Environmental Education, 2nd Grade

Dear Bolinas-Stinson Families,

I hope you are having a wonderful summer and are looking forward to the start of the school year. I am more excited about this year than any school year I can remember. We have an amazing line-up of teachers and specialists delivering outstanding instructional and enrichment programs for our students. This year we will be providing biliteracy instruction in both Spanish & English for all students, as well as introducing a new Performing Arts program, alongside our already phenomenal Art Shops. I am thrilled that we have been able to address two school priorities identified at our North Star Event last year. I know you will be as excited as I am, when you check out the latest school updates below!


  • Welcome Gabriela Fuentes, Our New Biliteracy Teacher 

Gabriela has twenty eight years of bilingual teaching experience in San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley.  When she is not teaching, Gabriela enjoys reading great books, walking her dog Cash, and cooking up a good meal. She has three older children and is excited to join the Bolinas-Stinson team.

“In my work I have always valued the importance of building a strong connection between school and family. I look forward to being part of the commitment to reaching all families in the Bolinas community. With my experience in both bilingual and dual immersion programs, I have learned how to support students at their various levels; from creating spaces for native Spanish speakers and their families, to using exciting curriculum for Spanish language acquisition. I feel lucky to join the Bolinas community where I have already felt such a warm welcome. I look forward to working with everyone!” 

Gabriella will be providing two sessions per week of Spanish instruction for grades Prek-8th. She will also be working one-on-one and in small groups with EL students to provide Designated English Language Development. Gabriella is excited to be working closely with homeroom teachers and Britton, our Education Specialist, to ensure that our EL students get what they need to succeed as well as teaching everyone Spanish!

Gabriela will also be working with Nuria and Charlie to increase outreach to our families who are English Learners and will be working with me to coordinate a new BSUSD English Learner Advisory Committee (ELAC). More to come on this as the year gets started! Feel free to reach out to Gabriela if you have questions or need assistance at: gfuentes@bolinas-stinson.org.

  • Welcome Julia Chanin, Our New Performing Arts Teacher

Julia is thrilled to join the BSUSD community as our new Performing Arts teacher! She has a diverse musical background focused on the confluence of music and movement from around the world. Julia grew up in Marin County and fell in love with the natural world, surfing the patch and exploring West Marin trails. 

“Many of my friends live in Bolinas, and my family resides in greater West Marin. I’m so excited for the opportunity to root here even more deeply through the school community. To me, music, dance, and theater are interconnected forms of expression, and I strive to weave them together through lots of fun and play in class. I see the performing arts as a cornerstone of community culture, and I can’t wait to connect and to highlight student work at school ceremonies, gatherings, and performances. I speak some Spanish and Portuguese (and I’m trying to improve), and I’m really excited to help out with the Bi-Literacy program as well. I hope to be of service to the school and town, and to learn from the very talented community here. I can’t wait to meet you all, and I’m honored to get to be a part of raising the next generation of West Marin artists!"

When she’s not at school, you can find Julia surfing, hiking, cooking, jamming, or performing around the Bay Area. She is a jazz saxophonist and singer, and plays in an SF-based band called Sally Mango. She’s a certificated music teacher, certified yoga teacher, and also teaches a class called Personal Sustainability at Credo High School.

Julia will be providing 1-2 sessions on Performing Arts and yoga instruction to grades PreK-8th per week. Julia will be working with students in the Quesada (our new designated Performing Arts area) and visiting classrooms on the Stinson Campus. It will be wonderful to hear the students' voices and instruments making music on both campuses again! Julia is excited to work with teachers to help enhance what students are studying at each grade level through music, drama and more! Please feel free to reach out to Julia with ideas or questions at: jchanin@bolinas-stinson.org

  • Welcome Zach Metz, Our New Middle School Teacher 

Zachary Metz is a science teacher and curriculum developer who has taught in California for the last 10 years. Zach holds a B.S. in Botany from Cal Poly Humboldt and a Master’s in Teaching Biology from Miami University.  Zach was the 2016 Teacher of the Year, where he taught experiential high school biology and physics courses before discovering his love for teaching middle school science. In addition to teaching, Zach has also partnered with organizations such as TED-Ed to create science content, with some of his videos reaching well over a million views.

Zach’s teaching style is hands-on, student-driven, and environmentally focused. Zach truly believes that learning should constantly flow out of the four walls of the classroom and into the greater world around us. He is excited to teach at Bolinas because of the incredible opportunities to connect students with nature and the smaller class sizes that create a space for more authentic learning to take place. Zach strongly believes that student success is created through meaningful relationships, and he is looking forward to crafting a curriculum that can be tailored to students’ individual needs. 

Zach also likes participating in the process of science and has done research studying birds in the jungles of Borneo and Peru for his Master’s degree. In addition to working, Zach enjoys spending time with his family- hiking, surfing, and identifying plants in the headlands around Marin. 

Zach will be teaching Science to grades 6-8th and working closely with ML and Ilie to provide an engaging and integrated Middle School Program. Zach is thrilled to work with ML and Ilie to provide experiential learning opportunities for our middle schoolers! Zach will also be working with Rachael to oversee the math instruction for our 4th graders. You can contact Zach with questions or ideas at: zmetz@bolinas-stinson.org.

  • Welcome Charlie Lopez-Alvarado, our New Ceramics Specialist and Continuing ParaEducator

While Charlie is not new to us, he is new to the Ceramics Specialist position. Charlie is excited to be working with the other art shop specialists and students in this new role. Charlie is passionate about the Ceramic Arts and has a background in ceramics instruction as well as subbing for Kathy Bustamante in the past. Kathy will continue to support and train Charlie in his new position. Charlie will continue in his role as a much loved paraeducator when not in the ceramics studio. Please join me in congratulating Charlie on his new role.


We are fortunate to have the most dedicated and innovative instructional staff around! 

Pre-K Pros ~ Julie Hartman Pre-K Director; Omar Rifkin, Pre-K Instructor; Nicole Amanson Pre-K Instructor

What an outstanding team for our littlest munchkins! Julie, Omar, and Nicole bring love, caring, and fun to our kids every day! They are constantly on the move providing new experiences and nurturing an early love of learning and discovery. You can always find something good cookin’ in the pre K ~ just follow your nose and listen for the music!

Kaleidoscopic Kindergarteners ~ Karen Buckenmeyer, teacher and Joy Von Thaer, paraeducator

Just like the name above, our Kindergarten program is made up of a complex mix of elements that constantly fascinates and engages our kindergarten students! Karen and Joy have worked hard to design open ended, curiosity piquing activities and projects for some of our busiest and curious students. Whether it is engineering and designing a solution or learning how to take care of each other, this is where it is happening.

Fantastic First Graders ~ Lauren Pollak, teacher and Kathy Oakander, paraeducator (and Bubba)

Lauren and Kathy bring their experience and laughter to our first graders. If you don’t know who Bubba is, you soon will! Lauren and Kathy make learning fun and exciting with lots of dancing, celebrating, and leading students to discover the best in themselves and each other!

Sensational Second Graders ~ Willow Regnery teacher and Charlie Lopez-Alvarado, paraeducator

Willow is always on the move and her kids love it! She has some amazing field trips and hands-on learning activities planned for her adventurous second graders, you never know where they will turn up and what they will be studying next! Willow nurtures independence and cooperation in her students for the perfect mix of fun and learning.

Thrilling Third and Fascinating Fourth Graders ~ Rachael Dressler, teacher and Colin Schlitt, paraeducator

What a team! Rachael and Colin work well together to provide engaging and individualized instruction for their students in this new combo class. Rachael loves getting her kids out into our very own pollinator garden for fun and engaging Art, Science, and Language Arts activities! Her students love learning how to express themselves in new and innovative ways.

Phenomenal Fifth Graders ~ Anna Tosick, teacher and Charlie Lopez-Alvarado, paraeducator

Anna works with her students to develop deep and meaningful friendships while learning about our local environment and getting out into nature. Anna is a dedicated naturalist, and inspires her students with her passion for discovery of the world around her. You never know what you will find when hanging out with Anna and her kids - everything is an adventure!

Savvy Sixth, Scintillating Seventh & Effervescent Eighth Graders ML Bryan, Zach Metz, and Ilie Watterson

ML Bryan 6th-7th Grade Homeroom & 6th-8th Grade Humanities

ML brings her fun and energetic spirit to everything she does making the curriculum engaging and meaningful. She brings real world learning to her students and takes advantage of our local environment with hands-on learning experiences in the field. Her students love experiencing her unique and innovative field trips and activities.

Zach Mets 8th Grade Homeroom, 6th-8th Grade Science, and 4th Grade Math (see bio above)

Zach is all about hands-on and project based learning to get his students motivated and learning on a deeper level. Zach hopes to bring his makerspace experience to his students by integrating science and engineering into the curriculum and is excited to get our middle schoolers outside the classroom for more real world experiences.

Ilie Watterson (6th-8th Grade Math)

Ilie brings her positive outlook, enthusiasm, and passion for math to her students. Ilie loves teaching upper level math to our students and is looking forward to a fun year of discovery and learning with her students. Ilie loves to gamify math and is always finding fresh ways to get her students energized to learn!


Our students have loads of fantastic enrichment programs integrated into their daily schedule. This year we are pleased to be offering the following programs to all students PreK-8th grade taught by the most amazing teachers and specialists!

Biliteracy Instruction with Gabriela Fuentes (see bio above) 

At our North Star Event, our school community shared that Spanish/English biliteracy for our students has been a desire for many years. We are thrilled to offer our students two Spanish classes a week as well as English Language Development for students who are English Learners. Stay tuned for more information about more outreach to Families who are English Learners!

Library with Grace Godino

Join me in celebrating Grace’s 30th year of service with BSUSD! She continues to nurture our students' love of books and reading by cultivating a unique and beautiful collection of books for our library. Grace always finds time to share a meaningful book with our students that inspires and delights!

Performing Arts and Yoga with Julia Chanin (see bio above)

We are thrilled that we will have a new, integrated Performing Arts program! Parents and staff listed this as a priority at our North Star Event last year. Julia will be working with students to bring the curriculum to life through music and movement. Be on the lookout for upcoming student performances this year!

Physical Education with Coach Kelly Onorato

Coach Kelly keeps our kids movin’ & groovin’! She has tons of great activities planned to develop our student’s endurance, sequential skills, and coordination as part of the California PE standards. Coach Kelly also organizes and runs fun group activities for our students on the Bolinas Campus at recess.

Mixed Media with Nuria Lee

Nuria is always surprising her students with new and innovative project ideas. She listens to her students and works with them to incorporate their ideas and requests into our already amazing Art program. Nuria has some great, new ideas for our kids this year!

Painting and Drawing with Janis Yerington

Janis’ passion for painting and drawing combined with her kind and generous spirit creates an artistic learning environment like nothing else! Students love to discover what they can do under her tutelage, and thrive in the nurturing, creative environment she cultivates.

Ceramics with Charlie Lopez-Alvarado

Charlie is thrilled to be working with students as the new Ceramics instructor. He has been hard at work getting ready during the summer and has some fantastic projects planned for this year! Charlie brings his love of clay and great relationships with students to make this year marvelous!

Steam Enhanced Wood Shop with Oliver Whitcroft

Oliver’s easy going and curious attitude gets our students eager to learn new skills and create with freedom. Oliver has been working to acquire new technologies to engage students and keep the curriculum fresh and relevant. Oliver loves helping our students to learn new technological skills as they dream, design, and build their projects.

Look for more to great school updates to come soon!


Michelle Stephens