Head of School
Carol A. Swainson, Head of School, has been an administrator in independent schools for 18 years and has taught nearly every discipline from grades 3 through adult. Her various administrative roles have included Diversity Coordinator (Sidwell Friends School), Head of Middle School (Head-Royce School & University of Chicago Laboratory Schools), Associate Head of School (St. James’ Episcopal School) and Head of K-8 (Bentley School). Carol earned a B.A. in French and Spanish languages and an M.Ed. in social foundations from the University of Virginia. Throughout her career, Carol has been an advocate for experiential, international, and arts education; has overseen significant school growth and construction efforts; has championed sustainability, diversity, equity, and social justice; and has been a trailblazer in curriculum development, leading the way for the integration of technology and twenty-first century teaching and learning initiatives. A globalist at heart, Carol is fluent in French and Spanish and has also studied Italian and Arabic. She is also an amateur oboist and composer, having produced original works for theatrical and performance art shows and art installations. She resides in Oakland with her husband artist Stevens Jay Carter. Together, they advocate for the arts as a way to cultivate social change and to promote peace, harmony, and well-being.
Jina Kim, Operations Director, earned her B.A. in psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and an M.A. at the University of Chicago in Social Service Administration. She went on to earn a J.D. at Northwestern University. Jina has worked with elementary-aged children in multiple capacities, including developing and teaching a Bridge Kindergarten, creating and leading an educational program for Vietnamese immigrant children, teaching science classes at the Lawrence of Hall of Science, supervising children in an after school program, and interning as a social worker at a children’s hospital. She also spent several years at Morrison Foerster LLP as an attorney, leading teams of 20 or more individuals on complex litigation cases. Jina has three children attending Schoolhouse this year, twin girls in kindergarten, and a son in fifth grade. She has also been a Board member since 2016.
Board of Trustees
As an independent school, the San Francisco Schoolhouse is governed by a Board of Trustees. The Board’s primary responsibilities are to ensure the school’s financial health, to work with the Head of School in developing a long-term strategic plan for the school, and to support and evaluate the Head of School’s development and performance. The Board approves the annual operating budget, takes a leadership role in fundraising, and participates in planning and maintaining the school’s physical plant.
Erin Cooney, Board President, earned her B.S. at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and spent 19 years working in accounting, finance and sales operations for public accounting, start-ups and software companies in the Bay Area. With the birth of her third child she gave up the corporate world. At the same time her oldest child embarked on kindergarten. After looking at all the school options, she became passionate not only about a true progressive education but about a school where parents are an integral part of the journey along with their children. With that in mind, she teamed up with Rebecca Dake, another founding parent, to start the San Francisco Schoolhouse. Her youngest child attends the Schoolhouse.
Emily McFarland, Secretary, has a son at the Schoolhouse. Emily earned her B.S. at Santa Clara University and has worked in the nonprofit sector for over 21 years on environmental and social justices issues. She is currently the Director of Stewardship at St. John’s Episcopal church in Ross.
Ryan Laponis, a California native, is the son of an elementary school teacher. He was raised in Santa Barbara and has lived in the Bay Area since 1998. SF Schoolhouse’s commitment to building agency in children through honoring their curiosity and cultivating community through celebrating difference resonates deeply with Ryan’s values. As a practicing primary care physician and an associate professor of medicine at the University of California San Francisco who specializes in curriculum development and teaching communication skills, he is deeply committed to helping create spaces where all voices can be heard and understood. Ryan and his partner have two children and both are enrolled at SF Schoolhouse.
Robert Innes is a long-time lawyer for San Francisco financial services firm Charles Schwab. The father of four children and husband of a former SFUSD teacher, he believes that innovation in education is the key to keeping San Francisco a strong, vibrant and energetic place. He is grateful for the difference that Schoolhouse has made for his family and a firm believer in the power of Schoolhouse to do the same thing for many other families. Robert is a graduate of Cornell University and the University of Chicago and has one child (so far) at the Schoolhouse.
Jesse Mainardi, an East Coast native, grew-up outside of Philadelphia eating cheesesteaks and going to the Jersey Shore. Many years ago, he taught in New Jersey and developed an enduring respect for teachers and an appreciation for their importance in the life of a child. In addition to serving on the Schoolhouse board, Jesse has also been actively involved in public education reform organizations through the years. Jesse values the creative and empowering environment at the Schoolhouse as well as its community of families. Jesse is an attorney specializing in political law and a graduate of Rutgers, UC Hastings, and the Harvard Kennedy School. He has two children at the Schoolhouse.
Randy Preston, is the chief business officer of Centese, a medical device company building products for the recovery of patients undergoing open-heart surgery. He has worked in the healthcare industry for 15 years, across multiple sectors and roles, fostering organizational growth. Randy is a California native, having grown up in the East Bay and attending Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo where he earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering. While at Cal Poly, he found the “Learn by Doing” approach to be a refreshing and inspiring change from his prior educational experiences. This led him to evaluate the type of educational approach he wanted for his children in order to instill a lifelong love of learning. He found the idea of progressive education inspiring and the Schoolhouses approach authentic. Randy and his wife have 3 children, two of whom currently attend the Schoolhouse.
Karen Bioski-Simon, is passionate about education as a platform for advancing equity. As the first person in her family to attend college, she strongly believes in the power of education as a means to create change and open doors. She firmly believes that all students, in particular those students who are furthest from opportunity, deserve access to exciting, innovative curriculum that stimulates their minds and expands their worlds.
Karen earned her Masters in Urban Education from Northeastern University and her Masters in School Leadership through the Principal Leadership Institute (PLI) at UC Berkeley. In her 15+ years in education, she has worked as a high school science teacher, an assistant principal, the director of programs, and a coach. She has had the opportunity to work within the public, private, charter school sectors within the secondary, post-secondary and incarcerated environments. Karen currently resides in San Francisco with her family and works within SFUSD where she currently supports coaches working with new teachers and coaches administrators working towards their clear credential.
One teacher serves on the Board. The Head of School, and Operations Director are non-voting members of the Board.