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Our Team

Our team of talented, dedicated ACDS educators work as a team to provide a safe, nurturing, educational, and fun Summer Camp program. For any questions about our Summer Camp program, please email summercamps@almadencountryday.org

Summer Camp Leadership Team

Catie Weston

As a middle school math and advocacy teacher, Catie seeks opportunities to help students connect classroom learning with the real world. In her Algebra classes, students use motion detectors to create distance-time graphs, and they graph linear and exponential functions by modeling bouncy ball bounces. Catie has also coached volleyball and swimming, taught sewing as an elective, played in an adult softball league, and built custom new window screens! Catie values the many experiences that she has had, and is committed to developing similar opportunities for the students.

Catie is passionate about our summer camp, as it promotes student exploration, free from any pressure. Learning is experiential and is focused on curiosity, creativity, and enjoyment. Catie has ensured that the ACDS camps have something for everyone: art, drama, sports, coding, astronomy, robotics, and more. Catie looks forward to watching the children play joyfully, meet new friends, and engage intently in creative learning. She has gathered a strong and enthusiastic group of teachers to help make it all happen. 

Heather Arguello

Heather Arguello is the Librarian at ACDS and the parent of an elementary student at the school.  With over 10 years in education teaching a variety of grade levels and topics, she realized she was most passionate about reading and literacy.  Her passion for reading, literacy and books lead her to become the librarian here at ACDS.  In this role, she teaches Pre-K through 8th grade which allows her to know every student on campus.  Her favorite part of being a librarian is facilitating students’ love of reading as they explore books and see first hand all the knowledge, excitement, lessons, and entertainment that await them within a book. 

Heather is incredibly excited about our summer camp program because it aligns so well with our school’s mission of discovering the gifts in every child.  The wide variety of camp offerings allows campers to explore a variety of topics to help determine which subjects and activities they most enjoy.  Heather is looking forward to seeing all of the smiles that will reflect the joyful learning environment that is occurring this summer and making wonderful memories with the campers.

Elizabeth Pombo

Elizabeth Pombo has called ACDS her home for over 17 years teaching kindergarten through fifth grade. Her current students benefit from reading, writing, and math support using a multi-sensory approach that is explicit and sequential. Elizabeth understands that a child learns best with a strong foundation of self-confidence and helps her students recognize their strengths and maintain a growth mindset. Traveling is a passion, and Elizabeth finds ways to foster a global perspective in her students. Recognizing this as an essential skill, she is encouraged by her students growing curiosity and values the opportunity to build empathy and understanding of our world's diversity and interconnectivity. Elizabeth believes learning and fun should be synonymous and summer camps are the perfect opportunity to provide that experience. Whether a child is practicing something they enjoy or experimenting with a new skill, Elizabeth and the summer camp team aim to provide a safe environment for campers to thrive.

Amanda Talbott

Amanda Talbott has been part of the ACDS community since 2020, when her daughter, Emory, enrolled as a Kindergartener. She's been a regular face at ACDS over the past 2 school years, serving as a frequent substitute teacher for both elementary and middle school, including a long-term substitute position teaching middle school math.  Amanda also coached 5th/6th grade girls volleyball, with her team clinching the co-league championship title for ACDS. She's also taught softball and cheerleading and loves watching and playing most sports. 

This is Amanda's second Summer as a part of the ACDS Summer Camp program. Last Summer, she led two drama camps, one of which put on an original musical. Amanda is excited to join the ACDS Summer Camp Leadership team this year as the Sports Division Lead.  

Additionally, Amanda served as the director for the August Back to School Camp in Fall 2023 and will be continuing in that role for August 2024.

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Our Camp Leaders

Samantha Abouav

Mrs. Samantha Abouav has worked in the field of music education for more than 16 years and has an extensive performing background as an Operatic vocalist and as a singer/songwriter. As an Orff certified music educator, Mrs. Abouav teaches music through speech, movement/dance, and play. She is passionate about Carl Orff's philosophy of experiencing joy and play while making music. Outside of school, Mrs. Abouav enjoys playing guitar and singing, playing with her kids, cuddling her two dogs and spending time with family. She is excited to share her love for both Musical Theatre and Orff with children through several camps this summer. This will be Mrs. Abouav's 2nd consecutive year teaching summer camp.

Kineta Abraham

Kineta Abraham is a fourth grade teacher who has been teaching at ACDS for four years. Her love of teaching, interest in other cultures, and desire to travel led to her international teaching experience in Japan and the UAE. Outside of school Kineta enjoys spending time with family and friends and most recently has taken up sewing. Kineta loves empowering children with the gift of knowledge and problem solving skills. She also enjoys challenging learners to find alternate solutions to a problem and celebrates their successes. She is looking forward to introducing campers to Engineering Adventures where they get to use their creativity to engage in STEAM activities in a fun and engaging environment with others.

Xin Ai

Dr. Ai is a dynamic educator and visionary entrepreneur, ready to ignite the minds of your young learners at this summer camp program. With a strong belief in the power of whole-person education, Dr. Ai is committed to nurturing not only academic excellence but also fostering creativity and personal growth.

Having a passion for teaching students of all ages, Dr. Ai employs a diverse array of tools and vehicles to make learning a truly immersive experience. At ACDS Dr. Ai enriches the educational journey by offering a variety of electives, including Travel around the World, Mandarin, Design Thinking, Innovation & Entrepreneurship, and Design Your Life.

What sets Dr. Ai apart is her emphasis on embracing mistakes and failures as essential components of the learning process. She firmly believes that cultivating a growth mindset is the key to unlocking one's full potential. Dr. Ai is genuinely excited to welcome your kids to the summer camp, where they will embark on a journey of discovery and personal development.

Lu Andersen

Mrs. Andersen grew up in a large Italian family. Each Sunday we would get together at my Grandparents house for dinner. All the cousins would spend the afternoon together and we would eat traditional Italian courses for hours. I grew up with a love for cooking and would love to extend that passion with students. What is so exciting about the Imposter Cooking class is we are making familiar foods in a different way, which brings some mystery to the class. And the passion extends to the campers going home and being able to cook for their family.

Karla Arroyo

Señorita Karla has been part of the ACDS team for three years. "It has been amazing to be part of such a loving and kind community," according to Señorita Karla. She has been teaching for 9 years for the Early Childhood Education programs. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to teach for the second time a summer camp at ACDS, and enhance Spanish language along the way. Spanish is her native language. Señorita Karla is excited to make new memories along the way.

Sarah Bratcher

Sarah Bratcher has been teaching middle school English for over 8 years and currently teaches sixth-grade English at ACDS. Sarah is a 200-hour certified yoga instructor and is working toward completing a 300-hour program. She is passionate about bringing mindfulness and yoga to our school community and believes yoga is not just a physical practice, but also a mindset and way of life. Sarah also enjoys reading, thrifting, listening to podcasts, taking care of houseplants, being outdoors, and spending time with her one-year-old son.

Christina Baum

Christina Baum has been teaching preschool with joy for the last 16 years, joining the ACDS staff as a Pre-K teacher in August 2023. Outside of school, she enjoys playing board games, hiking, and spending quality time with friends and family. Christina looks forward to inspiring creativity in the preschoolers as they create unique works of art, learn about various artists and art styles, and have fun in the process! Like Picasso, she believes that every child is an artist and is excited to see their imagination and creative thoughts come to life.

Shelly Brennan

Mrs. Shelly Brennan has taught in the world of elementary for the past 33 years. She has been teaching at ACDS for the past 6 years. Outside of her time at school Shelly enjoys time with her family, art, and loves to find time to travel or just go to the beach. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to share her passion with art with her hands on lessons. She loves getting messy and “artsy” with the children during the summer. This will be Shelly’s 2nd consecutive year teaching summer camp.

Cady Burstein

Cady graduated from Wellesley College with a BA in Economics. She received her teaching credential in Social Science from San Jose State University, and has over 20 years of middle school teaching experience in both public and private schools.

Helping children find their spark when it comes to education has always been a focus for Cady. She loves learning and believes children have a natural curiosity about the world but sometimes are not encouraged to explore in a way that meets their needs. Teaching children allows her to be a part of that learning journey.

Creative writing and theater have always been interests for Cady and the study of mythology gives her a chance to combine all of her favorite topics and she is excited to explore writing, mythology, history and performances with her summer camp students.

Ally Calvert

Mrs. Ally Calvert has been coaching youth sports in the Bay Area for the past 10 years. Ally has coached soccer and basketball for multiple organizations. She also played softball, basketball, and lacrosse in high school and continued to play softball and soccer in college. Mrs. Calvert graduated from San Jose State University in 2021 with a Bachelors in Criminal Justice. Ally is a mother to her daughter Priscilla who is turning two in April. She is also a fiance and is planning on getting married in Fall 2025. Besides being a mother and a fiance, she enjoys working out, snowboarding, and spending time with friends and family. Mrs. Calvert is a substitute teacher for ACDS. This will be Ally's first year teaching summer camp at ACDS. She has a great passion for all sports and has had the experience of coaching ages 5-18 years old. Mrs. Calvert is looking forward to building relationships with the students she coaches and his eager to help them grow and learn. Sports build character along with other vital characteristics that shape youth into their adulthood. Mrs Calvert cannot wait to be a part of their journey! "Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair." - Nelson Mandela

Kamakshi Choudhary

Kamakshi Choudhary has been teaching third grade for the past 6 years. She has been part of the ACDS community since 2009, when her daughter, Ritika, enrolled as a third-grader. For the next 8 years, she served in elementary and middle school, both as a short- and long-term substitute teacher. Kamakshi loves teaching math, logic puzzles, and brain teasers. She encourages children to think out of the box. This summer, she looks forward to diving into some mathematics fun through games, art, and movement. She wants to inspire her students so that they see mathematics as an interesting and creative subject. On the weekends, Kamakshi enjoys outdoor adventures with her husband, parents, and labradoodle.

Misbah Cochinwala

A mother of two adult children with nearly three decades of teaching experience, Misbah is excited to be part of the ACDS summer program. This past December, when she completed her master's in comparative literature from San Jose State University, she realized the importance of nourishing ambition and following dreams. Misbah is Montessori-trained and has taught in Montessori and the public school system, specifically the Delmar School District of San Diego. In her free time, she is a voracious reader, a crossword puzzle enthusiast, and enjoys crochet.

Alison Comerford

Alison Comerford currently serves as a TK Teacher in Los Altos. Over the past few years, she has been a camp leader in ACDS's Summer Camp Program, finding immense joy in the experience. Alison has over eight years of teaching experience, primarily focusing on Preschool and Transitional Kindergarten. Her roles also include serving as an Aide for Kindergarten and 1st Grade, along with contributing to afterschool programs spanning students from Preschool through 8th Grade. A particular passion of hers is teaching science, reveling in the vibrancy and excitement it brings to the classroom. Residing in Gilroy with her husband, Alison's family includes a son who is graduating from Monte Vista Christian School in Watsonville, soon to embark on studies at Santa Clara University in the Fall. Her free time is cherished with family moments, watching her son engage in Field and Box Lacrosse, and enjoying outdoor activities. Alison eagerly anticipates meeting all the campers and having a great summer camp experience.

Tyler Comerford

Tyler Comerford is very excited to be Coaching our Lacrosse Camp this Summer. This is Tyler's third year helping at ACDS Summer Camp and first year Coaching here. Tyler's loves the sport of Lacrosse and plays both Field and Box Lacrosse. He is ready to share this fast, fun and amazing sport with our ACDS Campers. Tyler grew up in Morgan Hill and Gilroy and has just graduated Monte Vista Christian High School in Watsonville. He is very excited to start the next chapter of his education career at Santa Clara University this Fall. He plans on studying Business. After he receives his degree he plans on continuing his education and becoming a Firefighter. When not at school Tyler enjoys being outdoors, playing sports (Lacrosse and Wrestling are his favorites) and spending time with his family.

Kylie Dervaes

Kylie Dervaes has worked in the field of education for over 10 years. From teaching English in Tokyo to running forest preschools in her home state of Alaska she has always possessed a calling for teaching. With a background in art and a bachelor’s in literature she loves to intertwine a love for art and writing with the love of learning. She hopes to broaden perspectives and inspire young children to bloom into the natural poets and artists that they are. Outside of school you can usually find her digging in her garden or browsing used book shops.

Amy DeSantis

Amy DeSantis is a wife, a mother of two boys, and an educator of 17 years. Her roles in education have included being a teacher leader, a classroom teacher, and a club teacher. Outside of school, she enjoys cooking, watching her children play sports, reading, spending time with family and friends and trying to get a full night's sleep. Amy is excited to share her passion of cooking with children through memorable cooking challenges this summer.

Mike Fishback

Mike Fishback has taught humanities, theater, and journalism for over two decades. At ACDS, he teaches social studies along with electives exploring U.S. elections, history-altering assassinations, and television comedy. Before becoming a teacher, Mike interned for a presidential campaign pollster and helped U.S. senators grow their websites in the early days of the internet. A graduate of Yale and Harvard, Mike is the parent of two children at ACDS. This will be his seventh summer teaching camp.

Marie Goodman

Marie Goodman is excited to return for her third summer of ACDS camp! Marie has taught elementary school for the past 13 years, and currently teaches first grade at ACDS. Her education passion is fostering a love of learning and a supportive classroom community by developing relationships and creating opportunities for hands-on, experiential learning experiences. She particularly enjoys the transition period of welcoming new kindergartners to elementary school! Outside of school, Mrs. Goodman stays busy as a mom to two young children, reading books, keeping active, and hanging out at the beach.

Melinda Hammond

Melinda Hammond is a Pre-K teacher at ACDS and has been an early childhood teacher for over 15 years. Outside of school, she loves to draw, paint, and cook. Melinda is excited to teach PreK summer camp this year and eager to share this experience. She looks forward to teaching and interacting with the kids and igniting the inner child in herself! There’s something magical about the atmosphere at summer camp and she can’t wait to create memorable memories with all the kids and the staff this summer at ACDS!

Jillian Hanley

Jillian Hanley has been at ACDS for the last seven years, where she focuses primarily on teaching middle school English. One of her biggest goals as an educator is to inject fun and play into the classroom while at the same time encouraging students to think deeply and seriously about how they read and write. Over the summer, in particular, her hope is to inspire children to fall deeper and deeper in love with literature and the writing process.

Kaitlyn Johnson

Kaitlyn Johnson has been teaching middle school science at ACDS for 12 years and has a B.A. in Biology and M.Ed in Special Education. She loves all things science. Her favorite subject area is biology, specifically genetics and forensics. She is looking forward to bringing science alive through student-led hands-on activities during Forensics summer camp! On the weekends, she enjoys going on outdoor adventures with her two daughter's, husband and french bulldog.

Paul Justiniano

This early elementary science specialist has a knack for board games as well as a panache for Pokémon cards. He loves it! Games have always been an essential part of learning. Mr. Justiniano believes that it is through games that children are able to problem solve without the pressures of academics. He looks forward to bring his love of Pokémon and Dungeons & Dragons to summer camp this year!

Elizabeth Lasher

An Early Childhood Specialist teacher with over 30 years of experience who is committed to the truth of play as the most profound and rich curriculum we can offer young children. Creating learning environments that say YES to a child so they can experiment, test ideas, make messes and mistakes are brilliant spaces for children. Creating wonder-filled, hands-on, process oriented activities is a passion of mine. George Bernard Shaw said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.” And I believe that what we learn with joy we never forget.

Sarai Leandro

Sarai brings two years of experience as a substitute teacher at ACDS, having previously contributed her skills in two other educational institutions over the past three years. With a passion for the piano that spans the past 16 years, Sarai has cultivated a love for sports, particularly excelling in volleyball, soccer, and dodgeball. Beyond her professional and recreational pursuits, she finds joy in camping alongside her family and friends, reveling in the serenity of nature.

Celyna Lombardo

Celyna Lombardo is a teacher and parent at ACDS. She has been teaching for 17 years, from Pre-K through Third grades in both public and private schools. Recently, she obtained certification as a math and reading intervention specialist. Celyna understands that challenges in these areas can affect other subject areas, even physical ones, and adapts activities to meet each child where they are. Her focus is on providing a well-rounded, whole-child education, with student relationships being her top priority. She believes that building strong connections with her students can help them reach their full potential as young learners. Celyna has several hobbies outside of teaching, including coaching softball, dancing, listening to music, snowboarding, playing games, walking her Chocolate Labrador, reading books, and cooking with her children. This summer, Celyna is excited to join the ACDS Summer Camp staff for the first time. She is thrilled to form new connections with students and enhance their fitness IQ in unique ways.

Theresa McGrady

Theresa McGrady is an educator with over 35 years of experience. She has been married to her husband for 30 years and has two amazing daughters and a new son-in-law. Outside of teaching, Theresa enjoys spending time with family and friends, playing or watching sports, playing board games, puzzling and reading. Theresa looks forward to sharing her passion for games, math and puzzles with campers this summer!

Alyvia McIntyre

Alyvia McIntyre graduated from ACDS in 2017 and is currently attending college at Husson University (NCAA Div 3) where she is on the volleyball team and now the starting setter. She has a long list of accomplishments already in her volleyball career including: 

  • 2021 NAC Conference Tournament appearance
  • All-North Atlantic Conference Selection
  • Selected as Husson Female Athlete of the Week
  • Husson women's volleyball record for single game assists
  • 6 year Club Player
  • 2-Time All-League Honoree in HS
  • Former ACDS Player & Coach

She looks forward to teaching volleyball to novices and expert students alike this summer!

Derek McIntyre

Athletics Director Derek McIntyre (known as Coach Mac on campus) knew from the time he was 13 that he wanted to coach and work with kids. "I loved watching the progression and seeing the improvement kids were able to make. I was fortunate to have had a number of great mentors that made me want to do the same for others."

He chose ACDS because when he visited ACDS, he realized what a wonderful community it was and it reminded him of his childhood school. "We also felt that this would be a great place for our children to continue their education."

Fun fact: His family lived in Egypt for two years. "We vacationed on the Red Sea, took a cruise down the Nile and saw the Great Pyramids every day. We made a number of wonderful friends while there and have memories that will last us forever."we

Kelly Murphy

This is Kelly’s third summer teaching at ACDS Summer Camp. She will be a freshman in college in the fall, pursuing her degree in Elementary Education. Throughout her life, she has gained extensive knowledge about all things teaching from her mother who is the Head of Early Childhood and Elementary Education at ACDS. She attended Presentation High School and was a part of numerous leadership roles and responsibilities throughout her high school years. Kelly received the Presidential Volunteer Service Award her senior year of high school after completing over 350+ hours of community service at multiple non-profit organizations with the majority of the hours working with elementary-aged children. She is also passionate about environmental and animal awareness and frequently spends her free time with her dogs, hiking outdoors, and being creative with visual arts.

Sumie Oh

Sumie has been an educator for more than 20 years and joined the ACDS faculty for the 2023/24 school year. She always hopes that her playful enthusiasm for learning is contagious to her students. When she was little, she loved watching cartoons and making her own comic strips. As she grew, so did her fascination and appreciation for all kinds of animation. She is excited to help students explore the creative process of making stop motion animation at camp this summer.

Joanne Papini

Miss Papini owned and operated a popular summer camp program and location in Walnut Creek for six years. Her formula for memorable fun and learning is a blend of engineering and design with science and technology. “My favorite part of camp is adding surprise activities and silliness to each day!”

Saba Rizvi

Saba Rizvi is a dynamic and passionate educator with a love for world languages, a fascination with technology, and an enthusiasm for building with LEGO bricks. In addition to her linguistic pursuits, Saba is an avid tech enthusiast and is part of the ACDS tech team. Always on the lookout for innovative ways to enhance the learning experience, she incorporates cutting-edge technology into her teaching methods. Implementing interactive language learning apps into her curriculum, Saba ensures that her students are not only keeping up with the times but are also excited about the possibilities that technology brings to language education.

Outside the classroom, you'll find Saba enjoying the beautiful California outdoors snowboarding, hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing. Saba also enjoys eating great food, attending EDM concerts and going out dancing with friends.

Lauren Robb

Lauren Robb is thrilled to bring her passion and enthusiasm for teaching to ACDS’s summer camp program. Lauren has a master’s degree in education as well as her teaching credential, and, before the birth of her daughter, she taught sixth grade at an elementary school in Los Altos. Lauren loves making connections with students and creating a classroom environment in which students feel comfortable taking risks. She enjoys infusing learning with creativity and fun by creating engaging activities for students such as collaborative geometric art projects in math or writing and recording interviews with book club characters in reading. Lauren’s favorite subjects to teach are reading and writing, and she can’t wait to share this passion with her campers. 

Lauren is excited to be a part of ACDS’s summer camp because the program encourages students to embrace the fun of learning and try different things within an environment that they know is safe and supportive. She can’t wait to meet her campers and take them on a journey of exploration as they dive into the worlds of short stories and podcasts. 

Brittany Ruiz

Ms. Ruiz has worked in the field on early childhood education for over 5 years. This is her first year at ACDS and her first year teaching summer camp. During her free time, she loves gardening, worm farming, and sewing. This past year Ms. Ruiz has taken dive into what she calls her "homesteading dream" of gardening and sewing. She is excited to share her passions of growing your own food and sewing your own accessories and clothes with her campers.

Meaghan Schapelhouman

As someone who has always loved performing, Ms. Schapelhouman could not be more excited to embark on the Performing Arts Conservatory this summer. She has been performing for over fifteen years. Ms. Schapelhouman has had the pleasure of teaching at multiple performing arts summer camps over the years, including one at ACDS. Encouraging students to unleash their creativity is always her objective, and she can't think of a better way to do so than through the art of performance.

Shannon Self

Bio coming soon.

Andre Simmons

Mr. Simmons is one of our middle school math teachers here at ACDS, and he is passionate about math and sports. He not only teaches math, but informally teaches life skills through discussions in and out of class. He grew up in Barbados where he held the island's record for 100 meter high hurdles. Mr. Simmons is a lifelong athlete who, in addition to running track, plays soccer and tennis and is an avid surfer. As an educator, he believes education should focus on discovering the skills and talents of each student.

Hollie Thayer

Hollie Thayer has been teaching preschool for over 35 years. She joined the ACDS staff serving as a PreK teacher in August of 2023. Outside of school, Hollie enjoys spending time at the beach, playing frisbee, bocce ball, taking walks and spending time with family and friends. She has 2 grown children, 1 granddaughter, and 1 on the way! Hollie is passionate about fostering a nurturing and engaging learning environment for children. She is excited to offer an art camp that will provide enriching and memorable experiences that spark imagination and creativity for all.

Lisa Turnbull

Lisa has been teaching for 25+ years, 16 of which have been at ACDS. Math is her favorite subject to teach! She has a B.A. in Child Development, a California Teaching Credential and a Master's in Curriculum and Instruction. She's a mother to three and a grandmother to five!

Cecilia Vasquez

During the school year you can find Cecilia in the office as our ACDS office manager. She is a mother to three daughters and together they care for 18 pets! She has run several summer camps in the past although this will be her first one with ACDS. She strongly belives that it is important to get children outside, exploring and learning about the nature "world" around them. Her hobbies are spending time with her girls, camping, hiking and reading.

Weronika Zaluska

Weronika Zaluska has been teaching Visual Arts at ACDS for over five years. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the New York State College of Ceramics. She has also studied Early Childhood Education and Reggio Emilia Approach at UCLA. Ms. Zaluska's art curriculum is student-driven, and emphasizes exploration, as well as collaboration. In her free time Ms. Zaluska creates sculptures in a variety of materials, including: ceramics, paper and fabric. Her work is part of museum collections in New York and New Mexico.