After-School Coordinator and Arts Specialist
Laura has created art and enrichment programs for children since 2008. She was born and raised in Rochester, New York where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Art Education from Nazareth College. Upon moving to San Francisco, Laura worked for several years as the Art Studio Teacher for Genentech’s 2nd Generation. She is thrilled to be developing the art program at Mission Montessori and teaching in the toddler, primary, and elementary classrooms.
In her free time, Laura enjoys painting, singing, yoga, and traveling to visit her family and friends.
Jenny's an improviser, actor, and writer who has taught improv for 20 years. She regularly performs long and short form improvisational theater as a company member of BATS Improv at Fort Mason Center.
Jenny has performed in Aspen, Improv Olympic (LA), the MET Theater (NYC), the Moth, and at the SF Fringe Festival. Six of her original children’s musicals have been produced at Cathedral School for Boys. She has worked as an artistic mentor at ILM and corporate trainer for Oracle and Google.
As a teacher and coach, Jenny has worked with all ages. Among others, she has taught for StageWrite, Live Oak, Haight Ashbury Cooperative Nursery School, and Millenium Middle School. She enjoys using theater games to inspire collaboration, positivity, and creativity in and out of the classroom.
Lydia Martín has over twenty years of musical experience. They received a BFA in Percussion Performance from California Institute of the Arts, and an MA in Music Composition from Mills College. Lydia is a proficient performer in various styles including Latin, Jazz, Rock, Gamelan and Contemporary Music. Their recent endeavors include studying the music and dance of Indonesia, along with building American Gamelan instruments. Lydia is a member of several local ensembles such as Gamelan X, Gamelan Sekar Jaya, Silk Mother, and has performed with such notable musicians as Pauline Oliveros, Vinny Golia and Joe La Barbara. Lydia has taught keyboard and percussion throughout California, taught general music for preschool through 6th in the East Bay, and worked with a youth symphony and designing curriculum for teaching music to children.
Lindsey has devoted his entire career to building excellence and community in the music world. He has taught thousands of students of all ages, some of whom have been accepted to top music schools including Berklee College of Music in Boston, University of North Texas, Musician's Institute in Los Angeles, and New York University’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music.
Lindsey has played a strong role in the advancement of the arts in San Francisco, producing musical, artistic shows around the Bay Area since 1998, including the “Musicians Showcase" and ChaoticArtCircus, highly respected forums for up-and-coming performers, future-signed bands, and world famous guest musicians.
Soon after receiving a music business degree at the University of Texas in Arlington, Lindsey graduated with honors from the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles, where he went on to work as a guitar instructor. A Billboard magazine-recognized artist who is also endorsed by Gibson Guitars, Lindsey has maintained strong involvement in promoting the arts in the San Francisco Bay Area, and is excited and honored to a part of the Mission Montessori team.
PHYSICAL EDUCATION TEACHER
Jenny was born and raised in England, then moved to California on a soccer scholarship in 2003. She earned her Bachelor’s in Marine Biology from Long Beach State in 2010. Jenny has worked with children of all ages and has coached team sports for over 15 years for camps, after-school clubs, and traveling teams. Jenny worked at the Hi-Five Sports Zone in San Francisco, where she helped teach elementary PE classes at Mission Montessori, and is delighted to be continuing as our PE teacher!
Helen Wicks is a Bay Area-based movement educator and professional dancer. As a Montessori pre-schooler Helen was introduced to gymnastics, which began her early physical training. Helen pursued elite gymnastics and was a member of the US TOPs National Gymnastics team ages 9-11. She continued her passion for expression through movement with extensive ballet, modern, and contemporary dance training throughout high school and college.
Helen received a BA in Dance and Psychology from Bard College where she was influenced by her time with Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company and Merce Cunningham. She currently dances for Zaccho Dance Theatre, Talli Jackson, and regularly collaborates with local performing artists. Her own choreography has been presented at ODC, The Cowell Theater, Circus Center and SAFEhouse Arts. Helen teaches creative movement at ODC, The Nueva School, La Scuola, Circus Arts at the Urban School, and teaches specialized classes in acrobatic dance privately to kids and small groups.
Wanyu was born and raised in China, where she studied radio electronics and accounting. She worked in engineering and financial departments for about fifteen years. She is fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese. After coming to the U.S, she initially pursued the Certificate of Computerized Accounting Specialist and the Certificate of Microcomputer Accounting Program, but started to find her great passion in working with children. Wanyu completed her associate degree in Child Development at CCSF. She also received a Child Development Teacher Permit. Before joining Mission Montessori, she worked with children in all program levels at Head Start and other nonprofit preschools for two years. Now Wanyu is thrilled to continue exploring her passion for caring for children at Mission Montessori.
After School Support and Curbside
Salene Castaneda was born and raised in Santa Barbara before moving to the Bay Area to earn her BFA in Illustration. While in college, she was co-founder and director of a K-12 tutoring program in West Oakland. She continued her education at San Francisco State in Multi-Media. Salene also spent seven years as a Prototype Specialist for Children’s Learning Toys and currently spends her time outside of Mission Montessori running a graphic design and screen printing shop in Oakland.
Li Fen Zhang
Li was born and raised in China and came to San Francisco in 2009. She worked as a Language Research Assistant at the University of Colorado for two years and credits this experience with helping her gain valuable experience working with young children and learning to understand them from different points of view.
As a mother of two young children, Li finds children to be both fascinating and inspiring, and this has led her to pursue her true passion of working with children. She has completed over 25 units in child development and is working to complete an AA Degree in Early Childhood Education. Li believes that each child is an amazing explorer and a source of joyful moments in the world. She is very excited to be a part of the Mission Montessori team and to have a chance to learn all about the Montessori approach to education. In Montessori, she enjoys seeing each child have the opportunity to thrive and discover their own potential.
In her free time, Li loves playing with her children, spending time with family and friends, enjoying music and traveling.