Staff & Faculty

At Aurora we are privileged to have an incredible team of committed educators and administrators who step up every day to extend the wonder of childhood for our students. They model what real leadership looks like while at the same time create opportunities for students to practice the many ways to lead.

Leadership Team

Abigayil Koss, Head of School

Abigayil Koss, Head of School

 Email  |  Extension 202
Abbie has over 25 years of experience in education including: administration, staff development,
curriculum development, and teaching. Abbie holds a Master Degree in Education from Bank Street College of Education in New York City. Over the course of thirteen years, Abbie taught in New York City and Mill Valley public school districts and consulted with several EBISA schools. In 2007, Abbie became Aurora’s Curriculum Coordinator and in 2008, she was promoted to Assistant Head of School. In May 2009, Abbie accepted the Headship at Aurora. She is committed to progressive education and continues to be fascinated by how children learn and how teachers teach.

Lisa Piccione, Admissions Director

Lisa Piccione, Admissions Director

 Email  |  Extension 204
Lisa is responsible for managing the school’s admissions process, re-enrollment, school events, serves on the Financial Aid committee and supports our fifth grade outplacement. Lisa went to Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts and studied midwifery. She is originally from New York, but has lived in Oakland for the last 33 years. She has been an active member of the Aurora parent body for over 20 years, where her 3 children attended school. This is Lisa’s 14th year as the Admissions Director at Aurora. Lisa enjoys yoga, gardening, making mosaics, cooking, the beach and taking hikes with her wife Kate and little dog, Bella.

Josh Johnson, Extended Care & Camps Director and Facilities Manager

Josh Johnson, Extended Care & Camps Director and Facilities Manager

 Email  |  Extension 208
Josh has over 20 years of experience in the recreation field, both in school and camp settings. Josh grew up in San Francisco, and moved to Alameda in 2004. This is Josh’s sixth year on the Aurora Staff. When he is not as Aurora, Josh enjoys spending quality time with his wife and daughter enjoying the many family attractions in the East Bay, from the Oakland Zoo to the Alameda Beach.

 Darlene Richard, Administrative Assistant & HR Coordinator

Darlene Richard, Administrative Assistant & HR Coordinator

 Email  |  Extension 201
This is Darlene’s 14th year at Aurora where she is responsible for the management of the Front Office and for Human Resources. Darlene studied business administration at the College of Sequoias. Upon returning from performing for troops in a DOD USO Tour of the Orient, she moved from the Central Valley to the Bay Area in 1981. Darlene came to Aurora with over 18 years of telecommunications experience and two years in education. Her major interests are singing and songwriting. She is married with one daughter and two sons. She is also intimately involved in the “Women of Vision and Virtue Network”, an organization that provides empowerment training and mentoring for women and girls of all ages, which she founded in 2000. She established Ministry Unlimited in 2013, a ministry that provides teaching and training programs for potential ministers operating outside of the traditional four walls of the church. Darlene also enjoys cooking, reading, traveling and spending time with the family and friends.

Erina Atkins-Hadad, Finance Manager

Erina Atkins-Hadad, Finance Manager

 Email  |  (925) 482-2631
Erina works for our accounting firm, Moss CPA, in Walnut Creek. She took over as Aurora’s Finance Manager at the beginning of 2013, working part time helping to manage all aspects of Aurora’s finances. Erina has over 10 years of business and accounting experience. She provides a wide variety of client services, including accounting, tax and tax planning, and QuickBooks consulting services. Erina is working towards a CPA license. She joined the Moss CPA team in 2007. Erina is a 2001 Cal graduate who enjoys spending time with her family.

Tony Cifra, Assistant Head of School

Jennifer Lombardi, Development Coordinator

 Email  |  Extension 205
Jennifer earned her Bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University and her law degree Hofstra University. With over 15 years of experience in non-profit fundraising and board development, she excels at managing annual fund campaigns, major gift asks, gala auction events, endowment asks, and parent association activities for independent K-12 schools. In addition to her fundraising skills, Jennifer has also spent three years as an appointed Berkeley City Council Committee Member. Most recently, she has worked as a grant researcher and writer, fundraising consultant, and development director for a local nonprofit school and therapy center. Jennifer currently lives in Berkeley with her husband, three sons, and rescue dog. In her spare time, she enjoys playing competitive mahjongg.

Rebecca Wilkowski, Marketing and Communications Director

Rebecca Wilkowski, Marketing and Communications Director

 Email  |  Extension 226
Rebecca comes to Aurora with almost two decades of experience working in the field of digital communications for tech firms, non-profits, higher ed and healthcare institutions. Rebecca’s passion is connecting organizations to their audiences by creating compelling content delivered via innovative technologies. A native of Wisconsin, Rebecca graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in cultural anthropology and fine art. After graduating with honors, she relocated to California where she began her career in advertising and marketing. Rebecca also runs one of the most well-known corporate photography studios in the Bay Area, with notable clients including Apple, Google, TIME, L’Oreal, FORTUNE, Hitachi, MIT, Harvard, Tony Fadell, Reed Hastings, Mayor Ed Lee, Governor Jeb Bush, and others. In her free time, Rebecca enjoys volunteering, traveling, antiquing, fostering dogs, watching live music, and searching for the perfect soy latte.

Faculty

K/1 with Alexa & Cydney

Alexa Eurich, K/1 Lead Teacher

Alexa Eurich, K/1 Lead Teacher

 Email  |  Extension 302
Alexa Eurich earned her undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley. She earned her teaching credential and Masters in Education from Mills College. Alexa taught at The San Francisco Children’s Art Center and has worked in both public and independent K-5 schools in the Bay Area for over seventeen years. She is thrilled to have found her teaching home at Aurora. In 2014 Alexa earned her credential as a Certified Reading Recovery Teacher. Some of Alexa’s favorite things about teaching are: helping kids learn to read and directing the class musical every year. Alexa loves to sing along with her iPod and beat her husband Joe at Monopoly.

Cydney Nero, Extended Care

Cydney Nero, K/1 Teaching Assistant

 Email  |  Extension 225
Cydney earned her BFA in Illustration from the California College of the Arts. In an effort to combine her passion for art making with her passion for working with kids, Cydney gained experience through internships, volunteering, summer camps, and art education courses. Cydney began at Aurora as a member of our summer camp, where she taught Coding and Art during the Creators and Explorers Camp, as well as directed costume and set design during the Musical Theatre Camp. In her free time, Cydney likes painting, drawing, sewing, walking around Lake Merritt, and taking adventures with friends and family.

K/1 with Annalyse & Cydney

Fran Edwards, K/1 Lead Teacher

Annalyse Sheppard, K/1 Lead Teacher

 Email  |  Extension 303
Born into a family of educators, Annalyse earned her multiple subject teaching credentials from Loyola Marymount University. As a Bay Area native, Annalyse has taught in both public and private schools across the Bay Area. She recently moved to the East Bay from San Francisco and is happy to be on the sunny side of the bay! In her free time, she enjoys learning how to knit and play the guitar. An avid outdoorswoman, Annalyse can often be found hiking in Yosemite, whale watching in Point Reyes, or running the fire trails in the East Bay.

Cydney Nero, Extended Care

Cydney Nero, K/1 Teaching Assistant

 Email  |  Extension 225
Cydney earned her BFA in Illustration from the California College of the Arts. In an effort to combine her passion for art making with her passion for working with kids, Cydney gained experience through internships, volunteering, summer camps, and art education courses. Cydney began at Aurora as a member of our summer camp, where she taught Coding and Art during the Creators and Explorers Camp, as well as directed costume and set design during the Musical Theatre Camp. In her free time, Cydney likes painting, drawing, sewing, walking around Lake Merritt, and taking adventures with friends and family.

2/3 with Jordan & Niki

Tony Cifra, Assistant Head of School

Jordan Burns, 2/3 Lead Teacher

 Email  |  Extension 301
Bio coming soon

Niki Rouda, 2/3 Teaching Assistant

Niki Rouda, 2/3 Teaching Assistant

 Email  |  Extension 301
Niki grew up in Southern California. Most of her childhood years were spent in the water whether it was the beach or swimming competitively during her high school and college years. Niki received her bachelors degree in psychology from San Diego State University and moved to the Bay Area in 2002. She taught for ten years at various grade levels and then spent four years at Berkwood Hedge School as an Instructional Aide and Teaching Assistant before joining the Aurora team in 2013.

2/3 with Regina & Michelle

Regina Sorey, 2/3 Lead Teacher

Regina Sorey, 2/3 Lead Teacher

 Email  |  Extension 304
Regina earned her teaching credential at Cal State East Bay and has been teaching ever since. She also holds a B.A in cultural anthropology and dance from SFSU. Regina has taught at several Bay Area elementary schools, and is thrilled to have landed in the amazing Aurora community. She loves working with the wonderful staff and families who feel like an extended family to her. When Regina is not teaching she enjoys spending time with her two beautiful children, cooking, reading, and laughing with friends.

Michelle Tiamiyu, 2/3 Teaching Assistant

Michelle Tiamiyu, 2/3 Teaching Assistant

 Email  |  Extension 304
Originally from the Central Valley, CA, Michelle attended the University of California, Merced for two years before transferring to California State University, East Bay to pursue a degree in English Literature. Michelle has worked in Education since 2007 and is passionate about working with people of diverse backgrounds. Her experience includes working for local after-school programs, and as a tutor, Reading Resource teacher, and YMCA summer camp counselor. In the near future, Michelle plans to pursue a California Teaching Credential in Elementary Education. In her spare time, Michelle enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, making jewelry, writing poetry, dancing, and attending cultural festivals.

4/5 with Nicole & Siena

Nicole Thomas, 4/5 Teaching Assistant

Nicole Thomas, 4/5 Lead Teacher

 Email  |  Extension 306
Nicole Thomas received her bachelors degree in Ethnic Studies from Mills College in Oakland, and law degree from UC Berkeley. Before joining Aurora, Nicole taught cooking at the Edible Schoolyard at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School in Berkeley and at Urban Montessori Charter School in Oakland. She also teaches cooking in the summer at CAMP 510. She is looking forward to another great year of learning with children in an academic setting while adding lots of deliciousness to the Aurora community. When she is not teaching, Nicole enjoys playing music with her band, knitting, and spending time in nature with her daughter.

K/1 Lead Teacher

Siena Meeks, 4/5 Teaching Assistant

 Email  |  Extension 306
An Aurora alumna, Siena is excited to be returning to Aurora as a Teaching Assistant. After attending Sarah Lawrence College in New York, she spent three years working on a dairy farm in NY’s scenic Hudson Valley. Always drawn to teaching, Siena’s experience working in camps, after-school programs, tutoring, and classrooms has inspired her to pursue a California Teaching Credential. Siena is passionate about teaching that promotes and examines justice across disciplines. In her free time, Siena enjoys cooking, connecting with friends, and spending time with her twin younger siblings.

4/5 with Erica & Siena

Tony Cifra, Assistant Head of School

Erica Ryan, 4/5 Lead Teacher

 Email  |  Extension 306
Bio coming soon.

K/1 Lead Teacher

Siena Meeks, 4/5 Teaching Assistant

 Email  |  Extension 306
An Aurora alumna, Siena is excited to be returning to Aurora as a Teaching Assistant. After attending Sarah Lawrence College in New York, she spent three years working on a dairy farm in NY’s scenic Hudson Valley. Always drawn to teaching, Siena’s experience working in camps, after-school programs, tutoring, and classrooms has inspired her to pursue a California Teaching Credential. Siena is passionate about teaching that promotes and examines justice across disciplines. In her free time, Siena enjoys cooking, connecting with friends, and spending time with her twin younger siblings.

Specialists

Moises Osorio, Spanish and Music

César Martinez, Spanish

 Email  |  (925) 357-0720

A native of Toluca, Mexico, César studied Accounting at the Instituto Politécnico Nacional in Mexico City. In Mexico, he worked as a summer programs counselor, where he helped children with their schoolwork, offered enrichment activities, and taught children how to swim. César joined Viva el Español in 2010, and has received accolades every year from his students in elementary and middle schools throughout the East Bay.

Cydney Nero, Extended Care

Cydney Nero, Extended Care

 Email  |  Extension 225
Cydney earned her BFA in Illustration from the California College of the Arts. In an effort to combine her passion for art making with her passion for working with kids, Cydney gained experience through internships, volunteering, summer camps, and art education courses. Cydney began at Aurora as a member of our summer camp, where she taught Coding and Art during the Creators and Explorers Camp, as well as directed costume and set design during the Musical Theatre Camp. In her free time, Cydney likes painting, drawing, sewing, walking around Lake Merritt, and taking adventures with friends and family.

Elizabeth Seaton, Learning Resource Department Educational Therapist

Elizabeth Seaton, Learning Resource Department Educational Therapist

Elizabeth has worked in public and private Bay Area elementary, middle and high schools for over 20 years. She began her career in education as a classroom teacher. When Elizabeth moved to Oakland in 2000, she started working at Aurora in the 2/3 classrooms. Since 2002, Elizabeth has worked with Joyce Kelley in Aurora’s Learning Resource Department. Elizabeth has a B.A. from Connecticut College, earned her teaching credential at San Francisco State and holds a masters in educational therapy from Holy Names University. In addition to working at Aurora, Elizabeth has a private practice as an educational therapist in Oakland. She enjoys walking in the woods, reading, being in or on the water, textile crafts and art, gardening, singing, yummy food, friends, family…and being a part of a progressive school community.

Emily Dmytryk

Emily Dmytryk, Yoga, Extended Care Team

An Aurora alumna, Emily brings years of experience as a volunteer, Counselor in Training (CIT), and Camp Counselor at Aurora’s Summer Camps. It was during her time at Aurora that Emily discovered her passion for working with kids and made the decision to become an elementary school teacher. Emily has volunteered at Emerson Elementary School, traveled to Thailand and Costa Rica to teach English to children, and tutored in schools and afterschool programs. In 2017, Emily graduated with a degree in Education Sciences and English from UC Irvine, and is thrilled to be back at Aurora working with the Extended Care team.

Eve Decker, Music Specialist

Eve Decker, Music Specialist

 Email  |  Extension 229
Eve Decker received a bachelor’s degree in theater arts from UC Berkeley and a certificate of mastery in Orff Schulwerk (a wonderful pedagogy for teaching music to children) from Mills College. Eve has been teaching music and theater to people from preschool age through adults for twenty years – all of her adult life. This included working at Aurora School as the music and drama teacher from 1996-2007. In 2012, Eve rejoined the Aurora community and we are thrilled to have her back! In addition to her work teaching Music and Movement classes, she is responsible for coordinating our wonderful Tuesdays morning community assemblies.

Joyce Kelley, Learning Resource Specialist

Joyce Kelley, Learning Resource Specialist

 Email  |  Extension 206
Joyce has been part of Aurora’s educational team since the fall of 2000. Joyce offers support to students, faculty and parents in order to enhance the success of students with learning differences. She provides information about how to support a diversity of learning styles in classrooms. Joyce has a B.S. in psychology from San Francisco State University and an M.A. in education with a certificate in Educational Therapy, from Holy Names University. Joyce has lived in the Bay Area for all of her adult life and has a 25-year-old daughter who works in publishing. Mindfulness, environmental sustainability, and equality are some of her passions. In her free time, Joyce likes to garden, write, read, upcycle found furniture items and spend time with family and friends.

Julie Pollack, Art Teacher

Julie Pollack, Art Teacher

 Email  |  Extension 210
Julie Pollack received a BFA (Bachelors of Fine Arts) from the University of Michigan in Photography and Graphic design. Since graduation, she has worked as a freelance designer, stylist, and consultant for home interiors, events, print, and textile design. Julie started her teaching career as a volunteer in the art room at Tehiyah Day School in El Cerrito. This position eventually led to assisting and substitute teaching roles with the school. Since 2012, Julie has been the Art Director at Mr. D’s Music Camp, teaching thematic, integrated art classes to children ages 7 to 13. A mother of two teenagers, Julie emphasizes process over product, and follows the Aurora motto, “Take Risks, Make Mistakes!”

Tony Cifra, Assistant Head of School

Keri Casler, STEM Specialist

 Email  |  Extension 223/225
A native of Long Island, NY, Keri brings extensive teaching experience to Aurora, including working as a summer camp STEM instructor, an enrichment and homeschool teacher, and teacher in a progressive K-8 charter school that focused on collaboration and project-based learning. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education and a Master’s degree in Educational Technology. Keri is passionate about engaging children in STEM and exposing them to projects, which evoke their creativity, collaborative skills, and curiosity. In her spare time, Keri enjoys spending time with her husband and three “fur babies”, camping, kayaking, taking care of her succulents, and learning new crafts.

Moises Osorio, Spanish and Music

María Angélica Vargas, Spanish

 Email  |  (510) 816-1917

A native of Colombia, María Angélica earned her degree in occupational therapy. She has extensive experience teaching science and English to 3rd and 4th graders in Colombia, as well as coaching soccer and volleyball. María Angélica has also worked as an Oral Skills teacher, strengthening pre-school kid’s oral skills through songs, chants, music, and rhymes. María Angélica is a charismatic and creative teacher who enjoys teaching Spanish to pre-school and middle school-aged children at Viva el Español.

Moises Osorio, Spanish and Music

Moisés Osorio, Spanish and Music

 Email  |  (510) 815-8328
A native of El Salvador, Moisés has over ten years of experience playing piano and saxophone for special events including church services, weddings, special events, and hotels. Moisés also has over five years of professional curriculum development and music teaching experience for elementary school students, including students with special needs. He has planned and implemented special events and activities at an elementary school in El Salvador, including seasonal concerts, holiday celebrations, and ceremonies. Moisés is currently pursuing an AA Degree in Music at Peralta College and hopes to transfer to the San Francisco State music program to obtain a BA in music education.

Moises Osorio, Spanish and Music

Tawnya Dudash, Librarian

 Email  |  Extension 223

Alex Vittum, Woodshop Grades 2-5

Taylor Gersbach, Woodshop Grades K-5

 Email  |  Extension 209
Taylor earned her Bachelor’s Degree with a focus in Community Art, Sculpture, and Sound from California College of the Arts. She has taught as a Teaching Artist and Private Instructor in the topics of woodshop, painting/drawing, ceramics, sewing, ukulele, and singing/songwriting. A music lover and performer, Taylor established the CCA Music Department and coordinated artists for the Mixed Media Mixer in Berkeley. She has performed at the Center for New Music (SF) and other venues around the greater Bay Area, Big Sur and the Pacific Northwest. In her spare time, Taylor loves to perform and record music with her band, craft projects to sell, bring people together, go on nature adventures, garden, and cook.

X