I am thrilled to be back in the classroom at Synergy, where I belong! I have been a member of the Synergy community since 2008, when my two sons became Synergy students and I joined as a parent and substitute teacher. I studied childhood development in undergrad, and completed most of my master’s degree at DePaul University in Chicago (I left the program to start my family- folly of my youth!). I truly enjoy working with children, and am pleased and proud to be a part of the Synergy teaching staff.
Ever since I began teaching in 1999, I’ve always been a champion for change in the way curriculum is designed and taught. The freedom to develop curriculum based on my students and my own interests drew me to Synergy. Over the years I’ve developed a passion for bringing environmental studies to my students. I enjoy teaching them about the Earth, its landforms, oceans, and life cycles. Those interests have grown into school garden programs at Synergy. What I love about teaching is encouraging my students to express what they know, challenging them to think critically about new information, and helping them connect the dots along the way. It’s amazing to watch how their minds grow and develop when these connections are made.
I am a proud alumna (Class of 1992), a proud staff member (since 1999), a writer, poet, and explorer. Since the age of 17, I have traveled to a different part of the world every year from the deserts of Egypt and Kenya to the lush terrains of Central America to the incredibly beautiful landscapes of the Philippines, Thailand and beyond. My travels inspire me to grow and change, to explore and think differently, and to learn and respect different cultures. It’s this same journey of exploration and growth that I see in my students and informs my love, compassion, and respect for them. When I’m not globetrotting or caring for my students, I’m writing, journaling, and immersing myself in my community of dancers, artists, and writers. I also find time to sharpen my skills at reading people in my other passion… as a semi-professional poker player.
I was pleased to join the staff and teachers at Synergy School in 2021. As hard as the pandemic has made it, Synergy thrives with its dedication to an inclusive learning environment. I look forward to contributing to this stimulating community. My background includes a Bachelor of Architecture degree combined with an accredited professional degree from the University of Maryland. I ran my own architecture firm with my sister, winning design awards.
Around 2006 I became interested in education after having a son, so I pursued an education in teaching, where I attended the Rudolf Steiner College in Sacramento. I worked several years at the San Francisco Waldorf grade school. I was also a lead teacher and art director at a Steiner influenced preschool named Hummingbird in San Francisco for 14 years.
I have been a part of the Synergy community for many years now. My son was a Young K student who graduated in 2013 and my daughter graduated in 2015. I volunteered in their classrooms, drove to many field trips, and eventually became a substitute teacher. In 2014, I was hired to work in the front office and it allows me to continue to support this wonderful school. My background in both the legal and athletic education fields affords me a unique perspective to bring to this community.
I began working at Synergy in September 1999. I have taught kindergarten with Rita Franklin my entire time at Synergy. I believe kindergarten is a very unique year in school for children. I really enjoy watching children learn, grow, and become responsible and confident during our time together.
I am a Bay Area native and attended San Francisco State University. I hold a BS in Business Administration with a Minor in Finance. After college, I worked in the Mission District for fourteen years in management roles supporting two different small businesses before coming to Synergy. My wife, children, and I currently live in the North Bay. I am very happy to be joining the vibrant Synergy community.
My love for Synergy and its teachers began in 2002 when my oldest son started kindergarten. It continues today as an alumni parent of two boys (Class of 2011 and Class of 2015), a member of the Board of Trustees, and a member of the administrative staff since 2009. My role is to support the teacher-administrators and the school in the areas of communications, admissions and financial aid, high school placement, and the board. I find that my background as a broadcast journalist has come in handy juggling the many hats that I need to wear. I will always be grateful to the dedicated hard-working teachers who helped nurture my sons into the confident and caring young men they are today. I have two other children still living at home, Buddy and Chewy, my four-legged babies.
I grew up in what was a small town in Somerset County, New Jersey and I loved it. I spent much of my early childhood catching salamanders and frogs, riding my bike around the paths and streets of my town, walking miles to fishing holes, and creating explosions with makeshift science kits. As I have aged, I expanded that exploration of my environment to the world at large, spending many months of my life hiking, biking, kayaking, and camping throughout the planet. I find that travelling resets my world-view and reinvigorates my desire to help make this a better place for us all. I liked math as a student, but struggled with memorizing my times tables and suffered through all of the rote practice worksheets we had. I love math as an adult and have come to see it as an innate human language. All of us are capable of learning to read, write, and speak it, but we all learn to do so at different rates. I support the educational ideals of the Common Core State Standards, which help created more developmentally appropriate grade level standards, as well as broadening access to math by emphasizing a variety of modalities and processes for accessing math. Prior to joining Synergy in 2016, I spent several years working on developing pieces of the SFUSD’s new mathematics curriculum. Despite my recent personal focus on mathematics, I am passionate about all areas of our curriculum. Learning is a life-long passion for me and I have a BA in Political Science from Washington University in St. Louis, an MBA from NYU, and have finished all the coursework for an MA in Mathematics at SFSU. Teaching is my third career: publishing/distribution, volunteer recruiting, then teaching. I taught in the SFUSD for for 12 years, with a one year break teaching middle school math at Megan Furth Academy. I was thrilled to have been invited to join the Synergy community as the middle-school mathematics teacher and could not be happier to be here.
I am originally from Kansas City, Missouri, where I attended the University of Missouri KC. I hold a BA in Liberal Arts and another in Secondary Education Social Studies, along with a Masters in Special Education. After college I worked in a number of public high schools in both suburban and urban school districts. After moving to the Bay Area, I taught middle school for four years at a private Montessori school in Palo Alto before coming to Synergy. My children, Isaac Zinn and Noa Bell, and I live in Bernal Heights. I love teaching at Synergy and being a part of this community.
I started my teaching career in San Francisco public schools in 1998. In 2004, I came to Synergy School to teach 1st and 2nd grade. It was a change from years of 4th and 5th graders, but I soon grew fond of teaching younger students. I help to lay the foundation and watch how it is built upon as the children grow up around me. It is a remarkable feeling, and a rewarding experience to be there at the beginning and see success at the end.
I came to Synergy School in the fall of 1990 because I was drawn to its unique, progressive, and cooperative approach. Throughout the years, I have held the positions of after school director, a myriad of summer school positions, and for more than 10 years as the K-5 PE and K-8 drama teacher. As the drama teacher, I love sharing my passion for the arts with these fantastic children, their families, and my co-workers. It is indeed delightful!
I joined Synergy as the Language Arts teacher in 2020. I grew up in Leicestershire, England, always with a book in my hand. When I moved to San Francisco in 2002, I got to know the Synergy community through my husband Jesse (Sun Room). I could tell how special the school was then, and feel honored to work alongside educators I have known and respected for many years. I am parent to Audrey and Olive (and Luca the cat).
I got my bachelor’s in English from the University of Liverpool, my MA from San Francisco State, and a Ph.D. in literature from UC Davis. I have been lucky enough to teach many things I am passionate about—poetry, fiction, graphic novels, podcasts, writing, and (yes) grammar! All of my classes strive toward social justice. I love how stories can shape students’ perspectives on the world and spark their engagement with issues they care about. I work with students on all kinds of writing and enjoy hearing their thoughts and ideas about characters, the world, and the stories in it.
I am thrilled to join the Synergy community. I have been working with youth my entire career, from teaching basket weaving as a camp counselor in my teenage years, to teaching English Language Arts in both high school and middle school, to spending the last five years engaging San Francisco 7th graders in project-based science. It is my belief that students find the most success in school when they know that they and their experiences are valued and affirmed, and that their learning is relevant and empowering.
I hold a BA in English from The University of Iowa (my home state!) and am currently pursuing an MS in Science Education through Montana State University, focusing my research on critical place-based pedagogy. In my scant but precious free time, I enjoy being in the mountains, the desert, or the woods… anywhere I can see all the stars and hear nothing but the wind.
I’ve been teaching at Synergy since 1998. I have been extremely lucky to learn so much about myself as a teacher from my students and my fellow faculty members. I have the freedom to create curriculum, which allows me to engage students on subjects I am passionate about. I love how Synergy helps children become responsible learners and become very thoughtful about themselves and their actions as they move through the world. I enjoy having courageous conversations with children, and my favorite curriculum areas include science, hands-on math, dinosaurs, and city planning and building.
Being from a sprawled and disconnected suburb of Los Angeles, I was drawn to community centered and compassionate San Francisco, 10 years ago. Knowing that I had a passion for books and reading anything I could get my hands on, I quickly began immersing myself into various literacy programs around the city. As soon as I was able to confidently strengthen a student’s skills in reading, spelling, writing, comprehension and language, I knew I had found my dream job. The most exciting and unique takeaway is seeing a student’s insecurities begin to melt away and replaced with confidence and curiosity. I love going to workshops, lectures and refreshing my knowledge when it comes to learning differences, strategies and advocacy.
My other passions would include traveling and getting to appreciate different cultures, cooking in my tiny San Francisco kitchen and swimming in the beautiful Yuba river. I’m honored and grateful to be a part of the progressive and proactive Synergy community.
The best part of my job is spending time with children and making music as we play, sing, and dance together. I have lived and taught in Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, and now California, and every child who has been a part of my life has been a new wonder to discover and love.
I began my teaching journey at The Prairie School in Racine, Wisconsin. As I began teaching there, I completed my Orff Schulwerk levels training during the summers of 2007-2009, and the following summer I met Sam at the Jazz Course. I also met my future husband, Micah, during this time and eventually moved out to the Bay Area to start our family together in 2011, which has grown now to include our two raucous cats, Solomon and Leonidas.
After teaching music at two other Bay Area independent schools, I am thrilled to be part of the Synergy community. Outside of school, I sing with Musae on Tuesday nights and I serve on the board of directors for the Northern California American Orff Schulwerk Association. I am also a Consulting Teacher for the Center for Responsive Schools, a role which allows me to work with all types of educators around the country on the important issues of positive community, engaging academics, effective management, and developmentally responsive teaching.
I joined the Synergy School staff in 2018, and I continue to be amazed by our incredible community of educators, parents, and students. Teaching at Synergy gives me a chance to build long lasting relationships with my students and to get to see them shine as learners, artists, athletes, actors, musicians, and friends.
Before joining Synergy, I received my B.A. in History and English from Georgetown University and Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction from the Bay Area Teacher Training Institute. I am originally from Boston, Massachusetts (go Pats!), but I am now happily resigned to a west coast life in Bernal Heights with my husband and two crazy rescue dogs.
I have been the Director of Development at Synergy since 2007. I am an alumni parent and have been involved with Synergy as a parent and volunteer since 1999. I have helped in the classrooms, been a room parent, worked on the auction, and chaired the Parent Involvement Committee in addition to my current job. Synergy is a vibrant community and rewarding work environment. I love the energy and enthusiasm of the students, parents and my co-workers.
We are pleased to announce the hiring of Marta Alejandro-Martinez as our new Spanish teacher next year. Marta is a native Spanish-speaker with 14 years of experience in education from TK to high school. Most recently, she has been teaching in the Castro Valley and San Leandro school districts as a Spanish and bilingual immersion teacher.
During the hiring process, we found Marta to be thoughtful and engaging. She loves the language, the people, and the cultures associated with it and enjoys sharing this passion with her students. When teaching, she takes into consideration the unique learning styles of her students and the different aspects of learning a language from listening, speaking, reading, writing, as well as the culture of the speakers. We look forward to welcoming her into the community in the fall.
I first came to Synergy in 2001, drawn by the school’s philosophy of social justice and personal responsibility. I love to see my students grow and gain confidence in their abilities. I have also been fortunate to send my two children to Synergy (Class of 2005 and Class of 2011), and have watched as they benefited from such a nurturing environment. Previously, I was the executive director of a non-profit organization in San Francisco, providing gang intervention, academic, recreational, and social services to at-risk youth and their families. In that capacity, I was the recipient of the Western Addition Unsung Hero Award and the Willie Brown Youth Task Force Agency Award. In 2016, I assumed the role of Synergy’s Director of Finance and Operations. It has allowed me to come full circle while having the best of both worlds – working with spreadsheets and stakeholders and teaching my students.
I have been teaching at Synergy since 2014 and in Bay Area schools since 1996. For the first 11 years of my career I worked as a K-3 classroom teacher. As an art specialist, I have written curricula for pre-kindergarten through 8th grade, led professional development for classroom teachers, and have been trained in Visual Thinking Strategies. I hold a BFA from The San Francisco Art Institute and several teaching credentials.
I believe all children can benefit from art education and am committed to bringing depth to my teaching practice. In my experience art provides opportunities for self-expression, understanding the world we live in, and developing problem-solving and small motor skills. Art lessons include class discussions, literature, games, demonstrations, historical reference, integration of the core curriculum, playful practice and reflection.
As an artist, I like to work in many different styles and materials. My personal artwork includes painting, drawing, printmaking, mixed-media sculpture, and jewelry- making. When not making art or teaching, I love to cook vegan recipes, hike, and camp throughout our beautiful state with my husband.
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” For me, it’s important to be more than the change. It’s important to also have the most impact – that’s why I’m a teacher. I love teaching social studies and history and pushing my students to think critically, to stretch their thinking, and to look at different points of view. I also love teaching math and science; nothing is more gratifying than to see my students make new discoveries and connections in their learning.
I became a Synergy teacher in 2000 because of its social and environmental justice mission, the shared responsibility of the teachers’ cooperative, and the freedom to develop curriculum. It fit my goals as a teacher, having completed the nationally known Teacher Training Course at the Shady Hill School, a program that believes the development of the person is the most important element in the education of a teacher. I also received my bachelor’s degree in English from Cornell University, and my Masters in Education from Lesley University.
My wife, Kat, and I love living in San Francisco and are constantly inspired by its beauty and the many places around the Bay to enjoy nature. We are avid birders and sailors, and parents to Emerson, our rescue terrier.
I always knew I would be a teacher even as a child. Perhaps it was because I had great teachers growing up, women and men who knew me, cared for me, and encouraged me.
I began as a preschool teacher, and then became a preschool director at the Audrey L Smith Developmental Center in San Francisco, and later at the Cross Cultural Family Center in the city, serving low-income families of color. In 1993, the decision to send my two young boys and later my daughter to Synergy was an easy one, but the decision to become a kindergarten teacher here six years later was not. I felt my families in the poorest areas of the city needed me. I later came to realize that the students of Synergy needed me too; it was important for them to see and learn from teachers of color.
However, my commitment to the poorest segments of the city remains strong. In addition to teaching at Synergy and taking on the role of Director of Admissions and Curriculum in 2010, I was a consultant to First Five California, the state’s health and education program for children. In that capacity, I helped guide program development and held workshops for teachers on kindergarten readiness. Currently, I sit on the board of the Cross Cultural Family Center and Mission Neighborhood Centers, and lobby Congress to fund programs for low-income health centers.
My religion is also important to me. As a member of the San Francisco Christian Center, I teach Sunday school, serve as a greeter at my church, attend bible study regularly, and help lead the center’s Daughters of Destiny group.
I love coming to work every day because Synergy is a special place. The minute I walked into the building in 2000, it felt like home. I previously worked in magazine production for three high-tech publications, but found my calling first as a parent volunteer in my son’s school, then as a teacher’s aide at Cesar Chavez Elementary School in San Francisco. Later I became director of the After School program at Cesar Chavez and Martin Luther King Middle School. I come from a family of educators; my sisters are teachers and one of my aunts was a school principal, the other was a librarian.
I’m “Techno Man” at Synergy having gladly accepted the role as the school’s first Director of Technology in 2006. My efforts include planning, deployment, and supporting the school’s technology and data security needs.
Before I caught the IT/Web bug in early 2000s, I was a photojournalist working with newspapers and magazines. Since then I’ve been trained in most tech systems with a concentration on larger scale Apple deployments.
As an alumni parent that had three kids attend Synergy, I’ve seen firsthand how a small school can be dedicated to providing a loving, supportive, and inclusive place where young minds are inspired to grow.
When I’m not delving into updating the hundreds of Apple devices at Synergy, I enjoy time with my husband Mark, our family and friends, walking the city, sampling all the great restaurants that San Francisco offers, and summer trips to a family cabin near Yellowstone National Park.
I have found two things for which I am passionate: playing music and teaching kids. After graduating from college, I decided that teaching music was something of a dream job for me. As an alumnus of Synergy School, I was already familiar and comfortable with the philosophy of the school, so it seemed like the perfect fit. And now that I work here, I can say for certain that it is.
I have been teaching at Synergy since 1988. I currently am teaching the 4th and 5th graders and taught 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders at our Grove Street site. Working at Synergy has taught me a huge amount about myself and how the wonderful minds of children work. Being able to laugh with children and my colleagues at work is a gift that I don’t think I could have in any other job.
The best thing about being the Librarian at Synergy is that our students love to read and are curious about everything. I use the library program to provide students with opportunities to feed their imagination, follow their interests, and develop information literacy skills they will need to thrive in high school and beyond. I have a Masters in Library and Information Science and have worked in high school, undergraduate, graduate, and special libraries. I have spent most of my career as a website producer and in online scholarly publishing, and I am an advocate for open and equal access to information. It is a special privilege for me to be Librarian at my daughters’ school.
I started teaching at Synergy in 2001 and became the Director of Administration in 2010. I teach half-time in the kindergarten classroom. I love teaching this age group because the kids are so enthusiastic about life and learning. Each new concept and skill that the kids acquire is like adding a block to his or her foundation. I am also very interested in brain development and how children learn. Teaching at Synergy allows me the opportunity to use multi-sensory instruction to help all kids learn and grow. As Director of Administration, I work to strengthen Synergy’s role as a leader in progressive education. This position also allows me to develop and maintain relationships with all the families from Kindergarten through high school placement.