Skip to main content

Lower School

Staffing News - New Faces At SFFS

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

We're delighted to welcome a number of new faces to our team for the 2017-2018 school year. We hope you'll enjoy reading about these unique new members of our faculty and staff, and we encourage you to help us in welcoming in full force these new teachers and learners who will soon be joining us! 

Kelsey Barbella, Middle School Math Teacher: Kelsey Barbella is a New Jersey native who followed her heart and moved to the city four years ago. While living on the east coast, she obtained her bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering at the University of Connecticut. She then volunteered with AmeriCorps, where she not only served as an ambassador for the watersheds of New Jersey, but also educated over 2,500 students, pushing them to explore, analyze, and solve water issues themselves. This work sparked a love of teaching and a hunger for adventure outside of the program. As soon as the program ended, Kelsey moved to SF to begin teaching middle school math at Convent Elementary School. Kelsey strives to bring real-world, 21st century math into her classroom and integrates play as much as possible. She believes all students are able to learn math at the highest levels and views collaboration and values exploration as fundamental to learning. Kelsey lives in the Sunset with her boyfriend Shaun and two cats, Harrison and Patty Cake.

Anhvu Buchanan, Second Grade Teacher: Anhvu served for two years as a Bay Area Teacher Training Institute (BATTI) intern in both 2nd and 3rd grades at Friends before spending two years in the lead teaching position at The Berkeley School (TBS), where he has thrived in a combination 1st and 2nd grade classroom. Hailing from Virginia, Anvhu has two master’s degrees, one in Education from UoP, and one in Creative Writing from SF State. A published writer, he spent several years as a Writer’s Corps volunteer in the Juvenile Justice Center teaching poetry. Anhvu has been drawn to Quaker education for some time; while he was here, he committed himself to the ideals of the school by working with Horizons. While Anhvu has truly enjoyed his time at TBS, he describes Friends as a pull he could not deny. We are so happy to welcome him back to the team.

Victoria Bui, Teaching Assistant: Victoria was born and raised in Pennsylvania. She received her bachelor’s in international relations in 2012 from the University of Texas at Austin and her master’s in international studies in 2015 from the University of San Francisco. Most recently, she worked at the University of San Francisco as a grants assistant where she assisted professors funding their research projects as well as funding scholarships for students. Victoria is passionate about increasing educational opportunities for women and ethnic minorities. She has worked for two summers at the Summer Institute for the Gifted as a teaching assistant and resident counselor. In her free time, she works as clue staff in escape puzzle rooms; she also enjoys traveling, practicing improv and spending time with her family.

Nina Eckoff, Teaching Assistant: Nina started working with children in 2010, when she become part of the Glenridge Cooperative Nursery School community. Since then, she has worked at Pacific Primary School, and in 2016 joined SF Friends as a substitute teacher in the lower school. Nina lives in San Francisco with her husband and son, and enjoys camping and baking with her family. Most weekends, you can find Nina attempting new moves in a big dance class.

Eliza Kingsley-Ma, Teaching Assistant: Eliza is thrilled to join the SFFS community as the 5th grade Middle School Teaching Assistant. Eliza spent the summer working as the Program Coordinator at Horizons at SFFS, supporting students, faculty and program staff. For the past two years, Eliza taught at Prospect Sierra School in El Cerrito as the 5th Grade Assistant Teacher. Before teaching at Prospect Sierra, Eliza gardened with students at Slide Ranch, taught writing at Breakthrough Collaborative and produced youth radio at WESU Middletown. Eliza earned her B.A. in American Studies and Latin American Studies from Wesleyan University. Born and raised in San Francisco, Eliza finds great pleasure in thick fog and hidden city trails.

Grecia Lacayo, Admissions and Lower School Assistant: Grecia was born and raised in Los Angeles. She initially moved to San Francisco to attend the University of San Francisco and majored in Biology where she discovered a passion for conservation biology. After working as a marine research assistant in Thailand, she went on to receive an MSc in Primate Conservation from Oxford Brookes University in the United Kingdom. It was during this time that she worked in Colombia on her MSc thesis and realized that she had a passion for both conservation biology and education. For nearly 10 years now, Grecia has worked as a tutor and as site coordinator for an afterschool program. She is excited to work in a school that teaches its students to engage the world with kindness and one that teaches the importance of an environmentally aware, just society. Grecia loves traveling, reading crime and science fiction novels, spending time outdoors, and is a film enthusiast.

Ben Lopez, Teaching Assistant: Ben is a Bay Area Teacher Training Institute student. He earned his B.A. in English at San Francisco State University. Ben was the caretaker of his grandparents for ten years, helping him to develop compassion, empathy, and patience. More recently Ben worked for six years as a bookseller at Christopher’s Books, where he found joy in community and art. Ben strives for balance within himself and the outside world, practicing mindfulness and meditation regularly. An avid reader and Giants fan, Ben lives with his partner Ema and their daughter Mika in Potrero Hill.

Adam Macalister, Teaching Assistant: Adam is a New England native, having spent most of his life living in the Boston suburbs before deciding to move to the West Coast at the opportunity to work at the San Francisco Friends School. After studying film photography in New York City, Adam transferred to Wesleyan University in Connecticut where he graduated with a degree in Government. In his free time Adam enjoys running, cooking, hiking, kayaking, photography, and gardening. In the past he has worked on a variety of different farms around the country, and he periodically packs up his bags to go camping in the wilderness. Adam first fell in love with teaching while working as an English language teacher in a fifth grade Dutch classroom during a semester abroad and hopes to one day lead his own classroom.

Nick McGrane, Kindergarten Teacher: Nick has been an independent school teacher for more than 12 years. He began in the early childhood classroom for grades K through second in Colorado at Stanley British Primary School, then taught a mixed age second and third grade class at The Friends School in Boulder. For the past six years, he has been serving as lead second grade teacher at the Live Oak School here in SF. Nick’s reputation among some of our faculty precedes him; he has practiced Clearness Committees, participated in Harvard’s Project Zero workshops, and dove into Structured Word Inquiry. Nick has been eager to return to the early childhood kindergarten classroom experience and has been drawn to our Quaker pedagogy and community for some time. He is a bright, progressive educator full of ideas and committed to developing a coherent program from it’s roots. He is also a Spanish speaker who is proficient in Japanese.

Sara Melman, Middle School Science Teacher: Sara is a native San Franciscan and graduate from University High School. She attended Cornell University and graduated in 2006 with a degree in geological sciences, teaching middle school science in NYC while earning her master’s in secondary science from City College of New York. In 2008, Sara took a teaching position at Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning High School (WHEELS), where she taught high school earth science, started a drama program, a student government program, and developed an outdoor education program. Sara moved back to SF in 2015 and began teaching high school biology; recently, she’s been focused on integrating technology into science labs and projects as a vehicle for student thinking and problem solving. We are delighted to have Sara on our team here at SFFS teaching middle school science. Sara lives in the city with her partner and 8-month old son.

Veronica Oberholzer, Horizons at SFFS AmeriCorps VISTA member: Veronica was born and raised in Oakland, California. She has recently returned from a four-year sojourn on the East Coast where she earned her B.A. in Economics with a minor in Philosophy from Smith College. Volunteer work, especially in the fields of food justice and education, has always been her passion, and she enjoyed serving on the Student Executive Board of the Community Service Office at Smith. She has volunteered with children on both coasts and is excited to continue helping students realize their dreams as Horizons at SFFS’ first ever AmeriCorps VISTA Associate. When not at work you can find her reading, swimming, or playing the violin.

Max Raynard, Teaching Assistant: A native of San Francisco, Max grew up in the Mission and Sunset Districts. After receiving a degree in history from San Francisco State University, he moved to Japan where he worked as an English teacher in rural Japanese public elementary  schools for two years.  Later he moved to work at an international school with a heavy arts and project based learning focus, teaching at the kindergarten level.  He is passionate about a career in education and returned to San Francisco in 2017 to pursue this dream.  Max's interests include Japanese culture and history, baseball, and music.

Jasmine Redmond, Teaching Assistant: Jasmine is a San Francisco native beginning her first year with Friends as a Middle School TA. Jasmine graduated from International High School in San Francisco and went on to attend Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY. Her academic interests include African-American literature, social-emotional development in early childhood, and contemporary social justice movements. In her free time she enjoys listening to podcasts and exploring local farmer's markets.

Carrie (Caro) Spring, Middle School Spanish Teacher: Caro grew up in SF and earned her bachelor’s degree in history at Dartmouth College. During a stint as a National Park Ranger guiding tours at the Statue of Liberty, she realized that she wanted to be an educator. Caro got her master’s degree in Spanish at Middlebury College School in Spain and taught Spanish for the next 12 years at the Julia Morgan School for Girls in Oakland. While there, she engineered a more robust Spanish program and shifted the pedagogy toward Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS) and started a flamenco dance program and a salsa dance team. For fun, Caro listens to podcasts, cooks (poorly), and teaches salsa rueda to adults in the Mission. Caro lives in the city with her favorite people: her partner Camilo (also a middle school Spanish teacher), her son Roque, and her daughter Belén. They love to spend summers at the beach and visiting relatives in Argentina, Spain, and Hungary, but during the school year they can be found most afternoons playing soccer in Golden Gate Park.

Courtney Wilde, First Grade Teacher: Courtney grew up in Columbus, Ohio and graduated from Tulane University in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree. She began teaching elementary school in the New Orleans charter school system as a Teach for America corps member. Courtney then grew as an educator, union organizer, comedian, and meditator. A spiritual calling to focus on her meditation practice brought her to Green Gulch Farm in Marin for a year and a half of Zen practice. Courtney really impressed us with her intellect, intuition, pure joy, thoughtfulness, and her way with the children in her teaching practice. We a re thrilled that she has decided to join us and the first grade team at SFFS this fall, and she is excited to be of service to our school community and home.


A Year-End Development Update

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

With just days left in the school year, I wanted to take a moment to share with you our enormous gratitude for your support in raising critical funds for Friends this year. As you well know, tuition alone does not cover the cost of operating our school, and each year we look to our families and the larger Friends school community to support the teachers and programs that are critical to our mission and curriculum. Once again our community responded, joining together to steward our shared investment in Friends.

I’m thrilled to say that we’ve reached our financial goal for this year’s Annual Fund, to date raising more than $753,000. Parent participation in our Annual Fund this year is at 98%, a great showing of community support. With just days to go, we hope to make it to 100%.

This year, we were lucky to have an anonymous 8th grade family issue a Giving Challenge to their fellow 8th grade families and the Board of Trustees. This Giving Challenge raised more than $20,000 for the Annual Fund, and we hope it may be the first in a new tradition. We could not be more grateful for the generosity of all the families involved.

In addition to general support for operations, raising money for adjustable tuition remains at the forefront of our efforts. This year, we raised $186,863for adjustable tuition, including direct donations and money raised in the 2017 Blue Party. Equal parts fundraiser and community builder, this year’s Blue Party was only possible with the enormous efforts of a handful of creative, committed, and indefatigable volunteers:  Beth Dye, Aggie Gettys, Jen Aldrich, Kevin Seidel, Soledad Alzaga-Gray, Chandra and Erich Ippen, Merritt Richmond, and many, many more. If you came to the Blue Party, you know the food and drinks scaled new heights—and how could it not, with so many amazingly talented food families in our midst! We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the families involved with BiRite, Cala, Franny’s Kitchen, Indian Bento, Jackrabbit, Kasa, Nopa, Nopalito, Outerlands, Pacific Catch, and Spruce/Saratoga.

A few weeks ago, members of the Development and Finance Committees of the Board of Trustees hosted an event called “Stewardship and the Financial Health of Friends.” If you were not able to attend the event, you can view it by visiting our Vimeo account (password: steward). While it may not be the most exciting 50 minutes of viewing you’ve ever had, it will give you helpful information about the board, our finances, and how the board functions in its role as financial steward of our school.

Thank you for your generosity to San Francisco Friends School, and your investment in the future of our students, teachers and school as a whole.