Principal Veronica Valerio Duncan
Veronica Valerio Duncan comes to Sylvia Mendez from BUSD, where she was Coordinator of Professional Development for Administrators, teachers and staff. This is her seventeenth year as an educator, eight of which she served as a Spanish Bilingual Teacher, two years as a K–8 Literacy Coach, and seven years as an Administrator. She is also excited about the work this learning community will conduct together as we continue to design a caring, nurturing, learning environment that expects academic excellence from all students as we phase in an exemplary TWI program.
Ms. Valerio Duncan is a collaborative, supportive, communicative, and active leader, who relies greatly on the expertise of a strong team, and she is looking forward to collaborating with the Sylvia Mendez community as we work to meet the following goals:
Build community as a staff and as a community to increase student success
Increase the academic achievement of all students through strong instructional practice as we launch the common core state standards
Implement structured ELD blocks and the language lab model as we continue to refine the instructional practices you have focused on in the past years.
She enjoys working with Staff, SGC, ELAC, and the PTA to ensure that Sylvia Mendez’s students are our priority, and that they are nurtured to be outstanding citizens with global competencies.
TK / Transitional Kindergarten
Ely Amador-Edelin (Portable #1)
Hi, my name is Ely Amador-Edelin (Ms. Amador) and this is my 20th year as a Two-Way Immersion teacher in Berkeley. I was born and raised in San Francisco and benefitted from bilingual education as a child. My experiences have led me to be passionate about educating my students to be bilingual, bicultural, and bi-literate. I received my bachelor’s degree in Developmental Psychology from UC Santa Cruz and my Masters in Education from Mills College. I taught first and second grade for 16 years before moving to TWI Transitional Kindergarten.
Erika Englund (Portable #2)
Hi, I am Teacher Erika. I love working with TK students, but in my 15 years of teaching I have also taught kindergarten, and 4th, 5th and 6th grades. I love how music brings people together so I sing a lot with my community and my students. I also enjoy nature and being outside. I work hard to make school a joyful and loving place for children to maximize their learning and development. I earned my B.A. from Oberlin College in Ohio and my credential through UC Berkeley.
Lourdes Rivas (Room 101)
My Name is Lourdes Rivas. I teach Kindergarten. I am a big believer in the power that a healthy student-teacher-family relationship has on a student's success. I am an alumni of University of San Francisco and University of California Los Angeles.
I have spent 7 years working with youth in after school programs and 4 years teaching Kindergarten at Sylvia Mendez Elementary. I am passionate about social justice, children's books, and being the adult in kids' lives that I wish I had as a kid.
Rocio Guzman (Room 109)
My name is Rocio Guzman. I am a big believer in a class community full of love, respect, and passion for learning. I am a graduate of the University of Lima in Peru and San Francisco State University. I have spent the past 9 years teaching in public schools. I have been teaching Kindergarten for the past 6 years at Sylvia Mendez, and prior to that I taught 1st and 2nd grade in the San Francisco and Pittsburg Unified School Districts. I am passionate about teaching, learning, music, dancing, building relationships, and community.
Andrea Calderon (Room107)
My Name is Andrea Calderon I teach 1st grade TWI. I am a great believer in learning with my students, creating community in our classroom and having fun together. I am an alumnus of Mount Holyoke College and SFSU. I have spent 20 years in public school education where I have taught every grade in three Bay area districts. I am passionate about the defense of human rights and social justice.
Erica Gallegos (Room 104)
My name is Erica Gallegos. I teach First grade. I am a big believer that all children have the right and are capable of learning and growing in an inclusive environment, with care and support to become creative, critical thinkers and collaborative people. I am an alumna of UC Davis. I am going into my 10th year as an educator. From teaching in my hometown of Fairfield to working with teachers in Peace Corps in Panama to the past 5 years with SFUSD. I’ve taught 6th, 5th and kinder. I am passionate about dancing, music, yoga, nature, and reading.
Emily Blossom (Room 103)
My name is Emily Blossom. I teach first grade. I am a big believer in perseverence. Things will get hard, but if you know how to weather the difficulties, you can survive anything! I am an alumna of University of New Mexico, and Mills College. I have spent 12 years teaching kindergarten and first grade. I am passionate about teaching reading, arts integrated learning, singing, traveling, being active and outdoors.
Betty Zabala (Room 105)
My Name is Betty Zabala. I teach 2nd grade. I am a big believer in the power of love and unity. I also believe a teacher can have a huge impact in the life of her/his students by building strong relationships and holding high expectations of them. I am an alumna of City University of New York (B.A.) and St. John's University (M.A.). I have spent 8 years teaching Bilingual and Dual Language at the elementary level and 3 years teaching special education in middle school. I am passionate about teaching and nature.
Lucero Lupercio (Room 201)
My Name is Lucero Lupercio. I teach third grade TWI! I am a big believer in connecting with families and students. I am an alumna of CSU Stanislaus with a Liberal Studies BA and Multiple Subject teaching credential with BCLAD. I have spent three years as a third grade teacher where I teach math, reading, writing, science, history, art and social-emotional skills in English and in Spanish. I am proud to say that Sylvia Mendez is my first teaching job and hopefully my last! I am passionate about meeting students where they’re at and pushing them forward.
Sydney Villareal-Kolber (Room 203)
My name is Sydney Villareal-Kolber. I teach third grade. I am a big believer in respecting others’ beliefs. I am an alumni of University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I have spent three years teaching in Texas. I am passionate about nature.
Andy Henderson (room 204)
My Name is Andy Henderson. I teach fourth grade. I am a big believer in equity, and I support multiculturalism. I am an alumnus of Cal with a BA in Chinese. I have spent 20 years as a teacher and a collaborator where I inspire a love of learning. Prior to working as a teacher I spent 18 years as a child and a learner. I am passionate about food.
Gladis Estrada (Room 205)
My Name is Gladis Estrada. I teach fourth grade. I am a big believer in education, I support equality and a safe classroom environment. I am an alumna of UC Santa Cruz with a Masters degree in Education. I have spent 1 year as a third grade teacher where I taught students social-emotional wellness along with the common core curriculum. I spent 5 years as a student and during my my intern at the National Education Association in the Human Civil Rights Department. I am passionate about teaching.
Yessica Frias-Gonzalez (Room 206)
I have been living and teaching in the bay area for the last 13 years, my 12th year teaching in Berkeley. I have a beautiful 6 year old also attending Sylvia Mendez as a first grader. My favorite things to do include: reading, going to the movies, spending time with my family and running. I run a lot! I am dedicated to making the best of every little moment life has to give. It is my goal to provide every child with both interesting and challenging learning experiences throughout the school year. I am looking forward to a wonderful year!
Additional teaching staff
Robin Harley (Science Teacher)
My name is Robin Harley, and I teach science. I am a big believer in trying your best. I am a graduate of Haverford College and UC Berkeley. I have spent one year teaching in Costa Rica, twelve years in San Lorenzo, and the last four years in Berkeley. I am passionate about learning. I especially love science and exploring the oceans and nature.
Edith Scripps (RTI Teacher)
My Name is Ms. Edy Scripps. I teach Reading Intervention. I am a big believer in students' ability to become strong readers. I am an alumna of University of Illinois Chicago. I have spent 1 year as a third grade teacher where I taught students social-emotional wellness along with the common core curriculum. I spent 41 years as a bilingual teacher in preschools, elementary schools and an alternative high school. I am passionate about art and swimming.
Vanessa Sinai (Math Intervention Teacher)
My name is Vanessa Sinai. I teach Math Intervention. I am a big believer in creativity, community, imagination, and love. I am an alumna of UCLA and UC Berkeley. I have spent 8 years teaching 4th and 5th grade in BUSD. Before that I taught 1st grade in San Francisco Unified. I am passionate about: teaching, learning, spending time with friends and family, building community, and traveling.
Dario Ciarlantini (PE Teacher)
My name is Dario Ciarlantini (Coach C.). I teach PE TK-5. I am a big believer in physical fitness as a life-long goal. I am an alumnus of Bologna University (ITALY). I have spent 6 years teaching PE. I am passionate about teaching students about soccer, tennis, swimming, and fitness.
Kerry McKee (bilingual substitute)
I am Ms. McKee. I am excited to be joining Sylvia Mendez this year as a bilingual substitute. I have eight years of experience teaching in Mt. Diablo and Alameda Unified, and have taught everything from Kindergarten to high school!
I recently graduated from SFSU's MA program in Instructional Technologies, and I'm excited to use technology in new ways this year. When I'm not working I like riding my bike, playing my violin and reading.