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Staffing News: Goodbyes and Hellos Among Our TAs

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

by Jennifer Arnest, Lower School Head

Every year we say goodbye to a cohort of our incredibly hard working teaching assistants.This year presents a particularly difficult goodbye, both for them and for us, since we have to do so many of these closing traditions virtually. We have some plans to make sure they are uniquely celebrated, especially in their classrooms at the closing meetings, but we welcome any of you to reach out to them directly in the closing days and wish them well in their next steps. 



Angie Gonzalez and Gavin Odabashian: Angie and Gavin have had similar trajectories at SFFS, and saying goodbye after their four years with us is particularly challenging. It is hard to describe how proud we all are of them both. They spent two years exploring the possibilities of the profession with us, and then dove head first into graduate school, embracing the calling as future leaders in the field. Angie Gonzalez served in third, fourth and most recently in second grade; as well Angie has been a central member of the Horizons team. Angie is one of the hardest working people we know, and has taken in so much from all her mentors over the years. She is steady and ready to run her own classroom, and school for that matter! Angie has plans to relocate back to her home in the Los Angeles area and we are beyond excited to hear more about her future. Gavin served in first, second and most recently in third grade. She’s a naturally reflective educator, deeply connected to the students, laser focused on her work, and a trusted colleague among peers. Gavin’s joy and groundedness has been a comfort to many who have had the pleasure to work with her and the next school that lands her as a lead teacher will be a very lucky place. Gavin plans to stay in the east bay next year, so happily, all of our ties will remain close.

Ben Lopez has spent the past three years with us, two years in Kindergarten with Nick, and then looped up with the children to first grade. Ben has had his hands full all along, with two young children at home himself, he also attended graduate school for two years while with us. Ben brought his love of Quaker education, books and children into the classroom, and now his own daughter Mika will join next year’s kindergarten class. This officially marks Ben’s transition from SFFS faculty member to SFFS parent. We are happy to welcome Ben’s whole family more fully into our community next fall.

We only had Alex Munoz-Garcia for this one year in second grade—and what a year it was! After a few years at Park Day, Alex has been finishing out her graduate work this year, and has been a close partner with Anhvu and this current second grade class. Her bright, positive spirit warmed its way into our hearts quickly, and Alex forged quick connections with her students this year. Alex is well on her way, and just received the great news that she is going to be a kindergarten teacher at a public school in Newark, the very same school she grew up in! Congratulations Alex, and very best wishes to ALL of our departing TAs!



Emelia Breen was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and has been living in Oakland since 2016. She graduated from Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York with a B.A. in Culture and Communication. While studying and living in Ithaca, she worked as a teacher’s assistant in an elementary school classroom, as well as a substitute teacher at a local preschool. After graduating she worked for New York State Office Of Parks and Recreation developing and implementing environmental education programs. After moving to Oakland, she began working at the Bay Area Discovery Museum where she coordinated the school and community programs, which allowed her to teach STEM programs at elementary schools in all nine Bay Area counties. Her love of teaching and connecting with communities from all over has led her to meet and work with countless groups of young people, and she is delighted to be a part of the SF Friends School community.

Salvador Martinez is a Bay Area native who recently returned to California last year with his husband, 4-year-old son, and mini poodle, after living and working in London and New York City. He joins Friends as a teaching assistant with twelve years of classroom experience, teaching school-based yoga and mindfulness programs. Salvador has a B.A. in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Cross-Cultural Studies from San Francisco State University. In his yoga and mindfulness training, he is learned in Children’s Yoga and Mindfulness, Yoga Therapy, and Embodied Yoga Anatomy and Kinesiology. Salvador and his family live in the East Bay and love exploring all that the Bay Area has to offer, from parks and beaches to museums, concerts, restaurants, cafes, and ice cream shops.