Faculty & Staff

Administration, Faculty and Staff by Program

Elementary Program:

Randall Johnson, Elementary Program Director

Randall JohnsonRandall Johnson joined Katherine Michiels School in 1985 as an art specialist and preschool teacher, and became a Kindergarten teacher in 1993 and Elementary Program Director in 1995. A graduate of Washington State University, Johnson continued his studies at the San Francisco Art Institute. He also has trained with High Scope and Reggio Emilia for project-based learning, and received additional training in crisis prevention and intervention from Hanna Boys Center in Sonoma. A member of the Open Mind Board of Trustees, Johnson comes from a family of educators; two sisters are teachers, and his mother, Arden Johnson, taught Kindergarten for more than 20 years. Johnson’s son, Sam, and daughter, Elly, graduated from KMS. His background and devotion to children made him an excellent candidate to join the Open Mind Board of Trustees, which he did in 2000.

“I’ve learned so much about what truly matters in life from working with the children and staff here. Being an educator has taught me an amazing amount about what children can do if given the chance. I am proud to be helping to create progressive, innovative school programs that benefit and love children.”

Lois Fein, Director Curriculum and Staff Development

Lois website head shotLois Fein has been an educator and administrator for over 21 years in a variety of innovative and independent educational environments.  She has served as a classroom teacher, academic advisor, dean, experiential trip leader, and college counselor at The Bush School in Seattle, as well as an elementary teacher at the Cambridge Friends School.  Her administrative skills were honed as Admissions Director at Stevenson Lower and Middle Schools in Carmel and as Curriculum Coordinator for Teachers Without Borders creating online, professional development courses for K-12 teachers worldwide.  Lois holds a B.A. in English Literature and Language from Harvard University.

“A deep respect for the innate wisdom of children – this is what I see as being at the forefront of a KMS education.  I support this exceptional faculty, leadership team, students and families in providing an education that is true to the root of the word ‘education’ – educare, which means ‘to draw forth from within.’”

Maria Luna, Director of De Colores Spanish Language and Culture Programs.

Maria LunaMaria Luna has been at KMS since 1983, and is the parent of a KMS Graduate. She is a qualified teacher with over 25 years of experience and a BA in Humanities. Maria has been teaching children from Preschool to 8th grade in public and private schools in the Bay Area, she’s a professional dancer with Ballet Folklorico Ensembles. Over the years, she has developed creative, innovative programs and curriculums that have reached a large number of students.

Mrs. Luna has collaborated with educational organizations such as World Arts Wests and Young Audiences of Northern California. She has been a KMS Director for the last four years.

 Peyton Pickenpaugh, Upper Elementary Teacher

Peyton PickenpaughPeyton Pickenpaugh has a Master of Curriculum and Instruction and a B.A. in History from the University of Mississippi. Upon graduation, she spent 4 years teaching elementary school in Osaka, Japan. Since returning from abroad, she has taught at the Melrose Leadership Academy in Oakland, served as Student Services Coordinator at the Kaplan International School and Education Coordinator at the Bizworld Foundation. She enjoys multi-age classroom settings where she has increased student achievement by implementing interdisciplinary, project-based instruction, using alternative forms of assessment and analyzing data to help students form individualized education plans to achieve systematic goals.

“My teaching experience and philosophy aligns very closely to the Reggio Emilia approach. As I begin my time with KMS, I am eager to continue learning in-depth about this approach approach alongside other parents and teachers who are dedicated to a school-wide implementation of a self-passed, supportive learning environment.”

Elizabeth Milne-Kahn, Upper Elementary Teacher

Liz Website PhotoElizabeth Milne-Kahn comes to KMS with many years of teaching and school leadership experience.  Liz began her practice of Reggio-Emilia in 2010 at a Reggio-inspired Bridge Kindergarten classroom at Park Day School, in Oakland.  She received a B.A. in Community Studies from UC Santa Cruz in 2006, with a focus on the theory and practice of social justice movements for educational equity.  Committed to fostering a dynamic classroom community where all students are thinkers, inventors, and peacemakers, she attained her teaching credential at Mills College, in Oakland.

“I am continually impressed with the creativity and curiosity of the students and staff at KMS and enjoy being a part of its vibrant community.”

Gaydean Valdez, Kindergarten Teacher/Garden Coordinator

Gaydean ValdezA classroom and garden teacher, Valdez received her certification from the Center for Horticultural Therapy Studies in Denver, and is a member of the American Horticultural Therapy Association, Northern California Chapter. Valdez joined KMS in 2002, bringing to the school her experience as a vocational supervisor and counselor for developmentally disabled adults and disturbed teens. She received her preschool teacher certificate from the American College of Early Childhood Education.

“I love being a teacher. Working with young children and their families is a daily gift. Each child is so unique with his or her own personality, temperament and talents. Yet they all show me the same thing-how to love unconditionally.”

Alden Fletcher, Art Teacher

Alden FletcherAlden attended KMS from age 3 through 2nd grade. She is an alum of The Oxbow School, the country’s only studio arts high school semester program, where arts and academics are taught in an interdisciplinary, integrated approach – similar to KMS. She went on to get her degree in Painting with High Honors from the College of Creative Studies at UC Santa Barbara. Before coming to KMS she worked as an Assistant teacher at the UCSB Summer Arts Institute and as an Instructional Aid at the San Roque School in Santa Barbara. In addition to being an Ultimate Frisbee athlete, she has been co-director of “Cool camp: Summer camp” for the past 12 years.

“KMS formed the foundation of the person I am today. While I gained many things from my time at KMS, most important was a strong sense of self-confidence. It was a confidence that grew from the teachers trusting each child’s ability to make their own decisions. Having experienced the power of that teaching style and the effect it can have on a person’s approach to life, it is my goal in the classroom to continue to instill that quality in my students. I want them to know, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. (Dr. Seuss)””

Sebastian Carrasco, Spanish Teacher

sebastian website head shotOriginally from Chile, Sebastian Carrasco has made the Bay Area his home for the past seven years. He finds teaching youth inspiring because he feels they have so much to teach us.  After receiving his B.A. in Philosophy from  Universidad Alberto Hurtado, Santiago, Chile in 2007 he taught Spanish to children at “Viva el Espanol” and at “Lango” where he developed his full immersion skills. Before becoming a permanent teacher at KMS Sebastian worked with Maria Luna as a Spanish Camp teacher in the De Colores summer program.

“I love that at KMS the focus is totally on the kids and trying to see different ways to teach every child according to their qualities and skills.”

Paula Henihan, Art Teacher

Paula Website PhotoPaula Henihan, a native of Ireland, comes to KMS with a rich background in Fine Art and teaching.  Paula has a Post-graduate Diploma in Art Education from the National College of Art and Design, Ireland, 2008, a Masters Degree in Fine Art from the University of the Arts, London, UK, 2004 and a Bachelors Degree in Fine Art from the Galway Institute of Technology, Ireland, 2003.  As an art teacher for six years, Paula has taught a wide range of children with differing academic abilities and varying learning styles.  In 2012, Paula attended the Reggio Approach to Education at the Loris Malaguzzi Centre in Reggio Emilia, Italy.  Before moving to San Francisco, Paula was the school art teacher and support teacher for grade 1 at the Zurich International School in Switzerland.

“I enjoy being inspired to think broadly about things by the children I work with.

Naomi Goldner, Elementary Program Writing Specialist

Naomi GoldnerNaomi Goldner is a San Francisco based writer and educator. As teacher and Education Director, she has taught students from preschool to high school, working closely with families and promoting community building. As a writing instructor, Naomi has developed curriculum and taught for a variety of elementary schools as well as summer camps and workshops for over two years. She is passionate about helping students find their unique voice while providing a supportive and rich creative environment. It is her belief and experience that when children are excited and passionate about what they write about, they will be invested not only in the story told, but also in how it is told. In this way, students become more enthusiastic about the mechanics of writing and are happy to integrate spelling, grammar, and punctuation into their written creative journeys.

Naomi is in the process of completing an MA in English and MFA in Creative Writing at San Francisco State University. She has published short stories and is currently finishing up a collection of short stories as well as a novel entitled “Variations on Life.” She looks forward to sharing her experiences as a writer with the students as they continue to unfold their own stories.

“I am particularly excited about working with the KMS community because of the endless creative energy that flows through the pedagogical approach, which allows both students and teachers to immerse themselves in meaningful and relevant work. As a writing specialist, I see my role as providing another important framework that will beautifully supplement the explorations of the students while making sure skills are also met in preparation for the greater world of writing.”

 

Preschool Program

Yolanda Ancheta, Infant & Toddler and Preschool Director

YolandaYolanda Ancheta earned a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education from the National Teachers College in Manila, Philippines, majoring in History and minoring in Library Science. She taught high school for seven years and two years as a part time Colllege instructor at the De Lasalle Univeristy – Manila.  In 1993 she received her Certificate of Completion in early childhood education from the City College of San Francisco. Two years later Ancheta joined KMS where she says she finds “inspiration and challenge” in her young students’ intelligence, eagerness and curiosity.

“My goal is to provide a happy and successful beginning to the child’s learning experience away from the home, with the hope that such a beginning will have a lasting effect on that child’s future development.”

Laura Zellerbach, Child Development Specialist

Laura website photoLaura Zellerbach initially discovered the world of toddlers and twos while working at the Toddler Center in the Psychology Department of Barnard College in New York City. It was here she first saw the excitement, wonder, and emotion that young children bring to every moment. After college she went on to graduate school at Bank Street College of Education where she received her Masters of Science in Education specializing in Infant and Family Development and Early Intervention. She became certified to teach newborns through second grade, and has since worked extensively with young children and their families in multiple settings. She believes passionately that every child should have high quality education starting from the very youngest years; she has worked with infants and toddlers in rural South Africa, and serves on the board of directors for Raising a Reader, which is a non-profit promoting early literacy and family engagement in the bay area.

“I believe that all children should be provided with a stimulating, play-based setting where they can explore and interact with the world around them. The sense of community and connection between home and school at KMS create a wonderful environment for young children. I feel so lucky to be able to spend my day working with children, parents, and teachers, and to experience the world through their eyes!”

Carlota Arteaga, Preschool Teacher

Carlota ArteagaLoty joined KMS in 2006, supporting the Pumpkins in the KMS Preschool Program! She is also an essential component to the success of the De Colores Spanish Culture and Language Program under the direction of Maria Luna; by contributing her energy and knowledge she acquaints children with key concepts through conversation, song and play. Loty worked as a High School advisor for six years in her native Peru. She is currently completing her degree in Child Development at City College of San Francisco. Loty is the devoted mother of two children.

“I love the way KMS lets the children explore and choose, so that they can learn and discover new things on their own. I admire the teamwork and cooperation that exists between the teachers.”

Giaconda Obando (Momma G), Preschool Teacher

Giaconda ObandoGiaconda Obando hails from Costa Rica and has been a KMS preschool teacher since 2006. Known as Momma G, she nurtures the Pumpkin children, supporting their positive self-image through a warm nature that engages them with song, stories and a welcoming smile. Momma G enjoys the garden and creating beautiful vases full of flower arrangements for the KMS library.

Lea Lamzon, Preschool Teacher

Lea LamzonLamzon is a teacher originally from the Philippines. She has extensive experience working with children as a babysitter and in private schools. She is also a Certified Nursing Assistant.

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. I enjoy being part of a team of people that shares the same passion for working with children, wonderful parents and a supportive staff.”

Sara Kondo, Preschool Teacher

Sarah Website PhotoSara spent a year volunteering in Americorps working with at risk youth in the Bay Area. She then went on the study Child Development and taught English in China. Prior to KMS she taught art at CSMA in Mountain View, in a preschool arts program. She loved the open ended, play based approach in letting the children create freely without any end result in mind, and eventually found her way into KMS, where she loves the philosophy and nurturing environment.

“KMS now feels like a second home to me. I love the community we have here, not only with the children, but with their families too. Working with children aligns with my values: creativity, imagination, nature, curiosity, and exploring. I’m inspired by the children every day! I love that KMS is a school that admires creativity and individuality, it’s a school where kids can come to school dressed as super heroes any day of the week, and where parents understand that when their child comes home messy, they had a great day!”

Infant & Toddler Program

Yolanda Ancheta, Infant & Toddler and Preschool Director

YolandaYolanda Ancheta earned a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education from the National Teachers College in Manila, Philippines, majoring in History and minoring in Library Science. She taught high school for seven years and two years as a part time Colllege instructor at the De Lasalle Univeristy – Manila.  In 1993 she received her Certificate of Completion in early childhood education from the City College of San Francisco. Two years later Ancheta joined KMS where she says she finds “inspiration and challenge” in her young students’ intelligence, eagerness and curiosity.

“My goal is to provide a happy and successful beginning to the child’s learning experience away from the home, with the hope that such a beginning will have a lasting effect on that child’s future development.”

Laura Zellerbach, Child Development Specialist

Laura website photoLaura Zellerbach initially discovered the world of toddlers and twos while working at the Toddler Center in the Psychology Department of Barnard College in New York City. It was here she first saw the excitement, wonder, and emotion that young children bring to every moment. After college she went on to graduate school at Bank Street College of Education where she received her Masters of Science in Education specializing in Infant and Family Development and Early Intervention. She became certified to teach newborns through second grade, and has since worked extensively with young children and their families in multiple settings. She believes passionately that every child should have high quality education starting from the very youngest years; she has worked with infants and toddlers in rural South Africa, and serves on the board of directors for Raising a Reader, which is a non-profit promoting early literacy and family engagement in the bay area.

“I believe that all children should be provided with a stimulating, play-based setting where they can explore and interact with the world around them. The sense of community and connection between home and school at KMS create a wonderful environment for young children. I feel so lucky to be able to spend my day working with children, parents, and teachers, and to experience the world through their eyes!”

Mariana Gutierrez, Infant/Toddler Teacher

Mariana GutierrezMariana Gutierrez became a part of KMS in 2005, where she works with the Peach Palace Early Education team. She is originally from the Philippines where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education. Mariana devotes herself to making KMS shine, and to her family and her church family.

Asako Nishihara, Infant/Toddler Teacher

Asako Website PhotoAsako’s professional experience with children dates back to 1999, after she earned BA degree majored in English Literature in Tokyo, Japan.  She worked as a teacher and program coordinator for preschool/kindergarten entrance exam preparation program for ages 1 to 5, mostly focusing on development in fine motor skills, basic mathematic skills, music, language, science, and art.  She also tutored 6th grade and high school students in English and Japanese grammar to assist in preparation for high school and college entrance exams.  During that time, she developed a strong passion for early child development and education.  She came to the U.S. to expand her knowledge and pursue her career in ECE.  She spent two years as a full time student at City College of San Francisco to complete five certificate programs including the Child Development Infant/Toddler Care Certificate.

My fascination, passion, curiosity, and affection toward young children seem to have no inner limit.  I am a mother of a boy and a girl; therefore healthy child development is a very important and personal issue to me.  I always strive to support my students’ healthy, optimal development.”

Ruth Lu De Hu, Infant/Toddler Teacher

Ruth Website PhotoRuth Lu De Hu began working with children in 2003. Her interaction with kids during her employment at a pediatric clinic made her realize her calling.  For seven years she worked for a non-profit group helping children and teens with their educational goals and giving them resources to go to college. In 2008, Ruth started working with younger children as a nanny and pursuing her education in Early Child Development. Ruth has holds a Child Development Infant/Toddler Care Certificate.

“Well, it’s not really teaching because children learn without teachers. Teachers are tools and helpers for children to understand where their place is.”

Stephanie Chavez, Infant/Toddler Teacher

Stephanie Website PhotoAt a young age Stephanie realized that she enjoyed working with children. When she was fifteen she began working as a babysitter with children ages 0 through 6. Later she decided to focus her studies on Child Development. In 2012 she earned her Associate in Science emphasis in Child Development and Associate in Arts emphasis in Social and Behavioral Sciences at City College of San Francisco.

“I enjoy working with children because they teach us patience, virtue, the value of friendship, peace, calm, the value of time and so much more. I especially enjoy experiencing the uniqueness of each child. I love the laughter of children and their unconditional love. And it’s wonderful to know you are helping and making a difference in someone else’s life.”

After School & Enrichment

Lois Fein, After School Director

Lois website head shotLois Fein has been an educator and administrator for over 21 years in a variety of innovative and independent educational environments.  She has served as a classroom teacher, academic advisor, dean, experiential trip leader, and college counselor at The Bush School in Seattle, as well as an elementary teacher at the Cambridge Friends School.  Her administrative skills were honed as Admissions Director at Stevenson Lower and Middle Schools in Carmel and as Curriculum Coordinator for Teachers Without Borders creating online, professional development courses for K-12 teachers worldwide.  Lois holds a B.A. in English Literature and Language from Harvard University.

“A deep respect for the innate wisdom of children – this is what I see as being at the forefront of a KMS education.  I support this exceptional faculty, leadership team, students and families in providing an education that is true to the root of the word ‘education’ – educare, which means ‘to draw forth from within.’”

Katy Rous, Head Enrichment Teacher

Katy Website Head ShotKaty Alaniz Rous (nee Barnhill) is a San Francisco native who has lived a few blocks from KMS since she was 7. She was raised speaking Spanish and exposed to a vast variety of multicultural art forms in the Bay Area. After attending School of the Arts High School she received a dance scholarship to UCLA’s World Arts and Cultures department.  She has traveled the world teaching and performing more than 30 styles of cultural dance and has extensive experience teaching young children. For the last two years she headed a PE/ Arts department in a continuation ESL school in San Jose.  Katy has taught at almost every dance school in the Bay Area, and has helped design curriculum for ODC. She is also a professional actress and singer. Her own company World Dance Fusion now in its13th year has produced The Jewish Nutcracker for the last 3 years.

“My son Amitai started at KMS in the 2 year kindergarden and is now on his way to1st grade. Since I started working here and observing the teachers I have become a better parent. I know now that my child is very capable of doing most things on his own. Freedom is the greatest gift we can give our children. I’m so happy we’ve landed at KMS where my son’s creativity is embraced and he’s allowed to explore.  It’s also fun for me to get to let my hair down and play, you may hear the Pumpberries call me Rapunzel”

Open Mind Administration:

Jennifer Atristain, Administrative Director

JA HeadshotAs a Katherine Michiels School alumni and parent of 2 current KMS students, Jennifer Atristain has developed a deep connection to the KMS mission, values and community.  A native San Franciscan, Jennifer graduated cum laude from San Francisco State University with a degree in Interior Design and a minor in Holistic Health.  While attending graduate school she taught art classes at Archbishop Riordan High School.

During her fourteen-year tenure as senior designer, project manager and Vice President of Stephen Shubel Design, Inc., a high-end residential interior design firm, she developed her administrative and project management skills.  Her responsibilities included client and vendor relations, human resources, training, product development, quality assurance, project and budget management and strategic planning. Jennifer joined the Open Mind Board in 2011.

My core belief to respect all living things and my passion for learning stemmed from experiences as a KMS student.

Ardis Enfiajian, Admissions Director

Ardis EnfiajianArdis came to KMS via Maria Luna when New College closed. Ardis was at New College since 2000 as their Cafe Manager/Event Planner/ Scheduler. She is Spanish bilingual and experienced in the administration of schools enrollment, budget and office structure. She has a strong love of children and education. She is the mother of two daughters. She recently became the grandmother to one boy (Chicago) and one girl (Oakland) in January of 2009. She has a third granddaughter, 3-years old, in Chicago. There is nothing Ardis loves more than an environment where children are laughing, learning, playing and shouting while being kids and making friends. KMS is this place for Ardis.

“Children are who I enjoy being around more than anything else.”

Mentors:

Katherine Michiels, Founder

Katherine MichielsA graduate of San Francisco State University with a major in biology and a minor in dance, intending to become a physical therapist. In 1976 Katherine Michiels decided to change her interest to Early Childhood Education and continued her studies at Skyline College. There she met and was profoundly influenced by David Giveans and his progressive early-childhood teaching model. At his suggestion, she studied the British Infant Schools in London, and later visited more than 50 educational facilities in various countries. Michiels’s daughter, Mary Katherine, graduated from KMS.

All my life I have been drawn to children and felt their joy. When I realized I wanted to make a difference in this world, I decided I could do it best by working with and being an advocate for children and childhood.  Establishing the Katherine Michiels School and later accepting the invitation to Chair the Board of Open Mind: A Project for the Education and Development of Children are the direct result.

Naama Zoran, Developmental Psychologist and Education Consultant

Naama photo from internetNaama Zoran began her mentoring relationship with KMS in 2000 and continues to consult and provide training sessions with the school. She has worked in early childhood development for over 20 years, has extensive experience with the Reggio Emilia early childhood development philosophy, and was the founder of the Early Childhood Department for the Ministry of Education in Israel.

Naama’s extensive experience with the Reggio Emilia early childhood development philosophy, her annual lectures at the N.A.E.Y.C. conventions, publications and her hands-on work with children in Israel and here at KMS have led to the development of the KMS approach based on the best of the Reggio Emilia philosophy and the relationships between child, parent and teacher, between home and school.

Bonnie Murray Tamblyn, Certified Council Facilitator and Trainer

Bonnie photo from internetBonnie Tamblyn is a Certified Council Facilitator and Trainer with the Center for Council Training at The Ojai Foundation and serves in an advisory body to the TOF Board. She currently is writing curriculum for the Council in Schools Program. Bonnie first interned as a Council Facilitator in 1993 at Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences and then taught there for 17 years. She facilitated at Palms Middle School, where she met Joe Provisor, and brought the program to Santa Monica Alternative School (SMASH) and Archer School for Girls. She conducts yearly Council Intensives for GiRLFeST Hawaii, whose mission is to prevent violence against women and girls through education and art. A singer-songwriter as well, Bonnie’s passion is building community, giving voice to the human story, whether told in a Council Circle, or shared on stage with a guitar in her arms.

Bonnie’s mentor-ship with KMS started in 2011 when she trained our founder, faculty and directors to be facilitators of Council, connecting social-emotional to academic learning.  With her continued mentor-ship and deepening of Council, KMS is the first preschool/elementary in northern California to embrace the practice of Council.