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Administration

Valentina Imbeni's picture

Valentina Imbeni

Head of School
Valentina Imbeni's picture

Valentina Imbeni

Head of School
Valentina was born in Modena, Italy and spent most of her life in Bologna. She graduated from the University of Bologna and went on to get a Ph.D. in Bioengineering from Bologna University and the University of Cambridge, U.K. She moved to San Francisco in 2000 to work for the University of California, Berkeley. After the birth of her two sons, Stefano and Matteo, Valentina discovered her passion for children and early childhood education and decided to get accredited from the State of California as a Site Supervisor/Program Director. Valentina enrolled her son Stefano at La Scuola Italian International School in 2005 and immediately fell in love with the school and became a vital member of the La Scuola community. Valentina accepted the position of Direttrice in June 2007. Valentina loves her two boys, Italian food and culture and the Pacific Ocean. She is passionate about science, social constructivism and the Reggio Emilia teaching philosophy.
Federica Lentini's picture

Federica Lentini

Early Childhood Director
Federica Lentini's picture

Federica Lentini

Early Childhood Director
Federica grew up in the city of Torino, in the north west of Italy. She received her degree in Clinical Psychology at the University of Torino in 2005. In 2007 she passed the exam to be licensed as a psychologist. During her project at the University, she has worked with special needs children and with individuals with “internet addiction” and attachment disorders. After her studies, Federica decided to move to San Francisco where she volunteers at the Women’s Building as a counselor for SFWAR. Federica joined the La Scuola team in the spring of 2008. She enjoys spending time with children and to experience and learn from the way that children learn. La Scuola is a great place to share her culture and passions with others. Federica is passionate about music, especially singing and playing the guitar. For many years, Federica studied at the “Centro Jazz” in Torino and at the “Madrigale”. This passion makes San Francisco a great place to be for Federica.
Sally Peterson's picture

Sally Peterson

Lower School Director
Sally Peterson's picture

Sally Peterson

Lower School Director
Sally was born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Alexandria, Virginia. She studied Italian at undergraduate and graduate levels at the University of Virginia. Sally enrolled into Universita’ Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan as part of completing her B.A. in History and Italian. For over a decade, she worked in international licensing and manufacturing for Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, collaborating with colleagues around the globe. Sally moved from New York City to San Francisco in 1993. While raising two curious and energetic children, she shifted her focus to child development and elementary education – and earned a multiple subject teaching credential from San Francisco State University. In 2007, Sally enrolled her daughter in La Scuola where Sally was introduced to Reggio Emilia philosophy and the school community. Over the past four years, Sally has taught in diverse classrooms, throughout the city including several language immersion schools. She is enthusiastic about the long-term vision of the International Baccalaureate program and teaching in an Italian immersion setting.
Robin Bonaso's picture

Robin Bonaso

Director of Operations
Robin Bonaso's picture

Robin Bonaso

Director of Operations
Robin is a Bay Area native, and grew up surrounded by all things Italian. Her father was born and raised in Venice, Italy, where Robin’s extended family still resides. She spent almost every summer there during her youth, and in 2008, she and her husband, Jay, chose Venice for their wedding. She received a B.A. in Italian Language and Culture from the University of Colorado at Boulder, during which she lived and studied in Milan, where she attended IULM, la Libera Università di Lingue e Comunicazione. Robin’s love of Italian culture and passion for working with children have allowed her the opportunity to both teach and run a school office in an Italian Immersion school in Seattle, Washington, and Boulder, Colorado, and she is thrilled to be a part of La Scuola in beautiful San Francisco. Outside of La Scuola, Robin is an active instructor and student of The Dailey Method, and she enjoys backpacking, rafting, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.
Dunja Solari's picture

Dunja Solari

Director of Admissions
Dunja Solari's picture

Dunja Solari

Director of Admissions
Dunja is an international person. She was born in Croatia, raised in Germany and then went on to receive her B.A.(Hons) degree in Philosophy and Politics from the University of Durham, England. Having worked as a project manager for a management consultancy and Deutsche Bank in London, Dunja came to the Bay Area in 1998 to study Internet Design and Technology at San Francisco State University and has been here ever since. Having spent many years as a parent volunteering for the school and the admissions committee, Dunja joined the staff as Director of Admissions in 2012. She is fluent in English, German, Croatian, Serbian, can converse in French and is currently studying Italian. Dunja is passionate about the Reggio Emilia approach to learning and considers the programs at La Scuola a true gift for children. Outside of La Scuola, Dunja can be found spending time with her husband and 2 children biking, hiking, skiing, painting or visiting one of the many art galleries and museums in San Francisco.
Sabrina Longega-Wilson's picture

Sabrina Longega-Wilson

Director of Development
Sabrina Longega-Wilson's picture

Sabrina Longega-Wilson

Director of Development
Sabrina was born and raised in Venice, Italy where she graduated from the University of Ca’ Foscari with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Arts and Languages. During her university, she started to work with the Biennale and Venice Film Festival, coordinating international exhibitions, where she broadened her perspective and passion for different cultures, their arts and languages. Sabrina speaks many languages and has been fortunate to travel and work around the world, from Venice to Rome, Berlin and Paris, across the Middle East, Africa and South America, eventually settling in San Francisco. Sabrina worked for the Young President’s Organization (YPO) as the Senior Educational Events Director for 11 years and developed many cultural, educational and family programs worldwide, focused on enriching the members’ experiences through education and idea exchange. She is also the founder of LongegaEvents.com, an online magazine providing news and education about event planning and event management. Sabrina has three girls with whom she dedicates most of her free time.
Gerald Jose's picture

Gerald Jose

Business Manager
Gerald Jose's picture

Gerald Jose

Business Manager
Gerald was born and raised in the Philippines and has lived and worked in four continents. He earned his B.S. in Industrial Management Engineering from De La Salle University in Manila and Master of Business Administration from the Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven, in Belgium, where he had a brief stint in a Flemish business environment. Gerald worked for over 20 years with a leading U.S. global bank and its affiliated companies, in the Philippines and Guam, managing different areas of the consumer banking business. During this period he attended professional training programs in Singapore, Thailand, South Korea, and the United States, and was certified for the Finance for Senior Executives program at the Asian Institute of Management. After moving to San Francisco with his wife and three daughters in 1999, Gerald channeled his managerial skills contracting with various Bay Area businesses. Prior to La Scuola, he was the business manager/finance director for over seven years at a diocesan high school in Oakland. He has been and continues to be involved in parish and school communities/non-profits, volunteering in their finance committees. Gerald loves to travel, and Italy is his favorite vacation destination. He is happy to be working in La Scuola, where there are new things to learn – incluso capire e parlare italiano.
Giada Bachetti's picture

Giada Bachetti

Human Resources Manager
Giada Bachetti's picture

Giada Bachetti

Human Resources Manager
Giada is originally from Bologna in Italy, where she completed her educational studies in Business Administration and Computer Science. Her enthusiasm and interest in cinema and visual arts brought her to relocate to United States in 2006, to attend the accredited Los Angeles Film School. Giada is also very passionate about languages and sharing her culture with others in her everyday life. She worked with young students at the Mandan public schools district and as Italian instructor at the Dakota Language Institute. She’s very happy to be able to contribute to the spirit of La Scuola with her outgoing personality and her desire to be of great service to the community. Outside La Scuola Giada loves singing, watching old silent movies, spending time outdoors, talking to her two cats and exploring the Bay area and its many restaurants with her boyfriend.
Wheeler Freeman's picture

Wheeler Freeman

Accountant / Bookkeeper
Wheeler Freeman's picture

Wheeler Freeman

Accountant / Bookkeeper
Wheeler grew up in a predominantly Italian neighborhood of Siracusa, New York. It was there, while working at a local hospital as a Senior Discharge Analyst auditing and managing patient records, that he studied Art and Art History, inspiring him to visit the great museums of Europe. His interest in the diversity and creativity of the Bay Area brought him to San Francisco in the mid 1990's where he accepted a position as an underwriter for a leading international insurance company.

During his 14 years writing Security & Privacy policies for the insurance company he found time to study Accounting, Acting, and 3D Animation. He eventually took a position as Senior Accountant at a nonprofit that focused on the challenges of diversifying the tech industry and promoting education of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) for low income minority youth. It is his passion for education, diversity and respect of cultures that brought him to the accounting family of La Scuola.  Wheeler loves all facets of the arts; cinema, museums, theater, ballet and opera. You can often find him reading a book in the park, hosting a movie night with a group of friends, hiking, backpacking for a relaxing weekend in the wilderness or volunteering at the SPCA socializing kittens and cats for adoption.  He is very excited to be reintroduced to the Italian language, to continue his professional development and to be inspired by La Scuola.
Luz Toledo's picture

Luz Toledo

K8 Office Manager &
EA to the HOS
Luz Toledo's picture

Luz Toledo

K8 Office Manager &
EA to the HOS
Luz is originally from Valparaiso, Chile. She joins us with prior experience working at the US Embassy in Rome, Unicef office in Milano and Pavia and a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from San Francisco State University. She also studied abroad at the Universita' degli studi di Pavia for one year, where she lived between Veneto and Lombardia, mastered her Italian and fell deeper in love with the culture after her travels. She is fluent in Italian, English, Spanish and a bit of French! She is very excited to continue to nurture her growth at La Scuola and to contribute her Linguistic skills as a Spanish Specialist.
Laura Rondanin's picture

Laura Rondanin

Prek Office Manager
Laura Rondanin's picture

Laura Rondanin

Prek Office Manager
Laura grew up in a small town on the outskirts of Milan. She earned her Diploma as a Foreign Languages Correspondent then graduated in Communication Sciences – Public Relations from IULM University of Milan. Her strong passion for books and enthusiasm brought her to Varazze, a lively beach town on the Ligurian Sea, to work as a manager for one of Italy’s biggest bookstore chains. She also organized events aimed to promote children’s reading, she collaborated with schools and she tutored in Italian and English. She loves working with children because she enjoys to entertain them and watch them laugh and grow. In her free time she organizes cooking parties and she freelances as a proofreader and translator.
Connie Ip's picture

Connie Ip

Marketing & Admissions Assistant
Connie Ip's picture

Connie Ip

Marketing & Admissions Assistant
Connie is a first-generation Chinese American and a Bay Area native. She received her Bachelor's of Arts from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, where she double majored in French and European Studies. She spent a year studying at Universite Paul Valery in Montpellier, where she mastered the French language. Following graduation, Connie returned to California and worked for the Lower School Administration at the French American International School in San Francisco. She is excited to continue working in international education at La Scuola and is especially eager to exercise her writing prowess in the Marketing and Admissions Department. In her spare time, Connie enjoys hiking, trying new restaurants, and freelances as a communications consultant.
Sara Melziade's picture

Sara Melziade

Auxiliary Programs /
K8 Extended Care Coordinator
Sara Melziade's picture

Sara Melziade

Auxiliary Programs /
K8 Extended Care Coordinator
Sara was born and grew up in Milan. She holds a Master of Science in Environmental Engineering from Polytechnic of Milan. Prior to relocating to California, she worked in France and Switzerland in research institutes. For many years, she volunteered at youth development organizations, where she discovered her passion for education. In the Bay Area, she taught engineering programs for children and was an instructor for outdoor activities, such as rope courses and adventure trips. In her free time, she enjoys climbing, hiking, and exploring US national parks.
Elisa Leonardi's picture

Elisa Leonardi

Facilities Coordinator
Elisa Leonardi's picture

Elisa Leonardi

Facilities Coordinator
Elisa was born and grew up in Bologna, where she received her degree in Medical Biotechnologies. She worked for almost 10 years as a researcher and clinical biologist, earning a PhD in Cellular Biology and Physiology. She’s also has been working as a tutor for students from elementary to high school. Beside science, she is passionate about education and music: she volunteered in many youth associations, supporting kids and teenagers with difficult social conditions; in the last 4 years, she joined an international choir, having the great opportunity to sing with friends from all over the world and enjoy concerts around Europe. She believes in education as the key to build a better world for everyone. Elisa moved to San Francisco following her husband and she found an amazing multicultural environment in the Bay Area: she’s really happy to teach at La Scuola, a new challenge joining many of her passions. In her free time she loves to travel and explore new places and cultures as well as spending time outdoors and with friends.

Auxiliary Staff

Sandro Barbini's picture

Sandro Barbini

Facilities Assistant
Sandro Barbini's picture

Sandro Barbini

Facilities Assistant
Sandro was born in Ancona, Italy, but grew-up with his family and attended school in Bologna. He spent the first half of his life pursuing a sports career as a professional cyclist; he also excelled in basketball and soccer. Since then, he has had over 25 years of experience as a security officer, and he is a skilled handyman. He is passionate about learning other languages and very curious about other cultures and exploring new places. Having recently relocated to the United States, Sandro made his American dream finally come true! He is excited to have the opportunity to live in an innovative and multicultural environment such as San Francisco and still be able to maintain his connection to his Italian heritage by working at La Scuola! He is the father of two young adults, Michael and Giada. You can find him on a Saturday afternoon riding his bike and enjoying sports and the outdoors.

K8 Faculty

Meredith Blunda's picture

Meredith Blunda

IB-PYP Coordinator
& Grade 1 Teacher
Meredith Blunda's picture

Meredith Blunda

IB-PYP Coordinator
& Grade 1 Teacher
Meredith has spent the last six years working in inquiry-based, dual-language Mandarin/Italian immersion PYP elementary schools in Washington, DC and Milan, Italy. She has been trained in the PYP model and has many years of experience planning, teaching, and assessing inquiry-based units of inquiry. She is committed to a constructivist model of learning and to supporting children become life-long learners. She also has had the unique experience of being both a “mother-tongue” teacher in Washington, DC as well as a second-language teacher in Milan. As an Italian-language learner she has been able to model for her students how learning never ends. Meredith holds a Master of Arts and a Graduate Certificate in Teaching from American University, Washington DC and a BA in Sociology and International Studies (Magna Cum Laude) from Wake Forest University. Meredith was also awarded the Wake Forest Study abroad scholarship in 2006 and suited at the Institute for International Education of Students in Roma, Italy.
Adam Zappa's picture

Adam Zappa

Dean of Students
& Kindergarten Teacher
Adam Zappa's picture

Adam Zappa

Dean of Students
& Kindergarten Teacher
Adam is a second generation Italian American from Oakland, California. His grandparents came to the United States from Frascineto, Calabria after WWII, though Adam's passion for Italian didn't begin until college. After studying abroad in Macerata & Ferrara, Adam graduated in 2009 with a Bachelor's in Italian Literature.  Following college, Adam lived in Saronno, Italy for two years, teaching English to Italians of all ages, and translating for private businesses.  In 2011, Adam returned to the Bay Area and began his career with La Scuola. Adam is also certified by the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) and is pursuing his Master in RP.  When not in the classroom or playing soccer with the kids, Adam can usually be found at home, in the kitchen, or on an adventure with his wife and dog, Milo.
Beatrice Penni's picture

Beatrice Penni

Kindergarten Teacher
Beatrice Penni's picture

Beatrice Penni

Kindergarten Teacher
Beatrice grew up in Firenze, where she fell in love with the Italian language and literature and the classics (Dante Alighieri was her first love). In 2014 she moved to Bay Area and she now lives in Emeryville with her husband. She joined Italingua in 2014 to teach Italian, and has been sharing her knowledge and passion for Italian language, culture, food. She has also been teaching Italian to elementary school children in Oakland, preparing her own curriculum and materials. While living in Italy she also worked for years for the Italian Scout association, helping as a leader for 6-9 years old children, which explains her natural connection to the children and ability to engage them. Beatrice holds an MA in Communications Science in 2010 from Università degli studi di Firenze and prior to moving to the USA she has worked in PR, as a journalist and in Marketing and Sales. In her free time she enjoys watching movies, reading, gardening veggies to prepare healthy recipes and playing the guitar.
Eleonora Di Natale Stroud's picture

Eleonora Di Natale Stroud

Grade 1 Teacher
Eleonora Di Natale Stroud's picture

Eleonora Di Natale Stroud

Grade 1 Teacher
Eleonora was born in Legnano, a historical town located near Milan. Eleonora followed in the footsteps of a family of educators. Her grandfather was the director of education in Monza, Milan. Her aunts and uncles were all teachers, professors and directors of schools throughout Italy. Eleonora’s passion is working with elementary age students. She received her teaching credentials in Italy in 1993. Eleonora has taught in Public and Private schools, 1st through 5th grade. For the last 9 years, she has been a primary school teacher for a project based private elementary school in Busto Arsizio, Varese. After almost 20 years of educating young students in Italy, she moved to America to join her husband, a native of the Bay Area. For Eleonora teaching isn’t just a job, it is a vocation. She shares her passion for education with her students; she believes that when a teacher is passionate about teaching, students become passionate about learning. She strives to guide each individual student, helping them achieve their learning goals. For Eleonora, education is a gift of love, and a passion for life. Eleonora loves reading books on medieval history, biographies of historical figures, and world classical literature. She loves traveling with her husband across Europe and America and enjoys learning and meeting new people and discovering new cultures. She believes traveling helps make the world a better place by exploring the similarities we all share instead of seeing only the differences.
Annalisa Locatelli's picture

Annalisa Locatelli

Grade 2-3 Teacher
Annalisa Locatelli's picture

Annalisa Locatelli

Grade 2-3 Teacher
Born and raised outside of Milan, Annalisa enjoys spending time in nature and exploring its’ beauty. Throughout her life, she has always had a passion for the arts which shaped her decision to attend and graduate from an Art-centered High school. She then pursued her desire to teach by obtaining a Bachelor's Degree in Education followed by a degree in Primary Education. Her approach to learning has been inspired by The Reggio Emilia philosophy which provides insights that have enriched and enlightened her. In conjunction with her training in pedagogy, she has observed, attended, and conducted Bruno Munari labs in Milan. These experiences enabled her to attain a Masters in Munari Methodology and Design which help her to provide a multisensory learning environment that empower her students to make deeper connections between their knowledge and their experiences.

Spending the past eight years teaching in the Bilingual European School of Milan has given her the opportunity to develop her English proficiency, expertise in PYP curriculum, and knowledge of IB philosophy. Over this time she had excelled in using a constructivist method of teaching and by encouraging her students to develop the aspects of the learner profile.
Leticia Rocha-Dias's picture

Leticia Rocha-Dias

Grade 2-3 Teacher
Grade 4-5 Italian Teacher
Leticia Rocha-Dias's picture

Leticia Rocha-Dias

Grade 2-3 Teacher
Grade 4-5 Italian Teacher
Leticia was born and grew up in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Always curious about different cultures, she went to High School at an Italian international school based in her hometown and fell in love with the Italian culture. She graduated in Languages at the University of Minas Gerais, spending one year at King’s College London as an exchange student. In 2010, she was hired as a k-8 teacher at the same Italian international school where she studied, and taught Math, Science, Geography and History in Italian for first, second, third and fourth graders. ​Because of some very dear pupils, she engaged herself in research on learning disabilities, and invested time and resources to be a better teacher for them. Leticia moved to San Francisco in the Summer of 2015 to join the La Scuola team and to pursue a Master of Arts in International and Multicultural Education at the University of San Francisco.
Michael-James Palazzo's picture

Michael-James Palazzo

Grade 4-5 Teacher,
Grade 1-5 English Teacher & Education Technology Coordinator
Michael-James Palazzo's picture

Michael-James Palazzo

Grade 4-5 Teacher,
Grade 1-5 English Teacher & Education Technology Coordinator
Michael was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. For the past two years he held a teaching position at an International Baccalaureate PYP accredited bilingual International school in Milan, Italy. While satisfying his passion for bilingual education, he was immersed in Italian language, culture and history. This experience has also given him a better grasp of the essence of the Reggio Emilia teaching philosophy and nurtured a connection with his ancestral roots. Michael-James graduated with a Master of Teaching degree from the University of Toronto (and knows Prof Jim Cummins). In addition to his lifelong commitment to working with young people, he has worked extensively with students with special needs. He considers children to be his greatest teachers. In his spare time, Michael-James enjoys DJ’ing, hiking, and goalkeeping for a local Milanese soccer team. He also loves traveling the world with his partner Clare who is an educator currently completing her Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology in San Francisco. Michael-James is grateful to have the opportunity to learn and grow with the La Scuola community. Michael-James also holds a BA in Sociology from the University of Guelph, Ontario and is a certified member of the Ontario College of Teachers. He has also had training in the IB-PYP curriculum framework.
Josue' Solis's picture

Josue' Solis

K8 Extended Care Teacher
& Language Support Teacher
Josue' Solis's picture

Josue' Solis

K8 Extended Care Teacher
& Language Support Teacher
Josue is from Marin County and was raised in San Francisco. He comes from a multi-cultural/ethnic family (Guatemalan, Spanish, and French) and loves to travel. In fact, he has already visited Spain, Andorra, France, Germany, Italy, China, New Zealand, Mexico, Guatemala, Morocco, Gibraltar (U.K.), Canada, and Belize. He also loves to learn languages and speaks Spanish, English, and Italian, Although if he tries he can also speak German and Portuguese. He volunteered at La Scuola in the summer of 2010, and started working in the La Scuola summer programs in 2011 and 2012. He is currently studying at San Francisco City College and will transfer to San Francisco State University in 2016 where he will be majoring in International Relations. One of Josue’s long term goals is to return to the teaching world.
Vivian Zhou's picture

Vivian Zhou

K8 Extended Care Teacher
& Classroom Floater
Vivian Zhou's picture

Vivian Zhou

K8 Extended Care Teacher
& Classroom Floater
Vivian was born and raised in San Francisco, California. She graduated in 2015 from the University of California, Davis, with her Bachelor’s in Psychology (BS) and Communication (BA). She has a pair of Chinese parents, and speaks a blend of English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Taishanese, and conversational Italian. In 2014, while studying Italian in Reggio Emilia, Vivian stumbled across the region’s famous educational philosophy. Fascinated by its play-based approach to learning, she is excited to learn more about its principles and watch them take flight here at La Scuola. Vivian has four years’ experience working with children as a volunteer teacher’s assistant at Commodore Stockton, a preschool and day care center in which she had spent her own toddler days. Today, she is very happy and fortunate to learn and evolve with the big and little people of La Scuola. Vivian especially loves playing sports and games with the kids and seeing their wildest ideas come alive. She also really likes mysteries, cryptograms, calligraphy, and pigs, which she unfortunately does not own. Yet.

Special Subject Teachers

Silvia Bagnacani's picture

Silvia Bagnacani

K8 Atelierista
Silvia Bagnacani's picture

Silvia Bagnacani

K8 Atelierista
Silvia is from Reggio Emilia and has volunteered at one of the region’s famous preschools. She graduated from the University of Bologna, Disciplines of Arts, Music and Performance. In 2004 she moved to Rome where she completed her Master of Arts in Critic, Curatorial and Museum Studies at Museo Laboratorio, University “La Sapienza” and her second Master in Management for Curator of Art and Architecture Museums at Valle Giulia, “La Sapienza”. She has always been passionate about visual arts, music, photography, cinema and theater and growing up she realized the importance of the connection between expressive languages and education. She has also worked as an intern with the Yerba Buena Center of the Arts as well as many galleries.
Carlo Dean's picture

Carlo Dean

Music Coordinator
Carlo Dean's picture

Carlo Dean

Music Coordinator
Carlo was born in New York City and raised in New York and New Jersey. He received his Bachelors in Music from Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and his M.F.A. in Music Composition from the California Institute of the Arts. Carlo has been teaching both in the classroom and privately for 15 years, with experience teaching all grade levels and special education. In addition to his classroom teaching, he currently maintains a private teaching studio of 60 students, has composed music for film, theater and dance, and regularly has his concert music performed. Carlo’s daughter is in her third year at La Scuola and she never wants to leave. Carlo is excited to be teaching such a wonderful group of children at the start of La Scuola!
Ayesha Ercelawn's picture

Ayesha Ercelawn

K8 Environmental Studies Teacher
Ayesha Ercelawn's picture

Ayesha Ercelawn

K8 Environmental Studies Teacher
Ayesha has over 12 years experience working with children in a Reggio-inspired San Francisco public school and was therefore thrilled to join the community at La Scuola. She has run a garden program for children from toddlers through 5th grade for many years, has consulted at schools in setting up garden programs, and led teacher workshops on nature play and art with natural materials. She is passionate about the natural world and delighted to share it with young children, getting to see it through their eyes while also nudging them to take a closer and different look themselves. She holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Science from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and an undergraduate degree in Art History and Chemistry. After various jobs in the non-profit environmental field, she luckily discovered the joys of teaching kids when volunteering at the Strybing Arboretum in Golden Gate Park. She loves to travel and has made several trips to northern Italy. Her own childhood was spent in Pakistan, so she speaks Urdu, her father’s tongue, and also has a working knowledge of Spanish. The children are helping her develop her Italian vocabulary, with essential words such as ‘lumache!’ In her free time, she gardens at home (yes, unstoppable!), hikes and goes camping. Ayesha also loves good fiction, foreign films, Cuban salsa, acoustic music, knitting, and trying to understand her cat’s psychology.
Teresa O'Connor's picture

Teresa O'Connor

Prek Environmental Studies Teacher
Teresa O'Connor's picture

Teresa O'Connor

Prek Environmental Studies Teacher
Teresa O’Connor hails from the state of Wisconsin, and moved to San Francisco – by way of Boston – twenty plus years ago. She earned her BA in Painting from San Francisco State University, and has spent many of her years working in the visual arts field in various capacities – teacher, curator, maker, and gallery owner. More recently, she has shifted towards her lifelong interest in gardening and growing edibles, and created a garden education program at Clarendon Elementary School. She is excited to begin growing and learning with the children at La Scuola, and developing her Italian speaking skills along the way! Teresa lives in San Francisco with her two children, Zazie and Finn, where they enjoy spending their free time hiking and exploring with their dog Bella.
Serena Morelli's picture

Serena Morelli

Prek Atelierista
Serena Morelli's picture

Serena Morelli

Prek Atelierista
Serena was born and raised in Napoli where she obtained her first MA in Italian Literature. Dreaming of being a teacher, she always combined her life as a student at the University with a job as a teacher, focused on wanting to participate in the process of growth and formation of children and adolescents. Her mother was an elementary teacher for 39 years and Serena was her assistant for ten years while she was also tutoring junior and high school students in Italian grammar and literature, latin, history and philosophy. Her second MA in Cultural European Policies brought her to live and study in Germany and in Spain. There she started to study photography too. Back to Italy, she worked as production photographer and event manager for many cultural and artistic events which shaped the way she teaches today. She realized that there was a great need to integrate the curriculum with art, science and global tolerance. In 2012 she moved to California and in the last year she has been teaching classes of Italian language, culture, food and wine for adults. La Scuola is a great opportunity for her to start working again with children.
Olivia Bova's picture

Olivia Bova

SEL Specialist / Counselor
Olivia Bova's picture

Olivia Bova

SEL Specialist / Counselor
Olivia was born in Milano, Italy but she spent a lot time between Bologna and Bordighera. She graduated from University of Bologna in Fine Arts and from Denis-Diderot University – Paris 7 in Clinical Psychology. She specializes in Art-Therapy, Fine Arts and Montessori pedagogy. She is tri-lingual, speaking and writing in Italian, French and English.

As a clinical psychologist, she has worked with children and families for many years. She has an international background stemming from her studies and work experience. She has studied and worked in international schools in Canada, Norway, Switzerland, France, USA and she has worked in the pediatrics department of a hospital. In her work, she is very creative and she always looks for effective and dynamic solutions.

In 2017 she will start a Ph.D. in Expressive Therapies from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

She is passionate about drawing, dancing, writing and running.
Lizette Greco's picture

Lizette Greco

K8 Spanish Specialist &
Substitute Teacher
Lizette Greco's picture

Lizette Greco

K8 Spanish Specialist &
Substitute Teacher
Lizette Greco is a bilingual educator from Chile who has lived and worked in the United States since 1992. She and her family have recently moved to San Francisco from San Diego and are very excited about their new home town. Lizette has eighteen years of experience teaching in public and private schools, museums, nonprofits, and has a Master of Arts in Teaching from Occidental College. She has been a bilingual elementary substitute teacher for the San Diego Unified School District in Southern California, and the Alt Schools here in San Francisco. She has also taught middle and high school Spanish, Art, and Wellness for Fusion Academy, designing personalized lessons for students, some of which had learning differences such as ADHD, autism, dyslexia, and anxiety. She is happy to join La Scuola to teach Spanish and help as a substitute teacher whenever support is needed. Her new goal is to learn Italian since some of her own ancestry and her husband's come from Italy as well!

Lizette is also an artist who makes collaborative work with her family, specializing in fiber sculpture, textile art, conceptual art, social practice art, and costume design. She is a prototype maker, recycled materials tinkerer, and life-long learner. Lizette was a homeschooling parent (inspired by reading John Dewey, John Holt, about Reggio Emilia, etc.), an experience that taught her a more organic learning approach enriches her teaching practice, giving children time, support and love to grow, play and explore. It’s important for Lizette to help children connect to their surroundings and the people around them, providing the tools to do so, so they can find their own answers. 

Preschool Faculty

Massimo Ferrari's picture

Massimo Ferrari

Grandissimi East Head Teacher & IB-PYP Assistant
Massimo Ferrari's picture

Massimo Ferrari

Grandissimi East Head Teacher & IB-PYP Assistant
Massimo grew up in Chiari, a small town in Brescia area, near the Franciacorta. After earning a degree in “Primary Education” at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, he moved to Moscow, Russia, where during the three years of service at the Italian school Italo Calvino explored and put into practice methods of teaching Italian as L2. During his career, he also delved into the field of research related to specific learning disorders, thanks to the training courses made by University Ca ‘Foscari of Venice. Massimo is always looking for new avenues of investigation of reality and consider working with children the most original way to learn by teaching, so he is very happy to be part of La Scuola. He is married to Sarah, with whom he shares his greatest passions: good food, music, traveling and outdoor sports.
Melina Madrigal's picture

Melina Madrigal

Grandissimi East Head Teacher
Melina Madrigal's picture

Melina Madrigal

Grandissimi East Head Teacher
Melina hails from the ever-exciting city of Los Angeles, having spent most her time in Santa Monica. While earning her Bachelor’s in International Studies-Sociology at UCSD, Melina decided to study abroad in Italy and divided her year abroad between Siena and Bologna. She was immediately taken by all the beauty Italy has to offer through its language, culture, customs, history and, naturally, its cuisine. Upon returning to the States, she decided to continue her inquiry into italianistica and entered graduate school at UCLA. Melina dedicated her scholarly focus to gender studies in the Renaissance and completed her Ph.D. in Italian in 2013. She has over ten years’ experience working in education and language acquisition and speaks fluent Italian, Spanish, and French. She joins La Scuola after a sabbatical year of traveling the world and is excited to be part of the growing dynamic that drives La Scuola.
Chiara Fornetti's picture

Chiara Fornetti

Grandissimi East Assistant Teacher
Chiara Fornetti's picture

Chiara Fornetti

Grandissimi East Assistant Teacher
Chiara grew up in the city of Torino, in the north west of Italy. She received her degree in Childhood Studies at the University of Torino in 2013. During her studies, she spent six months in England, where she improved her Childhood knowledge at the University of Bristol. After her studies, Chiara decided to move to Munich (Germany) where she worked as Preschool Teacher and Team Leader until 2016. She enjoys spending time with children and to experience and learn from the way that children and teacher learn together. Chiara is passionate about new cultures and she loves to travel. She traveled all over the world and she can speak four different languages (Italian, English, German and French). She loves music, especially singing and playing the flute. She studies music for eleven years at the Music School “Giorgio Balmas” of Rivoli.
Vincenzo Muro''s picture

Vincenzo Muro'

Grandissimi West Head Teacher
Vincenzo Muro''s picture

Vincenzo Muro'

Grandissimi West Head Teacher
Vincenzo was born in Pisa, Italy, spent his childhood between the “Leaning Tower”, the beautiful Island of Elba, and the fascinating city of Palermo, Sicily. Vincenzo then moved to the Dolomites, in north of Italy, where he received his Teacher-Training School Magisterial Diploma. Following his diploma, he started to work as a preschool educator for the Trento School District. In 2000, Vincenzo relocated to San Francisco, where he married, and received the best gift ever, his daughter. In addition to teaching in Italy, Vincenzo has taught in a variety of settings in the Bay Area, including Miraloma Educational Enrichment Program, Primo Programma, and the Ring Mountain Day School.  In 2005, Vincenzo discovered LPSI where he found that being able to teach children in his own native language as a blessing.  At LPSI, Vincenzo developed a deeper understanding of his approach to early childhood. After a break to be a new dad and graphic designer, Vincenzo made the decision to get back ‘home” and work at the new La Scuola location. Besides his Teacher-Training School Magisterial Diploma, Vincenzo is a qualified preschool teacher.  Vincenzo’s love and passion for being around and teaching children are the main reasons why he became a teacher. Besides teaching, Vincenzo loves listening and playing music, songwriting, playing the guitar and the Celtic Harp, composing music, music recording, creating sound effects for films, studying ethnic musical instruments, history, traveling, and exploring other cultures.
Justine Maycock's picture

Justine Maycock

Grandissimi West Head Teacher
Justine Maycock's picture

Justine Maycock

Grandissimi West Head Teacher
Justine was born and raised in Madison, WI. When she was 18, she went to Italy for the first time and fell immediately in love with Italy and the Italian language in the hills of Sorrento. She studied Italian in Bologna during her junior year of college and earned a BA and MA in Italian from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. She needed to leave the cold winters of Wisconsin so she enrolled in and completed one year of the PhD program in Italian at Berkeley and has lived in CA ever since. After the birth of her first daughter, she discovered Waldorf education and became a trained Waldorf teacher. She began teaching as a first grade teacher in a Waldorf charter school in Orange County and during that time she earned a CA Teaching Credential. After moving back to the Bay Area she discovered a small Waldorf school in Walnut Creek and became one of the founding teachers working in early childhood. She discovered she loved working with preschool aged children and began taking classes in early childhood education. She was so excited when she discovered La Scuola where she can combine her love of early childhood education with her love of Italian. Justine is a life-long learner and is very interested in learning all about the Reggio-Emilia teaching philosophy and being a part of the La Scuola community.
Megan Reed's picture

Megan Reed

Grandissimi West Assistant Teacher
Megan Reed's picture

Megan Reed

Grandissimi West Assistant Teacher
Megan was born and raised in Menlo Park, California — a true Bay Area native. She attended UCLA for her undergraduate degree, studying International Development and Italian. Her desire for an authentic, full-immersion study abroad experience led her to the charming medieval town of Ferrara. Megan's several months in “la città delle biciclette” solidified her lifelong love of the Italian language and culture. Upon returning to Los Angeles, Megan worked with Garden School Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to providing an interdisciplinary program of education through garden-based learning in outdoor living classrooms. Megan is deeply excited to be a part of La Scuola’s family and integrate her passions of interactive learning, being outdoors, and of course, Italian!
Margarita Kasman's picture

Margarita Kasman

Grandi West Head Teacher
Margarita Kasman's picture

Margarita Kasman

Grandi West Head Teacher
Margarita started working with kids when she was studying language and culture in Perugia, Italy. She worked as a volunteer in Caritas Internationalis (a global organization responding to humanitarian disasters and promoting human development) as a Spanish-Italian translator for immigrants and their children to help them with medical, immigration, and other life needs. After studying and working in Italy for several years, Margarita moved to California where she has been working with children for over five years.  Margarita is currently studying child development at San Francisco City College and is happy to be part of La Scuola. In her free time, Margarita enjoys the outdoors, cooking, dancing, and spending time with her husband, family, and friends.
Tim Cooper's picture

Tim Cooper

Grandi West Head Teacher
Tim Cooper's picture

Tim Cooper

Grandi West Head Teacher
Tim was born and raised in a small town in Independence, Oregon. His first real exposure to Italian culture and language was when he studied Italian 101 in 2006 at the University of Oregon which prompted him to study abroad in Macerata in 2007 to experience Italian cuisine, culture and history first-hand. After an extraordinary experience tasting delicious Italian food and visiting awe-inspiring sites such as the Roman Forums and hills of the Marche, he decided to get a B.A. in Italian language in addition to Sociology. Upon graduating in 2009, Tim set off for Vercelli, Piedmont to teach English to students ages 4 to 55 at private and public schools. His significant time spent working and traveling in Italy was an enriching and life-changing experience. He is excited to be able to share Italian language and culture with the children at La Scuola. In his free time he enjoys hiking, eating tacos, traveling, and watching his beloved Ducks of the University of Oregon.
Kyle Calder's picture

Kyle Calder

Grandi West Assistant Teacher
Kyle Calder's picture

Kyle Calder

Grandi West Assistant Teacher
Kyle is originally from the Central Valley of California and his first taste of the Italian culture was at his family’s pizzeria in his hometown of Stockton. In his third year as an undergraduate at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Kyle had the opportunity to study abroad in Florence, Italy. Here, he studied Italian history, art, language and politics while completing his degree in Political Science focusing in International Relations. After a short stint in corporate America, he left for Italy once again and arrived in Turin to be an Au Pair and private English tutor for young children. He has developed a passion for teaching and recently received his TEFL certification in Florence. Kyle was accepted into the Peace Corps where he will be teaching 6th and 7th grade English in Cameroon, Africa departing this summer.  He is fascinated by different cultures and languages and is currently studying both French and Italian. In his spare time, he enjoys surfing, fly fishing, cooking and walking his two Golden Retrievers, Daisy and Duke.
Chiara Spaggiari's picture

Chiara Spaggiari

Grandi East Head Teacher
Chiara Spaggiari's picture

Chiara Spaggiari

Grandi East Head Teacher
Chiara completed her B.A. in Art at the University of Turin (Università degli studi di Torino). Chiara worked with the Ivaldi/Mercuriati Theatre Company supervising the organization of theater performances and workshops in many different schools, working directly with children. She has worked with young children as a painting and drama teacher and with teenagers teaching art history and literature. Chiara’s passions include Greek theater, mythology and going for walks with her puppy.
Matthew Savereno's picture

Matthew Savereno

Grandi East Head Teacher
Matthew Savereno's picture

Matthew Savereno

Grandi East Head Teacher
Matthew was born and raised in central Pennsylvania and, like many at La Scuola, has family roots in Italy. During his time as an undergraduate at the Pennsylvania State University, Matthew traveled to Florence, Italy for a semester abroad in 2005. There, he fell in love with the culture, country, and language, and upon his return to the States decided to pursue a degree in Italian Language and Literature. During his time at the University, he was offered an opportunity to give Italian lessons to home-schooled students and thus discovered his passion for teaching. He also began what would be a long period of teaching swimming and music to children ages 3-15. After getting his Bachelors in 2008, Matthew took some time to travel and pursue his musical aspirations. Then, in 2013, Matthew returned to Florence to complete his Masters Degree in Italian Studies through Middlebury University and L’Università degli Studi di Firenze. His second experience living in Italy only fortified his connection to the culture and language, giving him an even stronger identity as a third-generation Italian-American. Now, having returned to the States, Matthew is thrilled to combine his passion for teaching children with his love for the Italian language and culture at La Scuola. In his free time, he enjoys exploring the California coastline, surfing, playing music, playing for a local soccer club, and experiencing all the beautiful things San Francisco and California has to offer.
Filippo Montalbano's picture

Filippo Montalbano

Grandi East Assistant Teacher
Filippo Montalbano's picture

Filippo Montalbano

Grandi East Assistant Teacher
Filippo was born in Palermo where he lived with his family until he was 20 years old. He has a passion for traveling, foreign languages and psychology. Filippo obtained his BA from the university of Urbino and an MA with highest grades in Psychology of Development from the University of Palermo. He worked as a pedagogue with schools in Palermo, and in a family home as a psychologist. Two year ago Filippo moved to San Francisco with his girlfriend Anna. He volunteered full time for La Scuola in the spring of 2013 and then studied at CCSF where has recently obtained a certificate in Infant & Toddler Care. Filippo is very happy to be part of La Scuola's teaching staff and every day he enjoys working with children during this unique period of early childhood. Filippo loves animals and can't wait for his cat Semola and his dog Stella to join him in San Francisco!
Roberta Abussi's picture

Roberta Abussi

Prek Extended Care Coordinator
& Piccoli East Head Teacher
Roberta Abussi's picture

Roberta Abussi

Prek Extended Care Coordinator
& Piccoli East Head Teacher
Roberta was born in a small town near Bologna. She graduated in European languages and cultures – Intercultural mediator – from the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia. She has worked with children since she was very young; starting off as a nanny, working for after school programs and during high school she worked in a project (shadow theatre and sensory books for visually impaired children) that involved all the pre-k and elementary schools in the province of Ferrara. Roberta loves working with children and to her there is no greater achievement than seeing children culturally and socially blossom right in front of her.
Megan Anzuini's picture

Megan Anzuini

Piccoli East Head Teacher
Megan Anzuini's picture

Megan Anzuini

Piccoli East Head Teacher
Megan grew up in Los Angeles, California, but has a strong background in Italian. Her father was born and raised in Rome and she spent much of her childhood visiting her family in Italy. She graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz, with a major in Environmental Studies and a minor in Education. In addition to her degree, Megan spent two years studying the Italian language at the university. After graduating, Megan moved to the Bay Area to pursue a career in garden-based environmental education. She has had over five years of experience working with students of all ages in various school settings. Working with children has always been one of her greatest passions and she is eager to combine this with her pride and interest in Italian language and culture.
Valeria Koenigsberg's picture

Valeria Koenigsberg

Piccoli East Assistant Teacher
Valeria Koenigsberg's picture

Valeria Koenigsberg

Piccoli East Assistant Teacher
Valeria was born and raised in the Bay Area. The Italian language and culture has always been a major part of her life since her mom was born and raised in Bari, Italy and growing up she spent every summer with her family there. Being exposed to a second language and culture inspired her passion for learning languages, so she subsequently learned French and graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in French and a B.A. in Italian. During college she studied abroad in Bordeaux, France and after college she spent a year in Auch, France teaching English to high school and middle school students. Here she became fully immersed in the French culture and language and by the end of the year was fluent in French. She then decided to go to graduate school at UCLA and received an M.A. in Italian Studies. During this time she had the opportunity to teach Italian to undergraduates and was very happy to be able to share her knowledge of the language and culture with them. She just recently moved back to the Bay Area and is excited to start her teaching career at La Scuola, where she can share her love of everything Italian with a new generation. In her free time she likes to do ballet, paint, hike and spend time with family and friends.
Valentina Zerbini's picture

Valentina Zerbini

Piccoli West Head Teacher
Valentina Zerbini's picture

Valentina Zerbini

Piccoli West Head Teacher
Valentina was born in Erbusco, a small town outside Brescia, immersed in the beautiful wine region of Franciacorta. She earned a BA in “Sciences and Technologies of the Arts and Entertainment” from Universita’ Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Brescia and an education in “Radio/Video Production” from City College of San Francisco. While studying in San Francisco, she worked as family assistant for several families around the city taking care of children of all ages and she is still in touch with all of them. She returned to Italy in 2011 and went back to Universita’ Cattolica in Brescia to take a specialization course in “Education Planning: In, With and For the Environment”. Valentina carries a deep passion for food, traveling and exploring new cultures. After a couple of years in Italy working as a freelance video translator she just returned to San Francisco and she is excited to be working with the children of La Scuola.
Silvia Ianniciello's picture

Silvia Ianniciello

Piccoli West Head Teacher
Silvia Ianniciello's picture

Silvia Ianniciello

Piccoli West Head Teacher
Silvia was born in Rieti, a small medieval town in the center of Italy. She studied Philosophy in Rome, the city she loves the most. After her graduation, she spent two years in northern Europe, between Berlin and Vienna. When the cold weather finally won against her spirit, she decided to look out for sunnier shores, which eventually led her to her great adventure in California. She’s now attending the City College of San Francisco to study Early Child Development and she’s very happy to start this new opportunity at La Scuola. In her spare time, she loves taking pictures with her many film cameras, exploring San Francisco and hiking around the Golden State with her husband. She is planning to get a puppy soon!
Jasmin Gomez's picture

Jasmin Gomez

Piccoli West Assistant Teacher
Jasmin Gomez's picture

Jasmin Gomez

Piccoli West Assistant Teacher
Jasmin was born and raised in San Francisco, where she graduated from Independence High school. She has always had a passion for learning about children and is involved with ongoing child psychology courses at City College. She wishes to continue on to university. Jasmin enjoys music, various types of foods, sightseeing, and spending time with her family and pets. Jasmin speaks fluent English and Spanish, and is very excited about learning Italian at La Scuola. She is especially excited about beginning her journey with La Scuola’s family and starting her career in working with children.
Kachine Blackwell's picture

Kachine Blackwell

Prek EC Assistant Teacher
Kachine Blackwell's picture

Kachine Blackwell

Prek EC Assistant Teacher
Kachine grew up splitting her time between Stuttgart, Germany and Berkeley. She is a student in the child development program at San Francisco State University, and will be graduating this Spring. When she isn't studying or trying to learn Italian, Kachine enjoys skiing and reading historical fiction books.

Substitute Teachers

Stefano B Freccero's picture

Stefano Brian Freccero

K8 EC Substitute Teacher
Stefano B Freccero's picture

Stefano Brian Freccero

K8 EC Substitute Teacher
Stefano was born in New Jersey and grew up in Genova, Italy. He attended the Liceo delle Scienze Sociali, a high school which has a 5 year emphasis on the study of Social and Behavioral Sciences, in particular Psychology, Sociology, Child development and Anthropology. During his studies he had the opportunity to gain experience teaching through "peer to peer" programs organized by his school and by tutoring young students in Math and English. Stefano then moved back to the US to pursue his dream of earning a Bachelor Degree from an American University. After spending a year studying English between Los Angeles and San Francisco he's now studying Business/Economics at City College of San Francisco. His goal is to transfer to a 4 year university to major in Business Administration and minor in Psychology. He also loves art, photography, architecture, languages, animals and traveling.
Valentina Gandini's picture

Valentina Gandini

K8 Substitute Teacher
Valentina Gandini's picture

Valentina Gandini

K8 Substitute Teacher
Valentina was born and raised in Milano, Italia. Studied foreign languages in High School (English, German and Russian). Graduated with a master degree in Clinical Psychology with honors at the Università degli Studi Milano-Bicocca. Lived abroad for the past ten years. Worked at the Ulm University and TU Dresden, in Germany, as a researcher in Psychology. Moved to the Bay Area for several internships at the San Francisco Psychotherapy Research Group, where she now works privately as a Life Coach with individuals and families. She started teaching Italian to adults for different institutes in the past four years. Worked as a Pre-K Head Teacher at La Scuola until 2015 and she is now helping different age groups at the K8 and as substitute teacher at La Scuola. In her free time she enjoys museums, she works for the circus and organizes cultural events to feel closer to her Homeland.
Sara Longo's picture

Sara Longo

Prek Substitute Teacher
Sara Longo's picture

Sara Longo

Prek Substitute Teacher
Sara was born in Rome where she graduated as a Landscape Architect and Environmental Designer. Later she decided to complete her education with a Ph.D program in Sustainable Food and Agriculture System Policies. Sara won a fellowship to complete part of her research in Davis California where she worked actively at the Ecological Garden, teaching ecological horticulture and fundamental biological processes to children from Pre-K through K-8. She also traveled in Africa and Central America working with non-profit associations to build schools, school gardens and teach science, nutrition and gardening classes. In California Sara met her husband Adam, and they had a wonderful baby. Sara is now attending an Early Childhood Education training. She loves gardening, hiking and spending time with children especially outdoor. 
Alice Merli's picture

Alice Merli

Prek Substitute Teacher
Alice Merli's picture

Alice Merli

Prek Substitute Teacher
Alice was born and raised in the suburbs of Milan. She studied at Università Cattolica, from which she obtained two master’s degrees: one in “Primary Education” and one in “Early Childhood Education”. During her studies, she also trained as a special education teacher. She worked for one year in a daycare and, after graduation, she became head teacher in an elementary school, where she also had the opportunity to work on the inclusion of children with special needs. She moved to the United States with her husband in 2016 and she is excited to meet people with diverse backgrounds, as she loves being exposed to different perspectives. She firmly believes that one of the most valuable virtues is kindness and therefore she tries to inspire children to nurture it. Alice is an extremely curious person and an avid learner; her hobbies include dance, theater, DIY projects, and reading.