Staff Biographies

Head of Schools

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

Ms. Feeney has been working in public education for the better part of 2 decades! She joined Urban Montessori Charter School in 2018 after a successful career as a Middle School math and science teacher, an instructional coach, and a school administrator in Oakland Unified and John Swett Unified School Districts. Her commitment to bringing Montessori pedagogy into the public sector brought her to UMCS and keeps her excited to come to work every day. And her passion for expanding public Montessori for ALL students starts here in Oakland, at Urban.

Assistant Head of Schools

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.

Caterpillar Classroom

Marquita Carter
(Ms. Marquita)

Isa Oropeza

Ms. Marquita was raised in Oakland and is overjoyed to return to UMCS for her 5th year. She is entering her 16th year of teaching, 9 of which have been Montessori. She graduated from San Francisco State University with a Bachelors in Psychology, followed by a Montessori credential in 2012, and finally a Master’s in Education and California Credential in 2018. She has a 10 year old son with Autism and tons of personality to go with it. In her free time she I enjoys Oakland Raider football, reading, writing, nature, and music.

Dolphin Classroom

Denisse Ponce Alarcon
(Ms. Dee)

Deaunte Goolsby
(Teacher D)

Born in Lima, Peru and raised in Maracaibo, Venezuela, Ms. Dee 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 Bachelor’s degree in Education with a minor in Modern Languages, followed by an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Merritt College, and completed the Early Childhood Education Montessori Credential program . Ms. Dee enjoys rock climbing, hiking, camping, music, and good food.


Teacher D (short for Deaunte), is a bay area native who has been working with children for over five years. He was an integral member of them UMAC after school team, and is excited to step into the classroom this year. He is eager to teach incoming students and set them up for success. Teacher D enjoys hiking, anime, and comics.

Hummingbird Classroom

Chelle Davis

Megalodon Classroom

Kai West
(Teacher Kai)

Teacher Kai fell in love with Montessori education while working in the Marin Headlands as a naturalist. After observing a group of students spontaneously turn the beach into a prepared environment where the students focused for over two hours, Teacher Kai wanted to know more! Teacher Kai has been at UMCS for two years and is excited to be stepping into a lead teacher role this year! Teacher Kai holds a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction, a CA Elementary Teaching Credential and is currently working towards a Primary Montessori certification through the Montessori Institute of San Diego. This is Teacher Kai’s 15th year working with students in the Bay Area.

California Poppy Classroom

Rebecca Hoover
(Teacher Rebecca)
(she/her/they)

Bradley Izaguirre-Hodgson

Mr.Bradley is beginning his third year at UMCS. This is his first year as Support Teacher after being an UMAC team member/substitute for his first two years. Mr.Bradley is a Bay Area native and prides himself on continuing his work with Lower Elementary for his third year. He graduated in 2016 with a B.A. in Psychology from California State University, Stanislaus. His hobbies include hiking, running, sports, reading and writing.

Leopard Lily Classroom

Lisa Gonzalez
(Teacher Lisa)
(she/her/they)

CamishaFatimah

Teacher Lisa has been with UMCS since 2012 and is a founding teacher. Lisa has served as both a Support and Lead teacher in various classrooms. Lisa started her public school journey in kindergarten in Southern California and continued to her days as a banana slug at UC Santa Cruz earning a B.A. in Feminist Studies. She also holds a Multiple Subject California Credential and a Montessori Credential for ages 6-9. Outside of school Lisa is a mom and always excited for the next delicious meal.


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 2 years ago. This year I will be a support teacher in Hummingbird. I have been working in schools in the Bay Area for over 10 years. Educational Leadership is one of my passions and I received my Masters degree from Mills College, while raising my three young daughters in 2009.

Sage Classroom

Laura Esparza-Gonzalez
(Miss Laura)

Soraiya Lozano

Miss Laura is beginning her fourth year at UMCS. This is her first year as 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.

Sunflower Classroom

Tobie Garcia
(Miss Tobie)

Lorri Garrett
(Ms. Lorri)

Ms. Tobie 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 with 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. 


Ms. Lorri is excited to be back in Sunflower for her 2nd year at UMCS. She taught science, cooking, and nutrition in Alameda Unified School District Gardens for 13 years. She is originally from Scottsdale, Arizona and has a BA from Arizona State University.

Tidy Tips Classroom

Fanny Marchand
(Miss Fanny)

Ri Johnson

Miss Fanny has been working at UMCS since 2019. She did her AMI elementary Montessori training in Bergamo, Italy (home of Maria Montessori!). Miss Fanny was born and raised in a tiny village in the north-east of France. Before coming to education she studied law for 5 years and holds a Master's Degree in Litigation and European Law. Outside school, she loves being in nature either riding her bike, hiking or camping. She also likes doing yoga and has been practicing it with her students now that she holds a certification to teach children yoga. Since she started working at UMCS Miss Fanny is in the process to educate herself to become actively anti-racist and to dismantle white privileges.

Juniper Classroom

Nate Kendall

Freedom Reign

 

Mr Nate found Montessori as an “overly-active” 3 year old. As a kindergartner he made the transition to a public Montessori magnet school on the South Side of Chicago. He is the founding teacher of Juniper and this is his fifth year at UMCS.


Now on his 5th year at Urban Montessori, Teacher Freedom is excited to combine his experience from the years in the Dolphin Classroom and UMAC the afterschool program, to bring those lessons and connections into Sage! His speciality 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!

Manzanita Classroom

Emily Ahsoon
(Ms. Emily)
(She/her/hers)

Kieran Kaiter-Snyder

Emily is in her 5th year of teaching at UMCS. She enjoys learning alongside our students and building connections across subject areas. She has an AMI Elementary diploma, Masters in Education, and a California State Teaching Credential. Emily also practices martial arts for over 27 years and loves it!

Redwood Classroom

Ana Carrasco

Tami Ward

Ana Carrasco has been an educator for 11 years and is a founding teacher (8 years!) at UMCS. She holds her Montessori Primary and Elementary I & II credentials as well as her M.Ed. in Montessori education from St. Mary’s college. Ana also holds her CA state credential and her favorite part of teaching is building relationships with students. Ana enjoys horseback riding, card making, and spending time in nature.

Sequoia Classroom

Paige Huggler
She/her/hers

Amy Hutchinson
Teacher Amy
she/her/hers

Paige is in her 7th year as an educator, and has worked with children ages 6 months - 18 years old! She is Montessori trained for ages 6 -18. She loves building strong connections with students and believes that each one has something to teach her. Outside of the classroom, Paige enjoys hiking, DnD, fitness, reading, and gardening.


Teacher Amy is a recent Bay Area transplant, having earned her 6-12 AMI Montessori credential and worked at both private and public Montessori programs in Portland, Oregon. A Minnesota native, Amy loves to hike, bike and bake, and is thrilled to be a part of the UMCS community of learners and doers!

Amethyst Classroom

Jenny Huang

Brandon Bagaason

Jenny is in her 3rd year of teaching in Amethyst at UMCS. She has a B.A. in Asian American Studies and has completed the AMI/NAMTA Montessori Orientation to Adolescent Studies. She is finishing her M.Ed. at the Bay Area Teacher Training Institute this year. She enjoys talking to students about perspectives in history that tend to be overlooked, increasing students’ love for math, talking about her dog, and spending time with her family. She has a long history of struggling with parallel parking.

English Language Development and Physical Education

Kelly Gregory
(Coach Kelly)
She/Her/Hers

Kelly feels very weird about writing in the third person. She’s third of 6 kids which should tell you a lot about her. A nomad her whole life, Kelly is hoping to sink some roots into Oakland and become a true Californian. She is also SUPER excited to have found a home not only in Oakland, but in UMCS. It is her first year teaching at a school and she has loved it so far! She’s passionate about increasing children’s physical literacy, promoting healthy/balanced eating, and encouraging body awareness, acceptance, and love. Coming from Philly (most recently), Kelly taught sewing at an afterschool studio (K - adults) and Kickboxing at a gym. She moved with her husband, Robert, and her dog, Stella who is an emotional wreck. A self-labeled “Jane of all trades”, Kelly enjoys food (cooking and eating), being active (weight-lifting, running, hiking), adventuring (urban, rural, and worldwide), music (listening, playing, singing), being crafty (in all senses of the word), and watching films. She received her teaching license in Family and Consumer Science Education at BYU in Utah. PE IS THE BEST!

Response To Intervention (RTI) Team

Lindsay Sander & Lola Caballero, Educational Specialists


Elizabeth Bascom & Noelle Bridge, Speech Language Pathologists


Victoria Green, Occupational Therapist 


Jessica Meyer, School Counselor


Kimberly Chism, Reading Intervention Specialist


Regine Tolosa & James Vargas, Student Support Assistants

Lindsay Sander is in her fourth year of teaching, and her first at UMCS. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Dominican University of California, and her Education Specialist Credential from Touro University of California. Outside of the classroom, Lindsay enjoys running, doing projects around her house, and hanging out with her animals and husband.


 

"Ms. Elizabeth" Bascom (she/her/hers), M.S., CCC-SLP holds a M.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Cal State East Bay and a B.S. in Animal Physiology and Neuroscience with a minor in Linguistics from University of California, San Diego. Elizabeth, originally from San Diego, previously worked with OUSD as a Speech-Language Pathologist, stayed home full time with her kids for 7 years, became a UMCS parent in 2016, and began working at UMCS in October 2018. She is a mother of four (all UMCS students!), and if she has free time, Elizabeth enjoys playing soccer, baking, reading, and being in nature.



Victoria Green, MS, OTR/L, holds a MS in Occupational Therapy from San José State University and a BA in Early Childhood Education from UNC-Wilmington. Victoria's long-term commitment to facilitating growth in the youth population has informed her clinical inspirations, which utilize play, therapeutic relationship, empowerment, growth and occupational justice. Her interests include neurodiversity, sensory integration, bridging nature into youth experiences, and social learning. Victoria likes to be on hiking trails in Oakland as many days as she can, wishes she were better at ceramics, and has a lifelong goal to bake the perfect loaf of bread. When she's not at work, she enjoys riding her bike, reading cookbooks, and eating tortilla chips.



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 University of Maryland, and Master’s in Education from Hunter College in NYC where she focused heavily on working with diverse urban populations. Creating a welcoming and safe learning environment for students of ALL backgrounds is a top priority for her. In her free time, Ms. Jess likes to make art, volunteer as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for a teen in foster care, enjoy nature with her dogs, see live music, and dance around in her living room.



Ms. Kimberly began her teaching career in SFUSD in 1999! She holds an M.Ed from San Francisco State University and brings her passion for reading and study of Orton Gillingham and LindaMood Bell to students at Urban Montessori. As a child, Ms. Kimberly struggled to learn to read and her time spent with a reading specialist, which began in third grade, greatly impacted her self-esteem and ability to achieve in school. This experience is ultimately what drove her to do the work she does. She is excited to begin her 5th year as UMCS Reading Specialist.


Ms. Regine is in her first year working at UMCS. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from UC Davis. She interned at the MIND Institute where she developed a passion for working with kids on the spectrum. She has then been working in the Cognitive Behavioral field for the past 8 years. Ms. Regine enjoys art, cooking, and spending time with her family and friends.


Teacher James is beginning his first year at UMCS. He’s worked in the Cognitive Behavioral field as a Registered Behavioral Technician for the past 3 years. He studies 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.

Operations Team

Yolanda Bullock, Operations Manager
(Ms. Bullock)

Rosibel Dubon, Site Coordinator
(Ms. Rosi)

Charlene Richardson, Human Resources
(Ms. Charlene)

Buck Bailey, Operations & Technology Specialist
(Mr Buck)

Marcos Mendoza, Custodian
(Mr. Marcos)

Ms. Bullock begins her 25th year in public education managing operations and facilities. Just prior to joining Urban Montessori Schools, she retired from OUSD as the Executive Assistant to the Office of General Counsel. She is very excited to return to the local public school sites to serve within a Montessori educational setting.


Buck is a third-generation art and technology geek who has been working in IT support for non-profits and artists for over ten years. He joined the Urban Montessori aftercare program in 2016 before moving into the office, and is proud to be a part of an amazing team! In his spare time, he keeps a garden, cats, and chickens, and collects music and art.