“A formidable team provides model special education, with skill, care and compassion in a relaxed environment.”
Dr. Neil Sharp, MD
KINGA E. CZEGENI: FOUNDER, HEAD OF SCHOOL
Kinga Czegeni is a Co-Founder of Avalon. Kinga holds an M.A. in Special Education (with an emphasis in Physical and Health Impairments) as well as a California teaching credential. She has been a Lecturer at San Francisco State University for over a decade, where she teaches a graduate course in the Special Education Department on the Implications and Management of Physical Disabilities and Sensory Impairments. Kinga entered the field of special education at the International Peto Institute in Budapest, Hungary. She graduated with High Honors in 1996 with a degree in elementary education majoring in special education of motor-disabled children. Kinga was recruited to California in 1997 where she contributed to the establishment of two programs for children with cerebral palsy. Prior to Avalon, Kinga had been the Director of Step by Step CEC in Millbrae for 7 years. Kinga is a certified practitioner in the Anat Baniel Method®. She is a graduate of the Mastery Program which encompasses children with special needs. Kinga has an extensive private practice dedicated to children and teenagers with special needs. To contact Kinga, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 650 777 9131.
SARA HAWKINSON: DIRECTOR OF STUDENT LIFE, TEACHER-MIDDLE SCHOOL
Sara holds an M.A. and a California teaching credential in Special Education (Moderate to Severe Disabilities) along with an Orthopedically Impaired Added Authorization from San Francisco State University. Sara participated in the University California Deaf-Blind Services Partnership Program and the Autism Spectrum Endorsement Program at SFSU. Sara happily joined the Avalon team in 2008. To contact Sara e-mail her at email@example.com .
LIZZ SCHOELEN: DIRECTOR OF ACADEMICS AND INSTRUCTION, TEACHER-ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Lizzie holds an M.A. and a California teaching credential in Special Education (Moderate to Severe Disabilities) along with an Orthopedically Impaired Added Authorization from San Francisco State University. Lizzie participated in the University California Deaf-Blind Services Partnership Program and the Autism Spectrum Endorsement Program at SFSU. Prior to joining the Avalon team in 2008, Lizzie worked with children, teenagers and adults impacted by autism and intellectual disabilities for 9 years. Lizzie has a special interest in multi-sensory teaching approaches and integrating music (and events!) into curriculum. To contact Lizz e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org .
KARLA ALCANTAR: TEACHER-HIGH SCHOOL
Karla holds a master’s degree and California teaching credential in Physical and Health Impairments from San Francisco State University. She has over 10 years of experience working with children with special needs. Prior to working at Avalon, Karla worked as an AAC/AT special day class teacher and Orthopedically Impaired Specialist. From 2009-2011, she served as a special education Peace Corps volunteer for the Ministry of Education in Grenada where she developed special education needs programs in primary schools and provided training for teachers and administrators serving students with special needs. To contact Karla e-mail her at email@example.com .
JOEY HAMLIN: SENIOR SPEECH LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST
Joey Hamlin holds a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from San Jose State University. She has experience providing services to adult and pediatric populations in clinic, hospital and school settings. To contact Joey, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org .
ANDREA SONG: SPEECH LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST
Andrea holds a Master’s degree in Education, specializing in Speech-Language Pathology from San Jose State University. She has been part of the Avalon family since January of 2014, completing both her student externship experience and her clinical fellowship year at Avalon. Andrea was a recipient of the Project AACES (Augmentative and Alternative Communication in Educational Settings) Grant at SJSU and has worked with a variety of individuals with complex communication needs in clinical, educational, and community settings. To contact Andrea, e-mail her at email@example.com.
MICHELLE MARKOWITZ: SPEECH LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST
Michelle holds a Master’s degree in Communicative Disorders from San Francisco State University. In the fall of 2014, Michelle completed her student internship at The Avalon Academy and is now a Clinical Fellow providing speech, language, and AAC services to Avalon students. She has had experience working with adults and children with complex communication needs in both educational and clinical settings.
To contact Michelle, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org .
MAGDALENA GORECKA: DIRECTOR OF MOVEMENT EDUCATION, PHYSICAL THERAPIST
Magda Gorecka holds a Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy from Poland as well as a license from the Physical Therapy Board of California and has over a decade’s experience in PT working with children with physical disabilities including those with cerebral palsy. Additionally, she holds a Diploma in Sports Medicine from California. Magda is a certified practitioner in the Anat Baniel Method® and a graduate of the Mastery Program which encompasses children with special needs, as well as a Masgutova Method (MNRI) Core Specialist. To contact Magda, e-mail her at email@example.com .
BRENDA HUEY: PHYSICAL THERAPIST
Brenda Huey holds a Doctorate Degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Pacific in Stockton, California, as well as a license from the Physical Therapy Board of California. Additionally, she holds a BSc in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Neuromuscular studies from SFSU. Brenda’s professional aspirations to be a pediatric therapist evolved after volunteering in India in 2008 where she visited homes of underserved children with cerebral palsy and other motor impairments. She realized her passion for fostering children to achieve their movement potential and subsequently became involved with organizations such as the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and Special Olympics, which she still remains an active sports coach. Prior to graduate school, Brenda worked at Movement Discoveries, a pediatric therapy clinic where she aided in intensive therapies facilitated by the Universal Exercise Unit and TheraSuit methods. Her role expanded to include teaching Early Intervention groups, and aiding in aquatic therapy. Prior to joining The Avalon Academy, she worked for CCS. To contact Brenda, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org .
ANNA MOSKOVITS: PHYSICAL THERAPIST
Anna is a California licensed physical therapist with over 15 years of experience with newborns, infants, children, and adults with neurological impairments. Anna has helped her patients by leveraging a wide range of techniques, including soft tissue mobilization (Deveny Method), Neuro-Developmental Treatment (NDT), Kinesio Taping, Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES), and Vestibular Rehabilitation. Anna holds a B.Sc. degree in Physical Therapy from the Semmelweiss University in Budapest, and a second diploma in Soft Tissue Mobilization (Deveny Method), and is a member of the Association of Pediatric Therapists. To contact Anna, e-mail her at email@example.com .
David weller: Teacher of the visually IMPAIRED and ORIENTATION & MOBILITY SPECIALIST candidate
David is pursuing a Master's in Orientation and Mobility and a credential in Visual Impairments at San Francisco State University. He has been working with students who are visually impaired since 2014 with a variety of experiences at schools and blind rehab centers. David loves working with students to see them laugh, have fun, and grow in their independence. To contact David, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org .
SEAN ADAMS: MEDIA AND ART SPECIALIST, instructional assistant
Sean has been working with children who have special needs since 1997. He holds a BA in Communicative Disorders and enjoys helping to develop communication strategies for children who are non-verbal. As Avalon’s art and media specialist, Sean is in charge of documenting the life at Avalon. To contact Sean, e-mail him at email@example.com .
AMANDA TANIGUCHI: senior COORDINATOR OF STUDENT HEALTH, INSTRUCTIONAL ASSISTANT
Amanda has been working with children with special needs for over a decade. She brings commitment and dedication to her work and has years of experience in developing and implementing communication strategies for children who use augmentative and alternative communication. Amanda is currently pursuing a degree in Nursing. To contact Amanda, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org .
TONY BENAVIDEZ, RN: co-COORDINATOR OF STUDENT HEALTH, INSTRUCTIONAL ASSISTANT
Tony is a Registered Nurse. He has worked a number of years as an EMT and more recently as a school nurse. He has been involved with various non profit agencies supporting the special needs population. He has an interest in community integration pertaining to persons with disabilities. To contact Tony, e-mail him at email@example.com .
SAMUELE PALAZZI: REHAB EQUIPMENT SPECIALIST, INSTRUCTIONAL ASSISTANT
Samuele is currently studying music at CCSF after having studied language in Italy, Iceland, Norway and Spain. He has experience working with children with special needs in Norway and Italy. He believes in, and is working toward, bringing music into the lives of children with special needs. Samuele is Italian and can make real pizza. To contact Samuele, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org .
DENNIS ERFE: WEBSITE COORDINATOR
Dennis is pursuing a degree in physical therapy at UCSF. After working as an instructional assistant at Avalon for over two years, currently Dennis is managing Avalon's website. To contact Dennis, e-mail him at email@example.com .
adrian adair, instructional assistant, Sped teacher candidate
Adrian is pursuing a Master's & Teaching Credential in moderate/severe special education at San Francisco State University. Her background in the field of special education includes 3 years as an independent living skills instructor in Santa Cruz, CA as well as experience as a paraprofessional throughout San Francisco Unified School District. Adrian brings passion and dedication to her work and is thrilled to be a new member of the Avalon community. To contact Adrian, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org .
ADRINA ASHOORI: INSTRUCTIONAL ASSISTANT
Adrina holds a B.A. in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Kinesiology from California State University Stanislaus. She moved to the Bay Area from the Central Valley and became a part of the Avalon team early 2015. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology. To contact Adrina, email her at email@example.com .
Julio avalos: INSTRUCTIONAL ASSISTANT
Julio is currently attending San Francisco State University, where he is majoring in Kinesiology, emphasizing in Neuromuscular Science, and minoring in Athletic Coaching. After graduation, he hopes to pursue a degree in physical therapy and continue to contribute to The Avalon Academy, as he has a great interest on motor skills and human movement. He believes that education is important for the mind as is having a healthy body and mindset. To contact Julio, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org .
sesilia baca: INSTRUCTIONAL ASSISTANT
Sesilia received a B.S. in Kinesiology (Exercise & Movement Science) from SFSU and plans to apply for their Early Childhood Special Education M.A. program next Spring. Until then, she’s currently attending CCSF to obtain an Early Childhood Education Permit and Special Education Certificates. She has experience as a personal care aid for children with special needs and has lead activity classes for ages 1-14 years old. She’s excited to share her passion here with the Avalon team! To contact Sesilia, email her at email@example.com .
BRANDON BECERRA: INSTRUCTIONAL ASSISTANT
Brandon holds a B.A. in Criminal Justice from California State University Stanislaus. He graduated from a POST Academy in 2014 and has his AS in Administration of Justice from College of San Mateo. He is currently enrolled in a Masters Program at Notre Dame de Namur with ambitions on becoming a special education teacher. To contact Brandon, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org .
NATE BURRIS: INSTRUCTIONAL ASSISTANT
Nathan Burris graduated from the University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill, where he received a Bachelors of Science in Biology and Bachelors of Arts in Japanese. Since graduating, he has traveled the country, volunteered with numerous community projects and engaged in creative outlets, like costume design. As he works to pursue a career in physical therapy, he hopes to contribute to The Avalon Academy with his knowledge of Biology and his creative background. To contact Nate, email him at email@example.com .
Cathy castrillion: INSTRUCTIONAL ASSISTANT
Cathy holds a B.A. in child development. She entered the field of special education in 2000. Cathy loves working with individuals with special needs. Before Avalon she worked as a Day Program Coordinator in the East Bay.
During her spare time Cathy enjoys painting and taking road trips with her family. To contact Cathy, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Oscar escobedo: Instructional assistant
Oscar holds a B.S. in Kinesiology from San Francisco State University; his goal is a career in physical therapy. Previously he was a data network specialist, serving as a reservist in the Marine Corps. He is living in the San Francisco Parkside neighborhood and loves to explore the city. Talk to him about soccer or challenge him to a game of chess.To contact Oscar, email him at email@example.com .
KATIE GALLIPEAU: INSTRUCTIONAL ASSISTANT
Before Avalon, Katie worked with adults with varying disabilities for seven years. Katie first started off as a personal care assistant, and then supported individuals in transitioning from a Skilled Nursing Facility to the community, by supporting clients with recourses, medical support and advocacy. Katie has a strong passion in nonverbal communication such as ASL, and working with children. Which she is thankful to following her passion here at Avalon. To contact Katie, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Jamison ly: INSTRUCTIONAL ASSISTANT
Jamison is currently a senior at San Francisco State University studying Kinesiology with a concentration in exercise and movement sciences. After graduating, he plans to pursue a career in physical therapy. This is his first time working with children with special needs. To contact Jamison, email him at email@example.com .
anastasiia Movsesyan: instructional assistant
Anastasiia holds a Master's degree in German language with a specialization in German-English translation and German and English language education. Anastasiia is fluent in English, Russian, Ukrainian and German. She has taught foreign languages to both adults and children since 2008. While living in Ukraine, Anastasiia was involved in various charity projects, including teaching English and German to orphans. She moved from Ukraine to California in 2015 and joined The Avalon Academy in 2016. Anastasiia is thankful to share her passion for children with those at Avalon. She is currently pursuing a California teaching credential in the hopes to become a teacher in the near future. To contact Anastasiia, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Laurie Okamura-wong: INSTRUCTIONAL ASSISTANT
Laurie holds a bachelor’s degree in Child and Adolescent Development and post bachelor’s in Communicative Disorders. Laurie joined the Avalon team in the fall of 2015, and has been working with children with special needs since 2007. To contact Laurie, email her at email@example.com .
claire pohle, instructional assistant, Sped teacher candidate
Claire is currently pursuing her M.A. and teaching credential in Special Education (moderate/severe) at San Francisco State University. She graduated from the same institution in 2016 with a B.A. in Sociology and a minor in Special Education. Claire has worked with students with special needs since 2009 and is very excited to spend the rest of her career in this field. In addition to working in Special Education, Claire has directed summer camps and taught English abroad. She loves her seventeen-year-old cat and has a strong passion for social justice.To contact Claire, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org .
danielle ringgenberg, instructional assistant
Danielle holds a B.A in Psychology from California State University Northridge. She lived in Los Angeles for 7 years and recently moved back to the Bay Area. She has a passion for working with children with special needs and has been doing so since the age of 7. Her experience includes working 1:1 with children on the autism spectrum, coaching Special Olympic swimming, and teaching soccer to preschoolers. In her spare time, she enjoys playing soccer, cooking, and going on hikes with her dog. She is overjoyed to be a part of the Avalon community! To contact Danielle, email her at email@example.com .
KATRIZ VILLAR: INSTRUCTIONAL ASSISTANT
Katriz holds a B.A. in Social Work and is currently working towards a Masters degree in Social Work at San Jose State University. She has been working at a pediatric daycare center for kids with special needs for several years. Prior to working at Avalon, Katriz worked with underprivileged kids in public schools. Katriz hopes to continue her Social Work career working with children with special needs. To contact Katriz, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Avalon is fortunate in having a tremendous pool of special-education professionals we can call upon on an as-needed basis, many of whom work with us as a regular part of the team, including specialists in the following fields:
- Speech and Language
- Alternative, Augmentative Communication
- Assistive Technology
- Classroom Instruction
Individuals with kind hearts of all ages and backgrounds readily volunteer on a regular basis in very useful ways. They provide welcome hands in the classroom and in task-specific areas such as helping with meals, technology, fundraisers, administration, and the like. They range from young siblings of Avalon students, middle and high schoolers performing Community Service, and professionals from other fields such as Accounting, Banking, Medicine and Law.