Bamboo Forest Lead Teacher
Jenny Hazell received her B.A. in Elementary Education and Communications at Boston College and obtained her California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. She loves working with young children as they are just beginning their journey as lifelong learners. What drew her to Sequoyah was its core value of Stewardship: to take care of people, take care of things, take care of the environment and seek to make the community a better place for all. In her classroom, students will be encouraged to be creative, take risks, and learn from each other. In her free time, Jenny enjoys doing arts and crafts, learning the ukulele, taking her dog Toro for walks, and spending time with her husband.
Bamboo Forest Associate
Alex Gaffney graduated from UCLA and received her teaching credentials and Master’s Degree in Special Education from Cal State Los Angeles. She taught at Los Angeles County Schools in Special Education classes for 15 years before teaching primary grades in independent schools. She has a son and a daughter and together with her husband, the family loves to travel and spend time together. Alex also loves musical theatre, dance, crafts, and most of all, young children.
Lauren Arroyo began working at Sequoyah in the Backyard as Renee’s associate teacher in 1992. Renee hired her because she was an artist and believed this would be a strong support for the Backyard’s very creative and emergent curriculum. During the four years Lauren spent working with Renee, she discovered how much she enjoyed teaching art to kids so she pursued her BA at Pacific Oaks Teaching College in human development with a specialization in art education. After graduating, she moved into the position of Art Specialist where she saw the value of an integrated curriculum and it’s importance in offering children many different opportunities to learn through the creative voice found in art. Lauren realized the importance of providing a safe place for students to take risks and build confidence. After several years in the art specialist, she had truly fallen in love with the youngest students in the kindergarten/first grade. Here she saw the opportunity to provide a creative and exciting class while offering a fun, warm, safe, nurturing safe place for them. She felt her strength was in embracing the individuality of each student and encouraging them to discover their own strengths, and how to engage in learning from their own perspectives. So she took the next step and returned to Pacific Oaks to earn an MA in human development and to complete her education credential. Her thesis explored geo-ethnic storytelling with young students – an intercultural approach to diversity through personal family stories from the students and their families.
Erin is a Sequoyah alumna (class of ’04) who knew she since she was in the Treehouse classroom that she wanted to come back and teach at Sequoyah. She attended Immaculate Heart High School and went on to graduate from Loyola Marymount University in 2012, with a degree in elementary education, and eventually her teaching credential. During that time, she focused her studies on progressive education and tried to integrate her learning about teaching methods in traditional public school settings with how she learned as a student at Sequoyah. In 2016, she received her Masters of Education from Cal State Los Angeles, focusing on literacy and diverse literature in the young elementary classroom. Erin loves working with her former teachers and enjoys keeping alive for her students the special Sequoyah traditions from her childhood.
Renee has been involved with the Sequoyah School community for more than 30 years. She came to Sequoyah as a parent and was immediately taken with the style of education. She worked in the school library while developing a literacy program in the Pasadena Public Schools. She then became an associate teacher in the Backyard class and soon took on the role of lead teacher. Her background consists of graduate work in education at the University of Wisconsin, teaching in a Chicago public school, work with special needs students in various Los Angeles County programs, teaching in Zuni New Mexico, and work in preschool programs supported her work at Sequoyah. Throughout her time at Sequoyah, Renee hasalways enjoyed and continues to treasure the experience of working with it’s rich and vibrant community of learners.
Born and raised in the Perigord countryside of Bordeaux (France), Christophe Boullonnois moved to the United States in 2012, after three years of Art School in Nice. As an intern at Polytechnic School in Pasadena, working in middle- and lower-school French classes, he discovered he wanted to become a teacher. He then became an instructor in, and eventually supervisor of, the after-school program, as well as teaching weekly French cuisine classes to students. Christophe loves to promote kindness, independence, and creativity through experiences. He is a gourmand and loves working in his garden. He is thrilled to be a part of the Sequoyah community as the Backyard associate teacher.
Jeff Radt has worked at Sequoyah since the fall of 1995, and is currently teaching the second- and third-grade levels in The Nest classroom. He holds a California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, as well as a Master’s in human development. He has written four novels for children, including Dogboy: His Early Life and Adventures and the sequel, Dogboy and the Great Beyond.
Dyane Wilson has been teaching second and third grade at Sequoyah School for more than 20 years and is very happy to be a part of the Sequoyah community. She attended Woodbury University for interior design, but upon discovering a love of children and teaching, she enrolled at Pacific Oaks College and began her journey as an educator. She started volunteering at her children’s elementary school, then taught preschool in Pasadena for five years, which led to a four-year stint as a teacher at the Children’s Community School in Van Nuys, before landing at Sequoyah. Over the years she has developed a passion for addressing each student’s individual learning process and focusing on how they learn best. When she is not teaching, she enjoys yoga, music, gardening, and traveling.
Kim Diaz comes from New York where, after earning her BA in Sociology and Women’s Studies from Wesleyan University, she spent some time as a diversity recruiter for Accenture. However, she knew she was meant for other things and switched to teaching, where she taught second and fourth grades at Trevor Day School. She earned her MS in Early Childhood and Elementary Education at Bank Street College of Education, and later moved to Los Angeles and taught third grade at Oakwood School for another four years. After two years staying home with her son, she combined her love of being with her children and of teaching, becoming a part-time teacher at Rose Scharlin Cooperative Nursery School before coming to Sequoyah. When she is not at school, Kim enjoys time with her family, playing games and generally driving each other nuts. On the rare occasion she is not surrounded by children, she is reading, crocheting, or running.
After receiving an Associate of Arts and Letters degree from Citrus Community College, Joey enrolled at Cal State LA where he is currently finishing his B.A. in English. Joey is excited to be an associate teacher at Sequoyah. He has a strong interest in progressive education and hopes to be able to foster the importance of lifelong learning, moral accountability, and self-empowerment in students. Joey spends his free time reading voraciously, scribbling short stories, and adventuring by bike through the Angeles Crest National Forest and elsewhere.
Egret’s Perch Lead
Peter received his MA in Elementary Inclusive Education from Teachers College Columbia University, where he had the opportunity to work in a 4th/5th-grade classroom at Central Park East 1 Elementary School, which is known for its project-based learning program. He then spent two years working in Kindergarten at Friends Seminary, a Quaker school in New York City, and most recently taught second grade at Crossroads School in Santa Monica. His approach to teaching is informed by these experiences, as well as his early work in high-needs schools through his services with City Year AmeriCorps and Breakthrough Collaborative. He also had a short stint as a Park Ranger in The Bronx. Peter enjoys a good cup of coffee, listening to freeform radio station WFMU, and attempting to fix his vintage guitars, amplifiers, and cassette recorders. He also loves to hike and bike and is currently learning how to grow succulent plants, which he finds strange and fascinating.
Egret’s Perch Associate
Laura Medley grew up in the rural mountains of northern California. She has been an educator for the past ten years, most recently as a pre-Kindergarten teacher in the South Pasadena Unified School District. Her past work experience includes working as a naturalist and developing place-based learning curriculum. She earned her degree from UC Davis in nature and culture, where she studied California history and ecology, among other disciplines. Laura finds inspiration in fields of flowers, garden corners, the redwood forest, and cool morning bike rides along the Arroyo Seco. She is very pleased to be a member of the Sequoyah community.
Over There Lead
Maisha is delighted to be joining the Sequoyah community. While pursuing her BA in Television Production at Howard University, Maisha grew passionate about education. She began working with their Center for Academic Reinforcement and Pre-College Program. After graduation, she returned to her hometown and enrolled at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she earned her MEd in Instructional Leadership and worked with the TRiO/Academic Support Summer Bridge Program. Over the past 13 years, Maisha has been a classroom teacher in grades 4th through 8th in public, charter, and independent schools. Outside of the classroom, she has been a Math Instructional Coach and a stay-at-home mom. In her free time, Maisha enjoys reading, watching movies, soaking up sun, and hanging out with her husband and daughter.
Out Back Lead
Elaine graduated from Binghamton University with a BA in English and received her MS in Early Childhood Special Education from Hunter College. She worked for seven years in the New York City public school system as a special education teacher, and as a consultant, before joining the independent-school world as a 3rd-grade teacher at St. Luke’s School in the West Village. She moved to California to pursue a masters degree in Intercultural Studies with a focus on Asian American Contexts at Fuller Theological Seminary. By studying other religions and cultures, she hopes to be able to teach students how to appreciate and accept people from all kinds of backgrounds. She is excited to live on the West Coast and to not have to deal with shoveling snow in the winter. She loves reading and all kinds of outdoor activities.
Over There/Out Back Specialist
Gabe first became part of the Sequoyah community in 1993, as a kindergartner. He graduated Sequoyah’s 8th grade in 2002. After Sequoyah, Gabe attended St. Francis High School, then became a Banana Slug at UC Santa Cruz. Gabe worked in sports media and journalism before returning home to Sequoyah as a teacher in 2013. Gabe enjoys coaching Sequoyah’s K-8 soccer and basketball teams and was also the inaugural Sequoyah High School Girls basketball coach in 2016-2017. Gabe loves camping, coffee, and cycling and rooting for the Lakers and Dodgers.
Over There/Out Back Math Specialist
Before coming to Sequoyah, Chad Robertson taught math through a lens of inquiry, critical thinking, and social justice for five years in Chicago. He believes that math is a powerful tool for students to use in reading their worlds and making meaningful change in their communities. Chad spent most of his 20s in India, first in an immersion Hindi Language Program, then for a fellowship with the American Indian Foundation. Through the fellowship, Chad spent two years working at APV School, a holistic, ashram school in the Indian Himalayas. There he developed a passion for teaching and adopted a pedagogical philosophy linking curricular content to student experience. After the fellowship, he taught at Prerna, an informal school that educates female students from slum communities in Lucknow, India and conducted research on an educational program aimed at improving rural public schools. Chad returned to the States to pursue graduate studies in education at the University of Chicago. While he misses his beloved White Sox, he was very happy to say goodbye to winters and reconnect with oceans and mountains. Chad is very excited to be working with Sequoyah’s amazing staff and students.
Junior High Lead
Kristen Moore began teaching at Sequoyah in 1993, as the language arts specialist in the Over There and Jr. High. In 2002, she became the Jr. High lead teacher. Kristen has a BA in psychology and an MA in journalism.
Jr. High Math Specialist
Catherine Tung has been the Jr. High Math Specialist here since 2013. She loves teaching math and figuring out how to best support students’ math learning needs. Previously, Catherine created her own curriculum for 5th-, 6th- and 7th-grade math, including pre-Algebra, Algebra, and problem-solving at a learning center. She also worked for many years as a private tutor teaching all subjects, but specializing in math. She earned her BS in biology and has a Multiple Subjects Credential from Cal State LA, and an MA in math education. In her spare time, she stays active with yoga, running, and hiking. She loves traveling to new places, meeting new people, and trying new foods.
Jr. High Math Resource Teacher
Chandy Shair graduated from Cal Poly Pomona in the early 90s with a degree in liberal studies, a minor in mathematics, and a teaching credential. She has been teaching at Sequoyah for more than 20 years, starting in the 4th-5th-grade classroom teaching math and PE, while also teaching math in the Junior High. For the last few years, she has taught math in the Over There and assisted with math labs in the Junior High. She is currently teaching geometry to a small class of 8th graders, assisting with Junior High labs, and working in the library a couple times a week. Her passion, besides calculating numbers and problem solving, is the outdoors. She loves to run trails, mountain bike, backpack and swim. On the other hand, when she has time to relax she likes to do sudokus, ken-kens, crosswords and, of course, devour a good book, especially historical fiction. She is married to a geologist and has two teenage girls.
Jr. High History Specialist
Chris Colthart grew up in Houston before attending Yale, where he majored in American studies with concentrations in literature and African-American studies. After graduation, he worked at Interview Magazine in New York before entering the nascent world of the internet in Boston, as a coder, project manager, editor, and interface designer for clients ranging from artists to financial institutions. He moved to Los Angeles in 2001 and shifted his attention to graphic design, working as a freelancer and as an adjunct instructor in the art department at Pierce College. Since 2012, he has worked as a teacher and in communications at independent schools. Chris is passionate about critical thinking, self-motivation, engagement with current events, and the love of learning. He is an avid musician, playing and recording with a psychedelic trio and performing sound-art installations with other collaborators, and an enthusiastic backpacker and former kayaker.
Leila was born in Havana, Cuba and came to the United States when she was eight years old. Learning English through the immersion method, she attended public schools in Redlands and holds BA with Honors from the California Institute of Technology and a PhD from Harvard in Developmental Biology. Her academic research career culminated with post-doctoral fellowships in the labs of Nobel Laureate Ed Lewis and Jim Bower, both at Caltech. While in Bower’s lab, she became involved in the Caltech Pre-College Science Initiative, doing teacher training, curriculum development, and outreach, while also serving as the Curriculum Coordinator for the Caltech Freshman Summer Institute, a program which prepares matriculating Caltech students from less rigorous academic backgrounds for the Caltech curriculum. Leila is a California-credentialed teacher with certifications in biology and chemistry and has been the recipient of the Individual National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Health and an NSF Pre-doctoral Fellowship [Honorable Mention] from the National Science Foundation. In addition, she co-authored (as Dr. Leila) a weekly educational column titled “Caltech Connections for Kids” in the Los Angeles Times in 1999, which explained scientific concepts in a form accessible for pre-teens. She has two grown children who both attended Sequoyah School.
Roxana Castro was born and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico until the age of nine. When she arrived in this country, she made Glendale her home, where she has lived ever since. She graduated from Occidental College with a Spanish Literary and Cultural Studies degree and a Multiple-Subject Teaching Credential. While at Oxy she had the privilege of spending a semester in Spain studying at the University of Granada and interning as an English teacher. Roxana enjoys sharing all aspects of her culture – food, music, literature, history, and language. Her hope is that students will walk away loving Spanish and have fun learning it.
Cristina Rubio Hignett
Cristina is very excited to join the Sequoyah community! She began her professional journey with a double B.A. in Hispanic Literature and Linguistics and since then has completed a Master’s in Applied Linguistics of Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language (Universidad de Jaén, Spain) with a focus in communicative-based curriculum design. She is currently finishing the last year of a master’s program in the Stylistic and Grammatical Analysis of Spanish (UNED, Spain). Since moving to Los Angeles, Cristina actively gives teacher training workshops to help promote a transition from traditional foreign language programs to an interactive, integrated, and culturally-aware approach to teaching Spanish that responds to this generation of children´s communicative needs. While Cristina has authored numerous textbooks, workbooks and teachers’ manuals for a variety of language programs in Spain and the U.S., her most recent curricular projects have focused heavily on working linguistic competency through cultural celebration. She strongly believes that a language cannot be acquired if it is isolated from the traditions, cultural practices, and the community that speaks it.
Dornel has a Master’s of Library and Information Science and 35 years experience in a variety of library settings. For the past 20 years she has worked with children and teens in school and public library settings.
Erin Trefry makes visceral, emotionally charged sculptural paintings. At an early age, she was awarded multiple scholarships that enabled her to study at the Maryland Institute, College of Art; Parsons, Paris; and The New York Studio Program (A.I.C.A.D.). Upon graduation, Trefry returned to teach at her alma-mater (LACHSA) where she received a series of grants to design and implement innovative arts curriculum. Professional designation along with her active role in education allowed her to maintain her autonomy as a working artist. As a descendant of textile designers, cobblers, and educators, her work suggests personal archeology. The warp and weft of fabric act as an inherent drawing and serves as a catalyst for her constructions. Shoes, handbags, shirts, belts, and pants once belonging to her mother are given new life in her sculptural assemblages. They echo the physicality of the body with “wounded symmetry.” Their association with Japanese armor, African masks, and the Commedia Dell’Arte attempts to evoke the depth of human behavior and to provoke a new lens into contemporary sculpture. Trefry exhibits, teaches under the guise of facilitating fearlessness, advocates for people who are experiencing homelessness, throws clay slabs, dances, and creates unusual spaces.
Originally from Memphis TN, Laurie Nye moved from a large, storied family to Los Angeles, to pursue her love of painting, completing an MFA at CalArts in 2002. Upon graduation, she spent time working on her professional career, participating in art exhibitions in both New York and Los Angeles. In 2005, she began pursuing a fulfilling role, educating young children in visual arts at ECHO Horizon School in Culver City. She has spent the last five years teaching K-2 art to a wonderful, diverse student body, including deaf and hearing-impaired children. At ECHO she collaborated with several classroom teachers using various arts disciplines to develop curriculum that fosters growth in a diversity of learners, allowing them to take risks, make mistakes, and grow. Her goal for her students at Sequoyah is to understand that art is a part of life, a way to understand the world we live in, and a tool to get to know yourself, your neighbor or someone on the other side of the world. In her spare time, Laurie loves to go hiking, take road trips, trout fish (in Arkansas), cook for friends, collect blues records, and spend time in her studio making paintings and ceramics.
Bob Cesario received his BA in Theatre Arts from Webster College in St. Louis. He has worked as a professional actor in theatre, feature films, and episodic television. He was the co-artistic director of The Lakota Theatre Company in New York City for three years, and has privately coached actors for auditions and roles. As a theatre specialist at Sequoyah he has co-written many original productions. He especially enjoys collaborating with students and encouraging them to freely express themselves vocally and physically.
Ron grew up surrounded by music, theatre, and ballet. Originally from New Jersey, he moved to Pittsburgh to study at Carnegie Mellon University where he graduated with a BFA in piano performance. While there, he traveled throughout Europe, Russia and the United States performing as soloist and collaborative pianist with orchestras such as the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Robert Page Festival Orchestra and the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic. After graduating, Ron moved to Los Angeles where he began a career in performing and composing, and in music education. A member of the Music Teacher’s Association of California (MTAC), Ron developed a piano studio of nearly 40 students and created Innovative Arts Explorations, an arts-education based business. In 2013, Ron was honored to be a quarter-finalist in the Grammy Foundation’s Music Educator of the Year. Ron is an organist for the United Methodist Church of Westlake Village, a member of the Guild of American Organists, and a composer and producer of music working with artists throughout the country and Los Angeles. Ron comes to Sequoyah School from the Open Charter Magnet School where he was the music specialist, choir director, Rhythm Ensemble director, and film teacher for 11 years.
Gabe first became part of the Sequoyah community in 1993, as a kindergartner. He graduated Sequoyah’s 8th grade in 2002. After Sequoyah, Gabe attended St. Francis High School, then became a Banana Slug at UC Santa Cruz. Gabe worked in the sports media and journalism industries, before returning home to Sequoyah as a teacher in 2013. Gabe enjoys coaching Sequoyah’s K8 soccer and basketball teams, and was also the inaugural Sequoyah High School Girls basketball coach in 2016/17. Gabe loves camping, rooting for the Lakers and Dodgers, coffee and cycling.
Lee Michael Krieger
Lee Michael started out pursuing environmental engineering and quickly discovered his interest in outdoor education, earning a BA in Park and Recreation Management from Northern Arizona University. Since then he has combined his love for the environment with the inspiration he gets from leading youth on trips. Lee has led trips and outdoor programs with diverse groups and in a variety of settings. With Outward Bound, Lee worked with students from Boston’s inner city, focusing on developing students’ integrity and self-reliance. With SoulStainable Adventure group, Lee has led adventure and service learning trips to Ecuador.
Katie has gathered and galvanized diverse communities in changing neighborhoods in San Francisco and Los Angeles by creating spaces to share and create food, music, art, and theatre. The institutions she has worked with have bridged and integrated the new and old by honoring and respecting existing communities, from feeding delicious food to homeless veterans and caring for the elderly to providing artistic opportunities and a safe place for teens in underserved communities. Through her board work and parent involvement at Los Angeles Family School and Sequoyah, she has championed the role that food and garden can play in building community. Katie’s academic foundation includes a degree in philosophy from UC Berkeley and coursework in chemistry at USC. She is excited for the opportunity to develop an integrated food and garden curriculum at Sequoyah that will fortify our sense of place and identity by honoring existing food traditions, as well as creating new ones. Some of these include harvesting and curing olives in the fall, making peach and apricot preserves, and maybe even BBQ sauce in the spring, and collaborating with students as we learn to use the new cob oven. Katie lives in Highland Park with her husband, three kids, and two cats.
Anais Plasketes received her BA in Theatre Arts from Birmingham-Southern College and a Masters in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University Los Angeles. She received unique, extensive training in LGBTQ affirmative psychotherapy during her study at Antioch. Currently, Anais is a Marriage and Family Therapist intern in private practice. In addition to her private practice work, Anais facilitates a support group for adolescents in recovery at Destinations to Recovery. Anais has an affinity towards working with youth through a holistic lens around big questions and issues that may arise around identity and identity intersection. Anais believes deeply in contributing to a community in which our youth are empowered and can thrive. With a background in arts and entertainment, she is passionate about utilizing creativity and artistic expression as a vessel for exploration, both inside and outside the classroom. Anais is honored to be a part of the Sequoyah School community and is excited to get to know all the students.
Social-Emotional Specialist & Student Resource Teacher
Ann Liashkov has spent more than 20 years working at Sequoyah School as a lead teacher in the elementary age classrooms and as a member of the student support team. She loves introducing students to the excitement of reading and writing and the beginnings of independence as learners. And she loves seeing older students apply their competence, industry and marvelous energy. Ann has a degree in Early Childhood Education from Antioch University and a Master’s in marriage, family and child psychology at California Family Study Center (now Phillips Graduate School). She is a licensed psychotherapist but prefers to spend the great majority of her time working as a teacher. She was born in England and moved to California in her 20s.
She believes Sequoyah offers both students and teachers alike the opportunity to grow into their potential and to become their unique selves.