“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, 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 kinga@theavalonacademy.org or call 650 777 9131.


SARA HAWKINSON: DIRECTOR OF STUDENT LIFE, teacher

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. She has over 15 years experience working in home, school, and community-based environments with children with disabilities. Sara happily joined the Avalon team in 2008. Questions regarding volunteer and reverse mainstreaming opportunities may be directed to Sara as she coordinates these programs at Avalon.To contact Sara e-mail her at sara@theavalonacademy.org .


LIZZ SCHOELEN: DIRECTOR OF ACADEMICS AND INSTRUCTION, teacher

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: director of transitional services, TEACHER

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 .


claire pohle: intern special education teacher

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Claire holds a master's degree from San Francisco State University, and is currently pursuing a teaching credential in Special Education (moderate/severe). 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 has a strong passion for social justice.To contact Claire, email her at claire@theavalonacademy.org .


JOEY HAMLIN: director of speech lANGUAGE THERAPY AND AAC SERVICES, 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 joey@theavalonacademy.org .


ANDREA SONG: SPEECH LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST

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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 andrea@theavalonacademy.org.


MICHELLE MARKOWITZ: SPEECH LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST

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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. Prior to her time at Avalon, Michelle worked for 4 years at Behavioral Intervention for Autism (BIA) with a variety of children with autism spectrum disorders as an interventionist and case manager.  To contact Michelle, e-mail her at michelle@theavalonacademy.org .


dawn ferrer: speech language pathologist, consultant

Dawn is a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist with nearly 30 years of experience working with children and adults in the San Francisco Bay Area. For the past 18 years Dawn has been in private practice specializing in early intervention, autism spectrum disorders (ASD), social-cognitive learning, and parent coaching. She has presented both nationally and locally on various topics including effective use of mobile technology to enhance communication, techniques empowering parents and caregivers to become communication and social skills facilitators, and early intervention tips and techniques in multiple settings. Her collaborations with physical therapists, occupational therapists, educators, psychologists, behavioral therapists and other gifted speech therapists have given her a well-rounded perspective and breadth of knowledge she uses everyday to serve her beloved clients.


amy lee: Speech Language pathologist, clinical fellow

Amy earned her graduate degree at San Jose State University (SJSU). Prior to doing so, she completed her Bachelor of Science in Human Development at the University of California, Davis. Throughout her graduate career, Amy has gained experience in treating and assessing individuals with complex communication needs within clinical, educational, and community settings for school age children as well as adults. Both of her graduate student internships were completed under the supervision of experienced AAC specialists. Amy was also 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. After completing one of her student internships at The Avalon Academy, Amy is thrilled to continue working together with staff members to provide the highest quality services to Avalon Academy's students. To contact Amy, email her at amy@theavalonacademy.org .


brenda huey: director of movement education, physical therapist

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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 .


alisa stegmaier: orientation & mobilty specialist

Alisa is an experienced Orientation and Mobility Specialist dedicated to working with students who are visually impaired. She enjoys being able to connect students with their environment so that they are able to travel as independently as possible and enjoy meaningful interactions with the people and nature they encounter. Alisa holds a M.A. in Special Education (with an emphasis in Orientation and Mobility) and a Clinical Rehabilitative Services Credential from San Francisco State University. Her B.A. is in International Studies (with an emphasis in Cultural Anthropology) from the University of California, San Diego. Alisa’s career in the field of Orientation and Mobility began in 2013. She values positive interpersonal relationships, experiential learning, physical movement… and having fun! To contact Alisa, email her at alisa@theavalonacademy.org .


Janet Macks: Teacher of the visually impaired, orientation & mobilty specialist consultant

Janet holds an M.A. in Special Education as well as a California teaching credential, a VI credential (Teacher for the Visually Impaired) and a rehabilitation credential in Orientation and Mobility.   Janet has been teaching students (pre-K to 22 years old) with visual impairments for 30 years.  For 20 years she was the assistant instructor at San Francisco State University in the Orientation and Mobility Program.  Janet has taught and trained teachers and teaching staffs in both Thailand and Sri Lanka.  She has, with other educators and professionals, conducted on-site trainings in the area of visual impairment. 


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 .


Jennifer camaclang, LVN: student health and instructional assistant


SAMUELE PALAZZI: REHAB EQUIPMENT SPECIALIST

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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 .

 

 


claudia arguero: instructional assistant


angel arrelano, instructional assistant

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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 angel@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 .


alex escobar: instructional assistant 

Alex is currently attending California State University East Bay and will be graduating in 2019 with a Bachelors degree in Human Development with a concentration on Childhood Development. Upon graduation Alex is planning to apply for graduate school in the area of special education or occupational therapy. For fun she loves to dance, read and volunteer. Alex is grateful to be part of the Avalon Team! To contact Alex, email her at alex@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 .


sharon faulmino: INSTRUCTIONAL ASSISTANT

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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 sharon@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 .


Natalie gomez: instructional assistant

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To contact Natalie, email her at natalie@theavalonacademy.org .


Kacee johnson, instructional assistant

Kacee graduated from San Jose State University in May 2018 with a B.A in Communicative Disorders and Sciences. She plans to take a year off of school to gain more experience with working with children with special needs. During her year off, she plans to apply to graduate schools in the hopes of attending a graduate program in Fall of 2019 to further her career in becoming a Speech Language Pathologist. Kacee has always enjoyed working with and taking care of children. She has been teaching swim lessons to children of all ages and abilities including those with special needs for 5+ years now. She loves this part of her life. She is excited to be a part of the Avalon Team and learning from everyone that teaches, works, and even the students at the school. To contact Kacee, email her at kacee@theavalonacademy.org .

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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 .

 


cristian ramirez, instructional assistant

Cristian holds a B.S. in Kinesiology from Sonoma State University. His experience includes working as an aide with kids at a school where he facilitated their learning, working at physical therapy clinics and coaching recreational soccer for kids. In the future he plans on returning to school and being an Adaptive P.E. teacher or Occupational Therapist. He has lived in the Bay Area all of his life and enjoys bike riding, walking his dog, and running in his spare time. Also, he plays on two soccer teams and has been playing the sport since he was 3. Cristian is grateful and excited to be part of the Avalon Team! To contact Cristian, email him at cristian@theavalonacademy.org .


Lauren Rally, instructional assistant 

Lauren holds a B.A. in Psychology from Sonoma State University and she is planning on pursuing a Masters Degree in pediatric Occupational Therapy. She has previously worked as an aide for a child with cerebral palsy at a school for children with learning and behavioral differences, and has also volunteered at occupational therapy clinics, after school daycares, and at Alzheimer’s care clinics. Lauren loves Bay Area sports teams, playing basketball, and she also enjoys playing with her dog. She is excited to be a part of The Avalon team! To contact Lauren, email her at lauren@theavalonacademy.org .

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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 .


ann smith, instructional assistant 

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Ann brings over a decade of expereince working with children with Cerebral Palsy. To contact Ann, email her at ann@theavalonacademy.org .


Jazmine tyler, instructional assistant 

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Jazmine, originally from San Diego, came to San Francisco to pursue a bachelors in Kinesiology with a minor in Africana studies. She is expected to graduated in May of 2018 from San Francisco State University. Jazmine is planning to pursue a masters in physical therapy. Prior to Avalon she worked for the YMCA as an after school program teacher for underprivileged kids, giving them guidance and help through school and personal life. Jazmine really enjoyed making a difference and she is excited to be apart of a new community to create new memorable experiences. She enjoys working out, eating and exploring the beautiful San Francisco. To contact Jazmine, email her at jazmine@theavalonacademy.org .


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.