Lower School TeachersAlise Perez was born and raised in Marin County. She attended local public schools through high school. After high school, she attended Santa Rosa Jr. College and graduated with an AA in Liberal Arts. After working with kids at camps all over Northern California and babysitting for several families, she decided that teaching was in her future. She enrolled at San Francisco State University, and graduated with a B.A. in Liberal Studies. She then finished the San Francisco State Credential program in 2003. After a year of teaching English as a Second Language to adults in Emeryville, Alise found her way to Willow Creek Academy and has been teaching Kindergarten at the school since 2004.
In addition to the view of the Bay from her classroom window, Alise appreciates the diversity of Willow Creek Academy, the families, and the beautiful campus. She loves teaching Kindergartners because of their curiosity, enthusiasm, and love of learning. She believes in incorporating thematic, hands on, project-based learning, and uses science as the foundation for the themes in her classroom. Alise strives to make her classroom a colorful backdrop for student learning, and you can always expect to see the walls of her classroom teeming with student work.
Hope Feldman -- Kindergarten
Hope began her teaching career at a young age. She discovered her passion for working with children, and for developing fun and engaging activities for kids, during her summers spent as a camp counselor and later director for over seven years in Marin. Throughout her undergraduate years, Hope worked at a school for gifted children and substituted as a para-educator. After graduating from UC Davis in 2011 with a BA in sociology and a minor in education, Hope joined Americorps through a non-profit called Reading Partners. As a Reading Partners site coordinator for two years, Hope managed and trained community volunteers and implemented a literacy curriculum for elementary school students in Sausalito/Marin City. Serving as an Americorps member was the most rewarding experience of her life and positively influenced her decision to become a credentialed teacher. Hope enthusiastically joined Willow Creek Academy in 2013 and also began Dominican University’s dual credential teacher training program. She holds multiple-subject and special education teaching credentials. In her free time, Hope loves running, hiking, cooking, camping, gardening and doing arts and crafts.April Gregory -- 1st GradeApril was born, raised, and public school-educated in Redlands, California. She graduated from Stanford in 2013, then moved to New York City for three years. There, she taught 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades at Grace Church School in Greenwich Village. In 2016, she came to her senses and moved back to California for graduate school. In 2017, April graduated from Stanford with an MA in Education and her teaching credential. She then taught 4th grade for a year in the San Francisco Unified School District. When not teaching, April loves reading on the beach, going to indoor cycling classes, and making playlists for her friends. April is thrilled to be teaching first grade at Willow Creek and cannot wait to get to know the WCA community!
Meegan Devol -- 1st GradeAfter graduating from Whittier College, Meegan received an internship at the Broadoaks Children’s School, a private demonstration school emphasizing developmentally based education, social responsibility and lifelong learning. At Broadoaks, Meegan learned how to create a thematic hands-on environment and the importance of building a strong classroom community.
Meegan went on to teach 1st and 5th grade in a public elementary school in culturally diverse La Mirada, CA while getting her Master’s in Multicultural Education. Three years later, Meegan was chosen to be a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) helping K-5 teachers with their literacy and technology instruction as well as facilitating a teacher buddy program designed to help integrate the different cultures within the community. During her time as a TOSA, Meegan attended intensive literacy training which she used to grow the Academic Volunteer Mentor program at her school site.
Raised in Marin, Meegan loves cooking, gardening, hiking, practicing yoga, and spending time with her two kids, husband, friends, and family. Meegan is thrilled to be a part of the Willow Creek community!
Kelly Browning -- 2nd/3rd Grade
Kelly is a graduate of Dominican University with a BA in Humanities and Cultural Studies and a Certificate in Sustainable Practices. She came to Willow Creek in 2009 as a volunteer with Marin School Volunteers and soon after began an internship and senior thesis project focused on bringing garden and nutrition programs to schools. Kelly worked as a cooking and nutrition teacher with GrowingGreat Marin City for three years.
Born and raised in Indiana, Kelly lived in Steamboat Springs, CO and Ashland, OR before finally making it to Northern California and Mill Valley (like Disneyland for Midwesterners!) She thinks the best things about living in the Bay Area are the mild weather and year-round access to delicious, healthy foods. Kelly grew up gardening, harvesting and cooking with food from her grandparent’s farm.
Kelly enjoys cooking, gardening, cycling, hiking, swimming, yoga, snowboarding, movies, music and family vacationBecky Jackson -- 2nd Grade
Becky Jackson spent her childhood on the island of Oahu, in Kailua, Hawaii. Out of high school, she spent four years at the San Francisco Academy of Art where she was a Fine Arts major in Painting. In 2001, when Willow Creek Academy opened its doors, Miss Jackson enrolled her son in its first grade and began working at the school -- first as a teacher’s aid and then, for eight years, as the school’s art teacher. Becky enjoyed teaching so much that she obtained her Bachelors degree in Humanities from Dominican University and then her teaching credential.
Becky feels that it is very important that every child has the opportunity to be taught the academic standards and that it is every teacher’s job to understand each child’s individual learning style. Bringing art into the classroom, the use of hands-on manipulatives as learning tools, field trips, and speakers from the community are a few of the ways that Becky enhances student learning. She strives to build a classroom environment that gives children the sense that we live in a world that is fascinating and exciting. Becky also believes in the importance of building a strong community where people are kind and helpful to one another. Becky is concerned that children get one chance to have a childhood, and that means as a teacher she gets one chance to help each child learn, and have wonderful childhood experiences in elementary school.
Kevin Breakstone -- 3rd GradeKevin Breakstone grew up in Novato, and received his degrees from UC Santa Cruz and Sonoma State. Kevin brings a variety of skills to his classroom through his history of interesting jobs. Kevin has taught ceramics at summer camps, fine arts at an art studio, and martial arts at a Kenpo Karate dojo. He also worked as a tour guide at the Santa Cruz Mystery Spot, an electronic form designer for Marin County hospitals, and a video game designer for the Skylanders series. Teaching, however, has always been Kevin's passion.Project-based learning is a focus for Kevin. In 2011, Kevin moved to Visalia in California's Central Valley to help start a mixed-age project-based charter school. He worked at this school for two years, helping it double in size, before moving back to the Bay Area. However, Kevin's curriculum is now used to teach project-based learning to other teachers in Tulare County.Outside of school, you will find Kevin riding his bike, baking a pie, practicing martial arts, working on a sculpture, or writing in a coffee shop.
Natalie Butler -- 4th Grade
Natalie Butler was born and raised in Mill Valley where in high school she attended a backpacking school called TEAM that incorporated internships, community service projects and wilderness medicine training into its curriculum. She graduated from Dominican University with a Liberal Arts BA and General Education Teaching Credential. Shortly after graduating Natalie went to New Zealand to work on farms, learned about sustainable farming practices, and got her hands dirty working the land. She worked, taught, and surfed in New Zealand for almost 3 years before returning home to pursue teaching.Natalie celebrates the whole child in her classroom. She believes that for students to receive access to the curriculum they need to feel safe to make mistakes while being seen and heard by their teacher and their peers. Natalie is always seeking professional development opportunities to continue her own learning, while acknowledging that often her students are the best teachers that help her grow.Natalie is an avid outdoors woman. She regularly swims in the bay, runs and hikes the endless trails of Marin, and loves to weight train. On the calmer side of life, Natalie enjoys cooking, gardening, reading, and spending time with her fiancee, parents, brothers, and close friends.
Jennifer Carrade -- 4th GradeJennifer Carrade was born and raised in Novato with three older sisters. She went back east for college at High Point University in North Carolina, and during her summers she worked at the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito as a camp counselor. She received her degree in Elementary Education (teaching credential included) in 2011. Jennifer continued her education at HPU, earning a M.Ed in Elementary Education with a concentration in Literacy in 2013. After teaching 2nd grade and 3rd grade Language Arts/Social Studies in North Carolina, she decided to return to the Bay Area to continue her passion for teaching. Her first year back in California she worked in San Bruno as a 5th grade teacher.
Jennifer is excited not only to teach, but also to learn from her 4th grade students at Willow Creek! She loves to help her students soar and reach new levels they thought weren't possible. A strong component of this environment is the creation of a class family; we laugh together, we cry together, we grow together.
When Jennifer is not at school, you can find her enjoying many of her favorite hobbies. She loves to travel and is working on visiting all 50 states (only 19 left)! She also enjoys spending time with friends, going to concerts (her favorite concert she has been to is Paul McCartney), reading, hiking, baking, watching the Giants, and exploring wherever her curiosity takes her.Gabriel Leonoudakis -- 5th Grade
He earned Bachelors degrees in psychology and fine arts from the University of California Santa Cruz, and went on to get a Masters degree in illustration with an emphasis in children’s books. Gabriel has provided illustration for publications, organizational development workshops, interpretive panels, and has published his own children’s book.
He began working with children while visiting classrooms and reading his children’s book to them, and teaching at a children’s art workshop. He was an art educator for children at the Artspan Gallery, Happy Picasso Art Studio, and in summer art workshops at Cornerstone Academy in San Francisco.
He has also taught color fundamentals to undergraduate students at Academy of Art University. Last year, Gabriel was assistant teacher for 2nd grade, and was a 3rd, 7th, and 8th grade substitute teacher at Willow Creek Academy. His favorite subjects are art, history, science, and writing.
Zuhra St. Denny -- 5th Grade
Zuhra grew up in the suburbs of Chicago after being born abroad in Malaysia. During high school, Zuhra mentored elementary students in the Chicago housing projects and realized two things: that there is a deep need for equitable education, and that she loves working with kids. She earned a B.S. in Elementary education from Northern Illinois University, then she moved to San Francisco and taught youth in Oakland for the past 8 years. There, she focused on school culture and family partnerships, and she was an inaugural teacher at a school based on a social justice platform. Willow Creek Academy came on her radar last year, and she knew this is where she wanted to teach. She is so invested and proud of WCA that her whole family will be on campus! The diverse population and excellent staff make this an amazing place to work and send her children. After school, Zuhra, her husband, and two young children are often playing outdoors, hanging out with friends, traveling, or catching the latest movie.