Our Staff

All of our teachers are trained to help students develop their speaking, writing, and reading skills in English. Our students learn in small classes by working with their peers on interdisciplinary projects throughout the year.

Carmelita Reyes, Co-Principal
Carmelita is the principal of Oakland International High School. Prior to becoming principal, she was a founding teacher at Life Academy of Health and Bio-Science located in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland. There, she taught 10th grade humanities, journalism and photography. In 2005 she was awarded the honor of "Oakland Unified School District Teacher of the Year,” and in 2007 she was named “Oakland Educator of the Year” by the Marcus Foster Foundation. Carmelita began her teaching career in New York City, teaching to a primarily Dominican population. Carmelita received her BA in Economics at Princeton University and studied abroad at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She received a Masters in Education at Columbia University and received her administrative credential from the BAYCES (Bay Area Coalition for Equitable Schools) and California State East Bay.

Sailaja Suresh, Co-Principal
Sailaja previously worked for the Boston Public Schools as a technology support specialist in Roxbury and Jamaica Plain. While in Boston, she managed a nationally-recognized math and technology integration project and co-authored the district's long-term technology plan, LINC III. After leaving Boston, she decided to take the long way back home to the Bay Area by traveling east through Europe, South Africa, and Asia until she landed in California. Sailaja was a founding teacher at OIHS, teaching math and later computers. Sailaja has a BS in Business Administration and a minor in Religious Studies from UC Berkeley and a Masters in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. In 2008, she received an award as the Rookie Teacher of the Year for the Oakland Unified School District.

Lauren Markham, Community School Program Manager
Lauren graduated from Middlebury College and then obtained her MFA at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Lauren has worked in a variety of positions over the past decade in support of refugees, immigrants and vulnerable youth, with a focus on the intersection between education and migration. She has served as a caseworker and a resettlement capacity worker for the International Rescue Committee in Oakland, the Senior Programs Coordinator for Refugee Transitions and as a consultant for the OUSD's Refugee & Asylee Student Assistance Program. Having worked with youth and families in Boston, Vermont, San Francisco, Oakland, El Salvador and Uganda, Lauren speaks Spanish, French and a fair amount of Luganda.

Elizabeth Paniagua College and Career Coordinator
Elizabeth graduated with a BS from UC Davis with a degree in Community and Regional Development and a minor in Chicano Studies.  She also holds a Masters in Counseling from SF State.  Elizabeth works part time at OIHS as our college coordinator and also works at the Gateway to College program at Laney College.  She has previously worked at OUSD’s College and Career Readiness Office, The Trio Program at UC Davis, and Merritt College.  Elizabeth is bilingual and speaks Spanish.   

Loraine Woodard, OUSD Literacy Coach
Loraine came to OUSD after working for two decades in education. She earned her bachelor’s degree in International Studies and completed her masters in Education at New College of California. Much of her domestic career was spent in middle school humanities classrooms. However, she spent many years abroad working as a teacher and study abroad coordinator in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Loraine is a fluent Spanish speaker.

Ryann Pollock, Special Education
Ryann graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Education. At Cal she volunteered as a math and science tutor at Berkeley High and New Highland Academy before becoming a Teach For America Fellow. She also worked as a swim instructor at Cal Aquatics. She has CPS, first aid, and life guard certification. Ryann speaks Spanish.

Angelica Reyes Sosa, After School Coordinator
Angelica graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Chicano Studies and Social Welfare.  Prior to joining OIHS, she worked for the East Bay Asian Youth Center in a variety of locations: as the director of family services at Roosevelt Middle School, program director at Garfield Elementary and case manager at Oakland High.  She has also worked in a variety of administrative support positions at UC Berkeley and John F. Kennedy University.  Angelica speaks Spanish and has served as an activist for the Chicano community. 

Thi Bui, Art and Computer Technology
Thi, a founding teacher at OIHS, was born in Vietnam and came to the US as a refugee when she was a child. She speaks Vietnamese, French and Spanish. She received her BA in art and legal studies from UC Berkeley, an MFA from Bard College, and an MA in Art Education from NYU. Thi taught in New York City schools before returning to the Bay Area and joining the staff of Oakland  International High School. She has also worked as an educational consultant with the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum in NY and as a curriculum writer for PBS/ Art:21 Education Council. In 2010, she was named the winner of the National Plank Fellowship Award by Fund For Teachers. She is currently working on a graphic novel about the Vietnam War and her family's immigration.

Brooke Toczylowski, Art 
Brooke joins OIHS with a wealth of artistic experience.  She worked as a visual arts and integration specialist and teaching artist for 6 years in San Rafael, Sausalito, New York and Guatemala. Brooke graduated from Williams College with a BA in Art and American Studies and is completing her credential in Arts Education at SF State.  Brooke is fluent in Spanish.

Jennifer Kelly-DeWitt, English
Teaching is Jen's second, and favorite, career. She spent ten years working in book publishing in New York City and Berkeley before heeding her longtime desire to teach. Jen earned a BA in Art History and English from Wesleyan University and a Master's in English education from Stanford University. She is a proficient speaker of French and a less proficient speaker of Italian and Spanish. On her own time she likes to write fiction, read, and travel.

Anna Kaplan, English
Anna immigrated as a teenager to the United States from Russia and has a passion for teaching other English language learners.  She graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and then completed a masters degree in Education at UC Berkeley.  She has taught English at Roosevelt Middle School in OUSD before joining our staff.  She also has a background in newspaper reporting.    

Darien Lencl, English and History
Darien is a life-long learner trained in the art of teaching social sciences at San Diego State University. Prior to coming to OIHS, Darien taught history at Skyline and Dewey High Schools here in Oakland and worked with some of Oakland’s most under served youth. Darien is excited to bring his interest in health, sports, and fitness to OIHS and lead our PE program.

Rei Jackler, English and History
Ms. Rei likes English and History so much, sometimes she can't stop thinking about them. That's why she loves teaching at OIHS, because she has a great excuse to share these two subjects with her students all day long! Rei has a Masters of Arts in History Education from Stanford University. When she has time off, she studies acting, writes poetry, and hikes. She also speaks Chinese, and occasionally tries to speak Spanish and French even though she makes many mistakes.

Irene Kim, English and History
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Irene loves history and the social sciences. The only thing she loves even more is teaching students the skills and values behind the study of history and the social sciences. Prior to joining the OIHS community, Irene taught World History and Global Studies at another Bay Area school. She received her bachelor's degree in Political Science from UCLA and her master's in History Education from Stanford University. A world traveler of sorts, Irene is determined to visit every country that she will ever teach to her students, and improve her semi-fluency in Korean and Spanish.

Raquel Franker, History
Prior to coming to Oakland International, Raquel worked as the study abroad advisor at the University of California Berkley for over a decade. She graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a bachelor’s degree in Cultural Anthropology and received her teaching credential from Cal State East Bay. Raquel studied abroad at the University of Sao Paulo Brazil and is a proficient speaker of Portuguese. She is a volunteer for the American Field Service.

Cormac Kilgallen, History
Cormac graduated from Brandeis University with a degree in History and Tufts University with a masters degree in Education. Later he earned his law degree at Golden Gate University. Cormac previously taught history in Massachusetts and served as the associate director of Education at Sylvan Learning Center. As a lawyer, Cormac worked in a variety of community based legal positions – for the Fair Employment and Housing Commission in SF, Bay Area Legal Aid, Women Employment Women’s Rights Clinic, SF Human Rights Commission and as an Americorps Legal Fellow for Equal Justice Works.

Veronica Garcia, History
Veronica left the more lucrative field of banking to come to education.  Then for 6 years, Veronica led the ELD classes at Roosevelt Middle School.  She has extensive experience as a leader of PD and as a BTSA coach.  Veronica graduated from Smith College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and from The University of Texas at Austin with a Masters in Art History.   She holds credentials in both English and Social Science.  

Liza Richheimer, Internships
Liza, a founding teacher at OIHS, previously worked at three other schools in the Internationals Network as a science teacher and yoga instructor. Prior to her time at Internationals, Liza worked as an Outward Bound mountaineering instructor for four years, leading teenagers on 3 week mountaineering courses. She enjoys creating curriculum that combines nature, leadership development and health. Liza graduated from Evergreen State College with a BA in Natural Sciences and Latin American Studies. She completed a Masters in secondary science education from Teachers College at Columbia University. At OIHS, Liza has taught biology, physical education and health as well as served as coordinator of mental health services.

Courtney Couvreur, Math
Courtney graduated from the University of Michigan with a Masters in Education. Prior to teaching in OIHS, Courtney worked as a math teacher in Tracy, Ca and in Detroit. Michigan. Courtney studied French in undergrad and studied abroad at the Institute de Touraine in Tours France. At OIHS Courtney is an organizer of students, sponsoring the leadership club and organizing events such as graduation.

David Hansen, Math
David graduated from the University of Oregon with a bachelor’s in history. After college, he began his career in working in outdoor education with troubled youth. In 2007 he entered the Peace Corps and was assigned to service in Cameroon where he worked as an agriculture and forestry extension agent teaching environmental education and helping farmers implement improved methods of planting. David subsequently worked at Willard Middle School in their garden, health and nutrition program before joining Teach for America. David is fluent in French.

Andrea Negrete, Math
Andrea completed both her undergrad and graduate degrees at UC Berkeley where she majored in mathematics.  At Cal, she also worked at the Embodied Design Research Laboratory and published several articles on math education.  She is a Knowles Science Teaching Fellow.  Andrea is also a fluent speaker of Spanish.  

Kyle Svingen, Math
Kyle graduated from St. Olaf College with a degree in Physics. After college, he worked at Benson High School in Omaha, Nebraska, where he helped students go to college through the College Possible program. Kyle comes to OIHS through Teach For America.

Pauline Alessi, Physical Education
Pauline joined the staff of OIHS after more than 15 years working in public and private schools as a P.E. instructor and science teacher.  She graduated from SUNY Buffalo with a bachelor of science degree and completed her post graduate studies at Sonoma State in geology.  Much of Pauline's free time is taken up by her children, but she also loves biking.  

Laura Stuck, Science
Laura, a Knowles Teaching Fellow, graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in psychology and chemistry.  After working briefly in Uganda, Laura entered Stanford University’s School of Education where she earned dual masters degrees in International Comparative Education and Education and Chemistry.  Laura’s passion for working with the international community stems from having spent a large part of her childhood abroad in Pakistan and interning abroad in the Dominican Republic.

Geoffrey Gailey, Science
Geoffrey, a Knowles Teaching Fellow, has a bachelor’s in Biology and a masters degree in Education from Cornell University. Prior to teaching at OIHS, Geoff taught science in Boston at a magnet engineering high school and at an adult school that focused on immigrant education. Geoff’s interests in education and science lead him to do fieldwork and training of adults in Africa and allowed him to visit schools in China.

Salem Peterson, Science
Salem is excited to join the staff of OIHS this year. She earned both her B.S. in Biological Sciences and teaching credential at Humboldt State University. Prior to OIHS, she taught Biology and AP Biology at Leadership High School in San Francisco and at Bear River High School in her home town of Grass Valley, Ca. As a lover of all things biology-related, Salem is excited about using science as a means of guiding her students to develop critical thinking skills and an appreciation of the natural world. When she is not at school she can probably be found dancing, riding her bike, or cooking a delicious meal.

Ben Gucciardi, Soccer Without Borders
Ben graduated with a bachelors in International Relations and a minor in Spanish followed by a masters degree in Global Educational Leadership from Lehigh University. As the founder and director of Soccer Without Borders, Ben has focused his energy in youth development through soccer. He and his organization work with students at OIHS and throughout the world. Ben currently coaches at OIHS and serves 500 youth in programs located in Granada, Nicaragua, Uganda and Zambia.

Shahrzad Makaremi, Americorps VISTA Community School Capacity BuilderShahrzad graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Political Science and minors in Public Policy and Global Poverty. Shahrzad has volunteered for several human rights organizations, most recently as a case worker supporting Iranian refugees through the UNHCR system. She previously worked at Mother Jones Magazine. Shahrzad is fluent in Farsi.

Congratulations to Jen Kelly-Dewitt, Raquel Franker and Ryann Pollock! Each was recognized last spring as Another Great Oakland Teacher for their excellence in the area of Social and Emotional Learning. Congratulations also to Carmelita Reyes, who won the Educational Leadership Award for the district.
4521 Webster St. Oakland, CA 94609 | (510) 597-4287 | fax: (510) 597-4292