At Crestmont, recruiting and retaining creative and experienced staff who are committed to Crestmont’s core values and best practices are among our top priorities. We are fortunate to have talented and dedicated educators who think deeply about diversity and anti-bias, who are eager to dive deep into the research behind the best teaching practices, who design engaging lessons in all content areas and who open up a world of new experiences to our students.

Dianne Driscoll

Head of School

I have over 30 years of experience as a former elementary school division head, academic program director and classroom teacher. After obtaining both my BA in Liberal Arts and my teaching credential from San Francisco State University, I held teaching positions at public alternative and arts schools in San Francisco’s Western Addition and Bayview/Hunters Point neighborhoods.  When I moved to the East Bay in 2000, I began teaching at an independent school. I understand the importance of cultivating a learning environment where children can thrive, think critically, act with compassion, and grow into the type of engaged and empathetic citizens that we hope to have in our community. I believe in supporting Crestmont’s unique and collaborative school environment which allows our educators to create an innovative curriculum and teach using the progressive practices that best serve our students. When I’m not working, you can find me hiking, dancing Salsa, or creating art and functional ceramics.

Shakira King

Finance and Human Resources Director

I earned my BA in Business with a focus on Fashion Merchandising from Lasell College in Newton, MA. My Master’s Degree is in Administration, Policy and Planning with a focus on Higher Education Administration from Boston University in Boston, MA. I’ve spent most of my career working in Higher Education, operating student residential life programs at a variety of Colleges and Universities. After my work as a school administrator, I owned and operated my own fitness franchise for over 5 years and as an adjunct professor teaching professional development to finance students at Northeastern University.  I’m not a classroom teacher per se, but I have always loved the academic environment. I love the new energy that comes with the start of a new school year. I love getting to know a new group of students and watching the returning students evolve as they mature with the start of every year. 

When I’m not working I enjoy family time with my trio of kids and my husband. I also love scrapbooking, HGTV, and reading my never-ending supply of classic and new high drama novels.

Kay Bachman

Kindergarten Teacher 

What informs my teaching? I am deeply inspired by contemplating the Cosmos and the vastness of space, and I’m intrigued by the ever-shifting boundaries of human knowledge about our Universe, both scientific and indigenous. I am passionate about technologies that promote empathy and wellness on both an individual and global level, such as Compassionate Communication (Non-Violent Communication), active listening, authentic sharing and embodied practices. I love to dance, and have devoted myself to many beloved forms: Contact Improv, West African, Hip-Hop, as well as more inner-directed movement practices such as Soul Motion. This ALL continuously inspires my teaching in a spiral feedback loop of inspiration, growth, mistakes, and learning.

When I am not working to provide the most heartfelt, embodied, research-based pedagogy that I can, I am probably dancing, earthing, or spending time with friends. I also love to boogie board, backpack, hike and listen to podcasts.

Lisa Hayle

Lead Middle School Teacher (humanities and 5th-grade math)

I have had 16 years of experience as a classroom teacher but has been working with kids and teens for closer to 20 years. I have been an elementary art teacher, worked as a middle school community engagement manager, and taught fourth grade for two years, but has spent most of my time teaching middle school humanities. I received her BFA in Visual Arts from S.U.N.Y. Purchase, and a Masters of Ed. and a teaching credential from the University of Massachusetts, Boston. I have taught in Bay Area independent schools including Live Oak School, Windrush School, East Bay School for Boys, and Mark Day School.

I believe every child is brilliant, consider teaching to be an honor and a pleasure, and became an educator to help students harness their self-expression and unleash their creativity. My dream for my students is that they become active critical thinkers who express themselves well and roll up their sleeves to meet social and environmental injustices head-on and attempt to solve the problems pressing on their generation and those to come.

When I am not teaching, I’m making art, writing and performing music, writing and publishing books, hiking, and biking, and blissfully engaged in home improvements. I live with her partner, and our pets and has a 28-year-old son living in Austin who is a former US Marine and is now a trained combat medic in the Texas National Guard.

Sophia Abrams

1st/2nd Grade Teacher

I graduated from San Francisco State University with a BA in Communication Studies. After working as an assistant preschool teacher, I worked as a Resident Teacher in the New Teacher Institute at Town School for Boys in San Francisco teaching first and third grade. While teaching this year at Crestmont, I will be earning my teaching credential through the TEACH-NOW Graduate School of Education. 

As a teacher, I feel so privileged to have the opportunity to influence the way that my students feel about themselves and each other, both as learners and as people. My hope for my students is that they build confidence in who they are as individuals and develop the ability to appreciate each other’s differences. My deepest wish is that my students feel excited to come to class every day because they know they will be entering an environment where they will be supported, encouraged, and celebrated for who they are. In my free time, I enjoy exploring new hiking spots in the Bay Area with my dog, Kira, and trying out new baking recipes. I also love spending time with my family, who thankfully all live close by.

Leila Zaremba

3rd/4th Grade Teacher and Lead Teacher

After receiving a BA in Theater from UC Santa Cruz, I began teaching at Alum Rock Union School District in San Jose. During my ten years there, I earned my Multiple Subject Credential from National Hispanic University while getting experience in both Middle School and Elementary grade levels. However, I spent most of my time there in 3rd and 4th-grade classes. When I got pregnant with my first child, I moved to Berkeley and took a year off from teaching. I was thrilled to discover Crestmont School when I returned to work. I also spent many summers as a math, writing, and literature teacher at The Partners Program, an academic summer program for Oakland public middle school students. This will be my 11th year at Crestmont and my 21st year as a teacher! 

Chris Roncal

1st/2nd Grade Teacher

This is my 4th year at Crestmont and my 3rd year as the 1st/2nd grade teacher. I hold an MA in Curriculum & Instruction from University of the Pacific that I earned through the Bay Area Teacher Training Institute (BATTI), an MA in Visual Studies from UC-Irvine, and a BA from Rice University with a double major in English and Art History. Teaching calls me to actively participate in building the skills and talents of our next generation of changemakers. My hope for my students is that they grow into lifelong learners who have the self-reflective lenses necessary to see their own power, the imaginations to envision improvements in their communities, and the grit to carry out their designs and plans. And I want them to start that work ASAP.

 When I am not teaching at Crestmont, I like to spend time exploring textile design through knitting, weaving, spinning, and dyeing as well as wandering the streets and hills of the East Bay on urban hikes with my partner Michael. 

Amy Kubes

3rd/4th Grade Teacher

I completed a BA in Fine Art and Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts at Boston and an MFA in photography at Mass College of Art. I started teaching following my graduate degree in 1995 and have been working in education ever since. I first taught art at a private 5th-12th grade school outside of Boston and then moved to UC Berkeley when I came out west in 1998. At Cal, I taught photography mostly in the Extension program, but also for the College of Architecture and Environmental Design.

My years at Crestmont began when my son entered the Kindergarten class in 2007. I was hired as a teaching assistant and lunch supervisor at the end of his Kinder year and have been at this wonderful school ever since. In my twelve years at Crestmont, I’ve had the pleasure of working in some capacity with students from every grade, either as their art teacher or as an assistant teacher in their classroom. My Crestmont students are among the most authentic and engaging people I know. It is a pleasure to see their faces in the morning and to spend my days in their company, as we work through the curriculum and the trials and joys of being a young person in our increasingly complex world. When I’m not at Crestmont, I spend time working in my garden, reading, hiking, and playing tennis. I love to travel, take photographs, and think about what colors things should be. I live with my three boys- my husband, my 16-year old son, and our retriever mix- and we are excellent company for each other. 

Duncan Russell

Extended Care Director

I began my career in childcare as a Counselor at Camp Quien Sabe before becoming a Recreation Leader for the City of Monterey in 2004. After working with Monterey Recreation for a number of years, I moved back to the Bay Area to study Illustration at CCA and Mural Design at Berkeley City College (where I assisted designing, painting, and fundraising for  REALM Charter School’s mural). When I returned to teaching and recreation in 2015, I started working with Berkeley Recreation’s afterschool program as an activity leader and summer camp counselor. In the Fall of 2015, I joined Crestmont as their Extended Care Lead where I’ve had the pleasure of working, learning, and growing with our wonderful staff and community for the past five years.

I became an educator to inspire students to be true to themselves and offer a space where they feel empowered to let their brilliance, talents, and creativity shine! For me, being an Extended Care Director means being a positive, attentive role model for our students, making sure they always have engaging activities available and encouraging them to play and problem solve in creative ways.

When I’m not at Crestmont, I like to spend my time painting in my studio, camping with my girlfriend, hiking, biking and writing Sci-Fi & Fantasy novels.

Zora Raskin 

1st/2nd Grade Classroom Aid and Extended Care Teacher

I graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a BA in Community Studies. I am currently attending Holy Names University where I am getting a credential and Masters in Special Education. I have worked at Crestmont for 5 years, where I have grown my passion for helping students with disabilities and learning differences. I love that Crestmont feels like a family. When I am not in school I enjoy reading, printmaking, and playing fetch with my cats. I am homebody, and I spend a lot of my time putzing around the house. 

Lanette Vongphouthone 

Kindergarten Classroom Aid and Extended Care Teacher 

I was born and raised in the Bay Area and attended Contra Costa College and San Jose State University to complete my General Studies. I received my nursing certification and soon after started working as a Medical Technician and then in Hospice Care. Although I worked in the medical field my heart was always in teaching and school settings.

In 2015 I started volunteering at Crestmont as a PIC (Parent in the Classroom) when my daughter started Kindergarten at Crestmont. Currently, I’m the Kindergarten Aide, Morning and After Care Team Member at Crestmont. I love assisting in the Kindergarten class. Knowing that I am playing a role in their life is a great feeling. While I’m not at Crestmont I love spending time with my daughter, who is a current Crestmont student, my husband, and my French Bulldog Montana. I love crafting, crocheting, going on adventures with family and friends and watching movies. 

David Wharton

K-5 Art Teacher and Extended Care Teacher

I attended SFSU as a Humanities Major and CCAC in Jewelry Design. My teaching experience over the past thirty years includes serving as a Crestmont Classroom Aid, Crestmont Extended Care Director, Napa Stonebridge Summer Camp Director, and East Bay Children’s Folk Theater.

I enjoy teaching children’s art because each student brings their unique gifts as well as challenges. I love how children are excited to learn new things in art. I feel fortunate to be the one who introduces them to new techniques and concepts as a foundation for their appreciation of art. In my spare time, I enjoy the company of my grandchildren Ella and Emery. They turn any ordinary day into an adventure.

Beth Touchette

K-8 Science Teacher

I majored in Environmental Sciences at UC Berkeley (Go Bears!). Then I obtained my teaching credentials in both Life and Physical Science, as well as an MA in Education. I taught high school biology and chemistry in San Francisco and Marin County for ten years.  When I had children of my own, I started volunteering to enrich the elementary science program, as well as creating my own afterschool science classes. After taking several classes in early childhood development and elementary education, I moved my professional focus to younger learners.

This is my fourth year at Crestmont School. I want my students to be as invigorated by the natural world and elegance of scientific thinking as much as I am. The excitement that my students express lights up my day. I love seeing the world through the fresh eyes of young children. I like to hike with my dog,  kayak, travel and write when I’m not teaching. My personal essays have appeared on KQED Perspectives, The Bark Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, and elsewhere.

Michael Lewis Simpson

K-8 Physical Education Teacher

Known as “Mr. Michael” at Crestmont, I’m going on my 12th year as a Physical Education Teacher and have 20 years of teaching experience with a BS in Exercise Physiology from California State University. I’m a certified member of several professional organizations including the American Council of Exercise (ACE), International Dance and Exercise Association (IDEA), and I’m a Certified Fitness Trainer. I’m a member in good standing with California Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (CAHPERD).

I embarked on my teaching career as a presenter and teacher of the “Joy of Sports” teaching model. I strive to make PE inclusive and FUN for all students and believe that through physical play students can develop successful life skills such as concentration, cooperation, self-esteem, imagination, relaxation, and conflict resolution skills. As a PE teacher, I provide a safe environment for children to work on their skills and develop socially as well as develop physically active lifestyles. When I’m not teaching PE classes, I enjoy playing USTA competitive tennis, traveling, cooking and spending time with my wife Jenneke and our two children Noah and Maya.

Vida Bateau

K-8 Music Teacher 

I have over 50 years of teaching experience for every age group in classrooms, private, and group lessons, including 5 years at Crestmont and 27 years at Beacon Day School. I have a BA from Boston University and a credential from Orff-Schulwerk. I love music and I love kids. I love setting up situations in which kids get to be creative and playful. My goals are that every person feels comfortable playing, singing, and dancing, and experience the magical deep connections that music brings. When I’m not teaching, I like to hang out with my family, play my saxophone, garden, do yoga, swim, hike, read, and cook. 

Isabel Allen

K-8 Spanish Teacher

I have a Montessori background. I taught Spanish from K-8th grade at Walden Green Montessori for 25 years. I also taught Spanish to executives at Businesses and Industries and English to the workers for several years. I served as a translator for EOE in Michigan and as a translator for the Presbyterian church in their youth missionary program for 5 years.

My passion is teaching children. I hope to instill in them the love for other languages and the appreciation of different cultures. Since childhood, I have always wanted to be a teacher. I like to go camping, hiking, traveling around the country and the world, reading fiction and non-fiction, working with leather, and spending lots of time with my children and grandchildren.