Faculty & Staff
DOLORES AGUILAR — ASSOCIATE TEACHER, LEVEL 2
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Dolores is delighted to be starting her second year as a Level 2 Associate Teacher. She previously worked as a preschool teacher in San Jose and a research assistant at San Jose State University, where she received her Master's Degree in child and adolescent development. She volunteered at an elementary school, focusing on student's social and emotional development in her hometown of Fresno, during her undergraduate studies at Fresno State University. She currently lives in San Jose and enjoys spending time with her girlfriend and two cats (Meeko and Quesito), crafting, traveling, and reading.
MICHELE "MICKEY" BARRY —TRANSITIONAL KINDERGARTEN LEAD TEACHER
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Michele Barry (a.k.a Teacher Mickey) is excited to be starting her second year as the Lead teacher for Transitional Kindergarten. Before joining Synapse, Mickey taught 4 and 5 year olds for 25 years and enjoys being a part of a team where she can help create an environment where learning is fun, exciting and immersive. During her free time, she loves cooking, traveling and spending time with her friends and son, Liam and dog, Snowflake.
SARAH CARR-BERRY — LEVEL 1 LEAD TEACHER
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Sarah has been teaching students of all ages since 2005 and joined the Synapse community in 2012. Sarah LOVES teaching Level 1 students! She is a native Californian and earned a BA in History with a Theatre Arts minor from University of California, Santa Cruz and an MA in Education and a teaching credential from Pepperdine University. Sarah began her career in education as a middle school social studies teacher and advisor in downtown Los Angeles. She then ventured overseas, teaching in Tokyo, Japan, for nearly five years. While in Tokyo she taught English to students ranging from 4 to 80 years old and then taught Kindergarten at an international school. While at the international school, Sarah helped to develop curriculum for the school’s International Baccalaureate accreditation. Back home in the Bay Area, Sarah loves playing in her band, seeing live music, watching Liverpool FC win the Premier League, and being in the Redwoods
MACIE COSSETTE - Level 3 Lead Teacher
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Macie is thrilled to be starting this school year as a Lead Teacher in Level 3! She has spent the last two years as an Associate Teacher in Level 3 and really enjoys teaching 3rd and 4th graders. Macie grew up in Southern California and graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a B.S. in Public Health. Macie taught Kindergarten for 3 years at a charter school in Brooklyn, NY. She aspires to promote creativity and curiosity in order to instill a culture of lifelong learners in her students. In her free time, Macie enjoys exercising, reading, and traveling.
ADAM HATFIELD — LEVEL 1 LEAD TEACHER
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Adam is excited to return to Level 1 as a Lead Teacher after working as an Associate in both Level 1 and Level 3. Adam moved to the Bay Area from Florida where he taught middle and high school before discovering a love for working with younger learners. He is passionate about independent schools and aspires to create a positive and nurturing environment to foster a lifelong love for learning in his students. Adam earned a BA in Secondary Education from Florida Gulf Coast University and an MEd in Independent School Leadership from George Mason University. Outside of school, you can find Adam working out at the Riekes Center, playing drums with the Constructivists, exploring the Bay Area on his road bike, seeking out new titles to add to his ever-growing collection of picture books, or hiking with his wife and their two dogs.
JUSTIN JOSEPH — ASSOCIATE TEACHER, LEVEL 3
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Justin is excited to begin his third year at Synapse as an Associate Teacher in Level 3! Born and raised in Chicago, he holds a BA in Psychology from Pomona College. Before moving to the Bay Area, he worked as a behavioral instructor, providing individualized therapy for children within the autism spectrum via home visits and telehealth, as well as a research assistant for the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (FGSS) Department at Scripps College. They have also hosted educational workshops for elementary aged children, tutored high school students, and volunteered as a 2nd grade teacher’s aide in Southern California. In their free time, Justin enjoys dancing, choreographing, listening to music, and sharing memes with friends and family.
DEVIN MACRAE — Associate Teacher, level 2
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Devin is thrilled to be coming back to Synapse for his 9th year and returning to the Level 2 team in an Associate position. He holds a degree in Biology from California State, Monterey Bay. At the Marine Mammal Center, he educated the public on marine biology and conservation. During his summers, he has worked with Camp Galileo as a science and outdoor instructor. There, he continues to inspire innovation, design and the power of play. Devin is also the proud parent of two Synapse students. Some personal passions of his are experimenting with cooking, gardening, playing the ukulele, and adventuring in the great outdoors with his family
ALEJANDRA MORA — ASSOCIATE TEACHER, LEVEL 2
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Alejandra is excited to return to Synapse School as an Associate Teacher in Level 2. She is originally from Mexico City and earned her BA in English Literature from Rice University in Houston, TX. Subsequently, she spent many years in NYC working in law and exploring the arts. After making the move to the Bay Area, she found her passion for education, and, prior to joining Synapse in 2022, Alejandra taught in a mixed-age 1st and 2nd grade class at an independent school in the Bay Area. She is passionate about creating nurturing spaces where children can feel safe to explore and take risks in their learning. In her free time, Alejandra loves visiting museums and enjoys playing video games and crafting with her daughter, Sofia.
CORA POE — LEVEL 3 LEAD TEACHER
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Cora is thrilled to be starting her 5th year at Synapse and with the Level 3 team. Cora graduated from UC Davis with a double major in English and Cultural Anthropology. She loves to bring her interests in reading, writing, people and history into the classroom. Cora worked in public school in Davis, CA, then moved to the Bay Area and entered the independent school system at The Nueva School in 2015. She hopes to promote a pattern of lifelong learning in the students she teaches. Things that bring Cora joy outside of school include reading, travel, playing board games and hiking with her friends.
STEPHANIE POO — LEVEL 2 LEAD TEACHER
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Stephanie will be entering her 6th year at Synapse and third year as a Level 2 lead teacher. In the last few years, Stephanie has taught Level 1, Level 2, and children's art classes, exploring various mediums such as acrylic, watercolor, relief printing, and ceramics. She studied Art and History of Art and Visual Culture at University of California, Santa Cruz and earned a Masters in Education at Santa Clara University. In her free time, Stephanie enjoys writing and collecting children’s books, enjoying time outside, and spending time with her family and dog, Nugget.
NATASHA SANCHEZ — ASSOCIATE TEACHER, TRANSITIONAL KINDERGARTEN
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Natasha is excited to embark on her second year on the Synapse team alongside Teacher Mickey as an Associate teacher in the TK Program. She has worked with Mickey for the last 16 years. TK is a delightful age as the children are so excited to learn. Natasha is married with two children — Santiago and Sofia. She loves spending time with her family and friends, vacationing in the mountains and at the beaches, hiking with her dogs and listening to audio books.
TORI SCHERBA — ASSOCIATE TEACHER, LEVEL 1
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Tori is thrilled to return for her fourth year at Synapse and second year in Level 1 as an Associate Teacher. Tori graduated from the University of Arizona in 2018 with a degree in Psychology. She has tutored elementary-aged children in various subjects as well as volunteered at Brentwood school in East Palo Alto. She has always loved working with children. Besides education, Tori's other passions include animals, cooking and hiking!
ALYSSA SENOREN — ASSOCIATE TEACHER, LEVEL 1
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Alyssa is ecstatic to be joining Synapse for her first year as a Level 1 Associate Teacher. Her passion for teaching started when she moved to Japan so that she could better immerse herself in the culture before seeking jobs as a translator with the UN. However, once Alyssa got a taste for teaching, she knew it was the career meant for her. She taught at one of the branches of the largest language school for children and was consistently ranked among the top 10 teachers out of 70 branches. She later taught at private schools and contributed to creating a curriculum that helped students exceed their age-group learning expectations. In her free time, Alyssa enjoys playing tennis, hiking, spending time with loved ones, traveling and snuggling with her dog, Max.
KAREN SHIN — LEVEL 2 LEAD TEACHER
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Karen is thrilled to be returning to Synapse for her sixth year as a Lead Teacher in Level 2. Karen grew up in the Bay Area and graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a BA in Psychology. Her first teaching assignment was a long-term substitute position, where she taught second grade. This experience ignited a passion for children and Karen spent the next eight years teaching in a Special Ed Transitional Kindergarten classroom. In addition to education, she has a love for the healing arts and is a certified Reiki Master and Ayurveda Health Counselor. She loves seasonal cooking, gardening, and spending time hiking with the love of her life, her dog, Maggie.
ZOE STAMOS — ASSOCIATE TEACHER, LEVEL 3
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Zoe is so excited to be joining the Synapse community as a Level 3 Associate Teacher! A Bay Area Native, Zoe is a graduate of California State University, Chico, where she earned a BA in both Psychology and Musical Theatre. She then spent two years in Colorado, teaching at a Title I school while pursuing her MA in Teaching at Relay Graduate School of Education. Early Childhood Education is Zoe’s passion, and she has experience teaching 3rd grade, 1st grade, preschool, and even music! When she’s not teaching, Zoe enjoys trying new recipes, reading mystery novels, leading worship at her church, hiking and camping, and playing with her cat, Smokey.
jessica stapp — Level 3 lead teacher
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Jessica was born and raised in the Sierra Foothills. She went to college at San Diego State University, earning her BA in Education with an emphasis in Literacy and Performing Arts. She went straight into her Master’s at the University of San Diego where she fell in love with project-based and Social-Emotional Learning. She taught in San Diego for 5 years at a progressive charter school before moving to the Bay. Jessica is so excited to join the Synapse community and continue growing! When she isn’t teaching you can find her reading, cooking, or exploring new restaurants.
KIRSTEN SWIDLER — ASSOCIATE TEACHER, LEVEL 1
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Kirsten is excited to join Synapse as an Associate Teacher for Level 1! She graduated summa cum laude from California Lutheran University in May 2022 with a BA in Liberal Studies in Education and a Minor in Sociology. Graduating in the top 5% of her class, Kirsten was ecstatic to be inducted into the Scholastic Honor Society at CLU. Since graduating, she’s enjoyed working as a substitute teacher within the Moreland School District and found great delight in working with young learners from preschool through 8th grade. Her passion for teaching aligns with a holistic approach, as she finds that engaging in pedagogy within a whole child context is the fundamental ingredient for inspiring well-rounded children. In her free time, Kirsten loves being outdoors, baking delicious foods and traveling to new places!
MISHA TOOFAN - LEVEL 2 LEAD TEACHER
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Misha is thrilled to be back for her third year at Synapse in her role as Level 2 Lead Teacher. She has a BA in Microbiology from Shiraz University, a Web Design degree from Foothill College, and a Medical Assistant Certificate from Boston Reed College. She has been in the educational field for more than 16 years working with students in Kindergarten to 5th grade, both within the Milpitas School District and private schools. She believes all children deserve to have an opportunity to receive a well-rounded education and she is committed to bringing that vision into her classroom every day. She enjoys traveling with her family and tasting food from all around the world. Her hobbies include reading, cooking and outdoor activities.
SEYON VERDTZABELLA — LEVEL 1 LEAD TEACHER
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Seyon is elated to join the Synapse community as a new Lead Teacher in Level 1. He began his career in education at Bing Nursery School, at Stanford University where he graduated with a BA in Developmental Psychology. He also conferred his MS in Education from Capella University. After almost a score of years at Bing, Seyon taught a year at Peninsula School before he became the founding director of a progressive nursery school in San Jose and later a progressive elementary school in Los Gatos. Seyon has taught all levels of K-12 education, including some time as an educational specialist at Open Mind School. He is zealous about exploring pedagogy and learning environments that empower students to become autonomous agents for change. His favorite pastimes include researching, reading and writing poems.
Asher Rose wallace — ASSOCIATE TEACHER, LEVEL 3
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Asher is excited to join the Synapse team as an Associate Teacher in Level 3! After graduating with a BA in Theatre Education and Minor in Psychology from Emerson College, they started working as a theater teacher at various children’s theater companies. For the last three years, Asher has been working as an online tutor for K-5th graders where they found joy in using theater as a curriculum tool for ELA and math. During Asher’s free time, they enjoy watching anime, playing Dungeons and Dragons, road trips, and hanging out with their cat, Sunday.
JESSICA BEATTY-Galdos — STEAM TEACHER
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This is Jessica’s fourth year teaching STEAM at Synapse and seventh year as a classroom teacher. Jessica has worked in education for over a decade through various opportunities including outdoor education and outreach where she brought her love of biology, zoology, and nature to local communities. Jessica holds two masters degrees; one in biology from the University of Bergen in Norway where she focused on ornithology and biodiversity, and one in education through the Bay Area Teacher Training Institute (BATTI) where she focused on social justice and collaborative learning. Along with spending time teaching her two cats Jack and Jane to identify birds from her patio window, Jessica enjoys baking delicious treats, traveling with her wife, and crafting with repurposed materials.
CAROLINE BURD — SPANISH TEACHER
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Caroline is excited to be back at Synapse for her fourth year! Born and raised in San Francisco, Caroline earned her BA in French from Smith College, her MA in Basque Studies from the Université de Bordeaux III, and her PhD in French at the University of Colorado. After helping a Boulder-area charter school start up a French program for their middle and high school, she spent four years at Missouri Western State University as an assistant professor of French before returning to the Bay Area. Caroline has lived in France, Spain, and Germany, and loves traveling, languages, cooking, reading, and spending time with her family.
MICHELLE CHANEY — LANGUAGE ARTS TEACHER
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Michelle is excited to return for her seventh year at Synapse. Originally from the Bay Area, she moved across the country to earn her BA in Psychology from Princeton University and her MSEd in Elementary Education from the University of Pennsylvania. After graduation, Michelle moved to Sydney, Australia, where she taught first grade for three years. Michelle then returned to California in 2015 to work as a second grade associate teacher at The Nueva School. In addition to teaching, Michelle also enjoys coaching springboard diving at her local pool. Some of her greatest passions include traveling, hiking, and collecting beautifully illustrated picture books.
ANNE CHANG — STEAM teacher
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Anne is entering her 12th year of teaching at Synapse and has experience teaching both Lower and Middle School students from 3rd through 8th Grade. Anne came from a 16-year career in health care operations and consulting prior to pursuing her passion for teaching. She received her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from Notre Dame de Namur University, a Masters in Public Health from the University of Michigan, and a BS in Biology from Stanford University. In addition, she enjoys singing, photography, writing, and traveling across the country to cheer on her daughter’s college soccer team.
YIBEI GU — ASSOCIATE TEACHER, MIDDLE SCHOOL STEAM
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Yibei is delighted to join Synapse as a Middle School STEAM Associate Teacher. With a background as a research scientist in the materials and biotech sectors, she has over a decade of experience applying STEAM learning in academia and industry. She is passionate about helping students find their best way of learning and become innovative, independent and collaborative scientific thinkers. Yibei holds a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from Cornell University and an MS in Computer Science from Georgia Institute of Technology. In her free time, Yibei loves exploring new things with her young daughter and traveling with her family.
JOHN GREGORY — LANGUAGE ARTS TEACHER
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John is excited to return for his 9th year in the Synapse Middle School. Growing up in Portland, Oregon, John attended independent schools that instilled him with a lifelong curiosity and passion for education. Seeking to expand his horizons, he attended Vassar College, where he majored in English and Political Science, and enjoyed exploring the Northeast with the rowing team. After graduation, John worked in book publishing before he was accepted as a New York City Teaching Fellow, which allowed him to begin teaching in a new public middle school and earn an MEd in English Education from Fordham. After several years, John took a position teaching English at Columbia Prep and attended City College of New York for an MFA in Creative Writing. John enjoys spending time outdoors with his dogs and discovering all that the Bay Area has to offer.
Tsailin lai — Mandarin TEACHER
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Tsailin is excited to begin another year teaching Mandarin at Synapse School. Tsailin integrates cultural elements into her lessons to give students a deeper understanding of differences and traditions, and is passionate about helping students build confidence and apply their language skills through role-playing and real-life interactions. She believes education shapes both the mind and the heart and strives to make language learning fun and accessible. Tsailin holds an accounting degree from USC but changed careers after having her two daughters and delved into child development courses, later earning a Master's in Teaching Foreign Languages from Middlebury College. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, watching movies, spending time with friends over tea, traveling with family, and trying new cuisine with her husband.
EBEN LAPIER — SOCIAL STUDIES TEACHER
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This is Eben's 10th year as a Synapse teacher and second year teaching Social Studies. After three years as an Associate Teacher in Level 3, Eben joined the Middle School team as a math teacher and advisor. Eben graduated from the University of Puget Sound in 2010 with degrees in Mathematics and Medieval Literature and received his teaching credential from Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont in 2012. Eben is happiest when teaching his students to not fear math, or running simulations and hands-on projects. When he isn’t teaching, he enjoys riding his bike, playing tabletop games, and "marching" with his tuba in the Stanford Band.
BEN MEISELES — MATH TEACHER
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This is Ben's sixth year as a Math Teacher and Middle School Advisor at Synapse. Earning his BS in Mathematics from Duke University, Ben went on to work in professional services at Red Hat for several years. Despite his foray in the tech world, Ben has always wanted to serve as an educator and role model for children. As a math teacher, Ben strives to enable students to embrace the skills and mindsets that create great mathematicians, lifelong learners, and intentional global citizens. When he’s not teaching, you can find Ben jamming some music, hanging with his friends, playing with his pets, or spending time in nature. He’s happiest when doing all of these at the same time.
HALEY PALAMOS - math Teacher
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Haley is happy to be back for her third year at Synapse in her new role as a Math Teacher! Previously, Haley was a MS Associate STEAM teacher. Haley earned her BS in physics from the University of San Francisco and her MS in astronomy from San Diego State University. After graduating, she spent 6 years as Planetarium Director at Eugene Science Center, where she presented live, interactive planetarium shows to hundreds of visiting school groups. Before joining the team at Synapse, she taught physics and astronomy at University Prep, an independent middle and high school in Seattle. In her free time, Haley enjoys baking and spending time outside skiing, hiking, stargazing, and playing disc golf.
SHELLY WHITTET — SOCIAL STUDIES TEACHER
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Shelly is excited to be returning for her fourth year at Synapse as a Middle School teacher and Advisor. Prior to teaching Middle School, she taught 3rd grade and Kindergarten at Nueva. Shelly brings a range of diverse experiences and perspectives to the Synapse community — from managing playground builds with the nonprofit KaBOOM!, to working with Galileo Learning, to serving with the U.S. Peace Corps in Malawi and Niger, to working as a writer for Habitat for Humanity International. Shelly completed her Masters in Education and California teaching credential through BATTI, and she holds an BA in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Shelly loves reading in her hammock, going on adventures, quality time with friends, and crafty endeavors.
JULIE ANTUPIT — LEARNING SPECIALIST
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Julie is thrilled to be back for her second year as a Learning Specialist at Synapse! She started her teaching career in the Boston area at Landmark, a school for dyslexic students, where she was trained in multi-sensory, structured literacy methods and pursued her Masters in Elementary Education at Lesley College. She enjoyed teaching 4th grade at Shady Hill and Park School and being a learning specialist at Park and Brookwood before completing her training as a reading specialist at MGH in Boston. Julie moved to the Bay Area in 2012 and enjoyed being a learning specialist at the Carey School for 10 years. Julie is passionate about supporting children in developing the skills to thrive as independent learners in school and beyond! In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and college-age son, traveling, and exploring new places and cultures.
PAIGE CAREY — LEARNING SPECIALIST
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Paige is happy to be back for her 11th year at Synapse and third year as a Learning Specialist, after teaching Level 1 for most of her career here. After attending the University of San Diego and receiving a BA in Marine Science, Paige moved back to the Bay Area to pursue a career that intertwines both education and marine life. She completed her Masters in Education - Curriculum and Instruction at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont. She has worked with Galileo Learning Inc. and has been a Team Leader, Lead Instructor in Art, and Lead Instructor in Science for a variety of ages. She is also developing a new business, Little's Athletics & Education, working with children in afterschool programs, enrichment, school breaks and summer camps. Paige is passionate about instilling a sense of creativity and confidence in children in all aspects of life and learning, as well as having loads of fun. She possesses many talents and passions such as singing, playing piano and ukulele, dancing, swimming, kayaking, painting and crafting, cooking, and spouting off fun facts about sea life.
BERNIE CASTRO — PHYSICAL EDUCATION SPECIALIST
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Bernie has been teaching at Synapse for 7 years and has been coaching kids in sports since the age of 19. He is a multi-sport athlete born and raised in the Bay Area. His devotion for coaching and thoughtfulness for kids developed from being the oldest of six siblings. Bernie is passionate about teaching the youth world life skills through sports. He is excited to start the school year and motivated to be a role model for the Change Makers here at Synapse.
CORINNE CRISTIANI — GARDEN SCIENCE SPECIALIST
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Corinne is absolutely thrilled to be starting her second year with the Synapse community as a Garden Science Specialist. Corinne was previously a middle- and high-school math teacher, and while taking some time to raise her two young kids, she deepened her love of gardening. Returning to working in schools, she is envisioning the garden as a multi-disciplinary classroom filled with opportunities to explore curricular connections and cultivate joy in nature. Corinne holds an MA from San Francisco State in Math Education, and a BS from the University of Maryland in Aerospace Engineering. In her free time, she likes tinkering and doing crafty projects, hiking, playing games, and relaxing with her kids, husband, dog and friends.
NATALIE EINHORN — DIRECTOR OF FINE ARTS; PERFORMING ARTS SPECIALIST
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Natalie is excited to return for her 12th year at Synapse as the Director of Fine Arts and Performing Arts Specialist. She has a deep passion for guiding students through the world of music and performance. She uses an interactive approach that specializes in integrating performance curriculum with social studies, language arts, STEAM, and design thinking. Natalie has taught in private schools on the Peninsula since 2001. She also taught for four years at Cantabile Youth Singers of Silicon Valley. Natalie received her BA in music from the University of California, Santa Cruz and her Masters in Vocal Performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She has completed the three levels of Orff Schulwerk training at Mills College along with other Orff specialty courses. When not teaching, Natalie enjoys spending time with her husband and two children: a Synapse Middle Schooler and a recent Synapse graduate.
PIETRA ESCALANTE — LEARNING CENTER SPECIALIST, MATH
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Pietra is thrilled to be returning for her third year at Synapse as a Math Specialist and to be part of the Learning Center team. She holds a BA and MA in Mathematics, and did research in Discrete Mathematics for several years before finding a passion for discovering how children learn, which led her to designing ludic activities in order to understand how children solve math problems. Pietra enjoys cooking (not that she is good at it!), reading, attending concerts, watching art house and international films and walking in nature.
TOM KRAMER — MATH SPECIALIST, LOWER SCHOOL
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Tom is delighted to be joining the Synapse community as a Math Specialist for Lower School. Tom earned his BA in Economics and Psychology from Claremont McKenna College, his MBA from Stanford and his teaching credential from NDNU. Before his teaching career, Tom had a successful entrepreneurial career including as CEO of a venture funded startup. In 2013, he switched careers and followed his passion to become a middle school math teacher, most recently at Alt School in San Francisco. When Tom’s not teaching, he loves traveling, skiing, surfing, Warriors basketball and spending time with his family. His daughter is a freshman at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland and his son is a junior at Palo Alto High School.
ANDY KITT — SEL SPECIALIST, TK-8
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After 16 years as a high school History teacher — and eight years as a Synapse parent — Andy has finally seen the light and eagerly joins the Synapse faculty. Inspired by his students’ curiosity and enthusiasm, but concerned about the rising stress levels he saw, Andy jumped into Social-Emotional Learning primarily through Synapse & Six Seconds. He spent over a decade teaching EQ and mindfulness to students and teachers at the Menlo School. Since 2020, Andy has been a success coach for teens while leading parent and student workshops focused on EQ and positive psychology approaches to improving relationships and well-being. Decades ago, Andy worked as a consultant in the U.S. and Russia and, before that, as an academic counselor at Georgetown University, where he earned a BA in Russian and an MA from the School of Foreign Service. He loves hiking, singing, traveling, and striving to beat his sons at complicated board games.
JOSH LEVIN — COMPUTING & ENGINEERING SPECIALIST
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Josh Levin is a mechanical engineer and educator from Sunnyvale. He completed his bachelor's at Northeastern University and earned a Master's in learning design, innovation and technology from Harvard University. As an undergraduate student, Josh interned at both Apple and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory working on the Mars Perseverance Rover. Prior to joining Synapse, Josh competed internationally for the US Climbing Team and is a four-time finalist on American Ninja Warrior. Josh is passionate about hands-on learning and working with students on projects to help them gain confidence and realize their potential.
EARLY MCCALISTER — PERFORMING ARTS SPECIALIST
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Early has a unique combination of education and professional experience that allows him to teach with tremendous passion and enthusiasm that inspires his students to achieve their goals and enjoy playing music. He has earned a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in Music Education with an emphasis in Social Justice. His education provides a solid foundation in a variety of teaching pedagogies and is well-versed in student-centered, project based teaching to students from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds and cultures. Early has an effective personalized approach to classroom and private instruction for Instrumental and Vocal Music, Improvisation, Composition, and Songwriting. In addition to teaching, he has over 25 years of experience as a Performing Artist, Musician, and Musical Director/Bandleader for concerts, private events and television shows.
BRITNEI MERCKLE — VISUAL ARTS & DESIGN SPECIALIST
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Britnei received her MA in Art Education in 2012 from NYU Steinhardt in New York City. She also holds a BFA in Fine Art Photography from Ohio University with a minor in Theater Arts. Britnei is a New York State Certified Arts Educator and has taught art at a variety of private schools, including the United Nations International School, where she designed and implemented lesson plans for a digital photography class. She has developed a theme-based curriculum for art classes and curated exhibitions of student work. She also has a great deal of studio experience. Britnei looks forward to her 9th year here at Synapse supporting the arts and innovation programs.
CHRISTOPHER POPE — ENGINEERING & DESIGN SPECIALIST
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Christopher is a carpenter, educator, and artist. Since 2012, he has been practicing carpentry in one form or another. Christopher has an extensive history of teaching kids at the intersections of arts and carpentry. He received his BA from CSU East Bay in 2014 with a focus in Art History. In 2015 he joined the Project Ember team as their first staff hire, teaching kids creative arts and engineering. Also in 2015, Christopher joined the Stepping Stones Project to mentor and counsel young boys on their journey into young-adulthood. He is passionate about social justice education and has been involved in anti-racist and anti-sexist organizing for the past five years. At Synapse, Christopher loves tinkering and is dedicated to bringing the principles of justice and equity, as well as SEL, into the work he does with students in the Engineering & Design Center. When he isn’t working, Christopher can be found at home with his family and beautiful daughter, Salma, the love of his life!
LAUREN ROBERTSON — LEARNING SPECIALIST
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Lauren is an Educational Therapist from La Jolla, CA, specializing in learning and developmental differences. She has an extensive background in education and psychology and knowledge of learning differences. Lauren is passionate about reading intervention and the integration of mind, brain education into her work. She uses research-based reading methods like Orton-Gillingham to create a multisensory connection by using sight, hearing, touch, and movement to help students connect with language and phonetics. Lauren fosters a growth mindset in all her students and encourages development through student agency, and creating and implementing individualized learning plans. She enjoys connecting with her students and their families and collaborating with other professionals to ensure the reinforcement of students' goals. Lauren works with multiple literacy-based nonprofit organizations providing reading services to students with developmental disabilities and at-risk youth. She is looking forward to her third year working with Synapse students and families.
ELIZABETH ROSE — SEL SPECIALIST, MIDDLE SCHOOL
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Elizabeth is looking forward to her third year at Synapse in her new role as a Middle School SEL specialist. She spent the last two years as an Associate Teacher in Lower School. She came to the Bay Area from Mammoth Lakes, CA, as a BATTI graduate student after working as an elementary and middle school librarian. Elizabeth graduated from UC San Diego with a Literature/Writing degree and has worked in both the traditional classroom and outdoor education. She also led writing workshops for after school programming and is passionate about the craft of storytelling through writing, music, dance, theater and visual arts. In her free time, Elizabeth enjoys surfing, climbing, biking, exploring wild places and growing edible flowers.
JOSH ROTHHAAS — COORDINATOR OF ENGINEERING & DESIGN
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After four years as a consultant and co-designer for the Makerspace at Synapse, Josh is super excited to start his second year on staff. Over the last decade, Josh helped found a school called Brightworks in San Francisco, was the Director of Tinkering School, and is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of Project Ember. He is passionate about empowering kids to use physical and mental tools to see themselves as agents of change in a malleable world. Whether he is teaching 9-year-olds how to use a miter saw to cut lumber, or 14-year-olds how to do critical path analysis to reach their goals, Josh has an innate talent for connecting with children on an individual level and helping them to engage with their projects from a place of authentic enthusiasm. He's committed to creating a failure-positive environment where ideation and experimentation thrive. Josh loves logic problems, magic tricks, surfing, and when kids give each other sincere and specific gratitude.
EMMA SAMEROYNINA — MIDDLE SCHOOL LITERACY SPECIALIST
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Emma is delighted to join the Synapse community and share her knowledge and experience in the world of literacy. Earning a BA in Applied Behavior Analysis from SUNY Binghamton and an MA in Curriculum and Teaching from Teachers College, Emma has spent several years experimenting and researching the complexities of reading and writing curriculum for both elementary and middle school students. Previously, she worked as a humanities teacher at Helios School and then at The Nueva School, developing a deep interest on how to help different learners become confident writers. In her free time, Emma teaches workout classes at Barre3 Menlo Park and strives to become a better skier this year. This past summer, Emma got married and traveled throughout Italy for her honeymoon!
KEIKO SATO — SEL SPECIALIST, LOWER SCHOOL
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Keiko Sato is an international educator committed to Social-Emotional Learning. She believes in the power of play, connection and compassionate limit-setting. Over three decades as an educator, she has worked with students ranging from TK to 12th grade, and with parents and teachers, both in the U.S. and in Japan. Keiko is passionate about designing and teaching meaningful SEL curricula, facilitating small groups, and providing one-on-one coaching. She holds a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology from Keio University, and another Master’s degree in Education, with an emphasis on curriculum development, from Stanford University. Keiko is a parent of two sons, ages 20 and 17. She enjoys Zumba, painting, entertaining, and reviving orchids.
ELIZABETH SCAFANI — DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS; PHYSICAL EDUCATION SPECIALIST
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Entering her 8th year at Synapse, Elizabeth is excited to continue developing Synapse's athletic, physical education and wellness programs. She earned her BA in Psychology, magna cum laude with distinction, from Sonoma State University in 2009. In August 2021, Elizabeth completed her MA in Educational Leadership from Mills College with a focus on equity and justice in schools. Her research was to determine effectiveness of Distance Learning and she spearheaded a literacy outreach project with the North Fair Oaks community. Elizabeth ran NCAA Div II Track & Field and Cross Country as an undergrad and loved coaching the collegiate team of women after she completed her degree. She loves to run, bike, swim, spend time with her husband and dog, and enjoys cooking (and eating) plant-based cuisine.
KATHLEEN SHULENBERGER — PERFORMING ARTS ASSOCIATE TEACHER
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Kathleen is eager to join the Synapse community as a Performing Arts Associate Teacher this fall. She has more than 20 years of experience as a music educator working with students from newborn through middle school. Within the music classroom, Kathleen strives to provide a learning environment where every student is an active participant and is encouraged to discover and create. She is experienced in Orff and Kodaly inspired classroom music, choir, movement, keyboard, recorder, band, world drumming and teacher training. Kathleen enjoys singing in local choirs and spending time with her family and dogs.
MACARENA SOSNIK — VISUAL ARTS & DESIGN SPECIALIST
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Maca is a graphic designer by training from the Universidad Finis Terrae in Chile who worked in marketing and corporate design for 20 years and a crafter/maker by passion. A native Spanish speaker, she seeks to inspire children to create the things they use, wear, and play with. Maca has been working with us for the past 8 years bringing together the worlds of design and SEL and creating another layer of constructivist learning by integrating art projects into the school curriculum. She also offers students empowering Maker opportunities during the school day and after school. Maca is a mom of a Synapse alum and a 3rd grader. In her free time, she enjoys spending time outdoors.
ANNIE TURNER — GARDEN SCIENCE SPECIALIST
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Annie is thrilled to bring her passion for gardening to the students and community of Synapse. A love of the natural environment and deep appreciation of food and cooking has kept Annie in the garden throughout her life and this is the second school garden that Annie has helped to grow from seed. Annie believes school gardens are a rich resource for integrating project-based learning into core academic subjects like science and social studies, helping to connect our food choices to social, environmental, political and economic impacts. A mother of two, Annie hopes to inspire kids to feel the healing power of getting dirt under their fingernails, explore the garden dichotomy of control versus chaos, and discover the sheer delight of tasting a sweet juicy tomato grown from seed. Annie is from the Pacific Northwest, where she earned degrees in English and Fine Arts from Pacific Lutheran University.
PAULO VALENCIA — PHYSICAL EDUCATION SPECIALIST
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Paulo is a graduate of San Jose State University and holds a BS in Kinesiology. He comes to Synapse after working with children under 2 in the Stanford community and over 10 years at the athletics department of the Boys and Girls Club of Redwood City. He enjoys teaching sports and motivating youth to develop an interest for staying active and healthy. Paulo is excited to be a part of the Synapse team and inspire students through Physical Education. He loves to spend time with his 6 year old son at the park and watch him throw, shoot and kick a ball. He enjoys attending sporting events, barbecuing and spending time with family and friends.
BRIAN BICKNELL — DIRECTOR OF ENGINEERING & DESIGN
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A founding Middle School teacher at Synapse in the 2010-11 school year, who has filled a variety of roles throughout the Middle School, Brian is excited to start his 14th year continuing in his role as the Director of Engineering & Design. He is most excited to push the envelope of what engineering and making education can be to support the Synapse mission of “Educating a Community of Change Makers.” When Brian isn’t “saying yes” in the EDC, you can find him hanging out in the desert or tropics with his wife, Katie, and daughters Owyn and Ivy. Brian enjoys music, running, guitar/music electronics, solving problems and traveling. Brian earned a BA in English and a single-subject teaching credential in English from San Diego State University and an M.Ed in Independent School Leadership from Vanderbilt University.
Holly Campbell — ASSOCIATE HEAD OF LOWER SCHOOL; DIRECTOR OF NEW TEACHER
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Holly is delighted to enter her 11th year at Synapse! After spending 15 years of teaching, and spending most of her time in Level 3, she is eager to take on a new role in the Lower School and is looking forward to guiding new teachers who will be joining Synapse’s vibrant community. Prior to Synapse, Holly pursued her passion for education, earning a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies K-8 at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, TN where she went on to teach for 5 years at a Title I school. Beyond her commitment to education, you’ll find Holly immersed in her love for painting, going to concerts, and listening to stories and building meaningful relationships. With her passion for teaching and love for connections, Holly is ready for a new and exciting journey this year!
HILIARY CUTSINGER — BUSINESS & TRANSPORTATION MANAGER
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Hiliary, a native of the Bay Area, received a BA in Sociology from Arizona State University. She joined Synapse School in 2015 as the Front Desk and Head’s Assistant. Hiliary was appointed to Business and Transportation Manager starting in the 2016-17 school year. Her primary role is to support the business office as well as oversee operations of the school and shuttle program. Outside of Synapse, Hiliary has spent time volunteering in the San Mateo County Emergency Room and with the Airmen & Family Readiness Program.
MAY DUONG — DIRECTOR OF SEL (SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING)
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May directs the SEL program at Synapse with passion and a clear vision, blending her expertise in emotional intelligence, mindfulness, positive psychology, and coaching. May founded and continues to lead Synapse's Parent Education program, a feature that keeps Synapse’s SEL program on the leading edge. May organizes EQ training for the teaching staff, develops the strategic plan for students’ SEL curriculum, and teaches Self Science. Prior to Synapse, May was the founding Director of Parent Education with Six Seconds, where she started the United Nations Children’s Day Festival and the Raising Humans parenting podcast. Besides her SEL role, May also co-leads the Equity, Inclusion and Diversity efforts at Synapse, which focuses on ensuring an inclusive and accessible school community. May earned an MBA from New York University Stern School of Business and a BA in Philosophy and Asian Studies from Mount Holyoke College. May is a trainer with Six Seconds and certified with the International Coaches Federation. When not working, May enjoys majestic views of nature, watching her family savor her culinary creations, and reading anything that shifts her current paradigm.
JIM EAGEN — HEAD OF SCHOOL
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Jim has enjoyed an outstanding career as classroom teacher, coach, and seasoned administrator. A graduate of an independent school himself, he went on to receive his BA from Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York, spent a year at St. Clare’s College, Oxford, studying art history, and completed a master’s degree in international and comparative education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Jim has served on numerous committees emphasizing school leadership and teacher professional development and was granted a Ford Fellow for Aspiring School Heads from the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). On a personal note, he has authored short stories and books for young readers, climbed 6,000 meter peaks in South America and Asia, competed at the Ironman World Championships, and loves spending time laughing and learning with his wife and their two kids, a junior in college and a recent Synapse graduate.
NATALIE EINHORN — DIRECTOR OF FINE ARTS; PERFORMING ARTS SPECIALIST
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Natalie is thrilled to return for her 12th year at Synapse as the Director of Fine Arts and Performing Arts Specialist. She has a deep passion for guiding students through the world of music and performance. She uses an interactive approach that specializes in integrating performance curriculum with social studies, language arts, STEAM, and design thinking. Natalie has taught in private schools on the Peninsula since 2001. She also taught for four years at Cantabile Youth Singers of Silicon Valley. Natalie received her BA in music from the University of California, Santa Cruz and her Masters in Vocal Performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She has completed the three levels of Orff Schulwerk training at Mills College along with other Orff specialty courses. When not teaching, Natalie enjoys spending time with her husband and two children: a Synapse Middle Schooler and a recent Synapse graduate.
RADHIKA GOSAVI — ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF THE BRAINWAVE LEARNING CENTER
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Radhika is excited to synergize information from the fields of Education and Neuroscience in the Brainwave Learning Center, a research-practice partnership between Synapse and Stanford University. Radhika is passionate about understanding the processes that take place in our brains as we learn, and leveraging those insights to enhance learning experiences. Her journey as an educational neuroscientist has been enriched by a variety of experiences from academic research, and teaching undergraduate and graduate courses to science communication and fostering global educational development. Radhika’s research interests include memory processing, executive functions, multisensory learning, and cognitive development. She has earned a BS in Cognitive Science/Neuroscience and Psychology from University of California-San Diego and an MS and PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Outside her brainy pursuits, Radhika loves to dance, paint, and explore nature!
SARAH HILL — DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITY PROGRAMS
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Sarah is excited to start her 7th year at Synapse, supporting development, marketing, and communications. She came to Synapse from The Nueva School, where she worked as the school’s Event Coordinator and managed the international 2017 Innovative Learning Conference. Prior to her entrance into the world of independent schools, she coordinated author events at Books Inc in Palo Alto. Sarah originally hails from the Pacific Northwest, where she grew up in Eugene, Oregon, surrounded by green trees and rain, and received her BA in History, with a minor in Classics, from The University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. She loves photography and the outdoors, spreadsheets and organization, reading and researching obscure historical figures, and playing with and loving her kittens, Gustav & Casimir.
ISHA JAIN — Director of Technology & Research and Development
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Now in her 8th year at Synapse, Isha is thrilled to continue to lead technology at Synapse as well as spearhead new initiatives in the space of research and development. Isha started as a math teacher and advisor in the Synapse Middle School and has since served a variety of roles. Prior to joining Synapse, Isha enjoyed a range of experiences, from being in the classroom to leading and developing new programs in a school environment. Isha holds a Masters in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Boston University and an undergraduate degree in Business Administration. A graduate of an experiential and project-based school herself, Isha is a strong proponent of this approach to education. She enjoys cooking, traveling, playing board games, painting, working on puzzles and playing with her young daughter.
YVONNE KUNSTENAAR — DIRECTOR OF LITERACY; ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF LEARNING CENTER
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Now in her 14th year at Synapse, Yvonne is thrilled to continue leading the literacy efforts school-wide and also to start in her new role in the Learning Center. Prior to her current position, Yvonne was a Level 2 Lead Teacher and also worked closely with our Associate Teachers. After working in the corporate world, Yvonne discovered the joy of working with children. She has taught all school ages from Kindergarten through 6th grade as a teacher and science specialist. Yvonne’s passion is to inspire all children to love to read, which has led her to volunteer with several organizations where she has tutored young readers. She received her teaching credential from Notre Dame de Namur University, MBA from The University of Pennsylvania, and BA from Columbia University. Yvonne loves spending time with her family: her husband, two daughters, and several rabbits. After many years of long distance running, she now enjoys going on long walks in nature. In her moments of free time, Yvonne also enjoys time with a good book.
DANA KUPER — DIRECTOR OF SYNAPSE LEARNING CENTER
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Dana has served students with learning needs in a variety of school settings for over 15 years. Now in her 8th year at Synapse, she is thrilled to be back to develop the Learning Center program. She was with us for four years as a Learning Specialist, but more broadly and importantly, Dana helped our young and emerging school develop a learning support program and process. Dana started her career in education at The Kildonan School, a boarding school for students with dyslexia, where she was trained in the Orton-Gillingham Approach and taught math. She taught elementary and middle school students at The Churchill School and The Children's Storefront in NYC. She worked as a middle school Learning Specialist at Town School for Boys in San Francisco before returning to Synapse. An Amherst College graduate and college athlete, she received her MS in Special Education from Hunter College. Outside of teaching, she is an expert off-road cyclist and enjoys painting landscapes inspired by her rides.
JOSH MOREAU — CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER (CFO)
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This is Josh's 8th year as Synapse's CFO. Josh is also the CFO and COO of boostED Finance. Prior to becoming CFO and COO, Josh served as Victory Education Partners’ Director of Accounting and Finance and was responsible for oversight of the organization’s accounting and finance department. While at Victory, Josh’s duties included the oversight and management of all accounting functions, development of annual financial budgets, and preparation and review of monthly, quarterly and annual financial statements. This enabled schools to gain access to federal entitlement dollars in a regular, expedient manner. Josh is a graduate of DePaul University in Chicago, and currently splits his time between New York and California.
KATIE MORGAN — HEAD OF LOWER SCHOOL
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Now in her 14th year at Synapse as an instructional leader and Level 3 Lead Teacher veteran, Katie works with students in each Lower School level, leading literacy efforts, advising staff, and acting as Synapse’s master teacher. A transplant from Virginia, Katie taught 4th grade in a public school in southeastern Virginia and then moved to work as a research associate at The University of Michigan’s Autism and Communication Disorders Center (UMACC) for two years. Katie has a BA in Psychology and an MA in Reading, Language and Literacy from The College of William and Mary. In her free time, Katie enjoys playing with her young daughters, as well as reading and traveling. For years her bio has said that she “is working to enjoy running.” That hasn’t happened yet, but there’s still hope.
JOANNE MULL — ASSISTANT TO HEAD OF SCHOOL
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Joanne emigrated with her family from the Island of Malta as a young woman. Joanne was a stay-at-home mom for many years and joined the workforce again after her children graduated Middle School. She has a son who lives in North Carolina and a daughter who teaches in Woodside. She has had previous careers in accounting and customer service. As a 30-year resident of the North Fair Oaks neighborhood, Joanne has watched Synapse grow and thrive and is excited to be a part of the staff team.
RAQUEL MUNOZ — ADMISSIONS & FAMILY ENGAGEMENT ASSOCIATE
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Raquel is thrilled to be joining the Synapse team. She will be supporting Admissions and family engagement initiatives. Raquel grew up in Miami, FL and graduated from Florida State University with a double major in Public Relations & Spanish and a Masters in Integrated Marketing Communications. Raquel spent over a decade focusing on partnerships and business development in the music, entertainment and travel industries. She has sat on the board of Beth Jacob Preschool, taught at Adelante Selby Spanish Immersion School and St. Pius. On a personal note, she is a proud parent of two Synapse students, loves spending time with family and friends, traveling, exploring nature, and photography.
ALEXIS ROSEN — DIRECTOR OF AUXILIARY PROGRAMS
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Lexi recently moved to California from Virginia, where she received her MA in Education and Curriculum Content from George Mason University. Lexi has lived in five different states throughout her life and experienced being both a student and teacher in a number of diverse school systems. This insight inspired her to pursue working in a non-traditional school, like Synapse, whose experimental methods could, one day, positively transform the American education system as a whole. Before Synapse, Lexi worked as a teacher and administrator within an innovative early childhood center. She has also taught high school English and completed research examining the benefits of art integration into traditionally “academic” subjects for high school students, her subject for her Masters’ Thesis. When not at Synapse, Lexi enjoys exploring her new home in San Francisco, camping, playing with her cat ‘Big Kitty”, and eating enough blueberries to keep her hair from turning back to brown.
ELIZABETH SCAFANI — DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS; PHYSICAL EDUCATION SPECIALIST
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Entering her 8th year at Synapse, Elizabeth is excited to continue developing Synapse's athletic and physical education programs. She earned her BA in Psychology, magna cum laude with distinction, from Sonoma State University in 2009. Elizabeth completed her MA in Educational Leadership from Mills College in 2021 with a focus on equity and justice in schools. Elizabeth ran NCAA Division II Track & Field and Cross Country as an undergrad and loved coaching the collegiate team of women after she completed her degree. Before becoming an educator, Elizabeth held a career in personal training and has always had a passion for healthy living, fitness and nutrition. She loves to run, bike, swim, row, spend time with her husband and French bulldog and enjoys cooking (and eating) plant-based cuisine.
SOPHIE SCAFANI — ASSISTANT TO HEADS OF LOWER AND MIDDLE SCHOOL
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Sophie was born and raised in the Bay Area. Prior to joining Synapse, she studied Early Childhood Development at Cañada College and worked as a preschool teacher, where she found a love for aiding in children's education. She is excited to be a part of the Synapse family and help support both the Lower and Middle School faculty and students. Sophie has a long-held love for film photography and can often be found shooting pictures of friends, family, dogs, nature and foods around the Bay Area or Lake Tahoe. Another passion and talent she holds is baking elaborate vegan sweets and sharing them with others. Sophie enjoys music, movies, and petting every dog that comes her way.
SARA SCHNELL — MIDDLE SCHOOL COUNSELOR
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Sara is excited to join Synapse as the first Middle School Counselor, after spending six years as the parent of a Synapse student, now Synapse alum. Sara brings with her 27 years of experience working as a Clinical Social Worker and Psychotherapist in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area. Sara graduated from Skidmore College with a BS in Political Science, and from Hunter College School of Social Work with a Masters in Social Work. After moving to California, Sara worked as the Chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Kaiser in both Richmond and Redwood City, before opening her own private psychotherapy practice in Menlo Park, specializing in working with adolescents. After becoming a parent, Sara took time off from her practice, and served on the boards of the Greater Bay Area Make-A-Wish foundation, the Menlo Atherton Little League, and the leadership team of Common Ground Speaker Series. When she is not working, she enjoys reading, running and cheering on both her high school aged son and her beloved San Francisco Giants.
STEPHANIE SETO — HEAD OF MIDDLE SCHOOL
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Now in her 10th year at Synapse, Stephanie is excited to continue her role as Head of Middle School. Stephanie was previously the Director of STEAM, and her passion for exploration and education grew from roles as a field researcher and educator in museums and nature centers throughout college, graduate school, and as a professional. Stephanie earned her BS in Biology and Anthropology/Zoology from the University of Michigan and her MA in Conservation Biology from Columbia University. Prior to joining Synapse, Stephanie taught and developed K-12 science curriculum in New York City at The Browning School, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Black Rock Forest Consortium. Outside of Synapse, Stephanie loves laughing and exploring with her two kids, her husband, and Albert, the dog.
NICOLE STONE — FRONT DESK; AFTER CARE COORDINATOR
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Nicole was born in Tobago and moved to New York City when she was 6. She went through school in the United States and at 18 returned to Tobago to help manage her family’s business – a popular restaurant, bar, and guest house. Working with many different kinds of people and personalities there to develop and support successful teams, she learned a great deal early on about organizational skills, responsibility, hard work, and relationships. Nicole moved back to the U.S. where she now lives with her son, who is a Synapse graduate. She has worked at Synapse in a number of roles, including receptionist, teacher’s assistant, and as a leader in the After Care and After School Programs. She has also worked as an early childhood teacher. Nicole loves working with children and loves being a part of the Synapse team.
DANA STORY — DIRECTOR OF ADMISSIONS
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Now in her 9th year in Admissions at Synapse, Dana is excited for the upcoming admissions season and engaging prospective families. Dana is passionate about building community, Social-Emotional Learning, and the education of the whole child. Dana is a Synapse parent of an alum and middle schooler and has experienced Synapse from Kindergarten to 8th Grade. Before joining Synapse, Dana was a teacher at Barron Park Preschool in Palo Alto, SynC Co-Chair, Business Manager and exhibiting artist at HANG ART gallery in San Francisco. She has a BA in Visual Arts from the University of California, San Diego and studied art in Florence, Italy. Dana loves spending time with family and friends, reading, swimming, painting, plants, and finding new foods to try.
ERIC STORY — DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
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Eric joined the Synapse staff in 2022 as our Director of Operations. Eric’s background is in Retail Leadership, most recently as a Store Manager for Whole Foods Market. Eric also served as an early leader of the Synapse parent association, SynC, and is thrilled to bring his passion for detail and organization to the Synapse community to help keep our facilities in the best shape possible. He is the father of a Synapse alum and a middle schooler, and is excited to be part of a community educating future Change Makers. Outside of work, Eric’s interests include running, sustainable agriculture, gardening, hiking and a newfound excitement for surfing.
LIZ TOOMARIAN — DIRECTOR OF THE BRAINWAVE LEARNING CENTER
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Liz has always loved being in school environments, both as a learner and an instructor, and is thrilled to be a part of the Synapse community as the leader of the Brainwave Learning Center, a collaboration with Stanford University. As an educational neuroscientist, she strives to bring together neuroscience researchers with educational practitioners to better understand and improve the learning process. Liz earned a BS in Cognitive Science/Neuroscience from University of California, San Diego and a PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she taught the undergraduate course “Mind, Brain and Education.” Her doctoral research focused on numerical understanding, spatial thinking, and how the brain develops associations between numbers and space. Since moving from Wisconsin, Liz has been enjoying the beautiful California weather. She enjoys exploring state and national parks and trying out new recipes.
JENNIFER WENCES — COMMUNICATIONS & Financial aid ASSOCIATE
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Jennifer is thrilled to be starting her third year at Synapse as a Communications and Financial Aid Associate. Prior to joining Synapse, Jennifer enjoyed a range of experiences from working in the non-profit sector within the criminal justice system to working in law enforcement. Jennifer holds a BS in Business Management from Menlo College. In her free time, Jennifer enjoys cooking, trying new boba spots, and spending time with her dog, Lucy.
JAMIE WHITE — DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS
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Jamie is delighted to start her second year at Synapse as the Director of Communications. A Bay Area native, Jamie has spent most of her 20-year career in journalism, working for major metro newspapers and digital media organizations. She earned degrees in Journalism and Elementary Education from the University of Colorado at Boulder and graduated from Columbia University with an MS in Journalism. In her free time, Jamie enjoys spending time with her husband and three children — all Synapse students — and their dog, Jax.
The Synapse Leadership Team moves our school’s strategic vision into every day practice. Members of Leadership hold diverse functions and areas of expertise but operate in the best interests of the school as a collaborative and supportive group. The Team proactively resolves issues, models empathy, and supports each other when making decisions. Our doors are always open!