OUR FACULTY & ADMINISTRATION
Black Pine Circle School Faculty and Staff 2012-2013
To send an email to a staff member place the first letter of his/her first name in front of his/her last name followed by @blackpinecircle.org
For example, Ms. Sally Garner’s email address would be email@example.com
Lower School Teaching Staff
Romina Ronquillo is the Kindergarten Head Teacher. Ms. Ronquillo received her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from Holy Names University, and a B.A. in Liberal Studies with a minor in Children’s Theater and Dance from Cal State East Bay. Ms. Ronquillo has had training in both early childhood development and in theater and creative dance for children. Besides teaching, dancing is her passion in life, and she’s an active performer in various East Bay community theaters. She is also a choreographer for children’s musical theater. Ms. Ronquillo joined the Black Pine Circle School faculty in 2000.
Leila Sinclaire joins Black Pine Circle School as First Grade Head Teacher. Leila received her Bachelor’s Degree from Stanford in English, her first MA from University of Montana in Integrated Arts Education with an emphasis on Multiple Intelligences, her second MA in Education from Teachers College at Columbia University, and has also studied in Oxford, England, and Bodh Gaya, India. Ms. Sinclaire has taught Kindergarten, Second Grade, Fourth Grade, and Seventh Grade at Prospect Sierra School, Poetry at Julia Morgan School for Girls, and Eighth Grade at the renowned Little Red School House in New York. Leila enjoys writing, travel, exercise and spending quality time with her husband and two young children.
Kathrine LaFleur returned to Black Pine Circle School in 2009 as the Second Grade Head Teacher, after previously teaching Kindergarten here for many years. She received her B.A. in Psychology from Bryn Mawr College and completed her Teaching Credential at Holy Names University. Before returning to Black Pine Circle, Ms. LaFleur was teaching at Tehiyah Day School. Her goal as a teacher is to build a cooperative classroom in which creativity and confidence abound. In the summer of 2010, she published her first young adult novel, The Elephant Girl, which was followed in 2011 by The Stomp Away Queen. She is currently working on her third book. Other interests include dancing, dining, and the pursuit of tranquility.
Maureen Ray is our Third Grade Head Teacher. An East Bay native, she received her B.A. from U.C. San Diego and her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and Master’s degree from UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. She taught 5th grade at 118th Street School in South Central Los Angeles before moving back home to teach 3rd – 6th grades in Hayward. Ms. Ray spends most of her free time at the Contra Costa Civic Theatre in El Cerrito, where she directs “Live at CCCT’s Summer Drama Camp,” and serves on both the Artistic Advisory Committee and the Board of Directors. Occasionally, she even makes her way back onto the stage herself! Ms. Ray joined Black Pine Circle in 2009.
Diane Schon Wirtschafter is the Fourth Grade Head Teacher. Diane has taught for 24 years in both public and private elementary schools, including eleven years at Tehiyah Day School in El Cerrito. She studied Psychology at Barnard College in New York City and earned her M.A. in Education at Bank Street College of Education and at the University of Minnesota. Diane twice won the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics Education at the state level. Music is an integral part of Diane’s life, and she has sung with washboard bands, klezmer bands and students. Diane joined Black Pine Circle in 2010.
Tim Ogburn is the Fifth Grade Head Teacher and Socratic Fellow for Black Pine Circle. Mr. Ogburn graduated from the University of Colorado with a B.A. in English and History. He received his M.A. in Education from the University of Colorado. In 2006-2007 he taught Advanced Placement History at Archbishop Riordan High School in San Francisco. Prior to that, Mr. Ogburn served as Black Pine Circle School’s Upper School Head and Upper School History Teacher, beginning his tenure here in 1999. Mr. Ogburn has also taught 7th and 8th grade at St. Leo the Great School in Oakland, and spent six years at Bridgemont High School, where he also served as Director of Student Relations and Athletic Director. In the summer of 2010, Mr. Ogburn attended a seminar at Yale University on the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
Lower School Specialist Teachers and Teaching Assistants
Vera Balarin joined Black Pine Circle School in 2009 as the Math Specialist for the Lower School. Vera has a degree in Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science from the University of Zagreb in Croatia. Vera has more than ten years of experience teaching elementary school mathematics as a classroom teacher as well as a math club and workshop leader. She also teaches math and science in the fourth and fifth grades at Berkwood Hedge School in Berkeley.
Barbara Banez is the Third Grade Teaching Assistant. Mrs. Banez, parent of a graduated Black Pine Circle School student, was an assistant teacher as well as Art teacher in grades K-4th at St. Theresa School in Oakland for the five years prior to joining Black Pine Circle School. Mrs. Banez teaches a 3D Art class as part of our after-school clubs program.
Sue Bechtel is the Master Teacher at Large. Ms. Bechtel formerly our First Grade Head Teacher, graduated cum laude with a B.S. in Elementary Education from Miami University of Ohio. She later received a Master’s degree with honors from San Francisco State University, where, for her thesis, she created and directed an Early Childhood Education Program for a parent co-operative in El Cerrito. Her twenty-nine year teaching career includes two years in Melbourne, Australia, three years in a rural New Hampshire town, where she was a researcher for a federal grant, vice-president of the local chapter of the National Education Association, school representative to the regional staff development committee, and served on the school committee to revise the language arts curriculum. After moving to San Francisco, she taught for one year at the Kittredge School and for three years at the Katherine Delmar Burke School, where she chaired the lower school Math curriculum committee. She is the mother of two grown sons, both graduates of Black Pine Circle School. This is Ms. Bechtel’s 21st year at Black Pine Circle School.
Cheryl Burger teaches Spanish to K-4th grade. Señora Burger graduated from the University of New Hampshire, receiving her B.S. in Communication Disorders, with concentrations in Spanish and Linguistics. She also spent a semester studying at the University of Granada in Spain. She joined the BPC faculty in 2000, and for three years worked as the Third Grade Teaching Assistant, Lower School Librarian, Upper School Athletic Director, and Basketball and Volleyball Coach. Señora B. spent the 2003-2004 school year in Huanchaco, Peru, where she teamed with a local family to start a surfing school and restaurant for visiting tourists and also taught English at a Language Institute in the city of Trujillo. Upon her return from South America, she went back to her home state of Maine, where she taught Spanish classes at Falmouth High School and Freeport Middle School. She has been back at Black Pine Circle School teaching Spanish since 2005, including Seventh and Eighth Grade Spanish for three years. Señora B. likes to spend her free time cooking and enjoying the outdoors with her husband and daughter.
Kira Del Mar is the Fourth Grade Teaching Assistant, and also assists with Seventh & Eighth Grade English. Ms. Del Mar received her B.A. in History from Pomona College, and her M.Phil. in Early Modern History from Cambridge University. During her time away from school, she loves to paint, read, and garden. She’s looking forward to writing her third novel this November, during National Novel Writing Month. Ms. Del Mar joined the Black Pine Circle School faculty in 2008.
Michael Feferman is the Lower School Physical Education teacher. Mr. Feferman received his B.A. in Physical Education from the Belorussian University of Sports Education. In Belarus, he worked as a camp supervisor and coach for the Belorussian Sports Camp, and served as Senior Wrestling Coach for the Belorussian Olympic School for Youth. Since coming to America, he has worked for the YMCA in Oakland as a soccer coach, and was an assistant coach at the Golden Gate Wrestling Club. He served for four years as P.E. teacher and Head Soccer Coach (K-12) in the Poplar Bluff Public School District, Missouri. Mr. Feferman joined Black Pine Circle School in 2000.
Micaela (Mickie) Garcia is the Second Grade Teaching Assistant and continues to work in the Extended Daycare Program. Ms. Mickie earned her B.A. in English, focusing on African American Literature, as well as a minor in Education from U.C. Berkeley in 2008. Ms. Mickie has worked with various students since 2004 as a Tutor, Literacy Instructor, ESL Aid and Childcare Assistant. Ms. Mickie spends her Saturdays working with children 4-11 years old as part of the Childcare Staff at one of Berkeley’s Jewish temples. She spends her Sundays working with toddlers, ages 18 months to 3 years, as part of the Childcare Staff in Berkeley and Rockridge churches. Ms. Mickie enjoys reading, completing jigsaw puzzles, and running. She is currently training for her second half marathon and hoping to beat her previous time of 1 hr. and 50 min. Ms. Mickie joined Black Pine Circle School in 2008.
Lesley Jones is the Fifh Grade Teaching Assistant and Director of Communications. She comes to us from England with a B.A. in English Language and Literature, and a Secondary Education Teaching Credential in English, with several years teaching English, Drama and Communication Studies to middle and high school children in Bristol, U.K. Prior to becoming a mom, she worked in the East Bay for ten years in the weekly alternative newspaper industry in sales, marketing and management, becoming Publisher of the East Bay Express in 2001, and then General Manager of Marin’s Pacific Sun newspaper in 2002. Her daughter is a Black Pine Circle School student. Ms. Jones joined Black Pine Circle School in 2008.
Kim Livingston is the Kindergarten-Fourth Grade Art teacher and also assists in the Fifth and Sixth Grade art classes. Ms. Kim attended U.C. Santa Cruz and graduated from the University of Oregon with a B.A. in Fine Art. She also spent two quarters studying in Sienna and Macerata, Italy. Her interests in early childhood education and the arts have taken her on a number of exciting adventures. She taught arts and crafts in an English day camp in Queretaro, Mexico, assisted in a Waldorf First Grade classroom in Christchurch, New Zealand, and presented at the Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education Conference also in New Zealand. She taught clowning in a summer program for talented and gifted children in Eugene, Oregon, as well as here at Black Pine Circle School’s Summer School. Ms. Kim was the Kindergarten Teaching Assistant at Black Pine Circle School for four years before moving into the full-time role of Lower School Art teacher. She holds an Arts Integration Specialist Certificate from California College of Art’s teaching institute and she is currently pursuing a M.A. in Education with a focus on Social Justice and Equity & Art Education at San Francisco State University. Ms. Kim joined the Black Pine Circle School faculty in 2002.
Anne Monk is our Kindergarten-Fifth Grade Science Specialist. Ms. Monk received her B.S. from U.C. Berkeley and is a Bay Area native where, for the last 25 years, she has shared her fascination with nature with students of all ages as well as leading teacher training programs for Mills College, U.C. Berkeley, S.F. Unified School District and the California Science Teachers’ Association. Prior to her arrival at Black Pine Circle, Ms. Monk was the Fifth and Sixth Grade Science Specialist at the Katherine Delmar Burke School in San Francisco where she developed a K-8 Science Curriculum Scope and Sequence, and organized the Sixth Grade Outdoor Education program. Ms. Monk has developed web-based and written teaching materials on geology, fossils and the evolution of life for U.C. Berkeley’s Museum of Paleontology, the Digital Library for Earth System Education, and WestEd. She has also led programs at Audubon Canyon Ranch, the California Academy of Sciences, the Lindsay Museum, and Marine World. Ms. Monk joined Black Pine Circle in 2011.
Mary Ann Opet is the First Grade Teaching Assistant. Ms. Opet is a fully qualified teacher with more than twenty-four years of teaching experience in the classroom. Twenty of these years have been with Black Pine Circle School as a Teaching Assistant. Her teaching career has spanned Kindergarten – Third Grade in the states of Maryland, Hawaii, and California. She received her B.S. in Elementary Education with a minor in Social Studies from College Misericordia in Dallas, Pennsylvania.
Alex Ray is the Lower School Physical Education Assistant. He also assists in the Extended Daycare Program. Born and raised in the East Bay, Mr. Ray has a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications from Cal State East Bay. He taught Martial Arts for seven years at the Cal-West Karate School in Richmond and has, for many years, assisted with the Children’s Programs at the Contra Costa Civic Theatre in El Cerrito. Mr. Ray joined Black Pine Circle School in 2011.
Ashley Wiggins is the Kindergarten Teaching Assistant. Ashley graduated from Clemson University with a B.A. in Elementary Education. After graduation she taught second grade for three years as the head teacher. Originally from the beautiful coast of Charleston, SC, she moved to San Francisco, CA, for the summer and liked it so much, she never left! She joined Black Pine Circle last year as the First Grade Assistant and fell in love with the school and community.
Black Pine Circle School Upper School Teaching Staff
Vince Apple-Chiarella is our Upper School P.E. Teacher. Coach Vince, as his players and students through the years have called him, has extensive experience in youth athletics. He has coached youth soccer, basketball, volleyball, baseball, and golf. Prior to his time here, he ran junior golf tournaments in his home state of Hawaii. Coach Vince earned his B.A. in Communications with a minor in Japanese Language and Culture from the University of San Francisco in 2005. In his time off he enjoys golf, soccer, and Disneyland. Coach Vince joined Black Pine Circle in 2008.
Christine Chun teaches English to the Seventh and Eighth Grades. Ms. Chun is the advisor for the Student Diversity Committee, Yearbook, and Gaming Club. After receiving her B.A. in English and Certification in Secondary Education at the University of Maryland, Ms. Chun entered the Ph.D program in English at U.C. Berkeley and received her M.A. in 2004. She spends summers teaching writing for the Academic Talent and Development Program through U.C. Berkeley’s Education Department. She has also enjoyed instructing young people in ceramics, acrobatics and trapeze, as well as other aerial arts. Ms. Chun’s favorite hobbies include travel, photography, contortion, and felting. Ms. Chun joined the Black Pine Circle School staff in 2004.
Kieren Dutcher teaches Fifth-Eighth Grade Art. She has taught art at Bentley School, East Bay School of the Arts, and Berkeley Arts Magnet School. Ms. Dutcher has a B.F.A. in Graphic Design from the California College of Arts, and a Teaching Credential from San Francisco State University, where she is currently working on an M.A. in Art Education. She is also an illustrator, with her first book, Chinese and English Nursery Rhymes, published in collaboration with Black Pine Circle School’s, Faye Wu, in April 2010. Her artwork is exhibited frequently in the Bay Area. Ms. Dutcher joined the Black Pine Circle School staff in 1997 and is the parent of two BPC graduates.
Anatoliy Gulimovskiy teaches Seventh and Eighth Grade Math and coaches Black Pine Circle School’s championship Math Teams. Mr. Gulimovskiy was Senior Math Teacher for ten years at Vinnitsa University, and Vice Principal for nine years at Vinnitsa High School in the Ukraine. Overall, Mr. Gulimovskiy has forty two years experience teaching junior and senior high school Math in the U.S., the Ukraine, and in Zambia, where he was Head of Kambule Secondary School’s Math Department. He has an M.S. in Mathematics with a minor in Physics from Vinnitsa State Pedagogical University, and has completed his requirements for a doctorate. He is assisted by his wife, Zina, who also holds a B.S. in Mathematics. Mr. Gulimovskiy joined the Black Pine Circle School faculty in 1996. In 2008, Mr. Gulimovskiy was chosen by the Mathematical Association of America as a winner of the Edyth May Sliffe Award for Distinguished Junior High School Mathematics Teaching.
Josefina Jacquin teaches Seventh and Eighth Grade Spanish. She has taught Spanish for seventeen years in independent schools in San Francisco and the East Bay. A native of Santa Marta, Colombia, Señora Jacquin went to Gainesville, Florida, and attended the University of Florida. Later, she moved to Italy and lived in Florence and Padua for four years. She has also traveled extensively in Europe, Africa and the Americas. She obtained a B.F.A. at San Francisco State University, and a M.F.A. at the San Francisco Art Institute. Josefina is also an accomplished printmaker. When she is not teaching Spanish at BPC, she is working on her art. Señora Jacquin joined the Black Pine Circle School community in 2008.
Catalina Lacy teaches Fifth-Eighth Grade Spanish. She is originally from Mexico, where she acquired her Elementary Teaching Credential, and taught in several language schools. Señora Lacy is one of the founders of a Spanish Language School in Cuernavaca, Mexico, where she co-developed the school’s language program and instructor’s manual. There she taught Spanish to students from colleges in the United States as well as to groups of diplomats from embassies based in Mexico. She has taught Spanish to students of all ages at several schools in the Bay Area. Señora Lacy organizes and leads the annual “BPC Spanish Abroad” two-week trip and has taken our students to Mexico and Costa Rica. Señora Lacy is part of a well-known Ballet Folklorico Mexicano performing company based in the Bay Area, with whom she has traveled and performed extensively for many years. Señora Lacy joined the Black Pine Circle School faculty in 1990.
Andra Marziano is the Upper School Drama Teacher. Until 1999, when she became head of the Upper School Drama Program, Ms. Marziano had been with Black Pine Circle School for seven years as Extended Day Care Director and after-school Drama teacher for grades 2-5. She received her B.A. in Political Science from U.C. Berkeley, and while attending the University she worked with several youth theater organizations for children of ages 5-17. She is a nationally certified personal trainer, and she has worked at U.C. Berkeley with intercollegiate athletic teams and individual clients. Ms. Marziano joined the Black Pine Circle School faculty in 1994.
Alyson Mitchell is the is the Seventh Grade World History and Eighth Grade U.S. History Teacher. After receiving her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from California State University at Chico, Ms. Mitchell worked for eight years as a teacher in the Cambrian School District in San Jose. During her last two years at Cambrian, she served on special assignment as a literacy and math coach and mentor teacher. Ms. Mitchell lived in Tokyo for four years, during which time she earned a Peace Education Certificate from Columbia University. She received her B.S. in Human Development from U.C. Davis. Ms. Mitchell joined the Black Pine Circle School faculty in 2007.
Christine Mytko is both the Upper School Science and Upper School Technology Teacher at Black Pine Circle School. Ms. Mytko has a B.S. in the Teaching of Biology from the University of Illinois, and a M.S. in Advanced Education with a focus on Science and Technology from Northwestern University. Ms. Mytko taught science in public high school and middle school for many years in Illinois, where she was affectionately known as the resident tech “geek.” Here in the Bay Area, Ms. Mytko splits her time between Black Pine Circle School and various edtech consulting projects, as well as teaching online courses through Northwestern’s Gifted Learning Links. Ms. Mytko has twice won the Exploratorium’s Iron Science Teacher competition and sponsors both Black Pine Circle School’s Yearbook and Improv Comedy clubs. Ms. Mytko joined Black Pine Circle School in 2007.
Maria Palmer teaches Sixth Grade Humanities. Ms. Palmer received both her B.A. in English Literature and her K-8th grade credential, with a specialization in teaching English, from U.C. Berkeley. Ms. Palmer has also taken graduate courses in English Literature at UCLA and completed the coursework for an M.A. in design at UCB. Ms. Palmer has taught 6th grade at both Franklin School in Oakland and Altadena School in Altadena, California, and worked at the Berkeley Art Museum before joining the Black Pine Circle School faculty in 1994. She is the mother of two grown children and enjoys painting, writing, and being outdoors.
Megan Wood teaches Sixth Grade Math and Science. She completed her undergraduate work at Brown University in Geology-Physics/Mathematics and received her Teaching Credential from the Bay Area Teacher Training Institute. She has worked in Yosemite, and as a naturalist for the Headlands Institute in Marin, and loves taking Black Pine Circle School students outdoors for field science trips. In her free time, she enjoys backpacking, taiko drumming, trail running, and climbing. Ms. Wood grew up in the East Bay and joined Black Pine Circle School in 2006.
Black Pine Circle School Music Program Faculty
Rem Djemilev leads the Black Pine Circle School Advanced Orchestra. Originally from Russia, Mr. Djemilev has had a distinguished professional career in the Bay Area as well as in his native country. He received his B.A. at the Music College of Moscow Conservatory and his Master’s degree at the Conservatory of Music, also in Moscow. Before moving to the Bay Area, Mr. Djemilev performed for twelve years with the Moscow Symphony Orchestra and for seventeen years with the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra. He currently performs with the California Symphony Orchestra and The Arlekin String Quartet. He also teaches at The Crowden School and the Marin Academy. Mr. Djemilev joined the Black Pine Circle School staff in 2002.
Rachel Durling teaches Kindergarten-Third Grade Violin and conducts the Black Pine Circle School’s Junior Orchestra. Ms. Durling grew up in Berkeley and studied violin with Anne Crowden. She received her Bachelor of Music degree from Mannes College of Music in New York City and her M.A. from Stanford University. Since returning to the Bay Area in 1985, she has played professionally with many groups, including the Santa Rosa Symphony, California Symphony, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, the Bay Area Jazz Composers Orchestra, and the Cuban Danzon group, “Orguesta La Moderna Tradicion.” In addition to her work at Black Pine Circle School, she teaches at the Crowden School, gives private lessons, and enjoys a successful concert schedule with her group, “Baguette Quartette.” Ms. Durling joined the Black Pine Circle School music staff in 1991.
Jerry Kennedy joined Black Pine Circle School in 2009 as Band Director. Mr. Kennedy has been a Bay Area resident for over ten years. In addition to teaching ukulele, bass and guitar (including to some Black Pine Circle School students), he has taught at Step One Preschool, and has led a successful music program for kids. Mr. Kennedy studied the electric bass at The Musicians’ Institute, and soon after graduation, he began a world tour with the #1 South African artist at the time, Gwen Brisco. After returning to Los Angeles, he began studying music arranging and worked as a music director for Maverick International. He also worked as a side musician for Blues artist, Bobby Taylor. Just prior to moving to the Bay area he was touring the south east with his funk/soul band What It Is. After the birth of his daughter in 1998, Mr. Kennedy settled in the Bay Area and continued to work as a bass player for Local Steel Drummer, Jeff Narrell, and many others. In 2011 , Mr. Kennedy started The East Bay Music Camp where he and his staff teach young campers the music of the Beatles. Jerry Kennedy joined Black Pine Circle School in 2009
Madeleine King teaches Kindergarten-Third Grade Music, and serves as the Head of the Music Department for Black Pine Circle School’s Music Program. Ms. King has twenty-eight years of teaching experience, and joined our music staff in 1996. She has taught music in several different schools and programs in the Bay Area. Ms. King received her B.A. in Fine Arts and Education from the University of Indiana, where she obtained a Teaching Credential in K-12 Art Education. After teaching art for several years, she then went on to continue her interest in music education with training in the Orff Schulwerk. In addition to teaching music, Ms. King is also a performing singer/songwriter and has released both a CD of her own original music, as well as a children’s CD of some of her favorite kid tunes. Playing both guitar and mandolin, she has performed at numerous venues in the Bay Area.
Cheryl Sumsion teaches Fourth-Eighth Grade Music and is a Sixth Grade girls’ Advisor. She also conducts the Lower School Chorus and Vocal Expressions, the Upper School Chorus. Ms. Sumsion earned her Bachelor of Education from the University of Western Ontario in Junior/Intermediate Vocal Music and her B.A. from the University of Waterloo in Honours Music/Personality and Religious Studies. Her graduate work includes Baroque vocal technique and performance practice, and she has studied both the Kodaly and Orff approaches to teaching music. Last summer, she completed her Vocology certification. For seven years she taught many 6th-8th grade subjects in Toronto with a special emphasis on Vocal Music, Drama and ESL. While there, she conducted an award-winning Chamber Choir and directed three musicals with over one hundred students performing in each. As a soprano, Ms. Sumsion has sung on eleven commercial CD releases of choral and children’s music, and has performed in fifteen musicals. She performed and recorded with the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir in Toronto, and has also performed throughout England. She now performs frequently with the American Bach Soloists. Ms. Sumsion joined Black Pine Circle School in 2003.
Dina Weinshelbaum teaches Kindergarten-Third Grade Cello and Junior Orchestra with Rachel Durling. Ms. Weinshelbaum received her B.A. in Music from U.C. Berkeley, where she studied with Colin Hampton. She taught at the Crowden School Young Musician’s Program at U.C. Berkeley, and maintains a private teaching studio at home. In addition to teaching cello, Ms. Weinshelbaum is playing with many Bay Area groups, including San Francisco Opera Center Orchestra, Berkeley Symphony, California Symphony, and Oakland East Bay Symphony. She also occasionally performs with the group Parlor Tango, and is a founding member of the Armanino Trio along with Black Pine Circle School faculty member, Rachel Durling. Ms. Weinshelbaum joined the Black Pine Circle School music staff in 1993.
Black Pine Circle School Administrative and Support Staff
John Carlstroem is the Head of Black Pine Circle School. Mr. Carlstroem has more than twenty years of experience in a variety of educational environments, most recently as the Assistant Head of School and Middle School Head of the Hamlin School in San Francisco. Mr. Carlstroem has consulted with the National Park Service, East Bay Regional Parks, The San Francisco Education Fund, The Moore Foundation, and others on the subjects of teacher training, curricular design, and management in the environmental and education sectors. He served as Director of Education and Outreach, and later Executive Director, for the Headlands Institute, as well as Executive Vice President for Yosemite National Institute, and Chair of the Board for Save the Bay. He remains deeply committed to environmental causes. Mr. Carlstroem’s educational background includes a B.A. in Marine Biology from U.C. Santa Cruz, and a Masters of Non-profit Administration from the University of San Francisco. He lives with his wife and daughter in El Cerrito. Mr. Carlstroem joined Black Pine Circle School as Director in 2005.
Diana Warren joins Black Pine Circle School as Head of Lower School. Miss Warren has eighteen years of experience as an educator, having taught in both private and charter schools at the elementary and middle school levels. She holds a B.A. in Speech Communications from San Francisco State University and a M.A. in Curriculum and Teaching from Teachers College Columbia University. Miss Warren’s first years as an educator were spent in the classroom teaching First Grade, Fourth Grade, Sixth, and Eighth Grade. In later years, she worked as Coordinator of Curriculum and Instruction, Deputy Director and Executive Director of the West Oakland Community School. From 2007 to July of this year, Miss Warren served as director of the California State University, East Bay Upward Bound Program. Miss Warren is a native of Oakland and has worked her entire professional career in and around the Bay Area. In her spare time she loves to travel, and listen to jazz, but her passion is reading, and she especially loves mysteries and thrillers.
William Webb is the Head of Upper School. Prior to joining us, Bill was the Interim Director of a Masters in Teaching Program in the Central Valley of California overseen by Bard College and supported, in part, by a grant from the Federal Government to sustain teacher training in rural communities. Bill has been a faculty member of the Institute for Writing and Thinking at Bard College for 11 years and has taught writing workshops for teachers and students in California as well as New York. He is currently the West Coast Director of the Institute of Writing and Thinking at Bard College and will continue to advise and oversee writing programs for educators in the Central Valley. Bill started his teaching career as the co-Chaplain of St. James’ School in Los Angeles. He then moved on to New Roads School in Santa Monica as the Assistant Director of the High School and later as the Director of the High School. He also served as the Director of Humanities, K-12, and worked with faculty to create a school-wide reading and writing curriculum. Bill is a co-founder and board member of the Episcopal School of Los Angeles. Bill earned his BA from Sarah Lawrence College in New York and his Masters in Theology from Loyola Marymount University. Bill is a writer, a swimmer, a painter, a hiker, and a cookie lover. Mr. Webb joined Black Pine Circle School in 2011.
Michael Bannister is the Director of Black Pine Circle School’s Extended Day Care Program. He received his B.S. in Education, and a Teaching Credential from Southeast Missouri State University, and a M.A. in Education from Webster University in St. Louis. His teaching experience has included instruction in literature and writing at both the junior and senior high school levels. Mr. Bannister moved to California in 1999 and joined the Extended Day Care staff of Black Pine Circle School that fall. He has been enjoying the beaches of the west coast, is an aficionado of museums, film, and the many varieties of cuisine that the Bay Area has to offer.
Sonam Gonsar is the Office Manager for the Upper School. Born and raised in the foothills of the Himalayas in India, Ms. Gonsar moved to California in 1992 as part of the One Thousand Tibetans’ Resettlement Project. She completed her B.A. in English in India, and taught ESL for a year. Before coming to Black Pine Circle School, she enjoyed working as a teacher’s assistant at Hillcrest School in Oakland. She enjoys community service and learning about different cultures. Ms. Gonsar joined Black Pine Circle School in 2001.
Blake Hansen joined Black Pine Circle School as IT Assistant in 2011. Prior to that, he taught Elementary School Technology at Windrush School and worked in Tech Support at Benefit Cosmetics’ corporate office in San Francisco. Blake earned his B.A. in Psychology from San Francisco State University. In 2012, Mr.Hansen joined the BPC parent community as his eldest son began Kindergarten. Blake devotes his time away from work to his family and his garden at home.
John Herbert has been Black Pine Circle School’s Facilities Manager since 1995. He is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley. He is also the proud father of a son, a K-8 Black Pine Circle School graduate.
Miftah Leath is Black Pine Circle School’s Learning Specialist, working part-time in both the Upper and Lower Schools. Miftah became BPC’s first Learning Specialist in 2003. She earned her B.A. from U.C. Berkeley and Holy Names University, where she also completed her certification in Educational Therapy. Her background experience includes extensive work with children and adults with special needs, including summer work at a school in Dublin, Ireland, and with Camping Unlimited, a year-round recreation/education program in California. Ms. Leath studied Viola Spolin’s improvisational theater games with the late Del Close, and children’s theater for teachers with Marcia Kimmel. Continued professional training includes classes in Educational Kinesiology, Sensory Integration solutions, Autism interventions and Self-Management Strategies, Attention Deficit disorders, Zones of Regulation, and Making Math Real. Additional training in allergy testing, allergy management and nutritional counseling rounds out her whole-child focus. Ms. Leath works with children one-on-one or in small groups in the classroom, or in after-school sessions by private arrangement with parents on a limited basis. She sometimes teaches knitting and needlework during Black Pine Circle School’s Summer Camp or in after-school classes.
Liza Malm joined the Black Pine Circle School staff in 1997 as Black Pine Circle School’s Gardener. Through a grant, she developed and directed the “Trashology” program (recycling and waste management). She also leads lessons in ecology and botany for both the Upper and Lower Schools. She was born and raised in Sweden, received a degree in Business at Olofstrom, Sweden, and then moved to London to study for her Cambridge Proficiency. After coming to America in 1970, she attended City College in San Francisco and got an A.S. from Laney College. Ms. Malm later received a B.F.A. in Photography from the California College of Arts. She has volunteered as a Docent for the U.C. Botanical Garden since 1996. She is an avid cyclist and grandmother of two.
Kathleen McNulty is the Upper School Librarian. A native of Toronto, Canada, she received her B.A. in English and History from the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. She received both her M.A. in English and her M.L.S. from the University of Toronto. Ms. McNulty worked in book publishing for many years. In addition to working at Black Pine Circle School, and being the mother of a recent Black Pine Circle School graduate, she is also a librarian at Chabot Elementary School in Oakland. Ms. McNulty joined Black Pine Circle School in 2008.
Lucy Morris is the Office Manager for the Lower School. She has a year of study at the Berklee School of Music in Boston, a B.A. in English and a minor in Dance from the University of New Hampshire. Upon graduation, she studied African Dance and Rhythm in Boston, and established a private practice as a Shiatsu Practitioner after becoming certified through the New England Shiatsu Center. Ms. Morris moved to California in 1993 and continues to study movement and bodywork forms, as well as songwriting and guitar. She loves being around children, and enjoys being part of the Black Pine Circle School Community. Ms. Morris joined Black Pine Circle School in 2000.
John Ormsby is Development Director of Black Pine Circle. Mr. Ormsby was previously Associate Director for Foundation and Corporate Support at the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Prior to this, he worked for U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer for nearly ten years as Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff and Senior Field Representative for nine Bay Area counties. He is currently President of the Board of Directors of the Berkeley-based nonprofit Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program (BORP), which provides sports and other recreation opportunities for people, primarily children, with physical disabilities. He and his wife Lissa both graduated from U.C. Berkeley and have lived in Berkeley since 1995. Their son entered Kindergarten at BPC in 2012. John greatly enjoys music and art and is a competitive road cyclist. He joined Black Pine Circle School in 2011.
Nico Pemantle, M.A., P.P.S. is the Upper School Counselor and Communications Teacher. Mr. Pemantle received his Masters degree in Counseling, and his K-12 School Counseling Credential at St. Mary’s College, where he currently teaches one class in the teacher credential program and supervises counseling interns in the Counseling Credential program. His outside experience as a school Counselor includes individual and group counseling support for students at Cornell Elementary School in Albany, and individual counseling support for students at King Middle School in Berkeley. More recently, Mr. Pemantle worked for the YMCA Teen Center, Urban Services Division in Oakland, counseling teens in the “Dare2Dream” program on academic goal-setting and college/career planning. He joined the Black Pine Circle School faculty in 1995 and has served as the Upper School Counselor since 2004.
Deborah Raphael joins Black Pine Circle as part-time School Psychologist. Ms. Raphael is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Associate Clinical Professor at the University of California, Berkeley. She earned her Bachelors Degree from U.C. Berkeley and her Masters of Social Work from Smith College in Northampton, MA. Beginning in 1990, she was part of the U.C.Berkeley clinical research team for The School Children and their Families Project studying the relationship between school success and child-parent relationships. For the past five years, Ms. Raphael has worked part time as a consultant to Maybeck High School in Berkeley. In addition, she teaches a psychology elective to Maybeck juniors and seniors and leads high schoolers on wilderness trips. She maintains a psychotherapy practice in Kensington and since 1991, has supervised the clinical work of Ph.D. candidates in the Department of Psychology at U.C. Berkeley. Ms. Raphael has been working therapeutically with children and their families for over thirty years. An East Bay native, Ms. Raphael is the mother of two grown daughters who were educated in East Bay private schools. She spends her free time hiking, canoeing and reading.
Tracey Rogers joins Black Pine Circle School as the Executive Assistant to the Head of School. She was born in the United Kingdom and moved to the U.S. almost 20 years ago. She completed the National Nursery Examination Board (NNEB) and the Certificate Of Pre-Vocational Education (CPVE) courses in the UK before running the Infant Unit at the Holland Park Day Nursery, and subsequently the preschool class at The School House. After moving to the U.S., Mrs. Rogers, parent of a First Grader at BPC, co-taught Grades Kindergarten and First Grade at both Packer Collegiate Institute and The Dalton School in New York City.
Bill Shea is the Director of Finance and Operations. He has over twenty-five years experience in schools, camps and business settings. Mr. Shea has worn many hats over the years from counselor, director, and banker, to business manager and business owner. He has a B.A. in Business Administration from Loyola Marymount University. Mr. Shea enjoys running to help keep him sane and is an avid photographer. Mr. Shea joined the Black Pine Circle School staff in 2008.
Menna Stern is the Black Pine Circle School Technology Director, Webmaster, and Technology teacher for First-Fifth Grades. Ms. Stern received her B.A. in Liberal Studies from Holy Names College, after doing undergraduate studies both at Michigan State and U.C. Berkeley. She has taught extensively in computers, communications technologies and multimedia development. She served as Technology Mentor for The Bay Area Science and Technology Education Collaboration (BASTEC), was On-Site Technology Coach for the Oakland Unified School District for ten years, and Computer Science Instructor at Holy Names University undergraduate studies. She also served for six years as Site Technologist and teacher for grades K-8 at Arts Magnet in Oakland, and as teacher and Technology Coordinator for nine years for grades K-8 at Hillcrest School. Ms. Stern joined the Black Pine Circle School faculty in 2000.
Sharon Taylor, our Head Librarian, joined Black Pine Circle School in 2006. She has a Master of Library and Information Science degree from San Jose State University and has many years of experience working in the library at Hillcrest School, Oakland. After completing her B.A. in Economics and Philosophy from U.C. Davis, Ms. Taylor worked for two years as a contracts and grants administrator, then ten years as a computer system administrator in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences Department at U.C. Berkeley. She loves reading (of course!), running, drinking tea, listening to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and spending time with her family and friends.
Laura Wolff, M.A., Ed.T., is the Director of Learning Services at Black Pine Circle School. Ms. Wolff coordinates the efforts of our Learning Specialist and our School Psychologist to help students with learning needs. She works with students both individually and in small groups. Before this position, Ms. Wolff served as Head of Lower School for sixteen years and taught at BPC for five years. She has also taught at Bentley School and The Academy. Laura received her certification as an Educational Therapist and her Masters in Education at Holy Names University in Oakland. She is a Berkeley native and received her B.A. from U.C. Berkeley and her California Teaching Credential from California State University, East Bay. She resides in Oakland with her husband Steve who owns and manages Pacific Coast Brewing in downtown Oakland. Ms. Wolff first joined Black Pine Circle School in 1985.
Greta B. Wong is the Associate Director of Admissions. Ms. Wong was the Executive Assistant to the Head of School before moving to her current position. She has a B.A. in Economics and French from Hartwick College. Prior to working at Black Pine Circle School, Ms. Wong was employed in the advertising and retail industries. She was a Senior Account Executive for a pharmaceutical advertising company in San Francisco, and an Account Executive at a direct mail advertising agency in Boston. In addition, she worked in the merchandising departments at Smith & Hawken and Williams-Sonoma, Inc. Ms. Wong is the mother of two children, both of whom are students at Black Pine Circle School. Ms. Wong first joined Black Pine Circle School in 2007.
Faye-Lynn Wu is Director of Admissions and Outreach. Ms. Wu has a B.A. in Mass Communications from Fu Jen University in Taiwan and an M.S. in Education, Curriculum, and Instruction from Southern Illinois University. She taught ESL in Taiwan and trained ESL teachers at various language schools in Taiwan. After completing her graduate work, she worked for the non-profit organizations Art, Research & Curriculum in Oakland and the Educational Guidance Center in Berkeley as an administrative assistant and college advisor, assisting low-income and second-generation immigrant students to gain college admission. Ms. Wu, in collaboration with Black Pine Circle School’s, Kieren Dutcher, published her first book in 2010, Chinese and English Nursery Rhymes. Ms. Wu joined the Black Pine Circle School staff in 1993.