Faculty and Staff

Connect’s faculty and staff bring our mission to life.  Thanks to their creativity, energy, and commitment to our diverse student population, Connect offers students a personalized, engaging experience in the classroom and beyond.

Core Faculty

 Kathy Michael Bachicha
Executive Director
Michael, “Dr. B”, brings over twenty-seven years of experience as an educator to Connect. He is committed to providing an educational program that is focused on the whole child.  Michael taught eleven years at high school and middle school.  He has served as  a school site administrator for ten years at elementary and middle schools.  He has also served in district and county office settings, most recently at the Santa Clara County Office of Education where his duties included serving as interim Director of Charter Schools.  He was attracted to Connect as a school that embraced his own philosophy of education in our mission and vision as he searched for a role that would bring him closer to students and schools.  He will serve as our liaison to the Redwood City School District, and provide administrative oversight for Connect.  He has a bachelor’s degree in English from Stanford University, a master’s degree in education from San Francisco State University, and a doctorate in K-12 Urban Educational Leadership from University of Southern California.
Kathy Alicia Yamashita
School Director
Alicia is one of the original founders of Connect, and a member of the founding faculty.  As our School Director, she leads our teachers, staff, and students and keeps Connect focused on its mission.  She is passionate about bringing an inquiry-based approach to Connect’s diverse student body, and excited to be part of a school that is focused on raising student achievement through developing the whole child.
Kathy Kathy Quintela
Seventh & Eighth Grade English Language Arts / Social Studies Teacher
Kathy is an east coast transplant from New York City and is happy to call California home. She is an alumna of Fordham University and Bank Street Graduate School of Education. She has eleven years of teaching experience and is passionate about cultivating a community of compassionate, self-directed lifelong learners who can confidently face life’s challenges.
She strives to create a warm and engaging learning environment that awakens students’ sense of curiosity and wonder; she sets high expectations for all learners and emphasizes the importance of adopting a positive growth mindset, both, inside and outside of the classroom.
In her free time, she enjoys cooking, dancing Zumba, traveling and spending quality time with her loved ones.
Vinicio Lada Denisova
Seventh & Eighth Grade Math / Science Teacher
Lada Denisova earned her master’s in genetics and doctorate in biology from Saint Petersburg State University in Russia. After moving to the United States, she has worked as a Russian teacher before returning to her passion for science and math. She is excited for this opportunity to work and make a difference at Connect. She believes in expanding students’ horizons through education. She loves running, hiking, cooking and spending time with her three children.
Jeff Jeff Waldon
Sixth Grade Teacher
Jeff earned his regular and special education teaching credentials from Cal State Sacramento in addition to his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Cal State Fullerton. Over the past 21 years, he has taught primarily at the middle school level in Grades 6-8. For the past 12 years, he has worked with second language learners here in Redwood City as well as 3 years overseas at an international school in Shandong, China. Jeff believes in establishing a safe learning environment where students feel free to take academic risks and he maintains high expectations for each individual’s academic, social and emotional development.
Jeff Rebecca Heston
Sixth Grade Teacher
Dr. Heston (“Ms. Rebecca”) is quite excited to be a part of the dynamic Connect community!  She began her teaching career in Pennsylvania, and has specialized degrees in environmental/outdoor education, natural sciences, educational leadership, and narrative research (which means using stories to learn about big ideas).  As a member of the sixth grade team, Dr. Heston collaborates heavily to deliver core classes in science, literacy, socio-emotional learning, and project-based learning. Her classroom always has plants, classroom pets, a class library, and technological connections to reflect this. Outside of core time, Dr. Heston also serves as teacher or teacher advisor for the Culinary Science middle school elective, Drama Club, Yearbook Club, Pets In Need Reading Connections Program, and Morning Homework Help. She believes that all students need a combination of compassionate, fun, and academically rigorous instruction to help them self-advocate and succeed in today’s competitive world.
Jeff Jacob Hodgdon
Fifth Grade Teacher
Mr. Jake earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from San Jose State University graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2006.  He worked with the City of Redwood City Parks and Rec Department for 15 years working in youth development, after school programs, summer camps, and after school sports, and community development.  He previously worked for Connect running the Extended Care Program before becoming Program Director for the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Activities League, overseeing youth development and community programs all over San Mateo County.  He started teaching at Connect in 2017 as the 7th and 8th grade math and science teacher and now teaches 5th grade.  He has worked in the North Fair Oaks community on and off since 2001 and is excited to be able to continue to serve the community and start his teaching career at Connect Community Charter School.
Jeff Windy Orviss
Fourth Grade Teacher
Kathy Holly Walker
Third Grade Teacher
Holly earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Penn State University. She worked as a teacher in Philadelphia, India, and Tucson before coming to Connect. Holly loves learning deeply about subjects with her students. She aims to get students passionate about the process of learning, and proud of their accomplishments in the classroom. Outside of school, Holly enjoys swimming, reading, traveling, and making things!
Kathy Linda Ann Tran
Second Grade Teacher
Linda is so grateful to be at Connect.  She brings to the team a passion for technology in education, to promote access and equity.  She loves designing, tinkering, and making in her classroom, as well as in her life.  Linda completed her teacher education at UC Berkeley.  Her favorite moments at Connect are when students and teachers build wonderful learning experiences together.  This year, she is a first-time National Board candidate, eager to continue developing her teaching practice.
Kathy Jessica Duncan
First Grade Teacher
Jessica Duncan is beginning her third year teaching first grade here at Connect, and has served 9 years total in the field of education. She has a bachelor’s degree in community development and a master’s degree in teaching, specifically curriculum design and implementation. She believes that when students are surrounded by a strong sense of community they are able to take risks and obtain leadership roles that support their growth as individuals both socially and academically. She strives to support the emotional and academic development of her students by encouraging them to explore the beauty of multiple cultures through reading, music, dance, and art.
Kathy Lynette Juarez
Kindergarten Teacher
Mrs. Juarez has been an educator for over 25 years. Through her many years of teaching in the classroom, she has developed a personal teaching philosophy that has helped enhance the lives of her students. Her goal is for every child to become self-sufficient, innovative thinkers. She considers every child as an individual, therefore, her teaching methods vary accordingly. She has studied and received her degree at Notre Dame de Namur University with a minor in psychology. She looks forward to working and getting to know you and your children.

Other Faculty Members

Manisha Chulani is our school psychologists.

Leanne DeNardi and Milagros Cerpas are our resource teachers.

Manu Seitz-Hipkins is our speech therapist.

Peter Briggs is our occupational therapist.

Karina Oseguera is our intervention specialist.

Justin Sparks teaches PE.

Maria Smith teaches art to students at all grade levels.

Anton Estaniel teaches music to all students.


The staff at Connect supports our faculty in providing a rich experience for children.

  • Claudia Reyes, Business Director, manages the administrative aspects of the school
  • Leonela Gutierrez, Office Assistant
  • Derek Standart, Teaching Assistant
  • Edith Garcia, Teaching Assistant
  • Noemi Villegas, Teaching Assistant
  • Morelia Castaneda, Teaching Assistant
  • Heather Schauman, Teaching Assistant
  • Maria Chavez, Extended Care Coordinator