Staff Biographies

César Chávez Elementary is Changing!

The 2018-2019 school year is bringing about some very exciting changes at César Chávez Elementary. Our school is fortunate to have many new talented and wonderful teachers to complement our already existing great staff this year. So that our Chávez community may better know these wonderful educators, we are providing a brief biography and picture of each teacher. If you haven't had the pleasure of meeting them in person, please stop by and say hello to better acquaint yourselves.

Dr. Jennifer Freeman-Principal

Hello! My name is Dr. Jennifer Freeman. I am very happy to be entering my second year as Principal of César Chávez Elementary School. Prior to becoming Principal, I was Assistant Principal here at Chávez. I also worked as a Literacy Coach at L. R. Flynn Elementary and a 6th Grade Spanish Immersion teacher at James Lick Middle School. I earned my Ph.D. in Pedagogy at the National Autonomous University in Mexico. I have taught in Oakland, Mexico City, and Monterey, California. I live in Bernal Heights with my husband, Luis, and two daughters, Maitane and Ameyalli. In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my family camping, travelling, and enjoying the arts.

¡Hola! Mi nombre es Dra. Jennifer Freeman. Estoy muy feliz de comenzar mi segundo año como directora de la escuela primaria César Chávez. Antes de convertirme en directora, fui subdirectora aquí en Chávez. También trabajé como entrenadora de alfabetización en la escuela primaria L. R. Flynn y como maestra de inmersión en español de 6to grado en la escuela secundaria de JamesLick. Obtuve mi doctorado en Pedagogía en la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. He enseñado en Oakland, Ciudad de México y Monterey, California. Vivo en Bernal Heights con mi esposo Luis y mis dos hijas, Maitane y Ameyalli. En mi tiempo libre, disfruto de pasar tiempo con mi familia acampando, viajando y disfrutando del arte.

Jimmy Lopez-Assistant Principal

Hello, my name is Mr. Lopez, and I am the Assistant Principal here at César Chávez. I work in collaboration with the Principal and Beacon Director to create and support school-wide structures to best meet the needs of our students, all in an effort to close the opportunity gap that exists in our society. This is my 8th year with San Francisco Unified School District, and my second year as the Assistant Principal at our school. Previously, I was a teacher for a school district in the East Bay for ten years. Outside school, I love to play soccer as a member of a soccer team in Berkeley, and I also do some boxing.

Hola, mi nombre es el señor López y soy el subdirector de la escuela César Chávez. Trabajo en colaboración con la directora y el director de la escuela comunitaria para crear y mantener sistemas en toda la escuela que puedan satisfacer todas las necesidades de todos nuestros estudiantes. Este es mi 8vo año en el distrito escolar de San Francisco, y mi segundo como subdirector. Previamente, fui maestro en una escuela del este de la bahía. En mis tiempos libres juego en un equipo de futbol en Berkeley, y me gusta el boxeo.

Geri Almanza-3rd Grade-Spanish Bilingual Teacher

This will be my 14th year working at César Chávez as a bilingual teacher. I taught 4th grade for 11 years and this will be my third year teaching 3rd grade. I enjoy working with students and helping them grow academically and socially. I look forward to collaborating with all the members of our community to create a positive environment and rebuild our school garden (Shotwell Street). If you have a green thumb, know how to build, raise money or want to work together on a project that will beautify our school, come look for me in Room 18! . In addition, I’m a proud parent, my daughter attends Chávez so it’s a family affair!

Este año cumplo 14 años trabajando en la escuela César Chávez como maestra bilingüe. Por 11 años enseñé 4to grado, y éste será mi tercer año enseñado 3er grado. Me gusta mucho trabajar con alumnos y ver como progresan académicamente y socialmente durante el año escolar. Me encantaría colaborar con todos los miembros de la comunidad para desarrollar un ambiente positivo, y si quieres ayudarnos a construir nuestro jardín (calle Shotwell), contribuyendo tus habilidades de jardinería, construcción (o si sabes cómo recaudar fondos), búsquenme en el salon 18. Además de ser maestra en nuestra comunidad, ¡soy una madre orgullosa de una niña en primer grado en ésta escuela!

Saul Anaya-Beacon Director

Saul Anaya was born and raised in San Francisco and has lived in the heart of the Mission District his entire life. After graduating from San Francisco State, he took different employment opportunities before landing a position with an after-school program at César Chávez Elementary School in 1991. In 1996, the program merged with Jamestown Community Center and Saul entered into the role as Site Manager for the after-school program.

For over twenty-six years he has committed himself to work with youth and families from the community, having built strong connections and relationships with them. He is excited about continuing his work with the community as the Beacon Director at César Chávez Elementary.

Guadalupe Arambula-School Psychologist

Hi there, my name is Guadalupe Arambula, and I am the school psychologist at César Chávez Elementary. I assist in team planning and screening efforts, in order to identify and assess the learning, development, and the environmental factors that affect learning. This will be my second year with San Francisco Unified and also second year here at César Chávez. In my spare time, I enjoy hot yoga, traveling, and exploring the city with friends.

Hola, me llamo Guadalupe Arambula y soy la psicóloga escolar de la escuela primaria César Chávez. Asisto en la planificación del equipo y los esfuerzos de detección, para identificar y evaluar el aprendizaje, el desarrollo y los factores ambientales que afectan el aprendizaje. Este será mi segundo año con el distrito escolar de San Francisco y también el segundo año aquí en César Chávez. En mi tiempo libre, me gusta practicar yoga, viajar y explorar la ciudad con amigos.

Laura Aramendia-Resource Specialist Teacher (RSP)

Howdy! My name is Laura Christina Aramendia (Ms. Laura) This is my second year at César Chávez and I adore this school! I teach Special Education in Room #14. I am an RSP (Resource Specialist Teacher). I provide targeted instruction to small groups of students in and outside of their classrooms. I also help support teachers, parents and providers in finding helpful ways to teach those students who may have learning disabilities. I have worked in special education for the last 12 years and have worked in SFUSD as a paraprofessional, outside service provider and as a teacher for the last 5 years. I am learning more Spanish and Sign Language each day! In my free time, I love to roller skate, hacky-sack and spend time with my family. Come say hello to me.

Rea Arechandieta-Kindergarten-Spanish Bilingual Teacher

Alejandro Calderon-2nd Grade-Spanish Bilingual Teacher

Yun Ji Chai-Instructional Reform Facilitator (IRF)

Stephanie Chin-Resource Specialist Teacher (RSP)

Hi! I’m Stephanie Chin (Ms. Chin) and my role is a Resource Specialist Teacher. I provide differentiated instruction in and out of the classroom to help students access the curriculum and meet their academic goals. I was a third-grade teacher at César Chávez Elementary School for several years and I am so lucky to still be a part of this wonderful community in my second year of special education. I have been a classroom teacher for over twelve years in charter, public, and private schools. In my spare time, I enjoy walking my dog in Golden Gate Park, traveling, and running. Looking forward to an amazing year!

Janaee Cobbs-3rd-5th Grade-Deaf/Hard of Hearing Teacher

Victor Fagundes-3rd Grade-English Only Teacher

Ariel Feingold-Shaw-Physical Education Teacher

My name is Ariel Feingold-Shaw (Ms. Ariel) and I am the Physical Education teacher at Chávez. This is my 7th year working at Chávez and 5th year teaching PE. I am also the BeWell Health Advocate for Chávez, promoting the District health initiatives and curriculum. During Physical Education class I teach students fitness and foundational sport skills. My hope is that through PE all Chávez students gain the tools to live a strong and healthy life! In my free time I enjoy ceramics, dancing, and biking.

Edward Garnica-4th Grade-Spanish Bilingual Teacher

Howdy! My name is Edward Garnica and I am teaching 4th grade bilingual this year. This is my fifth year as an educator and I am so excited to be a new addition to the César Chávez family. I was born and raised in Texas where I studied bilingual education and developed an appreciation for good BBQ. I look forward to nurturing a classroom that celebrates diversity while helping my students develop into responsible and determined individuals!

Carolyn Guerrero-Kindergarten-English Only Teacher

My name is Carolyn Guerrero. I have taught both kindergarten and second grade over the last nine years at our school. Before César Chávez, I worked in the Boston Public Schools as a bilingual educator for nearly fifteen years. I am married to Guadalupe Guerrero and have two children, Emiliano and Liliana. What makes me happy is teaching children and watching them learn new things. I love the Chávez community and I feel fortunate to work here with our families, students, community members and educators.

Mi nombre es Carolyn Guerrero. Yo he enseñado el jardín infantil (kinder) y segundo grado durante los últimos nueve años. Antes de enseñar en la escuela César Chávez, yo era una maestra bilingue por casi quince años. Estoy casada con Guadalupe Guerrero y tengo una hija, Liliana y un hijo, Emiliano. Lo que me hace feliz es enseñar a mis alumnos y verlos aprendiendo cosas nuevas. Yo quiero a la comunidad de Chávez y me siento afortunada de trabajar aquí con nuestras familias, estudiantes, miembros de la comunidad y maestros.

Amanda Harvey-Kinder to 2nd Grade-Deaf/Hard of Hearing Teacher

Meghann Hayes-Academic Response to Intervention Facilitator (ARTIF)

Hello, my name is Meghann Hayes and I am the ARTIF (Academic Response to Intervention Facilitator) here at Chávez. I spend my time supporting students who have challenges in the area of reading. I work with my intervention team to help Chávez students grow in their love for reading and get to grade level. This is my 10th year of teaching and 7th year of teaching reading intervention. Previously, I worked for 5 years as a Special Education teacher. Please visit me in Room 25 with reading concerns. Tambien, yo hablo Español. Estoy emocionada a enseñar sus niños en la area de lectura!

Jazmin Herrera-Kindergarten-Spanish Bilingual Teacher

Conor Kelly-Cummins-Pre-K-Deaf/Hard of Hearing Teacher

Hello everyone, my name is Conor Kelly Cummins, and I am the Preschool Teacher for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing classroom, located in room 1. This is my 7th year as a classroom teacher for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students, and my educational journey has brought me to a variety of cities, including West Covina, Oakland, and Hayward. I hope to remain here at César Chávez. I love the community and support that is offered to our families here. I am especially pleased with how welcoming and inclusive the staff and families here at César Chávez are with the Deaf and Hearing students and staff. I truly feel supported and involved. Starting the day off by teaching some simple signs every morning for our Morning Meeting is a great way to get the day off on a positive outlook. I am also the mentor for ClassDojo, one of the Classroom Management/ Classroom Blogs that we offer for our staff here. I hope everyone has a terrific, fulfilling year! My hobbies include creating pixel art, going to the movies, and scare-acting at haunted houses.

Andrea Kraft-2nd Grade-English Only Teacher

Hi everyone, This will be my 5th year teaching and I am so happy to be at Chávez! I think being an elementary teacher is the best job because kids are very funny, curious, and kind. I am excited for our new science curriculum and going on field trips! In my free time I like to hike and spend time traveling with my family.

Marisa Lawrence-4th Grade-English Only Teacher

Hi! My name is Marisa Lawrence and I’m excited to be teaching 4th grade at Chávez this year. I spent the last 6 years teaching 4th grade at Monroe Elementary School in the Excelsior. Before that, I spent 8 years teaching EFL. I love reading and exploring the city with my family and our two kids.

Alejandro Ledesma-Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Dance Teacher

Hello César Chávez community! My name is Sr. Ledesma and I'm the Visual and Performing Arts dance teacher at César Chávez every Wednesday. This school year will be my 9th year teaching in the District. I'm originally from the state of Guanajuato in México, and will be sharing my love of dance and Mexican folklore with the students. I dance professionally with Ensambles Ballet Folklórico de San Francisco and love exploring nature in my free time.

¡Saludos comunidad de César Chávez! Mi nombre es el Sr. Ledesma y soy el profesor de danza de artes visuales y escénicas de César Chávez todos los miércoles. Este año escolar será mi noveno año de enseñanza en el distrito. Soy originario del estado de Guanajuato, México y compartiré mi amor de la danza mexicana con los estudiantes. Bailo profesionalmente con el grupo folklórico Ensambles Ballet Folklórico de San Francisco y me encanta explorar la naturaleza en mi tiempo libre.

Alicia Lemus-Pre-K Teacher/Soy Bilingüe

Zareen Levien-Curriculum Technology Integration Specialist (CTIS)

My name is Ms. Zareen, and this is my 8th year teaching at César Chávez. I taught 3rd grade here for 3 years, and this is my 5th year as the technology specialist. I support students and teachers in using technology in new and creative ways to enhance their learning. I started the new Creativity Lab upstairs in Room 26 where we explore building, robots, coding, media, videos and more! In my free time, I sing with a Latin band, Los Boleros. I look forward to meeting all the new Chávez families!

Mi nombre es Ms. Zareen, y es mi octavo año enseñando en César Chávez. Enseñé tercer grado aquí por 3 años, y es mi quinto año como especialista en tecnología. Apoyo a los estudiantes y maestros a utilizar la tecnología de maneras nuevas y creativas para mejorar su aprendizaje. Hice la Sala de Creatividad nueva en el salón 26, donde exploramos la construcción, los robots, la codificación, los medios, los videos y más. En mi tiempo libre, canto con una banda latina, Los Boleros. ¡Espero conocer a todas las familias nuevas de Chávez!

Robert Marosi-1st Grade-Spanish Bilingual Teacher

Andrew Menegat-Behavioral Response to Intervention Facilitator (BRTIF)

Hello, my name is Andrew Menegat, and I am the BRTIF (Behavioral Response to Intervention Facilitator) here at César Chávez. I work in collaboration with our staff to support school-wide structures to best meet the needs of our students, and increase time on task. This is my 11th year with San Francisco Unified School District. Previously, I was a Paraprofessional, Special Education Teacher, and Content Specialist for the Special Education Department. In my free time, I love to indoor rock climb. My shared office space is in Bungalow 1 (B1).

Eliza Newbold-School Nurse

Eliza Newbold grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and moved to San Francisco in 1992. At that time she worked with infants prenatally exposed to drugs and their families at Mount Saint Joseph-Sant Elizabeth's. There she discovered her true passion for social justice and the art of caregiving. Eliza went on the earn her Masters Degree in Public and Community Health Nursing and then a Post Masters Degree to be a Nurse Practitioner. In 2003 Eliza began working at San Francisco General Hospital, where she practiced Urgent Care, Inpatient Medical Care, and Primary Care. There she started a hospital discharge clinic for socially at risk patients who were frequently admitted to the hospital. After 15 years as a Nurse Practitioner, Eliza decided to return to the community, so that she could deliver care to people a setting comfortable and convenient to them. Eliza is proud to have accepted a position at Cesar Chavez Elementary, where students and families receive a holistic style of care and education. This is a great place!

Cecilia Ortega-Bibliotecaria/Librarian

My name is Cecilia Ortega (students know me as Maestra Cecilia). I have been a Kinder (Spanish) teacher at Chavez for 8 years, and this will be my first year as a librarian! I am really looking forward to working with all of our students, and supporting Chavez families, and teachers by making the library a welcoming, inclusive space for everyone!

Krystle Pascua Benitez-Literacy Specialist/Reading Intervention Teacher

Hello, I'm Krystle Pascua Benitez (or "Miss Krystle") and I am one of the Literacy Specialists and a Reading Intervention teacher for the English Pathway here at Chávez. I support students with reading and writing, and work with teachers to support their literacy instruction in classrooms. I am located in Room 25 with the intervention team. Previously, I've taught third grade in San Jose, and first grade here at Chávez. I have been in education for nearly 10 years. In my free time, I just love spending time with my son, daughter, and pug!

Hola, soy Krystle Pascua Benitez ("Miss Krystle") y soy una maestra de Intervención de Lectura para English Pathway aquí en Chávez. Apoyo a los estudiantes con la lectura y la escritura, y trabajo con los maestros para apoyar su instrucción de lectoescritura. Estoy en salón 25 con el equipo de intervención. Anteriormente, enseñé tercer grado en San José y primer grado aquí en Chávez. He estado en educación por casi 10 años. En mi tiempo libre, ¡me encanta pasar tiempo con mi hijo, hija y pug!

Mali Pedroza-Chipman-3rd Grade-Spanish Bilingual Teacher

Melissa Ramirez-School Social Worker

Nina Ravizza-3rd Grade-English Only Teacher

Yami Rosas-Literacy Intervention Teacher

Jessica Rosenfeld-1st Grade-English Only Teacher

Maria Sandoval-4th Grade-Spanish Bilingual Teacher

Liliana Santos-Miranda-1st Grade-Spanish Bilingual Teacher

Hello César Chávez! This will be my first year with César Chávez teaching 1st grade in Room 7. I am excited to get to know our community and work together to support student growth! Before working at Chávez, I studied at Yale University and worked for the City & County of San Francisco.

¡Saludos a la comunidad de César Chávez! Este será mi primer año con César Chávez enseñando el primer grado en el salón 7. Estoy emocionada de conocer a nuestra comunidad y trabajar juntos para apoyar el crecimiento de los estudiantes. Antes de trabajar en Chávez, estudié en la universidad de Yale y trabajé para la ciudad y el condado de San Francisco.

Rebecca Sheehan-Stross-Kindergarten-English Only Teacher

Colleen Smith-2nd Grade-Spanish Bilingual Teacher

Hello César Chávez Community. I am happy to join you this year. I have taught in lots of different settings including bilingual classrooms, a newcomer school, a children’s hospital and a jail. I love books, and for the past two years I worked as a school librarian. I have an environmental background, and I hope to partner with community members who are interested in making our school a greener place.

Hola comunidad de César Chávez. Me alegro de unirme con ustedes este año. He enseñado en diversas situaciones incluyendo programas bilingües, una escuela para inmigrantes recienmente llegados, un hospital de niños, y una cárcel. Me encantan los libros y los últimos dos años fui bibliotecaria escolar. También tengo experiencia trabajando en asuntos medioambientales. Busco oportunidades para colaborar con miembros de la comunidad quienes comparten un interés en establecer un ambiente más verde en nuestra escuela.

Anna Sopko-Literacy Coach

Hello! I am so happy to be joining the Chávez community this year as a literacy coach, working with teachers and students to support reading and writing. This is my 16th year at SFUSD. My previous positions have included teaching Spanish immersion at Buena Vista (BVHM), working as a reading intervention teacher and coach at Tenderloin Community, Sanchez and Lawton Schools, and developing literacy curriculum at the District. In my free time I love to read (surprise!) and spend time with my kid who is in fourth grade.

Saranya Sureshkumar-1st Grade-English Only Teacher

Angelica Trejo-Ortiz-5th Grade-Spanish Bilingual Teacher

Simon Walker-5th Grade-Spanish Bilingual Teacher

¡Saludos! This is my 11th year teaching 5th grade at César Chávez school. I love working with this community of wonderful students and families, and I enjoy collaborating with my awesome teammates. I teach language arts in English and Spanish, as well as Science and Social Studies. I also work hard to build a respectful classroom community so that all students can learn and succeed. This year I am a part of the Light Awards team. We are working to help teachers across the school implement Project Based Learning and Complex Instruction, two strategies we are employing to engage students in real-world tasks and help them work more effectively in small groups where learning opportunities are greatest.

¡Saludos! Este es mi 11º año de enseñar el quinto grado en la escuela César Chávez. Me encanta trabajar con esta comunidad de maravillosos estudiantes y familias, y disfruto colaborar con mis increíbles compañeras de equipo. Enseño lectura y escritura en inglés y español, así como ciencias y estudios sociales. También trabajo duro para construir una comunidad de clase respetuosa para que todos los estudiantes puedan aprender y tener éxito. Este año soy parte del equipo de Light Awards. Estamos trabajando para ayudar a maestros en toda la escuela implementar el aprendizaje basado en proyectos y la instrucción compleja, dos estrategias que empleamos para involucrar a los estudiantes en tareas del mundo real y ayudarlos a trabajar de manera más efectiva en grupos pequeños donde las oportunidades de aprendizaje son mayores.

May Lee Watase-5th Grade-English Only Teacher