“A formidable team provides model special education, with skill, care and compassion in a relaxed environment.”
Dr. Neil Sharp, MD

faculty

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 kinga@theavalonacademy.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 sara@theavalonacademy.org .


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 lizz@theavalonacademy.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 karla@theavalonacademy.org .


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 joey@theavalonacademy.org .


ANDREA SONG: SPEECH LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST

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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 andrea@theavalonacademy.org.


MICHELLE MARKOWITZ: SPEECH LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST

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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 michelle@theavalonacademy.org .


brenda huey: director of movement education, physical therapsit

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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 brenda@theavalonacademy.org .


MAGDALENA GORECKA: senior 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 magda@theavalonacademy.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 anna@theavalonacademy.org .


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 david@theavalonacademy.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 sean@theavalonacademy.org .


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 amanda@theavalonacademy.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 tony@theavalonacademy.org .


SAMUELE PALAZZI: REHAB EQUIPMENT SPECIALIST, INSTRUCTIONAL ASSISTANT

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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 samuele@theavalonacademy.org .

 

 


DENNIS ERFE: WEBSITE COORDINATOR

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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 dennis@theavalonacademy.org .


angel arrelano, instructional assistant


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 adrian@theavalonacademy.org .


ADRINA ASHOORI: INSTRUCTIONAL ASSISTANT

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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 adrina@theavalonacademy.org .


Julio avalos: INSTRUCTIONAL ASSISTANT

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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  julio@theavalonacademy.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 sesilia@theavalonacademy.org .


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 cathy@theavalonacademy.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 oscar@theavalonacademy.org .


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 katie@theavalonacademy.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 jamison@theavalonacademy.org .


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 anastasiia@theavalonacademy.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 laurie@theavalonacademy.org .


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 claire@theavalonacademy.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 danielle@theavalonacademy.org .


KATRIZ VILLAR: INSTRUCTIONAL ASSISTANT

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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 katriz@theavalonacademy.org .


PART-TIME/TEMPORARY FACULTY

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:

  • Vision
  • Speech and Language
  • Alternative, Augmentative Communication
  • Assistive Technology
  • Classroom Instruction

VOLUNTEERS

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.