Our Founding Teachers

Connect Community Charter School is proud of its staff of founding teachers.  Our group of innovative, passionate, and committed teachers play a key role in leading the school, and of course they will create personalized, challenging educational experiences and a nurturing environment for our students.

Alicia Yamashita, Kindergarten

Alicia is thrilled to be part of the founding teaching team at Connect.  One of the original founders, Alicia can’t wait to bring the mission and vision of Connect to life in the classroom.

Alicia is passionate about bringing an inquiry-based approach to Connect’s diverse student body.  She is excited to be part of a school that is focused on raising student achievement through developing the whole child.

Originally from Southern California, Alicia completed her BA degree at UC Berkeley.   After which she spent a year teaching English in a public secondary school in St. Petersburg, Russia.  She returned to the Developmental Teacher Education program at UC Berkeley to get her teaching credential and MA.

Alicia’s teaching career continued in San Lorenzo, California where she worked extensively with English Learners.  She also became a teacher leader, in a school reform movement focused on literacy development and thinking strategies.

For the past few years, Alicia has been busy raising her two sons, ages 7 and 9.  In her (very rare) spare time, she enjoys hiking with her family, sewing, and reading.

Janel Catalano, First Grade

Janel earned a degree in child development with a concentration in cognitive processing.  She holds a k-12 multiple subjects credential and has been teaching for 14 years in Loomis, Newcastle, and Horizon school districts, most recently teaching at the highly academic Accelerated Learning Academy.  Additionally, she is the former director and founding member of Harvest Ridge Cooperative Charter School.

Janel brings critical thinking into her classroom by incorporating students’ interests with learning opportunities in cross-curricular projects.  She continues to master teaching techniques in project-based and inquiry learning through ongoing training at the famed Buck’s Institute in San Rafael.

Chrissy Constant, Second Grade

Over the past 5 years Chrissy has taught Environmental Education to K-8th grade students in the outdoor spaces of Maine, Tennessee, North Carolina, and California. Most recently she has student taught Kindergarteners and 3rd graders in Santa Cruz public schools. She has found these experiences to resonate deeply with her, speaking to the personal and professional qualities that she intends to continue to foster and expand as a second grade teacher at Connect.

Her professional goal as an educator is to create a classroom community of inspired thinkers and doers who critically examine social issues to generate positive change within themselves and the world. Her personal goal as an educated citizen is to be one such thinker and doer.

Chrissy has just received her  M.A. in Education from the University of California Santa Cruz.  She graduated from Swarthmore College in 2008 with a B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology and minor in English Literature.

Chrissy is extraordinarily excited to be a part of the program at Connect because of its emphasis on providing a nurturing and enriching environment that aims to connect students and staff to each other, to the local community, and to the world around them in a most meaningful way.

Elizabeth Kelly, Sixth Grade

Elizabeth (Lizzy) has a deep belief in the potential of young people, and her love of working with children and adolescents led her to teaching. She looks forward to creating a classroom at Connect where her students take an active role in their own learning and where they work together to solve problems and dig deeply into literature and non-fiction texts. Lizzy is passionate giving each student the support and challenge they need to excel academically and personally. She will be teaching English Language Arts at Connect and cannot wait to help her students grow as readers, writers, and communicators.

Lizzy grew up outside Chicago and received her Bachelor’s degree from Tufts University in Boston, where she studied Child Development, American Studies, and English. She spent a semester abroad at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland studying literature and religion, and she recently graduated with a Master of Arts in English Education from Stanford University. Lizzy has taught in both high school and middle school classrooms, but middle school is her passion. In her free time, Lizzy enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, dancing, knitting, playing the piano and learning how to cook.

Marcus Williams, Sixth Grade

Marcus is a San Francisco Bay Area native, raised in Richmond, CA. At the young age of nine, he already felt a spiritual calling to teach. Like most kids, he entertained thoughts of being a doctor, a lawyer, and so on. But being a teacher was the idea that stuck.

Marcus began his teaching studies at the University of California at Berkeley, and completed his degree at Cal State East Bay. He started working in Richmond, and taught grades 5–12 there for 13 years, in various schools. He spent nine of those years as a 6th grade teacher, instructing students in English, math, science, and social studies. Feeling the need for a change of scenery, he moved on to a teaching position in a San Jose middle school, and then to a San Jose charter high school within the Leadership Public Schools network, where he taught math.

Marcus comes to Connect out of a desire to return to teaching in the lower grades. Grades 5–8 are his favorite age group to work with. At Connect, Marcus feels absolutely supported and thoroughly enjoys working with the students. He says it is a blessing and a privilege to come to Connect each morning and feel eager to help the students learn.

While not in the classroom, Marcus is actively involved in his church’s youth ministries in San Jose. He is also an avid bowler and has bowled 10 perfect games over the years. He enjoys traveling and spending time with his family and friends. Marcus considers himself blessed to do something each day that he loves.