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 resides in Oakland with her husband and 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, 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 three children attending Schoolhouse this year, twin girls in third grade, and a son in eighth grade. 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 join the K+1 team where she will be able 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 daily trips to the park. Additionally, she speaks Cantonese and looks forward to sharing the language with the students.
Abbi Schreck, 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 looks forward to returning to the upper primary grades after teaching International Baccalaureate Pre-K for the last 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.
Will Paddock, Assistant Teacher, joins Schoolhouse in his first full-time teaching position after completing a Masters in Music Education from State University of New York at Potsdam. He holds a B.A. in Music Education from Potsdam as well. In New York, he served as the Early Literacy Assistant at East Hill Elementary. Will is looking to broaden his skills in the classroom to support all learning at the K+1 level. He is particularly excited to integrate music across all disciplines to help children with reading, math, science, SEL, and more. Will is a tenor with a passion for opera and musical theatre. The students will be pleased to learn that he played Donkey in Shrek the Musical. We are thrilled that these skills and Will’s positive spirit will complement our joyful K+1 team.
Second + Third Grade Teaching Team
Betsy Fowler, 2+3 lead teacher, 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 she majored in English composition and minored in film. In 2005, Betsy moved to South Korea to begin her teaching career working for the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education. During her five years abroad, Betsy realized the educational impact of integrating authentic, real-world experiences with project-based education as she taught and developed English Foreign Language immersion programs. She moved back to the United States in 2011 to further develop her 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. She has 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, has been teaching General and Special Education for the past 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 was 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 join the Schoolhouse team!
Susan Spurlock, 2+3 Support Teacher and 2-8 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. While it was a joy and privilege (and a challenge!) to be with Patrick all the time, Chelsea looks forward to a return to teaching and professional growth. 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, has been teaching upper elementary and middle school for the last 10 years. 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
Mandy Castro, 6-8 lead teacher, joins San Francisco Schoolhouse as a Math and Science specialist. Originally from San Diego, she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Sciences from Smith College, and her Master’s Degree in Middle Grades Science from Liberty University. Mandy began her career in marine education as a Georgia Sea Grant Marine Education Fellow for the University of Georgia. The fellowship inspired her to move into formal education, where she began by teaching 6th grade Earth Science. Mandy is enthusiastic about interdisciplinary, project-based and inquiry-based learning. She encourages students to explore materials, ask questions, and share ideas with their peers, thus creating a community of life-long learners. Mandy will move to San Francisco in June and looks forward to calling the city home. Mandy played collegiate basketball for the Smith College Pioneers, is a PADI-certified scuba diver, and maintains an active lifestyle.
Patrick Ardinger, 6-8 lead teacher, focuses on humanities and performing arts. 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.
Flex Teachers and Extended Program Team
Carolina Vericat, Flex teacher, works with the fourth grade and as a sixth through eighth grade Spanish instructor. She is a trilingual California native with Catalan and Lebanese roots. Carolina plans to integrate educational lessons in yoga, meditation, eco-art and socio-environmental justice. Carolina holds an A.A. in Psychology from Foothill College, and a B.A. in Environmental Studies with an emphasis in Humanities and the Environment from SF State University. Through a social justice lens, she has also studied a multitude of creative arts including dance, poetry and photojournalism. In addition to her experiences as an educator in outdoor ed nature-connection programs, and more than five years in childcare, Carolina has applied her professional skills to wildlife conservation research and veterinary medicine. She is motivated by a profound calling to environmental activism, child education, and animal welfare. Carolina is passionate about strengthening community by celebrating diversity, individualism, leadership, positive psychology, creativity, ecological wisdom, and loving kindness in the classroom.
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!
Mariel-Mae Paat, our Art Teacher & Extended Care Program Director, joined the Schoolhouse in 2015. Mariel graduated with a bachelor’s degree from San Francisco State in 2014 where she majored in studio art and art history. Mariel has spent the past four summers teaching art at Camp Galileo, and supervising and supporting Team Leaders. Prior to joining the Schoolhouse, Mariel was a “Super Chef” in an elementary after school program where, through project-based learning activities, she educated children about healthy eating habits, and basic cooking and gardening skills.
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, 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, Remington Tupper, 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 be joining the San Francisco Schoolhouse community.