Staff & Board

Academic Staff

John Bibb, Athletic Director, has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Health and Physical Education from Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where he played collegiate football. He has 11 years of PE instruction and coaching experience at multiple grade levels in the Los Angeles area. To go along with his love for the teaching profession, he has acquired skills as a head varsity high school football coach as well as boys and girls basketball coach at the middle school level. John is a sports enthusiast and spends his leisure time exposing and engaging his two sons, ages 7 and 3, in physical and sports activities.

Bob Capune, 6th Grade English and History Teacher, has a BA in History from the University of California, Berkeley. Bob worked for two decades at the Lawrence Hall of Science, a hands-on children's museum. Although he likes Science, his true passion is the Humanities. He thoroughly enjoys teaching English and History instead of quadratic equations. An avid world traveler, Mr. C has visited every continent (except Antarctica). He brings photos, stories, and artifacts from these trips to his classroom to share and enhance curriculum.

Debra Hom, 7th & 8th Grade Math Teacher, has a Bachelor's of Science in Mathematics and a Master's in Education from UC Davis. Her hobbies include gardening, cooking, baking, listening to music, making jewelry and crocheting. Debra wanted to work at Manzanita because of the community support and feels the small classes will let her focus on each student's needs to succeed in math. She loves when students ask for help and tell her when they don't understand a topic. Growing up in a small community, she knows that everyone is willing to help and learn together. In her classroom, she strives to make math understandable and relatable to everyday life.

Janay James, 6th Grade Math and Science Teacher, graduated Cum Laude from Saint Mary's College with a BS in Psychology, a concentration in Behavioral Neuroscience, a minor in Spanish, and a keen interest in Ethnic Studies. Her current hobbies include reading, writing, doing hair, listening to music, making people laugh, and engaging in intellectual debates and conversations. Something interesting about Janay is that she climbed 5 pyramids in two weeks on a study abroad trip in Mexico. Janay chose Manzanita because of its use of community to facilitate student growth. She believes that an academic foundation built on such strong support teaches students how to navigate the world before them, as opposed to just schooling them on academic content. Students can expect to learn what sparks their curiosity in math and science, how to ask beyond-the-surface questions, and how math and science curricula play into the world we live in today, from both cultural and academic standpoints.

Heikki Koskinen, Music Teacher, was born in Finland and received his main education there, including private music studies, as well as Master of Science in Civil Engineering from Aalto University. After receiving scholarships to study music at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Heikki moved to San Francisco in 1977. Heikki has over 35 years experience in teaching music in the Bay Area, as well as performing and composing from albums and multi-media events to scoring for film. Besides classroom and private teaching, he composes music for all media and leads his own jazz groups. Heikki's latest CDs, "Midnight Sun", "Full Moon" and "Northern Winds and Voices" feature Latin/Jazz arrangements of original and Finnish songs. His two children have graduated from college. Heikki is looking forward to bringing exciting music making to Manzanita.

Wendy Liu, Mandarin Teacher, was born and raised in China. She graduated from Xiang Tan University where she obtained a Bachelors degree of Arts in Linguistics and Literature. She also obtained a certificate from UC Berkeley Extension in Teaching Chinese as a foreign language. Wendy began teaching Mandarin in 2009, she not only had a good time with her students who were of different ages, but also, she worked hard in preparing and studying various teaching materials. After completing The California Subject Examinations for Teachers - Mandarin Subtest I, II, III - in 2013, she felt more confident about her teaching background and her pre-professional knowledge of Chinese.

Kumar Nemani, Technology and Art Teacher, earned his Bachelor's in Electronics and Communications in India and moved to the US to pursue a Master's in Engineering Management. After developing a profound interest in information security, he returned to school and is currently completing an Executive Master's program with the University of Cumberlands. Sravan has a wide range of interests, including film making/photography. He believes in the quote, "Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important." - Bill Gates

Haley Ralph, 7th & 8th History Teacher, has a passion for all things history! She calls herself a professional student because of her never-ending desire for learning. She hopes to bring this passion into the classroom and pose history as a wonderful adventure for all her students. She enjoys visiting historical sites in her spare time and hopes to broaden her travels to the international level. She is originally from a small town outside of South Lake Tahoe. Haley moved here when she was 18 to further her education and immerse herself in the melting pot we call the San Francisco Bay Area. She graduated with honors and now holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from San Francisco State University and two Associate Degrees from Contra Costa College. In the past, some of her volunteer work includes tutoring in English as a second language to primary school children and working with Oakland Children's hospital as a volunteer for their annual Rubber Ducky Derby. Haley strives to show today's youth how to set and accomplish goals through hard work and dedication. She hopes that they will set goals throughout all aspects of their lives and continue to implement this philosophy after high school. "I want them to reach for the stars, and know that someday they can and will get there!"

Chris Thayer, 7th & 8th grade Science Teacher.

Aliza Van Leesten, 7th and 8th Grade English Teacher, has a Bachelors in American Studies from Colby College. She is a strong believer in the transformative power that writing and literature can have for her students. She is originally from New Haven, Connecticut, where she was actively involved in an education enrichment non-profit, Breakthrough New Haven. While attending Colby, Aliza was a member of the varsity women's soccer team, as well as a mentor at a local education non-profit aimed at youth empowerment called Hardy Girls. She also spent a summer teaching and coaching middle school girls in Harlem, where her passion for education grew immensely. Additionally, she lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina for five months, where she loved engaging in the Latin American culture, language, and nature. When Aliza is not teaching, she can usually be found exploring San Francisco, hiking, listening to podcasts or playing soccer. Beginning 2017-2018 school year, Provisional Internship Permit.

Adminstrative Staff

James Trombley, Executive Director, has a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Education from Northern Michigan University, Masters in Educational Leadership from Eastern Michigan University and an MBA from the University of Phoenix. Jim served as the Vice Principal for West Contra Costa Adult Education from January 1999 through June 2010 where he was responsible for ESL, Parent Education, Community fee and Career & Technical Education leading a staff of 70+ teachers at eight campuses. His background includes 7 years teaching high school industrial arts and 2 years for the county jail in Michigan, 20 years part-time for community colleges, universities, and corporations in the Bay Area. Jim brings 20 years of business management experience (manufacturing, engineering, finance, and contracts) and likes just about everything: sports, musicals, movies, and especially school.

Adriana Ramos, Bilingual Secretary, has been a parent volunteer ever since her children started attending school and also served as a teacher's aide at Wilson Elementary. She is a mother of three children, including Ernesto and Jovanny who are recent Manzanita graduates. Adriana brings knowledge in Microsoft Office and other computer skills to her work in the Manzanita front office. In her spare time she loves to bake desserts.

Colleen Thomas, School Systems Administrator, has worked with educational institutions for over 20 years including Redwood Day School, Lakeshore Children's Center, and Children's House Montessori. Her focus is to create connection and deepen community. Colleen's background also includes domestic violence advocacy, art-house box office theatre management, and membership coordination for SAG-AFTRA. Colleen earned her BA in Chinese Language from Grinnell College and her Masters in Religious Studies from Naropa University.

Board Members

  • Board Chair: Mayra Corleto
  • Board Secretary: Titania Buchholdt
  • Fiscal Manager: Tiffany Harris
  • Board Member: Amy Bingham
  • Board Member: Lisa Gillispie
  • Board Member: Sanjuana Villalobos