As a lifelong educator at heart, I am excited to serve as the Principal at TIDE Academy. The start of the 2021 school marked the beginning of my 29th year in education and my 20th year with the Sequoia Union High School District. Menlo-Atherton High School was my home for the last 19 years. I look forward to serving our collective community at TIDE, which is a very special, unique gem in the Sequoia Union High School District and one I am thrilled to be part of.
A little bit about me... I immigrated to the United States when I was 9 years old from Johannesburg, South Africa. with my parents, brother and sister. My father was born in Zimbabwe (Rhodesia at the time) and my mother was born in Johannesburg, where they met. I have had the parent experience of having a high schooler as my son is now in his Junior year of college.
I earned my Bachelor of Arts degree at U.C. Berkeley in English and continued to pursue graduate education, including a Master of Arts degree in Special Education and several teaching credentials. My career began as a middle school Special Education and high school English teacher. I also taught graduate-level courses at San Francisco State University. Since 2007, I’ve been in administrative roles including Dean of Students and Administrative Vice Principal, and for the last six years served as Principal. In 2020, I was selected as the Association of School Administrators (ACSA) Region 5 Principal of the Year.
I can wholeheartedly say it’s been a fantastic journey at TIDE and I look forward to continuing to nurture our small public high school offering a STEAM-focused program via career technical education pathways and dual enrollment with Foothill College.
Tina Smith, Vice Principal
As a science teacher for 18 years, Ms.Tina Smith designed and implemented a Biotechnology program at Carlmont High School that included three courses of study. Ms. Smith also was part of the team that founded the Biotechnology Institute (BTI), a cross-curricular, small-learning community where students take science-themed English and social studies classes as well as a series of courses in biotechnology. She has taken several classes in Costa Rica to help researchers collect data and protect Leatherback Sea Turtles as well as to aid in reforestation projects. Ms. Smith discovered that she enjoys creating change in education. She wants relevancy for students, a way for students to link what they are learning with what they will do as a career. She wants every student to have access to entering their desired industry, regardless of having or lacking family connections.
In 2018, Ms. Smith decided to leave the classroom and become the Career Technical Education (CTE) Coordinator for the San Mateo County Office of Education. As a result, she was able to outreach to more districts, schools, and students across the county supporting the development of similar programs.
Tina is now the Vice Principal at TIDE Academy. She is located at the first office on the second story of TIDE. While her door is always open, it’s best to make an appointment with Ms. Chavez to ensure Ms. Smith is not otherwise engaged.
Lara Sandora, School Counselor
Lara Sandora was born in Chicago and grew up in Wisconsin, before moving to the Bay Area as a child. She graduated from Rice University in Houston, Texas, majoring in History, Sociology and Educational Policy Studies. She completed credentials in both teaching as well as counseling at San Jose State, in addition to an MA in School Counseling.
Mrs. Sandora taught high social studies for eleven years and was a School Counselor at Menlo-Atherton for twelve years before coming to TIDE. She is the parent of two teen boys, one with autism, and loves to travel, cook, and read. Mrs. Sandora is excited to support TIDE students in finding and pursuing their post-high school pathways.
Melissa Lamb, school psychologist
I am a newcomer to the Bay Area (year number 4). I grew up and worked in Michigan. My first degree was in music education (Alma College). Right after graduating, I joined the army as a clarinet player. During that time, I attended the University of Maryland to earn a Master's Degree in Counseling. Upon leaving the army I started working as a school counselor. Later I earned a Specialist Degree in School Psychology (University of Detroit). I love working with individual and small groups of students to help them reach their goals.
I live in Half Moon Bay with my husband and dog. We have two adult children. Our daughter is currently attending college in LA. Our son is a military police officer in the army. I have one cute and spoiled 3-year-old granddaughter. Outside of work, I like to spend time with family, hike, walk on the beach, read, and pursue photography.
¡Hola! Me llamo Señor Allen y estoy súper emocionado de trabajar aquí en la escuela de Tide Academy.
Mi historia: I have been a Spanish teacher for the past 16 years, and I have taught at both the secondary and university levels. This will be my first-year teaching at a STEAM school and I’m very excited! I have spent the majority of my career teaching high school Spanish at all levels (1-5AP). I am a reader for CollegeBoard, and every summer I grade the nation’s AP Spanish Language and Culture exam.
I received a BA in Spanish from WKU after which I pursued a Master’s degree in Bilingual Education with an emphasis in Spanish. Next, I taught undergraduate courses at Ohio University while pursuing another Master’s degree in Hispanic Literature/ Applied Linguistics. My study abroad experiences include studying abroad on three different occasions in my undergraduate study both in Mexico and in Spain. I was a student for about a year at two different Mexican universities, and one university in Spain.
Most recently, I have been a teacher at Los Gatos High School teaching Spanish 3 and Spanish 5AP. I have had a 100% passing rate for the students in my class taking the AP exam. I was awarded “Educator of the Year” for the school year 2019-2020. Outside of teaching, I started a Quiz Bowl team at Los Gatos, and we traveled and competed all throughout California. I was also the Speech and Debate coach at several schools where I have previously worked. I competed in Speech and Debate from middle school through the collegiate level and was on the National and International Championship team in college.
Mi filosofía: The best way to learn a language is to be immersed in it, so my classroom is, for the most part, an English-free space. Students are encouraged to take academic and personal risks, pushing themselves to listen, speak, read, and write in Spanish on a daily basis. Though taking academic and personal risks can be intimidating, those who give themselves permission to make and learn from mistakes will experience tremendous growth as hispanohablantes.
Learning a second language also requires significant self-direction, so students will be supported in developing strong executive functioning skills. From adhering to a variety of schedules to evaluating the effectiveness memorization strategies, students will build their executive functioning alongside their Spanish.
Makailah Ceseña, History Teacher
Makailah Ceseña ama las ciencias sociales; Como profesora de Núcleo e Historia de los Estados Unidos, siempre está interesada en comprender el funcionamiento interno de las relaciones de grupos e individuos. Ella cree que las relaciones son la base de la enseñanza y el aprendizaje. Valora el amor, la familia, el servicio, la equidad, el aprendizaje y, sobre todo, a su hijo, Justice.
La Srta. Ceseña creció en el Área de la Bahía, obtuvo un B.A. en Ciencias Sociales de la Universidad Estatal de San Francisco y una Maestría en Currículo e Instrucción de CU Denver. La Srta. Ceseña enseñó en Northglenn High School y East Palo Alto Academy antes de venir a TIDE. Orgullosamente, es parte de la comunidad de Belle Haven, donde vive con su esposo Dany y su hijo, Justice.
Makailah Ceseña is a lover of all things social science; as a U.S. History and Nucleus teacher, she is always interested in understanding the inner workings of relationships of groups and individuals. She believes relationships are the foundation of teaching and learning. She values love, family, service, equity, learning, and her son, Justice above all.
Mrs. Ceseña grew up in the Bay Area, earned a B.A. in Social Science from San Francisco State University, and an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from CU Denver. Mrs. Ceseña taught at Northglenn High School and East Palo Alto Academy before coming to TIDE. She is a proud member of the Belle Haven Community where she lives with her husband Dany and son, Justice.
Tom Chang, Art Teacher
Tom Chang earned a Masters Degree in Teaching from Santa Clara University, a Masters of Fine Arts from San Francisco Art Institute, and a BA with a double major in Psychology and Art from UC Santa Cruz. He lives in Mountain View with his brilliant and amazing wife, his super-energetic son (in the second grade at a dual language immersion school), a very spoiled lab mutt, and a cuddly, but stinky cat. Mr. Chang's passions include: art, teaching, and social justice issues. He is an avid long-distance swimmer and a foster parent. Mr. Chang has been a college instructor, a widely exhibited artist, a professional photographer, filmmaker, and digital artist. His art has been shown in museums and galleries in the US and internationally, and focuses on challenging representations of ethnic identities in popular culture. Included are the Fulbright project “Cultural Tourism in China,” which explores tourism’s role in perpetuating images of an exotic and primitive China, the feature-length documentary film “Jing Jing Hair Salon” (with Sasha Welland and Fu Xioxing) about two hair salon workers who migrate from the countryside to a Beijing neighborhood on the verge of urban redevelopment, and the multimedia exhibition “Angel Island” which questions the role of California State Parks and institutions in their representation of US immigration history.
Cat Cole, Social Studies Teacher
Cat Cole was born and raised in San Francisco, where she grew to love learning. She adventured to the East Coast for her college years to attend Vassar, where she fell in love with historical research and changed her major from neuroscience to history. Following her passion for education, she completed her master’s in education at Lesley University and earned teaching credentials in social studies and English. From Oakland to Thailand, she has worked in different school settings. She loves to swim and go to Zumba classes for exercise. On the weekend she can be found taking beautiful walks along the ocean in Pacifica, where she now lives. At TIDE Academy, Cat cannot wait to lead historical inquiry that will help students understand who they are, why the world around them looks the way it does, and how the patterns and cycles of history continue to repeat themselves.
Hector Cornejo, PE Teacher
Hector Cornejo was raised in Redwood City, California, where he attended grades K-12th. He has lived his entire life on the Peninsula and feels very connected to the community. As a student he attended both the Redwood City School District and Sequoia Union High School District. Hector is fluent in English and Spanish. After high school, Hector attended San José State University where he majored in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Preparation for Teaching. He also received his teaching credential in Physical Education from SJSU in the Spring of 2020. Hector has always had a passion for fitness and teaching Physical Education to a diverse range of learners. He has worked in educational organizations, including, The Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula and the Peninsula Jewish Community Center where he taught multiple physical activity courses that focused on fitness components and team building. He has experience in coaching soccer, basketball, and cross country. One of his favorite outdoor activities is trail running. His goal was to someday teach in the same school district he attended as a student and now he can state that he has reached that goal. Hector is a strong motivator and has always enjoyed helping others. He believes in giving students a variety of opportunities that expands their knowledge and critical thinking skills, but also motivates them to pursue a healthier and physically active lifestyle that becomes a part of their daily lives.
Karen Cortez, Education Specialist
Ms. Karen Cortez was born and raised in Los Angeles. She worked in a research lab focused on Educational Equity for the Latinx community pursuing higher education and completed her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at UC Santa Cruz. Her passion for education was fueled during her time in Santa Cruz County which led to her position as a paraprofessional in Watsonville, CA. Shortly after completing her undergraduate degree she attended CSU Monterey Bay and obtained her teaching credential in mild/moderate special needs. She then transitioned into an Education Specialist position and continued to work in the Watsonville area for four years. At TIDE, her goal is to support students in developing a growth mindset and provide students with learning differences equitable access to the General Education curriculum. She focuses strongly on building executive functioning skills, exploring self-management tools, and working on individual academic goals. Students may also see her around in their classes as she works with teachers to provide additional academic support. Ms. Cortez’s commitment to students goes beyond the classroom. She loves participating in school activities, events, and clubs. She has advised community and volunteer clubs in the past and hopes to support TIDE’s students in building a strong sense of community as well. She is bilingual in Spanish and looks forward to working with students and their families.
Emily Cox, Biology Teacher
Emily Cox was born and raised in the Bay Area, where she always loved the exploration of science. She grew up playing every sport under the sun with her two brothers, but fell in love with soccer and played competitively throughout school. Emily went to Santa Clara University and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology while working as a strength coach for the University’s Women's Soccer Team and coaching Varsity Girls Soccer at Carlmont High School. After graduating from Santa Clara, Emily worked in physical therapy while attending graduate school to earn her teaching credential in Life Science. She strives to promote inquiry-based learning by establishing a safe, positive environment where students feel comfortable and confident to be themselves and ask questions. Emily aims to guide students in conceptualizing biological processes while assessing the impact of such phenomena on the world around them. Outside of the classroom, you’ll likely find Emily exploring the outdoors, spending time with family, or relaxing at home with a good book.
Maria Del Carmen Gutiérrez-Pérez , Spanish Teacher
Born and raised in Veracruz, Mexico. Moved to the Bay Area when I was 14. Graduated from Sequoia in 2011 and obtained my B.A. in Latín American Studies and Spanish Literature from UC Santa Cruz. Returned to Sequoia to work as a BIA for a couple of years until I decided to obtain my credential at NDNU. I considered myself a foodie and I enjoyed going for walks with my 6-month baby boy and my husband. After working in big schools, for the most part, I’m static to get to know the students and parents at TIDE as well as my colleagues.
Jim Karditzas, Math Teacher
Jim Karditzas started life in Illinois just outside of Chicago and at 10 years of age, his family moved to Florida. He was the first in his family to finish college graduating from The United States Military at West Point in 1981 with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. After a 10 year career in the US Army as an Armor officer including completing a Master's Degree in East Asian Studies at USC in 1990, he resigned from his commission to pursue personal goals. Leveraging his leadership skills and technical expertise he landed in high-tech sales in the Bay Area for 15 years. In the last years of his sales positions, he was training non-technical sales professionals to sell high-tech components with both classroom and in-field co-selling appointments. His passion for teaching caused him to re-tool once again to pursue a Master's Degree in Education (Mathematics) to redirect his path of service to a career in public education. He has been teaching and coaching students and teachers in mathematics education for the past 14 years and is delighted to help in the launch of a new school. He brings energy and critical thinking to mathematics by integrating relevant instructional strategies that focus on developing student agency and authority as a mathematician.
Julia Leeson, Algebra Teacher
Julia is a mathematics educator and the Director of Personalized Learning Mathematics. She is Mindfulness Certified and trained in peer mediation and coaching programs. In addition, she is trained in Learning Design Technology (LDT). Julia has partnered this summer with Mr. Karditzas to collaborate on the integrated mathematics curriculum in order to ensure that students meet and exceed the eight mathematical practices as well as are prepared for the future upper division math courses.
Daphne Pacia-McCann, English 10 Teacher
Daphne Pacia-McCann was born and raised in South San Francisco, where she taught English in South San Francisco for 5 years. She received both her B.A. in English and her Teaching Credential from UC Irvine in 2014 and 2015.
Daphne has worked with all age-groups but has found that she enjoys working with high school students the most. To Daphne, building relationships with students is one of the most important components of a positive learning community, which she believes encourages students to step outside of their comfort zone and grow. Daphne is passionate about her subject and compares the love for literature with constant discoveries. Watching students foster their own mastery and use these skills in other arenas is truly inspiring to her and fuels her forward.
Outside of the classroom, Daphne enjoys spending time with her husband and toddler. She has a renewed appreciation for her Filipino heritage and makes it a point to share the culture with her child. Additionally, Daphne has always been in love with traveling and can’t wait to explore other countries when her child is older. Until then, she feels even the simplest experiences that she once took for granted are new again due to her child’s awe.
Ryan Stagg, Math & Science Teacher
Ryan Stagg was born and raised in the Bay Area with dreams of becoming integrated into the scientific and technological innovation occurring around him. He obtained his Bachelor of Physics and Master of Education degrees from UC Santa Cruz after discovering teaching as an opportunity to blend his analytical and interpersonal strengths. When he is not lesson-planning, Ryan enjoys exploring other fields of science, playing strategy games, and building and designing things with fellow tinkerers.
After teaching science at Half Moon Bay High School for six years, Ryan comes to the founding team of TIDE to promote inquiry and patterns-based science instruction. He hopes to continue promoting scientific literacy for all as a way of understanding our context in the universe and ensuring we have scientifically informed citizens in an increasingly technological world.
Jeff Weathers, ENGLISH
I grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, the youngest of five kids, three of us being educators! I have lived in the Bay Area since '93 but was fortunate to spend a year and a half on Catalina Island working at a camp, and then snorkeling and hiking in the afternoons. I'm a musician and songwriter. I play guitar and piano and have over 60 songs that I'm proud of.
Currently, I am working towards my Masters in English and American Literature, excited to write my thesis in a year about one of my favorite books among many, The Catcher in the Rye! I love analyzing literature and movies, having taught both for over 23 years, with Brazil, Cool Hand Luke, and Harold and Maude being among my favorites. I'm naturally drawn towards collaborations and innovations as an educator, and thrilled to be joining TIDE Academy, being ready to change and grow through new challenges!
As an educator, my teachings are guided by the following sayings: "We see things not as they are but as we are" (attributed to several people - Anaïs Nin, Immanuel Kant, and others) and "One does not see anything until one sees its beauty" by Oscar Wilde. The first one makes me aware of my own perceptions. The second one is an inspiration to keep an open perspective and to look for the best in all people and situations. I'm still practicing!
As an experienced academic administrative assistant, Mayra has been trained to assist you with, registering for classes, meal applications, updating our website, and much more. In addition, Mayra is bilingual in Spanish and will assist Dr. Silvestri in disseminating weekly updates in English and Spanish. Ms. Buenrostro enjoys spending time with her family being outdoors, hiking, and water sports. Ms. Buenrostro loves creating bonds with students and helping them through their path in High School.
Rocio Chavez, School Secretary
Ms. Chavez is the first friendly face you see at the front desk. She enjoys helping and working directly with students and families. She is trilingual in Spanish and Italian. Ms. Chavez can help you with your attendance questions and help navigate through our school systems. In addition, she organizes our Student Shadow program and Campus Tours. She also loves traveling and learning about other cultures.
Cristal Hernández, Guidance Info Specialist
Ms. Hernández received her B.S. in Recreation from San Jose State University. She worked for MidPen Housing with youth and their families by providing services and academic support; here is where she realized her passion for assisting youth. She had the opportunity to coordinate college/career workshops and assisted in developing programs for at-risk youth.
Ms. Hernández worked at Cabrillo Unified School District for seven years and held several roles which enhanced her knowledge in the public school system and her passion for assisting students and families. Ms. Hernández served as a Community Liaison, Student Advocate, Administrative Assistant to the Special Education Department and Business Services Department at Cabrillo. Ms.Hernández has served as a volunteer for the Empowering Young Women Program through the Sheriff Activities League (S.A.L.) on the coast.