New faculty and staff for 2022–2023
New faculty and staff for 2022-2023
This time each year, we begin to reflect on our experiences during the past year, plan for the refreshment of the summer break, and embrace our hopefulness for the year to come. As an important part of that, we take time to announce and celebrate our departing faculty while introducing and welcoming our new faculty members that will bring their diverse talents and experience to lives of our students. It is a time of joy and reflection that sparks the annual cycle of renewal at our school. As we look to 2022–2023, we have a number of new roles that represent a significant investment in our students' effective learning and in meeting the needs of our parent community. Please see below for details!
Dean of Students
1st-grade Teacher Susan Garrison will be joining the admin and support staff in the fall as our first Lower School Dean of Students. In this role, Susan will be responsible for all issues relating to the wellbeing of the students during their attendance at AVS. Read more!
Equity and Community
5th-grade Teacher Angela Fisher will be our first Director of Equity and Community, serving both the Lower and Middle School campuses. Angela will be responsible for fostering leadership and guidance in creating an environment of ongoing enrichment, support, and inclusion for all families, students, faculty, and staff members of the AVS community. Read more!
Lower School Director of Co‑curricular Programming
4th-grade Teacher Danny Blum will be our Lower School Director of Co-curricular Programming, an elevated, full-time role responsible for oversight and support of high-quality, innovative school-day and after-school programming aligned with the mission of Alta Vista School. This includes, especially, BookEnds. Read more!
Lizette comes to AVS from Oakland Unified School District, where she has been a bilingual 1st-grade teacher since January 2019. She began her teaching career as a substitute teacher in 2010, and she has earned a multiple-subject teaching credential as well as two degrees from San Jose State University in international business and Spanish.
- Multiple-subject Teaching Credential, CalstateTEACH
- B.S., International business, San Jose State University
- B.A., Spanish, San Jose State University
Rithika will come to AVS to begin her eleventh year of teaching! Born in India, Rithika moved to the United States when she was 16 and she has lived in Pennsylvania for most of her life. She attended Kutztown University and later received her graduate degree in elementary education at Bloomsburg University. Rithika previously worked at The Swain School in Allentown, Penn., and Beauvoir National Cathedral Elementary school in Washington, D.C., where she taught many different grades.
Rithika says she has always had a passion for teaching and to be surrounded by the sweet innocence, kindness and the silliness of children. She loves that she can provide “lightbulb” moments for students and to learn along with them. Her favorite pastimes outside of school are trying new foods from different cultures, watching movies and reading good fiction books. Her favorite book series is Harry Potter, which we know is an immediate connection with many of our students! She is also a huge fan of the Marvel Comic Universe and anything superhero related!
- M.Ed, Elementary education, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, 2011
- B.A., English literature, Kurtztown University of Pennsylvania, 2005
Scotty will join the AVS community after teaching 3rd-grade at Wallace Stegner Academy. Scotty graduated from Brigham Young University in 2021 with a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education and a minor in English as a Second Language. She is dedicated to creating a welcoming classroom environment that cultivates social-emotional and project based learning, critical thinking, and inquiry-based instruction. In Scotty’s free time she loves reading, running marathons, and teaching science.
- Teaching Credential, Multiple-subject, State of Utah
- B.S., Elementary education (with minor in TESOL), Brigham Young University
Joining Morgan Henderson in 4th Grade A will be Jennifer Fuentes.
The two new teachers in 4th Grade B will be Peter Ebling and Elizabeth Nolan.
Jennifer comes to AVS from Westmont College, where she is currently the assistant director of campus life for ministry and outreach. She has nine years of teaching experience across elementary, middle, and high school, most recently at Redwood Homeschool in Ballard, Calif.
- M.Ed., Pepperdine University, 2011 with special training in multiple-subject and single-subject curriculum writing
- B.A., English, Westmont College, 2008
Peter comes to AVS from Berkshire Country Day School in Stockbridge, Mass., where he is a 5th-grade lead teacher, as well as an advisor and coach. Peter has taught there for two years and has eight years total teaching experience in elementary and middle school.
- M.Ed., Elementary education (summa cum laude), Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, 2020
- B.A., Hobart College
Elizabeth comes to AVS from the UK, where she has taught across the upper elementary grades and led the math department at her most recent school. Believing that math is a deeply playful subject, she aims to infuse her classroom with investigative and collaborative learning experiences which ignite curiosity and inspire joy. She loves nothing more than sharing the wonder of learning with her students and helping each one to feel seen, understood and included as they move towards a confident and secure number sense. Outside school, she can be found cycling in the sunshine, practicing yoga or curled up watching sci-fi or playing board games.
- M.A., STEM education (in progress), King's College
- Post-graduate certificate, Primary and middle school education, University of Sussex
- B.A., Anthropology, University of Sussex
Tina was born in Iran, spent her childhood in Sweden, and moved to Canada as a teenager. The immigrant experience sparked a fascination for different languages, cultures and helping others. As a result, Tina is deeply committed to building strong communities that celebrate diversity and inclusivity for all.
Like most educators, Tina has held various positions in a wide variety of settings: language instructor and camp counselor in the Swiss Alps; homeroom and physical education teacher in San Francisco; 5th-grade teacher in Madrid; and now a middle school teacher in Toronto.
In her free time you can usually find Tina outdoors enjoying hikes, bike rides or playing on my co-ed soccer and basketball teams.
- B.A., Child and youth studies, Brock University
- B.Ed., Primary/junior/intermediate division, University of Ontario Institute of Technology
Baley comes to AVS from San Francisco Unified School District, where she teaches 4th and 5th grades. She began teaching as a substitute in 2018 and then served as a teacher assistant at Trinity Episcopal School in Austin, Tex.
- Multiple-subject Teaching Credential
- B.A., Global studies, St. Edwards University
Alek Barkats will continue as the LS Music Teacher.
Sienna Brann will continue as the LS Drama Teacher.
Gustavo Mondoy will continue as the LS Spanish Teacher.
Frank Rogers will stay on as one of our LS Physical Education Teachers after serving as a long-term sub; he will be joined by new hire Spencer Donaldson.
Sandy Stevens will continue as the LS Visual Art and Tinkering Teacher, after serving as long-term sub this year!
Liana Zafran will continue as the LS Gardening and Sustainability Teacher.
Born and raised in San Francisco, Spencer previously taught Lower School PE and coached Middle School Athletics at Children’s Day School. Before that, he taught second and fourth grade as he earned his master’s degree in education through the BATTI program. Spencer’s teaching philosophy is grounded in creating a positive association with movement for his students and facilitating students’ connection-making between health and skill-related components of movement within and beyond the realm of sports and games. Spencer also emphasizes using P.E. class to teach and practice communication, collaboration, empathy, decision-making, and relationship skills.
In his free time, Spencer enjoys spending time outdoors running or with his dog, playing piano and singing, supporting the Giants, 49ers, and Warriors, playing video games, and trying to solve the New York Times crossword puzzles.
- M.A., Education (concentration in curriculum and instruction), University of the Pacific
- B.A., English and comparative literature
Drama and Media
Evontay Watson will be joining the team as MS Drama and Media Teacher.
Evontay is enthusiastic about storytelling and inspiring students to share their own. Through building trust, play, and taking risks, he challenges all of his students to expand their confidence as performers, critical thinking skills, and sense of community. His curriculum is developed to be student-centered while exploring various performance styles and techniques. Evontay’s love for Drama has allowed him to perform roles in Honolulu, San Francisco, San Diego, and England. Evontay is excited to join the Alta Vista community as the Middle School Drama Teacher.
Todd Ditto will be joining the team as a MS Mathematics Teacher.
Todd Ditto hails from the mining city of Butte, Mont., and was raised across three countries and two continents. He earned a B.S. in mathematics, minor in economics, as well as a 5th–12th teaching certification from Montana State University in Bozeman.
Todd’s quest for widening his world perspective led him to Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Colorado, and Nevada to experience urban secondary education, charter school models, differentiated instruction, single sex education, civic engagement, progressive education, and global stewardship. Mr. Ditto loves being part of students’ journeys as they capture ideas, explore values, challenge beliefs, discover passions, hone skills, and as they bring their hopes and dreams to life in ways that make the world better for all. When he isn’t teaching, Mr. Ditto enjoys exploring the world on his bike, community service, hiking, sports fishing, skiing, snowshoeing, playing ukulele, knitting, circus arts, and sharing the joys of raising chickens.
Josh Bozich will be joining the team as the MS Music Teacher.
Josh is an educator and musician who recently moved to the Bay Area with his wife and cat. Josh has training in and experience with numerous musical styles, including jazz, musical theater, pop, rock, and classical.
He is a multi-instrumentalist, with professional experience playing electric bass, guitar, and jazz piano, and has worked to gain proficiency on a number of other instruments including trumpet, percussion, and ukulele. Josh is also a professional vocalist, most recently fulfilling the role of baritone section-leader for the Spokane Symphony Chorale in Washington State.
He is an active composer, producer, and award-winning arranger, and enjoys a variety of hobbies such as drawing, writing, birding, game-design, and tabletop games. Josh is excited to join the AVS community and partner with its staff and students to create meaningful musical experiences.
Dan Weintraub will be joining the team as a MS Social Studies Teacher.
Dan Weintraub arrives from the East Coast, backpack and guitar in hand. Dan’s most recent adventures in education found him running a dorm of international students on Beacon Street in downtown Boston and working with families as part of his educational consultancy. Prior to this, Dan worked in both independent and public schools for three decades as a K-12 teacher, a soccer and basketball coach, and a senior school administrator.
Dan is happiest in the classroom, though his interests stretch beyond the walls and halls as well. Among his claims to fame include the following:
- Touring the country as a singer-songwriter and even warming up for Tracy Chapman on the Boston folk scene (twice in the 1980s in actuality)
- Chasing severe thunderstorms and tornadoes on the Great Plains and teaching severe storms climatology to college students
- Coaching soccer in Denmark
- Helping plan and carry out non-violent anti-Apartheid and pro-Democracy protests that ended with Abbie Hoffman sleeping on his couch for a stretch
- Writing/arranging/recording 1000 songs in 1000 days
All of the aforementioned notwithstanding, Dan’s true home – his sweet spot – remains the classroom. Dan is the beamingly proud dad of Hannah (20) and Eli (19), both of whom will flop on his couch from time to time during the upcoming years. Dan is super excited to join the Alta Vista School community!
Advancement Services Associate
Chelsea Goldsmith will join us as Advancement Services Associate next year.
Chelsea joins AVS from the world of science communication and education technology. Her background is in project and event management in the education and nonprofit fields. Previously, Chelsea worked on grants from the US Department of Education, NASA, the National Science Foundation, and more at the Center for Education through Exploration at Arizona State University. She is happy to be returning to San Francisco and is passionate about interactive & interdisciplinary learning.
When she is not at school, Chelsea enjoys singing, playing the piano, and all sorts of tabletop games.
- B.A., English and American studies, Wesleyan University
Nathan Oliveira will join us as Admissions Associate next year.
Nathan Oliveira is a San Francisco native with a passion for photography and art. He has experience with kids and is a loving father.
Nathan graduated from Sacred Heart Cathedral High School in 2008 and SJSU in 2012. He has spent the last five years working in Property Management. Nathan will be joining the Alta Vista Admissions Team this year and he's excited to support applicants and new students alike.
● B.A. Communications Major & Sociology Minor -San Jose State University
● Dispute Resolution & Ombuds Program of Country of Santa Clara, Certified Mediator
Joanne Cohen will join us as School Counselor next year.
Joanne has been working in the mental health field for her entire career. She worked as a Dance/Movement Therapist with children and adolescents in psychiatric hospitals for ten years. Joanne then transitioned to working in schools and has worked in both public and private schools in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work includes being the Wellness Coordinator at Ruth Asawa School of the Arts, an SEL Teacher at The Nueva School and the School Counselor at Cathedral School for Boys. For the past twelve summers, Joanne has worked as a therapist at a sleepaway camp in the hills of Santa Rosa. This camp is connected to the camp where Joanne grew up as a camper and counselor.
When she is not at school, Joanne enjoys being in dance class or attending live theater. She also finds joy in traveling, and being outdoors. Joanne loves spending time with her family, including her husband, two teenagers, one high energy dog, and a three-legged cat, and her extended family locally and on the east coast. Her happiest place is any beach, lake, or pool where the water is warm. Joanne is thrilled to join the Alta Vista Community where she felt at home the minute she walked through the doors.
- M.A., Dance/movement psychotherapy, University of California, Los Angeles.
- B.A., Psychology, University of the Pacific
LS Literacy Specialist
Katie Fielding will stay on next year as LS Literacy Specialist, after serving as a long-term sub this year.
Clarissa Eshelman will join us as Middle School Office Manager next year, and Danny Fuentes will join us as Lower School Office Manager.
Clarissa grew up in the Bay Area and started working with kids as a young teenager. After graduating with a psychology degree from San Francisco State University in 2020, Clarissa decided to try working in finance, but soon realized that she wanted to work with people who take part in shaping the community. She is very excited to have the opportunity to join Alta Vista and hopes to bring her passion for design, journalism and collaborative communication to her daily interactions with everyone at Alta Vista.
In her free time, Clarissa enjoys reading, hiking, DIY home improvements and attending comedy shows throughout the city. She is also an animal lover and spends most weekends with her dog Kermit exploring new places throughout San Francisco.
- B.A., Psychology, San Francisco State University
Danny Fuentes was born and raised in Los Angeles. He plays bass and drums and loves to watch movies and documentaries. Danny graduated from Cal Baptist University in Riverside with a Bachelors in Accounting and a Masters in Business Administration, specializing in Accounting.
Fun Fact: Danny once pursued acting and actually had an agent!
- M.A., Business Administration
- B.A., Accounting, Cal Baptist University in Riverside
We extend our deepest gratitude and best wishes to all of our faculty and staff who will not be with us next year! Thank you for all you've done for Alta Vista School and the students we all serve.
- Patti Gelinas, LS Physical Education Teacher (departing long-term sub)
- Tao Graham, LS Office Manager
- Katy Hill, 4th-grade Teacher
- Patrick Jones, MS Office Manager and Administrative Assistant
- K Khozein, MS Mathematics Teacher
- Isla Murphy, 5th-grade Teacher (parental leave for 2022-2023)
- Katie McGee, MS Drama and Media Teacher
- Erika Noël, 3rd-grade Teacher
- Kory Orlanski, School Counselor
- Lauren Owenmark, LS Visual Art Teacher (part-time support)
- Marisa Park, Kindergarten Teacher
- Lara Robeznieks, 4th-grade Teacher
- Alicia Seronio, LS Academic Support (departing long-term sub)