Luke Duchene, M. Ed.
Luke Duchene has a wealth of experience and expertise as a teacher, school leader and community builder. He recently served as Assistant Principal in the Francisco Unified School District. Before that he was a classroom teacher for seven years.
“At its core, the educational approach of RVC is about engaging and inspiring students. We give students choices in the learning process, and that teaches kids to advocate for themselves and express their ideas. This is the kind of education I wish I had as a child, and it’s the kind of education I want for my own children.”
Luke’s received a BA with Honors from Strathclyde University in Glasgow, Scotland, a Masters in Education from National University, and participated in the Educational Leadership Development Academy at the University of San Diego. Mr. Duchene holds both a California teaching credential in Social Sciences as well as an Administrative Services credential.
Luke lives with his family in Fairfax and his two sons are students at RVC.
For the last six years, Elizabeth has served as the Administrative and Communications Coordinator for the YES Foundation in Ross Valley. She has also served in various roles in Marin businesses and nonprofits. Her connection to the local area is strong, and she has much experience serving families in our community.
Elizabeth holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Art History from the University of Colorado. She lives in Fairfax and her two children, now in middle school, went through the MAP program.
Family Outreach Coordinator
& Before-Care Teacher
Marilyn Alfaro is from El Salvador, C.A., and lives in San Anselmo. She has been working at the Fairfax San Anselmo Children's Center as an administrative assistance since 2003. She has two children, a college-aged daughter and a son who is going to start 9th grade at Drake High School this Fall. Marilyn graduated in 1989 from Luis Manuel Escamilla College in El Salvador and received her degree in Primary Education.
I like to work in schools because working with children is fun and I learn from them every day. Helping families is the most rewarding job I can think of and it makes me very happy.
Currently, Marilyn is also pursuing an A.A. degree in Early Education at College of Marin.
Jennifer Wolf has worked to help build RVC since 2015, helping with communications, events, and enrollment. She's passionate about promoting progressive education in the public school system. She has two children, one who attends RVC, and one who graduated in 2017 and attends White Hill Middle School.
TK / K / 1st Grade
Rebecca taught in the Multi-Age Program for 11 years, and has more than 25 years of teaching experience, including the Mountain School in Corte Madera, the Novato Charter School, Marin Primary in Larkspur, and her own home preschool in Fairfax.
“I believe that a successful teacher shines when they are able to treasure the wonder and magic of the young child while offering an interesting, challenging, and differentiated curriculum that engages students and meets the multi-intelligences found in each individual. The beauty of RVC is the freedom it affords me to gather the best of my Waldorf and Montessori training to weave together the perfect patchwork for each set of students I have the pleasure to teach.
“Some of the greatest gifts I have received in teaching are the relationships I have forged with my students and their families: these bonds, which would normally only last a few years, often become life-long relationships as we create a true community and support one another in the classroom and in life.”
Rebecca lives with her family in Fairfax, and her son, now in sixth grade, was a Multi-Age Program student.
TK / K / 1st Grade
Tim was a founding teacher of the Multi-Age Program (originally called the Innovative Learning Community) and taught K/1 for 20 years. He has nearly 40 years of teaching experience starting with the Teacher Corps in Louisville, KY, and including many years in the San Francisco Unified School District.
“I believe young children are innately creative, and that their creativity continues to flourish when they pursue their own interests and ideas. I believe a child’s school experience should integrate literacy and mathematical skills, science, visual and performing arts, outdoor education, and play in a holistic curriculum that will excite and engage each child.
Whether we are studying our local environment, prehistoric humans, or the Middle Ages, together we make the classroom come alive during every unit. When we use all our senses and our whole bodies to live what we are learning, the learning stays with us long afterward.”
Tim and his family live in San Anselmo and his daughter, now in 8th grade, went through the Multi-Age Program.
TK/ K/ 1st Grade
Prior to working at Ross Valley Charter, Erika taught for 12 years in the RVSD Multi-Age Program and has more than 20 years of teaching experience, including being the assistant director at DayCaring Preschool in Fairfax.
“I have a passion for social justice, and I believe that second- and third-grade children are at a unique time in their lives when they are ready to learn about civil and human rights, which we explore through stories, conversations, lessons, and service projects that benefit local and international groups.
“I am originally from Kansas City, Missouri, where I earned a BA in Theatre with emphasis in vocal performance. I love to sing, dance, and perform plays with my students, and incorporate the visual arts as well.”
Erika lives in Fairfax with her family, and her son, now a college student, went through the MAP program.
2nd / 3rd Grade
Prior to working at RVC, Emily taught in the Ross Valley School District's Multi-Age Program for six years, and has 18 years of overall teaching experience, including being a 1st -6th grade classroom teacher, resource teacher, special education program aide, and an educator at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
“I teach because I love nothing more than igniting a passion for learning in children. It is the greatest challenge and the greatest joy to figure out how to bring learning to life for each student. For me, this means I must know my students as individuals and I must know my subject matter deeply.
“I find theater to be one of the greatest teaching tools in the classroom. To provide children with the opportunity to express themselves through singing, acting, and dancing opens up a whole new world for many of them. I have seen students blossom in ways I never expected by giving them access to a stage. Personally, I can’t think of a more interesting way to spend my days!”
As an educator at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., Emily had the opportunity research, develop, and publish the interactive book, Awesome Adventures at the Smithsonian: The Official Kids Guide to the Smithsonian Institution.
Emily lives in Petaluma. Her son is an RVC student.
2nd / 3rd Grade
Jane H. Nieves has been teaching for fourteen years in a variety of school settings and grade levels. Her experience ranges from TK to Fifth Grade, both as an intervention and classroom teacher. She has a Geography Degree from Syracuse University and a Masters in Education (Educational Administration) from San Francisco State University.
“My hope for my students is that they feel cared for, inspired and capable each day. To create an exciting and positive learning community for every child with thematic, integrated and differentiated curriculum. To collaborate with my students’ families and provide meaningful opportunities to help create a’village' within our classroom. Ultimately, assuring that our students, the future of both our local and global community, are prepared both academically and socially to meet life’s challenges. As an educator, I hope to instill a thirst for learning, respect for one another and a sense of community responsibility for the natural environment and the human condition."
Ms. Jane has written and published a children’s book, Kea The Reading Dog. It is a story about her canine teaching partner who inspired children to read. She has implemented and coordinated Reading Dog programs at her school sites since 2005. She currently works with her dog Sammy in the classroom. Ms. Jane lives in San Anselmo with her husband, son, two dogs and a cat.
4th / 5th Grade
Katie comes to RVC with 14 years of teaching experiences in a variety of settings including preschool, public elementary school, homeschooling cooperatives, and private tutoring.
“I believe that our job as teachers is to engage the mind, fire the imagination, and strengthen the will as students develop with initiative, creativity, and skills to serve an evolving humanity. Weaving academic teaching with essential life skills such as mindfulness, self-motivation, and peaceful conflict resolution, I strive to meet the challenges of an ever-changing world with education that addresses the whole human being.”
Katie has 2 children – Odom, age 15 and Cecilia age 12. She lives in Fairfax and enjoys everything about their northern California living including hiking, biking, backpacking, gardening, and basically having lots of fun in the outdoors!
4th / 5th Grade
Chris was a Multi-Age Program teacher for ten years, and has more than 20 years of teaching experience, in grades kindergarten through fifth, in Ross Valley and Dixie School Districts.
“I love learning with children. I find that I learn as much from my students as they learn from me! And we learn a lot together. I am always amazed at how each year the combination of individual students and the situations in which we find ourselves create a completely unique dynamic, never to be replicated. The last couple of weeks of every school year I find myself savoring the last moments I have with that class. Even though I’ll have half the same students the next year, I know they’ll be a year older, new students will join us, and we’ll be off on new learning adventures.
“I also cherish the relationships I’ve formed with the parents of students I have taught. Together with the children, we are a community of learners, supporting and encouraging each other.”
Chris lives in Fairfax with her family. Her two sons are now in high school and college, and both went through the MAP program.
4th / 5th Grade
Nina has taught for 15 years, almost exclusively in the Multi-Age Program.
“Teaching is where I belong. It allows me to be a consummate learner, to be creative, and to solve problems in this ever-changing world. I believe each child is capable of learning, and of teaching others. We all possess questions, interests, and capabilities that need to be honored and supported.
“In 2005 I began my work in reading and writing workshop with Lucy Calkins at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College. Reading and writing are integral skills for life: reading for knowledge, for new understandings, for passion and creativity, and writing to communicate knowledge, new understandings, and express our creative selves. I strive to give my students every opportunity to share their knowledge through student-designed lessons they design, implement, evaluate, and reflect on.”
Nina lives in San Anselmo. Both of her children attend RVC.
Sarah has a strong background in special education, classroom instruction and student advocacy. She has nine years of teaching experience in diverse schools, including elementary schools in California, Texas and Hawaii.
"The history of special education is rooted in the civil rights movement, and what sparked my desire to teach students with special needs. Humans are humans, no matter the color of our skin, gender, abilities, affiliations. Achieving equity for all students--visualizing, advocating, creating, learning--is a personal and professional goal of mine."
Sarah holds a master’s degree in education from Dominican University, where she also earned her special education credential. She has a BS in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of North Texas and earned her teaching credential from CSU Northridge. Sarah has served as a Grade Level chair and presented at various conferences.
Sarah lives in San Rafael and has a five-year-old son.
Torri has been working in education for thirty years in a variety of capacities including classroom teacher, reading specialist, substitute teacher, private tutor, parent educator/consultant, GATE teacher, Exploratorium Science teacher mentor and educational workshop facilitator. She is also a certified instructor for Hand in Hand Parenting and has delved deeply into the neuroscience of learning and relationship through extensive research as well as comprehensive study with the Neufeld Institute and Dr. Dan Siegel’s work.
"What I want most for every child is to find joy in learning, not just in school but in life. I believe that everyone can be empowered to recognize and nurture his or her unique abilities and be engaged in a lifetime of learning. Helping children understand how their brains work, cultivate new learning strategies and supporting them as they gain confidence in their abilities is the most satisfying part of my job. Children inspire me and bring me such joy."
Torri has lived in San Anselmo with her husband for thirty years where they raised their two adult children. She speaks German and Swedish and enjoys Origami, reading, writing as well as playing and creating learning games.
Music and Chorus
Amanda Hahn brings 19 years of teaching experience as a music and movement specialist gained at a variety of schools throughout the Bay Area to her role at RVC. Prior to her most recent position at San Francisco Chinese American International School, she taught at Montessori de Terra Linda and Washington Elementary in the Contra Costa County Unified School District. Amanda is a director for the Marin Girls Chorus, where she works primarily with the Lower Division of singers — kindergarten through fourth graders– and also as the director for their Summer Sings camp. Devoted to her private students, too, she works with students of all ages, teaching piano, voice, flute and other woodwinds. She also performs as a freelance flutist and choral conductor, and as part of an adult chorus in Marin County, the Consort Chorale.
After growing up on the East Coast and attending music school in Boston, Amanda moved to this area to receive a Master of Music degree at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, followed shortly by her Orff Schulwerk teacher certification at Mills College.
As an Orff Schulwerk teacher, my approach is playful and dynamic. I strive to relate to all my students in a way that allows them to feel comfortable, be engaged, and think creatively while working together. As is common in a well-rounded Orff Schulwerk program, I like to incorporate music from many cultures through games, instrument playing, stories, singing, and moving. I’ve enjoyed beginning the process of getting to know Ross Valley Charter, and I am super excited to become part of this community, to meet your children and make some music together! In the meantime, I hope you are enjoying summertime, as I am, soaking up every moment with my young son, whether playing outside or snuggling up with some good books.
Visual and Fine Arts
Evanne has been offering art classes and summer art camps to children in this community for the past five years. She has studied art at the Academy of Art in San Francisco and worked as an Associate Creative Director in advertising for fifteen years.
“Every time I hold a space for children to experience themselves as creators, I give them an opportunity to see the world with new eyes and learn to listen to their inner creative voice. I teach them the joy in taking risks, making decisions, exploring, experimenting, and using their imaginations. I get to see them blossom into artistic thinkers and doers. Toward this end, I strive to make assignments structured enough to teach skills, but open enough to encourage personal interpretation.
My intention is to develop self-directed, highly-motivated artists who are confident about their choices and personal vision. During Art Class, students explore the pleasure of engaging with many mediums – paint, clay, printmaking, collage and drawing – while also learning the Principles and Elements of Design. As a teacher, I prefer not to think of myself as the expert in the room. Rather, I am down in the creative trenches with students, facilitating problem-solving and skills-building so they may have a fulfilling artistic experience.”
Evanne lives in San Anselmo with her husband and two children ages 4 and 7. Her daughter attends RVC.
Violinist and musician Matej Seda has taught violin for over 14 years in California and in Europe, both privately and in classroom settings. Most recently, he developed and implemented a thriving violin program for middle school aged children at a charter school in Chico, California. In the last five years, he has taught violin and music to children in grades one through eight at numerous charter schools and homeschool groups, and he's taught music privately from beginners to advanced, ages 5 to 87!
With a degree in jazz violin from the Jaroslav Ježek Conservatory of Music in Prague, Czech Republic on top of years of classical instruction, Matej brings a world perspective to his teaching, incorporating musical styles from various cultures and tailoring his approach to fit the needs and interests of his students.
Matej teaches 4th and 5th graders who choose to learn the violin.
Mackinzie has an enthusiasm for other cultures and languages. She spent the last two years working and living in Austria and Spain, where she lived with local families, strengthened her German and Spanish skills, and immersed herself in a different way of life. Last year she taught English at a public school in Spain for children aged 3-12. She has experience coaching youth sports teams and enjoys fostering curiosity and self-confidence in children and young adults. Some of her other joys are mountain biking, hiking, reading, and gardening.
“I believe that learning another language is hugely beneficial in broadening your creativity, compassion, and perspective on what is possible. I am honored to join the fantastic community at the RVC and excited to impart some of my enthusiasm for the Spanish language and Spanish-speaking cultures to your children!”
Mackinzie grew up in Fairfax and was a student at the Multi-Age Program. Her three teachers from MAP (Tim, Rebecca, and Nina) are among the teachers at the RVC today.