Administration and Support Team


Edward ("Ed") Walters

Head of School

B.S., Biology & Psychology - InterAmerican University (San Juan, Puerto Rico, New York University Program)
Master of Education, Science - Duquesne University (Pittsburgh, PA)
Additional Language - Spanish (fluent)

Ed has been a highly regarded educator for over 30 years. He began his career as a science teacher and department head and quickly was recruited to add school finance and management to his responsibilities. During his career, he has held the positions of Business Manager, Director of Strategic Planning, Chief Financial Officer, Director of Operations, and Head of School. He and his family spent 30 years in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, where Ed rose to be a member of the administrative team in the positions of Chief Financial Officer and Head of the Science Department at Sewickley Academy, a pre-K-12 school of nearly 800 students. Ed was born in Puerto Rico and is a fluent Spanish speaker. He also is an avid supporter of children's sports programs and was named Coach of the Year six times for his leadership in student soccer and basketball teams. Ed shares his love of science by guiding our students though a wide variety of hands-on science experiments.

Casey Cushing

Assistant to Head of School/Community Coordinator/Admissions

M.A. Organization and Leadership – School of Education
University of San Francisco – in progress
B.A., Interdisciplinary Studies: Writing & Literature, Environmental Studies - Naropa University
Bilingual Multiple Subject Teaching Credential with BCLAD emphasis - San Francisco State University
Teaching Credential - California
Additional Language - Spanish (fluent)

As an Alta Vista founding faculty member, Casey is deeply committed to the school’s vision of actively engaging children in the joy of learning. She brings a love of nature, service learning and the humanities to her educational approach. Since 2010, Casey has helped to build Alta Vista’s experience-based curriculum, as well as the Bookends and Adventures programs, with a diversity of fun, stimulating and community-focused activities. She has also played an instrumental role in the school’s admissions process. Casey shares an array of exciting experiences and interests with our Alta Vista community: she is a poet and children's book author, former manager of an organic farm, permaculture designer and wilderness guide. She is also passionate about movement arts, and is trained in yoga and Afro-Brazilian dance. Prior to joining Alta Vista, Casey was an ecology and arts educator as part of A Living Library at Gordon J. Lau Elementary and Denman Middle School.

Jennie Chipparullo ("Jennie Chip")

Curriculum Director

B.A., Communications - Seton Hall University
M.A., Educational Leadership: School Building Leader - New York University
Certificate, School Building Leader (Administration) - New York State
Additional Language - French (proficient)

Jennie passionately believes that the classroom experience for children should be filled with moments of wonder, investigation, excitement, problem solving, and laughter. Her ten-year career in education prior to joining the Alta Vista team landed her in a variety of roles in independent, public, and charter schools. She has served as Curriculum Developer, Literacy Coach, English and Science Department Chair, and a classroom teacher at both the elementary and middle school level. Most recently, Jennie served as an instructional coach for NYU’s Metropolitan Center for Urban Education, where she worked with teachers on building culturally-responsive practices in their classrooms. When she’s not soaking up the sights and sounds in classrooms at Alta Vista, Jennie spends time exploring her new home city of San Francisco on the back of her Vespa, “Billy Collins”, named after her favorite poet, hopping on planes to travel to and photograph foreign places, writing poetry, and searching for the perfect bite of food in every neighborhood.

 Gessi Romero Wiese


B.A., Elementary Education & English Literature, Northeastern University (Boston)
Master in Curriculum Development - New School University (New York)
International TEFL Certificate (Barcelona, Spain)
Teaching Credential - New York
Additional Language - Spanish (fluent)

A founding faculty member at Alta Vista School, Gessi has dedicated herself to young learners in San Francisco, Boston, New York, and Barcelona, Spain for over a decade. Her professional interests include bilingual education and child psychology. Gessi loves getting to know each student individually and brings her unique talent for understanding and nurturing children to our Admissions team.

Mio Fukushima

Front Office/Bookends (Japanese Arts/World Cultures/Tennis)

B.A., Film & Media Studies - University of California, Santa Barbara
Additional Language - Japanese (fluent)

Mio has previously worked in programming and administration in various educational environments, including The Lyceum of Monterey and the Ecologic Design Lab. She also was a physical education instructor at Santa Catalina School, where she coached tennis after having played Division I collegiate tennis. In addition to being the welcoming face of our front office, Mio brings rich components to our Bookends enrichment program based on her background in Japanese culture and arts.

Lauren Aubrey


B.S., Business Management - Kyungwon University (Korea) Accounting Coursework - University of Oregon Additional Language - Korean (fluent) A native of Korea, Lauren has many years experience working as a tax accountant and in the areas of general accounting, bookkeeping and payroll. When not focused on her professional duties, Lauren enjoys spending time with her young daughter.

Support Services

Maté Schissler ("Ms. Maté")

Reading Specialist (K-2nd)/Social-Emotional Learning

B.A., Art History - University of Colorado, Boulder
Post-Baccalaureate Teacher Ed. Program - UC San Diego
Reading Specialist Certification - UC San Diego
Summer Program - Art History, University of Alicante (Spain)

Prior to joining Alta Vista, Maté spent 12 years at The Gillispie School in La Jolla, where she held a multitude of roles: Reading Specialist, Admissions Director, Yoga Instructor, and Early Kindergarten Team Teacher. Her approach to literacy focuses on providing a supplemental reading program that emphasizes development of the whole child. Maté also has trained and practiced yoga for many years, and one of her many accomplishments has been contributing to the writing and choreography of a middle school yoga curriculum.

Melissa Carboni

Literacy Specialist (JK-2nd)

B.A., Elementary Education and Human Development - Boston College
Master of Education, Special Education - Boston College
Teaching Credential (Elementary 1-6, Moderate Disabilities preK-8) - Massachusetts
Study Abroad - University College Dublin (Ireland)

Melissa joined Alta Vista after ten years of teaching and leading in elementary schools in the Boston area. As an Integrated Kindergarten, first grade and second grade classroom teacher, she has specialized in emerging literacy and language development, mentorship, technology initiatives and creative, innovative and differentiated curriculum design. Melissa is passionate about giving back to her community and developing strategies that create optimum access to quality education for all. She also enjoys integrating yoga into her work with students and helping children to develop a lifelong curiosity and love for learning.

Catharine Prodromou ("Mrs. P")

Reading Specialist (2nd-5th)

B.A., Sociology - Brown University
Teaching Literacy and Childhood General Education Dual Certification - Bank Street College of Education
Teaching Certification - New York

Catharine possesses rich experience in progressive eduction and specialization in literacy development. Prior to joining Alta Vista as a 2nd grade classroom teacher, she previously taught in schools in New York, including as a 2nd grade teacher at The Dalton School. Prior to becoming a teacher, Catharine worked in publishing for Simon & Schuster and Random House on children and teen books and served as the primary liaison to national educational and library organizations. In addition to providing students with creative whole-group, small-group and individual lessons, Catharine focuses on community building and is a great stand-up comedienne!

Jaime Bardacke


Jaime is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with extensive experience working with families and children. She has worked in a variety of settings, including non-profit and government social service agencies, and public and charter schools. Currently she is in private practice specializing in working with children and adults around issues of trauma, anxiety, depression, and family transition. Jaime is also a faculty member at San Francisco State University in the Master of Social Work Program. Jaime works with compassion, respect, and a deep belief in the human capacity to develop increased ease and clarity in our lives. In her work with children, families, and teachers, she strives to support an increased understanding of the strengths and needs of each individual, and to facilitate effective communication and collaboration.

Michele Pelnar


B.A. - University of California at Berkeley
M.A. - New York University

Michelle has 12 years of clinical experience working with children, teens, families and individuals. As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, she started her practice in family therapy in New York and then moved to California where she has a private practice and has worked with various agencies. Through both her practice and agency work, Michelle has frequently interfaced with schools and school staff and is excited to take a step further in becoming a part of the Alta Vista community. Michelle's approach is empathetic, direct and authentic. She focuses on the strengths of her clients and their relationships, and is particularly interested in children and adolescents and working with the family as a whole system.

Junior Kindergarten ("JK") Classroom

Sophie Koshland

Lead Teacher

B.S., Biochemisty - Haverford College
Master in Education - University of Pennsylvania

Sophie brings a depth of scientific knowledge to the classroom and is skilled in employing creative methods to make science concepts understandable and fun for our students. Prior to joining Alta Vista, Sophie was focused on graduate studies in education at the University of Pennsylvania. As part of her graduate school program, Sophie designed and taught a unit where students used their knowledge of physics to conduct experiments with working mousetrap race cars.

Hayley Winkleblack


B.A., Liberal Studies/Elementary Education with Spanish focus - Humboldt State University
Multiple State Teaching Credential - Humboldt State University
Additional Language - Spanish (proficient)

The JK classroom buzzes with Hayley's buoyant energy. Hayley enjoys dance and has previously taught ballet to children. Prior to joining Alta Vista, she acted as a substitute and student teacher in elementary school classrooms, as well as in a special education environment. Hayley loves to design unique ways to integrate math, language arts and dance into a single lesson.

Kindergarten Classrooms

Alyssa Nelson Mastronicola

Lead Teacher

B.A., Sociology - San Francisco State University
Teaching Credential Program - California State University Monterey Bay
Additional Language - American Sign Language (fluent)

Alyssa has over 10 years of professional teaching experience, from pre-K to 5th Grade. She previously was an active faculty member at San Francisco Friends School where she helped to lead garden and diversity initiatives in addition to her teaching duties. She also has a number of years experience as a preschool teacher. Alyssa is fluent in American Sign Language and enjoys integrating this into her curriculum. She emphasizes the combination of science and empathy – embracing and studying the social and emotional intelligences. Alyssa introduces the concept of the brain as a muscle to our students, strengthening and growing that muscle with use and practice.

Katharine ("Kate") Routes


B.A., English Literature - University of Colorado, Boulder
Master in TESOL - The New School
Teaching Credential - Colorado
Additional Language - Spanish (basic)

Kate is constantly amazed at the adaptability of young students. She focuses on creating and modifying lessons to be tailored to their specific needs. A Colorado native, Kate has a variety of elementary classroom experience, including as a lead fourth grade teacher, and also previously was an associate behavior specialist providing therapeutic support services for students with special needs. Before joining Alta Vista, she was an enrichment teacher at The Berkeley School. One of Kate's favorite quotes comes from Emily Dickinson: "Forever is composed of Nows."

Catherine (Kline) Cunning

Lead Teacher

B.A., cum laude, Spanish & English Writing - DePauw University
Master of Arts - Marian University (Indianapolis, IN)
Teaching Credential - Indiana
Additional Language - Spanish (fluent)

Catherine views her role as teacher is to engage children in the learning process and encourage children to become life-long learners. Prior to joining Alta Vista, she was a K-8 Spanish teacher and a lead third grade teacher at a charter school in Indianapolis where she focused on incorporating inquiry-based science instruction into the classroom. Since moving from her native Indiana, she has enjoyed many new adventures in San Francisco and enjoys tackling the hills and trails of the Bay Area as an avid runner and hiker.

Riana Hensel


B.A., Spanish Literary Studies
M.A., Early Childhood Education
Multiple Subject Teaching Credential - California
Additional Language - Spanish

Riana sees the transition to kindergarten as one of the most formative experiences in a child's life. At least it was for her. In fact she still maintain relationships with many of her friends from kindergarten! A Bay Area native, Riana has traveled much of the world and lived many other places, but was thrilled to return home to attend graduate school. At this point in her teaching career, Riana has taught children ranging from 2 1/2 to 18 years old. In her free time, she enjoys cooking and doing almost anything outside.

1st Grade Classrooms

Sara Winkleblack

Lead Teacher

B.A., Fine Arts & Elementary Education - UC Santa Cruz
Multiple Subject Teaching Credential - Victoria University (Wellington, New Zealand)
Teaching Credential - California
Additional Language - Spanish (fluent)

Sara brings creativity and a lifelong love of learning to her teaching. Prior to joining Alta Vista, she spent 4 years in New Zealand, teaching middle school and working as a teacher aide in Montessori, mainstream and special education classrooms. Sara also previously dedicated herself to students with special needs throughout San Francisco. Her teaching encompasses a love of nature and ecology and emphasizes the importance of community. She is trained in ocean lifeguarding, wilderness skills and various forms of dance, all of which she has taught to children. Sara's artistic flair is evident in her teaching and classroom environment.

Dawn Larkin


B.A., Art - Queens College (Charlotte, NC)
Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and Mild/Moderate Learning Disabilities Specialist - California State University, Sacramento
Cross-Cultural, Language Acquisition and Development (CLAD) Credential - Stanford University
Santa Reparata Graphic Arts Center (Florence, Italy)
Exploratorium Leadership Institute

Dawn has been a classroom teacher for over 15 years, with experience spanning kindergarten through middle school. She comes to Alta Vista after 10 years teaching middle school science at KIPP Bayview Academy. Dawn brings her love of science, art, hands-on learning, and skilled instruction to the classroom. Her background teaching students with specific learning needs and her experience working with the Exploratorium have molded her as an educator. Dawn loves to garden, cook, travel, and spend time with her son, Owen.

Justin Mazzola

Lead Teacher

B.A., Journalism & Broadcast Communications - Elon University (North Carolina)
Master of Education and Credential, English & Moderate Disabilities - University of Massachusetts, Boston

Justin is a committed and creative classroom teacher with experience in both special and general education, as well as outdoor education, after-school programs, and camps. He previously was a Field Science Educator with the Headlands Institute in Sausalito where he created and implemented lessons targeting marine ecology, geology, and the importance of natural resources. He also worked in Mill Valley and Boston schools. Justin is particularly proud (as is Alta Vista!) of his two-year service in the AmeriCorps, both in Washington DC and traveling around the West doing service projects, including environmental work on Catalina Island, teaching reading at a Tucson Charter School, distributing food at the Sacramento Food Bank, and fighting wildfires in the El Dorado National Forest.

Charlotte Mosher

2nd Grade Classrooms

Glenn Heuser ("Mr. H")

Lead Teacher

B.A., Speech/Communication - Cal State Long Beach
Master in Education - Portland State University
K-5 Teaching Authorization - Portland State University
Teaching Credential - California, Oregon & Georgia

Glenn approaches teaching with a view of the student as apprentice, acquiring a diverse collection of skills and broad knowledge from teachers' modeling, engaging and monitoring. He previously was a 4th/5th grade teacher at Piedmont Ave. Elementary School in Oakland. He also has traveled the world for many years as an in-flight purser for international flights on United Airlines. Glenn's educational philosophy is reflected in the words of Dr. James Comer: "No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship."

Ashton Keller ("Mrs. K")


B.S., cum laude, Early Childhood Education - Texas Christian University
Master of Education - Texas Christian University
Teaching Credential - California, Texas

Ashton has been teaching in a variety of roles from Junior Kindergarten to eighth grade, including most recently at the Francis Parker School and Notre Dame Academy in San Diego. She received a Certificate of Distinction for the Reading Preparation of Elementary Teachers from the International Reading Association. Ashton is a committed math educator and her Graduate Studies Practicum was focused on teaching math. Ashton also has acted as a "Mathletes" coach, leading an elementary school level math club designed to cultivate a culture of math and a love of problem-solving skills.

Kathryn ("Katie") Rizzo

Lead Teacher

BA, Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction - University of the Pacific

Katie is absolutely thrilled to be joining the Alta Vista community this year. Both her teaching and learning experiences have led her to embrace education as a continuous and exhilarating life journey. From an early age when books were passports to ancient civilizations or a world where a big, friendly giant could be a friend, to her life in San Francisco where the city is an expansive and exciting classroom, education continues to be the catalyst for Katie's adventures. She has a wide array of prior teaching experience, including teaching 3rd grade at the Katherine Delmar Burke School, 7th grade at Aim High, preschool in an arts-focused bilingual program, and in the education department of the Museum of Chinese in America in New York. Katie is particularly proud of her work in nurturing students' social and emotional needs within the classroom. Compassion, inclusion, and mutual respect are the anchors of her teaching. This is supported through her educational training in Mindfulness, Responsive Classroom, Classroom Yoga, diversity work with Blink Consulting, and roles as a committee member in her past positions developing inclusive and social-emotional learning curriculum. Katie's educational philosophy stems from her passion for learning a dedication to foster this same love in each of her students.

Kristy Hui


B.A., Communication Studies – Loyola Marymount University
M.A., Education – Pepperdine University
Teaching Credential (California)

Kristy is passionate about creating a community of lifelong learners and fostering social-emotional learning. She has taught students ranging from Kindergarten to 5th grade in diverse school settings. Prior to joining the Alta Vista community she taught for 3 years as a K/1st grade multi-aged teacher at Turning Point School, an independent school in Los Angeles with a whole-child focus. She has also taught Elementary Science (K – 3rd grade) at Escuela Plus Elementary School in Los Angeles and most recently at The Dalton School in New York City, focusing on inquiry-based learning. During her time in graduate school she developed and implemented a weekly science program for 5th graders with minimal exposure to science education, with the goal to foster understanding through hands-on scientific learning. She has also taught internationally through the World Teach program as a volunteer high school English teacher in Chile. During her free time she enjoys traveling, photography, hiking, reading, and exploring the beautiful Bay Area. Kristy’s ultimate goal as a teacher is to see students as responsible, respectful, empathetic, and confident members of society.

3rd Grade Classrooms

Erika Noel ("Ms. Erika")

Lead Teacher

B.A., Cultural Anthropology and Environmental Sociology - University of Michigan
California Clear Multiple Subject Credential Program - Dominican University

Erika is a seasoned K-12 educator with specific expertise in the creation of thematic curriculum that engages, inspires and deepens students' understanding of math and science through hands-on, inquiry-based activities. Now in her 14th year of teaching, Erika previously held teaching positions at The Hamlin School, the Lawrence Hall of Science (University of California Berkeley), Urban Promise Academy, Washington Elementary, and the Headlands Institute. She is the author of the article "Classroom Earth" featured in Terrain Magazine. Erika has participated in a variety of professional development programs, including Bay Area Center for the Performing Arts Teacher Training, JASON Expedition Teacher Training, Teaching for Understanding Summer Institute, and the Exploratorium Institute for Inquiry. In addition to pioneering the use of technology tools in the classroom, Erika makes learning come to life by integrating visual art, theater, movement, and music into her teaching.

Danny Blum


B.A., American Studies - University of Colorado at Boulder
Multiple Subject Teaching Credential - San Francisco State University (Bay Area Teacher Training Institute)

Danny passionately encourages his students to challenge themselves and be confident in who they are, arching his teaching philosophy along the principles of Growth Mindset. He has supported and mentored youth in a variety of formal and informal learning environments, including Camp Tawonga, Aim High, Nueva Summer Camp, and The Mosaic Project. Danny was previously a 4th grade teacher, as well as athletics coach, at Woodland School. Danny has participated in a wide range of professional development opportunities including The Klingenstein Summer Institute at Columbia’s Teacher College and The Social Emotional Learning Institute at Nueva. He also facilitated four one-week long teacher training workshops in Pakistan. Danny loves to spend his free time outdoors riding his bike, gardening, taking photos, snowboarding, and exploring the wild places of Northern California.

Dana Ryan

Lead Teacher

B.A., English and Business - Lehigh University (Pennsylvania)
Master of Education - Bank Street College (New York)
Teaching Credential - Texas

Dana strives to meet each individual child's needs through differentiated instruction and a creative, hands-on approach to her lessons. Prior to joining Alta Vista, Dana taught for four years at various schools in New York, including as a a 3rd and 1st grade teacher at the Rippowam Cisqua School, a 4th grade teacher at the Churchill School for children with language-based learning disabilities, and most recently as a 1st grade teacher at a charter school. Dana continuously strives to develop a love of learning in all of her students. Since recently moving from New York, she has been enjoying many new outdoor adventures in San Francisco.

Rachelle Seibolt ("Ms. Rachelle")


B.A., Psychology- Brown University
Master of Science in Childhood General and Special Education (grades 1-6) - Bank Street College (New York)

Rachelle joins the Alta Vista community from New York City where she completed her Master studies. She has experience in third, fourth, and sixth grade classrooms in New York City. She also has a range of experiences working with early-childhood children. Prior to living in NY, she taught in Korea for two years, lived in Thailand for seven months, and traveled through Southeast Asia. She loves to learn about culture and customs. She is a former Division I track and field athlete (throws) and competed in rugby and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Currently, she enjoys biking and exploring the Bay Area. Rachelle believes that creating a foundation of mutual trust and respect is imperative in the classroom. She values the developmental differences and unique strengths that students bring into the classroom. Rachelle passionately believes in educating the whole child in order to give the child tools to be moral, reflective, productive, and happy community members.

4th Grade Classroom

LeAnne Fowlkes

Lead Teacher

B.A., Art, Concentration in Photography - University of North Carolina, Asheville
C.L.A.D. Multiple Subject Teaching Credential - San Francisco State University (Bay Area Teacher Training Institute)

LeAnne has a varied teaching background, including in Kindergarten, 1st, 3rd and 4th grades, as well as in summer school and after-school programs. She has been active with Girls Incorporated in furthering the mission to foster educational values, life skills and the social-emotional health of girls. LeAnne has participated in a variety of professional development programs, including The University of Chicago School Mathematics Project, Teaching for Understanding through Harvard Project Zero, The Responsive Classroom, the Toolbox Project (focused on conflict resolution and building empathy), and Columbia University's Teacher's College Writers' Workshop. Previously a Gallery Assistant and Archivist at the John Berggruen Gallery, LeAnne is a talented photographer and devotee of the arts.

Jonathon ("Jon") Polly


B.S., Public Affairs - Indiana University
Master of Science, Applied Geoscience with Concentration in Oceanography - San Francisco State University

Jon joined Alta Vista after spending three years at the Nueva School as an active lower school faculty member and coach for track and field and cross country. He co-led a weekly literature club as well as implemented social-emotional learning and design-thinking curriculum. Jon also acted as coach for the Futures Problem Solving Program to engage students in creative problem solving and critical analysis, specifically mentoring a student team to develop ways to reduce their carbon footprint. In connection with his graduate work in geoscience and oceanography, he has conducted a variety of research projects and published scientific articles focused on earthquake faults, marine biogeochemistry, and intertidal sediment. Jon loves outdoor adventures and is an avid runner (trail, 50k and marathons), rock climber, wake boarder, swimmer and kayaker.

5th Grade Classroom

Jennifer Hoggatt ("Ms. Hoggatt")

Lead Teacher

B.A., Child and Adolescent Development: School-Age Child and Family - San Francisco State University
Master of Arts, Elementary Education and Teaching - University of San Francisco
C.L.A.D. Multiple Subject Teaching Credential - University of San Francisco

Jen is a dedicated educator who is committed to helping students become successful, life-long learners eager to contribute to their community. Prior to joining Alta Vista, she was a lead elementary school teacher for eight years (3rd and 5th grade) at a private school in the Bay Area. In addition to multiple subject classroom instruction, Jen acted as the Student Council Lead for 6th through 8th graders and managed an annual week-long outdoor education trip to reinforce students’ ecological relationships with the environment. She also launched and coached Girls on the Run for third through fifth girls to promote self-esteem and positive body image. In her free time, Jen enjoys practicing yoga, riding her bike, and traveling. Jen strongly believes in stimulating curiosity and creativity, in maintaining structure, and in promoting and expecting mutual respect -- in and out of the classroom.

Elizabeth (Lizz) Klammer ("Ms. Klammer")


B.A., Biology with Chemistry minor - Converse College (Spartanburg, SC)
Master of Sciences in Biology with Geology minor - Bemidji State University (Bemidji, MN)
Ph.D. (in progress) in Curriculum and Instruction with Science Education emphasis - Texas Tech University (Lubbock, TX)
Teaching Certifications: Life Science for Virginia, Texas and Minnesota

Lizz is passionate about project-based learning and global collaboration in science education. She has been a dedicated science educator for over 20 years, teaching at the elementary, middle school, high school, and college levels. In 2012, Lizz received the Texas Middle School Science Teacher of the Year Award from the Texas Medical Association. She currently is in her third year of a Ph.D. program focused in science education. She also enjoys traveling with students to expose them to out-of-classroom learning experiences, and has organized trips to the rain forests of Costa Rica, swimming with dolphins and manatees in Florida, and to the museums of Paris, France.


Katherine Stark

Art and Tinker (2nd-5th)

B.A., Studio Art - Lewis & Clark College
Master of Arts in Art Education - New York University
Teaching Credential - New York, California

As an educator and an artist, Katherine approaches art as a means of creative expression and understanding. Katherine has a breadth of studio skills, including ceramics, sculpture, painting, drawing, printmaking, and digital arts. She is a talented artist in her own right with prior exhibitions of her work. Katherine has significant prior art teaching experience, including digital media arts, studio workshops, Playworks, and theater. She also was an elementary school teacher in the visual arts classroom at The Earth School, a progressive elementary school in New York City. One of Katherine's main goals as a teacher is to help students find a personal visual voice to communicate complex ideas, and she supports this exploration with visual art foundations paired with collaborative and explorative exercises.

Annie Kyle

Art (JK-1st)

B.S., Studio Art - New York University
Master of Arts in Art Education - New York University
Teaching Credential - New York

Annie is a talented and accomplished artist and arts educator, and is very excited to be part of the AVS community. As an artist, Annie has exhibited her work in group shows nationally and internationally, as well as a solo exhibition in New York City. As an arts educator, Annie has taught diverse groups of students in a variety of instructional settings, including elementary and secondary public schools, a weekend art program for high school students at NYU, and a pre-college summer program held at Barnard College in New York. Annie’s teaching philosophy is centered on the importance of learning through active and imaginative artistic discovery. She believes that playful, multi-sensory learning has a profound positive effect on students’ intellectual, social, emotional, physical, and creative development. She encourages students to strive for excellence while learning from their “mistakes,” providing opportunities for them to reflect, problem solve, and grow.

Katie McGee


B.A., Theatre & Communications - St. Louis University
Master Coursework in Multiple Subject Special Education - Loyola Marymount

Katie enjoys sharing stories and inspiring students to tell their own. Through storytelling, she challenges all of her students to expand their self-awareness, critical thinking skills, and empathy. Her curriculum is developed to be age appropriate and guided by students' interests, while also grounded in a belief that children deserve to be challenged and given the space to grow. Katie has taught a wide variety of theatre-based courses, including musical theatre, playwriting, costuming, film, and improvisation. Aside from teaching, Katie is a Bay Area actress and often performs for young audiences with Bay Area Children's Theatre.

Dayna Shon


B.A., Music Education of Cultures - Scripps College
Master of Arts in Education - San Jose State University
Study Abroad - University of Otago (New Zealand)
Certification - Orff-Schulwerk
Additional Language - Spanish (proficient)

Dayna is a talented musician with proficiency on all western instruments – guitar, piano, wind, brass, and percussion – as well as experience with the Japanese koto, Central Javanese and Balinese gamelan, and West African drumming. Dayna has been an energetic music and theater educator for over 8 years, bringing instrument, vocal, and music training to children ages 6-18, as well as leading large-scale musical and theater productions. She previously was on faculty at the Bentley School and Charles Armstrong School. Dayna integrates inquiry-based and cooperative learning, technology, multiculturalism, and educational field trips to her varied lessons.

Abbie Ackerman ("Miss Abbie")

Dance and Movement

B.A., Fine Arts, cum laude, Dance and Choreography - Ohio University
Master of Fine Arts, Dance and Choreography - Mills College

Abbie is a talented dancer who has also studied dance pedagogy, dance history and criticism, somatics, kinesiology, choreography, and both classical and modern technique. Most recently, she has been an instructor of ballet and hip/hop.

Carlos Aguayo

Physical Education

B.S., Kinesiology (Physical Education) - San Francisco State University
Teaching Credential - California
Additional Language - Spanish (fluent)

Carlos has been teaching and coaching for eleven years in San Francisco and on the Peninsula. His goal for students is to enjoy movement and to be active throughout their lifetime.

Lori Castillo Frediani


B.A., Communications and Sociology with a minor in Spanish - California State University Fullerton
Master of Arts, Romance Languages with an emphasis in Italian Language and Literature - San Francisco State University
Foreign Language - Spanish (fluent), Italian (fluent)

For more than eleven years, Lori has dedicated her career to education and language teaching. Her goal as a language instructor is to equip her students with valuable skills for learning, speaking and appreciating new languages and cultures. She has taught elementary, middle school and high school students and spent many summers in Italy teaching. She also founded and directed an after-school language program for various public and private schools in San Francisco. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, running and spending time with her husband, daughter and dog. Lori loves working with young children and brings music, stories, arts and crafts to her teaching.

Bookends/Adventures & Garden/Sustainability

Marissa Weitzman

B.S., Environmental Studies in Natural Resource Management and Conservation with minor in Biology and Geography - San Francisco State University
Certificate in Permaculture Design - Mesoamerican Permaculture Institute (Guatemala)
Additional Language - Spanish

Marissa loves to create active, hands-on learning experiences for students. She previously was a garden educator with Bayview Opera House and Hayes Valley Farm where she created curriculum and led classes on sustainable urban farming, garden ecology, nutrition, food systems, and permaculture. Marissa also has been an elementary school aide. She enjoys outdoor adventure, world travel, yoga, and food - experiences and interests she interweaves in her creative school programs. Mostly, Marissa loves to get her hands dirty!

Brennan Blazer Bird

B.A., Nature & Culture, University of California, Davis
Permaculture Design Certificate, Regenerative Design Institute, Bolinas, CA
Additional Language – Spanish

Brennan has led a diverse array of artistic and ecological projects with youth around the world. He is a zero waste activist who has inspired thousands of students to transform plastic waste into bottle bricks to build earthen benches on their school campuses. Check out his TEDx talk: Brennan Bird on Bottle Bricks.  He also is a natural builder and greatly enjoys teaching students how to use clay, sand, and straw as building materials. Brennan has a diverse range of experience as a naturalist, garden and nutrition educator, wilderness guide, and the leader of his own ecological education and natural building nonprofit. He is incredibly excited to share his passion for ecological stewardship with the students and community at Alta Vista.

a progressive learning environment
an emphasis on science, math and technology

Alta Vista School  |   |   Telephone: 415 / 467.3700