Erin is Spring Hill’s Kindergarten through 8th grade science and nature teacher. Erin holds degrees in Biology, Teaching, Child Development and received her education at Humboldt State University and Sonoma State University. Prior to being the science and nature teacher at Spring Hill, Erin spent years as an outdoor education consultant and field biology teacher for Vilda. Erin holds memberships/affiliations in School Garden Network, The Anthroposophical Society, California Academy of Sciences, Petaluma Bounty, California Alliance with Family Farmers, The Permaculture Skills Center, and ZZYZX Desert Research Center. Erin enjoys her time outside of school tracking, reading, and tending her food forest.
Pam’s career began at Lucas Film Limited in the Star Wars generation, where she worked in accounting and asset administration for 15 years. She then transitioned into education, working at Knowledge Universe Education (KinderCare Learning Centers) in many capacities including Director of Purchasing, and at Klemmer Leadership Seminars as Director of Operations and Finance. Pam is committed to nurturing community and educational access, having served on the board of the nonprofit organization Daily Acts and currently sitting on the board of the Mustard Seed Scholarship Fund. Pam and her husband Chuck live in Petaluma and have two grown sons. Pam enjoys gardening, traveling, reading and spending time with her family.
Susan joined the Spring Hill faculty team in 2016. Susan holds a degree in Early Childhood Education from Santa Barbara City College as well as a California Child Development Teacher Permit and Site Supervisor Credential. Susan is a fluent Spanish speaker and offers her students an engaging introduction to Spanish and the opportunity to build Spanish language skills each day. Prior to joining the faculty at The Spring Hill School, Susan was the director and owner of her own preschool for 10 years, where Spanish language and multicultural activities were her focus. She also spent seven years as a Lead Teacher and Program Manager and two years as a Site Supervisor at North Bay Children’s Center. She has volunteered as an assistant coach for Sonoma County Girls on the Run and is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. In her free time, Susan enjoys practicing yoga, hiking, kayaking, bicycling, and being out in nature with her son Morgen and daughter Maya.
Cynthia joined the Spring Hill faculty team in 2015. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and a minor in Early Childhood Development from Sonoma State University. She also has a Montessori Elementary credential from American Montessori Society. Cynthia has worked with students from 1st through 5th grade since 2009 in a variety of different capacities in the classroom, including a behavior and education specialist, student support instructional assistant and tutor in many subjects, and an after-school classroom director. She is a native Spanish speaker and enjoys integrating cultural studies in her Spanish lessons. Cynthia believes it is important to encourage conversational Spanish throughout the school day as well as after school help to connect Spanish as a second language with real-life experiences and activities. She enjoys listening to her students sing and speak Spanish throughout the day, play games and read in Spanish. Cynthia is a graceful, respectful, and positive role model with strong organizational and leadership skills. She absolutely loves being with children. Cynthia enjoys cooking and baking, as well as hiking and camping with her husband Arthur and their son Rylan.
Susan Dieli is the Spring Hill Spanish Teacher for grades 3 through 8. Susan is a graduate of Webster College, St Louis. MO, where she designed her own B.A.- Minstrelsy: the Art of the Medieval Minstrel in the 20th Century. After many years spent as a jack-of-all-trades in the fine and performing arts, Susan earned her teaching certification in Spanish at Goshen College and has been teaching for 14 years in both public and private schools. Most recently, Susan spent six years at Oak Farm Montessori School in Fort Wayne, Indiana where she developed the program and taught Spanish, grades 4 - High School.
Bilingual Associate Teacher, Snowy Egrets Primary Class
Fabiola is an experienced teacher and outdoor program educator who has been a member of the Spring Hill faculty since 2014. A native Spanish speaker, she offers an excellent bilingual program to her students, bringing Spanish to life in a natural “real world” manner. Fabiola integrates conversational Spanish with an engaging outdoor curriculum, offering students a rich learning experience. Fabiola’s positive energy always brightens the days of her students and everyone around her. She is a passionate early childhood educator and celebrates the joy her students find in their work. Fabiola has extensive outdoor education training and creates a welcoming and secure environment, giving children the confidence to explore, play, and learn. She enjoys spending time outside of school with her family.
Denise Gage-Collins is the Lead Teacher of Spring Hill’s Snowy Egrets Primary classroom. Her love for learning and her students shines as she brings her experience in both Waldorf and Montessori into the classroom. She holds an Early Childhood Education AMS Teaching Certificate and has spent 25 years teaching in a Montessori classroom environment. She is also Waldorf (LIfeways) Certified. Denise is also a dance teacher and holds a Royal Academy of Dance Teaching Certificate. When she is not in the classroom Denise enjoys yoga, dancing, music, hiking, backpacking, camping, gardening, paddle boarding, being in nature, and spending time with friends and family.
Eva Garcia joined the Spring Hill faculty team in 2011. As a bilingual teacher, she has worked with both Primary (ages 3–6) and Toddler (ages 18–36 months) students at Spring Hill. Eva has a Montessori teaching credential from the American Montessori Society. She earned an Associate Teacher Credential from Santa Rosa Junior College and is currently continuing her education in child development. Eva has a graceful and gentle teaching approach, encouraging her young students to feel secure and eager to learn, and she engages children in all areas. A native Spanish speaker and fluent in English, her conversational Spanish in the classroom and group lessons enable children to develop a crucial foundation for language learning. In addition to teaching in the classroom, Eva has led classes and performances at Spring Hill in Ballet Folklorico (folkloric dance) for preschool age children. Prior to joining Spring Hill, Eva was a program coordinator with the Boys and Girls Club, where she designed and directed programs, activities, and art projects for young children. Eva and her husband live in Petaluma.
Logann is a floating teacher for our Toddler and Primary classrooms on our Middlefield Campus. Additionally, she supports Shaharazad Hamidi, our Head of School, on Montessori curriculum development for both the Toddler and Primary programs. Logann has taught as a lead teacher in both primary and lower elementary Montessori classrooms for a total of 9 years. She has experience with everything from administration to being an aftercare supervisor. In addition to her work at Spring Hill, Logann currently supervises Montessori intern teachers and is an instructor at the Montessori Training Center of the San Francisco East Bay. Logann is a recent transplant to Petaluma from the East Bay. She enjoys spending her free time with her two lab/mix rescues and volunteers with several animal rescues. Logann also enjoys gardening and singing with family and friends.
Shaharazad has been Spring Hill’s Head of School since 2010, and before taking the helm was a Lead Teacher for 21 years. She holds a master’s degree in nonprofit leadership as well as degrees in business administration and literature, and is an accomplished independent school leader. Under Shaharazad’s guidance, Spring Hill has become a premier private school in the Bay Area, with a holistic educational philosophy, an exceptional curriculum based on advanced science and creativity, and an emphasis on global education and bilingual programs. She has traveled internationally as an invited educator, teaching the psychology and philosophy of Montessori education and the impact of whole-child education, addressing academics, social-emotional learning, and leadership.
Shaharazad has lived on three continents and is fluent in three languages. She is passionate about learning and continuous education, world literature, painting, sculpture, photography, films, and cooking. She says, “My international background and life experiences have given me an understanding of the importance of preparing students for life. My goal for our students is that they become joyful and confident learners, well-rounded individuals, and leaders capable of making informed choices and fair judgments when they face the challenges and complexities of our world.”
Shaharazad and her husband Siamak are long-time residents of Petaluma and active in many community organizations. They are proud of their daughter Elica, an attorney and graduate of Spring Hill.
Operations Manager, Development Associate, Drama Teacher Grades 5th-8th
Loryn Hatten is The Spring Hill School’s Operations Manager & Registrar. She holds a BA in Teledramatic Arts and Technology from CSU Monterey Bay and an MFA in Arts Leadership from Seattle University. Before coming to The Spring Hill School, Loryn served as the Production Manager and then the Producing Artistic Director for Peninsula Youth Theatre in Mountain View, California, for seven years where she found great joy in supporting children and families. Loryn’s favorite activities include knitting, painting, baking, and in general, making things. She’s excited to join this vibrant and supportive community and cannot wait to get to know the staff and families of The Spring Hill School.
Cara Hicks joined Spring Hill in 2020. She has a Montessori Primary teaching credential from the American Montessori Society and is completing her B.A. in Early Childhood Education with a Montessori emphasis from the University of Massachusetts. Cara has been involved in Montessori her entire life, attending a Montessori school during her elementary years. She also has experience assisting in a Montessori Primary and Lower Elementary. She was drawn to the Headstart program where she served in a variety of roles; Center Director, teacher, and family service advocate. “As a Montessori student, I learned what it means to be a global citizen, respect the wisdom of other cultures, and to think outside myself. My mission, as an educator is to create an environment that encourages children to follow their passions and curiosities; one that fosters independence and empathy.”
Her travels have taken her to India, Nepal, and most currently she spent time in Thailand studying the technique of QiGong. Cara enjoys hiking, swimming, and spending time with her family.
Lead Learning Resource Specialist Grades K–6th, Lead Teacher Grades 3rd & 4th
Jean joined the Spring Hill faculty team in 2004 as the Lower Elementary (grades 1 and 2) Lead Teacher. She rejoins the Spring Hill faculty as our Lead Learning Resource Specialist. Jean spent the 2019–20 school year following a passion teaching project in Nepal and has recently returned to Petaluma. Jean is a master Montessori credentialed educator, founder and principal of a successful K–8th grade Montessori school in Michigan, and an expert in learning resources. Jean led her own tutoring center for many years that offered Orton Gillingham phonics, Read Naturally for fluency, and BAL A VIS X (balance-auditory-visual exercises) to support her students to gain academic confidence and skills to succeed in their education. Jean deeply cares for each child and connects with them with respect and joy, and builds deep relationships based on trust, responsibility, and care.
Molly Hill joined Spring Hill in 2020. Molly has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Mills College and a California Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential. She has completed the Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University Teachers College and Making Learning Visible at Harvard Graduate School of Education. Prior to joining Spring Hill, Molly was a member of the leadership team at Sonoma Country Day School from 1991–2020. She was a master teacher for grades K–5 (including 15 years in 1st grade), a math specialist for grades 4 and 5. She was the lower school director for five years.
Molly is a great advocate for her students’ academic, social, and emotional progress and success. Inspired by the Brightworks (San Francisco) school model, and as a lifelong learner, Molly believes in an education that encourages exploration and expression, creative and critical thinking, collaboration, and integration. She brings a metacognitive approach to the classroom and supports her students in knowing themselves as learners. Molly embraces the “bigger picture” in education and strives to help her students see themselves as confident, capable, and kind human beings. Molly always aims to create a fun, safe, and challenging learning environment for every child.
When not exploring new ideas for teaching and learning, Molly loves creating things from paper—letterpress, bookmaking, origami, cards, etc. She loves all things art and design related. She also loves to hike/walk, especially around westside Petaluma neighborhoods. She enjoys trying new recipes, spending time with friends, family (especially her twin nieces), and her partner Tom. She loves reading, writing, and seeing live music, and is also a huge fan of New York City.
Max Jent joined Spring Hill in 2020 as the Middle School music teacher. Max has a BA in Music Performance from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. He received his teaching credential from Sonoma State University. Max has studied the Orff music approach (Levels I and II) at the San Franciscan School, Pasadena Conservatory of Music, and the San Francisco International Program in Carmel, California. (The Orff approach is a developmental approach used in music education that combines music, movement, drama, and speech into lessons.) Max is the principal bass player in a local Symphony and is the band leader of a performing Jazz Band. Max is a composer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist. For fun Max enjoys cooking, hiking, camping, skiing, world travel, gardening, and spending time with his dog.
Bilingual Associate Teacher, Cygnets Toddler Class
Annabell Johnson has been working at The Spring Hill School as an Assistant Teacher in the Cygnets classroom since fall of 2021 and recently moved to Petaluma with her family. Annabell has a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Psychology from Dominican University and has completed 33 units in Early Childhood Education from Skyline College. Prior to starting at The Spring Hill School, she worked at R.W. Drake Preschool for three years. Annabell has also worked at The Osher Marín Jewish Community Center and volunteered at DrawBridge, an arts program for the homeless. Annabell is fluent in Spanish and brings her bilingualism to the classroom. She has two beautiful little girls and enjoys going to the beach, reading, and painting.
Marghee Kennedy is Spring Hill’s Lead Kindergarten Teacher for our Elementary Kindergarten classroom. She holds a M.A. Ed., B.A. and an AMS Montessori Early Childhood Credential. This is her twenty-third year of teaching and her first year with The Spring Hill School. Marghee spends her free time rehabbing old furniture, reading, gardening, and exploring all the fun sights Northern California offers.
Middle School Director, Lead Curriculum & Advisory Coordinator, High School Placement Counselor
Jen brings to Spring Hill her passion and over 20 years of middle school teaching, leadership, and advisory experience, including 5 years of teaching in Pleasant Hill and San Francisco, 4 at the International School of Geneva, Switzerland, and 11 years at Marin Primary and Middle School in Larkspur. She holds an MA in educational administration and curriculum development, a BA in liberal studies, a California K-12 Multiple Subject Clear Teaching Credential, and a Giftedness: Realizing the Potential credential. Her wealth of training and certificates also includes a Clear, Cross-cultural Language and Academic Development Certificate (CLAD), and she has focused her professional development on learning and the brain, global citizenship and humanities curriculum development, project-based learning, student leadership, and mindfulness. After moving to Petaluma six years ago, Jen is very excited to be working close to home so she can spend more time with her husband, Kevin; their always entertaining sons, Finn and Kai; and their adorable Cocker Spaniel, Zoe. She enjoys yoga, cooking, gardening, crafting, reading, and most of all, exploring the world with her curious boys.
Zak holds a BA in business management and a teaching credential in physical education. He has years of experience as athletic director, PE, and movement teacher and coach at independent schools in Silicon Valley. He has also led all seasonal sports, including baseball and basketball, and has a love for sports, health and nutrition, community, and team building. Zak is a motivated, personable, and skilled teacher who has worked with students of all ages. As an advisor in middle school, he is passionate about reaching out and connecting with his students for maximum mentoring, coaching, and success. He is also passionate about music—at his previous school, Zak DJ’d dances, and events!
Teacher Grades 3rd & 4th, After-School Lead Teacher Grades 3rd-8th
Christine joined the Spring Hill faculty team in 2016. She holds a BS in biology with a concentration in marine science from Sonoma State University. Prior to joining Spring Hill, she worked at Sonoma State University as summer camp director and student instructor. Christine is part of the middle school advisory team and builds strong and trusted connections with her students. As a Math Associate Teacher, Christine guides and engages her students to gain confidence in learning math with joy. As part of the after-school program, Christine offers daily “homework club” providing 1:1 support in math, humanities, as well as Spanish. She also teaches macramé, a favorite elective class of Spring Hill middle school students. Christine is a graduate of a Spanish bilingual school and is fluent in Spanish. Christine enjoys scuba, macrame, traveling, and watching true crime documentaries.
Ed Longnecker joined Spring Hill in 2020. He holds a BA in Communications from Sonoma State University and has also earned a California K-12 Multiple Subject Clear Teaching Credential, a Cross-cultural Language and Academic Development Certificate (CLAD), and an Administrative Service Credential from Sonoma State as well. Ed brings a lot of enthusiasm and experience to Spring Hill. He has been working with middle schools in Sonoma and Napa Counties for the last 17 years. During that time he has worked as both an assistant principal and a teacher. Ed comes to us from the Napa Unified School District where he has recently had three teacher of the year nominations, as well as nominations for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics, and won runner up as Napa Valley’s Male Role Model of the Year in 2019.
Jeff Mattison is the Associate Teacher in the Hummingbirds Classroom. Before arriving at Spring Hill, Jeff taught at the Primary level at the Montessori School of Sonoma for four years. Prior to that, he was the founder and co-owner of Redwood Montessori School in Penngrove, where he and Kim Zeunert-Mattison taught at the Primary level for fifteen years. He holds BA degrees in Sociology and Political Science from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and he completed his Montessori training at Brush Creek Montessori School. In his spare time, Jeff enjoys being involved with music.
Amanda is the Lead Teacher in the Cygnets Toddler Classroom at Spring Hill. Amanda holds a bachelor's degree in social work and is currently working towards her master' degree in early childhood education and special education. Prior to entering graduate school, Amanda completed 32 units of early childhood education at community college. Amanda has been a member of The Spring Hill School community since fall 2019. Prior to working at Spring Hill, she was a substitute preschool teacher for the county of Riverside as well as a teacher at a family home care. Additionally, Amanda is registered with the Early Care & Education Workforce. When she is not teaching, Amanda likes to spend time with her dogs, enjoys playing volleyball, and embraces adventure through outdoor exploration.
Pablo Rodriguez is a well-known singer, guitarist, and teacher in the North Bay area. He has performed in a wide variety of styles including classical, Brazilian music, jazz, gospel, pop, and Eastern European music. He has collaborated for years with songwriters, poets, dancers, choirs, and multi-media artists in many venues. He is an experienced teacher both in classroom and private instruction.
Bilingual Lead Teacher, Ducklings Toddler Class, Primary Program Bilingual Aftercare Coordinator
Rosie, a native Spanish speaker who is also fluent in English, has worked in early childhood education for ten years. She has an Associate Teacher Certificate and CNA certification (Certified Nursing Assistant). She also has a TALLK project certificate (Teacher Acquiring Language Learner Knowledge), a program that provides preschool teachers with training and coaching in specific strategies for interacting with English learner children to best support language acquisition.
Rosie is passionate about promoting children’s desire to read and write, and she focuses on engaging her young students in acquiring age-appropriate language skills. She brings to her students and colleagues a perennial positive outlook and good humor in approaching teaching and life. She is devoted to her young students and offers them a loving environment each day. She values the trusted relationships she develops with parents. Rosie’s greatest joys are her sons Anthony and George and her husband Tony. She loves spending time with her family, cooking for them, and cheering for her sons and husband when they play their favorite sport—soccer. An animal lover, she enjoys walking her five dogs and caring for her farm animals.
Reina Starke joined the Spring Hill faculty in 1992. She has been an important part of the Spring Hill community for many years as a member of the administrative team, an Elementary after-school program teacher, a classroom substitute teacher, and a teacher in Spring Hill’s Toddler program. Reina’s mother was Spring Hill’s office manager when she was growing up, and when Reina welcomed her first child, she began working alongside her mother as an after-school teacher. With her mother’s passing in 2014, she is committed to carrying on her legacy of creating a warm and fun educational environment for the children of our community. Reina lives in Petaluma with her husband and two of her three daughters, all Spring Hill alumni. When she’s not with her Spring Hill family or her young granddaughters (one of whom is a Spring Hill student), Reina enjoys long walks, reading, and spending time at the beach.
Pam loves helping students gain solid mathematical skills and become confident, capable problem-solvers. She holds an undergraduate degree in mathematics from Johnson State College in Vermont. Her expertise is in middle and high school mathematics teaching and in education research of math and science curricula, assessment, teacher leadership, and professional development. Pam enjoys spending time with family and friends, outdoor activities, and traveling. Her youngest daughter is a recent Spring Hill graduate.
Joseph Trum is a Digital Arts and Resource teacher at Spring Hill.
Joseph holds a Special Education Mild/Moderate credential and a Language Arts credential in California, and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Film and a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature from the University of Texas at Austin.
Prior to joining Spring Hill, Joseph spent 7 years as a Digital Arts and Math Teacher at Star Academy in San Rafael. He also is the Founder of Common Sense Special Education, providing in-home tutoring and Special Needs services throughout the Bay Area since 2010.
Joseph has a passion for film, music, and chess, and teaches Jiu-jitsu at Esteem BJJ in Petaluma.
Katie Vanko is the 7th and 8th Grade Humanities teacher at The Spring Hill School. She has a BA in Liberal Studies, as well as a Multiple Subject Bilingual California Teaching Credential. Katie also holds a Master's Degree in Reading and a Reading Specialist Certificate from Sonoma State University. Katie has 12 years teaching experience in both Mammoth Lakes, CA and Petaluma. She has great passion for working with middle school students, guiding them as they realize their unique potential. Utilizing tailored lessons and curriculum that build lifelong readers and confident writers is important to her. She enjoys being out in nature with her family, and puppy Charlie Girl.
Associate Head of School, Director of Enrollment Management, Pre-algebra Teacher
Tracy holds a master’s degree in educational leadership and a BA in speech communication, as well as a multiple subject K-12 California teaching credential and an administrative credential. As a long-time resident of Sonoma, Tracy is deeply rooted in our beautiful county. She is equally rooted in her dedication to education and student learning at K-8 grade independent schools. After 20 years’ experience in education, Tracy transitioned from teaching to administration at The Presentation School in Sonoma, where she taught, led admissions and marketing, and was Assistant Head of Curriculum and Instruction for 17 years. She is passionate about Spring Hill’s goal to prepare students to be lifelong, joyful learners, and active citizens of a global community. The school’s focus on respect for self, community, and the environment, as well as our commitment to global awareness and culturally inclusive learning, are personal passions for Tracy.
Cara Wasden has been teaching public speaking at Spring Hill since 2018. Cara has been a member of the international public speaking organization, Toastmasters, since 2005. She has won numerous speaking and storytelling competitions over the years and has helped many others achieve the same success. These days her passion lies in helping younger people gain public speaking skills and confidence early on. Throughout the last four years, Cara has coached and co-coached a number of Toastmasters youth leadership programs throughout the Bay Area. She continues to co-coach public speaking sessions for programs such as Tomorrow’s Leaders Today and Chop‘s Teen Center. She also co-coaches interviewing workshops for high school seniors involved with The Lime Foundation. Cara loves teaching public speaking to Spring Hill’s middle school students and is enthusiastically passing on her passion to others!
Aubrey Watkins began as Spring Hill’s 5th through 8th grade science teacher in fall of 2021. She holds a B.S. Biological Science and an M.S. Biology with an Emphasis in Regenerative Medicine from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Aubrey comes to us from Healdsburg Junior High School where she taught 7th grade science. She is thrilled to be moving to a small-by-design school! Aubrey is an enthusiastic member of NSTA (National Science Teacher Association). Aubrey is happily married and is mother to a beautiful two year old son named Maddox. Her family also includes a 17 pound cat named Gus and four chickens (Hilda, Sabrina, Lilith, and Rosalind). She and her husband are hard at work renovating their first home. When Aubrey is not renovating or teaching, she loves to garden and spend time outdoors with her sweet son!
Asherah holds a teaching credential for visual arts and is a life-long artist. Most recently, she taught at Healdsburg Junior High where she graduated long before as an 8th grader. Asherah previously co-founded a community arts center in Santa Rosa and has supported many other community-based projects. She’s offered art to elders with dementia, worked with youth on the Autism Spectrum as a behavioral tutor, and engaged in many things in between.
Asherah’s excitement lies in what the arts can do for the world — making everything more collaborative, sustainable, beautiful, and meaningful. She loves to bridge many art forms from drawing, video, and handcrafts to movement and singing. Creativity is a way of life for Asherah and sharing it with her students brings her so much joy!
Kim Zeunert-Mattison is the Lead Teacher of the Hummingbirds Primary Class. Kim has a BS in Psychology from the University of California at Santa Barbara and her Montessori Teaching credential from the American Montessori Society. Kim has been a Lead Montessori educator for the past 25 years, including 15 years as the founder, director, and Lead teacher for Redwood Montessori School from in 2001–2015, and teaching at Montessori School of Sonoma. Kim is a true believer in teaching and guiding children to gain “love of learning” and setting foundations for our children in becoming confident, skillful, respectful, and kind adults. Her teaching includes an authentic Montessori curriculum, peace education, teaching American sign language, and incorporating movements, songs, stories into vibrant circle and group times, when children are enthusiastic to participate. Kim is an avid traveler and passionate about guiding her students to become caring and respectful stewards of Mother Earth. Kim has a great focus on geography, cultural studies, and including world music in her Primary program.
Kim lives in Petaluma with her husband Jeff, who is also an educator and a musician. In her spare time, Kim plays bass guitar, loves to run, read, further advance her knowledge for early childhood education, hike, cook, and volunteer at non-profit organizations that are meaningful to her.