Ms. Strand holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Physics secondary education from the University of Minnesota and has taught high school chemistry, physics and biology. She worked as a substitute teacher while she traveled the United States with her Naval Aviator husband and their children. Paula has been a life-long community leader and volunteer. She served on several Boards in her church, youth organizations and Redwood High School Foundation. She has been a Scout leader, Hall Middle School, Grad Night committee, and was Volunteer of the Year at Redwood High School in 2018. Paula enjoys hiking, reading, piano and adult community education classes.
Lorena Ocequera Tamayo, Early Childhood Curriculum Specialist & Kindergarten Teacher
Ms. Oceguera Tamayo holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish and International Relations from Holy Names College, along with a Masters Degree in the Art of Teaching Social Science from University of Southern California. Her Masters studies focused on High School Teacher education, including courses in Adolescent Psychology, Poetry, Spanish, Native American History, African History and Latin American History. Since 1999, Lorena has taught in a variety of K-8 private schools, public schools, and private high school settings.
Ms. Carville holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies from Sonoma State University and a Multiple Subject Credential from Dominican University. Cookie has been a lead Pre-K teacher at the same local preschool for over 27 years, where she was responsible for teaching all the academics, thematic lessons, reading, language arts, math, music, art, P.E.. and movement. Ms. Carville also worked in a Kindergarten Readiness summer program for five years and has been a private music instructor. She has a deep understanding of the Hawaiian culture and language, including being a Hula dancer. Cookie plays the piano and ukulele and in addition to music she enjoys nature, hiking, the beach, and working out.
Mr. Santoyo is continuing toward his Master’s Degree, majoring in Psychology. Declan has worked as a music teaching assistant and ESL English teaching assistant. He is fluent in Spanish, an avid user and troubleshooter with computers, and enjoys guitar, ukulele, piano, singing, drawing, music and animals.
Ms. Feten began her career in education as a music camp counselor, where she spent four years teaching students how to read music. She spent time studying art history in Hawaii before returning to California to pursue a degree in history at the College of Marin. In her spare time Maggie enjoys drawing, painting, and playing guitar.
Nettie Faville, Class Teacher, Grade One and Curriculum Specialist Grades One and Two
Ms. Faville studied Early Childhood Education at College of Marin and has spent more than 30 years teaching preschool and kindergarten. Beyond the early childhood years, Nettie has extensive experience teaching and developing curriculum for older students that support children in academics, creative arts and social skills. Ms. Faville was the owner and program director of Kinder Nest, a private on-campus aftercare program serving 90 families with children aged kindergarten through fifth grade. As a lifelong educator, she is always contributing to the well-being of children and providing a developmentally appropriate environment that allows each child to succeed.
Rod Septka, Class Teacher, Grade Two
Mr. Septka holds a Bachelor of Arts, Theater Arts from Moorhead State University, a Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential from San Francisco State University, Master of Fine Arts, Creative Writing from Mills College, a California Preliminary Administration Credential, and Certificate of Global Competence from Teachers College Columbia University. He was Marin County Teacher of the Year in 2004 and was appointed by Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Education to the Advisory Board of California Global Education Project. Rod has been a public and private school classroom teacher, literacy coach, global education coordinator/coach, school district education leader, and Bay Area Writing Project Teacher Consultant at University of California, Berkeley.
Haley Echevarria, Class Teacher, Grades Two / Three Combined Class
Ms. Echevarria holds a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies: Elementary Education from Texas A&M University, along with her English as a Second Language Supplemental Certification. Haley has taught grades 1 through 4 in public school environments, as well as served as the Cohort Lead/Historian for Mexico Global Outreach, and the Curriculum Director/Vice President of Aggies Read at Texas A&M. Ms. Echevarria has recently moved to the North Bay where she enjoys the beautiful weather, nature and the plentiful cultural offerings in the area.
Catherine Cresalia holds a degree from California Polytechnic State University where she majored in Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration and raced in the 2010 Collegiate Mountain Bike Nationals for Cal Poly! Ms. Cresalia has studied Universal Design for Learning methodology and the Making Math Real curriculum, has worked as a baker, crab boat deckhand and operations officer for food and environmental non-profits before coming to teaching. Catherine is a nature enthusiast, loves to cook and bake, is currently writing a book for highly sensitive children and is learning to play the mandolin.
Ms. Hamblett holds a K-12 Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from Dominican University, and Bachelor of Arts degrees in both Spanish and History with an emphasis in Latin American Studies. Laura has taught in preschool, kindergarten and the elementary grades for about 15 years, along with serving as an aid for students with learning challenges and special needs within an inclusive classroom. Ms. Hamblett was nominated by the parent community at Reed School District for the Phoebe Apperson Hearst Outstanding Education Award, citing her exceptional classroom demeanor and relationship to the students. Laura and her family live in a rural setting where they enjoy 16 pets, including fish, dogs, rabbits, and the word is they are adopting more!
Jessica Becker, Class Teacher, Grade Five
Ms. Becker holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics, and a Master of Arts degree in both Teaching, and Library and Information Sciences. She holds a single subject credential in Biology, and Cross-cultural, Language, and Academic Development. Jessica presented at The Future of Media in Children’s Education at Stanford, has worked as middle school librarian and STEM technology teacher in elementary and middle school grades. She has been a Middle School Science teacher, as well as curriculum design inclusive of all learners. Jessica enjoys gardening, travel, time in nature, art projects, playing board games and building Legos with her children.
Ms. Greenfield holds Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Plant Science from the University of Maryland-College Park. Gabrielle is also an experienced Playwright, Naturalist and Environmental Educator, Storyteller and Puppeteer, and certified in Wilderness First Aid. She has been a beekeeper apprentice and farmer/educator, and currently serves on the board of the San Francisco Bay Area Puppetry Guild. Ms. Greenfield has taught both fine arts and practical arts, along with Language Arts to elementary students of all ages. In her free time, Gabrielle enjoys nature and arts of all kinds!
Michael Rennie, Music Teacher, Ensemble and Choral Director
Mr. Rennie was born in Cape Town, South Africa, holds a Bachelor of Arts and Multimedia diploma, and has had a dynamic career as a performer, composer, producer and educator. Michael was on the string faculty at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and the Connecticut School of Music as well as directed an international non-profit, Musicians for World Harmony. He worked directly with the Leadership and Capacity Development Team at the United Nations, developing and seeking funding for music healing projects in various African countries. As a commercial composer, Michael produced and composed music for various music production studios in NY, Toronto, Los Angeles, and South Africa. He also spent more than a decade touring and recording with his bands, Sons of Trout and Mikanic. They were signed to Gallo Records (Warner Music) and released several albums. Currently Mike plays fiddle with two great local Marin bands and enjoys living on the warmer side of Marin with his wife and their two children.
Arielle Laub, Gardening Teacher
Ms. Laub holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and Comparative Literacy Studies with a Creative Writing Emphasis, along with a Certificate in Sustainable Farming from the University of Vermont Farmer Program. Arielle has worked as an elementary school reading and writing teacher, a tutor for students elementary through high school with special learning needs and a communications manager for a theatre group before coming to her love of farming and gardening. She is experienced with diversified vegetable farming, organic soil fertility management, soil testing and crop rotation, composting, native planting, greenhouse management and CSA management. Ari has taught garden to table cooking programs and gardening in several residential and school programs. When not teaching, Ari can be found digging in the dirt!
Jeni Harrison, Movement / PE Teacher
Ms. Harrison holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Sports Management from Southern New Hampshire University, graduating with honors: Cum Laude. Jeni has taught elementary and middle school PE, as well as led camps and coached youth and adult sports teams. She has served as Head Coach of community youth soccer, Regional Team Leader for the U.S. Youth Soccer-Olympic Development Program, State Team Administrator for the Cal North-Olympic Development Program, and coached Marin Woman’s Soccer League and Golden Gate Women’s Soccer League.
Mr. Degiulio holds a Master of Fine Arts Degree from UC Berkeley, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Minneapolis College of Art & Design. Lucas has taught art, environmental sciences, games/movement for children in Kindergarten through Middle School. He has served as a travel guide and lead expeditions to national parks, historical sites, organic farms and natural landmarks through the country. In addition to teaching studio art, Mr. Degiulio is an accomplished artist himself, winning the Headlands Center for the Arts 2017-18 Tournesol Award which recognizes one local painter each year in the Bay Area. Lucas enjoys backpacking, hiking, nature, and the arts.
Mr. Pestana holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Holistic Education from Goddard College and is a Literacy Specialist, Mindfulness Teacher and certified Naturalist. Joe has taught reading in grades K through 5, along with wilderness skills, earth education and music to elementary students along with coached skiing to teens in high mountain environments. Mr. Pestana enjoys woodworking, printmaking, wildcrafting, and time in nature.
Ms. Romano holds a Bachelor of Science from Portland State University with a double major in Geology, Earth Sciences and Physics. Stephanie is also a certified Wilderness First Responder, Restorative Justice Facilitator, certified Yoga Teacher and Naturalist ll. She has brought the Next Generation Science Standards to outdoor education, while facilitating community building with students. Ms. Romano has taught all grades, K through 12 in various nature and classroom settings. Stephanie enjoys cooking, nature, music and long solo hikes.
Ms. DeFazio holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies and Environmental Development She has been a Humanities Teacher, Nature Educator and worked with visiting student groups in artistic workshops at the Museo d’Arte Moderna, in Bologna, Italy. While in Italy, Elise has produced a documentary on immigration in Europe for a Video Production and Human Rights program. She also explored history through film, working as an archivist to compile and edit old film reels. Elise enjoys the arts, nature, farming and gardening.
Ms. Laureyns completed her Early Childhood Education units and coursework to obtain her teaching credential from Sonoma State. Andrea has taught preschool through high school in a variety of settings and a variety of subjects including math, science, art, fiber arts, ballet, aquatics adaptive PE, cooking and gardening. Ms. Laureyns was the Executive Director of Operations manager of the sewing program at The Planet, a community learning center, as well as a costume maker for the Summer Repertory Theater. While a certified housing specialist and assistant manager at HUD, she formed an afterschool program for children to play and get homework help. When her own children’s needs were stifled in the traditional schools, Ms. Laureyns sought out training in Making Math Real to meet their advanced math levels. Andrea’s grandma taught her to crochet, knit and weave at the early age of 7 and she has never stopped.
Ms. Manrique holds a Master’s in Fine Arts in Fiction Writing from Sarah Lawrence College, a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of North Carolina, and a Stegner Fellow in Fiction Writing at Stanford University. While a Professor at Stanford, Krista led creative writing workshops in Fiction and Autobiographical Writing, Intensive Craft Study and Fairy Tales Across Time and Cultures. She has taught in elementary, high school, college and adult education settings, including courses to cultivate creative thinking, original thought and self-critique of work.
An accomplished writer, Ms. Manrique has short stories published in Tin House Magazine, Lost, and The Cellar Door.
Reily Urban, School Librarian
Ms. Urban holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Design Institute of San Diego, and has worked in the design, communications, marketing and event production in the business world before coming to education through children’s literature. At Book Passage, a Bay Area independent bookstore, Reily worked with elementary schools, teachers, and parents to host book fairs in Marin. In addition to revitalizing a local public school library, Ms. Urban taught weekly library classes using Reader’s Workshop, along with teaching researching skills with a special emphasis on the Dewey Decimal system. When not in the children’s library Reily enjoys time with her family and reading grown up books!
Bringing over 16 years of education and training in the mental health field, Dr. Rubinstein has been dedicated to learning the most effective approaches for helping children, adolescents, and families get the support they need to overcome challenges and thrive. Dr. Rubinstein received his doctorate in clinical psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies, a holistic practice-focused program that combines the latest scientific research with the world’s great wisdom traditions. He has worked as an autism clinician and researcher, a therapist at San Rafael High School, and has provided therapy and psycho-educational assessments at three community mental health clinics in San Francisco. Dr. Rubinstein has also published research on the development and implementation of school-based social clubs for kids on the autism spectrum, animal-assisted group therapy for adults, and his doctoral thesis was on the benefits of learning and practicing mindfulness for adolescents. Outside his role as a psychologist, Dr. Rubinstein has worked as a youth mentor, camp counselor, and has been an active volunteer in Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s family program. He also enjoys photography and being in the great outdoors rock climbing, camping, hiking, and skiing.