

Alexsarah Collier, Lower School Learning Specialist, has a wealth of experience as a Program Director, Classroom Teacher (1-3), RTI Coordinator, Intervention Specialist, and Learning Specialist in the Bay Area, Brooklyn, and Atlanta. In addition to graduate and Educational Therapy training, her practice is also enhanced by training from the Academy of Orton Gillingham Practitioners and Educators (NYC), Making Math Real, Bal-A-Vis-X, Brain Gym, Zones of Regulation, Responsive Classroom, Positive Discipline, Conscious Discipline, and Mindful Schools. Locally, he has supported young learners at The Berkeley School, Emerson Elementary, Thomas Edison Charter and St. Philip Neri School, as well as working with students in private practice, teaming with families and teachers to design individualized curriculum and positive behavior supports across grade levels. Beyond teaching, Alexsarah is the Executive DIrector of Double Union, a feminist maker workshop for women in SF, and teaching member of Girl Army, an Oakland-based collective providing strengths-based sliding scale self defense courses for women, gender non-confroming, queer, and trans folks. She is also an apprentice-level beekeeper, amateur motorcyclist, cinephile, former world record holder, and metalsmith who enjoys dreamy hikes, practicing mindfulness, playing the viola/banjo, singing, dancing, the ocean, and libraries.

Kate Corliss

Kate Corliss joins our team in January 2017 as the first Lower School Counselor in CDS history. She holds a Master’s degree in School Counseling from George Washington University and possesses more than a decade of experience in a variety of positions and grade levels. At various schools in Washington DC and Maryland from 2004-2012, she served as a Pre-K classroom teacher, as a K-8 art instructor, as an administrator for a Summer Academy program targeted at failing and below-proficient students, and as a counseling intern for District of Columbia public schools. After moving to the west coast in 2012, she served as a case manager for the Raphael House of San Francisco, where she developed an implemented a wide-ranging counseling program for homeless children and families.

Mickael Drouet

Mickael Drouet, Spanish Teacher (grades 4-8), comes to CDS from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he was a French instructor. Prior to college teaching, he taught English and Spanish to middle school students. He has a master’s degree in language arts and commerce (English and Spanish) from the University of Caen (France), and a BA in foreign languages and philosophy (English, Spanish and Italian).

Colleen Flayler

Colleen Flayler, Art Teacher, has a BA in art education and a master’s degree in informational graphics and publication design. Before joining CDS, Colleen taught K-5 art, was a project assistant for a technology consulting company, and was a designer/outreach ambassador for a new art startup. She loves traveling and experiencing new adventures. She and her husband once went on an epic road trip in the west for 80 days, covering 14,000 miles.

Paula Gil Garcia

Paula Gil Garcia joined the Spanish teaching team in 2014. Previously, Paula was a Spanish teacher in the after school program at San Francisco Day School. She also taught Spanish at Recess Urban Recreation in San Francisco. Paula earned a master of science in business journalism and a bachelor’s in communication sciences from Universidad Complutense in Madrid, Spain.

Trudy Hamm

Trudy Hamm, Learning Specialist, joined CDS in 2009. Trudy earned multiple subject and special education teaching credentials at San Francisco State University, as well as a master’s degree in special education. Trudy is trained in Lindamood-Bell, All Kinds of Minds and completed a two-year internship at the Pediatric Diagnostic Clinic at Langley Porter. She has been a mentor teacher for the Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment program of SFUSD. She has completed Responsive Classroom training. Prior to CDS, Trudy was the Reading Specialist, and shared the Learning Specialist position at Creative Arts Charter School. She enjoys watching movies with her son.

Analise Heid

Analise Heid, Food and Agricultural Sciences Teacher, comes to us most recently from the Nueva School where she taught science and coordinated the School Garden program. Since 2009, Analise has served as a master teacher in the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program at the Center for Excellence in Science & Mathematics Education at Cal Poly State University. Prior to that, Analise worked for 10 years as the Nature and Environmental Science Program Director as well as a naturalist, science and math teacher at the Greenwood School in Mill Valley. She has a BS in forestry from UC Berkeley, a California teaching credential from San Francisco State University and an MA in secondary science education from San Francisco State University. Analise is an outdoor enthusiast and in her free time enjoys surfing, gardening, hiking and traveling to update her guidebooks, Hiking and Backpacking Big Sur, Sierra South and Backpacking California. 

Kris Kifer

Kris Kifer joins the Farm and Garden team while Robin Ostenfeld-Adams is on maternity leave. Having worked at a variety of farms around the world as an instructor for Tree Frog Treks (including here at CDS) and as the Science Specialist at Marin Prep in San Francisco, she comes incredibly well-prepared to support our students as they explore the natural world.

Phil Lowery

Phil Lowery, Middle School Theater Teacher, joined CDS in 2012 from the Resident Teaching Artist Company of the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, where he has taught “Discovering Shakespeare,” “Production & Design,” and “Voice and Movement” classes to hundreds of teens and pre-teens since 2007. He also works as a teaching artist for the Gilbert & Sullivan Scene Program (grades 5-12) at Summer Music West, a program of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He has taught graduate theater classes at Berkeley and has directed for companies such as Lamplighters Music Theatre, Berkeley Opera, Pocket Opera, North Bay Opera, Altarena Playhouse, Dreamweavers Theatre, and Lyric Theatre of San Jose. He has appeared onstage with Central Works Ensemble, Shotgun Players, Lamplighters and the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival’s Shakespeare on Tour. Phil holds a BA with honors in music and theatre from Lewis & Clark College and an MA in dramatic art from UC Berkeley.

Gabriela Martinez del Campo

Gabriela Martinez del Campo, Middle School Spanish Teacher, joined CDS in 2015 with more than 25 years of experience in teaching and curriculum development. Gabriela has a master’s degree in social communication from Universidad Panamericana in Mexico and a BA in education from Universidad Nacional Autinoma de México. She also earned a Certificate from the National Conservatory of Music in México.


Elizabeth McClellan

Elizabeth McClellan, Art Teacher, has been teaching art at CDS since 1991. She has been a guest artist at the Museum of Crafts and Folk Art at Fort Mason, as well as a guest artist in ceramics for the children’s workshop at the Anderson Art Ranch. She received her BFA from the University of California at Davis and is trained in the Responsive Classroom. She is the illustrator of a children’s book, “Stop This Birthday,” published by Chronicle Books in 2005, and is an accomplished Etch-A-Sketch artist with artwork in several private collections including the Ohio Art offices in New York.

Robin Ostenfeld Adams

Robin Ostenfeld Adams, Farm & Garden Manager, joined CDS in 2015 with more than ten years of experience teaching in inquiry-based and materials driven environments. Previously, Robin has served as a fourth and fifth grade science teacher, service learning coordinator, and an adjunct professor. In addition, Robin was an instructor for several summers in the cloud forest of Monteverde, Costa Rica, working with K-8 teachers from Bank Street College of Education in an immersion program that focused science education and sustainable communities. An east coast transplant, Robin earned a BS in Business Administration from Fordham University and an MS in Museum Education from Bank Street College of Education. Away from school, Robin enjoys gardening, cooking, yoga, surfing and hiking with her dog, Olivia.

Sonia Pinto-Scherstuhl

Sonia Pinto-Scherstuhl, K-4 Spanish Teacher, joins CDS from the Head-Royce School in Oakland and has extensive experience teaching elementary, middle school and high school Spanish. A native Spanish speaker, she has an MA in biology from Boston University, a BA in biology from Oberlin College, and holds a Massachusetts Foreign Language (Spanish) Preliminary License.

Lisa Roberts

Lisa Roberts holds a B.S. in Music Education from Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania. Prior to joining CDS this year as our Middle School Music Teacher, she taught fourth and fifth grade music in the Cupertino Union School District and, prior thereto, taught music and vocal music for four years in several public schools in Virginia, including serving as a long-term substitute middle school and high school string teacher. She holds a California Single Subject Teaching Credential in Music, a Virginia Pre-K through 12 Vocal/Choral Music Certification, a Pennsylvania K-12 Music Certification, and an Orff-Schulwerk Certification. Lisa is trained in Responsive Classroom. 

Lori Roberts

Lori Roberts, Middle School Physical Education Teacher, joins CDS after more than ten years at Beacon Day School in Oakland, where she taught physical education in kindergarten through eighth grade, coached after-school sports, and managed the after-school program for all grades. Lori holds an AA degree in liberal arts from Taft College and a BS in business management from University of Phoenix.

Rhonda Ross

Rhonda Ross, Physical Education Teacher, joins us from St. Paul’s School in Oakland where she taught P.E. for twelve years. She also served as a basketball and volleyball coach. Before St. Paul’s, she taught P.E. at Chinese American International School. She has a BS in exercise and Sport Sciences with a specialty in Exercise Science from Colby-Sawyer College and a teaching credential (physical education) from CSU Hayward.

Kindra Scharich

Kindra Scharich, Lower School Music Teacher, is a seasoned musician and teacher with more than ten years of experience in a variety of settings. Kindra was a teacher for five years at the New Mozart School of Music in Palo Alto and also has worked as a teaching artist with the Los Angeles Opera. Most recently, she was the music director at Woodland School in Portola Valley. Kindra earned a bachelor of music and a master of music in vocal performance from University of Michigan and holds a post-graduate degree in vocal performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Lily Sheridan

Lily Sheridan, Food & Agricultural Sciences Teacher, joins CDS this year with a Master in Food Culture and Communications from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy, and a B.A. in sociology from Bates College.  Previously, she worked for two years as a Food Educator with Cooking With Kids, a Santa Fe, New Mexico nonprofit that uses hands-on learning to educate and empower children and families to make healthy food choices. She has been an active volunteer in organizations such as The Boulder Valley School Foods Project, a nutrition education program; Local Foods for Lewiston, where she was a research partner assisting with a community food assessment to determine the need for emergency food providers; and the Trinity Jubilee Soup Kitchen in Lewiston, where she worked with Somali refugees in an afterschool homework and literacy education program.

Elsa Townsend

Elsa Townsend, Librarian and Farm & Garden Teacher, joined CDS as our librarian in 2005. Prior to joining CDS, Elsa was the head librarian at Sherman Elementary School for five years. Elsa volunteers in various organizations, serving on the board of directors of Blind San Franciscans, Inc. and The Welcome Ministry, non-profits providing services for blind and homeless people, respectively. She has a BA in French language and literature from Goucher College. Elsa enjoys singing, gardening, reading and cycling.

Wendy Macias Walker

Wendy Macias Walker, Middle School Counselor, holds a M.Ed. in Secondary Counseling from the University of South Carolina and a B.A. in Sociology-Anthropology and Spanish from Knox College in Illinois. Before joining CDS this year, Wendy spent 18 years at Punahou School, a K-12 independent school in Hawaii, first as a teacher and subsequently as a teacher and counselor. During her 13 years as a counselor at Punahou, Wendy maintained long-term counseling relationships with students; developed curriculum; taught psychology, ninth grade guidance, peer helping and advanced peer helping; and served as an advisor to the school’s Neuro Club. Prior to her work at Punahou, Wendy worked as a teacher nationally at various schools in Tennessee, South Carolina, and Michigan; and internationally in Mexico. She is fluent in Spanish.

Molly Whittaker

Molly Whittaker, Athletic Director, joined CDS after teaching at the Hillbrook School in Los Gatos, where she was a physical education teacher and a middle school coach for girls’ volleyball, basketball and soccer. Molly earned a master of science in kinesiology from James Madison University and a bachelor of arts in French from Colgate University.


After School Team

Jael Lacayo

Jael is a new addition to the after school program staff this year. Jael is a San Francisco native and has recently graduated from San Francisco State University with her B.S. in Kinesiology to pursue a career in physical therapy. Jael is bilingual in Spanish and English and has experience coaching soccer and Tennis at Le Lycée de Francais. Jael currently volunteers with Kaiser physical therapists in her free time to further develop her skills to care for people.

Emmanuel Bakheit

Emmanuel Bakheit joined the afterschool program team last fall. Emmanuel is member of the Sudanese diaspora who immigrated to the United States as a teenager in 2006. He holds a B.A. in Global and American Studies from Marymount California University, and is an active volunteer at a variety of social justice and refugee transitional programs, including coaching for Soccer with Borders. In his free time, he loves playing soccer.

Julius Cedeno

Julius Cedeno, Extended Day Program Coordinator, joined CDS in 2013. He is a bilingual (Spanish/English) San Francisco native and has coached baseball at Stuart Hall Elementary School. Julius is experienced in infant care, motivating children and being a team player. He is currently pursuing a degree in kinesiology at San Francisco State University. 

Erin Dayton-Jones

Erin Dayton-Jones comes to the CDS community all the way from Syracuse, New York, where she attended Syracuse University, receiving a B.S. in Education and Child and Family Studies. She is an experienced educator and caregiver and loves helping kids work through problems. She is passionate about acceptance, tolerance and diversity in education.

Raman Dhaliwal

Raman Dhaliwal became a new member of the after school team at the beginning of this year. She is originally from the Central Valley/Fresno area. She is a bi-lingual (Punjabi and English) student attending San Francisco State University and is working towards obtaining her BS in Business Administration with an emphasis in Information Systems and International Business. She has had years of experience with soccer having played for nearly her whole life and refereed for five years. Raman is very passionate about diversity and acceptance and enjoys working alongside kids.

Charles DiRicco

Charles DiRicco, Extended Day Program Director, joined CDS in 2012 having worked in elementary classrooms at the San Francisco School, Cesar Chavez Elementary School and Francis Scott Key Elementary School. He also coached the sixth grade basketball team at the San Francisco School, and has experience with youth supervision, tutoring and conflict resolution. He is currently working toward his BS in kinesiology at San Francisco State University.

Donnie Weaver

Donnie Weaver, After School Teacher, is a San Francisco native. He studied child development and enjoys working with special needs children. Donnie has been a creative director at Camp It Up for the last three years where he was a child-care and activities coordinator. He also has experience in sustainable farming and gardening, theatre, graphic art, creative writing and comic books. Donnie is currently a culinary student at City College.

Butterflies (Preschool After School Program)

James Bannister

James Bannister, After School Butterflies Teacher, had been a substitute teacher at CDS for ten years prior to joining the school in 2008 as a Starfish Teacher. He received his BA from Kutztown University in Pennsylvania and studied early childhood education at San Francisco City College. When not teaching, James is a musician and a singer/songwriter.

Radha Kindler

Radha Kindler, Transitional Kindergarten Teacher, joined CDS in 2005. Radha earned an Associate Degree in Child Development and a Certificate in Child Development from City College of San Francisco. Radha has 10 years of experience teaching according to the Reggio Emilia philosophy at the Jewish Community Center and over 15 years teaching experience all together. Most recently, Radha has been the Lead Volunteer and Childcare Coordinator for Project Homeless Connect, an agency that connects San Franciscans experiencing homelessness with the care and support they need to move forward. 

Leslie Moreno

Leslie Moreno, After School Butterflies Teacher, joined CDS in 2016 with eleven years of experience teaching preschool, including five years as owner/director and lead teacher at Natural Wonder Playschool, a home-based preschool environment in Campbell, California focusing on child-directed learning through play. Leslie holds a BA in psychology with an Early Childhood Education minor from San Jose State University. She earned her early childhood education credits through Foothill Community College and holds a Site Supervisor Permit from the Santa Clara County Office of Education.  

Nina Washington

Nina Washington joins CDS this year after four years with the Children’s Creative Learning Center, most recently as its Center Director in Berkeley. Prior thereto, Nina taught preschool and early childhood education for eight years at schools in California, Georgia, and Florida, including six years at Bright Horizons, where she also was a diversity trainer. Nina holds a bachelor of science in Family and Consumer Sciences from South Carolina State University and a master of science in Family, Child and Consumer Sciences from Florida State University.