“A formidable team provides model special education, with skill, care and compassion in a relaxed environment.”
Dr. Neil Sharp, MD
KINGA E. CZEGENI: FOUNDER, executive director
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.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 email@example.com .
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 firstname.lastname@example.org .
JOEY HAMLIN: SENIOR SPEECH LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST
Joey Hamlin is a licensed and certified speech language pathologist who earned her Master’s from San Jose State University and Bachelor’s degree from Smith College. She has received specialized training in the areas of augmentative and alternative communication and assistive technology (AAC/AT), feeding and swallowing disorders, and bilingual language development. She has experience delivering services to both adult and pediatric populations in clinic, hospital and school settings, and provides mentorship and training to SLP graduate students and clinical fellows. Joey has enjoyed presenting locally on topics related to AAC assessment and implementation, and the use of AAC strategies and AT tools to facilitate language and literacy development for individuals with complex communication needs and cortical visual impairment. She promotes an integrated and collaborative multi-disciplinary team approach as a means to provide high quality and comprehensive SLP and AAC/AT services and support. To contact Joey, e-mail her at email@example.com .
ANDREA SONG: SPEECH LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST
Andrea is a licensed and certified Speech Language Pathologist, who earned her Master’s degree from San Jose State University. She completed her undergraduate studies in Linguistics at the University of California, Los Angeles. Andrea has extensive experience in treating and assessing individuals with complex communication needs within clinical, educational, and community settings. Andrea was a recipient of the Project AACES (Augmentative and Alternative Communication in Educational Settings) Grant at SJSU during which she received comprehensive training in AAC assessments and interventions. She has successfully procured multiple speech generating devices through various funding sources, including private insurance and California Children's Services. She has also spoken to graduate students at San Francisco State University on AAC/AT (Assistive Technology) related topics, including an overview of various AAC/AT tools, goal development, and implementation of AAC strategies. Andrea has also had opportunities to mentor undergraduate and graduate level students in the field. To contact Andrea, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MICHELLE MARKOWITZ: SPEECH LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST
Michelle holds a B.A. in Psychology from UC Santa Barbara and a Master’s degree in Communicative Disorders from San Francisco State University. While earning her Master's degree, Michelle participated in the Project CLLASS (Collaborating for Language and Literacy through Augmentative Systems) Grant in which she received specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of individuals with complex communication needs. As part of this program, she also attended the Building Bridges Camp and Training Institute where she collaborated with other professionals in the field to develop and implement AAC systems for children ages 5-17 years. After graduating, Michelle completed both her student internship and clinical fellowship at The Avalon Academy, and is now a full-time speech-language pathologist providing speech, language, and AAC services to Avalon students. In addition to working with children, she has experience working with adults with complex communication needs in both clinical and community settings. To contact Michelle, e-mail her at email@example.com .
brenda huey: director of movement education, physical therapsit
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 .
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 email@example.com .
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 firstname.lastname@example.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 email@example.com .
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 firstname.lastname@example.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 email@example.com .
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 firstname.lastname@example.org .
SAMUELE PALAZZI: REHAB EQUIPMENT SPECIALIST
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 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 .
angel arrelano, instructional assistant
Angel holds a B.S. in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Movement Science from San Francisco State University. In the past, Angel worked as a home care aide of elderly clients with dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, as well as with children with Autism and Down’s Syndrome at the Pomeroy Center in San Francisco. His next goal is to pursue a career in physical therapy. Angel loves exploring new activities, taking his dog for long walks and socializing with friends while playing soccer and baseball. To contact Angel, email him at email@example.com .
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 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 .
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 firstname.lastname@example.org .
sharon faulmino: INSTRUCTIONAL ASSISTANT
Sharon holds a B.S. in Kinesiology with a Minor in Special Education from San Francisco State University. Sharon is planning to pursue a degree in pediatric occupational therapy. Prior to Avalon, Sharon was an intern at Community Gatepath's children and adult therapy service program. Sharon has experience working with children with autism using ABA therapy, leading movement activities for youth at the Pomeroy Center in San Francisco and volunteering with children with disabilities in the Philippines. To contact Sharon, email her 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 .
Natalie gomez: instructional assistant
To contact Natalie, email her at email@example.com .
Paul Julian Gomez: instructional assistant
To contact Paul Julia, email him 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 .
holly rodriguez: instructional assitant
Holly graduated from SFSU with her bachelors in psychology. She also worked at UCSF studying diseases and earned a certificate in medical research. More recently, she worked as a behavioral therapist for a year in a special education room at a middle school in the east Bay Area. She loves kids and aspires to be a special education teacher some day soon. To contact Holly, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org .
ann smith: instructional assistant
To contact Ann, email her at email@example.com .
Jazmine tyler: instructional assistant
To contact Jazmine, email 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.