OUR FACULTY & ADMINISTRATION
Black Pine Circle School Faculty and Staff 2016-2017
To send an email to a staff member place the first letter of his/her first name in front of his/her last name followed by @blackpinecircle.org
For example, Ms. Sally Garner’s email address would be firstname.lastname@example.org
Lower School Teaching Staff
Romina Ronquillo is the kindergarten head teacher. Ms. Ronquillo received her multiple subject teaching credential from Holy Names University and a B.A. in liberal studies with a minor in children’s theater and dance from California State University, East Bay. Ms. Ronquillo has had training in both early childhood development and in theater and creative dance for children. Besides teaching, dancing is her passion in life, and she has performed in various East Bay community theaters. She is also a choreographer for children’s musical theater. Ms. Ronquillo joined the Black Pine Circle School faculty in 2000.
Sandi Tanaka is the first grade head teacher. Ms. Tanaka earned a B.A. with a double major in child development and Japanese studies from Tufts University and an M.Ed. in early childhood education from Lesley University. Her love of literacy led her to an intensive Orton-Gillingham training program in reading instruction. After four years of teaching kindergarten at the Shady Hill School in Cambridge, MA, Ms. Tanaka moved to the Bay Area in 2015. She also has experience teaching abroad in international schools in Tokyo, Japan and has visited and volunteered at a number of local schools and organizations around the world, most recently Reggio Emilia in Italy. In her spare time, Ms. Tanaka enjoys traveling, exploring Bay Area restaurants, event planning, and dabbling in interior design. She is excited to join the Black Pine Circle School faculty this year.
Stephanie Colker is the second grade head teacher. Ms.Colker was raised in London, England in a French and American family and attended high school and college in the U.S. She graduated from Lake Forest College in Illinois with a B.A. in French literature after which she moved to Paris in 2007 to begin her teaching career as an English as a Second Language instructor. Ms. Colker studied with the Maria Montessori Training Organization in London and qualified as a Montessori directress. After two years as a class directress, teaching in a mixed-age elementary school classroom, she became head of school for the Maria Montessori Children’s House. Ms. Colker has also completed her Institute of Education master’s module in special needs education. Ms. Colker’s teaching philosophy states that “today’s learners are tomorrow’s leaders,” and she is careful to incorporate that ethos in her everyday interactions with each individual child. Ms. Colker loves spending time practicing yoga, dancing, listening to music, reading, and embarking on outdoor adventures. Ms. Colker joined the Black Pine Circle School faculty in 2014.
Eileen Duncan is the third grade head teacher. Ms. Duncan grew up in Berkeley and has taught at independent and public schools in the East Bay including Chabot Elementary School and Julia Morgan School for Girls. Ms. Duncan’s experience ranges from preschool to middle school and includes teaching sheltered English instruction and seventh grade pre-algebra. Ms. Duncan received a B.S. in human development from UC Davis, holds a California multiple subject credential with a supplemental authorization in English language arts from San Francisco State University, and has significant training in the area of equity and inclusion. In her free time, Ms. Duncan loves spending time with her son and being outside. In a former life, she ran marathons, led volunteer trips into the Sierra backcountry, and hiked the John Muir Trail (nearly three times!). This is Ms. Duncan’s 15th year teaching; she joined Black Pine Circle School in 2013.
Diane Schon Wirtschafter is the fourth grade head teacher. Ms. Wirtschafter has been teaching since 1986 in both public and private elementary schools, including 11 years at Tehiyah Day School in El Cerrito. She studied psychology at Barnard College in New York City and earned her M.A. in education at Bank Street College of Education and at the University of Minnesota. Ms. Wirtschafter twice won the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics Education at the state level. Music is an integral part of her life, and she has sung with washboard bands, klezmer bands, and students. Ms. Wirtschafter joined Black Pine Circle School in 2010.
Maureen Ray is the fifth grade head teacher. An East Bay native, Ms. Ray received her B.A. from UC San Diego and her multiple subject teaching credential and master’s degree from UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. She taught fifth grade at 118th Street School in South Central Los Angeles before moving back home to teach third through sixth grades in Hayward. A member of Computer Using Educators (CUE), Ms. Ray periodically presents at their conferences on educational technology topics. Ms. Ray enjoys traveling for professional development, and in 2014 was selected as a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Scholar to study the Civil War at Gettysburg. In 2015 she studied the letters of John and Abigail Adams under the tutelage of Joseph J. Ellis. This past summer she traveled to Oxford University to study the Civil War with the president of Corpus Christi College, Richard Carwardine. When not at school or traveling, Ms. Ray spends most of her free time at the Contra Costa Civic Theatre in El Cerrito, where she directs the Live at CCCT summer drama camp and serves on both the Artistic Advisory Committee and the theatre’s board of directors. Occasionally, she even makes her way back onto the stage herself! Ms. Ray joined Black Pine Circle School in 2009.
Lower School Specialist Teachers and Teaching Assistants
Barbara Banez is the third grade teaching assistant, an Extended Daycare assistant, and art substitute teacher for the fall semester. Mrs. Banez developed a lifelong love for making and so decided to leave her dream of becoming a forest ranger behind to study design, sculpture, and interior architecture at City College of San Francisco and the Academy of Art University, San Francisco. She was an assistant teacher and art teacher in kindergarten through fourth grade at St. Theresa School in Oakland for the five years prior to joining Black Pine Circle School in 2007. Mrs. Banez brings aspects of art into the daily classroom activities and curriculum. For many years she has been teaching art classes as part of our after-school clubs program. She also facilitates our morning care program. Mrs. Banez recently became a member of the board of directors for the The Alvarado Project. Mrs. Banez is the parent of a Black Pine Circle School graduate of the Class of 2008 and enjoys yoga, camping, mountain bike riding, and reading during her free time.
Annie Bissell is our third grade substitute teaching assistant for the fall semester. Ms. Bissell has kept strong ties with the Black Pine Circle community since graduating from eighth grade in 2008. In the intervening years, Ms. Bissell has been involved in a variety of community-building volunteer positions while in school. She has participated in elementary school service projects since 2010 with the Oakland-based nonprofit Upward Roots, and she was the mural coordinator for a community mural in Santa Cruz that focused on the many messages of nonviolence. While attending UC Santa Cruz, Ms. Bissell helped lead a ten-day Sierra Nevada wilderness trip and an eight-day kayaking trip in Tomales Bay for first-year and transfer students. She values her time in the outdoors: boogie boarding in the cold Pacific, jogging and hiking with her dogs, and riding around town on her old bicycle. Ms. Bissell is excited to come back to Black Pine Circle School as a faculty member.
Anne-Julie Bresson Spanos is the fourth grade teaching assistant. Mrs. Spanos grew up in Bordeaux, France where she earned an M.A.—magna cum laude—from the University Paul Valery of Montpellier in teaching French to non-native speakers and a B.A. in sociology from the University of Victor Segalen of Bordeaux. She moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2005 to live with her husband who is an East Bay native. Since arriving in California, Mrs. Spanos has been teaching as a head teacher and a substitute teacher in numerous independent schools in the Bay Area. She has also been tutoring. She believes that life is a continuous learning adventure and that teaching is a journey of overcoming obstacles and achieving goals. In her free time, Mrs. Spanos loves spending quality time with her two children and husband, cooking, gardening, reading, playing sports and music, visiting museums, and traveling.
Cheryl Burger is the second through fifth grade Spanish teacher, and works with our kindergarten and first grade teachers to incorporate aspects of Hispanic culture and language into the curriculum. Señora Burger graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.S. in communication disorders and concentrations in Spanish and linguistics. She spent a semester at the University of Granada in Spain, and she has attended multiple trainings in TPRS, a teaching method that she implements in her lower school classes. She joined Black Pine Circle School in 2000, and for three years spent time assisting the third and fourth grade teachers and working as the lower school librarian, upper school athletic director, and basketball and volleyball coach. After spending the 2003 – 2004 school year in Huanchaco, Peru teaching English, Señora Burger went back to her home state of Maine, where she taught Spanish classes at the middle and high school levels. She has been back at Black Pine Circle School teaching Spanish in the Lower and Upper Schools, since 2005. Señora Burger likes to spend her free time cooking and enjoying the outdoors with her husband and two children.
Brogan Drissell is the second grade teaching assistant. Mr. Drissell is both an artist and educator. Born and raised in St. Louis, he moved to the sky-scraping shores of Lake Michigan and received his B.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Mr. Drissell has exhibited his art nationally, having shown work in Brooklyn, Chicago, St. Louis, and the dark forests of the upper midwest. Before joining Black Pine Circle School he taught at the Laboratory Schools at the University of Chicago, the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, and Chicago Public Schools. Mr. Drissell is happy to join the Black Pine Circle School faculty this year.
Michael Feferman is the lower school physical education teacher. Mr. Feferman received his B.A. in physical education from the Belorussian University of Sports Education. In Belarus, he worked as a camp supervisor and coach for the Belorussian Sports Camp and served as senior wrestling coach for the Belorussian Olympic School for Youth. Since coming to the U.S., he has worked for the YMCA in Oakland as a soccer coach, and he was an assistant coach at the Golden Gate Wrestling Club. He also served for four years as P.E. teacher and head soccer coach (K-12) in the Poplar Bluff Public School District, Missouri. Mr. Feferman joined Black Pine Circle School in 2000.
Rachel Fryke is the garden educator and science assistant. Growing up in Southern California and Colorado, Ms. Fryke gained her appreciation for the natural world by gardening, hiking the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains, and caring for her family’s growing herd of horses. She moved to the Bay Area to attend UC Berkeley, where she earned her B.A. in peace & conflict studies with a minor in global poverty & practice. As a student, her participation in several service-learning trips sparked a burgeoning passion for food and environmental justice. After graduating in 2012, Ms. Fryke pursued her interest in alternative education as a program coordinator at Techbridge, a nonprofit that coordinates STEM programs for girls. In 2014, she joined the Edible Schoolyard Berkeley team as the Garden AmeriCorps Member, combining her excitement for experiential learning with her love for food justice. During that time, she earned her Permaculture Design Certificate at the Urban Permaculture Institute of San Francisco. After two years of developing curriculum that merges science, history, environmental education, and gardening, Ms. Fryke is thrilled to join Black Pine Circle School this year.
Micaela (Mickie) Garcia is the fifth grade teaching assistant. Ms. Garcia earned her B.A. in English literature, with a focus on studying African-American literature, and a minor in education from UC Berkeley in 2008. She has worked with various students since 2004 as a Spanish tutor, literacy instructor, ESL aide, and child care assistant. Ms. Garcia has participated in training in the Responsive Classroom approach, the Bridges math program, and on various topics relating to cultural competence. When not in the classroom, Ms. Mickie enjoys running, reading, and trying new restaurants in the Bay Area. Ms. Garcia joined Black Pine Circle School in 2008.
Madeleine King is the kindergarten through third grade music teacher and serves as head of the music program for Black Pine Circle School. (Please see Music Program Faculty section for full bio.)
Kim Livingston is the lower school art teacher and also assists in the sixth grade art classes. Ms. Livingston attended UC Santa Cruz and graduated from the University of Oregon with a B.A. in fine art. She studied art and art history in Sienna and Macerata, Italy and presented at the Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education Conference in Auckland, New Zealand. She holds an arts integration specialist certificate from California College of Art’s Teaching Institute and an M.A. in education with a focus on art education and social justice and equity from San Francisco State University. She also has been trained in the Responsive Classroom approach. Outside of school, she loves to sing, play ukulele, hike, travel, cook, make art and play with her delightful toddler. Ms. Livingston was the kindergarten teaching assistant at Black Pine Circle School for four years before moving into the full-time role of lower school art teacher. Ms. Livingston joined the Black Pine Circle School faculty in 2002.
Ryan McWilliams is the kindergarten teaching assistant. Mr. McWilliams is an East Bay local, raised in the Kensington hills. In 2009, he graduated first in his class from the Laney College culinary arts program with degrees in culinary arts and restaurant management. Mr. McWilliams also obtained certifications in safety and sanitation, human resources, and nutrition. After graduating, he worked extensively in the high-class catering world of San Francisco and since leaving that realm has acted as personal chef and child care provider for multiple families. For the 2011 – 2012 school year, Mr. McWilliams worked at Windrush School as an after-school teacher, a position that eventually blossomed into the role of kindergarten and first grade art teacher. He is currently studying for a B.A. in education. This is his fourth year as the kindergarten teaching assistant at Black Pine Circle School.
Deborah Ogburn is the first grade teaching assistant. Ms. Ogburn grew up in Colorado and earned a B.A. in humanities from the University of Colorado. For more than 20 years, she has lived in San Francisco, where she has worked in a variety of administrative roles, including high school counselor and, most recently, studio manager for a graphic design firm. Her volunteer work has focused on serving children of all ages in summer camps, tutoring, and mentoring. She enjoys baking bread, reading, and being outside whenever possible. Ms. Ogburn and her husband have two daughters, both of whom graduated from BPC’s Upper School. Ms. Ogburn joined Black Pine Circle in 2015.
Alex Ray is the assistant director of the Extended Daycare program and lower school physical education assistant. Born and raised in the East Bay, Mr. Ray has a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from California State University, East Bay. He taught martial arts for seven years at the Cal-West Karate School in Richmond as well as teaching for ten years in the children’s programs at the Contra Costa Civic Theatre in El Cerrito. Outside of BPC, Mr. Ray enjoys golf, playing card and board games with his friends, and attending community theater and Oakland A’s games. Mr. Ray joined Black Pine Circle School in 2011.
Arla Samuels is the lower school math specialist. Originally from Philadelphia, Mrs. Samuels moved to the Bay Area after earning her B.A. in theater from Temple University and then completed a multiple subject teaching credential from JFK University in 1991. From that point forward, she has worked in many areas of education including directing an after-school program at the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center in San Rafael and working as a substitute teacher, preschool through twelfth grade in Marin County, OUSD, and the West Contra Costa County Unified School District. In 2013, she began a certificate in educational therapy program at Holy Names University and started working as the math specialist at Oakland Hebrew Day School. Mrs. Samuels received her certificate in educational therapy in May 2016. When not working at BPC, she works as an educational therapist in private practice, parents her sophomore at Bentley, and enjoys the warm weather on the other side of the tunnel. Mrs. Samuels joined Black Pine Circle School in February 2016.
Cheryl Sumsion is the fourth through sixth grade music teacher.
(Please see Music Program Faculty section for full bio.)
Lauren Wagner is the lower school science specialist. Dr. Wagner grew up in North Carolina, where she developed an affinity for wonderful, quirky schools as a student at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. She received a B.A. in biology from Carleton College and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. During her studies, she gained extensive experience teaching hands-on biology and chemistry at the university level, and she received a teaching award at UC Berkeley for her instruction of introductory chemistry. Dr. Wagner has a lifelong passion for science education, and she has taught K-8 learners in a variety of settings including at the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science, at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and in Oakland public schools with Chemistry in the Classroom. In 2014, Dr. Wagner joined the international scientific community in Lindau, Germany as a U.S. delegate to the 64th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Medicine and Physiology. In her free time, she is a reader, runner, traveler, and amateur gardener, and she can be found hanging out with her husband and two cats. Dr. Wagner joined the faculty at Black Pine Circle School in 2015.
Kristen Zimmer is the lower school literacy specialist. Ms. Zimmer received her B.A. in sociology and education from Dartmouth College. Last year, she taught first grade at Black Pine Circle School. Prior to that, she was a first grade teacher at the Town School for Boys in San Francisco for eight years. Ms. Zimmer was a member of Town School’s Committee on Teaching and Learning, developing global education and literacy curriculum school-wide and facilitating professional growth workshops for faculty. In the spring of 2015, she received the Herbst Award for Teaching Excellence from the Herbst Foundation in San Francisco. Ms. Zimmer has been trained in Writer’s and Reader’s Workshop at Columbia Teachers College, the 6+1 Traits Writing Program, and the Responsive Classroom approach. Passionate about global education, she has traveled extensively in Mexico, Turkey, Israel, Australia, and Greece. Additionally, she has participated in service learning programs through the World Leadership School in Costa Rica and Habitat for Humanity in South Carolina. When she’s not in the classroom, Ms. Zimmer enjoys hiking, cooking, reading, traveling, and spending time with her husband and daughter. She is thrilled to be the literacy specialist this year.
Black Pine Circle School Upper School Teaching Staff
Gerry Branner is the upper school physical education teacher and athletic director. Originally from Cincinnati Ohio, Mr. Branner came to California in 1993 on a basketball athletic scholarship, attending California State University Long Beach, where he graduated with a B.A. in ethnic studies. Mr. Branner has been living in the Bay Area since 2000, coaching girls’ varsity basketball for 13 seasons at Moreau Catholic High School in Hayward, working as a personal trainer, and he is also the owner of GMG Fitness For Life. As a former collegiate and professional athlete, he has spent a lifetime crafting his various fitness programs. He enjoys all sports, long drives, movies, and spending time with his two daughters. Mr. Branner joined the Black Pine Circle faculty in 2015.
Christine Chun is the eighth grade English teacher and upper school academic dean. Ms. Chun is also the advisor for the Student Diversity Committee and runs the after-school Gaming Club. After receiving her B.A. in English and certification in secondary education at the University of Maryland, she entered the Ph.D. program in English at UC Berkeley and received her M.A. in 2004. Ms. Chun spends summers teaching writing for the Academic Talent Development Program through UC Berkeley’s Department of Education. She has also enjoyed instructing young people in ceramics, acrobatics and trapeze, as well as other aerial arts. Her favorite hobbies include travel, photography, contortion, and letterpress. Ms. Chun joined the Black Pine Circle School faculty in 2004.
Jonathan Cohen is the seventh and the eighth grade science teacher. Mr. Cohen received a B.A. in biopsychology from Oberlin College and an M.A in education from Stanford University with a California Clear Credential in biological science. He taught fifth through eighth grade science at Ring Mountain Day School in Mill Valley, where he designed and implemented a hands-on science program with an emphasis on engineering challenges and maker curriculum. Prior to teaching at Ring Mountain, Mr. Cohen worked for 10 years at Prospect Sierra School, teaching sixth and seventh grade science. He also spent a year at UC Berkeley as part of the Learning Design Group developing models of science and literacy integration for tablet computers. He enjoys tinkering, carpentry, gardening, playing guitar, and spending time with his family. He is happy to be joining the Black Pine Circle community.
Kieren Dutcher is the sixth through eighth grade art teacher. She has taught art at Bentley School, East Bay School of the Arts, Camp 510, and Berkeley Arts Magnet School. Ms. Dutcher has a B.F.A. in graphic design from the California College of the Arts as well as a teaching credential and an M. A. in art education from San Francisco State University. She is also an illustrator, with her first book, Chinese and English Nursery Rhymes, published in April 2010 with former director of admissions Faye Wu. She is currently working on a series of picture book biographies about women artists. Her artwork is exhibited frequently in the Bay Area. Ms. Dutcher joined the Black Pine Circle School faculty in 1997 and is the parent of two BPC graduates.
Rachel Fryke is the garden educator and science assistant. (Please see Lower School Specialist Teachers & Teaching Assistants section for full bio.)
Anatoliy Gulimovskiy is the seventh and eighth grade math teacher and he coaches Black Pine Circle School’s championship Math Team and Math Club. Mr. Gulimovskiy was senior math teacher for ten years at Vinnitsa University and vice principal for nine years at Vinnitsa High School in the Ukraine. In all, Mr. Gulimovskiy has more than 46 years of experience teaching middle school and high school math in the U.S., Ukraine, and in Zambia, where he was the head of Kambule Secondary School’s math department. He has an M.S. in mathematics with a minor in physics from Vinnitsa State Pedagogical University, and he has completed his requirements for a doctorate. He is assisted by his wife, Zinaida Gulimovskaya, who also holds a B.S. in mathematics. Mr. Gulimovskiy joined the Black Pine Circle School faculty in 1996. Mrs. Gulimovskaya joined BPC in 1998. In 2008, Mr. Gulimovskiy was chosen by the Mathematical Association of America as a winner of the Edyth May Sliffe Award for Distinguished Junior High School Mathematics Teaching.
Iris Haas-Biel is an upper school teaching assistant and Extended Daycare Assistant. Ms. Haas-Biel joined Black Pine Circle School in 2015 as an upper school assistant and an Extended Daycare assistant. A recent graduate of Hampshire College, she received a B.A. in Latin American politics with a focus on oral history and Cuba studies. She has been teaching art and working with children for the past five years. Ms. Haas-Biel is also a Black Pine Circle School alum.
Megan Hubbard is the sixth grade science and a sixth grade math teacher. Ms. Hubbard completed her undergraduate work at Brown University in geology-physics/mathematics and received her teaching credential from the Bay Area Teacher Training Institute. She has worked in Yosemite and as a naturalist for the Headlands Institute in Marin, and she loves taking Black Pine Circle School students outdoors for field science trips. Ms. Hubbard grew up in the East Bay and joined Black Pine Circle School in 2006.
Josefina Jacquin is the sixth, seventh, and eighth grade Spanish teacher. Señora Jacquin has taught Spanish and has been an advisor at Black Pine Circle School since 2008. Prior to working at BPC, she taught Spanish at Presidio Hill School in San Francisco and Park Day School. Señora Jacquin has also taught visual arts to students of all ages. A native of Colombia, she moved to Gainesville, Florida to attend the University of Florida. Later, she studied restoration at the Universita Internazionale dell’Arte in Florence, and lived in Italy for four years. Señora Jacquin completed her undergraduate work at San Francisco State University in Fine Arts. She obtained an M.F.A. in printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute and is also an accomplished artist who has exhibited her work in California and abroad. Her favorite hobbies are traveling, watching movies, reading and bargain shopping.
Sasha Johnson is the sixth grade tech teacher, the sixth and seventh grade rhetoric & debate teacher, and an upper school teaching assistant. Ms. Johnson comes to us from Chicago where she taught middle school humanities and writing. She earned an M.S. in education and social policy from Northwestern University, and her B.A. in international studies and peace and justice studies from DePaul University. Ms. Johnson enjoys continuing her professional development by taking graduate courses, attending conferences, and being a member of the Philosophy of Education scholar group. Community knowledge, critical thinking, self-reflection and joy are central pillars in her classroom and world. Her hobbies include playing the violin, dancing, working out at the gym, and exploring the East Bay on her bike.
Catalina Lacy is a sixth, seventh, and eighth grade Spanish teacher. Señora Lacy is originally from Mexico, where she acquired her elementary teaching credential and taught in several language schools. She is one of the founders of a Spanish language school in Cuernavaca, Mexico, where she co-developed the school’s language program and instructors’ manual. There, she taught Spanish to students from colleges in the U.S. as well as to groups of diplomats from embassies based in Mexico. She has also taught Spanish to students from beginner to advanced level at several schools in the Bay Area. Señora Lacy organizes and leads the annual BPC Spanish Abroad two-week trip and has taken our students to Mexico and Costa Rica. Señora Lacy was part of a well-known Ballet Folklorico Mexicano performing company based in the Bay Area, with whom she traveled and performed extensively for many years. Señora Lacy joined the Black Pine Circle School faculty in 1990.
Andra Marziano is the dean of upper school students and the upper school drama teacher.
(Please see see Administrative & Support Staff section for full bio.)
Alyson Mitchell is the eighth grade history and geography teacher. Ms. Mitchell holds a B.S. in human development from UC Davis and a multiple subject teaching credential from CSU Chico. She worked for eight years as an elementary school teacher in the Cambrian School District in San Jose. During her last two years at Cambrian, she served on special assignment as a literacy and math coach and mentor teacher. She was also selected to attend a summer institute at the National Archives in Washington D.C. that focused on using primary sources in history research and classroom education. After that, Ms. Mitchell lived in Tokyo for four years, during which time she earned a certificate in peace education from Columbia University. She joined the BPC Upper School faculty in 2007.
Christine Mytko is a seventh grade science teacher and the K-8 STEAM coordinator. Ms. Mytko has a B.S. in the teaching of biology from the University of Illinois, and an M.S. in advanced education with a focus on science and technology from Northwestern University. She is a frequent presenter at edtech conferences, science festivals, and maker faires and has twice won the Exploratorium’s Iron Science Teacher competition. In 2012, she was selected to participate in the Centers for Disease Control’s Science Ambassador program in Atlanta, GA, and was invited to return in 2016 as a peer facilitator. Inspired by her epidemiological adventures, Ms. Mytko is now working towards pursuing a master’s degree in public health from UC Berkeley. She spent two summers working with scientists at the Advanced Light Source (ALS) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory helping to develop their science outreach program. As a result of her ALS and maker work, Ms. Mytko and her students were invited to represent Black Pine Circle School at the first-ever White House Maker Faire in June 2014. Concurrent to her time at BPC, Ms. Mytko also worked for two years as a curriculum developer at the Lawrence Hall of Science’s Learning Design Group creating NGSS-aligned engineering curriculum. She currently teaches adult improv classes with Berkeley Improv and performs with her own comedy troupe, The Berkeley Players. Ms. Mytko heads up BPC’s Maker Club, Improv Club, and Yearbook, and more often than not is 3D printing something in her classroom. Ms. Mytko has a special affinity for synchrotrons, fish mummies, and bicycles. She joined the Black Pine Circle School faculty in 2007.
Tim Ogburn is the sixth and seventh grade history teacher and socratic fellow. Mr. Ogburn graduated from the University of Colorado with a B.A. in English and history. He received his M.A. in education from the University of Colorado. From 2007 to 2013 he was the fifth grade head teacher at Black Pine Circle School. Prior to that, Mr. Ogburn served as Black Pine Circle School’s head of upper school and upper school history and English teacher. Mr. Ogburn has also taught seventh and eighth grades at St. Leo the Great School in Oakland, world history at Archbishop Riordan High School, and history and English at Bridgemont High School, where he also served as director of student relations and athletic director. In the summer of 2016 he participated in a Gilder Lehrman teacher seminar at the University of Edinburgh. Over the past three years he has been working on a book of tales in American history; he is currently seeking a publisher. Mr. Ogburn joined Black Pine Circle School in 1999.
Maria Palmer is the sixth grade English teacher and also teaches creative writing to eighth graders. Ms. Palmer received both her B.A. in English literature and her kindergarten through eighth grade teaching credential, with a specialization in teaching English, from UC Berkeley. Ms. Palmer has also taken graduate courses in English literature at UCLA and completed the coursework for an M.A. in design at UC Berkeley. Ms. Palmer taught sixth grade at both Franklin School in Oakland and Altadena School in Altadena, California, and she worked at the Berkeley Art Museum before joining the Black Pine Circle School faculty in 1994. She is the mother of two grown children and enjoys painting, writing, and being outdoors.
Nico Pemantle is the upper school counselor and communications teacher. (Please see Administrative and Support Staff section for full bio.)
Jenny Reeves is an upper school teaching assistant. Ms. Reeves has a bachelor’s degree from San Francisco State University in art education. She shares a long history with the Black Pine Circle School community, after working in the Extended Daycare program for a couple of years in the late 90′s. Ms. Reeves has since taught students of all ages in many exciting and alternative settings. She currently enjoys supporting the upper school teachers and students in art and English classes. She is the mother of two lively lower school children.
Carwai Seto is a sixth, seventh and eighth grade math teacher. Ms. Seto completed her B.A. in chemistry at Princeton University and her M.Ed. in education at Lesley University in Boston, MA. Originally from Nova Scotia, Canada, she has taught in independent schools for 20 years in Massachusetts, Maryland, and California. Ms. Seto comes to Black Pine Circle School from The Children’s School in San Diego where she taught math and science in the middle school. When not in the classroom, she enjoys hiking, photography, travel, and knitting. A recovering competitive swimmer, Ms. Seto competed for Chinese Taipei in the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. She joined Black Pine Circle School in 2013.
Cheryl Sumsion is the fourth through sixth grade music teacher.
(Please see Music Program Faculty section for full bio.)
Paula Symonds is a sixth grade math teacher. Ms. Symonds is a native of San Francisco and has taught in independent and public schools in the Bay Area, the Sacramento Valley, and the Los Angeles area. Her teaching experience ranges from preschool through middle school, and she has also taught preservice teachers at the college level as a guest instructor. Ms. Symonds most recently worked at Phillips Brooks School in Menlo Park, where she served as the math specialist responsible for designing and then training teachers to implement the school’s K-5 math program. She has been a district administrator for math and a math consultant working with teachers throughout California. Ms. Symonds received a B.A. in bacteriology from UC Davis and holds a California multiple subject teaching credential. She has authored math resource guides, books, and articles on math pedagogy and has presented at conferences for the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the California Mathematics Council, and the California Association of Independent Schools. Ms. Symonds loves reading, art, and noncompetitive running. It has been her passion since she first began teaching to find ways to teach all children to love and excel at mathematics. She is happy to be joining the Black Pine Circle School community.
Nataliya Vdovychenko is the upper school math, science, and art assistant. Ms. Vdovychenko is originally from Ukraine, where she grew up in a family of math teachers for two generations and received her M.S. in mathematics and computer science from Vinnitsa State Pedagogical University in 1990. She taught mathematics for five years at Vinnitsa High School. As the computer specialist, Ms.Vdovychenko worked for eleven years at the Vinnitsa City Council. She joined her family in the U.S. nine years ago. Ms. Vdovychenko has completed the intensive ESL and computer courses at the English Center for International Women and at Laney College in Oakland. She joined Black Pine Circle School in 2009.
Xiaoyan Xu (Shelly) is the sixth, seventh and eighth grade Mandarin teacher. Ms. Xu earned her B.A. in English at Beijing International Studies University in China and her M.A. in education at San Francisco State University. Ms. Xu has also received various teaching certificates throughout her teaching career, such as the International Baccalaureate teaching certificate, Reggio Emilia teaching certificate, and Cambridge language teaching certificates. Before coming to Black Pine Circle School in 2013, Ms. Xu taught Mandarin at both Shu Ren International School in Berkeley and at Presidio Knolls School in San Francisco. She also worked in San Francisco Guadalupe Elementary School and Mira Vista Elementary School. Before coming to the U.S., Ms. Xu taught multiple subjects in both English and Chinese to students ranging from pre-k to 12th grade, as well as adults for eight years in Beijing. During the same time period, she founded and ran her own ESL school. In her free time, Ms. Xu enjoys watching movies, reading magazines, and swimming.
Black Pine Circle School Music Program Faculty
Rem Djemilev leads Black Pine Circle School’s advanced orchestra. Originally from Russia, Mr. Djemilev has had a distinguished professional career in the Bay Area as well as in his native country. He received his B.A. at the Music College of Moscow Conservatory and his master’s degree at the Conservatory of Music, also in Moscow. Before moving to the Bay Area, Mr. Djemilev performed for twelve years with the Moscow Symphony Orchestra and for seventeen years with the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra. He currently performs with the California Symphony Orchestra and The Arlekin String Quartet. He also teaches at The Crowden School and Marin Academy. Mr. Djemilev joined the Black Pine Circle School music faculty in 2002.
Rachel Durling is the kindergarten through third grade violin teacher and she conducts Black Pine Circle School’s junior orchestra. Ms. Durling grew up in Berkeley and studied violin with Anne Crowden. She received her bachelor of music degree from Mannes College of Music in New York City and her M.A. from Stanford University. Since returning to the Bay Area in 1985, she has played professionally with many groups, including the Santa Rosa Symphony, California Symphony, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, the Bay Area Jazz Composers Orchestra, and the Cuban Danzon group Orquesta La Moderna Tradicion. Ms. Durling performs often with her groups The Armanino Trio (with Dina Weinshelbaum), and Corvo String Quartet. In addition to her work at Black Pine Circle School, she teaches at the Crowden School, gives private lessons, and enjoys a successful concert schedule with her group, Baguette Quartette. Ms. Durling joined the Black Pine Circle School music faculty in 1991.
Jerry Kennedy is the seventh and eighth grade music teacher and band director. Mr. Kennedy is a Level III Orff instructor and has several decades of experience as a band leader and professional musician. In addition to teaching over ten different instruments, some to our Black Pine Circle School students, Mr. Kennedy has taught at Step One, Marin, and Civicorps Elementary schools. In 2004 he established Guitar for Kids, a music program for young musicians to learn and showcase their talents. The GFK music program has been a mainstay at La Pena Cultural in Berkeley, where, in 2005, he also established the East Bay Music Camp, a summer program for underprivileged youth. In 2007, he started a mentoring program for foster youth called Fosters Assisting Fosters and created a partnership with Seneca House and A Better Way. He brought in youth to these two programs in order to provide them a platform to share their experiences of being in the foster care system. Mr Kennedy joined Black Pine Circle School in 2009.
Madeleine King is the kindergarten through third grade music teacher and she serves as the head of the music program for Black Pine Circle School. Ms. King has thirty years of teaching experience, and joined our music faculty in 1996. She has taught music in several different schools and programs in the Bay Area. Ms. King received her B.A. in fine arts and education from the University of Indiana, where she also obtained a teaching credential in K-12 art education. After teaching art for several years, she then went on to continue her interest in music education with training in the Orff-Schulwerk. In addition to teaching music, Ms. King is also a performing singer/songwriter and has just released her third CD of original music with her band, King & Ace. She has also produced a solo CD as well as a children’s CD of some of her favorite kid tunes. Playing both guitar and mandolin, she performs at numerous venues in the Bay Area.
Cheryl Sumsion is the fourth through sixth grade music teacher and she directs Black Pine Circle School’s choral groups. Ms. Sumsion earned her B.Ed. and teaching credential through the University of Western Ontario in junior/intermediate vocal music and her B.A. from the University of Waterloo in honours music/personality and religious studies. She has enjoyed additional training in both the Kodály and Orff approaches to teaching music. Her graduate work includes studies in Vocology and Baroque vocal technique. For seven years she taught sixth through eighth grade core subjects in Toronto, with a special emphasis on vocal music, drama and ESL, and there began her love of directing musicals. As a soprano, Ms. Sumsion has sung on thirteen commercial releases of choral and children’s music, and has performed in fifteen musicals. She performed and recorded with the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir in Toronto, and has also performed in cathedrals throughout England. In California, she sings most frequently with the American Bach Soloists, and at churches in the Bay Area. Ms. Sumsion joined Black Pine Circle School in 2003.
Dina Weinshelbaum is the kindergarten through third grade cello teacher and she leads the junior orchestra with Rachel Durling. Ms. Weinshelbaum received her B.A. in music from UC Berkeley, where she studied with Colin Hampton. She has taught at the Crowden School and the Young Musician’s Program at UC Berkeley, and she maintains a private teaching studio in her home. In addition to teaching cello, Ms. Weinshelbaum is a member of the San Francisco Opera Center Orchestra, and often subs with groups such as the Berkeley Symphony, California Symphony, and Oakland Symphony. She also plays at many weddings and parties as a member of Garden Strings. Ms. Weinshelbaum joined the Black Pine Circle School music faculty in 1993.
Black Pine Circle School Administrative and Support Staff
John Carlstroem is Black Pine Circle’s head of school. Mr. Carlstroem has more than twenty years of experience in a variety of educational environments, eleven of them as head of school at Black Pine Circle School. Prior to his time here, Mr. Carlstroem was the assistant head of school and middle school head at the Hamlin School in San Francisco. Mr. Carlstroem has consulted with the National Park Service, East Bay Regional Parks, The San Francisco Education Fund, The Moore Foundation, and others on the subjects of teacher training, curricular design, and management in the environmental and education sectors. He served as director of education and outreach, and later executive director, for the Headlands Institute, and as executive vice president for Yosemite National Institute and chair of the board for Save the Bay. He remains deeply committed to environmental causes. Mr. Carlstroem’s educational background includes a B.A. in marine biology from UC Santa Cruz, and a master’s degree in nonprofit administration from the University of San Francisco. He is currently pursuing his P.h.D in education at Mills College. He lives with his wife and daughter, a recent Black Pine Circle School nine-year alum, in El Cerrito.
Patrick Nelligan is the head of upper school. Before joining Black Pine Circle School in 2014, Mr. Nelligan completed his eleventh year as the head of middle school at St. Anne’s Episcopal School in Denver, Colorado. Prior to St. Anne’s, Mr. Nelligan spent ten years at the Hamlin School in San Francisco teaching French and technology, and serving as the director of student activities and service learning. He holds a B.A. in French literature from UC Santa Cruz, an M.A. in French from Middlebury College, and an M.Ed. in education leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University. Mr. Nelligan has two sons; and his wife, Jil Cappuccio, is a local clothing designer.
Andra Marziano is the upper school’s dean of students and the upper school drama teacher. Until 1999, when she became head of the upper school drama program, Ms. Marziano had been with Black Pine Circle School for seven years as Extended Daycare director and after-school drama teacher for second through fifth grades. She received her B.A. in political science from UC Berkeley, and, while attending the university, she worked with several youth theater organizations for children ages 5-17. She is a nationally certified personal trainer, and she has worked at UC Berkeley with intercollegiate athletic teams and individual clients. Ms. Marziano joined the Black Pine Circle School faculty in 1994.
Michael Bannister is director of the Extended Daycare and clubs coordinator. Mr. Bannister received his B.S. in education and a teaching credential from Southeast Missouri State University, as well as an M.A. in education from Webster University in St. Louis. His teaching experience has included classroom instruction in literature and writing at both the junior and senior high school levels. Mr. Bannister moved to California in 1999 and joined the Extended Daycare staff of Black Pine Circle School that fall. He is an aficionado of museums, film, and the many varieties of cuisine that the Bay Area has to offer.
Bing Bardez is a aftercare assistant in the Extended Daycare program. Ms. Bardez is currently in college studying for a degree in art history. She has experience supervising children through her travels abroad and as a camp counselor for two years at The Crowden School of Music. Ms. Bardez loves exploring the world, loves trying new cuisines, and recently discovered Zumba. Ms. Bardez is a 2009 graduate of Black Pine Circle School and is excited to have joined the staff this year.
Mulan Bartholomew is the database administrator and registrar. Born and raised in San Francisco, Ms. Bartholomew has lived in California all her life. Before joining the Black Pine Circle team, she worked for the Lindsay Wildlife Experience as their natural history collection technician. Ms. Bartholomew has also worked for several museum exhibit design firms in the Bay Area. Ms. Bartholomew graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a B.A. in art. In her free time she enjoys playing board games and hiking.
Debbie Crandall is the bookkeeper. Ms. Crandall has provided administrative and bookkeeping services for several nonprofits and small businesses over the past 20 years. She taught first grade for one year and volunteered for several years as an art teacher in her son’s elementary and middle schools. She has a B.A. in music from UC Berkeley. She loves playing her fiddle, painting, hiking, and spending time with her family and friends. Ms. Crandall joined Black Pine Circle School in 2009..
Eve Garadis is the human resources assistant. Ms. Garadis has worked in the human resources field for the past 10 years, in both the education and nonprofit sectors. She has a B.A from New York University and an M.A. from Columbia University. She moved to California in 2009, living and working in New York City before that. She has two young children and is interested in cooking, travel, nutrition, and child development. Ms. Garadis joined Black Pine Circle School in 2013.
Sonam Gonsar is the upper school office manager. Born and raised in the foothills of the Himalayas in India, Ms. Gonsar moved to California in 1992 as part of the One Thousand Tibetans Resettlement Project. She completed her B.A. in English in India, and taught ESL for a year. Before coming to Black Pine Circle School, she enjoyed working as a teacher’s assistant at Hillcrest School in Oakland. She enjoys community service and learning about different cultures. Ms. Gonsar joined Black Pine Circle School in 2004.
Amy Gordon Risz is the upper school learning specialist. Ms. Gordon Risz started as a classroom teacher and resource specialist in New York City, was identified as a model teacher and then selected for Manhattan’s Aspiring Leadership Program. She went on to coach teachers, teach at NYU, work as the assistant principal at Greenwich Village Middle School and consult to the National College of School Leadership in the United Kingdom. She served as a school partnership director and literacy specialist at Partners in School Innovation, a San Francisco nonprofit aimed at facilitating school change to improve student success. For the last five years, she has worked as a learning specialist at Ecole Bilingue. She has an M.Ed in special education from Fordham University. Ms. Gordon Risz is a native New Yorker and enjoys hiking, skiing, and exploring the world with her husband and two sons. She is excited to be part of the Black Pine Circle team.
Blake Hansen is the director of technology. Mr. Hansen joined Black Pine Circle School as IT assistant in 2011. Prior to that, he taught elementary school technology at Windrush School and worked in tech support at the Benefit Cosmetics corporate office in San Francisco. He earned his B.A. in psychology from San Francisco State University. Mr. Hansen is the father of two Black Pine Circle School students.
John Herbert has been Black Pine Circle School’s facilities manager since 1995. Mr. Herbert is a graduate of UC Berkeley. He is also the proud father of a son who is a K-8 Black Pine Circle School graduate.
Lesley Jones is Black Pine Circle School’s director of communications & special events. Ms. Jones comes to us from England with a B.A. in English language and literature and a secondary education teaching credential in English. She spent several years teaching English, drama, and communication studies to middle and high school children in Bristol, U.K. Prior to becoming a mom, Ms. Jones worked in the East Bay for ten years in the alternative weekly newspaper industry in sales, marketing, and management, becoming publisher of the East Bay Express in 2001, and then general manager of Marin’s Pacific Sun newspaper in 2002. Her daughter is a Black Pine Circle School student. Ms. Jones joined Black Pine Circle School in 2008 and worked for five years as the fourth and fifth grade teaching assistant.
Sally Kiskaddon is the kindergarten through third grade librarian. Ms. Kiskaddon received both a B.A. in English and a California teaching credential from California State University, East Bay. Ms. Kiskaddon has a certificate in college admissions counseling and career planning from UC Berkeley Extension and she is an active independent college counselor. She is also a parent admissions representative for Whitman College. Both of her children attended Black Pine Circle School from kindergarten through eighth grade. She and her husband George Kiskaddon own Builders Booksource in Berkeley. Ms. Kiskaddon joined Black Pine Circle School in 2014.
Kathleen McNulty is the fourth through eighth grade librarian. A native of Toronto, Canada, Ms. McNulty has lived in California since 1987. She received her B.A. in English and history from Western University in London, Ontario, and both her M.A. in English and her M.L.S. from the University of Toronto. Before her three children were born, Ms. McNulty worked in book publishing for many years. In addition to working at Black Pine Circle School (and being the mother of a Black Pine Circle School graduate), she is also a librarian at Chabot Elementary School and Sequoia Elementary School in Oakland. Ms. McNulty joined Black Pine Circle School in 2007.
Lucy Morris is the lower school office manager. Ms. Morris has a year of study at the Berklee School of Music in Boston and a B.A. in English with a minor in dance from the University of New Hampshire. Upon graduation, she moved to Boston where she established a private practice in shiatsu after becoming certified through the New England Shiatsu Center. She also studied African dance and percussion, improvisational movement, and various martial arts, including tai chi and chi gung. Ms. Morris moved to California in 1993 and continues to study movement and bodywork, as well as songwriting and guitar. She loves being around children and very much enjoys being part of the Black Pine Circle School community. Ms. Morris joined Black Pine Circle School in 2000.
Ian Moura is an assistant in the Extended Daycare program. Mr. Moura is a Bay Area native who received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Dominican University of California. After graduation, he moved to upstate New York, where he assisted with the neuroscience components of HIV research in a microbiology and immunology lab at the University of Rochester. In 2010, Mr. Moura returned to California and completed two years of graduate work in cognitive psychology and human computer interactions at UC Santa Cruz, focusing on task-switching and media use in work environments. Mr. Moura has previously worked as a teaching assistant and tutor for elementary and middle school students. He has been a participant in various historical reenactment and vintage ballroom dance events since 2002, and enjoys reading, board games, rock climbing, hiking, and playing soccer.
John Ormsby is director of development at Black Pine Circle School. Mr. Ormsby was previously associate director for foundation and corporate support at the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Prior to that, he worked for U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer for nearly ten years as special assistant to the chief of staff and senior field representative for nine Bay Area counties. Mr. Ormsby is currently president of the board of directors of the Berkeley-based nonprofit Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program (BORP), which provides sports and other recreation opportunities for people, primarily children, with physical disabilities. He and his wife both graduated from UC Berkeley and have lived in Berkeley since 1995. Their son attends Black Pine Circle School. Mr. Ormsby greatly enjoys music and art, and is a lapsed competitive road cyclist. He joined Black Pine Circle School in 2011.
Isaac Pasternack is an upper school teaching assistant and IT assistant. Mr. Pasternack is an East Bay native, raised in Richmond. He returned home after graduating from the University of Washington, Seattle with a B.A. in history and a minor in Jewish studies. His work with children began with trips to help out at his mom’s preschool class at the young age of nine. Before coming to Black Pine Circle School Isaac worked at Classroom Matters, a tutoring center in Berkeley. There, he tutored in the subject areas of math, reading, writing, history, and English. Mr. Pasternack joined the Black Pine Circle School faculty in 2013 as the fourth grade teaching assistant. In his spare time, he enjoys both listening to and creating music, going to concerts, and riding his bike.
Stephanie Piper is the seventh grade English teacher. Ms. Piper received her B.A. with high distinction in English from UC Berkeley, and her M.A. (with coursework completed toward a doctorate) in English from the University of Washington. Ms. Piper enjoys exploring literature, discussing current affairs, and developing individual writing skills with the seventh graders. In her downtime, she enjoys traveling to places where she can stretch her foreign language skills, reading books that are not on her syllabus, attending live theater and the opera, hiking the east bay hills, and generally running around after her two young daughters. Next, Ms. Piper would love to learn how to sew, but hasn’t quite found the time to learn yet. She joined the Black Pine Circle faculty in 2015.
Nico Pemantle is the upper school counselor and communications teacher. Mr. Pemantle received his master’s degree in counseling and his K-12 school counseling credential at St. Mary’s College, where he currently teaches one class in the teacher credential program and supervises counseling interns in the counseling credential program. His outside experience as a school counselor includes individual and group counseling support for students at Cornell Elementary School in Albany, as well as individual counseling support for students at King Middle School in Berkeley. More recently, Mr. Pemantle worked for the YMCA Teen Center Urban Services Division in Oakland, counseling teens in the “Dare2Dream” program on academic goal-setting and college/career planning. He joined the Black Pine Circle School faculty in 1995, and has served as the upper school counselor since 2004. Following 21 years at BPC, Mr. Pemantle is taking leave for the 2016-17 school year.
Deborah Raphael is our school therapist. Ms. Raphael is a licensed clinical social worker and associate clinical professor at the University of California, Berkeley. She earned her bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley and her master’s degree in social work from Smith College in Northampton, MA. Beginning in 1990, she was part of the UC Berkeley clinical research team for The School Children and their Families Project, studying the relationship between school success and child-parent relationships. From 1991 to 2012, she supervised the clinical work of Ph.D. candidates in the Department of Psychology at UC Berkeley. In addition, for the last ten years, Ms. Raphael worked part-time as a consultant and psychology teacher at Maybeck High School in Berkeley. Ms. Raphael has been working therapeutically with children and their families for over thirty-five years and continues her private psychotherapy practice in Kensington. An East Bay native, Ms. Raphael is the mother of two grown daughters.
Tracey Rogers is the executive assistant to the head of school. She was born in London, England and moved to the U.S. over 22 years ago. She completed the National Nursery Examination Board (NNEB) and the Certificate of Pre-Vocational Education (CPVE) courses in the U.K. before running the infant unit at the Holland Park Day Nursery, and subsequently the preschool class at The School House. After moving to the U.S., Ms. Rogers co-taught kindergarten and first grade at both Packer Collegiate Institute and The Dalton School in New York City. She joined Black Pine Circle School in 2012 where her son is currently a fifth grader.
Bill Shea is the director of finance and operations. He has over twenty-five years of experience in schools, camps, and business settings. Mr. Shea has worn many hats over the years, from counselor, director, and banker to business manager and business owner. He has a B.A. in business administration from Loyola Marymount University. He volunteers his time as president of The Rotary club of Hercules and as a member of the Financial Advisory Committee for the City of Hercules. Mr. Shea enjoys running to help keep him sane and is an avid photographer. Mr. Shea joined the Black Pine Circle School staff in 2008.
Greta B. Wong is the director of admissions. Ms. Wong was the associate director of admissions and, before that, the executive assistant to the head of school at Black Pine Circle School before moving to her current position. She has a B.A. in economics and French from Hartwick College. Prior to working at Black Pine Circle School, Ms. Wong was employed in the advertising and retail industries. She was a senior account executive for a pharmaceutical advertising company in San Francisco, and an account executive at a direct mail advertising agency in Boston. In addition, she worked in the merchandising departments at Smith & Hawken and Williams-Sonoma, Inc. Ms. Wong is the mother of two children, one a current student at Black Pine Circle School and the other a recent graduate.