Our Faculty & Administration

Wood, Donna

Donna Mburi, Interim Head of School

Donna was previously a teacher at Athena Academy from 2016-2019 and is excited to return to our community beginning July 2021 as Interim Head of School.  In addition to already being familiar with the culture of caring and strengths-based approach at Athena Academy, Donna has extensive training and experience working with dyslexic and twice exceptional students. 

Donna earned her Bachelor of Education with Honors from Manchester Metropolitan University in England, specializing in Elementary Education, PE, and Special Education. Since beginning her career 29 years ago in England, Donna has gone on to work with elementary and middle school students at Muscat Private School in Oman, the Anglo-American School of Moscow in Russia, and Kirkhouse Preschool in Menlo Park, CA, Sand Hill School and the International School Of the Peninsula in Palo Alto, CA. Donna has held a variety of school leadership positions, including Elementary School Principal at International School of the Peninsula. 

Donna is trained in a variety of learning strategies including Structured Word Inquiry, Project Based Learning, Sensory Cognitive Assessments, Davis Learning Strategies for Dyslexia, Visualizing Verbalizing, Social Emotional Learning and Design Thinking. 

Donna is passionate about creating deep connections with students and families. One of her passions is supporting and reassuring families in their educational journey.  She enjoys finding new and interesting ways to help students reach their full potential, while supporting their emotional needs at the same time. Donna believes in embracing and loving every student and family where they are at, while always striving to make sure she does not leave them there.

In her role as Interim Head of School, Donna is delighted to collaborate with the dedicated and gifted staff of Athena Academy again! She is also excited to help lead the magic of Athena Academy in changing the lives of current and future students and families. 

Donna lives in La Honda with her husband, George. In her free time she loves to hike, spend time with family and friends, garden, swim, and read.

Siegel, Katy

Katy Siegel, Classroom and Mentor Teacher

Katy Siegel’s classroom has framed art on the wall and almost as many books as our school library, since she is a book-loving artist who earned her BA in Creative Writing and Fine Art from Macalester College. Katy received her MA in Teaching from Hamline University in Saint Paul, where she taught at a school focused on Hmong language and culture.

For four summers, Katy taught English and Arts at the JFK International School of Saanen, Switzerland, serving two additional seasons as director of the program. Working with students from around the globe fueled her desire to pursue education as a vocation.

Katy joined Athena Academy in 2013, excited to nurture the strengths of dyslexic learners. Now as Lead Middle School Teacher, Katy enjoys working with an incredible team to guide students through the academic and social-emotional adventures of adolescence.

At Athena, Katy has applied her love of arts and service to co-lead Athena’s Student Council and the award-winning Future Problem Solving team, design the beloved Makerspace, and begin a stop-motion animation elective. Katy also acts as Mentor Teacher to support our new and returning faculty in the areas of Social Emotional Learning. 

By attending and presenting at educational leadership conferences, participating in research, and collaborating with professionals and families, Katy continually strives to improve how to best serve dyslexic students. A high point for her each year is speaking at the 8th grade graduation ceremony, when it is clear how much has been accomplished by Athena’s unique and inspiring students.

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Taylor Hovish, Classroom Teacher and Curriculum and Instructional Specialist

Taylor Hovish holds a dual Bachelor of Science in elementary education and special education as well as a New York State teaching credential. As an undergraduate, she attended The College of Saint Rose where she created a successful learn to swim program for children with autism spectrum disorders.

Most recently, Taylor earned a Master's degree from Harvard University in the Mind, Brain, and Education program. There she conducted research on how children understand traditional teaching methods and presented her findings at the 2015 American Educational Research Association annual conference.

Taylor’s students describe her as “humorous and kind” and appreciate her ability to “make learning fun!” As a classroom teacher at Athena Academy, Taylor is excited to use her skills to draw out the creative ideas and insights of her students to make their thinking visible.

In addition to being in the classroom, Taylor supports the teachers in the areas of developing curriculum and honing instruction. Her efforts enable Athena Academy to have a unified approach to our teaching methods across classrooms and faculty. 

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Linda Lau, Classroom Teacher and Transition Coordinator

Linda Lau joined the Athena Academy teaching team in the 2014-2015 school year. She has a B.S. in cognitive science from M.I.T., where she did  research on visual-spatial working memory and organized a math and science day camp for middle school girls.  Next, she was a student support counselor in the Boston Public Schools while she earned a M.Ed. in adolescent risk and prevention from Harvard.  She then obtained her single subject math teaching credential from National Hispanic University.

Linda came to Athena Academy after 7 years of working as math teacher at a public middle school in the South Bay.  There, she was known for remembering all of her students' names, singing math songs and creating math games.  Linda loves teaching dance and yoga to youth, and enjoys incorporating movement into her math lessons whenever she can.

Linda also holds the role of Transition and IEP Coordinator at Athena Academy. In this role, Linda aids student families in creating a smooth transition as they prepare for the next step in their child’s academic career.

Cala, Dominic

Dominic Cala, Classroom Teacher

Dominic’s passion for working with children began with coaching t-ball in high school and quickly transformed into a desire to teach, he has worked with children in a variety of roles for the past 10 years. He began his work in Education as the Program Manager for the after school program at Rio Linda Preparatory School in Sacramento.  

Dominic earned his B.A. in Child Development from CSU, Sacramento with an emphasis in Elementary Education.

When not at Athena, Dominic enjoys working out, going on hikes, cooking new foods, and going to Giants and 49ers games with friends and family.  Currently, Dominic is pursuing his Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and M.Ed. in Inspired Teaching from National University.  

Mr. Dom teaches elementary school homeroom and language arts.

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Wendy Page, Classroom teacher

Wendy joined Athena Academy’s team in 2012 – 2013, serving the bright dyslexic students from day one! She has held many positions at the school including School Manager, HLC teacher, math teacher, art, drama, technology, and PE teacher. She has extensive training and experience teaching twice-exceptional students.

Wendy has been involved in education for the past 20 years. Her education includes a BA in Music Industry (music business), a California Multi-Subject Teaching Credential, and a MS in Instructional Design and Technology (online education and training). She has spent many years teaching online and creating online curriculum. She also spent 8 years teaching in person at Athena Academy and 20 years teaching in her private piano studio. One of Wendy’s passions is teaching online and improving that mode of education for learners of all ages.

In addition to teaching, Wendy loves to learn and create. Wendy is a self-taught seamstress, cake decorator and loves to learn all things about Lord of The Rings and Gaelic/Celtic culture. Wendy loves mountain biking, playing the Celtic harp and piano, sewing costumes, and spending time with her amazing family including, 7 nephews and 6 nieces.

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Aaron Monroe, Classroom Teacher

Aaron spent many years working in the tech world before joining the US Navy as a Nuclear Engineer. He graduated at the top of his class and stayed on with the Navy as an instructor. From there he worked in Electrical Engineering and IT Engineering but did not feel fulfilled by any of these professions. It was time for something new!

Aaron reflected on how he always struggled in school due to his Dysgraphia but had a strong love for reading and stories. He felt that storytelling was a fun and dynamic way to learn. He decided to go back to school and explore his passion for literacy. He earned his Bachelors in English from American Military University and his Masters in Education from National University. 

Aaron spent a few years teaching in the public school system before finding his home here at Athena Academy. He is very grateful that a place for students like him exists and is filled with caring and passionate people.

 

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Nicole Yozzo, Classroom Teacher

Nicole Yozzo comes to Athena Academy after seven years of living on the east coast! Nicole holds a dual Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Psychology. As an undergraduate, she attended Lehigh University where she played on the softball team and ran a mentorship group for underclassmen. While at Lehigh, Nicole also earned her Master’s of Education in Educational Leadership.

After graduate school, Nicole moved to New York where she began her career teaching twice-exceptional students at The Windward School. Nicole finds this population of students to be resilient, creative, courageous, and bright. She feels honored to help them understand and capitalize on their unique strengths.

When not at Athena, Nicole loves to spend time outside and with family and friends. She loves to learn new things and is always interested to hear about her students’ hobbies.

 

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Shai Maor, Classroom Teacher

Shai Maor got her BA degree in Child Adolescent Development from San Jose State University and has worked as a preschool teacher since 2014. Shai also worked in Israel with at-risk children in an after school program. Shai recently graduated from University of San Francisco with a Masters Degree in Education. Due to COVID-19, Shai joined the many who got to experience their graduation virtually.

As someone who has learned to thrive with her own dyslexia and dyscalculia, Shai has a deep understanding and a special place in her heart for dsylexic and twice exceptional learners. Shai is joining the teaching team for the 21-22 school year and is excited to work with the talented staff and faculty at Athena Academy. Shai looks forward to getting to know each student. Shai’s love for teaching continues to grow everyday.

 

 

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Samantha Webster, Classroom Teacher

Samantha Webster graduated from the University of California, Riverside in 2019 with a B.A. in Political Science and then pursued an MBA from Western Governor’s University, which she is finishing this fall.

Samantha found her passion for teaching during the fall of 2020, when working with fourth grade students virtually. She is now working on her Master of Arts in teaching and her teaching credential with Holy Names University and the BATTI program.

Before joining Athena Academy, Samantha worked on the administrative side of higher education. She is excited to join Athena Academy for the 2021-2022 school year.

In her free time, Samantha enjoys the outdoors, creating art, and spending time with her friends and family. She is always learning new things, as well as motivating others around her.

 

 

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Joan Galdamez, Classroom Teacher

Joan graduated with a BA in English, Language Studies from San Francisco State University. She has worked in various capacities in Education over the last 20 years supporting and teaching students. One of her most rewarding positions was being a Site Coordinator and Reading Intervention tutor for Reading Partners in a Redwood City Elementary School.

Joan’s son attended Athena Academy from the third through eighth grade and understands firsthand the challenges the students with learning differences face.  She has a great appreciation and understanding of how the program at Athena positively impacts not only the students, but also their families. She is so pleased and excited to become a part of the teaching team at Athena!

Outside of work, Joan enjoys spending time with her son as well as her friends and family.  She loves going to the beach, hiking, swimming, watching movies and reading a good book.

 

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Aakash Trivedi, Substitute/Support Teacher

Aakash spent several years working as a Software Engineer before joining Athena Academy. Aakash holds a BS in Computer Science and while completing his degree at Cogswell Polytechnic Institute, he also worked as a tutor. Through this work, he found his passion for teaching.

Aakash connects with his students with patience and compassion and helps them find joy in learning. He loves getting to know each Athena student and learning about their interests. He especially likes to hear about the latest video and strategy games they are enjoying.

 

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Katherine Peckham, Distance Reading Support Specialist

Katherine Peckham has been an educator in a host of creative capacities for the past 25 years - tutoring, teaching or administering programs for children ages 3 through 8th grade. Katherine holds a bachelors degree in Child Development from Sacramento State and an Elementary Teaching Credential from Dominican University.  

Katherine is a passionate champion for dyslexic children, as 3 of her 4 children (now 25, 22, 20 and 11) are also dyslexic/twice exceptional.  Her youngest son, Luke, also attended Athena academy.  As a young child, Katherine also struggled to learn to read.  Her experiences, as a parent, child and teacher, have given her great insight into the dyslexic mind, the manner in which we learn, and the great gifts of so many dyslexic learners. 

Katherine first joined the Athena Academy team in the fall of 2013, as a language arts teacher.  In 2015, she and her family moved to Scottsdale, Arizona.  Katherine is thrilled to be able to now return to Athena and share her gift of teaching with students remotely.   

In addition to teaching, Katherine believes strongly in volunteerism.  She spends time often serving the homeless, feeding food insecure families, and creating special giving events for Title One schools.  Two years ago, to support both Title One schools and families of children with learning differences, Katherine created Innovate for All AZ (not yet a 501c3).  Through this small Facebook presence Katherine strives to share innovative ideas in education with her home state, and to continue to give back to impoverished schools in her community.

Katherine loves the great outdoors, spending time in the White Mountains of Arizona, hiking, paddle boarding, skiing, and enjoying her family.

Zobel, Ryan

Ryan Zobel, Technology Manager

Ryan Zobel earned his B.S. in Health Science at the University of California, Santa Cruz, then pursued a career in alternative math and science education. After years of experience teaching students with dyslexia, anxiety, and other learning differences, he graduated from Ball State University with an M.Ed in Curriculum and Education Technology and a Certificate in Computer Education.

Having most of his career dedicated to the education of students with dyslexia, anxiety, and other learning differences, Ryan found a home in Athena Academy, which he joined in 2017.

When he isn’t teaching, Ryan enjoys programming, graphic design, the maker culture and CNC machines, and game design.

 

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Maria Lineger, Specialist Teacher - Social Emotional Learning

Athena Academy is a magical place! Everything seems to line up and unfold in wonderful ways here. I'm excited to return to Athena as the Social Emotional Specialist after having the privilege of creating and leading our Changemakers program when Athena opened.

My passion has always been to create authentic, meaningful and connected learning spaces so others can access their wholeness and highest potential. Progressive education, innovative program design and personal development have been my path for 25 years - as an educator (1st grade through high school and college level), parent coach, a K - 12 Project Based Learning designer, a Social Emotional Specialist for neurodiverse and gifted students, author and Conscious Life Coach.

I co-authored The Project Happiness Handbook and designed FLOW Life Coaching most recently, which like Changemakers, are also transformational, yet practical programs which integrate positive psychology, emotional intelligence, neuroscience, compassion, mindfulness and social emotional learning.

As a mother of two teens, one neurodiverse, I also bring a very personal awareness of the journey in raising whole and socially-emotionally healthy kids (while trying to stay grounded myself)!

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Jill Andre, Specialist Teacher - Art

Jill Andre is a Bay Area native and a life-long artist, an observer of people who draws what she sees filtering details through her imagination, creating an irresistible composition that transports the viewer. “I love capturing those moments where you can feel people’s intensity.”

For Jill, time spent drawing is time spent really seeing. Years of sketchbooks stacked on her shelves illustrate this compulsion. As a fine artist, Jill mulls over her thousands of sketches, till one ‘speaks’ to her and begs to become a colorful painting. “I begin mixing colors till what I see is what I feel from the image in the sketch. The act of mixing colors is what links feelings to image.”

Jill’s color sense is informed by Matisse, Wayne Thiebaud, Milton Avery, and Mitchell Johnson to name a few. “I’m very excited about my limited color palette in my new series, Self-Contained. I meticulously develop color charts, intimately learning how pigments behave. I’ve found an unexpected color treat using phthalo pigments. I’m very excited to see what happens next!”

Jill has taught students all aspects of art from her studio - painting, illustration, animation; whatever art techniques the students are interested in learning, Jill will teach.

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Asya Ramizova, Specialist Teacher - Physical Education

Asya is a former gymnast and competitor in Aerobic Gymnastics who was born and grew up in Bulgaria. She is seven times National Champion in Aerobic Gymnastics and 2nd place in World Championship for 2002.

Asya holds a Bachelor degree in Physical Education from the National Sports Academy in Bulgaria and a Master degree in Sports Journalism from the same University.

She is very passionate about fitness .Her smile is contagious and you can feel her positive energy right away.

Yelnick, Shauna

Shauna Yelnick, Specialist Teacher - Drama

Shauna Yelnick holds a B.A. in theater arts, a teaching credential in English, and an M.A. in theater arts, which culminated in a master's thesis where she researched drama education in California schools. Her most recent academic endeavor was earning an M.Ed. from Santa Clara University, completing a master's thesis that explored the gender gap in literacy skills.

Shauna has been teaching middle school play production, speech & debate, theater design skills, elementary drama, and film critique since she joined Athena in 2015. She is a member of the California Educational Theater Association (CETA).

Before joining the wonderful community of Athena, Shauna's previous theater teaching experience in the classroom was at a public high school and then later at a private K-8 school. From 2007-2017, Shauna taught drama skills for afterschool enrichment and assistant directed productions for San Carlos Children's Theater. During several consecutive summers, she taught speech & debate, improv, creative writing, and film critique at numerous enrichment programs for elementary and middle school students on the Peninsula and South Bay.

Shauna's goal this year at Athena, whether through distance learning or eventually in-person on campus, is to enlighten and encourage her students to be the best version of themselves not only in the effort that they put into drama class, but also with their contributions to their school community.

Boyd, Mikki

Mikki Boyd, Specialist Teacher - Music

Mikki has been surrounded by music her whole life, starting with Pentecostal- Cogic gospel church roots, she began singing in her churches childrens’ and youth choirs and in her teens, she began directing these choirs. Mikki’s love for music led her to leave California for the Midwest Iowa, to a small music school where she studied both classical and jazz piano and voice under the tutelage of Grammy nominated pianist Phil Matson.

After finishing school in Iowa, Mikki moved back to the California, furthering her music studies at San Francisco State University.

She earned her Bachelors of Arts in Music and San Francisco and ventured back to the Midwest, this time, Chicago, to study music at graduate level. Mikki studied jazz composition and performance and world music at Northern Illinois University, under jazz great Ron Carter along with other noted professors Robert Simms and Liam Teague.

After earning her Master of Music, Mikki returned to California and began working in the Bay area as Music Director for a musical theater company for children. Mikki was accepted into the Red Bull Music Academy with teachers in residence Dave Matthews, Sir Mix A lot, Oh No, Theo Parrish and Questlove,

Mikki is currently working on her album set to release in the next summer, and is actively performing with various Bay Area bands and musicians, including a collaborative musician’s group ‘Mugpush’ that is set to release an album in August 2015 which features both Doug E. Fresh and Michael Eric Dyson.

 

 

Crain, Pam

Pam Crain, School Manager

Pam has thoroughly enjoyed working at Athena Academy ever since she joined the administrative team in the summer of 2015 in the role of School Manager.  She has worked for many years with children in a variety of roles. She worked 6 years as the Program Coordinator and coach for the Mommy, Daddy, & Me program at Kidz Love Soccer. She additionally spent 5 years with the City of Cupertino as a Pre-K preschool teacher and Summer Camp Director.

Pam loves learning, and her studies have run the gamut from Liberal Arts, to Child Development, to Film Production. Personally, a couple of her passions include being as eco-conscious as possible to help do her part in saving the planet, and a slight obsession with musicals.

Her biggest job, however, is Mama to her two incredibly amazing little girls.

Devi, Amar

Amar Devi, Finance Manager

Amar is an accountant/full charge bookkeeper with extensive experience in accounting systems and HR administration. She joined Athena Academy April of 2017 as a finance manager, reporting to the Director of Finance and Operations.  Amar is a native of Fiji Islands.

She is a certified payroll professional, certified CTEC and has AA in accounting. She has extensive knowledge of multi-state payroll and advanced user of many computerized payroll and accounting software. She keeps abreast of ever-changing laws and welcomes challenges and enjoys the latest and greatest computer technology.

Professionally, Amar enjoys the challenge of identifying and solving problems, listening to the needs of people.

Personal interests include traveling and learning about different cultures. She is an amateur hiker, loves outdoors, healthy lifestyle and family time with her daughter.

Boswell, Anne

Anne Boswell, Director of Admissions and Outreach

Anne has served as Athena Academy's Director of Admissions and Outreach since our founding academic year. As the mother of two twice-exceptional sons, Anne brings to Athena her passion for positively transforming the lives of children and their families while understanding the path they are walking.

Prior to her role at Athena, Anne served as a residence dean and assistant dean of students at Stanford University. As an undergraduate, Anne attended Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and has master’s degrees in education administration and counseling, both from Santa Clara University. An avid traveler and student of world culture, Anne tries to take at least one international trip a year and has sailed twice as a staff member with Semester at Sea.

Anne and her husband also serve as Resident Fellows at Stanford University where they work with student leaders to build a residential environment that supports undergraduate students' educational experience and personal development.

Mutch, Jo

Jo Mutch, Director of Operations and Finance

Jo was part of the founding team of Athena Academy.

She and Carla have worked together since 2008. When the pilot program in Carla's home was such an instant life changer she knew that this school had to become reality.

She was on the ground setting up the campus, hiring teachers, putting into place financial process and procedures and assisting with admissions. Her role changed over the years she now wears many hats being responsible for all aspects of the finances of the school, along with fundraising, facilities management, HR and general operations.  Originally from Christchurch, New Zealand she has lived in the US for over 20 years. She is mother to a daughter and cares deeply about bringing high quality educational opportunities to all learners.

Kira Sass

Kira Sass, Marketing and Community Manager

Kira brings more than 10 years of marketing and advertising experience to Athena Academy. She has worked at advertising agencies and for a variety of clients, from large tech companies to documentary filmmakers. She holds an MBA from Berkeley Haas School of Business and a BA in Cognitive Science from University of California, San Diego. She is passionate about storytelling in our digital age and strives to help tell the story of Athena Academy and bring exceptional education to more dyslexic learners.

As a dyslexic learner herself, she understands the challenges and gifts learning differently can bring and is inspired by Athena Academy’s mission to teach dyslexia students to nurture their strengths and advocate for themselves. She is a mother of two daughters and spends her time away from Athena Academy helping them build forts and race tracks and trying to convince them to eat healthy snacks.