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.
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.
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.
Kindergarten and First Grade Teacher
I completed my BA in Child Development and Urban Education at Mills College in Oakland and
continued my education at Mills to complete my MA in Educational Leadership. During my work
and at Mills I completed my credential requirements by teaching at the Mills College Children’s
Laboratory School in the 2nd/3rd grade classroom. After my time at Mills I began working for
Oakland Unified School District as an Instructional Support Specialist, teaching in a multi grade
special education classroom. I completed a fellowship with Peralta Community College to
continue my work creating curriculum and began teaching curriculum and instruction to student
teachers at Touro University, where I still teach. I am so passionate about education and am
thrilled to be able to teach in a community that brings me joy.
When I am not at Crestmont, I am most happy at home in San Pablo, usually fretting over a
sourdough starter that won't rise. I love spending time with my husband, Mario and kids
Sebastian, Rory and Lucas - Dog, Cat and Chickens.. I have kept up with my pandemic hobby
gardening and am currently working on a greenhouse project, which will be finished one day!
I care deeply about the lives of children and am committed to educational practices which center
children's experiences. I am excited to bring my experience and perspective to Crestmont
School and continue to be apart of an amazing community.
Second and Third 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.
Fourth and Fifth 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 14th year at Crestmont and my 23rd year as a teacher!
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.
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.
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.
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.
K-8th Grade Art Teacher & 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.
Kindergarten and First 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.
Second-Fifth Grade Classroom Assistant
Hello Crestmont! My name is Yesenia and my pronouns are she/her/ hers. I am very grateful to be working with your children this year. As this is my second year on Crestmont staff I could not be happier to see everyone's wonderful faces again. In the previous year, I was working on completing my BA in Liberal Studies and graduated last fall with plans on becoming a teacher. With the help of your children and this community, I am proud to say that over the summer I was accepted into a Masters of Education and credential program at Holy Names University. This community radiates a light that makes other struggles in life seem easier to manage. I have often said that Crestmont rubs a little bit of magic off anyone who joins its community and I believe that to be true. 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. While I'm not on campus I'm developing my love for the world and its many different cultures through art, cooking, and hiking.
I am an Educational Therapist at the Professional Level of certification (ET/P) living and working in the Bay Area in California. I have been practicing Educational Therapy since 2010, and support a diverse caseload of students who struggle with reading, writing, spelling, math, and executive functioning. I also work with students in their second languages, including Spanish, French, and Mandarin Chinese. My current fascination/passion is with how and why dyslexia shows up in multiple languages and in different orthographies (spelling systems). My greatest joys are my own two adult children, the creativity of the Educational Therapy field, and the intellectual challenges that arise from my practice.
After Care Teacher
I was born and raised in Berkeley. I've always been a thoughtful person, but my degree in philosophy aided me in comprehending and contemplating the beautiful world and unique people around me. This is beneficial to my role because I strive to positively impact the young people I work with while also working to give them space to use their bring minds and kind hearts.
After Care Teacher
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!
Administrative Assistant and Admissions Director
I was born and raised in France, in the Loire Valley. I’ve lived in California for the last 24 years with my husband. I was the Afterschool Director at Windrush School in El Cerrito for 8 years and a substitute teacher for grades K through 8th on and off for Crestmont and other local private schools for the last several years. I love building things with wood, mostly outdoor furniture and almost always with salvaged wood and other materials, cooking, baking, sewing projects and I do a lot of photography both digital and film.
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.