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

 Alicia 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.
Michael Tselner
Seventh and Eighth Grade Social Studies Teacher
Michael brings a passion for building relationships with students to the classroom. His classes are always hands on and he believes students learn best by doing, making, building models, and investigating as much as possible. His goal is to develop life long passionate learners, and compassionate human beings. Michael holds a philosophy degree from UCLA, a single subject teaching credential, and is a certified music therapist with the California Institute of Integral Studies. In his free time he loves to play music and hang out with his wife and three kids.
 Brian Briana Wall
Seventh & Eighth Grade English Language Arts Teacher
Briana is excited to bring her passion for reading and writing to the Connect community. As a big proponent of “practice what you preach,” she loves reading and writing alongside her students. Her aim is to make her classroom a space for authentic, real-world learning whether that means making curricular connections to current events, incorporating new forms of technology, or experimenting with different genres of writing. In the past few years, her teaching experiences have taken her from the Central Valley to China. She holds a Bachelors Degree in English and Masters of Arts in Teaching from the University of California, Irvine.
Vinicio Vinicio Merlino
Seventh Eighth Grade Science Teacher
Vinicio has been teaching science for eleven years and holds a single-subject credential in biological science, majored in biology and minored in education at Wittenberg University.  Over the past 11 years, he has taught biology, physics, chemistry, math, earth science, and physical science.  He has a deep belief that every student  can learn and also excel with the right guidance and environment.  His goal is to make science engaging, rigorous and fun.   In his free time, he loves to play music, kayaking, playing soccer, and being in nature.
Jeff Tina Ebey
Seventh and Eighth Grade Math Teacher
Tina is busy with the start of the new year. Check back for more information.
Jeff Baron Puel
Seventh and Eighth Grade Math Teacher
Baron is occupied starting the new year. Check back for more information.
Jeff Jeff Waldon
Sixth Grade Teacher
Jeff earned his regular and special education teaching credentials from CalState Sacramento. In the past 18 years, he has taught primarily at the middle school level, Grades 6-8.  For the past eight years, he has worked with second language learners and returns to Redwood City after 3 years at an international school in Shandong, China.  Jeff believes in establishing a safe learning environment where students feel free to take risks and he maintains high expectations for every individual’s academic, social and emotional development.  His goal for our new 6th Grade class is to integrate technology into and across the curriculum.
Kathy Kathy Quintela
Fifth Grade Teacher
This is Kathy’s second year at Connect, and she has stayed with the students from her fourth grade class and is now teaching them in their fifth grade year.
Kathy Holly Walker
Fourth Grade Teacher
Holly has just joined us. Please check back here for more information.
Linda Tran
Third Grade Teacher
Linda brings to the Connect team a great interest in integrating technology into education. After completing her teacher education at UC Berkeley, Linda has spent the past couple years in the Berkeley library and at the Lawrence Hall of Science.  Her main goal in the classroom is to create a loving and safe space to learn as a group.  She holds a multiple subject teaching credential with a Master of Arts in Education.  She has also completed Bay Area Wilderness Training, including “wilderness” first-aid to take kids backpacking in the Bay Area.Third grade was her favorite grade when she was in school!
Kathy Rebecca Heston
Second Grade Teacher
Rebecca started at Connect this fall and we’ll add a bit more information about her soon.
Kathy Jessica Duncan
First Grade Teacher
Check back for more information soon!
Gina Gina Centanni
Kindergarten Teacher
In more than 20 years teaching kindergarten and middle school, Gina has developed her own unique style of teaching that includes movement, song, sound effects, puppets and a variety of project-based “quests” centered around the theme of superheroes. Her focus is to teach children to know themselves, to discover new strengths, to appreciate differences in others and in themselves, to practice self-control, to set priorities, to be flexible, respectful and kind, to see themselves as agents of change, and as vital members of their community.  Gina holds a multiple subject teaching credential and single subject teaching credential in English.


Other Faculty Members

Ivonne Watson and Mannish Chulani are school psychologists

Paul Foley is our resource teacher for all grades.

Manu Seitz-Hipkins is our speech therapist

Jessica Parlanti is our ELD coordinator and intervention specialist

Amanda Napier 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
  • Yessenia Oseguera, Office Assistant
  • Saul Villatoro, Campus Supervisor
  • Karla Valenzuela, Parent Liaison
  • Maria Smith, Teaching Assistant
  • Lisa Greyson, Teaching Assistant and Wellness Coordinator
  • Kristina King Cohen, Teaching Assistant
  • Edith Garcia, Teaching Assistant
  • Derek Standard, Teaching Assistant
  • Irene Limon, Teaching Assistant
  • Milagros Cerpas, Teaching Assistant
  • Alicia Quilici, Extended Care Coordinator
  • Maurice Perez, After School Assistant
  • Tatum O’Dricoll, After School Assistant