Zack Alexander, B.S., Math Department Head - Lead
Zack has been educating youth for over twelve years having operated a private tutoring business in Marin County with an emphasis in math and science, run a robotics camp for middle school students in Berkeley, and taught math in a private high school in San Rafael. Zack has a love for math and science, which he enjoys passing on to his students. He earned his B.S. in Bioresource Sciences at U.C. Berkeley and went on to complete graduate coursework at U.C. Davis in anatomy and physiology. Zack also teaches sailing for Cal Adventures in Berkeley and has taught downhill skiing for Squaw Valley USA.
Nelli Astvatsatrian, B.A.
Nelli Astvatsatrian graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a B.A. in Art Practice and Rhetoric. While in college, Nelli founded and taught a university course on figure drawing to college students, as well as facilitating workshops at the Berkeley Art Studio and the Berkeley Art Museum’s art lab. In her home studio, she works primarily in figurative drawing, printmaking, and textiles and her practice concerns the trans-generational transmission of memory. Nelli has been making art for many years and cites her time at a specialized arts high school in Los Angeles as a period of significant development, both in establishing her skills and in broadening her worldview. With her own educational experience in mind, and with the genuine belief that art can transform lives, she is eager to share her passion while providing high quality art education to high school students. Outside of the classroom, Nelli loves visiting nature (particularly of the hill and lake variety), making playlists on Spotify, and spending far too much time at Trader Joes.
Eleni Baskin, B.A.
Eleni graduated from UC Berkeley in 2015 with a B.A. in integrative biology, focusing on ecology, evolution, and organismal biology. She has worked for UC Berkeley's scientific research laboratories in both biological and environmental fields and for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. She also has worked as a private academic tutor in a diverse range of subjects including science, mathematics, and SAT/ACT test preparation. As a teacher, she is excited to inspire students to have a passion and enthusiasm for learning that will lead them toward success in college and beyond.
Marta Blanchard, Ph.D.
Marta has a B.A. in English from Lewis and Clark College in Oregon, with a minor in Classical Studies. She continued studying Classical Studies at the graduate level, but realized that her passion was in education, and spent several years tutoring and teaching English, history, and math to middle and high school students. She has a teaching credential in English, and believes that all students are capable of becoming strong readers and writers with the right support and guidance in finding the stories they love. She also enjoys delving into the depths of history to find the reasons behind any given event, and does her best to share the most interesting historical details with her students (and anyone else who will listen). She teaches English, history, social sciences, and Latin. In her spare time, she likes reading, drawing, and tabletop gaming.
Isa Caffe, B.S., Science Department Head - Lead
Isa graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a B.S in Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology in 2013. She has always been a very curious person and naturally gravitated towards the sciences. Isa has been fortunate enough to have excellent teachers and professors throughout her academic career, and hopes to pass down her passion for math and science to the next generation of scientists and mathematicians! She is interested in how science affects our daily lives, particularly our health and the environment. She also loves to cook, play video games, volunteer, and hike.
Miguel Chan, B.S.
Miguel previously worked as a Math Empowerment Teacher for the nonprofit organization Making Waves Education Program located in Richmond, CA. Here he supported low income students in a one-to-one setting. Miguel found Tilden’s Prep model to be nearly identical to that of his previous job. Intrigued with this similarity, he started teaching at Tilden Prep in June, 2013. Miguel holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from UC Berkeley and teaches a variety of courses including math through Calculus BC, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Computer Science and Spanish. In his spare time he works as an online math curriculum developer and webmaster for "MathFortress.com", an educational website that he created for the purpose of expanding his reach to a greater audience via unique video tutorials for various mathematical disciplines.
Keiko was born and raised in Tokyo. She started tutoring middle and high school students while in college, and following graduation, taught English and later became certified as a Japanese language teacher in Japan. She started teaching Japanese at Tilden in 2007, and has enjoyed teaching from Japanese 1 through the AP level to many students. She also enjoys watching Japanese anime, drama, and movies with Tilden students in the Japanese Club. In her spare time, Keiko enjoys flower arranging, and is a licensed teacher of Ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement).
Natalie Harris, B.A.
Natalie graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a B.A. in English Literature. While there, she focused on teaching underprivileged youth how to write and perform their own original screenplays. She is interested in the psychology of how different students learn and integrating this information into the daily classroom schedule. Her favorite book is Oscar Wilde's A Picture of Dorian Gray and one of her favorite historical events to study is The War of 1812. She swam competitively in high school and she has seen Lin-Manuel Miranda's Tony award-winning play Hamilton(both topics she can talk about for hours).
Rachel Hertog, Ph.D.
Rachel graduated from from San Francisco State University with degrees in Marine Biology (BS) and Ecology and Systematic Biology (MS). From there, she continued her research at UC Davis in the Geology department with a concentration in Paleobiology. Before coming to Tilden, Rachel worked in the public programs department at the Exploratorium and deep in the shelves of the Invertebrate Zoology and Geology collections at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. She has a life-long dedication to inquiry-based science and exploration of the natural world. When she's not at Tilden, Rachel enjoys open-water swimming in the Bay, sailing, drawing, and experimenting with fermented foods.
Shiqiu Leng, B.A.
Shiqiu is a Mandarin Chinese teacher. She graduated from Beijing Normal University and obtained her B.A. degree. She has 15 years of extensive experience in teaching, from children to college students. Additionally, she taught Sunday school and Chinese school. Her background and interests have contributed greatly to her extensive knowledge regarding Chinese language and culture. Shiqiu is very patient, cordial, candid, outgoing, and friendly. She likes teaching and enjoys working with students.
Jeff Mitchell, M.A., English Department Head - Lead
Jeff earned his graduate degree in U.S. History from San Francisco State University in 2008. His experience tutoring undergraduates in college motivated him to obtain a teaching credential in Social Studies, though he never gave up his personal historical research, creative writing, and stop-motion collage videos. Since 2010 he has written historical biographies, continuing his interest in the American West, while also teaching middle and high school students science, social studies, and English. His interest in publishing instructional materials serves as an important part of his teaching repertoire. However, Jeff sees a greater value in differentiating instruction for students in a one-to-one setting. Their success and self-confidence is important to him. He continues to develop his own pedagogical skills to help young scholars master material at the university level, while satisfying his desire to write speculative fiction.
Noé Montero, B.A.
Noé was born and raised in Nice, France. He began his education studying physics, chemistry, and engineering sciences before ultimately deciding to follow his passion for history. He then went on to graduate with a B.A. from the Faculty of Historical Sciences at the University of Strasbourg and worked as a tutor in his spare time. During this time, Noé realized how uplifting it was to be able to share his passion with others and now aims to be like the teachers that inspired him. As a good product of his country, he enjoys baking croissants and complaining about American cheese in his spare time.
Joe Peacock, B.S.
Joe grew up in the East Bay, going to high school in Hayward. He graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 1999 with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering and a minor in Physics. He worked at NASA in Houston in Mission Control before discovering a fondness for teaching. He has previously been licensed to teach in Texas, Nevada, and California. He was a full time teacher for 6 years before coming to Tilden. Joe coaches club volleyball with a team playing in the Junior Olympics this summer (2014). Other random facts: he has published two books of poetry, has an insurance license, plays roller hockey, and loves beagles. Joe enjoys teaching at Tilden because he gets to work with each student on a more personal level than is possible in a full classroom of students.
Chuong Phan, B.A.
Chuong was born in Dong Nai, Vietnam and raised in Minneapolis. He graduated from Stanford with a B.A. in English. His senior thesis was about Watership Down, marrying his interests in structuralism, children's literature, and bunnies. Previously, he taught English and Communications at a high school in Oakland. After a brief stint in Seattle, Chuong is happy to be back in the Bay Area and thrilled to be a member of the Tilden community. At Tilden, he teaches English, History, and Social Studies. As a history student in undergrad, Chuong used to prepare for midterms by sticking post-it notes with important dates on items in his fridge. He now associates the Russian Revolution with ketchup. In his spare time, Chuong can be found napping with his corgi Bagel, playing Mahjong, or jamming with his cover band, Fran Thresher II.
Mark Rowles, M.A.
Mark received a B.A. in mathematics from Tulsa University, an M.A. in Mathematics from the University of Illinois, and did further post-graduate research at UC Berkeley. He was a Fulbright Fellow at Phillips Universitaet in Marburg, Germany, where he did research and conducted a graduate seminar. At Tilden, Mark has been an innovative contributor, developing cutting edge courses in Astronomy and Honors Multivariable Calculus. Mark believes that Mathematics has been the training ground for logical thinking ever since the Platonic Academy wrote over its portal: "Let no one enter here ignorant of Geometry." As such, Mathematics cooperates and coordinates with other disciplines at Tilden to support the education of a well-rounded student. Mark brings a wealth of experience along with his love of teaching mathematics to every class in his endeavor to make this subject come alive for each of his students.
Bee Schlotz, M.A., Special Education Department Head
Bee has a B.A. in linguistics and an M.A. in education from UC Santa Cruz, and has been a teacher in various capacities for 10 years. Having taught ages 6-20 in a wide variety of subjects, Bee has a special fondness for teaching students with cognitive differences such as ADD, ADHD, and autism, as well other students with troubled academic histories. Bee's educational philosophy is that if you build an environment where students feel understood, valued, safe, and gently challenged, learning will flourish organically. For Bee, the greatest joy is sharing a love of learning, especially in the fields of music, mathematics, language and literature.
Alex Seitz, M.A.
Alex Seitz was born in San Francisco and grew up in the East Bay. He went to Quaker high school in Grass Valley, California, which taught him a lot about community service. Alex also had his first great history teacher there, who taught it as ordinary peoples' struggle for freedom and justice; he was so excited by it, he became a history major when he got to Humboldt State University. Alex loved going to a smaller school, where the teachers really gave him personal help, and let him study California history in great detail. Alex went on to get a master's degree and a teaching credential at Cal State Hayward. He owes a lot to his teachers and fellow students, who always had great debates and showed him that humanities are about different perspectives and an increasingly complicated understanding of human nature. Alex has been teaching social sciences and humanities around the Bay Area for the last 5 years, and has always tried to help his students see the value of their own detective work and perspective. Alex is very happy to be at Tilden, and look forward to continuing the creativity and deeper understandings of the material that comes from one-on-one teaching.
Carolyn Smith, B.A., History Department Head
Carolyn was born and raised in Washington state, attending the University of Washington to earn her B.A. in history. During college, Carolyn coached water polo and swimming for clubs around the greater Seattle area. It was there where she learned to love teaching. She has been in California for the past 11 years, where she got her social studies credential from UC Davis and taught for a small school in Alameda. When Carolyn is not at work, she is at home with family, watching Netflix or cooking!
Christina Tenuto, B.A.
Christina doesn’t really enjoy writing about herself in the third person; however, she does enjoy creative writing and literature - more specifically Victorian and modernist British literature and the romantic, modernist, and post war genres of American literature. She has very mixed feelings about the state of contemporary American literature. She earned a B.A. in Sociology from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and after graduating applied for a Fulbright Scholarship to teach abroad in Thailand. When she was not granted the scholarship, she worked and saved for a year. Ultimately she booked a one-way ticket to Bangkok, which turned into five years of teaching English in Thailand and Japan. She is a Bay Area native who just returned from Tokyo. Ask her for thoughts on books, post-modernist social or philosophical theory, psychology or simply a good travel story. Her favorite part about working with young learners is seeing their potential and helping to cultivate it, not impinge upon or restrict it, as she knows there are many ways to foster success and curiosity in the world.
Michael Tobin, B.S.
Michael is a Bay Area native who earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Cell Biology and Neuroscience in 2015 while attending Montana State University in the very snowy and frigid Bozeman, MT. He primarily focused his research and studies in human anatomy, physiology, and nutrition. He was as a successful student athlete in track and field, Michael coached the sprint and hurdle group for the track and field program at Montana State University for two years. He continues to be highly involved in the sport as well as being an avid Oakland sports fanatic. Michael is very passionate about math, science, and sports. He loves to compare and connect the similarities of math and science to sports. Michael aims to bring a lot of enthusiasm and energy to the subjects he teaches and to the students he interacts with.
Cameron Bailey, B.A.
Cameron received his undergraduate degree in Classical Studies with an emphasis on civilizations from University of California Davis. He is a native of the Bay Area and attended high school at Monte Vista in Danville; he began working at Tilden in the summer of 2015. He has traveled throughout Europe and even lived for a few years as a youth in both England and Spain. He was thus afflicted with a love of soccer and an appreciation for the unique attributes of foreign cultures. Cameron is teaching History, Latin and Spanish at Tilden Prep.
Josiah Barron, B.S.
Josiah graduated from UC Davis with a B.S. in Neurobiology. He started tutoring during college in math and science for students with disabilities. He then went on to teach middle school math and science. Josiah enjoys teaching math and science because they help us understand the world we live in. His hobbies outside of work include reading, hiking, camping, and fishing.
Reed Burkhart, M.S.
Reed holds degrees in mathematics, computers and electrical engineering from the California Institute of Technology and UC Santa Barbara. He has used his science skills as a space engineer, designing satellites, as well as balancing these left brain activities with surfing, music, dance and other more right-brained, artistic and athletic, explorations. At Tilden, Reed helps students to break down abstract math or science concepts into their simplest essence, so helping students to achieve mastery whether math & science come easy to the student or not. Reed believes that there are as many different ways to learn as there are people, and that the key to learning is really as simple as a motivated student and an inspiring, caring teacher.
Jenny Cavallero, B.S.
Jenny is an East Bay native who earned her B.S. in Biology from San Diego State University with an emphasis in marine ecology. Her love for the STEM subjects stems (no pun intended) from a lifelong curiosity of the natural world and just how it ticks. She has an extensive background in wildlife research and conservation, most recently monitoring endangered salmon in the Russian River and Bottlenose dolphins on the East Coast. Jenny’s biggest passion lies with marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation and, when she’s not at work, you can usually find her wrangling sick and injured seals at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito.
Ka Shing Chan, B.S.
Ka Shing Chan graduated from UC Davis in 2006 with a B.S. in general mathematics. His love of tutoring and teaching math started early in college, where he worked at the Learning Skills Center and tutored students in Calculus. After college, he found himself working for Tilden Prep in Albany for several years before earning his teaching credential and teaching in a classroom setting. After 7 years of teaching in a classroom setting, he is back at Tilden to work with students 1:1. He can teach Algebra, Geometry, Algebra 2, Precalculus, and Calculus AB and BC. When not teaching, he can be found hiking around the Bay Area, playing tennis, and supporting the Golden State Warriors.
Ryan Dickson, M.A., English Department Head
Ryan has a passion for History and the Humanities and teaches these subjects at Tilden Preparatory Academy and local colleges. He holds degrees at the Baccalaureate and Master levels in History and is a dissertation short of his Doctorate. Ryan's love of learning has opened many doors for him and he has had the opportunity to study and conduct research at some of the most prestigious universities in the world including Stanford University, Trinity College-Dublin and Cambridge University. A lifelong learner committed to continued intellectual growth through education, Ryan is currently working towards acquiring a Master's in Information Science. It is Ryan's desire to instill in all of his students a lifelong love of learning.
Cliff Escobedo, M.A. Foreign Language Department Head
Cliff was born and raised in Mexico City until the age of 11. His family decided to move to the Unites States to seek better education opportunities for his brother and him. While attending College Park High School in Pleasant Hill; Cliff discovered that he had a passion for teaching and helping others with class work. Throughout his high school years, Cliff, his best friend Matt, and his brother held tutoring sessions during lunch in math, French and Spanish. During High School is when he knew he wanted to be a professor/teacher. After high school, Cliff went off to College and received a degree from U.C. Berkeley in Spanish Literature and Language. A couple of years later, he completed a M.A. program at San Francisco State. Cliff has tutored middle school and high school students for over 15 years and has taught college level courses for 5 years at D.V.C, St Mary’s College and Holy Names in Oakland. When Cliff is not working at Tilden or at one of the colleges, he loves going to the movies and traveling. He spends too much time in the movies! Another fun fact: he and his brother are twins.
Heather Feeney, MFA
Heather graduated from Sonoma State with honors and earned an MFA in Printmaking and Writing from California College of the Arts. She has taught K-12 and college students for over 10 years. She has served as a writing consultant at several university writing centers and edited academic papers in the fields of psychology, art history and education. College courses she has taught include Critical Thinking & Writing, Intro to Academic Writing, Sacred Art & Poetry, and World Cultures & Art Types. As an SAT/ACT tutor, she has successfully coached many high school juniors toward a higher score. Heather has also tutored elementary phonics and comprehension using methods from Lindamood-Bell and Orton-Gillingham learning systems.
Lara Fowler, B.A.
Lara Fowler is a Bay Area native and is thrilled to be working at Tilden. A language enthusiast from childhood, she earned her B.A. in French Language and Literature at the University of San Francisco, with an emphasis in North African post-colonial literature. She speaks English, French, Russian, and Spanish, and she has studied at the Institut Catholique in Paris, France, the Smolny Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Moscow State University in Moscow, Russia.
Lara is also a graduate of the San Francisco School of the Arts, where she majored in cello performance. She plays in several orchestras, and for the past three years has attended an annual summer workshop for advanced young cellists. She loves listening to classical music, and her favorite cellist is Jacqueline du Pré.
In addition to her music and languages, Lara is a passionate classic film scholar and writer. She has specific expertise in the silent and early sound era of Hollywood, and has written official press pieces for the San Francisco Silent Film Festival and the TCM Classic Film Festival. Her favorite movies include 'Show People', 'It Happened One Night', and 'The Thin Man'.
Ana Galvan, M.S.
Ana was born in Madrid, Spain. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish law from the Complutense University of Madrid and graduate degrees in Transnational Business Practice from McGeorge School of Law, and Environmental and Radiological Health Science from Colorado State University. Ana has been tutoring Spanish for over 10 years and has many years of experience teaching all levels from pre-school to college including professional adults, groups and 1 on 1. As a writer she has published a novella and a collection of short stories and she offered a Spanish Creative Writing class at the Pleasant Hill Recreation and Park District and has taught Creative Writing to adults. Ana paints and writes and uses visual and kinesthetic art techniques to teach, engaging her students in active conversation.
Nelius Gathondu, B.S.
My experience as a first generation, non-native student in college, allowed me to understand the pressures and challenges that students have to perform well in school. Be it low self-confidence stemming from a bad test grade, to the inherent fear at the thought of tackling Calculus. I went through it all. I have found that the teachers who were able to tap into my potential were those that were encouraging and allowed me to voice my ‘stupid’ questions, but at the same time have great expectations of me. I employ this same style of teaching, identifying individual student needs, and building a line of communication of respect and trust.
I earned my Bachelors of Science degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Mills College in 2013. Including teaching and tutoring experiences at Mills in subjects like Physiology and Chemistry, I participated in a multi-campus research study trying to answer why female students feel discouraged to go into the sciences. At Tilden, I hope to inspire and share with students the same enjoyment of science and math I have grown to have.
LJ Gold, Ph.D.
LJ Gold received her Ph.D. in comparative literature from UC Berkeley where she also received every teaching award available to graduate student instructors and lecturers in her field. Prior to teaching Cal undergrads, she worked as an educator in a variety of contexts: She completed a University of New Mexico/Santa Fe public schools credential-granting internship, taught for Johns Hopkins summer programs in Europe and the United States, volunteered as an instructor at San Quentin Prison, led humanities seminars at St. Mary's College in Moraga, California, and delivered lectures at St. John's College and the University of Mississippi.
Tony Green, M.B.A.
Tony Green is currently in his first year as a Math/Science teacher at Tilden. His goal as an educator is to provide his students with the tools they need to succeed in today’s highly technical society. His teaching philosophy is from the viewpoint of a teacher who has worked in high technology for nearly 20 years. His aim is to share his experience and knowledge to put his students in a position to succeed in tomorrow’s fast-paced workplace. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of Delaware and a Master of Business Administration with a focus on Technology Management from the University of Phoenix. Tony has recently been selected as an Encorp STEM Fellow. The EnCorps Fellowship is a selective, unpaid fellowship for STEM professionals who are interested in exploring their role in teaching and education. The EnCorps STEM Teachers Program empowers science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) professionals to transform public education by teaching in high needs schools. Tony is passionate about speaking on issues related to sustainability. He founded Speaking Green Communications to be a voice for sustainability and a voice for the adoption of alternative energy technologies. In his spare time, he volunteers with Rising Young Leaders, a non-profit dedicated to providing leadership skills to local youth and the Citizens Climate Lobby who are a non-profit, nonpartisan, grassroots advocacy organization focused on national policies to address climate change. Fun Fact: While he was in the U.S. Navy, he served aboard a Nuclear Submarine. He has the distinction of being at Intersection of the International date line and the equator at midnight on January 1, 2000 becoming among the first people to enter the new millennium.
Jordan Griffin, B.A.
Jordan has a B.A. in Biological Sciences from San Jose State University. In her time there, she focused on fieldwork, specifically the conversation and evolutionary ecology of the Blue Oak Reserve preservation range. Jordan also has an extensive background in research labs, and has worked both in the academic and private sector. Her time at the Neurogenetics Research Laboratory at San Jose State University focused on identifying gene markers which lead to neural development anomalies, and her time at the Diffractive Optics Group at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory focused on the developing field of biophotonics. Jordan began tutoring her peers when she was in high school, and continued the practice through college. She has experience teaching science, literary analysis, history, and advanced mathematics, and is excited to be here at Tilden to help her students tackle their trickiest subjects.
Michael James, M.A.
Michael was born and raised in the East Bay. From high school, Michael went to UCSC and earned his BA in Economics. In graduate school at Carleton University in Ottawa, Michael worked as a teaching assistant for undergraduate courses in Economics and Statistics before receiving his MA in Political Economy. Michael’s tutoring experiences began as a peer tutor in high school and he’s worked as a tutor in various subjects, predominantly Math, since then. Michael is certified to Teach English as a Second Language and as a “Create A Healthy Tomorrow” (Stress Strategies for Children) Instructor. While living in Fresno, CA, in a year of Americorps public service, Michael worked as the lead instructor for a GED program in public housing. Michael lives in the East Bay today and is fond of dogs.
Susana E. Maltez, B.S. Science Department Head
Susana earned her degree in Earth Science from UC Santa Cruz. She previously worked as a former Physics and Math tutor at Los Medanos College for STEM majors. She also has previous experience working with Junior and High School students as a private tutor. Susana formulates her lessons to best suit the student's individual needs. Susana believes students need repetition, encouragement, and constant participation in order to feel the desire to learn. She also believes that learning is a physiological activity which involves the body as a whole. Susana loves drawing and hiking as she enjoys being outdoors in nature. She has run the Mt. Diablo Summit twice. Susana teaches Math, Science, and Foreign Language.
Michael Mendoza, B.A.
I was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Growing up in the Midwest, I had a peaceful and laid back upbringing. I’ve always have had an immense passion for life as well as a unquenchable curiosity for learning. Art, science, languages, culture, movies, astronomy, philosophy and even gardening are among the many interests that have inspired me growing up. My last year in high school, I met a fellow student who was deaf and I took it upon myself to learn sign language so we could have a friendship. I picked up the language rapidly and that experience landed me in college in the American Sign Language Interpreting program at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester, New York. Upon graduation, I worked as an interpreter at a local Wisconsin college. I’ve always had the idea of moving to the West coast and when my brother and sister made the move to California, that was the push I needed. In July of 2014, I packed my bags and moved to beautiful California in hopes of wonderful and enriching experiences. I enjoy sight seeing, checking out local museums, trying out restaurants and spending time with friends. My philosophy is you must always live your life to the fullest and that anything you want, believe in yourself and you can make it happen!.
Ricky Munoz, B.A.
A Bay Area native, Ricky has a strong connection to and love for his community. Formerly pre-med, Ricky attended both Los Medanos college and UC Davis before graduating with his B.S. in Biochemistry fromCSU East Bay. In addition to formerly tutoring both junior high and high school students, Ricky also tutored college students in Math, Engineering, and Science. Ricky is passionate about teaching students and helping them achieve their educational goals. In his spare time, Ricky enjoys giving back,volunteering at convalescent homes, playing guitar and singing for residents. Ricky also coaches a Bible Quiz team at his local church. Spending time with friends and family, Ricky is always up for a good board game or a trip to a local frozen yogurt shop.
Demetri Papamichalis, B.S.
Demetri was born in Sacramento, California. However, he grew up in Greece in the city of Athens, where he learned to speak and write fluently in Greek. After graduating from high school he moved back to California and received his BS degree in Physics and minor in Mathematics from California State University of Sacramento in 2012. Currently, he is attending the graduate program in Physics with a concentration in Modern Optics at San Jose State University. He has extensive experience teaching physics and math as a Teacher Assistant for the department of Physics & Astronomy of SJSU. He passionately enjoys working with students and wants to inspire them to reach their fullest potential.
Joan Rickard, M.S.
Joan was born in Illinois prior to moving to Germany, where she spent the next 4 years of her life. She was raised in Simi Valley, CA and found her love for math in 2nd grade. She started tutoring professionally at 16. Joan got her BS in Civil Engineering at the US Coast Guard Academy and then spent 5 years as active duty Coast Guard. After leaving the Coast Guard, Joan relocated to the Bay Area where she received her MS in Civil Engineering from San Jose State. Joan is also a licensed Professional Engineer. She has been teaching for the last 3 years in Middle School and High School Math and Science. Joan has a passion for learning and is finally getting to turn her love for history into teaching a class this semester. Joan is teaching Math, Science and History at Tilden.
Christine Schreck, B.A.
Christine is a Bay Area native who received a BA in American Studies and Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame. She previously taught at a small Catholic High School. In the classroom, Christine enjoys helping students think critically and make connections between the concepts on the page and their lives. Outside of the classroom, Christine enjoys cheering for the Fighting Irish, writing, movie comedies, and trivia contests. Christine teaches the humanities at Tilden.
Vince Shuali, M.S.
Vince was born and raised in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada and graduated from the University of Toronto. He came to the U.S. to study at the University of Virginia (UVA), graduating with a M.Sc. in Physics in 2015. After tutoring during his undergrad, and being a teaching assistant in graduate school, he realized that teaching was his passion, and took pedagogy courses at UVA to improve his craft. He moved to the Bay Area after graduating to pursue his teaching career in physics and mathematics. In addition to making science and math accessible to students of all backgrounds and ages, he enjoys hiking, meeting new people, exploring new places, learning languages, getting around on his bicycle, and cooking Indian vegetarian food.
Lupe Torres, B.A.
Lupe has been working in the field of education for the past 12 years, and holds a B.A. in Psychology with an emphasis in Developmental Psychology. She has worked with students at all levels including elementary, middle, high school and Community College. The focus of her work has been on high school students specializing in the support of students with learning differences, I.E.Ps and 504 plans. She has also extensively studied the Spanish language and served as a Spanish translator at parent-teacher meetings, I.E.P meetings, and community events. Math is also a passion of Lupe’s because she enjoys articulating math concepts and making them accessible to students. In her spare time, Lupe enjoys traveling. Some of her favorite places she has traveled to include Angel Falls in Venezuela and Machu Picchu in Peru. She also loves dancing and exercising to Yoga and Zumba. Lupe teaches Spanish, Math, and Psychology.
Damascus Triola, B.A.
Damascus Triola joins the Tilden staff having previously taught elementary and high school in Arizona. Most recently, Damascus worked with incoming college students to support their transition with a focus on writing and reading strategies. He studied English Literature at the University of California, Berkeley and is finishing up a Master’s degree in the same area at San Francisco State University. His previous experience with individualized learning was engaging and fulfilling to help students achieve mastery.
Cristian Vera B., B.A.
Cristian was born and raised in Viña del Mar, Chile, a city by the beach. There he obtained his degree in education and a major in English Pedagogy at Saint Thomas University. Cristian has always been a very passionate person, especially in sports and music. During his childhood, he was part of his high school’s soccer team and was awarded as top scorer of the tournaments multiple times. Cristian even taught himself to play guitar and performed in a band.
At the age of 22, he became an English Teacher. One week after his graduation, he started working as a head teacher of a 6th grade class at a very prestigious school from his hometown. After 3 years of teaching English as a foreign language, Cristian moved to the United States where he has been working as a Spanish teacher and tutor. Cristian is a very dedicated teacher who focuses his teaching style on helping students believe in themselves, by using their strengths and working hard to improve their areas of need. As a Tilden Prep Spanish teacher, he is willing to give a 100% in order to assist students in achieving their individual goals and objectives. When Cristian is not working, he loves spending time playing music, singing, playing tennis and soccer, and spending time with family.
Eleodoro Villagomez, M.A., History and SSE Department Head--History Lead
Born and raised in San Bruno on the peninsula, Eleodoro ("Lolo") attended UC San Diego, earning a B.A. in Ethnic Studies and Sociology. His love for the Bay Area called him back, and he worked for a non-profit in San Francisco within the resident services department for a housing provider for a number of years before earning his M.A. in Education with an emphasis on Equity and Social Justice from San Francisco State. Lolo strongly believes in tailoring each of his classes to his student’s interests and background, and incorporating these elements into his curriculum. Although Lolo loves teaching a number of subjects within the humanities, he has a particular love and affinity for history and its interdisciplinary aspects and complexities. He also believes in drawing upon and celebrating his students’ own funds of knowledge and incorporating these elements every day. Lolo enjoys running, hiking, the 49ers, pop culture, NPR and bird watching.
Joseph Vincent, B.A.
oseph graduated from UCSC in 2016 with a BA in English Literature. He really enjoys teaching and that is mainly what he have been doing since graduation. Joseph’s hobbies include: hiking, playing guitar, reading novels, and learning foreign languages.
David Wright, M.A.
Mr. David Wright has been teaching music general music in The Mt. Diablo Unified School District for 26 years. He has also taught in the Lutheran and Catholic schools, and is presently teaching AP, basic music theory, and Jazz history to middle and high school students at Tilden Preparatory School in Walnut Creek along with his duties with the district.
When David isn’t directing teaching and exciting kids in the classroom he is a resident Flute soloist with the award winning Saringhimig SingersUnder the direction of George Hernandez they have toured all over Europe, the United States, and the East Bay
David received his bachelors in music degree with a minor in English from Mount St. Mary’s College. A Who’s Who award in American colleges/ universities, and a Masters degree from Cal State East Bay University in flute performance. His postgraduate work includes a credential in educational leadership and special-education.
“If I can help and motivate students to enjoy music and use it as a tool and ministry to serve, and bring joy to others throughout their childhood and adult lives, then it’s all worth it.”
Tim Bearden, B.A.
Tim graduated from UC Davis with a B.A. in Economics and a minor in History. He has experience in data analytics, as well as over seven years' experience teaching and tutoring. Tim has worked with a broad array of students, from elementary-aged students practicing their reading skills to professionals brushing up on their math to pass professional certification tests. He has a lot of experience working with high school students, and he enjoys working closely with students to tailor his lessons to their specific needs. In his free time, Tim enjoys reading, writing, programming, being outside, and watching the Warriors.
Chris Britton, B.A.
Chris graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz where he received a B.A. in Pure Mathematics. He holds a teaching credential from Dominican University of California and completed his student teaching at Novato Charter School. With a keen interest in helping students with learning differences, Chris worked as a paraprofessional for Healdsburg High School, serving a broad variety of student needs before taking a job at Lindamood Bell. There, he strove to find innovative ways to engage and build confidence in his students. Trained in Lindamood Bell's methodology, he has helped many students with learning differences meet their reading comprehension goals. Chris also tutors with Tutor Corps, providing support for all levels of math, reading and writing, as well as test prep (SAT, SSAT, ISEE, and HSPT), specializing in students with learning differences. In his spare time he enjoys playing piano, reading, and cooking Italian cuisine.
Anschel Burk, B.A.
Anschel Burk received his B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology, with a double minor in Education and Spanish, from Carleton College in 2014. He grew up in the Bay Area, until he left for college. After graduating, he completed two AmeriCorps terms of service. With AmeriCorps, he worked as a College Access Coach and as a Math Teaching Assistant. Anschel taught in the public school system in North Carolina before he moved back to the Bay Area in 2016 to work with students on reading and language comprehension. Anschel loves working with students to integrate their passions into the subjects he teaches, and is looking forward to a great school year!
Christie is a language specialist and passionate tutor for students of all ages. She is a native French and Dutch speaker and moved from Belgium to the United States in 2004. She has a passion for working with individuals who are up for a challenge and has tutored/instructed language classes for French, Dutch, Spanish, German, and American Sign Language (ASL). Christie loves nature, animals, and is passionate about Art History and classical music. She is currently continuing her education at Gallaudet University to study linguistics. Christie holds many certificates for courses, from Study Skills to Differentiated Learning and many subjects in between. Christie shares her home with her husband, two dogs, and three cats.
Michela Di Perri Santo
Michela was born and raised in Sicily, Italy. She received her Masters degree in teaching Italian to foreigners from the Università per Stranieri di Siena, where she also obtained DITALS I and II certification. She has experience with teaching students of all ages. She currently works at the Istituto italiano Scuola in San Francisco where she teaches Italian to adults. Previously she worked at Marin Catholic High School as Italian teacher for the Italian I, II and IV. Her passion for education and shaping the minds of the future generation is immense and she strives to provide her students with a unique perspective on the Italian language and culture to allow them to better apply their learned skills in real world situations.
Jim Fish, M.A.
Recovering from an inability to sit still and be quiet in class, Jim managed to enter University of Florida’s Invitational Honors Program and eventually graduate with a BA. He went on to do lab tech work for USDA and then earned a Primary Certification from the AMI, Montessori’s international organization. Jim mixed teaching in private and public schools with tutoring and subbing as well as jobs for fun, like soda jerk, movie usher, and professional magician. Jim has a Masters in Education from Dominican, and certifications in Math and Science. He prefers working with students one to one, in partnership. He also paints and creates bonsai.
Natalie Focha, B.S.
Natalie is a maker and laboratory researcher turned teacher. After graduating from UCLA with her B.S. in Neuroscience, she worked in research for a few years before moving back to Marin where she taught STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) for four years. She loves to rekindle the curiosity and self-motivation in individuals' by peppering lessons with interesting facts about the material and empowering them through learning strategies and skills tailored towards their learning methods. Outside of teaching, Natalie enjoys fiddling with her 3D printers and laser-cutter, exploring evolution, building her makerspace and discovering new ways to be innately creative.
Eden Frazee, B.A.
Eden Frazee graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz with a BA in the History of Art and Visual Culture in 2015. While in college, she was able to explore her academic love for the arts, writing, and even ecological sustainability, on which she facilitated a student-led course. Eden is deeply curious about alternative forms of education, and has instructed in a variety of environments, including teaching Yoga and Mindfulness, leading classes for grades pre-K-8 at an educational summer camp, and doing private tutoring. She is dedicated to learning from her students, always remaining curious to how they may best grow and face challenges confidently. Her passions include art and creative pursuits, social justice, mental health, mindfulness, and self-expression. When not at school, you can expect Eden to be cooking up a vegan feast, hiking around the hills of the Bay, experimenting with arts and crafts, or exploring local museums and galleries.
Benji Kessler, B.S.
Benji grew up in Albany, California and has loved teaching and learning from a young age. He attended Albany public schools, and majored in Biology with Honors at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Benji nearly finished with his PhD at UC Berkeley, where he studies the behavior and sensory ecology of webless spiders, exploring how they use vision and other senses to find and catch their prey. He believes that 1-to-1 education is the best learning model, and has been tutoring since 2007. Benji enjoys video games, stand up comedy, cooking and eating, and outdoor activities.
Aron Kingsbook, B.S., Science Department Head
Aron was born and raised in Oakland, California. He received his Bachelor of Sciences in Marine Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Since then, he has occupied a variety of educational roles in both outdoor and classroom settings with people of all ages and backgrounds. He has worked as a scientific-diver for NOAA, a kayak guide in Monterey Bay and the San Juan Islands, a professional team-builder for companies in the Silicon Valley, a marine science teacher for middle school and high school students, and most recently, partnering with Americorps to teach math at his old Middle School in Oakland. Aron believes that fostering curiosity and exploration is the best path toward a lifetime of discovery and learning. He enjoys surfing, backpacking, cooking, reading, drawing, guitar and species-identification (especially birding!)
Allison Mages, B.A.
Allie received her B.A. in Psychology from Mills College, where she focused on developmental and cognitive psychology and also enjoyed her studies in math, computer science, and biology. Allie has tutored a wide range of students, from six-year-old English language learners to older adults returning to school at community college. For eight years, Allie worked at Autistry Studios, a therapeutic makerspace and day program, with teens and adults on the autism spectrum as a maker, mentor, and teacher of a wide array of subjects. Allie is passionate about working with individual students to find what works best for them and to help empower them to understand and advocate for themselves. In her spare time, Allie enjoys reading, modern dance, creative writing, games, and hanging out with her cat.
David Maynard, B.A.
After attending a STEM-focused high school in Nashville, David switched gears to the ALPHAS (arts, literature, philosophy, history, anthropology, and semiotics) receiving his B.A. in Classics from Carleton College. His career path has meandered from coffee shops to accounting firms to educational behemoths—working at both Pearson and ACT—but he always returns to teaching and tutoring and now has over twenty years of experience working with students of all ages and backgrounds. As an independent scholar, David has published on satire, finance, and independent filmmaking, and in his free time he plays chess and enjoys the beauty of the Bay Area.
Jennifer Montañez, B.A., English Department Head
Jenny is a Bay Area native who grew up in the beautiful city of Pacifica. After working in cosmetics sales for almost a decade (including 5 years at Sephora as a Fragrance Master and Color Expert) she decided to return to school to study Early Modern European History. Jenny completed her studies at UC Berkeley in 2017 with a B.A. in History. While studying, she tutored and taught English and History, particularly at the college and high school levels, and was integral in piloting the Supplemental Instruction Program at Skyline College. In addition, Jenny participated in the Jump Start program, which helps struggling and/or disadvantaged high school students with mentoring and academic assistance. More recently, she tutored inner city elementary school students with reading and writing through the BUILD Literacy Program at UC Berkeley. She has a passion for working with students and helping them achieve their fullest potential. In her spare time, Jenny enjoys reading Historical fiction (especially if it's about the Tudor Monarchy!), hanging out with her cat Scarlet, freelancing as a makeup artist, and delving into independent research projects.
Kelsey Robinson, B.A.
Kelsey received his B.A. in International Studies with an emphasis on East Asia and has a certificate in Digital Global Studies and Multicultural Studies. Kelsey came to California to pursue his Master's in Asian Pacific Studies at the University of San Francisco. During his undergraduate years, Kelsey learned about different Asian societies and languages, which led him to eventually study abroad in Japan and learn Japanese. In addition to Kelsey’s passion for Asian societies, he has lived in several states and has acquired a love for various activities such as boxing, tennis, reading, drawing, and poetry. Kelsey is looking forward to a wonderful school year.
Alistair Rogers, M.A.
Alistair was born and raised in San Francisco, CA, and enjoyed History from an early age. He earned his B.A. in History from UC Santa Cruz, which included a semester studying at Leiden University in the Netherlands and seeing all the things he was studying firsthand. Alistair earned his M.A. in History from San Francisco State University in 2010, and spent some time teaching at the collegiate level and also taking graduate level coursework in education at UC Santa Cruz. After two years working in the bikeshare world, he is back in education and sharing in his joy for history with students. In his spare time, he enjoys riding his bike around San Francisco, reading history (especially anything by and about Winston Churchill), hiking around the Bay Area, and attending both SF Giants baseball games and Cal football games.
Jill Silveira-Brady, M.A.
Jill earned both her B.A. and M.A. degrees in English Literature from San Francisco State University. Wanting to share her passion for English literature with high school students, she later earned her single subject credential from Sonoma State University. She has taught in various high schools in the Bay Area. As a high school English teacher, Jill came to see that it was quite a challenge to reach each student in the classroom given each student's individual unique learning style. She took courses from The Bay Area Writing Project which instructs teachers on how to teach writing as a way to empower students by arming them with self-confidence. Jill employed these practices and incorporated it into her private tutoring practice, which afforded a collective positive response. Jill comes to Tilden because she believes in the power of individualized learning and she wants to help each student, one by one.
Nestor Teodoro Chavez, B.S., Math Department Head
Marin county native, Nestor Teodoro Chavez is a graduate of the University of California, Merced where he majored in a Computer Science & Engineering and minored in Applied Mathematics. Continuing his pursuit of knowledge and sense of community, Nestor joined a Professional Engineering Fraternity. Here he found his passion for helping others. Nestor was especially involved in UC Merced’s Peer Assisted Learning Support Program, where as a general and advanced mathematics tutor, he tutored college students at varying levels giving him a deepened understanding of personal aspirations and individual learning styles. Nestor often draws upon his training and experience in web design and computer science to present course material from multiple perspectives, tailored to each individual learner. Personal interests include sports, food, fashion, design, and his family and friends.
Katrina Villena, B.A.
Katrina grew up in Anaheim, California and recently moved to the Bay Area. She received her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Sociology from the University of California, Merced in 2017. Katrina has four years of tutoring experience, and has most recently worked as a teacher in a school readiness program in Southern California. She helped coordinate the I CAN READ Literacy Initiative at UC Merced, an after school program which helped teach literacy skills to underserved elementary schools in the Merced area. Her experience in this initiative, as well as her time as a research assistant in the Health Communications and Interventions Lab, inspired Katrina to pursue her passion for education. Katrina loves to learn, is fluent in Spanish, and has studied abroad in London, where she took courses in Anthropology and Archaeology. Her experience studying multiple subjects throughout her academic career created a passion for teaching students in an interdisciplinary manner while bringing new perspectives to English and Spanish courses. In addition to her interest in Language Arts, Katrina has a background in theater and stage production, and will be teaching Theater while at Tilden. Some of Katrina's personal interests include traveling, hiking, baking, painting, and reading.
Kate Williams, B.A.
Kate Williams graduated from UC Berkeley in 2014 with a B.A. in History, focusing on 20th Century Europe. While in college, she taught basic astronomy to children at the Lawrence Hall of Science's planetarium. Kate's experience teaching astronomy helped to stoke a passion for teaching youth. After graduating, she led and developed educational field trips in San Francisco's Presidio and Maritime Park. Kate enjoyed finding creative ways to teach hands-on programs about history, archaeology, poetry, and ecology. Kate is excited to bring her passion for English and History to Tilden! Kate grew up in a small town in California's Central Valley - only an hour away from Yosemite. In her free time, she hikes, listens to podcasts, gardens, and tries to visit every museum in a hundred mile radius.
“Our daughter is a proud graduate of Tilden who went on to UCSC. Tilden is an amazingly well run school brimming with talent and warmth and school spirit! The individualized teaching and daily progress reports take the load off the kids and the parents. It is both a challenging and encouraging environment and the teachers impart really useful skills for the rigors of a UC!”Anne O'Shea, Tilden Parent