Teachers. Mentors. Innovators
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.
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.
B.A., Sociology - Brown University
Teaching Literacy and Childhood General Education Dual Certification - Bank Street College of Education
Teaching Certification - New York
Mrs. P loves a good challenge — and the Alta Vista School offers just the exciting opportunities she appreciates so much. From making grammar fun to 2nd graders to helping launch a dynamic middle school program, Mrs. P is always excited to dive in to new projects. In fact, she's more than dipped her toes into several areas of education — starting out her career in the children's trade book industry, before taking the plunge to classroom teaching, followed by a specialization in Literacy. Now a member of the growing Middle School team, Mrs. P is enjoying the collaboration and inspiration that propel the terrific challenges they embrace, together — and she feels right at home!
Courses: California Living (Life Science 1)
It's All in the Genes (Life Science 2)
May Newton's Forces Be With You (Physical Science 1)
Lights, Energy & Action! (Physical Science 2)
Earth's Place in the Universe (Earth Science 1)
Shake, Rattle & Roll! (Earth Science 2)
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.
Courses: Pictures, Places & Things
Choose Your Own Adventure
Be a Literary Agent
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.
Courses: Out of the Past (Cultural Ecology)
Like a Historian (Ancient & Medieval History)
Adventurers & Explorers
From Florence To Harlem: Renaissance Means Rebirth
B.A. Art History and Women's Studies, Hobart and William Smith Colleges
M.A. Teaching - History, Simmons College
MA Lisc. 5-12
Kate joined AVS in 2015. She is thrilled to bring her love for teaching and experience with grades 6-8 to a growing middle school program. As a history teacher, Kate teaches students about the past so they can better understand the world we live in today. She believes the majority of learning happens beyond textbooks and shows students how to (respectfully) challenge material they encounter, as well as the opinions of others. Lessons place emphasis on conversation, critical thinking, and skill building. By pushing in these directions, students leave Kate's classroom with a greater appreciation of themselves, each other, and our global communities. Kate loves to travel and be outdoors. She's lived abroad in Italy and Vietnam and hopes to visit the last two continents on her list before too long! She played lacrosse and coached field hockey back on the East Coast.
Courses: How to Build a Computer
On the Web
The System of the World
B.A., Computer Science, Classics minor - Oberlin College
Skilled in French and Latin, some Hebrew, Spanish, Quenya, German
Alex worked for years as a sysadmin at a Washington, DC, area school, and taught classes in geometry, computer science, science fiction, and Elvish. He moved to the West Coast to handle Alta Vista's technology needs and teach computer science to middle schoolers. He is part of the unplugged movement in CS instruction, teaching algorithms, protocols, problem solving, discrete math, and tech history with a variety of puzzles, games, and art projects. Alex is an avid reader, and loves languages, long hikes, music and the arts, and his tuxedo cat.
B.A., History – Bethany College
M.Ed., Social and Comparative Analysis in Education – University of Pittsburgh
As a middle school student Ryan often felt bored and disengaged from school. Out of the feeling, he decided to become a teacher dedicated to engaging, hands on, discovery-based learning. He believes that students should have a voice in their education and that they should be allowed to discover and pursue the topics and inquiries that naturally interest them. Prior to joining Alta Vista, Ryan spent three years working at a private boarding school in West Virginia where he taught 6th grade History, coached middle school soccer and basketball, and lived in a boys dormitory. Moving to San Francisco from Pittsburgh, PA, where he received his Masters Degree from the University of Pittsburgh, Ryan is incredibly excited about the new challenges that lie ahead. When he is not teaching, spending time with his wife, traveling, or trying new food, he is likely cheering for his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers.
B.A., English - The University of the South
Master of English Literature (in progress) - Middlebury, Bread Loaf School of English
Mac has been teaching for nine years and loves the literary journey. He enjoys seeing his students grow as confident writers, literary investigators, and self-confident human beings. Before joining Alta Vista, Mac taught fourth through twelfth grades in southern California, Texas, and Colorado, and he has developed outdoor programs for a variety of age groups. As an avid backpacker, Mac enjoys spending his time “in the woods,” a love that he enjoys sharing with students by bringing them out into nature to experience the wonders of our outdoor world. During the summers, Mac pursues his passion for reading and analyzing literature in the mountains of Vermont, working towards his master’s of English literature at Middlebury’s Bread Loaf school of English. He also coaches lacrosse and basketball, believing that a connection to physical activity and teamwork lead to more well-rounded students. Mac believes that young people should develop respect for themselves and the world around them by remaining perpetually curious and examining new challenges and questions with open minds.
B.S., Mathematics/Economics – UCLA
B.A., Philosophy – UCLA
Master of Science in Education, Urban Education – University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education
Teaching Certifications: Secondary Mathematics in New Jersey and Pennsylvania
Additional Language – Armenian
Elizabeth’s classroom will encompass a theme of developing purposeful relationships, both in the academic and social sense. She wants her students to discover the countless connections between math and the environment through exploration and experimentation. She expects her students to collaborate with each other effectively in order to discover the different methods of problem solving. Elizabeth’s philosophy stems from her prior experiences in education and community service. After college, she decided to take on a large endeavor of joining Teach For America in Philadelphia and enrolling at University of Pennsylvania to pursue a MsEd degree. During her time in the East Coast, Elizabeth realized that relationship building necessitates a purposeful learning environment, and therefore she hopes to bring that value to AVS. She taught 6th grade math at a charter school in Camden, New Jersey for three years. She also co-piloted a financial literacy program in a low-income area of Philadelphia in order to promote more parental engagement within the school community. In her spare time, Elizabeth enjoys playing the piano, riding her bike, and exploring the different connections between math and everyday activities.
Courses: Math 1, 2, and 3 (Pre-Algebra)
B.A., History – University of California Irvine
Masters of Education, Science Curriculum & Instruction – University of Texas, Arlington
C.L.A.D. Single Subject Mathematics Teaching Credential – California State University, Sacramento
C.L.A.D. Single Subject Science Teaching Credential: Physics – California State University, Sacramento
C.L.A.D. Multiple Subject Teaching Credential – California State University, Sacramento
Additional Languages: Japanese
Steven is a driven educator who has been working with 5th & 6th graders for over fourteen years. Steven grew up in the Bay Area, but is returning to San Francisco after living in the Chunichi region of Japan for a decade. Chunichi Dragons Banzai! There he worked in public elementary and middle schools teaching English as a second language and then as the 5th and 6th grade teacher and Science Specialist for a small English language international school. Steven’s classes emphasize the joy of curiosity and the thrill of discovery. Being a math and science educator, Steven often thinks in terms of deep time. He sees a classroom as a place where students can take their place on the long voyage of thought and discovery that the human race has been embarking on for millennia. In his classes, students are driven to develop and understand their own capacities to interrogate the universe around them through well considered questions, inductive and deductive reasoning, hands on experience, application of knowledge, and careful reflection. Beyond mathematics, Steven has a keen interest in cosmology, history, economics, technology, and the history of technology. In his free time, you can find Steven whipping down the street on his bicycle, in the garage with a tool in his hand, or out and about with a camera to his eye.
B.A. Psychology ~ Villanova University
M.A. in Earth and Environmental Studies, concentration in Middle School Earth and Environmental Science ~ Montclair State University
K-5 Elementary Education Certification – New Jersey
5-8 Middle School Science Certification – New Jersey
Ms. S comes to AVS by way of a long, cross-country drive from the East Coast! A self-described science and space nerd, she seeks to find excitement and engagement in learning about the natural and physical world through student-driven hands-on investigations. At the core of her pedagogy, Ms. S. uses a variety of instructional strategies that integrate science, technology, engineering and math – STEM – in a way that promotes students to be critically-thinking, real-world problem solvers. Whether it’s designing an eco-friendly habitat for humans to live in on Mars or exploring the laws of physics that propel rockets into space, Ms. S.’s classes are intended to challenge students to make science make sense to them! After starting off her professional career as a museum educator, Ms. S. has spent the past 12 years working with middle school students of diverse backgrounds in urban and suburban schools in the Garden State. She has served as a teacher leader within her department and school, leading the way in developing new science curriculum aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards. As a former middle school team leader, she has collaborated with administrators, colleagues, and parents to implement program initiatives that seek to develop student growth mindset. She has been the recipient of several academic scholarships, awards, and accolades – including the 2015-2016 Teacher of the Year in her school. She is also a two-time alumni of Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama – having attended once when she was 12 (and convinced she was on her way to work for NASA!) and then again in 2015 as a Honeywell Educators at Space Academy scholarship recipient! While science and space are Ms. S.’s academic passions, in her personal life, she is a dog mom to Hailey the beagle, a bigger than life soccer fan – a player AND a coach – and a novice surfer girl! She is thrilled to be a member of the AVS staff and is looking to exploring the West Coast and all it has to offer!
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.
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 students 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.
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.
B.A. Music, Cal State Univ. Hayward, 1979
M.Music, Performance, Univ. of Georgia, 1985
Don is a professional concert performer specializing in Trombone. He has played and recorded with the San Francisco Opera, Symphony and Ballet. In addition to his experience as a working musician, Don has taught Middle School Band in Oakland and Richmond Schools for nearly ten years. He arranges and writes music for all his ensembles. Before branching into Middle School Music, Don taught Music and directed the Brass Ensemble and College Choir at Patten College in Oakland. He is especially excited to be training and challenging the talented and inventive music students at Alta Vista. His hobbies include marathon running, film music, and antique cars.
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.
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.