Who We Are Overview
Mission and Values
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
We Are Lifelong Learners
In the founding years of San Francisco Schoolhouse, Rebecca Dake simplified the definition of an excellent education down to two basic ingredients: a passionate, experienced teacher, and a safe and healthy room. As Schoolhouse has grown over the years, we have assembled a team of multi-talented individuals who work in cooperation with each other and with the children and their families, sharing their passions and their vast experience with life, learning, and progressive education. Learn more about each member of our team below.
Carol A. Swainson, Head of School, has been an administrator in independent schools for 20 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 is currently working on a film that promotes antiracist engagement titled, Conversations with My White Child.
Jina Kim, Associate Head of School & Director of Operations and Outreach, 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 two children attending Schoolhouse this year, twin girls in fourth grade, and a son who graduated from Schoolhouse in 2022. She has also been a Board member since 2016.
Teachers and Staff
Kindergarten + First Grade Teaching Team
Janice Leung, K+1 Lead Teacher, joins Schoolhouse after working for eight years as a primary school educator at St. Thomas the Apostle. Janice is a native San Franciscan, and she studied early childhood education at City College of San Francisco where she earned a teaching credential and M.E.D from National University. Prior to following her true vocation, teaching, she worked for several years in banking and financial services where she applied her B.A. in International Business from the University of San Francisco. Janice is delighted to share her passion for project-based learning, her extensive understanding of child development, and her boundless enthusiasm with the students. In her free time, Janice enjoys the great outdoors so she is thrilled about our regular trips to the park. Additionally, she speaks Cantonese and enjoys sharing the language with the students.
Abbi Nussbaum Cohen, K+1 Lead Teacher, comes from a family of educators and received her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a focus in Social Studies from Michigan State University. Post teaching both primary and upper elementary grades, she earned her teaching credential and Master’s in elementary education from Michigan State University as well. Abbi returned to the upper primary grades after teaching International Baccalaureate Pre-K for three years in the Aldine Independent School District in Houston, Texas. Abbi describes her educational philosophy as:
"As a teacher, I believe that teaching is not just about the educational benefits we give to students, but the social and emotional benefits as well. We as teachers should be instilling a life-long love of learning in our students. At this age it is so important for students to love, play, and have fun in the classroom, to set up their attitudes towards school for the rest of their life. I love being outdoors, which will be much more comfortable here in SF than it was in Texas! I am also a lover of the performing arts and have a major sweet tooth- I look forward to taking in the best performances and sweet treats that San Francisco has to offer over the coming years!"
Beatriz De La Rosa, our K+1 Teaching Assistant, joined Schoolhouse in 2013. Beatriz was involved in many aspects of the growth of the Schoolhouse, from the early days of the Adventure Day program to leading and managing a safe and fun outdoor free-play program. Beatriz moved to San Francisco from Mexico as a toddler. The youngest of 12 siblings, she now has three children of her own. For eight years, Beatriz volunteered at Commodore Sloat Elementary School organizing Cinco de Mayo assemblies, which included choreographing and directing up to 50 children per show. Beatriz studied Child Development at San Francisco City College and has experience as a teaching assistant at Live Oak School and Children’s Day School.
Second + Third Grade Teaching Team
Betsy Fowler, 2+3 Lead Teacher, ELA Coordinator, and Director of Curriculum and Faculty Growth, moved to San Francisco from Baltimore, Maryland to join the Schoolhouse in 2015. Betsy has a Masters of Arts in Teaching in elementary education from Johns Hopkins University, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where they majored in English composition and minored in film. In 2005, Betsy moved to South Korea to begin their teaching career working for the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education. During their five years abroad, Betsy realized the educational impact of integrating authentic, real-world experiences with project-based education as they taught and developed English Foreign Language immersion programs. They moved back to the United States in 2011 to further develop their skills in teaching progressive curricula. After graduating from Johns Hopkins, Betsy spent three years teaching a multi-age second and third grade class at Roots and Branches, a Reggio Emilia inspired arts-integrated public charter school on Baltimore. They have worked with the Maryland Artist Teacher Institute and Baltimore’s Progressive Education Summit, and continues to develop ways to purposefully integrate drama, dance, music, design, and visual and media arts into the curriculum.
Bret Hubacek, 2+3 Lead Teacher, came to Schoolhouse after teaching General and Special Education for six years. He loves to design creative ways for students to learn and show their knowledge. Born and raised in the East Bay, Bret graduated from Sonoma State University with a degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies. He then made his way down to Louisiana where he earned a Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of New Orleans. In his spare time, you can find Bret walking his energetic dog, Winston, playing tennis, or eating delicious food. Bret is thrilled to be a part of the Schoolhouse team!
Susan Spurlock, 2+3 Support Teacher and K-8 Music Teacher, moved to the Bay Area from Point Arena, California to join the Schoolhouse in 2014. Susan received her Bachelor’s degree from New College in San Francisco, and her California multi-subject CLAD credential from Dominican College in San Rafael. Susan spent 12 years teaching fourth and fifth grade at the Arena Elementary School in Point Arena. While there, Susan led the Living History Experiences at Angel Island and Fort Ross State Parks. Susan is an accomplished musician who regularly shares her love of music with her students. Previous to her time as a lead teacher, Susan was a music teacher at several Point Arena schools where she taught weekly classes, instrumental band and choral programs using the Orff Schulwerk approach. For the past 25 years, Susan has taught drama and music to children at Lark in the Morning Summer Music Camp in Mendocino.
Fourth + Fifth Grade Teaching Team
Chelsea Cundiff, 4+5 Lead Teacher, earned her B.A in Literature from UC Santa Cruz and an Environmental Education certificate and M.S. in Natural Resources from the University of Idaho. After six years as an outdoor educator and naturalist in California and Idaho, Chelsea secured her teaching credential through the Bay Area Teacher Training Institute while serving as an associate teacher in third grade at Katherine Delmar Burke School in San Francisco. Following two years as an English teacher at Presidio Knolls, a progressive Mandarin immersion school, Chelsea took time off to be a stay-at-home mom to her toddler, Patrick. Chelsea enjoys creating educational songs based on popular tunes, gardening, sewing and knitting, riding her bike, and hiking with her family and friends.
Susie Friedlander-Holm, 4+5 Lead Teacher and Math Coordinator, has been teaching upper elementary and middle school for over a decade. After earning her Bachelor's degree in English Literature and Elementary Education from Hofstra University, Susie taught in schools in New York, Germany, Utah and finally San Francisco, which she hopes to call home forever. Susie loves integrating hands-on, interdisciplinary learning, while promoting student voices and leadership within her classroom. She has particularly enjoyed teaching math and science–as she delights in watching students implement their learning to solve real life problems. She also believes in strong community bonds and using one’s talents and interests to serve others. She is an environmentalist who enjoys sharing her love of national parks, and the natural world with students. Susie loves singing, laughing, and sharing books with her students and co-teachers.
Sixth-Eighth Grade Teaching Team
Patrick Ardinger, 6-8 Lead Teacher and Middle School Coordinator, focuses on humanities and performing arts. Patrick joined the Schoolhouse in 2018. Originally from Kansas City, he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Stanford, and a Masters Degree in Teaching English from Teachers College, Columbia University. Patrick began his career at a small school in New York, where he founded an a cappella group and led the theatre and chorus programs. He moved back to the Bay Area in 2013, where he taught English and Yearbook. In 2016, he moved to the Seattle area, where he taught 8th grade English. Patrick is excited to grow Schoolhouse’s vibrant and engaging middle school program where his passion for interdisciplinary teaching and learning is valued.
Jackie Burgos, 6-8 Lead Teacher, focuses on math, science, social-emotional learning (SEL), and physical literacy (PL). She earned her Masters in Teaching from UC Irvine and a B.A. in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Elementary Teacher Prep and a double Minor in Music and Education from San Francisco State University. Jackie is originally from Orange County and first moved to the city to pursue her B.A. because she was drawn to the diversity and beauty of the city. Jackie has taught grades 1-8, spending the most time in the classroom with 4th and 5th graders. Her students say that she is caring, kind, funny, and smart. Jackie hopes to cultivate lifelong learners by providing innovative and engaging experiences through a Constructivist approach of student centered learning. She also believes that learning is more meaningful when we engage the students’ interests and backgrounds. In her free time, Jackie loves to play instruments (clarinet and piano are her favorite), go to concerts, play volleyball, and go on long walks in Golden Gate Park.
Erika Keer, 6-8 Lead Teacher, focuses on math, science, and Spanish. Born and raised in the Bay Area, she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Cognitive Science from UC Berkeley and a Teaching Credential from SF State. She is fascinated by how the brain works, particularly by how people learn and acquire new skills, which has fueled her passion for education. She has over 10 years of one-on-one tutoring experience, as well as experience managing a learning center, designing curriculum, and teaching in virtual and in-person classrooms. She is enthusiastic about project-based, hands-on learning because she believes this is the most authentic and effective way for students to learn and remain curious. When she is not teaching, she spends most of her free time singing, songwriting, and performing in a local band. She also has training in yoga and mindfulness. As much as possible, she weaves movement, music, and creativity into her lessons to engage students.
Flex Teachers and Extended Program Team
Lauren Burgat, Office Manager & Flex Teacher, is originally from Sacramento, but moved to San Francisco in 2007 to study Theatre Arts at San Francisco State University. She is excited to share her love of the arts with the SF Schoolhouse community. Lauren brings ten years of experience in administration and management, and five years of experience in nonprofit administration. She is excited to share her creativity, organization, and love of small nonprofit organizations with SF Schoolhouse. In her free time, Lauren enjoys cycling, cooking, and spending time with her sweet dog Zoey!
Kathy Pfeiffer, STEAM and Flex teacher, came to San Francisco Schoolhouse in 2016, teaching The Art and Science of Hula Hooping as an enrichment class. From "Hoop Teacher," Kathy transitioned to Substitute Teacher, often leading small group science lessons. Kathy studied Science A-levels in England. She further earned a General Master of the Arts with Distinction from the University of St Andrews, Scotland. Back in the Bay Area, she worked as a researcher for a museum exhibit design firm and then in academic administration. She was the sole Administrator for a small school of homeopathy as well as the Course Coordinator for UCSF's largest Medical School course. Kathy was also the Assistant Director for a tutoring organization called One Smart Kid.
Dominic Rubio, Physical Literacy (PL) and Flex Teacher, holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from University of San Francisco and works professionally as a musician and composer. Prior to joining Schoolhouse, he worked as an assistant Spanish and Music teacher and as a reading and writing tutor. Creativity is important to Dominic. His work at summer camps and Montessori schools has enabled him to stimulate and inspire young minds to explore and enjoy the world around them. He harmonizes with Schoolhouse, as he believes that education should be fun and help students to make the world a better place.
Remington Tupper, Art and Flex teacher, is Bay-Area born and raised. She earned her B.A. in creative writing at Trinity College in Connecticut, where she also studied education and anthropology. She’s worked as a Teaching and Technology Assistant at an Oakland independent school, and joins us after a summer instructing at San Francisco’s Secret Agent Squad camp. Remington is a digital and traditional artist, reader, and ailurophile. She is thrilled to a part of the San Francisco Schoolhouse community.