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OUR TEAM

Our faculty and staff combine passion, dedication, and flexibility with the wisdom of many years spent teaching children to achieve their potential.

Pictured above: Our in-person professional development training with our teachers, two weeks prior to the start of the 2023-24 school year (come meet us as we are ready to inspire).

our school leadership

Wendy & her daughter
Wendy Xa

Founding Head of School

Neuroscientist. Nature Enthusiast. Quadrilingual. Mom.

After founding Presidio Knolls, the award-winning private Mandarin-immersion school in San Francisco, Wendy had a vision for a pioneering school that could combine language immersion, nature-based education, and social-emotional learning into a unified program. As we enter our fifth year in operations, Terra Marin is the exemplification of this vision.

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Shauna Sullivan, M.Ed.

Assistant Head of School
Cat & child whisperer. Math wiz, Avid reader and book collector. Proud grandmother.

M.A. and B.A. in Education with a focus in mathematics from SFSU.  Multiple Subject Clear Teaching Credential. 25+ years of classroom experience. Cat and children whisperer. Grandmother of three adorable preschoolers.

Teachers
 

are at the heart of our program

Teachers are at the heart of our program. With a <1% acceptance rate, we hire only teachers who can create magical learning experiences in the classroom. Our teachers have previous experience teaching in Forest, Montessori, Reggio Emilia, and Language Immersion schools. And small student-teacher ratios (5:1 in preschool through transitional kindergarten, 8:1 in kindergarten through 8th grade) allow our teachers to provide the personalized attention your child needs to thrive.

our Lower School TEACHERS

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Riva Zippin
Kindergarten & 1st Grade 
Contagious laughter. Doting aunt. Ms. Frizzle Dress-Alike.

B.A. from UC Berkeley. 18 years of teaching experience. Multi-subject accredited elementary teacher. 

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Pippa Whelan  
2nd Grade 

Art exhibitor. Writer. Laughter enthusiast.

B.A. in Liberal Studies from Sonoma State University. Originally from Ireland, loves to travel. Recently published a memoir. Hospice Volunteer. Avid painter & swimmer, learning piano. Seven years of teaching experience.

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Andy Trapp
3rd & 4th Grade
Skier. Mountain biker. Rock band drummer.

B.A. from the University of Michigan. Multi-subject accredited elementary teacher. 12 years of teaching experience. Father of two.

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Josephine Mong, M.A.
K-4 Literacy Specialist 

Avid Hiker. Owned a theater company for 20 years, working with at-risk teenagers.

MA in Interdisciplinary Education-Reading Emphasis and BA in multisubject from Santa Clara University, CA. Has K-8 Multiple Subject Clear Teaching Credential. 20+ years teaching experience.

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"Cat Austin" Simon, M.A.
K-4th Grade Music 

Avid Hiker. Owned a theater company for 20 years, working with at-risk teenagers.

MA in Theater from Stephen F. Austin State University, Texas, and a BA in Education from Stephen F. Austin State University with a Theater Teaching Credential. 20+ years teaching experience in music and the arts.

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Tianxing Yao, M.Ed.
Mandarin Kindergarten
Talented poet. Amusement park enthusiast.

M.A. in Education from the University of San Francisco. B.A. in Electrical Engineering from Xi’ an Shiyou University in China. 9 years of teaching experience.

OUR Upper School TEACHERS&

Math TEACHERS for Band Scheduling

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Alyssa Chong
5-8th Grade Science/Earth Educator
Avid athlete.     

B.A. in Applied Physics and Math from St. Mary's College.  Previously taught high school and middle school science in Oakland and San Diego. Captain of her varsity volleyball teams in both college and high school.

Izzy Fagen, M.A.
5th Grade Teacher
Avid athlete. Audiophile. Ocean lover.     

M.A. in Reading/Writing Literacy from the University of Pennsylvania and B.A. in Elementary Education, minors in Spanish & Environmental Education at Elon University. Previously taught 5th grade and 3rd grade in a public school near the Hamptons, New York. Taught PK-12th grade students in Gijón, Spain on a Fulbright Scholarship. 

Agustin Olmedo
5th-8th Grade Math

Bilingual. Father of a baby girl.

B.A. in Mathematics from SFSU.  Teaches 6th grade math, 7th grade pre-algerbra and 8th grade algebra. First of his extended family to graduate college and wants to help others to do the same. 

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Richard Gottesman, Ph.D.

Virtual Upper School Pre-Calculus Math
Child genius. Passionate about math. 

Ph.D. in Math at the University of California and B.A. in math at Brown University. 10 years teaching math to middle school, high school and college students.

Stephanie Ham 
3rd Grade Math

E-bike rider. Audiobook-phile. Mother of 2.

B.A. in Liberal Arts from CSU Chico. 5 years of teaching experience. Multi-subject accredited teacher.  Transplant from Carmel, exploring all things Marin.

Teachers
Chloe Lechuga, M.A.
6-8 English/Humanities,
SEL Consultant

Ocean lover. SoCal soul with a NorCal heart. Food lover and cooking enthusiast. Smashed penny collector.

B.A. in Human Development and Early Childhood Education from Sonoma State University. 8 years of teaching experience with at-risk youth. M.A. in Social and Emotional Learning. 

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John Serena
Upper School Math

Archaeology and History Buff. Bilingual.

B.A. in Philosophy from the University of MN, Twin Cities.  18 years experience. Trained in Lindamood-Bell methodology. Also teaches beginning Spanish.

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Heather Solomon, M.A.
K,6,8 Gr English/HS Counselor
Creative, World Traveler, Lifelong learner, Yoga and Dance Enthusiast    

M.A. in Education and B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from UC Santa Barbara. Grown in the Midwest but always been a California soul.  Multiple Subject accredited teacher with over 15 years of various teaching experience.  Practicing yogi for over 25 years, trained in India, as well as with Breathe for Change and Little Flower Yoga.  Loves nature and backpacking.

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Michael Field
Upper School Math
Ultimate frisbee, hiking, and gardening. Cook. Slam Poet. Guitarist.    

B.A. in Mathematics & Philosophy from Brown University. 10 years teaching experience. Meditation teacher. 

OUR Language TEACHERs for band scheduling
K - 8th grade Mandarin and Spanish classes, Preschool and TK Mandarin and Spanish Immersion

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Patricia Etchekan, M.A.
Mandarin Preschool

Singer in Music Video. Natural athlete. Quadrilingual.

M.A. in Chinese Language & Literature at Inner Mongolia University, China. B.S. in Preschool Education at Inner Mongolia Normal University and  B.S in software engineering from Groupe Pigier, Côte d’Ivoire. 6 years of preschool teaching experience. Fluent in Mandarin, French, and English. Proficient in Spanish.                                                                                                

 

Emili Herrera
Spanish Preschool
Hardworking. Fearless. Enthusiastic.

Teacher with 6 years of experience. Loving daughter, and friend.                                                                   

Angela Hu, M.A,
Mandarin PK
Improv Comedian, Backpack from Beijing to Nepal, Tai Chi Practitioner. 

M.A. in Instructional Technologies and B.A.  in Drama from SF State U. Lived many careers before landing on education. They include assistant chef editor to a large media company and public affairs specialist. Speaks French, Mandarin, Cantonese, and English.  

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Sandra Aranda, M.S.
Spanish TK
Poetess, musicophile and star observer.

B.S. in Speech Pathology and Master of Science in Neuropsychology and Education in Mexico City. My love for children started from being raised in a big Mexican family. I look forward to teaching the youth Spanish while connecting with the incredible California nature.

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Shanshan Wu

K-8th Grade Mandarin
Passionate chef. Epicure. Avid volunteer. Mother.

B.A. from Shenyang University, China. 6 years of experience teaching Mandarin to all ages. Volunteer at orphanages and senior citizen homes.

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Ana K Escobar 
Spanish Preschool
Epicure. Dancer.  

B.S. in Education at Benemerita Universidad Autonoma de Puebla in Mexico. 8 years of experience with preschool, elementary, and college level teaching.  My mother was also a preschool teacher, and my father was a teacher too. I am grateful to be here and can't wait to meet your children.     

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Ke Ding
Mandarin TK Teacher
Positive & Energetic, Cinephile,  Dancer.

BA and MA in language education at Coventry University, UK. CDA(Child Development Associate) credential issued by The University of Pennsylvania. 8 years of teaching experience.

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Jing Huang, M.Ed
Mandarin Preschool
Explorer

Master in Education from Guangxi University, China, and B.A. in Chinese Literature from Jishou University. 10 years of experience teaching Mandarin around the world, including Thailand, China, Texas, and England.                                              

 

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Xuan Luo 
SF Kindergarten Mandarin Teacher

Healer, Organizer, Mother of a Preschooler

Bachelor degree in Medicine from Changsha Medical university and have spend 10+ years as an acupuncturist and pediatrician.  After having my baby girl four years ago, I find my career moving to Early Childhood Education.

Angela Perez
K-8th Grade Spanish

Music lover. Avid reader.

Born in Mexico. Bachelor's degree in Preschool education and a Masters degree in Pedagogy. With 27 years of experience of teaching.

OUR ARTS, EARTH eDUCATION,
aftercare & PE teachers

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Alek Cordeiro
PK-8th Grade Physical Education

Growth Mindset, Goal-Oriented.

B.A in Psychology at Sonoma State University. 7 years experience with ages 18 months to 18 years. Will coach skills in soccer, basketball, football, volleyball, and track and field. Fluent in Portugese.

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Jasmine de Lung, M.A. 

Art Teacher
Space Beautifier, Spelling Bee Genius, Former Somatic Psychotherapist, Fine Art Cake Maker.

B.S. in Cognitive Science at UC San Diego and M.A. in Psychology at CA Institute of Intergral Studies. 4 years as a somatic pyschotherapist and 17 years as a fine art cake maker.

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Aidan Gavet
Drama & Safety Director 

Actor. Playwright. Director. Music video producer. Hairdo freestyler.

Studied at the National Institute for the Dramatic Arts in Sydney, Australia, the American Conservatory Theatre, and SF State University. Over 16 years teaching experience in drama and the arts.

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Kenneth Berremen, M.Ed.

International Trip Coordinator & Earth Educator
Travel enthusiast. SAT tutor, Trilingual.

Masters in Multicultural and Bilingual Education at U de Alcalá - Instituto Franklin. B.S. in Environmental Science & Agriculture at UC Davis. 5+ years traveling and teaching English, Science, and Math around the world, in Spain, Ecuador, Thailand, and Vietnam. " I am excited to use my knowledge of planning and running international programs to create meaningful experiences for students and give context to their education."

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Adrienne Martinez

Aftercare Lead Teacher
Inquisitive, Creative, Nurturing.

B.A. in Art and Design with a Graphic Design Concentration in University of Northern Colorado. "Inspired by life, dynamic and resilient; I am able to transform my experiences into something of value and meaning!"

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Iris Locke

PK/TK & 5/6 Earth Educator
Forest School Teacher. Collector of fun facts. Trilingual. 

BA in Sociology/Anthropology and Art at Pace University, in New York. Magna Cum Laude and Pforzheimer Honors.

6+ years of teaching experience in forest schools, Reggio Emilia inspired programs and pods during the pandemic. Fluent in English, Greek, and Intermediate Italian.

Our ADMINISTRATORS & Staff

Administration
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Johanna Cervantes 
Admissions
Marathon runner & standup comedian.

BA in Environmental Studies and Theology & Religious Studies from USF.  Fluent in English and Spanish. 

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Rebecca Lewis 
Operations/Front Desk
Loves her dog, Hermione.Tough Mudderer.

B.S. in Early Child Education from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Previously, 4 years as an administrator at a Veterinary hospital and 13 years as a preschool teacher. 

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Suyi (Susan) Liu, Ph.D., M.Ed
Teacher and Administrator
Forward-thinking and always prepared. Dedicated. 

Ph.D. in Language Studies at De La Salle University, M.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction in Early Childhood Education at University of Houston, TX.  B.A. in Organizational Leadership from Fort Hays State University in KS. B.A. in English at Zhengzhou University. 11 years of experience with PK-4th grade children.      

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Esther Cruz, MBA 
Philanthropy & Community

Epicure. Hiker. Mother of one boy.  

MBA in Marketing from Wharton, U Penn and BS in Math and Sociology from Wheaton College. 8 Years experience in project management and marketing. Speaks conversational Mandarin and survival Spanish. 

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Priya Narayan, M.A
Finance

Financier. Epicure. Listener

M.A. in Political Science and BA in Finance & Political Science at Cal State Polytechnic U. Five years prior experience in finance, bookkeeping, and accounting. Creative, innovative, and a team player. 

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Mitch Harris

IT
Tech Geek. Cosmologist. Philosopher.  

A Northern Arizona Honors Program Graduate in Psychology and English, Mitch helped folks with their computers in college and never stopped. For fun, Mitch likes music, poker, and debating the nature of reality.

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Melody Hitt, M.Ed., Ph.D. Candidate

Director of Institutional Advancement
Avid backpacker and have helped identify several species of fungi.

MS in Education from SFSU and BS in Organizational Leadership from California Lutheran University.  Melody brings over 20 years of Contracts and Grant Administration to our school. Being an educator themselves, Melody understands the importance of funding collaboration, and how to meet the needs of the students, faculty, and school.

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Enhui Luo
Custodian
Loves seafood and being a grandfather.

B.A. in Mechanical Engineering at Yingkou University and worked 16 years as a mechanical engineer, designing products that help clear water pollution. Grew up in Yingkou, China, which is near North Korea and is known for its fresh seafood.

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Cassidy Moore, M.M.
Advertising and Communications Strategy

Hiker. Violinist. Creative.

Master in Music from The Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University and Bachelor cum laude in Music from Lynn Conservatory of Music with full-tuition scholarship. Native New Yorker, Californian at heart. 3+ yrs in Social Media Content Development and Strategy.

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Michael Pastor
Bus Driver - Marin

Served in the Navy, Has a grown daughter

San Francisco native. Punctual, 17 years as a bus driver. Previously, served as a building and property manager.

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Melvin Watson 
Bus Driver - San Francisco
Loves bikes, father of four grown children.

Born in Galveston, TX.  Previously owned and operated a bike shop, spent 22 years as a building manager in the Presidio, and worked a few years at another K8 school in SF.

Board & Advisors

OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS & ADVISORS

Wendy Xa, Board President
Simona Chongo, Board Member
Levi Leavitt, Board Member
Jen Guittard, Board Member & Advisor
Jane Camblin, Advisor
John Gunnarson, Advisor

 
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