Staff Biographies

For contact information, please use ParentSquare or email addresses are on the Staff Contact Information page.

Head of School

Krishna Feeney
(Ms. Feeney)

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)

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.

Expanded Learning Opportunity Program (aftercare)

Melody Washington, Director of Expanded Learning

Melody has been developing and managing engaging enrichment programs in the youth development field for over 20 years. Having an abundance of experience working with grants and school districts, Melody joined Urban Montessori in 2022 to build an in house Expanded Learning (after school) program. She brings with her a creative spirit, nurtured by a degree in Dramatic Arts and six years of television production experience, and her passion to provide experiences that enrich and enhance the lives and education of children. Her passions outside of work are music, writing, and dancing.

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

Lillian Allen - Math & Science Teacher

Marbella Rios - Humanities Teacher

Ms. Lillie (she/her) is an Oakland native who joined Urban Montessori in 2023. She started at UMCS working with 6th-8th graders in the aftercare program and taking on substitute teaching responsibilities during the day. With a degree in Applied Mathematics and Statistics, she is committed to providing a quality math and science education to prepare UMCS middle schoolers for real-world applications. When she is not teaching, she enjoys attending live music events, exploring the East Bay, and crocheting.

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 - Former Lead

Lorraine Smith - Interim Lead Teacher 

Taylor Miller-Fischer - Support Teacher 

Teacher Amy’s (she/her) 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.

Ms. Lo (she/her) started her journey with UMCS in late September of 2023. Working in education for 8 years, Lorraine has created amazing relationships with student and their families all over the Bay Area. Ms. Lo is very passionate about the emotional and spiritual health of all the students she engages with and works hard to not only create a space of learning but also internal growth. In her free time, she travels, goes to a ton of concerts, and checks things off her adrenaline bucket list. One fun fact, Ms. Lo is currently learning how to ride a motorcycle!

Mx. T (they/them) is an esteemed educator, advocate, and abolitionist, with a steadfast commitment to these roles since 2016. Settling in the Bay Area in 2011, Taylour has deeply embedded themselves in the community, drawing strength from their identity as Afro-Indigenous. Hailing from L’eeneidí Aanx’aak Hít (Raven DogSalmon Clan) of Xutsnoowú kwáan (Juneau/Angoon Alaska), Taylour's roots inform their passion for social justice and healing.

As a multidisciplinary practitioner in the realms of art, education, and activism, Taylour has pioneered avenues for youth to embark on journeys of healing through the power of storytelling and trauma-informed transformative justice approaches. They are deeply committed to igniting change and fostering collective healing by championing the significance of community care in navigating the persistent challenges faced by marginalized communities.

Within the classroom, Taylour is a firm believer that when the needs of youth are authentically met, they can flourish. With this conviction, Taylour diligently crafts systems that are not only centered around youth but are also led by them, empowering each individual to thrive and contribute meaningfully to their communities.

Juniper Classroom

Freedom Reign - Lead Teacher 

Mariah Edwards - Support Teacher


Teacher Freedom - 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!

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.

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, Support Teacher

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. 

Ms. Anna (she/her) is an Oakland Native and first generation college student. She is going into her 6 year teaching in Montessori. She brings her passion of Social Justice and poetry into the space. She graduated from Cal State East Baby in 2019 with a BA in Early Childhood Development minor in Sociology. Outside of school she loves to read,write poetry and give back to her community. She is very active and enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

Sunflower Classroom

Jodi Enomoto - Lead Teacher

Brittney Ward, Support Teacher

Ms. Jodi (she/her) and her family joined the Urban Montessori community in 2018. She is a parent of two UMSC learners. Ms. Jodi took on a staff roll in 2021 as a support teacher in the Sunflower classroom. In 2023 she became the lead Sunflower teacher. Ms. Jodi received her lower elementary Montessori training from Association Montessori International.

Ms. Brittney (she/her) is beginning her first year at UMCS as a Support Teacher in Sunflower. She is an Oakland native who has been working with kids for over 10 years. Ms. Brittney is looking forward to bringing her Montessori experience to the classroom and sharing her enthusiasm for teaching, cooking, and arts & crafts. Outside of school, she loves spending time with her son, and going to Warriors, Raiders, and A’s games. Brittney is excited to join the Sunflower community and share in the learning and growing.

Leopard Lily Classroom

Stefanie Morlan (Lead Teacher)

Kimberly Cervantes (Support Teacher)

Teacher Stefanie (they/them) started at UMCS in 2021. They have been the lead teacher in Leopard Lily for the last two years. They were born and raised in Alaska and have lived in Oakland since 2011. They are currently a resident in the Oakland Montessori Training Residency to obtain an Elementary diploma. They are passionate about Montessori pedagogy, trauma-informed practices and they feel very fortunate to serve our Oakland community. Teacher Stef loves to spend time with her family and dog; and especially loves rock climbing, camping and all outdoor adventures.

Ms. Kimberly (she/her) has been working at UMCS since 2022, starting as an aftercare staff and now being a support teacher for the Leopard Lily program. Before joining UMCS, she spent two years with Oakland Leaf (LCS) and taught students from 1st to 3rd grade in various schools. When Kimberly isn't on campus, she loves spending time with her friends, family, and her dog. She's a big fan of the beach and enjoys visiting places with a stunning view.

Sage Classroom

Laura Esparza-Gonzalez - Lead Teacher

Sandra Taylor, Support Teacher

Ms. Laura (she/her) began at UMCS in 2016. She is in her fifth year leading the Sage classroom. She was born and raised in Oakland and is excited to continue working with and serving the youth of Oakland. She received her B.A. in Sociology and Chicanx Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Ms. Laura holds a Montessori Teaching Credential for ages 6-9. She has a passion for social justice and works towards providing an equitable educational experience for each student in the classroom community. Outside of school she enjoys spending time with her siblings and nephew, live music events, watching sunsets, reading, and being outdoors.

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

Rubio Fausto - 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.

Mr. Rubio has worked with Oakland students in a non-profit setting since 2018. This experience led him to pursue a Master’s degree in education. His experience working with Oakland students and his schooling has fueled his passion for education and student development.

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.

Ms. Gabi (she/her), is originally from Argentina, and she has been living around the Bay Area for nine years now. She has been working in different Montessori Schools as a support teacher for over six years, this is her first year as a co-lead. She is half way through her Montessori Primary training. In her free time she enjoys live music, comedy, hiking and being around friends.

Dolphin Classroom

Denisse Ponce Alarcon - Lead Teacher 
(Ms. Dee)

Nicole Jenkins, Support Teacher

Born in Lima, Peru, and raised in Maracaibo, Venezuela, Ms. Denisse (she/her) 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

With over 15 years of experience as an early childhood educator, Ms Jenkins'  undeniable love for children is one of a kind. Nicole has worked with children of all ages as a nanny, at in-home daycares, and now a Montessori school. Nicole has been a Montessori teacher for over eight years working at Grandlake Montessori and now currently working at Urban Montessori. Whether it’s in the classroom or at home with your little ones, her attention to her work is a constant presence in their lives. She is a certified early childcare provider and is both first-aid and CPR certified. Being an Oakland native, Nicole is passionate about serving the community where she grew up. It is her passion and love for children that has driven her to continue to be a Montessori teacher.

Hummingbird Classroom

Chelle Davis - Lead Teacher

Destiney Chavez - Support Teacher

Ms 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.

Ms. Destiney (she/her) is originally from Oakland but grew up in Mexico at a very young age. She began working with children by the time she was in highschool. Started in a internship, Oakland Leaf (LCS) in which she worked with elementary school children for four years. She started working at UMCS as an after school leader and is now currently working as a support teacher for the hummingbird classroom. When not working, she loves to spend time with her family, doing art and going out to explore.

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

Jamie McGill, Occupational Therapist

Anna Elbers, Student Support Assistant (SSA)

Dezaray Lowery, Student Support Assistant(SSA)



Teacher Lisa (she/her) 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.Working on the administrative team is an amazing way of giving back to the UMCS community and working to serve all students. Outside of school Teacher Lisa enjoys a good dramatic movie, sweet treats with her family, and neighborhood walks.

Katie Pitre (she/her) - 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 MAE for Mild to Moderate Support Needs as an Education Specialist from Allianz International University, a 100-hour Yoga Teacher Certification from Barefoot Movement, and now facilitates open-level yoga classes independently. 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, sharing adventures with her family, swimming in rivers, 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.

Ms. Jamie

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. Dezy (she/her) is a Bay Area native and has been at Urban Montessori since 2022. She works as a Student Support Aid with the RTI team and has always loved kids. Dezy has been working with children her whole life, and 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 has traveled to many countries outside of the United States including Haiti, Chile, The Dominican Republic, Mexico, Ghana and Nigeria, and one day hopes to change the lives of children all over. 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 to succeed at her job and assist in shaping the lives of children.


English Language Development

Katie Pitre

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

Physical Education

Steven Manzo - PE Teacher

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