Our Faculty & Staff

Admin Team

Elaine Blasi

Superintendent/Principal

 

elaine@silveroakmontessori.org

Elaine brings more than 40 years of expertise, in the field of education, to Silver Oak. She has thirty years administrative/teaching experience working with schools, non-profits and individual families, serving students from early childhood through university. Ms. Blasi founded Montessori Hale O Keiki on Maui (a triple accredited, independent school enrolling children ages 3 through 15), and Global Technology High School (the first Montessori high school in Hawai’i). Elaine also directed the Early Childhood/Montessori Education programs at Chaminade University of Honolulu. She has her B.S.F.S. from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and an M.Ed in International Education from the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education. She is currently AMS (American Montessori Society) credentialed in Early Childhood and Secondary I/II and has been a AMS teacher trainer for the both EMTTA and HMC. Elaine is a former commissioner for the AMS School Accreditation Commission and a past member of the AMS Board. She has served as an accreditation visiting team member for HAIS (Hawai‘i Association of Independent Schools), WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges), AMS (American Montessori Society) and MACTE (Montessori Accreditation Commission for Teacher Education). She is currently a doctoral student in Humanistic Psychology at Saybrook University.

 

Yanira Ledezma

Vice Principal

 

yanira@silveroakmontessori.org

Yanira graduated with her Master’s from San Jose State University. She has worked in the education field for over six years and enjoys working with youth and families. As a counselor at Silver Oak High School she works  to provide students with the access to resources and information needed to get them to college.

 

 

Nancy Ta

Director of Special Education

 

nancy@silveroakmontessori.org

Nancy completed her undergraduate studies at University of California, San Diego receiving her degree in Psychology with a program focus on Educational Psychology. She continued her education pursuits in Maryland and graduated from University of Maryland with a Master’s of Arts in Teacher Education with an emphasis in Special Education and Social Studies. She is currently AMS (American Montessori Society) credentialed in Secondary I/II. She also holds teaching credentials in Maryland, Hawaii and California as an Education Specialist and for Social Studies. She taught Social Studies and served as an Autism Behavioral Therapist for Baltimore City and Howard County schools while residing in Maryland. She has experience working with students from grade levels ranging from Pre-K to High School.  Nancy has also co-taught in the subject areas of Algebra, Language Arts, US History and Psychology. Nancy continues to use her Psychology background to interweave the Special Education curriculum to help students with all needs and backgrounds.

 

Marley Wertheimer

Instructional Coach/Senior Internship Coordinator

 

marley@silveroakmontessori.org

Marley earned her B.A. from Connecticut College in Psychology-based Human Relations and German Studies. Shortly after graduation, she began her impactful career in education in Oakland Unified School District, where she fostered a passion for educating students of diverse ages and backgrounds. In 2012, she received her Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential at Cal State East Bay. In 2014, Marley began teaching at Silver Oak, while simultaneously working on her Montessori Secondary I & II Credential through the American Montessori Society (AMS). She additionally has a Masters of Education from Taft University. Marley serves yearly on WASC and AMS Accreditation teams, is a member of the Montessori Life Editorial Board and is also a published writer. 

 

Office  Staff

Mayra Miramontes

Office Manager

 

Carmen Ruiz

Attendance/Safety Coordinator

carmen@silveroakmontessori.org

 

 

 

 

David Wu

Strategic Finance Officer

 

 

 

David has more than 40 years of business management experience from Best Newspaper Carrier in Metropolitan DC as a High School student to Chief Financial Officer of a NASDAQ listed high technology company with products inside more cell phones than Apple’s iPhone.  To support age-appropriate education like Montessori schools for our children, he completed a $7 million capital campaign project in Metropolitan DC and modified an Early Childhood license in California to help two Waldorf Nursery to Grade 12 schools increase enrollment.  Mr. Wu is a DC Public Schools alumnus and a licensed physics and engineering teacher there in 2017.  He was an all-star soccer player who also played football both in high school and college where he was Princeton’s Best All-Around Defensive Player of the year in a Varsity Lightweight Football league that had former players like President Jimmy Carter and Secretaries George Shultz and Donald Rumsfeld.   In the Fall of 2019, he was the Silver Oak High School Men’s Soccer Team head coach when he practiced the Montessori principle of listening to the students who were led by two seniors.  With two assistant coaches plus guidance from a former Stanford University soccer player, the team won Divisional Championship for the first time, with six players on the first/second all-star teams.  He has BSE and MSE Engineering degrees, a Wharton MBA, and CPA, CMA, and Certified Forensic Accountant credentials.  Married with three adult children, his passion is Moral Innovations that balance morality with innovation to sustain progress for humanity. 

 

Support  Team

Melanie Carlton

Mental Health Specialist

melanie@silveroakmontessori.org

 

Melanie is a licensed marriage and family therapist who received her Masters in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology. Melanie is an interactive, strength-based therapist utilizing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Mindfulness to assist students in developing healthy stress management techniques, identifying coping strategies to support better communication in home and school, and emphasize students’ abilities and educational outcomes. While Melanie has been working in the education system for 8 years with grade levels ranging from kindergarten to university, this is her third year at Silver Oak in the mental health department. In her role, Melanie conducts individual wellness checks and group counseling for students while writing and implementing programs to strengthen the department and help faculty and staff integrate mental health approaches into the classroom.  When away from Silver Oak, you can find Melanie hiking around the Bay Area with her family and puppy.

 

Araceli Rodriguez

Counselor

 

araceli@silveroakmontessori.org

 

Araceli received her B.A. in Psychology from Stanislaus State University and her M.A. in Counseling from Brandman University. Prior to counseling, she served as an Autism Behavioral Therapist for four years. She also has experience working with elementary, middle school, and high school students. During her spare time, Araceli enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, and traveling. 


Karen Vanderburg

Special Education

 

karen@silveroakmontessori.org

Originally from Southern California, Karen moved up to the Northwest to complete a B.A. in English at the University of Washington and an M.A. in Comparative Literature at University of Oregon.  From there, she went on to teach English and literature at the secondary level for a number of years in Eastern Europe. Upon her return, she obtained a Single Subject Credential in English from California State East Bay and taught middle and high school students around the Bay Area for many years.  After recently finishing her Education Specialist Credential while working at a school for students with learning differences, Karen is joiningi the Special Education department at Silver Oak Montessori where she will continue to help students discover ways to make learning meaningful. When she is not in the classroom, Karen loves to be outdoors, hiking, running and cross-country skiing.

 

Roderick Reed

Campus Safety Officer

roderick@silveroakmontessori.org

Rodrick Reed retired from the Alameda County Probation Department after twenty eight years as a Juvenile Institutional Officer. He worked for Hayward Unified School District as a Campus Saftey Officer for two years before joining the Silver Oak community. During his free time he enjoys traveling the world, football, weightlifting and basketball.

 

9th/10th Grade Teaching Team

Dulce Christensen (Lupian Soto)

9th & 10th Grade Spanish

Freshman Advisor

dulce@silveroakmontessori.org

Dulce Christensen (Lupian Soto) was born and raised in Mexico City. She graduated magna cum laude from Iberoamericana University in Mexico with a BA in International Relations. She then completed an MA in Environment, Culture, and Society at Lancaster University in England. She worked as an ESL teacher in Mexico City for 2 years. She moved to the United States in 2007 and decided to do a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education to teach Spanish. Ms Christensen has taught Spanish in middle school and high school for the past 8 years. Some of her interests are traveling, music (she loves going to concerts!), dancing, and reading.

 

Bella Brooks

9th & 10th Grade English Language Arts
Sophomore Advisor

 

bella@silveroakmontessori.org

Ms. Bella is originally from Richmond, Va. She was actively involved with her very own high schools’ sports teams and clubs, receiving All-State Field Hockey awards, All-Regional Cellist, and Editor of the Newspaper. Prior to attending college, Bella danced for the Chesterfield School of Ballet. Once she realized her purpose was to become a teacher, she attended Mary Baldwin College, studying Cultural Anthropology, Psychology, and Education. After receiving the Global Scholarship award with MBC, Bella researched British Literature and Religion abroad in Germany, Belgium, Austria, and Turkey, and found a love for Turkish culture. In 2017, Bella completed her Secondary Orientation to Adolescent Studies Credential with the American Montessori Internationale in Huntsburg, Ohio. She recently taught at Golden Oak Montessori school for three years in their Middle School Program, and this is her second year at Silver Oak. As a Montessori Guide, Bella wants to empower our adolescent youth today, by building a strong sense of community in our changing world. When she’s not teaching, Bella enjoys dancing, Santa Cruz beaches, and spending time with her two furry friends, Nikie & Louie-Dog.

  

Dyane Goldman

9th & 10th Digital Media Arts
IT Coordinator/Webmaster

Junior Advisor

dyane@silveroakmontessori.org

 

 

Dyane began teaching as a third career. Her first career was based in the Fashion industry where she grew to respect and appreciate the special mix of creativity and education. This began her love for design, education and creativity. She held several positions in the Music and Film industry, further developing a sense for the visual. She went on to earn her B.F.A. from Otis College of Art & Design in Los Angeles, her teaching credential from Dominican University, her Montessori Secondary credential from HMC and her Master’s of Science in Education at Dominican University. She began teaching high school in 2001 in Los Angeles, teaching Animation, Visual Effects and New Media in a Math & Technology Magnet. After moving to the Bay Area in 2008, she taught in the San Francisco Unified School District for several years. She taught Art & Design in Marin county for two years before coming to land here at Silver Oak. Since she began teaching at Silver Oak she has published works based on student-centered learning and the Montessori classroom. She teaches Digital Media, Motion Graphics, Visual Art with film, visual effects and graphic design thrown in. In her free time Dyane likes to pursue her passions. They are: design, animals, documentary film making, painting, jewelry making, poetry, writing, thrift store shopping and making music.

DIGITAL MEDIA Website

SO Art Gallery

 

 

Victoria Bernales

9th & 10th Mathematics 
Freshmen Advisor

 

Victoria finished her Bachelor of Science in Physics Teaching as a Department of Science and Technology – Science Education Institute merit scholar at the Philippine Normal University in Manila. She is currently working on her thesis for her Master of Arts in Measurement and Evaluation in the same university. 

In 2019, she completed her American Montessori International – Orientation to Adolescent Studies training in Colorado, USA. 

This will be her first year at Silver Oak High School, but she has been teaching Math and Science in middle school and high school for more than 20 years now. She has likewise participated in various exchange teacher programs in other countries. 

 

Frank Smith 

9th & 10th Social Studies

Freshmen Advisor

 

 

Frank comes to his first year at Silver Oak with 13 years of secondary teaching experience. Frank earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in history from California State University East Bay. Frank has also supported his local community by coaching high school baseball for over 10 years and little league baseball for the past 5 years. During his spare time, Frank is enjoying shenanigans with his son.

 

Isabel Ramirez

9th & 10th Grade Enviromental Science
Junior Advisor

isabel@silveroakmontessori.org

Isabel is a graduate of California State University, East Bay, where she obtained a Master’s in Biology and Biotechnology certification. At Silver Oak High School, she first served as a substitute teacher for 6 months. Shortly after, she was permanently hired to teach 11th grade Theory of Knowledge and after school Physical Education. In her current role she teaches 9th/10th grade science, including Biology and this year  Environmental Science . She has recently received her Montessori credentials in Secondary Education and is currently working towards her California Teaching Credentials. Isabel organizes the annual SOHS Science Fair and coordinates the 9th/10th grade students in the STEM Expo.

 

11th/12th Grade Teaching Team

Oscar Mendez

11th & 12th Grade Spanish 

Testing Coordinator / ELD Support

 

oscar@silveroakmontessori.org

This is Mr. Mendez’ second year with Silver Oak High School. He has been an educator for the last 20 years. Although he has also worked as an administrator for several years, he decided to go back to the classroom where he enjoys working closely with students. His experience as an educator includes working in rural and urban settings as well as teaching adults. He is a fully credentialed teacher and his commitment to the Montessori pedagogy is such that he is currently working on his Montessori credential in order to provide a wider array of opportunities to his students.

This year, he will be teaching Spanish 3, Spanish 4, and Spanish Literature. He is looking forward to another academic year full of experiences that can assist in building his students’ lives as well as helping them meet their own educational goals and life’s objectives. 

 

 


Fangfang Sun

 11th & 12th Math

Sophomore Advisor

fangfang@silveroakmontessori.org

Fangfang earned her Bachelor’s degree in Math and Applied Math from Shanghai Normal University (China) and Master’s degree in Adolescence Education in Math from College of Staten Island of the City University of New York. Following her graduation, she taught Math and Mandarin to different levels of students in New York City. After Fangfang relocated to Bay Area with her family in 2011, she taught Geometry, Algebra and Calculus at the high school level. Fangfang has been teaching at Silver Oak High School since 2014, while she completed her CA secondary credential and Montessori Secondary I&II credential. Fangfang has a passion for leading students to discover joy and develop creativity in their studies. She loves to share her enthusiasm for Math and Mandarin with adolescents.

 


Jeffrey Neilson

11th & 12th Grade English Language Arts
Junior Advisor

 

 

Jeff graduated from UC Berkeley in 2003 with a BA in English. He then began his teaching career across the Pacific Ocean in Wakayama, Japan, where he taught English in high schools and junior high schools for the Japan Exchange Teaching (JET) Program for three years. Upon returning, he attended Brown University, where he earned his Ph.D. in English in 2014. He was a fellow at Cornell University’s School of Criticism and Theory and the Cogut Center for Humanities at Brown. For eight years he taught English, Composition, and Humanities courses at universities in Rhode Island and California, as well as summer writing seminars for high school students. For the past two years he has taught English, Psychology, and History at the secondary level. He has published articles on American poetry in academic journals such as Contemporary Literature and Genre, and his poetry is featured in various literary journals such as the California Journal of Poetics, Free Verse, and Those, That, This. He also recently co-edited From the Monastery to the World: The Letters of Thomas Merton and Ernesto Cardenal.   

Check out the SOHS literary magazine here!

 


Isaac Rigler

11th & 12th Grade Senior Thesis, Psychology, Theory of Knowledge, Music Theory
Sophomore Advisor

isaac@silveroakmontessori.org

Isaac received his teaching credential in social studies from the University of California, Davis and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy with a minor in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Before teaching at Silver Oak High School, Isaac taught English as a foreign language in South Korea, worked as a counselor to teens with substance abuse and behavior issues, and worked as a managing paralegal at a law firm assisting people injured by pharmaceutical products. Isaac is currently working on completing his Masters degree. Outside of the classroom Isaac’s passions include world travel and guitar.

 

Ryan Shephard

11th & 12th Grade Social Studies Instructor

Junior Advisor / Business Entrepreneurship / Athletic Director

ryan@silveroakmontessori.org

Ryan is a first year teacher at Silver Oak. Ryan has a California single subject credential in social science from UC Davis’ School of Education. During the credentialing process, Ryan embraced student teaching opportunities at the middle and high school level. Ryan completed an A.A. degree in social and behavioral sciences at San Diego City College before transferring to UC Davis to pursue a B.A. in history and a minor in philosophy. He participated in football, baseball, basketball, boy scouts, and band as a youngster. In college, Ryan played baseball and ultimate frisbee. He spent much of his upbringing living in southern California and Washington DC. Ryan enjoys spending time with family, staying active, and growing as an educator.

 

Alex Muerle

11th & 12th Grade Science
 Sophomore Advisor

alex@silveroakmontessori.org

Alex completed his undergraduate degree from UC Santa Cruz in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Proceeded to obtain his Credential and Masters at CSU East Bay in Technology of Education. Alex has lived in the bay area his entire life and resides in Oakland. He has vast experience in Esports and Soccer.