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.



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 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






David Wu

Business Manager




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 an alumnus of DC Public Schools before he matriculated into Princeton University, and was a licensed physics and engineering teacher in DC Public Schools in 2017.  He played football both in high school and college where he was the Best All-Around Defensive Player of the year for the Varsity Lightweight Football league that had former players like President Jimmy Carter and Secretaries George Shultz and Donald Rumsfeld.   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 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





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



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


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.


Deb Eskie

Reading Specialist/ELPAC Coordinator/SPED Intern



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.


9th/10th Grade Teaching Team

Jilynnette Centeno Millán

9th & 10th Grade Spanish
Sophomore 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. She is currently completing her CA Credential Program At CSUE East Bay. Ms Centeno is interested in Second Language Acquisition Theories and Spanish Linguistics. She knows Spanish, English, Portuguese, French, and Modern Greek. 


Bella Brooks

9th & 10th Grade English Language Arts
Freshman Advisor







Dyane Goldman

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



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.




Mark Vizcarra

9th & 10th Social Studies
Athletic Director 

Junior 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.


Fangfang Sun

9th, 10th, 11th & 12th Grade Mandarin

CAASPP Coordinator
Freshman 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.


Isabel Ramirez

9th & 10th Grade Enviromental Science
Senior 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 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





OKeefe Nieman

Mathematics,  Business Entrepreneurship
Senior 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

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.


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 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


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 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.