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 the 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. Continue reading beyond that to learn about the members of our Board of Trustees.
Leadership & Faculty Support Team
Carol Swainson joins San Francisco Schoolhouse as the Head of School. Carol 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 joins the Schoolhouse as Operations Director. Jina 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.
Kindergarten + First Grade Teaching Team
Sophie Haskell moved from New York City to join the Schoolhouse in 2016. Sophie has a Master’s of Science in education from Bank Street College in Manhattan with a dual certification in childhood special and general education. Her bachelor’s degree is from Gettysburg College where she majored in English with a concentration in elementary education. Prior to joining the Schoolhouse, Sophie co-taught for two years at the Riverdale Country School, an independent school in the Bronx recognized internationally for its character education program. It was while growing up on her family’s vegetable farm in Pennsylvania that she discovered her enthusiasm for hands-on, inquiry-based learning.
Deborah Hull brings over twenty years of experience in elementary and middle school education to the Schoolhouse. Recently returned from the American School in London (ASL) in London, UK, where she was a member of the K-12 Performing Arts faculty, she is delighted to join the students and teachers of the K+1 classroom. During her many years at the nearby Hamlin School, where she started and led the dance and health and wellness programs, in addition to teaching French and Spanish, she particularly enjoyed teaching kindergarten French. While at Hamlin, Deborah also worked and performed as an independent, San Francisco-based modern dancer and choreographer. Deborah brings a passion for movement and a love of language to her teaching of students of all ages and across different subjects. She holds a B.A. in French from Amherst College, Masters of Fine Arts from Arizona State University, and a certificate in Integrated Movement Studies. Deborah looks forward to combining her linguistic and artistic skills to teach reading, writing, and math in a creative, kinesthetic, and project-based manner. In Deborah’s spare time, she loves to dance, bike, hike, read, and cook with her family. (Photo coming soon)
Beatriz De La Rosa, our K+1 Teaching Assistant, joined the Schoolhouse in 2013. Beatriz has been 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. She has studied Child Development at SF 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 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. Betsy began her teaching career in 2005 when she moved to South Korea to work for the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education. During her five years abroad, Betsy taught and developed English Foreign Language immersion programs where she realized the educational impact of integrating authentic, real-world experiences with project-based education. She moved back to the United States in 2011 to further develop her skills in teaching a progressive curriculum. After graduating from Johns Hopkins, Betsy spent three years teaching a multi-age second/third grade class at Roots and Branches, a Reggio Emilia inspired arts-integrated public charter school on Baltimore’s West Side. 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.
Susan Spurlock moved to the Bay Area from Point Arena, CA 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 4th and 5th 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 music classes and 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 - Seventh Grade Teaching Team
Patrick Ardinger joins the Schoolhouse teaching team as a grades 4-7 teacher. Originally from Kansas City, he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Stanford and a Masters Degree in the Teaching of 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 return to San Francisco and help grow the Schoolhouse’s vibrant and engaging middle school program where his passion for interdisciplinary teaching is valued.
Lawrence Hargarten joins the Schoolhouse teaching team as a grades 4-7 teacher. A San Francisco native with a love for the Midwest, he attended Marquette University where he obtained a B.A. in History and Broadfield Social Sciences, along with an M.A. in Education and Mathematics. He taught 9th grade Civics for two years in Milwaukee, Wisconsin before heading out to Japan where he taught English, Science, and Mathematics as well as serving as the cultural ambassador for new foreign teachers. Upon returning to his hometown city fluent in Japanese, Lawrence began sharing his love of teaching math to a diverse population of students in the Mission district. Lawrence is thrilled to bring his energy, enthusiasm, and his passion for math and gardening. He is also eager to share his love of all things SF Giants with the Schoolhouse.
Extended Program Team
Mariel-Mae Paat, our Extended Program Coordinator & Flex Teacher, joined the Schoolhouse in 2015. Mariel graduated with a bachelor’s degree from San Francisco State in 2014 where she was a studio art and art history major. 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 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. This year, she joins Schoolhouse as a Flex Teacher. Kathy studied Science A-levels in England. She then 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.
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. Two of her children attend the Schoolhouse.
Roger Philipp, Vice Chair and Treasurer, is the founder and CEO of Roger Philipp CPA Review. A graduate of California State University, Northridge, he began his career in accounting as an auditor at Deloitte in Los Angeles upon graduation. He began teaching CPA review in 1988. For over 20 years, Roger has written and taught accounting, tax, audit, and business law. He has personally prepared over 85,000 students in over 7,000 lectures to pass the CPA exam. He is the recipient of numerous Toastmasters awards and other public speaking awards. He is currently on two boards, the San Francisco Schoolhouse and APACPA as Treasurer. He is the father of three children, two of whom are students at 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.
Stephanie DeMaria, a native San Franciscan, earned her B.A. from San Francisco State University and her M.A. from Antioch University. Stef has worked as a preschool director, clinical coordinator of a homeless youth shelter, and psychotherapist in private practice. Stephanie is the mother of four adult children, and her grandson attends 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.
One teacher serves on the Board. The Head of School, and Operations Director are non-voting members of the Board.