STAFF & BOARD

At Crestmont, recruiting and retaining creative and experienced staff who are committed to Crestmont’s core values and best practices are among our top priorities. We are fortunate to have talented and dedicated educators who think deeply about diversity and anti-bias, who are eager to dive deep into the research behind the best teaching practices, who design engaging lessons in all content areas and who open up a world of new experiences to our students.

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DIANNE DRISCOLL

Head of School

I have over 30 years of experience as a former elementary school division head, academic program director and classroom teacher. After obtaining both my BA in Liberal Arts and my teaching credential from San Francisco State University, I held teaching positions at public alternative and arts schools in San Francisco’s Western Addition and Bayview/Hunters Point neighborhoods.  When I moved to the East Bay in 2000, I began teaching at an independent school. I understand the importance of cultivating a learning environment where children can thrive, think critically, act with compassion, and grow into the type of engaged and empathetic citizens that we hope to have in our community. I believe in supporting Crestmont’s unique and collaborative school environment which allows our educators to create an innovative curriculum and teach using the progressive practices that best serve our students. When I’m not working, you can find me hiking, dancing Salsa, or creating art and functional ceramics.

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SHAKIRA KING

Finances and Human Resources Director

I earned my BA in Business with a focus on Fashion Merchandising from Lasell College in Newton, MA. My Master’s Degree is in Administration, Policy and Planning with a focus on Higher Education Administration from Boston University in Boston, MA. I’ve spent most of my career working in Higher Education, operating student residential life programs at a variety of Colleges and Universities. After my work as a school administrator, I owned and operated my own fitness franchise for over 5 years and as an adjunct professor teaching professional development to finance students at Northeastern University.  I’m not a classroom teacher per se, but I have always loved the academic environment. I love the new energy that comes with the start of a new school year. I love getting to know a new group of students and watching the returning students evolve as they mature with the start of every year. 

When I’m not working I enjoy family time with my trio of kids and my husband. I also love scrapbooking, HGTV, and reading my never-ending supply of classic and new high drama novels.

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JONNY TRINIDAD
Kindergarten Teacher

Jonny has been teaching for 24 years as an Early Childhood Educator. He has a BA in Psychology, a Masters in Early Childhood Education, and a Masters in Teaching and Learning Technology. Jonny has spent the last few years teaching Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten and is very familiar with Kindergarten readiness academically and socio-emotionally.  He has spent the last ten years of his career learning new teaching methodologies and understanding how to make the classroom learning environment more mindful, anti-racist, respectful, and fun for every child who walks through the doors.

 

 As an educator, it’s Jonny’s goal to provide the following foundations in his classroom: mindfulness, respect, kindness, understanding, patience, nurturing, and love. He creates an overall environment where his students can call their classroom a safe space and a home.  

 

When he’s not teaching, Jonny loves spending time at home in Vallejo with his wife Jerodelle and his puppy Gizmo and taking road trips (when things open again). Jonny and Jerodelle also love good food, so they are always looking for new places to try. He’s originally from South Carolina, so he loves Southern BBQ!  Jonny hosts a live podcast called, The Rad Show on Instagram, where he interviews children’s book authors and illustrators. 

 

“I’m excited to be joining Crestmont!  I hope to learn as much as I can from the kids and the other Crestmont staff. My goal is to make the learning fun, engaging, and memorable. I’m looking forward to meeting all the families, kids, and staff!”

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KAY BACHMAN
1st Grade Teacher

I have been teaching children in some form for over 13 years. I started out teaching multi-media dance performance, creative dance, gymnastics, yoga and PE. I hold a teaching credential from Holy Names University, and a Masters in Transformative Arts from John F. Kennedy University. I have been teaching kindergarten for over 7 years. 

I am passionate about embodied interpersonal technologies that promote empathy and wellness on both an individual and global level. I have been a student of Compassionate Communication (Non-Violent Communication) for over 20 years and have been teaching children how to solve their friendship problems with words for over 10 years.

My life is deeply enriched by the aliveness I experience engaging with the creative challenge of making learning fun; it’s an odd day in Crestmont Kindergarten if there’s not a puppet visitor, a messy art project, or multi-sensory learning happening. I love to dance, and have devoted myself to many beloved forms: Contact Improv, West African, Hip-Hop, as well as more inner-directed movement practices such as Soul Motion. These all continuously inspire my teaching.

 

When I am not working to provide the most heartfelt, embodied, research-based pedagogy that I can, I am probably dancing, hiking, reading, or spending time with friends. I also love to boogie board, backpack, practice aikido, and listen to podcasts. You might also find me geeking out on all things space related. I enjoy contemplating the Cosmos and the vastness of space, and I’m ceaselessly intrigued by the ever-shifting boundaries of human knowledge about our Universe, both scientific and indigenous.

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AMY KUBES
2nd & 3rd Grade Teacher

I completed a BA in Fine Art and Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts at Boston and a MFA in photography at Mass College of Art. I started teaching following my graduate degree in 1995 and have been working in education ever since. I first taught art at a private 5th-12th grade school outside of Boston and then moved to UC Berkeley when I came out west in 1998. 

 

My years at Crestmont began when my son entered the Kindergarten class in 2007. I was hired as a teaching assistant and lunch supervisor at the end of his Kinder year and have been at this wonderful school ever since. In my fourteen years at Crestmont, I’ve had the pleasure of working in some capacity with students from every grade, either as their art teacher, assistant teacher, or lead teacher in their classroom. My Crestmont students are among the most authentic and engaging people I know. It is a pleasure to spend my days in their company, as we work through the curriculum and the trials and joys of being a young person in our increasingly complex world. 

 

When I’m not at Crestmont, I spend time working in my garden, reading, hiking, and playing tennis. I love to travel, take photographs, and think about what colors things should be.

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LEILA ZAREMBA
4th & 5th Grade Teacher

After receiving a BA in Theater from UC Santa Cruz, I began teaching at Alum Rock Union School District in San Jose. During my ten years there, I earned my Multiple Subject Credential from National Hispanic University while getting experience in both Middle School and Elementary grade levels. However, I spent most of my time there in 3rd and 4th-grade classes. When I got pregnant with my first child, I moved to Berkeley and took a year off from teaching. I was thrilled to discover Crestmont School when I returned to work. I also spent many summers as a math, writing, and literature teacher at The Partners Program, an academic summer program for Oakland public middle school students. This will be my 12th year at Crestmont and my 21st year as a teacher! 

BETH TOUCHETTE
K-5th Grade Science Teacher

I majored in Environmental Sciences at UC Berkeley (Go Bears!). Then I obtained my teaching credentials in both Life and Physical Science, as well as an MA in Education. I taught high school biology and chemistry in San Francisco and Marin County for ten years.  When I had children of my own, I started volunteering to enrich the elementary science program, as well as creating my own afterschool science classes. After taking several classes in early childhood development and elementary education, I moved my professional focus to younger learners.

This is my fifth year at Crestmont School. I want my students to be as invigorated by the natural world and elegance of scientific thinking as much as I am. The excitement that my students express lights up my day. I love seeing the world through the fresh eyes of young children. I like to hike with my dog,  kayak, travel and write when I’m not teaching. My personal essays have appeared on KQED Perspectives, The Bark Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, and elsewhere.

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LISA HAYLE
Middle School Humanities Teacher

I consider it an honor to be in the company of children; I learn from them daily. Most of my almost two decades of teaching experience is with 10 - 14 year olds because they are a fascinating blend of innocent and sassy. Maybe I click with them because part of me hasn’t matured past the age of twelve! I have a BFA in Visual Arts, a MEd in Education, but the most important parts of teaching I learned from the students themselves. I’ve had the pleasure of shaping Live Oak School’s middle school, working at the now defunct Windrush School, developing East Bay School for Boys’ early language arts program, and now find myself happily co-creating Crestmont’s middle school. When I am not in the classroom I enjoy biking, hiking with dogs, writing fiction, and writing and performing music.

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KOICHIRO NISHIMURA
Middle School Math & Science Teacher

I am a Bay Area native and received my undergrad from San Francisco State University, my Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from Brandman University (formerly Chapman), and am currently attending UC Berkeley Extension to attain my certification in Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counseling. I have been teaching since 2007, and the vast majority of my experience has been with the Oakland Unified School District. Prior to my career with OUSD, I taught ESL to adults.

 

I joined the Crestmont Community in November 2020. It is far more nurturing than any environment I have ever been a part of! My favorite elements about Crestmont are the extremely low teacher to student ratio, which enables us to initiate, develop, and maintain meaningful relationships, and my ability to design the Science curriculum.

 

I am an accomplished world traveler. My favorite places include Ueno, Tokyo (they have pandas), Ljubljana, Slovenia (they have dragons), and Chiang Mai, Thailand (it's fun to ride motorbikes into the forests.) I also like Japanimation/ manga, and have worked as a freelance translator in the past.

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DIANNE HURVITZ
K-8th Grade Music Teacher

I am thrilled to be joining the Crestmont community!  While I’m a New England native, I have lived and taught in the midwest, the Rockies, and the northeast. I’m now having a wonderful time settling here in California. 

 

After earning a BA in music from Oberlin College, where I played any and all musical instruments I could get my hands on, I spent time in the worlds of musical theater production and filmmaking.  A love of working with students from skiing to conducting the local town band inspired me to return to Oberlin and earn a Master’s in Education.  

I began my classroom teaching experience 13 years ago as a kindergarten teacher in Boston, MA. I was then able to combine my love of teaching and music as the founding music teacher for a K-8 charter school.  I was drawn to the Bay Area by friends and family and the opportunity to help build the Khan Lab School as the music and wellness teacher. 

 

Currently, I am the day camp director for Project Ember, where campers learn to build giant interactive art projects using power tools. I am passionate about coaching students to embrace their curiosity, wonder, and imagination and foster a lifelong love of learning.  
 

Occasionally I dream of running away to join the circus, but for now, my training on the trapeze and time spent on a unicycle are hobbies. I’m also particularly fond of traveling and the darkest of dark chocolates.

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MICHAEL LEWIS SIMPSON
K-8th Grade Physical Education Teacher

Known as “Mr. Michael” at Crestmont, I’m going on my 13th year as a Physical Education Teacher and have 20 years of teaching experience with a BS in Exercise Physiology from California State University. I’m a certified member of several professional organizations including the American Council of Exercise (ACE), International Dance and Exercise Association (IDEA), and I’m a Certified Fitness Trainer. I’m a member in good standing with California Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (CAHPERD).

I embarked on my teaching career as a presenter and teacher of the “Joy of Sports” teaching model. I strive to make PE inclusive and FUN for all students and believe that through physical play students can develop successful life skills such as concentration, cooperation, self-esteem, imagination, relaxation, and conflict resolution skills. As a PE teacher, I provide a safe environment for children to work on their skills and develop socially as well as develop physically active lifestyles. When I’m not teaching PE classes, I enjoy playing USTA competitive tennis, traveling, cooking and spending time with my wife Jenneke and our two children Noah and Maya.

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ELI REYES
K-8th Grade Art Teacher

Eli Reyes is a mixed media visual artist born and raised in the Central Valley. She is the daughter of immigrant farm laborers. Her focus is reinterpreting and applying Mexican folk art practices into contemporary contexts to create modern folklore in an exploration of identity, family, community, politics, and culture. Her primary mediums are quilting, embroidery, papier-mache, music, and performance. She teaches children how to tell their own stories through visual mediums introducing art techniques and taking advantage of art’s therapeutic benefits.

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LEILA HALSBAND
K-8th Spanish Teacher

I was born in Argentina and lived there for 27 years, so I speak native Spanish with a “rioplatense” accent (it sounds a little bit like Italian!). I love to learn new languages to understand other cultures, so I also studied Portuguese and some Mandarin, ASL, French and Hebrew. I studied Psychology (BA+MA) and three years of Anthropology at Universidad de Buenos Aires. 

 

I recently started writing and I’ve been published in an Argentinian Magazine. I also love to dance, to draw, to learn everything and anything, and to be silly. 

I think (and research shows) people need to feel safe and contained to be able to learn, and I think it’s easier to learn if you make it fun, so that’s what I plan to do en mis clases!

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LANETTE VONGPHOUTHONE
1st Grade Classroom Assistant

I was born and raised in the Bay Area and attended Contra Costa College and San Jose State University to complete my General Studies. I received my nursing certification and soon after started working as a Medical Technician and then in Hospice Care. Although I worked in the medical field my heart was always in teaching and school settings.

In 2015 I started volunteering at Crestmont as a PIC (Parent in the Classroom) when my daughter started Kindergarten at Crestmont. Currently, I’m the Kindergarten Aide, Morning and After Care Team Member at Crestmont. I love assisting in the Kindergarten class. Knowing that I am playing a role in their life is a great feeling. While I’m not at Crestmont I love spending time with my daughter, who is a current Crestmont student, my husband, and my French Bulldog Montana. I love crafting, crocheting, going on adventures with family and friends and watching movies. 

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YESENIA GARCIA
2nd-5th Grade Classroom Assistant

Hello Crestmont! I’m so excited to be welcomed into your school community. I am currently a senior at California State Monterey Bay, home of the Otters! I’m set to graduate this fall with a BA degree in Liberal Studies and a minor in Global Studies. Soon after, I’m planning to gain my credentials to teach in a classroom of my own. Born in the Bay Area and raised in Richmond, I understand how a school community can act as a family that propels students towards higher education and teaches them the importance and beauty of diversity. 

 When I decided to pursue teaching, I knew that I wanted to provide worldly knowledge, encourage curiosity for learning about different cultures, and, most importantly, have fun. To be kind, curious, courageous, and outrageous is the mission I hope to give my future students. As a teaching aide, I am excited to learn from the wonderful staff and students at Crestmont.

For 3 years, I lived outside of the Bay Area and developed my love for the Latinx arts, hiking, and marine wildlife thanks to the community out in Monterey. Outside of school, I enjoy painting, dancing, and spending time with my family.

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ROSA MARINA HUEZO
Learning Specialist

I have a Masters in Special Education from San Francisco State University. I have worked with students in both public and independent schools for over a decade as a bilingual Learning and Education Specialist.

 

I was born and raised in Southern California. I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2007. I believe that all children can learn and thrive when provided with compassion and support. As an educator, I believe that in order for students to succeed, they must understand their unique learner profile. This helps students build on their strengths which in turn helps them tackle their areas of growth. Establishing a relationship of trust and respect, I hope to help students develop self-advocacy skills that persist throughout their educational journey and beyond. 

During my free time, I roller skate, ride my bike, read, watch films, and spend time with friends and family.

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AIMAN KHAN

Student Care Support

I’m currently a student at SFSU. I was born and raised in Berkeley, have big love for the Bay Area, and am the youngest of four siblings. I enjoy all kinds of arts, especially literature, and my favorite  color is grey.

 

I enjoy working with Crestmont at a young age because it’s been easier to connect with the students! Though I tend to be more on the quiet side, being with the kids feels fun and natural. Feel free to ask me questions, and don’t hesitate to approach me!

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ATIYA KHAN
Student Care Support

I have a master’s degree in social work, and in Pakistan I was a teacher for children with special needs. I’ve worked for thirteen years in Berkeley/Albany Child Development Center, YMCA. I thank God for providing me with a job that I get so much fulfillment and happiness from. I have recently completed my first year with Crestmont and I look forward to being in the role of an educator with this community!

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KAMAU CARTER
Student Care Support

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STAFF 

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Crestmont is run by a Board of Directors comprised of elected members from our cooperative that are either family or staff. Our strategic board focuses on work that is outside of the scope of member work requirements, such as long-term planning, financial stability, and adherence to Crestmont’s mission statement. Crestmont’s Board consists of 5 Board Member positions: President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Development plus 4 additional Director-at-Large positions for members and/or non-members of the school co-op. For more information about our governance, please visit our Community and Co-op Page.

JENNIFER BELL
President

ALISON SANDERS
Treasurer

CHRIS ALLEN
Director-at-Large

TARA CANTU
Vice President

CHAMIA CHAMBER
Director-at-Large

DEB DANZINGER
Director-at-Large
 

DAVID ZIMRING
Secretary

TAUNYA BLACK
Director-at-Large