Board Member Biographies

Hae-Sin Kim Thomas, Treasurer & Finance Committee Lead, has 23 years of K-12 public education experience with the 15 years focused primarily on turning around the lowest-performing schools and providing quality options to under-served communities. Her work has been recognized by the Aspen Institute Entrepreneurial Leaders in Public Education fellowship program, of which she is a member. She is currently the CEO of Education for Change Public Schools, a charter management organization based in Oakland.  She is the co-founder and a Board Director of Great Oakland Public Schools, an Oakland-based education advocacy group. She has extensive experience working with school districts and charter management organizations to re-create their lowest-performing schools as the CEO of urbanED solutions and as the Director of New School Development for the Oakland Unified School District. She was the founding principal of ASCEND, one of the five original new small and autonomous schools opened in Oakland. She has a MA in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University, a MA in Curriculum and Instruction from University of San Francisco, and a BS in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania. Hae-Sin is also the parent of Kobi and Hana, two incredibly energetic children who keep her on her toes.

Reach Hae-Sin here: hae-sin@urbanmontessori.org

Nancy McAfee Flemming, Academic Oversight Committee Lead, considers herself to be “from Oakland.”  She had lived in many places while her father was in the Army, but her family settled in Oakland when he retired. After graduating from Oakland Technical High School, Nancy earned a Bachelor of Science in Physical Science at California State University Hayward (now East Bay). From there, she journeyed to the Midwest for medical school at Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Nebraska then to the University of Missouri, Kansas City for residency. Nancy, a natural born caregiver who wanted to be a doctor as a young child, is a physician in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. She cares for both children and adults at Roots Community Health Center. Nancy is married to the Reverend Curtis B. Flemming and they have two young sons as well as five adult children. She has a passion for community service and working with young people. Nancy loves to unwind by doing crafts and scrapbooking.

Reach Nancy here: nancy@urbanmontessori.org

Jeremy Rothenberg, FAC Representative and Secretary, is a healer who utilizes acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, and mind-body training to help people heal themselves naturally and rejuvenate their lives. He has taught classes and workshops on topics related to the healing arts. In addition to natural medicine, Jeremy’s background includes studies in religion, psychology, and mysticism. He is very interested in how the mind and body adopt and release information - taking what’s important and presently useful and let go of what no longer serves us. The Montessori method of instruction, learned physically and emotionally as well as intellectually, is a pedagogy he strongly supports. Before he became a licensed acupuncturist, he spent many years in the tech industry as a producer, designer, and manager of interactive products. Previously, Jeremy served on the board of Youth Speaks, a non-profit focused on bringing forward voices of the youth through poetry and performance (started by his college roommate). Jeremy is the proud father of UMCS student, Zohara, who is in Lower Elementary.  She has been in a Montessori environment since the age of 3. As one of the two board representatives from the Family Advisory Council, Jeremy helps speak for, and represent, the parent community at UMCS.

Reach Jeremy here: jeremy@urbanmontessori.org

Daniel Bissonnette is an experienced Oakland educator with a CA state credential in Math and Biology as well as two AMI Montessori teaching credentials for both the Preschool/Kindergarten level (3-6) and the Elementary level (6-12). Daniel started in education as a Middle school math teacher in Oakland before finding his way to Montessori. He was curious to find the most effective way to teach children and believes strongly that Montessori pedagogy is the most thorough and comprehensive approach to supporting children in their development. Daniel is currently working as a lead teacher at Grand Lake Montessori in Oakland at the 3-6 level while preparing to launch their elementary program in Fall 2016. In 2015, Daniel and his wife Mariana started Arc Montessori, a company that helps children by supporting teachers, parents, and administrators. Daniel is passionate about bringing more Montessori schools to the public and hopes to open his own public Montessori schools in Oakland in the future. He is currently working on a Masters in Educational Leadership and a CA state administrators credential. Daniel and his wife live with their 2 year old daughter and two dogs just blocks away from UMCS and can often be found walking as a family in the neighborhood! 

Reach Daniel here: daniel@urbanmontessori.org

Joanna Locke is a public health physician who came to the Bay Area from the East Coast over seven years ago to be closer to her native Oakland family. Joanna attended Montessori school through 5th grade, and her mother ran a Montessori school for over 25 years. Since graduating from Tulane University with both medical and public health degrees, Joanna has worked at the intersection of health and education. She spent five years working on suicide prevention and mental health promotion at the college level before spending six years with the Oakland Unified School District; Joanna oversaw pre-K-12 health and wellness programs and services before transitioning into health workforce development for high school students. She believes deeply in the connection between education and health, and dreams of a day when every child in Oakland has access to a public Montessori school. Joanna lives in the Lincoln Highlands neighborhood with her son Oliver, who attends Montessori pre-school, and her brand new son Henry. She hopes to someday have time for hobbies again.

Reach Joanna here: joanna@urbanmontessori.org

Copely Kelly, Vice Chairperson, is a compliance attorney who recently fled the winters of her native Massachusetts for the natural beauty and warmth of the Bay Area, a home she had been looking forward to returning since earning her AB in Political Science from Stanford University. Copely has 11+ years experience building and managing enterprise compliance programs, with expertise in global privacy and data security risks. In her last role with Berkshire Hathaway in Boston, she led the strategic development of the ethics and compliance program as VP, Compliance of the Specialty Insurance division. She received her JD from New York University School of Law and lived and worked in New York City for a few years before returning to Massachusetts. Raised by an educator/former social worker, Copely has long been committed to advancing the educational needs and welfare of children. During her legal career, she has volunteered her services as an education advocate and as a board member for agencies providing specialized foster care and education and development intervention services for immigrant youth. She’s also passionate about dancing, traveling, and enjoying time with family and friends.

Reach Copely here: copely@urbanmontessori.org

Amy Rodriguez Bolar is a long-time Oakland resident, and born, raised and educated in Los Angeles. Amy is passionate about expanding educational opportunity for kids attending public schools in California. Amy currently serves as Senior Director of Development for GO Public Schools, where she works closely with the CEO, Executive Directors, Board of Directors, and Leadership Councils to create a strong financial foundation for GO’s continued impact and growth throughout California. Prior to joining GO, Amy led development at Teach For America - Bay Area and has held various other roles in fundraising, marketing, and operations. She earned her B.A. in Communication from Pepperdine University in 2002. Amy lives with her husband Samir and two sons Sanjay and Sai in the Grand Lake neighborhood of Oakland. 

Reach Amy here: amy@urbanmontessori.org

Greg Klein, Chairperson, is Senior Director, Innovation and Learning at the Rogers Family Foundation. Greg joined the Rogers Family Foundation in June 2012. He is on the ground supporting principals, teachers and students to personalize learning at Oakland public schools selected for Next Generation Learning Challenge in Oakland planning grants. Prior to RFF, Greg helped launch Downtown College Prep's Alum Rock campus, developing an innovative Learning Lab at the middle school level. While at DCP he managed large groups of students, let the computers do everything that they do well, and focused his attention on teaching. Greg began his career in education reform as a teacher, coach and administrator in the Oakland Unified School District for seven years, including building his own mini-lab in his classroom as a first-year teacher. Greg graduated from Dartmouth College with a BA in History. A self-proclaimed tech geek, Greg is a Montessori dad of three and lives with his wife Mariah in Oakland.

Reach Greg here: greg@urbanmontessori.org

Michelle Hammons has served as principal of Eagle Peak Montessori School for the past 12 years. Michelle has over 20 years of experience working in public Montessori schools as both a teacher and administration and attended Montessori schools as a child from age 3 through 2nd grade. Prior to her time at EPMS, she served as Assistant Principal of Alief Montessori Charter School in Houston, Texas, and taught in the public Montessori program in Waco, Texas. Michelle formerly served as chair of the Public Policy Committee for the American Montessori Society and is a part time instructor in the St. Mary’s College Montessori program. She also served as a field consultant for the Houston Montessori Center, observing and evaluating intern teachers at various Montessori schools.  For the past five years, Michelle has also worked with the Charter School Development Center as a Team Leader for their Leadership Institute for new charter school administrators. Michelle earned her undergraduate degree in sociology from Baylor University. She returned to Baylor to earn a Post-Baccalaureate Elementary Education certification and began her teaching career in the Waco, Texas public school system at J.H. Hines Montessori Magnet for Visual and Performing Arts. Michelle earned a Master’s in Educational Administration in 2002 from Baylor University and holds her Principal Certification. 

Reach Michelle here: michelle@urbanmontessori.org

Jully Lau, FAC Representative, is a manager for mobile apps development at BabyCenter, a global parenting internet company.  She is a seasoned technologist experienced in systems architecture, project management and analytics.  Jully uses Design Thinking in practice every day, building apps for moms and dads all over the world.  Before BabyCenter, Jully worked for JP Morgan Chase in Tokyo managing trade systems.  She graduated from UC Berkeley with B.A. in Economics and Japanese.  In her free time, Jully enjoys traveling and exploring Bay Area regional parks and hiking trails with her husband and 2 children, Yash and Jia.

Reach Jully here: Jully@urbanmontessori.org

Christina Stearns is a senior research associate at RTI International, a non-profit research institute. At RTI, she conducts program evaluations and research and data analysis to help education initiatives improve student outcomes and reduce achievement gaps. Her clients have included foundations, non-profits, and the US Department of Education. Prior to joining RTI, Christina worked as a litigation attorney at Latham & Watkins in San Francisco. Early in her career, she taught English in elementary schools in Nantes, France. Christina has a BA in psychology from Duke University and a law degree and a master’s in public policy from the University of California, Berkeley. She lives in Oakland with her husband John and two daughters Amelia and Nora.

Reach Christina here: christinas@urbanmontessori.org

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Montessori, Design Thinking and Arts Integration Charter School in Oakland, California