Staff Biographies

Currently updating for 2022-2023. For contact information, please use ParentSquare or email addresses are on the Staff Contact Information page.

Head of School

Krishna Feeney
(Ms. Feeney)
She/her/hers

Ms. Feeney has been working in public education for the better part of 2 decades and as a school administrator for much of that time. Her commitment to bringing Montessori pedagogy into the public sector is what brought her to UMCS and keeps her excited to come to work each day. Her passion for expanding public Montessori starts here in Oakland, at Urban.

Assistant Head of School

Daniel Bissonnette
(Mr. Bissonnette)
He/him/his

Mr. Bissonnette has worked in public and private education for a decade with the goal of bringing Montessori pedagogy to all students in Oakland and beyond. He has experience as a public school teacher in OUSD and is Montessori trained for 3 - 18-year-olds. He brings a deep commitment to high fidelity Montessori in the public sector and here at UMCS.

Montessori Coach

Tobie Garcia, Montessori Coach

Ms. Tobie is stepping into the new role of Montessori Coach. She is a second-generation Montessori teacher, who also attended a public Montessori school in Louisville, Kentucky where she grew up. Ms. Tobie received her BA in Human Studies with an emphasis in Early Childhood Development. She holds a primary diploma from The Montessori Institute of Advanced Studies (AMS) and an elementary diploma from Montessori Northwest (AMI). Ms. Tobie has been with UMCS since 2019 and is excited to continue to bring cosmic education to the children of Oakland. 

Operations Team

Rosibel Dubon, Site Coordinator
(Ms. Rosi)

Buck Bailey, Operations Coordinator
(Mr. Buck)

Iris Helm-Hernandez, Site Coordinator
(they, she)

Lorri Garrett, Assistant Site Coordinator
(Ms. Lorri)

Marcos Mendoza, Custodial
(Mr. Marcos)

 

Ms. Rosi was raised in Oakland. Rosi started UMCS  as an aftercare instructor in 2017. She joined the operation team in 2019 and is excited to be part of the operation team. She is happy to work with UMCS families. When she is not at work she loves to collect crystals and binge on her favorite anime shows.


Buck is an art and technology geek who has been working in IT support for non-profits and artists for over ten years. He joined Urban Montessori through the aftercare program and is excited to be on the ops team! Buck also collects music, and Transformers & Pac-Man-related artwork.


Iris started their educational career in afterschool programming and then moved on to work as an aide within the classroom, a personal tutor, and a mentor to students ages 5-18. She joined Urban Montessori in 2022 and is excited to be working on the operations side of things this time around. They are passionate about being a positive adult influence in the lives of young scholars.


Ms. Lorri has worked at UMCS since 2018 in Sunflower, CA Poppy and Juniper as a Support Teacher. She is now part of the Operations Team managing the front desk, State Testing, and Social Media. She also organizes library and garden volunteers. Before UMCS she worked as an Outdoor Learning Teacher in Alameda teaching science, gardening, and cooking.


 

Amethyst Classroom

John Harbo - Math & Science Teacher

Marbella Rios - Humanities Teacher

John Harbo - Mr. Harbo is thrilled to continue his tenth year of teaching. This is his first with UMCS, so he brings a wealth of educational experience to share with Amethyst. Achieving a B.A. with honors in Communication Studies, and a minor in Philosophy from San Francisco State University wasn't enough for John. He went on to pursue his master's degree in Educational Technology & Curriculum Design at Concordia University at Irvine. Teaching math & science to middle schoolers is no walk in the park; it is a professional passion for Mr. Harbo. He has dedicated his vocational abilities toward leveling the playing field of the STEM workforce so that a more equitable & diverse field of mathematicians & scientists may be represented.


Marbella Rios - Ms. Rios brings almost 18 years of teaching experience to UMCS. Raised in Oakland, having attended public schools in Oakland; Ms. Rios has a great passion for teaching in her community and giving back to the city that saw her grow. She enjoys learning from her students as well who have ranged from 1st grade up to 12th grade! Ms. Rios brings in a Social justice perspective to the table and is very well-rounded. She plans to share all of her acquired expertise with her students. Ms. Rios transferred to San Francisco State after getting an Associate Degree in Social Science and Humanities at Laney College. At SFSU, she did her undergrad in Liberal Studies with a minor in Chicano Studies. While going to school, she worked as a mental health counselor in San Francisco, which has been a great asset. While there, she also took Holistic Health classes to balance out the ups and downs of life. She then attended Patten University and the University of Phoenix for her Credentialing program.

 

Manzanita Classroom

Amy Hutchinson - Lead
Teacher Amy
she/her/hers

CamishaFatimah - Support Teacher

Lorraine Smith - Support Teacher 

Amy’s tenure at Urban began in early 2020 after moving to the Bay Area from Portland, Oregon, where she completed her AMI Montessori certification and worked in private and public upper elementary classrooms for 10 years.  She’s had the pleasure of working in both the Sequoia and Manzanita classroom communities and finds great joy in watching children light up with new discoveries and ideas, tell jokes, and create art! When not at school, you can find her out on the trails in the Oakland hills hiking, biking, or running, at the climbing gym with her husband, planning for a camping adventure, or on the couch taking a nap. Amy has her California Multiple Subject credential through CalStateTEACH.


CamishaFatimah: As a Restorative Justice Practitioner (which is comparable to Montessori thinking), UMCS has utilized my skills in a number of positions since I began years ago. This year I will be the support teacher in the Manzanita classroom.  I have been working in schools in the Bay Area for over 10 years. Educational Leadership is one of my passions. I received my Master's degree from Mills College in 2009 in a Masters/Doctoral combo Educational Leadership program, while raising three little girls, who are now young adults.  "Nature Lady" is one of my nicknames, for my love of nature and desire to reconnect to humanity and the universe, in order to land daily in a peaceful, balanced place.  I also enjoy learning from our youth, and supporting people with generational and other types of traumas.  Sharing my experiences with the world and being an example of the change I want to see in the world is my goal.


Lorraine Smith: 

Juniper Classroom

Freedom Reign - Lead Teacher 

Liliana Estrella - Support Teacher

 

Now in his 7th year at Urban Montessori, Teacher Freedom is excited to combine his experience from the years in the Dolphin, Sage, and Juniper classrooms as well as the UMAC afterschool program into his role as Lead Teacher in Juniper. His specialty is Holistic Youth Development, Project-Based Learning, and empowering marginalized youth to become self-driven Life-long Learners!
He enjoys Design Thinking, Art, and defending Truth and Justice, both as a vigilante, and by helping to create the next generation of Changemakers through The UMCS Community!


 

Sequoia Classroom

Isa Oropeza, Lead Teacher

Desmarie Jackson, Support Teacher

 

Isa Oropeza: Ms. Isa has been working in education for over 15 years. She started in afterschool programming working in various Bay Area school districts and with various non-profits. She joined the UMCS community in 2018 and since has taught in primary and upper elementary classrooms. She is also a member of the Oakland Montessori Teacher Residency, pursuing her Montessori teaching credential. Ms. Isa is a proud East Oakland native and Chicana, as well as a UMCS parent. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, son and cat Murray.


Desmarie Jackson: Teacher Desmarie has been in the education field for 5 years, working with kids as young as 3 and as old as 14 in a variety of settings. Their work has always been rooted in social justice and supporting young people to be their full, powerful, autonomous selves. Through their expertise with community-based self-directed learning models, Teacher Desmarie is excited to empower UMCS’s students to reach their full potential through Montessori curriculum. Aside from teaching, Desmarie is a longtime poet and performer, a learning deejay, and passionate cat lover with two fur babies at home.

Redwood Classroom

Brendan Gagnon, Lead Teacher

Anna Bell, Lead Teacher

Brendan Gagnon - Teacher Brendan has been an Upper Elementary Guide in public and private schools around the Bay Area since 2012. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Science from Keene State College in 2006, and an AMS Elementary Credential (ages 6-12) in 2013. In 2019, he completed his training for a CA Multiple-Subject Teaching Credential and is grateful for the opportunity to bring Montessori Education to the public sector. In the classroom, he loves challenging students to think for themselves. Outside the classroom, Teacher Brendan prefers to be surrounded by the natural world and is an avid rock climber. 


Anna Bell

Sunflower Classroom

Jodi Enomoto - Lead Teacher
(Miss Jodi)

Brittney Ward, Support Teacher

 


 

Leopard Lily Classroom

Stefanie Morlan (Lead Teacher)

Kimberly Cervantes (Support Teacher)

 

 

Sage Classroom

Laura Esparza-Gonzalez - Lead Teacher
(Miss Laura)

Sandra Taylor, Support Teacher

Miss Laura started at UMCS in 2016 as a Support Teacher and has moved up to a Montessori Lead. She is an Oakland native and is excited to continue working with the youth of Oakland. She received her B.A. in Sociology and Chicanx Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Outside of school, she has a passion for social justice, enjoys live music events, and watching sunsets.


Mrs. Sandra has been working at UCMS since 2021 as a Support and Co-Lead Teacher for 4 years, she is currently in OMTR (Residency) training to be a Montessori teacher. She is an Oakland Native with an AA degree in Psychology and has been in the teaching field for 10 years in child development with a training degree. She is excited to continue working with the youth in Oakland as a Support Teacher. Outside of campus, she enjoys being with her two children and husband has a passion for jewelry making and cooking. Enjoys nature and learning every day about culture in the community.

California Poppy Classroom

Patricia Garcia Jimenez - Lead Teacher

Alex de Man - Support Teacher

Born in Madrid, Spain. Ms. Patricia has worked with children in different settings including; Spanish Teacher, Au Pair, Nanny, and Montessori Support Teacher. She graduated from CES Don Bosco University receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Education. She fell in love with Montessori education when she moved up to California. Ms. Patricia enjoys sports, hiking, running, music, coffee, and good food.


Teacher Alex joined UMCS in 2022 as a Support Teacher after running a small herbal wellness business for two years. She brings her experience and joy of working with kids from an Oakland-based children’s cooking program that focused on hands-on, global recipes. She graduated from Willamette University in 2015 with a B.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies and a lifelong commitment to making the world a better place. She enjoys cooking, eating, and playing outside.

Otter Classroom

Daijah Young, Co - Lead Teacher


Gabriela Varela, Co - Lead Teacher

Daijah is an Oakland native who loves to bring her creativity and energy into the classroom. In high school, Daijah discovered her passion for early childhood development and carried that with her through college. She moved to Los Angeles to pursue her college education. In 2018 she began her career working in preschools as a teacher's assistant throughout LAUSD. Since then Daijah has worked with a wide range of ages, both at home and in the classroom. Daijah is an artist at heart and loves to create. During her free time, she enjoys hanging out with her two bunnies and painting her favorite cartoon characters.


 

Dolphin Classroom

Denisse Ponce Alarcon - Lead Teacher 
(Ms. Dee)


Nicole Jenkins, Support Teacher

Born in Lima, Peru, and raised in Maracaibo, Venezuela, Ms. Denisse has worked with children in different settings including; English Preschool Teacher, Spanish Teacher, Au Pair, Nanny, and Montessori Support Teacher. She graduated from La Universidad del Zulia receiving a B.A. in Education with a minor in Modern Languages, followed by an A.A. in Early Childhood Education from Merritt College, completed the Early Childhood Education Montessori Credential program in June 2019, and has been a lead teacher in Dolphin since August of that same year. Ms. Denisse enjoys hiking, camping, music, and good food


 

Hummingbird Classroom

Chelle Davis - Lead Teacher

Destiney Chavez - Support Teacher

Andrena Davis (Chelle) is originally from McAlester, Oklahoma. She has served in the Oklahoma and Louisiana National Guard. She loves adventure, hiking, sports, concerts, and comedy. She has always had a love for teaching young children as this is the age where you set the foundation. She fell in love with Montessori Education when she moved to California. She has been teaching for 25 years with 20 of those years in Montessori Education. This is her fourth year at UMCS. She is a mother of two, ages 22 and 25.


 

Response To Intervention (RTI) Team

Lisa Gonzalez, Director of Student Services

Katie Pitre, Educational Specialist

James Vargas, Educational Specialist


Elizabeth Bascom, Speech Language Pathologist


Jessica Meyer, School Counselor


Kimberly Chism, Reading Intervention Specialist

Dezáray Lowery (Dezy), Student Support Aid (SSA)


Anna Elbers, Student Support Aid (SSA)


Mariah Edwards, Student Support Aid (SSA)

 

Lisa Gonzalez - Teacher Lisa has been with UMCS since its foundation in 2012. Lisa has been committed to collaborating with and supporting public education since her first role as a kindergarten student in Southern California to her days as a banana slug at UC Santa Cruz earning her B.A. in Feminist Studies with a Minor in Education. Additionally, Teacher Lisa holds a California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential (K-8th), a Montessori 1 Credential (ages 6-9), and is completing a California Administrative Services credential program. Teacher Lisa has taught in Lower Elementary and Middle School humanities. Outside of school Teacher Lisa enjoys a good dramatic movie, sweet treats with her family, and neighborhood walks.


Katie Pitre - Miss Katie has been with UMCS as a parent since 2019, and on staff since 2021 as an Education Specialist and English Language teacher. She is a former teaching artist for 20 years in the multidisciplinary performing arts in CA, and previously in NY where she lived for 11 years to pursue the performing arts professionally as an actor, singer, and dancer. Ms. Katie holds an MA in Educational Theatre from NYU, a 100-hour Yoga Teacher Certification from Barefoot Movement, and now facilitates open-level yoga classes independently. Katie is also a teaching Intern while in the process of gaining her second MA in Special Education with a CA teaching credential. Katie approaches her work through the lens of neuro-divergence, equity, and creativity and enjoys the opportunity to support student’s growth and self-empowerment as a learner. She enjoys watching things grow, climbing trees, seeing into the distance from mountain tops, making large shapes with her body, singing in harmony, and laughing deeply. She is grateful to be in service at Urban Montessori. 


Teacher James has been at UMCS since 2019. He began his career working in the Cognitive Behavioral field as a Registered Behavioral Technician for 3 years.  He studied Psychology at San Francisco State University and intends to continue higher education up to a Ph.D. He is interested in Emotional Intelligence, Spiritual Development, Human Potential, and Moral Reasoning. In his spare time, he enjoys Art (Classical and Contemporary), Philosophy, Offering unneeded help, Games (MMO/RPG/RTS), Camping, Metaphysics, Statistics, and Dogs.


Elizabeth Bascom, MS, CCC-SLP holds an MS in Communication Sciences and Disorders from CSUEB and a BS in Animal Physiology & Neuroscience from UCSD. Elizabeth, originally from San Diego, previously worked with OUSD as an SLP, stayed home full time with her kids for 7 years, became a UMCS parent in 2016, and began working at UMCS in 2018. She is a mother of four, a lifetime soccer player, and a former collegiate track and field athlete. If she has free time, Elizabeth enjoys playing soccer, reading, baking, and enjoying nature.


Ms. Jess has been the School Counselor at UMCS since 2017. She relocated to Oakland from Brooklyn NY in 2016 where she traded fast walking, subway performances, and fold-and-hold pizza by the slice, for stopping to smell the roses, off-leash hiking trails, and taco trucks. She has her B.A. from the University of Maryland, and a Master’s in Education from Hunter College in NYC where she focused heavily on working with diverse urban populations. In her free time, Ms. Jess volunteers as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), likes to make art, enjoy nature with her dogs, see live music, and dance around in her living room.  


Ms. Kimberly has been a reading intervention specialist at UMCS since 2014. She began her teaching career in 1999 as a third-grade teacher in San Francisco. She holds an M.Ed from San Francisco State University and a B.A. in World Religions from the University of South Florida. Ms. Kimbery is an Orton Gillingham Academy Associate, Linda-Mood Bell Seeing Stars, and Visualizing & Verbalizing provider, and is trained in Morphology by The Institute for Multi-Sensory Education. She is passionate about her work, her family, and loves all things ocean related.


Dezy loves kids and has been working with them her whole life, but professionally since 2017. She graduated from City College of San Francisco with an Associate of Arts in Arts and Humanities as well as an Associate of Science in Social and Behavioral Science. She then went to San Francisco State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Africana Studies. She enjoys helping children through Social Emotional Learning and connecting with kids on a human level. The rapport that she builds with each child helps her succeed at her job and shape the lives of children. This is her second year at Urban working as a Student Support Aid with the RTI team. She has traveled to many countries outside of the United States including Haiti, Chile, The Dominican Republic, Mexico, Belize, and in the last year and a half Ghana and Nigeria.


Ms. Anna started working with children as a camp counselor in high school. After attending a travel study program she received a primary-level Montessori certification; a bachelor's degree in psychology and philosophy from Hampshire College; and a MA in Child Development from Mills College. Ms. Anna’s children started attending UMCS in 2013 and after volunteering at UMCS for many years while working in early childhood education she finally joined the UMCS team as a student support assistant in 2022.


Ms. Mariah has a natural passion and loves working with children. She ran her own, home-based Montessori preschool and daycare for over 5 years before closing her doors to focus more on her own family. Mariah has identical Autistic twins, which opened her up to the vast world of Special Needs. Mariah joined UMCS in 2023 both as a parent and as a Student Support Aid. She is dedicated to bringing her own experiences and education to helping our special students here at UMCS. She is also passionate about educating the youth about special needs, especially with unseen disabilities. When Mariah finds time for herself, she enjoys being in nature and advocating for social justice.

English Language Development

Katie Pitre

Enrichment, English Language Development Teacher, and Educational Specialist (TK-4th)

Physical Education

Steven Manzo - PE Teacher

Substitute Teachers

Kevin Washington -Substitute Teacher

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  • Buck Bailey
    published this page in About 2022-08-29 10:16:23 -0700