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PE Teacher Grades K-8th, Athletics Director
Alex is a highly experienced and passionate PE Coach. He holds a Master of Science in Educational Leadership, a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology, and a Single Subject Teaching Credential in Physical Education. Before coming to The Spring Hill School, Alex taught physical education in Oakland, Sausalito, and Mill Valley School Districts. In addition, Alex has led after-school sports programs at his schools. We’re excited to continue building our after-school sports program under his leadership.
Alex's teaching philosophy and approach is to create a positive, organized, high standards, and engaging PE program that impacts students’ acquisition of healthy lifelong habits regarding physical exercise, nutrition, and social-emotional health. Alex is captivated by watching students work together towards common goals in the physical education environment. He creates daily opportunities for students to develop their critical thinking skills and find solutions to complex problems.
Alex lives with his wife and children in Petaluma and speaks Spanish fluently.
Susan Dalton Guzman
Lower Elementary Office Coordinator & Reading Support Teacher
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.
Main Campus Office Manager
We welcome Claudia Diaz as our k-8 grade Office Manager. Claudia comes with extensive experience in administrative work including the Office Manager at Bellevue Union School District. In her position, Claudia assisted families, students, and staff in a professional and warm manner and through effective systems of communication. Claudia has a degree from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. She also holds an Associates of Science Child Development and taught primary schools as a teacher and supervisor for three years. Claudia is also a Copywriter/Creative Content Creator. She is bilingual, organized, positive, and joyful and excited about joining the Spring Hill in the office as well as the afterschool program for 3-8 grades
Co-Lead Teacher, Lower Elementary Grades 1st & 2nd, Spanish Teacher
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.
Spanish Teacher Grades 3rd-8th
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.
3-8th Music, After School Orchestra
Andrew has 27-year career in the arts as a professional bassist. He holds a bachelor's Degree in music from Sonoma State University and a Master's degree in music from New York University. After a stint working on various broadway shows and working great musicians including but not limited to Bob Weir (Grateful Dead), Branford Marsalis, and Ben Vereen, Andrew went on to a one-year stint as musical director for Phyllip Seymore Hoffman and the New York City public theater. Andrew has toured and performed in 22 countries and was visiting jazz instructor at the National Conservatory of Brussel, Belgium at Antwerp. He currently works with the Santa Rosa Symphony and is a listed producer at Prairie Sun Recording Studios. Andrew's teaching credits include Sonoma State (current professor), The Santa Rosa Symphony Simply Strings program as program manager, low strings coach, and advanced Chamber group conductor. He is excited to join the Spring Hill school and guide the school to build an amazing music program!
Theatre Teacher Grades 3rd-8th
Lisa Flato is thrilled to be joining The Spring Hill School as a Theatre Arts Teacher.
She received her Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from San Francisco State University.
After living, performing, and honing her craft in San Francisco, she moved to New York to do the same, before moving to Petaluma in 2007. One of her greatest joys is watching others grow and learn, whether in front of an audience or in a yoga class.
From working with Shakespeare or building an original collaborative piece, it's the process that excites her the most.
Grateful to call Petaluma home, Lisa loves to hike, practice Yoga, do puzzles and make silly voices with her family.
Denise Gage - Collins
Lead Teacher, Snowy Egrets Primary Class
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.
Raul Galo Gongora
Buildings & Facilities
Raul Góngora, a Mexican artist and lover of nature, embarked on a new chapter in his life by moving to the quaint town of Petaluma in the United States. Accompanied by his family, Raul embraced his role as a building and facilities worker, utilizing his creative skills to enhance the surroundings. With a degree from an art academy in Amsterdam in 2006, Raul's passion for art extended beyond traditional boundaries. He fused his artistic vision with culinary expertise, establishing a remarkable restaurant that seamlessly connected art and gastronomy. Known for his creative spirit and affinity for children, Raul is always prepared for any challenge that comes his way.
K-2 Support Teacher, Elementary Aftercare Coordinator
Natalia Gonzalez works on our elementary campus, providing K-2 support and aftercare. Natalia is an experienced and passionate teacher with over 10 years of teaching experience including 6 years as associate teacher for TK and Kindergarten classes in Petaluma. She holds a BA in Early Childhood Studies, Minor in Spanish and her Associates Degree in Child Development. She has completed her first year of Teacher Credentialing Program and has a k-6 substitute teaching certificate. Natalia is an educator at heart and has organized and led academic learning both in English and Spanish, and engaging activities designed to promote physical, mental and social development, such as games, arts and crafts, music, storytelling, and field trips
Head of School
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.
Director of Communications and School Life
Loryn Hatten is our Director of Communication and School Life Loryn 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. She has always found great joy in supporting children and families. She loves the vibrant and supportive community at Spring Hill and is enthusiastically looking forward to her new position that is aligned with her interests and passions.
Lead Teacher, Sparrows Primary Class
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.
Co-Lead Teacher, Lower Elementary Grades 1st-2nd
Molly Hill joined Spring Hill in 2020, retired in 2022, and is returning to be a long term sub in our kindergarten class this year!
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.
Jen Klem Clarke
Upper Elementary & Middle School Division Head
Jen brings to Spring Hill her passion for progressive education and 25+ years of middle school teaching, leadership, and advisory experience, including six years of teaching in MDUSD and SFUSD, four years at the International School of Geneva, Switzerland, and eleven years at Marin Primary and Middle School in Larkspur. She holds a BA in Liberal Studies, an MA in Educational Administration and Curriculum Development, a credential in Administrative Service, a California K-12 Multiple Subject Clear Teaching Credential, a Giftedness: Realizing the Potential certification, and a Clear, Cross-cultural Language and Academic Development Certificate (CLAD). Over her career, she has focused her love of learning on positive youth development, the science of learning and the brain, inspiring students to be citizens of the world, project and inquiry-based learning, student leadership, and social and emotional learning (SEL). Jen wholeheartedly believes that students are driven to do their best when engaged, focused on their unique interests, and driven by curiosity.
Assistant to the Head of School
We welcome Dido Leet as our new Assistant to the Head of School. Dido holds a bachelor’s degree in Arts and Communication Studies. In addition, she has extensive work experience in executive administrative positions.
Dido is excited to join our Spring Hill school as she is passionate about education and our students’ success. Dido’s office is located at our Middlefield campus. However, she will closely collaborate with the Spring Hill team at all 3 Spring Hill campuses.
6th Grade Advisor, 6th Grade Humanities, Math Teacher Grades 6th & 7th
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.
Bilingual Support Teacher, Primary Program
1/2 Grade Teacher
We welcome Katie Lopez to our 1 - 2 grade teaching team. Katie has over 10 years of excellent 1 - 5 grade teaching. She holds a Masters degree in Education and her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential with English Learner Authorization, and a BA in Communication Studies. Katie has been a teacher trainer for the Lucy Calkin’s Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop through Columbia University. She has also been a district VAPA (visual and performing arts) site leader for her previous school for 4 years. She has advanced knowledge of outdoor education and Play Space practices. She has assisted in leading the HEART Program (Health Education through Art) for elementary aged children. Katie has a great positive and collaborative attitude, and commitment to her teaching and her students' success. Katie and Cynthia Diaz have already started their collaboration, and are looking forward to working together as a very strong team.
Main Campus Classroom Support Teacher and Aftercare Coordinator
Kat is excited to be joining us as our new Aftercare Coordinator. She has over 15 year’s experience in Montessori education including owning her own Montessori based preschool for 10 years. Most recently she worked at River Montessori Charter School where she was the director of the after school and summer programs. Her favorite things about working with children are using art to inspire creativity and learning and the relationships she has with their families as they grow through her care. Outside of work Kat enjoys boogie boarding and spending time with her family and friends. She is originally from Grosse Pointe, Michigan and majored in graphic design at The Center for Creative Studies of Art a Design in Detroit.
3rd Grade Teacher & 4th Grade Teacher
Aileen holds a Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning, California Cleared Teaching Credential with a Teacher Leadership Authorization., a California Multiple Subject Credential with EL/Clad, and a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies, Spanish Concentration. She is highly trained in Social and Emotional Learning and Lucy Calkins language arts programs from Columbia University. Aileen has eight years of excellent teaching experience in a prestigious independent school in Mill Valley. As a talented and committed educator, Aileen teaches the whole child imparting academic content through differentiated and creative instruction, life skills through project-based learning imitating real-life situations, and character-building skills utilizing methods from the Institute for Social and Emotional Learning.
3rd & 4th Grade Teacher and Green Team Lead
Kevin holds a Master's in Teaching and Learning, a California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, a Cleared Multiple Subject Credential with English Learner Authorization, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology. Kevin has eight years of excellent teaching experience in a prestigious independent school in Mill Valley. He has extensive training in Context for Learning Mathematics and How to Learn Math from Stanford University. He has experience with various math curricula, including California State and Common Core standards, Math in Focus, Bridges in Mathematics in K-5, and Context for Learning Mathematics. Kevin provides differentiated, scaffolded lessons to meet each student's strengths and needs. In addition, Kevin loves to be involved in programs outside of the classroom. He has experience as a 4th - 6th-grade school basketball coach, and he started a sustainability program with 4th graders where he guides a “Green Team” Club to collect, sort, and measure all of his current school's food waste each day after lunch recess. We’re excited for Kevin to bring his Green Team project to Spring Hill next school year.
5th Grade Teacher
Jamie’s has 14 years teaching in private independent schools. Eleven of those years have been in the 5th grade, and three of those years, in the 6th grade. Jamie is much loved by her students, who thrive in her classroom with a joy of learning and academic success. Jamie has served on school leadership teams, as Director of Testing and the Director of Technology for the Presentation School, and lead Science Olympiad. She holds a BA in Art Studio and a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from Sonoma State University. She is a leading educator who has also served on the independent schools' re-accreditation teams.
Jamie is specifically passionate about teaching math and science. Jamie is a trained Social and Emotional Learning educator through Yale University. She believes in creating a welcoming, joyful, positive, exciting, and creative learning environment that encourages her students to be their best selves. She utilizes a variety of differentiation in the classroom, including scaffolded lessons, projects, and creating assignments tailored to the strengths and the needs of different learners. She is an organized and a master educator who evaluates her students' learning through a variety of methods and assessments, making sure each student demonstrates learning for understanding and for mastery in the areas of math, science, English, and social studies through subject matter and cross-curricular learning. She also has a passion for outdoor education and looks forward to the 5th-grade field trips including to Westminster in May 2024!
In her free time, Jamie enjoys swimming and hiking. She resides in Sonoma County with her husband, a high school teacher, and has two adult children.
Bilingual Lead Toddler Teacher - Pufflings
Evelyn Martinez is a valued member of our preschool campus and has been with The Spring Hill School for over 14 years, all in our toddler program! She earned her early childhood education certification from The Santa Rosa Junior College and began her career with Spring Hill!
Evelyn lives in Rohnert Park my husband and three amazing boys, an 8 year old (who is a preschool alum) and a set of twin boys who just turn 19 months. Evelyn shared that, "I’m committed to each child’s safety and learning. My priority is creating a warm and nurturing environment where my students feel safe and learn through exploration, play and developmentally appropriate activities. I believe in partnering with parents and making sure to engage them with their children’s learning, progress, and success."
As a native speaker, she incorporates Spanish through out the whole day! She is excited to be the lead teacher for Pufflings, along with assistant teachers Reina and Rian, and to provide the children an enriched bilingual experience.
When not at school, Evelyn loves to spend time with her family, take nature walks, and cooking.
Associate Teacher, Hummingbirds Primary Class
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.
Lead Teacher Kindergarten
Sarah holds a Master of Arts in Education with emphasis in Social Justice Education from New York University, and a BA of Fine Arts. She has a Multiple Subjects State of California Teaching Credential (fall 2022), and a Single Subject Visual Art K-12 State of California Clear Credential, and NFHS Certified Athletics Coach Cross Country + Track and Field. Sarah has 8 years of excellent teaching experience. She is a passionate teacher. Her heartfelt mission is to teach all her students to love learning. She wants them to experience school as a place where they belong and can be successful as a learner and as a leader. The classroom environment that Sarah builds with her students is joyful, collaborative, engaging, consistent and kind. Sarah is committed to her students' social and emotional learning, and excellent academics through exploration and hands-on projects based on an integrated science and art based curriculum.
Bilingual Associate Teacher, Sparrows Primary Class
Clara has been with Spring Hill since 2018. She is a Bilingual Associate Teacher, in our Sparrows Primary Classroom with teacher Cara. Clara earned her Associate Teacher certificate from Santa Rosa Junior College and will complete her Early Childhood Montessori Assistant certificate this summer!
With over 14 years of early childhood experience, beginning at Loma Vista Elementary, she has settled into Spring Hill where she loves to utilized her bilingual skills to create a positive and supportive learning environment. She loves listening to children speak her first language, which is Spanish.
Clara has lived in Petaluma since 2000 and choose to make it home with her husband and 3 children, Ittai, Sarah, and Zair. In her free times she enjoys cooking, camping, playing volleyball, and most importantly, spending time with her family.
Art Specialist, Grades 3-8
Marla Pedersen is Spring Hill’s art specialist. Marla graduated The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Art Education and moved to San Francisco in 2005. She taught art for 15 years at St. Vincent de Paul High School and St. Vincent Elementary School in Petaluma and Sebastopol Charter School. She teaches private art lessons in her home studio to artists of all ages and works on her own art career, focusing on drawing, painting, and collaborating with her husband on original screen print designs.
Marla has a passion for teaching youth and relates the art making process to their own lives, making connections through art history, cultures, and a wide range of artists and styles to develop a rich art curriculum. Students will understand art as a language, a way for people to communicate ideas and world issues through images and making, a way to show people what’s in our heart and what we value, in a visual form. She has lived in Petaluma for 12 years and has two sons, Milo, age 9, and Oliver, age 11. Marla loves art and nature, family time, road trips, camping, picnics, hiking, beach days, and playing piano.
Bilingual Support Teacher, Sparrows Primary Class
Rosalva Reyes is one of our talented bilingual assistant teachers and works with our toddlers and primary children. She also leads the morning care/aftercare teacher. Rosalva holds a Preschool Teacher Certificated and an Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Education. Have taught prior at Bethlehem Children’s Center, Rosalva is applying her 17 years experience at The Spring Hill School and has quickly adapted to the Montessori philosophy. She loves sharing her native language with the students and hold aftercare circle on in Spanish! In Rosalva’s free time, she enjoys cooking, yoga, hiking, kayaking, gardening, reading and quality time with love ones.
Music Specialist Grades PK-2nd
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.
Rosa (Rosie) Ruiz
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.
8th Grade Advisor, Humanities Teacher Grades 7th-8th
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.
Amy has over 15 years of experience as an early childhood director and preschool teacher. She is passionate about her work, teaching, and how early childhood education can profoundly shape a student’s love of learning. She also believes that any program is only as good as its teachers. She actively works to create and maintain a welcoming, positive, supportive, friendly, and professional community and workspace for all.
Amy holds a BA in Liberal Studies and a Minor in Recreation Administration. She has a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and her ECE teaching and Supervising permits.
Amy has a positive, confident, calm, kind, and professional presence. She is experienced in the field, organized, creative, and a strong problem solver. We also appreciate knowing that she shares the same values as our school.
Director, Operations & Finance
Sandy holds a Ph.D. in Human Resource Studies, a Master of Education in Counseling Psychology, a graduate certification in Finance and Accounting, and a BA in Communication. In addition, she is a certified International Coaching Federation (ICF) leadership coach and trained in Organizational Culture, and DEI work. Her extensive enrollment, operations, and research experience in secondary and higher education is aligned with Spring Hill's mission and vision.
Before joining independent schools, Sandy held vice president and executive director-level leadership positions in nonprofit and for-profit organizations. She has also been co-owner of two successful small business franchises, overseeing their finance and operations with great success. In addition, Sandy served on the Spring Hill Board of Trustees from 2014 to 2021. She is enthusiastic and excited to join the Spring Hill team to help the school achieve its operational and financial goals.
In her free time, Sandy enjoys hiking, yoga, making art, and practicing mindfulness. She lives with her husband in Petaluma and has two wonderful children.
Associate Teacher, Pufflings Toddler Class
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.
Toddler Teacher - Cygnets
We welcome Zainab Unchwaniwala as Cyngets Toddler Lead Teacher. Zainab has over 15 years of teaching experience including 7 years at an excellent Montessori per-school. Zainab holds her Master’s degree in Administration and a BA in Arts in English Literature, and Child development courses and training. Zainab's positive and peaceful attitude and presence, her commitment to connecting and nurturing each child to learn and to thrive, and building strong partnerships with their families are all aligned with The Spring Hill School’s mission and vision. Zainab brings her enriched heritage such as music, dance, and art into her classroom.
Associate Toddler Teacher
Rian started with Spring Hill as a summer school teacher in 2022, and we couldn't let her go! She joined our toddler team and quickly became a valued and trusted team member. She is a graduate of Sacramento State University with a BA in Psychology. She also has an AA in Psychology, Early Childhood Education, and Behavioral Sciences. Rian has been working with children since 2016 both in the classroom (from toddlers-8th grade), as a specialized tutor, and as an athletic coach! Her newest passion is as a volunteer with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate)! She loves for working with and learning from children and watching little minds develop and find their way in this world.
Associate Head of School, Director of Enrollment Management
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.
5th-8th Grade Science, K-8 STEM Coordinator
Meet Rachel, a valued addition to The Spring Hill School community since 2021. She's an educator with a solid academic background, holding a BA in Communications from Lewis & Clark College, and a California Multiple Subject teaching credential from Notre Dame de Namur University.
With over a decade of teaching experience at the upper elementary and middle school level, Rachel brings a blend of passion and practicality to our progressive independent school. Her strength lies in science curriculum development and STEM instruction, always ensuring that her lessons align with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
Rachel's teaching philosophy involves creating meaningful connections between academic content and real-life experiences. She's a firm believer in the power of a robust STEAM program to help fulfill Spring Hill’s mission and promote our Global Citizenship goals. Her approach encourages students to learn through inquiry, fostering a genuine appreciation and love for science.
Outside the classroom, Rachel has dedicated 15 years to coaching swimming for various age groups, enhancing her understanding of building authentic student-teacher relationships. This experience taught her that connections made beyond the classroom walls often pave the way for trust and mutual respect inside the classroom.
Since moving to Petaluma in 2020, Rachel spends her free time exploring the world with her young daughters, her husband, and their fluffy cat, Mikayla. She views every day as an opportunity to learn something new, embodying the spirit of lifelong learning we cultivate here at Spring Hill School.
Alyssa is excited to join us as our new Admissions Assistant. Alyssa holds a BS in Environmental Science and Resource Management from the University of Washington. After receiving her degree, she moved to Pueblo, Colorado to teach 7th Grade Science and STEM. Since returning home to Sonoma County, you can find her at our local farmers markets, hiking around the Bay Area, or spending time with her family and friends. She is a dedicated environmentalist who has always had a passion for supporting students and advocating for her community. Alyssa is excited to share these passions with The Spring Hill School.
Kim Zeunert - Mattison
Lead Teacher, Hummingbirds Primary Class
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.
Deborah is a highly experienced, talented, and passionate Educational Specialist. She holds an Educational Specialist Credential from San Jose State University, a Juris Doctor/Law degree from the University of San Francisco School of Law, and a BA in psychology from the University of California at Santa Cruz. Additionally, Deborah has over 25 years of successful teaching experience as a learning specialist, including ten years as student advocate and a special learning tutor.
Deborah’s teaching philosophy and approach is to honor and develop each child's unique potential. She is a positive and passionate advocate for students' learning and believes in building close and safe relationships with her students so they can trust her and be excited to work with her and reach out to her when they need support.
In her position, Deborah closely assesses her students, creating individual learning support plans for them with clear goals, follow-up steps, and consistent assessments. Her teaching includes 1:1 sessions or small group lessons in the support learning class. She also believes that, at times, it’s best for her to be in the students’ regular classrooms and support them in their own learning environment. She works closely with other teachers and offers suggestions and differentiated instructions for her students' lessons and activities to get deep into the learning process and students' achievements. Deborah also works closely with her students’ families. She believes building strong relationships with students and their parents is essential.
In addition, Deborah offers an after-school homework support club for her students as part of our Learning Support program free of charge to our families. Deborah’s students will have the opportunity to stay after school and work with her regularly or as needed.