Meet the teamStaff Directory
Alexandra is proud to join the Creative Arts community for her first year and share her passion for the arts and social justice. As a Bay Area native, she grew a strong connection to her creative side at a young age.
She began studying and performing the works of William Shakespeare at age 10. She attended Marin School of the Arts in Novato, CA for high school where she received classical training parallel to that of NYU Tisch's Acting MFA program, independently developed a robust Technical Theatre department, and received special recognition for her work as assistant director and stage manager. She went on to be employed by several local theater companies and earn her Actor’s Equity Association card for stage management. Alexandra has also studied photography, painting, interior design, woodwork, sewing, special effects make up, dance, and music.
Outside of CACS, Alexandra produces an intersectional feminist cabaret and performs stand up comedy. She is currently studying Gender and Race studies at City College of San Francisco. She loves hiking with her dog, pouring latte art, cooking with her loving partner, and rooting for the SF Giants.
Fernando earned a BA at Humboldt State University and an MA in education at the University of San Francisco. His 14 years of teaching experience include work at the Hawthorne School in Oakland; the River East School in East Harlem, NY; Ryder Elementary School in Brooklyn, NY, and CACS. In his spare time, Fernando likes spending time with his family, going to the beach, and trying to find good pizza.
Director of Arts Programming and Resource Developmentaledolane@creativeartscharter.org
Ann leads with 20 years of education experience, commitment and passion in developing inclusive, innovative, and arts-integrated project based curriculum. She received her Masters in Special Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Prior to her work in San Francisco, Ann served as an inclusion, special education and arts specialist in Washington, DC, and New York City, and is currently an adjunct instructor in the School of Education at SF State. She believes that the arts are essential in teaching and learning. Ann loves to make things with her family and explore nature as much as possible.
Director of Operationsjkipp@creativeartscharter.org
Jenny has been with Creative Arts for 5 years, first as a parent to her 2 boys, then as the Coordinator of Community Engagement, and now as our Director of Operations. Jenny has an extensive background in business, having owned a personal training business for 10 years on the east coast prior to coming to California as well as a green cleaning business in Puerto Rico. Read More
Middle School Administratormjenerik@creativeartscharter.org
After 20 years in the radio business, Maria pursued her dream of becoming a teacher, working first as a paraprofessional and later teaching 3rd, 6th,7th and 8th grades at Creative Arts. Maria serves as coach of five CACS sports teams, and in her classroom, she employs project-based learning that draws on her passion for theater, social and environmental justice, outdoor education, and service learning.
Lower School Administratorbnagel@creativeartscharter.org
Brooke holds a BA in Literature and a BS in Elementary Education from Boston University, and an MA in Art and Art Education from Columbia University Teachers College. She is passionate about advocating for the arts in public schools as tools for educational equity, and believes in creating joyful learning experiences for all children. Brooke's teaching experience includes 7 years of classroom teaching at CACS and 5 years of teaching bilingual students in east San Jose. Read More
Alexis graduated from the University of Southern California in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art and Graphic Design. In 2014, after leading an after school program at a Title 1 elementary school, she decided to switch gears to become a teacher. She received her 2042 Multiple Subject Credential from Dominican University of California and is currently in the process of obtaining her MA in Education from Dominican. She has always been interested in problem solving through the creative lens of a designer. She believes that, like graphic design, teaching requires critical thinking, trial and error, and creativity. She enjoys helping students reach their creative potential and use design-thinking to solve everyday problems. On the side, she practices illustration, inspired by the artwork of her students.
First Grade teacher
Kindergarten Teaching Assistant
First Grade Teaching Assistant
8th Grade Humanitiesatrue@creativeartscharter.org
Before becoming a teacher, Angela spent 10 years in the adoption field as an Adoption Caseworker after growing her family through International Adoption in 2002. She earned her BA in Psychology from Bates College in Maine and went on the acquire a Master’s Degree in Counseling from Boston College. She is currently both a certified teacher and a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist. As her daughter transitioned to middle school, Angela decided to change careers and become a teacher. Prior to coming to CACS last year, she worked at Argonne Elementary in several different grades.
She feels strongly that CACS is a perfect match for her skills and interests and has discovered a real joy in teaching middle school students. When she is not at work, Angela likes to read, spend quality time with her daughter and other family members in the Bay Area, and keep her two cats from ransacking her apartment.
Christina Herd was born and raised in the Bay Area. She grew up in the Western Addition, attending schools such as John Swett Elementary School (now named Civic Center Secondary School) and attending the after school program at the Buchanan YMCA. She holds a BA in English and an Art Minor from Mills College in Oakland and a Master’s in Library and Information Science from San Jose State University. Christina earned her Master’s in Education from the Bay Area Teaching Training Institute via University of Pacific, Stockton. Prior to joining CACS she interned and taught at St. Paul’s Episcopal School in Oakland, was employed by UC Berkeley as an Event Specialist and still works as an on-call librarian at Oakland Public Library. She loves every aspect of art and aims toward integrating it into every aspect of the classroom community. Outside of school Christina loves learning about local history, dancing, listening to music, and maintaining her health by hiking, exercising regularly, and trying new vegan cuisines.
7th Grade Math and Science Teacher and Advisorapeterson@creativeartscharter.org
Abby earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education with a focus on Biology, earned a supplement in Mathematics, and earned her Multiple Subject credential from California State University Northridge. She is entering her 6th year of teaching middle school Mathematics and Science and has previously worked at a charter school in Los Angeles before moving to the Bay Area. She is excited to be part of a team that emphasizes rigorous curriculum based on the new Common Core Standards, a curriculum that focuses on learning and exploration through project based tasks, and a team that emphasizes the importance of community and social-emotional growth.
On her free time Abby enjoys testing her creativity as well as exploring and interacting with the different cultures, people, and traditions the world has to offer. Some of her favorite hobbies include: designing and sewing her own clothing, painting and crafts, attending festivals and concerts, hiking and camping, taking what some would say is an unreasonable amount of pictures of her very handsome and charismatic cat Oliver, and backpacking to new and exciting places with great friends.
Ron earned a BA and MA in English literature and later a teaching credential at San Francisco State University. In 2000, after numerous years teaching in early childhood, he joined the staff of Creative Arts, where he has taught Kindergarten and 1st grade ever since. Ron is committed to fostering a learning environment that grows the whole child, taking into account social, emotional, physical and academic needs. Ron and his wife have two teenage children who attended Creative Arts. In his spare time, Ron enjoys traveling, reading, listening to music and playing basketball.
Teacher 1st Grade Amgallagher@creativeartscharter.org
Mary-Eileen Gallagher earned her Master's degree in Elementary Education from Stanford University in 2012. She holds a BA in English from Whitman College, and was a Division I basketball player at Northeastern University. Mary-Eileen's teaching approach combines her love of educational theory, her regard for the whole-child, and her unique past experiences as an art, garden, and P.E. teacher. Mary-Eileen lovingly co-creates with her students a classroom that is developmentally appropriate for young learners, where children's natural curiosity and joy lead the learning process. Outside of school, Mary-Eileen enjoys whale watching, making art, and outdoor adventures.
2nd Grade Teacherkbrinkley@creativeartscharter.org
Katie is a San Francisco native who earned her BA in child and Adolescent Development at SFSU. She’s taught Kindergarten through Fourth grade in Oakland, San Francisco, and San Mateo as well as summer science and math classes and an after school technology course. Katie is passionate about reading instruction and the benefits of being a life long learner. She integrates her prior knowledge as a child development major with extensive experience and ongoing professional development to create and maintain an effective and warm learning environment where all students can succeed. She has a background in the arts as a poet, actress, theater technician, musician, painter, and all around crafty person. In her free time she likes to play music, make art, swim, surf, hike, rock climb, read, and spend time with her daughter.
2nd Grade Teachermshiomi@creativeartscharter.org
Born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, Mizuho came to San Francisco in 2007 to attend the University of San Francisco where she received her bachelor's degree, Master's degree, and teaching credential. She is passionate about using creativity as a differentiation tool in the classroom. Mizuho grew up playing ice hockey, soccer, and volleyball; and she recently started playing golf. In her free time she likes to read and play sports.
Justin holds a BA in Environmental Studies from Denison University and a Masters of Education from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to joining CACS he was a Teacher in Philadelphia, a Teaching Assistant in Oakland, an IT Manager, a farm volunteer at the Alemany Farm and built houses with Habitat for Humanity. Justin really enjoys a fun and serious classroom atmosphere - expect equal amounts Captain Underpants and challenging questions. He enjoys riding and tinkering with his bikes, watching bad TV, and brewing good coffee. Most weekends you'll find him with his fiancé and their beagle exploring or at home reading with his cats.
Malcolm earned his teaching credential through the Bay Area Teachers Training Institute (BATTI), and brings with him a variety of teaching experiences, both in and out of the classroom. Prior to working at CACS, he worked as an assistant teacher at The Hamlin School in San Francisco, tutored students in Minneapolis through an Americorps program, and taught environmental education in varied locales, including coastal Maine and Livermore, CA. Malcolm enjoys creating new and engaging curriculum that requires students to challenge themselves and collaborate with each other. Outside of teaching, Malcolm is a dedicated marathon runner.
Laura holds a BS in Environmental Science from Santa Clara University and a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction through the Bay Area Teacher Training Institute (BATTI). Before joining CACS, she worked as an Associate Teacher at Katherine Delmar Burke School. Other past work experiences include directing the after school program at Presidio Hill School and teaching as a naturalist for San Joaquin Outdoor School in the Santa Cruz mountains. Laura enjoys designing and implementing creative curriculum that engages multiple learning styles. Outside of school, she enjoys hiking, camping and traveling, as well as spending time with friends and family.
Dylan earned his BA in History from San Francisco State University, his Teaching Credential and MA through the Bay Area Teachers Training Institute (BATTI). He is beginning his second year working at Creative Arts. Prior to working at CACS he was a substitute teacher for Chinese American International School, Live Oak School, and Children’s Day School. Previously, Dylan worked as an assistant teacher at The San Francisco Friends School. As a professional musician Dylan spent numerous years performing, recording and touring throughout America. He enjoys hiking, traveling, looking at art, trying the many restaurants in San Francisco, shopping at thrift stores for that perfect cardigan sweater, playing various stringed instruments and collecting vinyl.
Joanna joined CACS in 2012 after spending two years as a Fifth Grade Associate Teacher at the San Francisco Day School. Joanna received her BS in Elementary Education and Psychology from the University of Vermont in 2007. She is committed to utilizing the practices of Responsive Classroom as a teacher, to using the arts as both a modality for learning and an engine for differentiation, and to contributing to a school culture that emphasizes community and respect. In her free time, she enjoys riding her bicycle, cooking, reading, and spending quality time with her partner and dog.
6th Grade Math abd Science Teacher - Advisoragraham@creativeartscharter.org
Ali earned her Bachelor’s of Science Degree from the University of Oregon double majoring in Human Physiology and General Science and Minored in Chemistry. She received her teaching credential and is currently pursuing an MA in Arts of Teaching from the University of San Francisco. Growing up in Lake Tahoe, California, Ali loves the outdoors and enjoys skiing, hiking and camping. Ali is passionate about teaching, and is driven to help students succeed and enjoy science and math while also helping to nurture social and emotional learning. Ali loves teaching 6 th grade and integrating arts and project-based learning into rigorous academic curriculum at CACS.
6th Grade Teachercevashenk@creativeartscharter.org
Coco earned her BA from University of California, Santa Barbara double majoring in History and Sociology. She received her teaching credential from the University of San Francisco and is currently finishing her Masters in Education there this Fall. She is more than thrilled at the opportunity to be teaching at Creative Arts Charter, as she is a huge proponent of project based learning, and believes art and creativity are an imperative part to learning and creating and should be an integral part of all aspects of life. When not at school, she loves being outdoors, getting lost in music, creating visual art pieces and experimenting in the kitchen.
7th Grade Humanities Teacherlsolomon@creativeartscharter.org
Lili Solomon is delighted to be a part of Creative Arts Charter School where the educational philosophy is in line with her own. She believes that the holistic approach to education is what students need in order to feel excited about coming to school and learning so she loves that students are able to participate in an art-based, project-based curriculum.
One of her most important goals is to help instill a lifelong passion for learning in her students. As a student, Lili especially enjoyed fine arts, drama, dance, and writing classes. She did undergraduate and graduate coursework at UC Santa Cruz where she majored in Language Studies with a minor in history, and she received her teaching certificate through Sierra Nevada College at Lake Tahoe. In Hawaii and the Bay Area, she has worked with all ages of children and all academic subjects. Having grown up in the countryside of Angels Camp in Calaveras County, Ms. Solomon is an avid nature lover and an enthusiast for recycling and composting. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, keeping a garden, reading, writing, doing artwork, observing wildlife, and spending time with her two daughters.
Growing up, Matthew always had a fondness and appreciation for the outdoors. Starting as a kid in the Mojave Desert, to growing up as a teenager in the Cascade Mountains, to completing his collegiate endeavors in the groves of old growth Redwoods.
Matthew completed a B.S. in Biology, a minor in chemistry, and a Single Subject Credential in Life Science at Humboldt State University. He moved to San Francisco in the summer of 2012 to continue his teaching career as a 7th and 8thgrade math and science educator.Despite living in an urban setting, Matthew still finds the time to be active. Some of his favorite past-times include: Body Pump, hiking, and softball.
Gina has a diverse background in education and previous work experience with youth that spans 10 years. Her varied interactions as teacher, tutor, coach, and nanny have helped her understand and appreciate each child as an individual with unique strengths and challenges. She earned her teaching credential and Masters degree in Education from the University of Southern California in 2010. During her student teaching at CACS she fell in love with the school, the students, and the staff. Previously Gina lived in Seattle, so naturally she enjoys foggy mornings, hiking, and lots of coffee.
After School Directoremccann@creativeartscharter.org
Before joining the CACS community, Eileen earned her degree in horticulture and became the owner of the first chemical-free gardening business in San Francisco. She came to CACS with her older son, who graduated in 2007, and spent several years volunteering in classrooms and collaborating with teachers on garden science curriculum. In 2001, Eileen joined the CACS staff, working as a substitute teacher, classroom aide, and educator in the Breakfast Club, summer camp, and aftercare. Her hobbies include gardening, jewelry design, hiking, hanging out at the beach with her family, and reading.
After School Teacherjmauberret@creativeartscharter.org
After School Teacherzcummings@creativeartscharter.org
Marissa is a registered Marriage and Family Therapist intern, and holds a Master's degree in Counseling Psychology with a concentration in Somatic Psychotherapy from California Institute of Integral Studies. Before becoming a therapist, Marissa lived in Long Beach, studying clinical psychology and social justice, teaching swimming lessons, and working with transgender youth in Hollywood creating social media for social change. Since 2012, she has been a proud resident of San Francisco, working with families, kids, and LGBTQ folks at various counseling centers around the city, and now in her part-time private therapy practice in the Mission District. She spends her free time with close friends or submerged in water: swimming in SF pools and chasing sunny beach days.
MS Resource Professional
Sarah Van Nostrand
Sarah has a BA in elementary education, with a concentration in fine arts from Ball State University. Her passion for the arts eventually lead her to pursue a graphic and digital design certificate at Parsons The New School for Design. Sarah then worked for many years as a graphic designer, while substitute teaching grades K-12 in the New York City public schools. Prior to joining CACS, Sarah worked as an after school program leader at a non-profit here in the city. In her spare time, she loves spending time with her spouse and dog, traveling, and enjoying all the great food San Francisco has to offer.
SFUSD Resource Specialistjmcclelland@creativeartscharter.org
Jennie McClelland, SFUSD Resource Specialist
Jennie holds a BA in History and Secondary Education from Boston College. After moving to San Francisco in 1995, she taught social studies and served as assistant principal at a small, private, alternative high school for 13 years. While caring for her young son, Jennie earned her Masters Degree in Special Education, Special Education Mild/Moderate teaching credential, and Educational Therapy certificate from San Francisco State University in 2009. She has worked in multiple elementary schools throughout the district. She started at teaching at Creative Arts in 2013. She recently completed the Seeing Stars program by LindaMood-Bell. During her free time, Jennie enjoys spending time with her family, eating out, going on urban hikes, and reading.
Katie holds a BA in English, a BFA in dance from the University of Michigan, and an MA in education from Mills College. Katie served as a student teacher and volunteer at CACS prior to joining the staff in 2009. She is passionate about the arts in public schools and educational equity. Outside of school, she makes movies, performs music, and tap dances. Her other interests include reading, cooking, forest walks, and silent film.
2-8 Visual Arts Specialistlkeir@creativeartscharter.org
Leslie earned her BA in art from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1985, with an emphasis on printmaking and painting. She earned an MA in creativity from the Inter-Arts Center at San Francisco State University in 2002 and two years later completed her teaching credential, also at SFSU. Leslie fell in love with teaching through her work for several years as a visiting artist at Bay Area public schools. Along with many other ingredients, her curriculum integrates ideas generated from the classroom as a mode of inquiry into the tools and strategies used by artists. She is committed to social justice and equity in education.
LeShawn Darnell Holcomb
Theatre Specialist, 6th Grade Advisorlholcomb@creativeartscharter.org
LeShawn Darnell Holcomb is a playwright, poet and performer living in Marin, California. He recently served as an Education Advocate at The Hannah Project where he led educational workshops, leadership trainings and art explorations for middle and high school students of Marin City, and has led theatre workshops with Marin Theatre Company. Prior to the Bay Area, LeShawn taught playwriting residencies with Actors Theatre of Louisville. Leshawn graduated from California State University (Fullerton), where he holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Human Services and Afro Ethnic Studies. LeShawn is a four time national finalist for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. His plays have also been produced and performed at theaters in California, New York, Washington D.C., Arizona, Utah, Tennessee, and Michigan. LeShawn continues to write for the stage and create theater with youth, where he has the opportunity to foster and nurture young new voices.
Tyrone Bennett, Jr
Colleen holds a Master of Education degree in Counseling, an Autism Specialist Certificate, and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Biology. Her previous work includes seven years as an elementary school counselor, and 3 years as a counselor for at-risk middle school and high school students. Most recently, she served as the Dean of Students/Head Counselor at Wallenberg High School.
She is a Chicago native, the 8th of 12 children, and a loyal Chicago Bears and Cubs fan. In her free time, she enjoys running, hiking, biking, … anything outdoors! She also loves to read, create mosaics, and bake.