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Our faculty and staff combine passion, dedication, and flexibility with the wisdom of many years spent teaching children to achieve their fullest potential.

Pictured above: Our in-person professional development training with our teachers, two weeks prior to the start of the 2021-22 school year (masked and ready to inspire).

Head of School


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Wendy Xa

Founding Head of School

Neuroscientist. Nature Enthusiast. Quadrilingual. Mom.


After founding Presidio Knolls, the award-winning private Mandarin-immersion school in San Francisco, Wendy had a vision for a pioneering school that could combine language immersion, nature-based education, and social-emotional learning into a unified program. As we enter our fifth year in operations, Terra Marin is the exemplification of this vision.

our Lower School TEACHERS

Riva Zippin
Kindergarten & 1st Grade 
Contagious laughter. Doting aunt. Ms. Frizzle Dress-Alike.

B.A. from UC Berkeley. 18 years of teaching experience. Multi-subject accredited elementary teacher. 

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"Cat Austin" Simon, M.A.
K-4th Grade Music 

Avid Hiker. Owned a theater company for 20 years, working with at-risk teenagers.

MA in Theater from Stephen F. Austin State University, Texas, and a BA in Education from Stephen F. Austin State University with a Theater Teaching Credential. 20+ years teaching experience in music and the arts.

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Pippa Whelan  
2nd Grade 

Art exhibitor. Writer. Laughter enthusiast.

B.A. in Liberal Studies from Sonoma State University. Originally from Ireland, loves to travel. Recently published a memoir. Hospice Volunteer. Avid painter & swimmer, learning piano. Seven years of teaching experience.

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Heather Solomon, M.A.
1st Gr English/3rd Gr Math
Creative, World Traveler, Lifelong learner, Yoga and Dance Enthusiast    

M.A. in Education and B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from UC Santa Barbara. Grown in the Midwest but always been a California soul.  Multiple Subject accredited teacher with over 15 years of various teaching experience.  Practicing yogi for over 25 years, trained in India, as well as with Breathe for Change and Little Flower Yoga.  Loves nature and backpacking.

Andy Trapp
3rd & 4th Grade
Skier. Mountain biker. Rock band drummer.

B.A. from the University of Michigan. Multi-subject accredited elementary teacher.  16 years of teaching experience. Father of three.

OUR Upper School TEACHERS&

Math TEACHERS for Band Scheduling

Mike Burkett, M.A
7th-8th Science 

Permaculture gardening enthusiast. Proud owner of Charlie the Science Dog. Father. Renaissance man.

Bachelor’s degree in physiology and Master’s degree in business administration. Over 15 years of teaching experience in the sciences. My wife and I have a son and Teddy the Science Dog, Bowie the Husky, 3 cats (Freja, Vali, Tyr), and Basil the Bunny.

Michael Field
Virtual Upper School Math 
Ultimate frisbee, hiking, and gardening. Cook. Slam Poet. Guitarist.     

B.A. in Mathematics & Philosophy from Brown University. 10 years teaching experience. Meditation teacher. 

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Izzy Fagen, M.A.
5th Grade Teacher
Avid athlete. Audiophile. Ocean lover.     

M.A. in Reading/Writing Literacy from the University of Pennsylvania and B.A. in Elementary Education, minors in Spanish & Environmental Education at Elon University. Previously taught 5th grade and 3rd grade in a public school near the Hamptons, New York. Taught PK-12th grade students in Gijón, Spain on a Fulbright Scholarship. 

Lesley Fisher
8th English, High School Counselor

Backpacking enthusiast. Dancing fool.

Over 15 years of teaching experience in Humanities. Mother of 2 daughters in high school.

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Richard Gottesman, Ph.D.

Virtual Upper School Pre-Calculus Math
Child genius. Passionate about math. 

Ph.D. in Math at the University of California and B.A. in math at Brown University. 10 years teaching math to middle school, high school and college students.

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Stephanie Ham 
1st Grade Math

E-bike rider. Audiobook-phile. Mother of 2.

B.A. in Liberal Arts from CSU Chico. 5 years of teaching experience. Multi-subject accredited teacher.  Transplant from Carmel, exploring all things Marin.

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Chloe Lechuga, M.A. SEL
6-8 English/Humanities,
SEL Consultant

Ocean lover. SoCal soul with a NorCal heart. Food lover and cooking enthusiast. Smashed penny collector.

B.A. in Human Development and Early Childhood Education from Sonoma State University. 8 years of teaching experience with at-risk youth. M.A. in Social and Emotional Learning. 

Agustin Olmedo
5th-8th Grade Math

Bilingual. Father of a baby girl.

B.A. in Mathematics from SFSU.  Teaches 6th grade math, 7th grade pre-algerbra and 8th grade algebra. First of his extended family to graduate college and wants to help others to do the same. 

John Serena
8th Grade Pre-Algebra

Archaeology and History Buff. Bilingual.

B.A. in Philosophy from the University of MN, Twin Cities.  18 years experience. Trained in Lindamood-Bell methodology. Also teaches beginning Spanish.

OUR Language TEACHERs for band scheduling
K - 8th grade Mandarin and Spanish classes, Preschool and TK Mandarin and Spanish Immersion

Patricia Etchekan, M.A.
Mandarin Preschool

Singer in Music Video. Natural athlete. Quadrilingual.

M.A. in Chinese Language & Literature at Inner Mongolia University, China. B.S. in Preschool Education at Inner Mongolia Normal University and  B.S in software engineering from Groupe Pigier, Côte d’Ivoire. 4 years of preschool teaching experience. Fluent in Mandarin, French, and English. Proficient in Spanish.                                                                                                


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Suyi (Susan) Liu, Ph.D., M.Ed
Mandarin Preschool
Forward-thinking and always prepared. Dedicated. 

Ph.D. in Language Studies at De La Salle University, M.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction in Early Childhood Education at University of Houston, TX.  B.A. in Organizational Leadership from Fort Hays State University in KS. B.A. in English at Zhengzhou University. 11 years of experience with PK-4th grade children.      

Shiying (Phoebe) Sun, M.Ed.
Mandarin Preschool
Creative. Friendly.Traveler.

M.A. in Education from the University of San Francisco. B.A. in both English and Business Administration. 7 years of teaching experience.                         

Tianxing Yao, M.Ed.
Mandarin TK
Talented poet. Amusement park enthusiast.

M.A. in Education from the University of San Francisco. B.A. in Electrical Engineering from Xi’ an Shiyou University in China. 7 years of teaching experience.

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Israel Palacios
K-8th Grade Spanish
Cat and Dog lover. Passionate about math and Philosophy.

B. A. in Spanish Literature from San Francisco State University. Born and raised in Mexico City; moved in 2015 to the Bay Area.

Shanshan Wu

K-8th Grade Mandarin
Passionate chef. Epicure. Avid volunteer. Mother.

B.A. from Shenyang University, China. 6 years of experience teaching Mandarin to all ages. Volunteer at orphanages and senior citizen homes.

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Emili Herrera
Spanish Preschool
Hardworking. Fearless. Enthusiastic.

Teacher with 6 years of experience. Loving daughter, and friend.                                                                   


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Yiyan Cheng, M.A.

Mandarin Preschool
Loves to travel. Movie goer. Photographer at heart.

M.A.  Modern Foreign Language with a concentration in Mandarin from Boston University. B.S. in Childhood Education with a concentration in English at St. John's University. 

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Maria Herrera
Spanish Preschool

Mother of two, lover of dogs.

27 years of experience with children.

aftercare & PE teachers

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Alek Cordeiro
PK-8th Grade Physical Education

Growth Mindset, Goal-Oriented.

B.A in Psychology at Sonoma State University. 7 years experience with ages 18 months to 18 years. Will coach skills in soccer, basketball, football, volleyball, and track and field. Fluent in Portugese.

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Jose Alvarado
Spanish & Afterschool Teacher 

Actor. Playwright. Director. Music video producer. Qualingual

BA from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua, Nicaragua Ten years experience with children. Loves Soccer.

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Jasmine de Lung, M.A. 

Art Teacher
Space Beautifier, Spelling Bee Genius, Former Somatic Psychotherapist, Fine Art Cake Maker.

B.S. in Cognitive Science at UC San Diego and M.A. in Psychology at CA Institute of Intergral Studies. 4 years as a somatic pyschotherapist and 17 years as a fine art cake maker.

Claire Laurenz

Earth Educator, Camp Director
Loves lemon ice cream. Water skis. 

BS in Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources Education from Michigan State U. She has facilitated education and leadership programs for all ages. Claire led a bicycle tour across the country for high school students and always encourages people to step outside of their comfort zones. "I work to inspire wonder and life-long learning."

Aidan Gavet
Drama & Safety Director 

Actor. Playwright. Director. Music video producer. Hairdo freestyler.

Studied at the National Institute for the Dramatic Arts in Sydney, Australia, the American Conservatory Theatre, and SF State University. Over 16 years teaching experience in drama and the arts.

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Iris Locke

PK/TK & 5/6 Earth Educator
Forest School Teacher. Collector of fun facts. Trilingual. 

BA in Sociology/Anthropology and Art at Pace University, in New York. Magna Cum Laude and Pforzheimer Honors.

6+ years of teaching experience in forest schools, Reggio Emilia inspired programs and pods during the pandemic. Fluent in English, Greek, and Intermediate Italian.

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Adrienne Martinez

Aftercare Lead Teacher
Inquisitive, Creative, Nurturing.

B.A. in Art and Design with a Graphic Design Concentration in University of Northern Colorado. "Inspired by life, dynamic and resilient; I am able to transform my experiences into something of value and meaning!"

J. Alex Michel

Earth Educator
Tuba player. Fire fighter. Trilingual.

Double Major with B.S. in Environment Science/Society and B.A. in Slavic Languages and Literature from UC Berkeley with a minor in Education.

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Chris Rasschaert

Earth Educator, Camp Director
Trapezist. 70 Mile Marathon Runner. Retired Bee Keeper. Unicyclist. 

BA in Outdoor Recreation and Environmental Sustainability at Central Michigan University. "I look forward to unveiling the wonders from the ground under our feet to the blue sky above while building our hearts, minds, and souls along the way."


Shauna Sullivan, M.Ed.

Assistant Head of School
Cat & child whisperer. Math wiz, Avid reader and book collector. Proud grandmother.

M.A. and B.A. in Education with a focus in mathematics from SFSU.  20+ years classroom experience. Cat and children whisperer. Just became a grandmother for the 2nd time.

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Johanna Cervantes 
Marathon runner & standup comedian.

BA in Environmental Studies and Theology & Religious Studies from USF.  Fluent in English and Spanish. 

Keith Johnstone
Human Resources 
Loves dogs, people, and most living things.

B.S. in History at USM. Post-Grad in Educational Psychology with Behavior Modification Emphasis at Georgia State U. 50 Years as a Human Resource Director at Hilton, Sheraton, and Marriott Hotels.

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Kenneth Berremen, M.Ed.

International Trip Coordinator & Earth Educator
Travel enthusiast. SAT tutor, Trilingual.

Masters in Multicultural and Bilingual Education at U de Alcalá - Instituto Franklin. B.S. in Environmental Science & Agriculture at UC Davis. 5+ years traveling and teaching English, Science, and Math around the world, in Spain, Ecuador, Thailand, and Vietnam. " I am excited to use my knowledge of planning and running international programs to create meaningful experiences for students and give context to their education."

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Esther Cruz, MBA 
Philanthropy & Community

Epicure. Hiker. Mother of one boy.  

MBA in Marketing from Wharton, U Penn and BS in Math and Sociology from Wheaton College. 8 Years experience in project management and marketing. Speaks conversational Mandarin and survival Spanish. 

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Shruti Dattani

Financier. Mother of two. Epicure.

Certified accountant. Ten years prior experience in accounting.  Creative, innovative, and a visionary. Born in Africa, lived in Australia, and married in America. 

Mitch Harris

Tech Geek. Cosmologist. Philosopher.  

A Northern Arizona Honors Program Graduate in Psychology and English, Mitch helped folks with their computers in college and never stopped. For fun, Mitch likes music, poker, and debating the nature of reality.

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Melody Hitt, M.Ed.

Avid backpacker and have helped identify several species of fungi.

MS in Education from SFSU and BS in Organizational Leadership from California Lutheran University.  Melody brings over 20 years of Contracts and Grant Administration to our school. Being an educator themselves, Melody understands the importance of funding collaboration, and how to meet the needs of the students, faculty, and school.

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Rebecca Lewis 
Operations/Front Desk
Loves her dog, Hermione.Tough Mudderer.

B.S. in Early Child Education from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Previously, 4 years as an administrator at a Veterinary hospital and 13 years as a preschool teacher. 

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Board & Advisors
Micheal Pastor
Bus Driver - Marin

Served in the Navy, Has a grown daughter

San Francisco native. Punctual, 17 years as a bus driver. Previously, served as a building and property manager.

Melvin Watson 
Bus Driver - San Francisco
Loves bikes, father of four grown children.

Born in Galveston, TX.  Previously owned and operated a bike shop, spent 22 years as a building manager in the Presidio, and worked a few years at another K8 school in SF.

Enhui Luo
Loves seafood and being a grandfather.

B.A. in Mechanical Engineering at Yingkou University and worked 16 years as a mechanical engineer, designing products that help clear water pollution. Grew up in Yingkou, China, which is near North Korea and is known for its fresh seafood.


Wendy Xa, Board President
Simona Chongo, Board Member
Levi Leavitt, Board Member
Jen Guittard, Board Member & Advisor
Jane Camblin, Advisor
John Gunnarson, Advisor

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