Upper School Teachers
Michelle Rampulla -- 7th and 8th Grade English
My career in education started as a backpacking guide for Outdoor Adventures, UC Davis in 2012. After playing soccer for the University for three years, I decided to pursue my interests in outdoor education and leadership. I guided backpacking trips throughout California and the Grand Canyon. I find it rewarding to lead students out of their comfort zone and give them the knowledge and skills to take on new and uncomfortable situations in unfamiliar environments.
I graduated from UC Davis in 2014 with a B.S in Environmental Science and Management. Focusing my studies on forest ecology and fire science, I moved to Lake Tahoe where I spent the next three years working on a handful of research projects for the University and the U.S. Forest Service. As challenging and strenuous as the work was, I am fortunate to have explored California’s backcountry while witnessing first-hand the ecological threats impacting our natural resources. Ultimately, I knew the life of a researcher strapped to a desk was not for me and I returned home to Marin County where I reconnected with my love for teaching.
In 2019 I acquired my teaching credential from Dominican University in San Rafael after finishing my student teaching at Willow Creek Academy. During my time in school and the classroom, I was able to use my outdoor experiences to create integrated curriculum following California State Standards across grade levels. I will return to Dominican in the Fall 2019 to complete my master’s degree while working at Willow Creek as a second-grade teaching assistant. I look forward to sharing my interests and learning those of my students!
Monica Rizzo -- 6th Grade Language Arts and Social Studies
Monica Rizzo was born on the great plains of South Dakota near the route of the Lewis and Clark expedition. After graduating from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa she followed the Oregon Trail to California. Monica earned her M.S.Ed. from Dominican University and wrote her thesis on discrimination and corruption in college admissions testing. She holds both social studies and English credentials and enjoys blending these two humanities. Monica was selected as a 2018 Fulbright-Hayes Honoree by the U.S. Department of Education and will spend one month in India with her cohort in the summer of 2019.
Monica enjoys traveling to locations of historical significance and is especially fond of storming musty old castles in Europe to plunder wealth or rescue prisoners. This summer she explored Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Krakow, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Prague, and Amsterdam. She also discovered a heretofore-unbeknownst talent for pool volleyball whilst in Mexico.
Four lovely daughters sprang fully formed from Monica's head, as Athena from the brow of Zeus. They are all college graduates out seeking their fortune in far-flung corners of the world. Prior to coming to Willow Creek, Monica spent several years teaching in the San Francisco County Jail at Five Keys Charter School and also worked for the Tam District and Bridge the Gap College Prep.
Kaitlyn Thomson -- (6th Grade Math and Science)
Kaitlyn was born and raised in Novato before attending both Santa Rosa Junior College and Sonoma State University. After earning a degree in Liberal Studies from the Hutchins School at Sonoma State, she earned her teaching credential through Cal State TEACH. Kaitlyn was fortunate enough to work in her hometown early in her teaching career before working in both Santa Rosa and Petaluma in 6th grade classes.
Kaitlyn loves to work with 6th graders and their critical thinking, sense of humor, and kindness. She loves to see her students grow as thinkers and learn new ideas, new perspectives, and to fall in love with learning. Connecting learning to what students are interested in is something she enjoys doing, especially when it gets the whole class engaged!
When not teaching, Kaitlyn enjoys reading, traveling to new places, and watching sports. Watching the sunrise from a mountaintop monastery in Spain, exploring Scottish castles, and jumping off of piers into the Caribbean Sea in Puerto Rico are some of her most memorable experiences. It is a bucket-list item to go to a game at all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums. 7 down, 23 to go!
Sean St. Denny -- 7th and 8th Grade MathSean St. Denny is a native San Franciscan who was first drawn to non-traditional education when he enrolled to be a member of the inaugural class of California's first charter high school. After graduating, he studied Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University before returning to home to run a small business.In 2010 he reconnected with his high school principal Mark Kushner who was in the process of founding San Francisco Flex Academy. After serving as an adviser to Mark and the board of trustees, he spent the next 5 years finding out how to best leverage online curricula, rich data, and on site educators to serve students of all ability levels.This experience has solidified his belief that the strongest outcomes only become a reality when each individual student finds that they are cared for and respected. He is passionate about creating unique educational opportunities that can help students reach their potential, and believes strongly in exploring math through its connections to our everyday experience, and through its integral relationship with science.