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)

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

Destiney Chavez, ELOP Program Leader

Kimberly Cervantes, ELOP Program Leader

Anna Bell, ELOP Program Leader


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.

Operations Team

Rosibel Dubon, Site Coordinator
(Ms. Rosi)

Buck Bailey, Operations Coordinator
(Mr. Buck)

Marcos Mendoza, Custodial
(Mr. Marcos)

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



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 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.

Amethyst Classroom

John Harbo

Lisa Gonzalez

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.

Lisa Gonzalez - 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.



Manzanita Classroom

Amy Hutchinson - Lead
Teacher Amy

Bryan Nguyen - 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 is currently completing her California Multiple Subject credential through CalStateTEACH.

Juniper Classroom

Freedom Reign

Anna Bell - Support Teacher


Now in his 6th 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 new position 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


Redwood Classroom

Brendan Gagnon

Annie Saelee

Sunflower Classroom

Tobie Garcia
(Miss Tobie)

Jodi Enomoto
(Miss Jodi)

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. 


Tidy Tips Classroom


Ri Johnson

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 Lead Teacher in Tidy Tips. 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.


Leopard Lily Classroom

Sandra Taylor (Co-Lead)
(Ms. Sandra)

Stefanie Morlan (Co-Lead)



Sage Classroom

Laura Esparza-Gonzalez
(Miss Laura)

Renee Lopez
(Miss Renee)

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.

California Poppy Classroom

Bradley Izaguirre-Hodgson

Alex de Man - Support Teacher

Mr. Bradley has worked at Urban Montessori since 2017. He started in the aftercare program and moved up to a support teacher position for a few years. In 2021 he became the Lead Teacher of California Poppy and prides himself on continuing his work with Lower Elementary students. He graduated in 2016 with a B.A. in Psychology from California State University, Stanislaus. He is a Bay Area native and his hobbies include hiking, running, sports, reading, and writing.

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.

Caterpillar Classroom

Marquita Carter
(Ms. Marquita)

Deaunte Goolsby

(Teacher D)

Ms. Marquita has been teaching in early childhood for well over a decade. She joined the Urban Montessori family in 2015 and has remained committed to providing quality Montessori education to diverse groups of students in Oakland. In 2009, she graduated from San Francisco State University with a BA in Psychology, followed by an AMS Montessori credential in 2012, and finally an MS in Education and California Credential in 2018. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her son, Oakland Raider football, gardening, reading, gaming, hoarding emotional support houseplants, and music.

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 the 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.

Dolphin Classroom

Denisse Ponce Alarcon
(Ms. Dee)

Daijah Young

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. Denisse enjoys rock climbing, hiking, camping, music, and good food.

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.

Hummingbird Classroom

Chelle Davis

Gabriela Varela

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 third year at UMCS. She is a mother of two, ages 22 and 25.

Response To Intervention (RTI) Team

Katie Pitre & James Vargas, Educational Specialists

Elizabeth Bascom, Speech Language Pathologist

Jessica Meyer, School Counselor

Kimberly Chism, Reading Intervention Specialist

Eduardo Ortiz, Student Support Assistant (SSA)

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

Anna Elbers, Student Support Aid (SSA)


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.

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 first year at Urban and she is currently 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.

English Language Development

Katie Pitre

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

Physical Education

Mikael Wooten

Substitute Teachers

Shani Abeysinghe

Nancy Hartman

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