Our Faculty & Staff

Admin Team


Elaine Blasi


Elaine brings more than 40 years of expertise, in the field of education, to Silver Oak. She has twenty-five 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 is a teacher trainer for the Houston Montessori Center. 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 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.

Office Manager

Mayra Miramontes

Office Manager

Attendance/Wellness Coordinator

Carmen Ruiz

Attendance/Wellness Coordinator

Nancy Ta

Director of Special Education

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 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 was born in New York City, raised in Western Massachusetts, and now calls Oakland home.


Merced Almanza

9th & 10th Grade English Language Arts
Senior Advisor/Safety Coordinator

Merced completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Texas-Pan American receiving his BA in English and minor in Philosophy. Shortly after received an EMT certification from Nunez Community College. He is currently completing his AMS (American Montessori Society) credential in Secondary I/II, while simultaneously working on his Master in Urban Education and single subject teaching credential at Holy Names University. Merced has been teaching high school for six years. He taught his first year at the International High School of New Orleans and two years at New Orleans Charter Science and Mathematics High School. He has been teaching at Silver Oak High School since 2015, Merced is from Rio Grande Valley, Texas. 

Jordan Boyd

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

Jordan attended Ohio State University where he earned a Bachelor’s in Environmental Education and Music Theory. He has been teaching at Silver Oak High School since 2015. Jordan is from Columbus, Ohio and currently lives in Oakland.  

Melanie Carlton

Mental Health Specialist

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 CBT 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 ranges from kindergarten to university, this is her first year at Silver Oak in the mental health department. In her role, Melanie will conduct individual 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 either conducting mental health assessments for Alameda County Social Services or doing psychotherapy at a nonprofit in San Leandro. While she misses beautiful southern California and summiting Mount Baldy, Melanie is happy to be back in the Bay Area exploring new restaurants with her fiancé, hiking in the canyon, and spending quality time with her family.

Jilynette Centeno

9th & 10th Grade Spanish
Freshman Advisor

Jilynnette Centeno-Millan was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras with a B.A. in Foreign Languages (French and Portuguese) and with a minor in Hispanic Studies. In 2009, she was selected for a competitive internship in teaching Spanish at Williams College in Massachusetts. After completing her internship, she was accepted into Graduate School in the Spanish and Portuguese Department at the University of California in Berkeley. She has taught undergraduate Spanish courses at the University of California, Berkeley and the Extension Division, Chabot College, and St. Mary’s College. She has vast experience with foreign language instruction needs and approaches. Ms Centeno is interested in Second Language Acquisition Theories and Spanish Linguistics. She knows Spanish, English, Portuguese, French, and Modern Greek. 

Deborah Eskie

Reading Specialist/ELPAC Coordinator

Deb began her career at Somerville Public Schools in Massachusetts, teaching in the Special Education department while obtaining her Master’s degree in Creative Arts Education at Lesley University. She is TESOL certified and worked as the ELL Specialist and Art teacher at KIPP Summit Academy in San Lorenzo, CA. Currently, she is studying at Alliant University for her Special Education credential. She is also the Reading Specialist and ELD Coordinator at Golden Oak Montessori.

Guadalupe Esquivel

9th & 10th Grade Mathematics
Freshman Advisor

Lupe graduated from CSU Monterey Bay where she earned a Bachelor’s in Mathematics and a Bachelor’s in Business Administration with a concentration in Management and International Business in December 2016. In June 2018, she graduated from Santa Clara University with a Masters in Teaching and Teaching Credential.
This is Lupe’s first year of teaching and she is excited to be here on the Silver Oak team. She has experience through teaching summer school, tutoring high school and college students, and through doing her student teaching in Cupertino this past school year. Lupe has always loved math and hopes to have the people around her appreciate it as well.

Dyane Goldman

9th & 10th Digital Arts
IT Coordinator

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.


Tracy Hahn

11th & 12th Grade Science
 Sophomore Advisor

Mr. Hahn has taught in the California public school system since 1998.  He obtained a B.S. in physics from U.C. San Diego & a masters degree in physics from San Francisco State University.   He has traveled extensively and taught in several South American countries.  Mr Hahn’s current research interest is in the extension of Einstein’s field equations  to the study of black holes.

Cloe Monleon

11th & 12th Grade Spanish
Senior Advisor

Cloe received her B.A. in Spanish Language/Literature from San Francisco State University. While at San Francisco State University, she traveled to Spain and studied Spanish Literature at Complutense University in Madrid. Previously, she worked for three years at Claremont Middle School, where she developed her teaching skills. This is her third year at Silver Oak High School. She was born and raised in the country of lakes and volcanoes, Nicaragua. She currently resides in Emeryville, CA.

Jeffrey Neilson

11th & 12th Grade English Language Arts
Sophomore 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!

Okeefe Niemann

Mathematics,  Business Entrepreneurship
Junior Advisor

Having been raised by a Montessori teacher, Okeefe fully embraces the philosophy and ideals which drive Silver Oak. He graduated UC Santa Cruz with a degree in Astrophysics in June of 2015, and proceeded to formally tutor high school students in standardized test preparation and Science/Math. He found that he not only enjoyed teaching students the tools which drive his passions of Astronomy and Physics, but also the experience of guiding their intellectual growth. In his free time, Okeefe enjoys reading, biking, and playing/composing music.

Isabel Ramirez

9th & 10th Grade Science
Junior Advisor

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 Environmental Science and this year Biology. 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.

Araceli Rodriguez


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. 

Ryan Shephard

11th & 12th Grade Social Studies Instructor

Junior Advisor

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.

Fangfang Sun

Mandarin/CAASPP Coordinator
Senior Advisor

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.

Karen Vanderburg

Special Education

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.

Mark Vizcarra

9th & 10th Grade Social Studies

Athletic Director

Sophomore Advisor

Mark attended California State University, Bakersfield for undergrad where he studied Political Science. He continues his educational pursuit at Fuller Theological Seminary where he studies Multicultural Studies with an emphasis in Children At-Risk. In 2014, Mark began teaching at Riverside Preparatory High School in Oro Grande School District. He also has experience as a curriculum developer and teaching in the state of Indiana. Mark has a passion for coaching basketball where he has the opportunity to teach his players wholesome principles that transfer to life beyond the basketball court. When Mark is not at Silver Oak, you can find him trying local eateries, following his favorite team the Los Angeles Lakers or spending time with his fiance.