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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KAY BACHMAN

Kindergarten 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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SOPHIA ABRAMS

1st & 2nd Grade Teacher

My love for children and teaching goes back as far as I can remember. I have always been drawn to their boundless imaginations, playful spirits, and enthusiasm for the small things in life. Spending my days connecting with them and helping them navigate through challenges and new ideas has been and continues to be my greatest joy.

 

I graduated from San Francisco State University with a BA in Communication Studies and am currently earning my teaching credential through Moreland University. I worked as a Resident Teacher in the New Teacher Institute at Town School for Boys in San Francisco teaching first and third grade before joining Crestmont in 2019. 

 

As a teacher, I feel immensely privileged to have the opportunity to help influence the way my students feel about themselves and each other, both as learners and as people. My hope is that they build confidence in who they are, have an appreciation for each other's differences, and feel excited to come to class each day because they know they will be entering an environment where they will be supported, encouraged, and celebrated for who they are.

 

In my free time I enjoy hanging out at the dog park with my pitbull, Bodhi, exploring new hiking trails, watching movies, and spending time with my family.

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CHRIS RONCAL

1st & 2nd Grade Teacher

This is my 5th year at Crestmont teaching in the elementary grades. I hold an MA in Curriculum & Instruction from University of the Pacific that I earned through the Bay Area Teacher Training Institute (BATTI), an MA in Visual Studies from UC-Irvine, and a BA from Rice University with a double major in English and Art History. Teaching calls me to actively participate in building the skills and talents of our next generation of changemakers. My hope for my students is that they grow into lifelong learners who have the self-reflective lenses necessary to see their own power, the imaginations to envision improvements in their communities, and the grit to carry out their designs and plans. And I want them to start that work ASAP.

 When I am not teaching at Crestmont, I like to spend time exploring textile design through knitting, weaving, spinning, and dyeing as well as wandering the streets and hills of the East Bay on urban hikes with my partner Michael.

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LEILA ZAREMBA

3rd & 4th grade Teacher, Lead 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 11th year at Crestmont and my 21st year as a teacher! 

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AMY KUBES

3rd & 4th 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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LISA HAYLE

Lead Middle School 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.

BETH TOUCHETTE

K-8 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 fourth 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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VIDA BATEAU

K-8 Music Teacher

I have over 50 years of teaching experience with every age group in classrooms, private,

and group lessons, including 7 years at Crestmont and 28 years at Beacon Day School. I

have a BA from Boston University and a credential from Orff-Schulwerk. I love music and I

love kids. I love setting up situations in which kids get to be creative and playful. My goals

are that every person feels comfortable playing, singing, and dancing, and can experience

the magical, deep connections that music brings.

 

When I’m not teaching, I like to hang out with my family, play my saxophone, garden, practice yoga, swim, hike, read, and cook.

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ZORA RASKIN

1st & 2nd Classroom Aid and After School Teacher

Zora Raskin is a teacher's assistant in 1st and 2nd grade. They have worked at Crestmont for 6 years, and are currently getting their masters and credential in special education. Zora enjoys weaving, making prints, and lounging in their down time. They love working at Crestmont because of the loving community and the emphasis on creativity and critical thinking.

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LANETTE VONGPHOUTHONE

Kindergaten Classroom Aid and After School Teacher

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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ROSA 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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MICHAEL LEWIS SIMPSON

K-8 Physical Education Teacher

Known as “Mr. Michael” at Crestmont, I’m going on my 12th 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-7 Art and Middle School Spanish 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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KOICHIRO NISHIMURA

Middle School Math 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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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

Coming Soon

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.

EMILY BOLT

President

Coming Soon

SHINWHA WHANG

Director-at-Large

This is our family's second year at Crestmont. This is a community where our son is not only supported and embraced for who he is, but where we as parents are also supported.  I am a Bay Area native and have had a motley career in the nonprofit/public sector. Most recently, I taught cooking to kids in aftercare programs. My partner Leon and I live in Richmond with our Crestmont first grader and one-year-old. We have a heart for social justice and seek ways to serve and build up our community. I love to take road trips, read, and hike the East Bay hills with my family. 

CHAMIA L. CHAMBERS

Vice President

Coming Soon

DAVID BRODY

Treasurer

I have been a Crestmont parent for 3 years, and have 2 children, Simon (2nd), and Benji (K) at the school. I joined the board as Treasurer to help focus on the longer-term financial stability of Crestmont. Our family loves being a part of the wonderful Crestmont community, which is truly cooperative, compassionate, and thoughtful. My outside interests include cooking, playing tennis, and reading.

DAVID ZIMRING

Secretary

My daughter Hannah is in Chris’ Second Grade Class.  I work as a History Professor at Diablo Valley College and as a full-time stay-at-home dad. I am also a huge Civil War buff, which is my field of study, and I have given presentations about life as a Civil War soldier, including with my own Union army uniform and equipment.  It is a privilege to be part of the Crestmont community and I plan to continue contributing to the growth of the community as part of the Board for years to come.

KATIE FLYNN

Development

I am mom to Harper (second grade) and Robby (a soon-to-be kindergartner). As Development Chair on the Board, I advise on broad strategies regarding fundraising, admissions, marketing and other advancement initiatives. We love Crestmont's focus on kindness, social justice, differentiated learning, its warm and creative environment, and especially its friendly and engaged families. Both my husband and I were born and raised in the East Bay, and after spending many years exploring other cities, we now live two blocks from where I grew up in Richmond (which keeps both our kids and our parents very happy). During the week, I work as an attorney for the federal government. On the weekend (when not in a pandemic), we spend a lot of time with friends and family.