"A good teacher can inspire the heart, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning."
— Brad Henry
St. Mark's uses a team-teaching approach to the classroom
Claire Peterson, Director
Ms. Claire joined the St. Mark's team as the director and K-Prep teacher in 2014. She has a BA in Communications and 30+ units of early childhood education course work. Ms. Claire has an extensive background in both business and in early childhood education—skill sets she uses each and every day at St. Mark's! A longtime Orinda resident, she has also held a variety of volunteer positions in the community, from organizing the Wagner Ranch Round Up to serving as the Orinda Park Pool swim team director for multiple years. On the rare occasion that Ms. Claire is not at St. Mark's she is hopefully enjoying spending time with her family. Ms. Claire loves the outdoors—hiking, spending time at the beach, camping or just walking to town!
Amanda Silverman, Co-Head Teacher, 4s & 5s class
Ms. Silverman joined the St. Mark’s team in 2016. She has a BA in Child and Adolescent Development, a teaching credential in California, and an MA in Early Childhood Special Education. Ms. Silverman previously worked as a teacher for children with autism for several years. Born and raised in the Bay Area, Ms. Silverman moved to Orinda with her family in 2016. When not at St. Mark’s, she enjoys playing tennis, running, and spending time with friends and family.
Martine Fournier, Co-Head Teacher, 4s & 5s class
Native of France, Ms. Martine traveled to Ecuador to help establish “Operation Handicap International” in association with Doctors without Borders. She also lived and studied Spanish in Quito, Ecuador for two years while working at the French Alliance as Press Liaison. Ms. Martine moved to California in 1992, after marrying an Oakland resident who she met in Ecuador. Since moving to California, Ms. Martine has worked for a French travel agency, the French Consulate in San Francisco, and Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley.
Ms. Martine began her teaching career in 2000 when the owner of the preschool where her children attended asked her to teach French after observing her interactions with the school-children. Over the years, she has taught Spanish at The School of Arts and Sciences, and French at Ducks’ Nest and at several elementary schools in Oakland. Ms. Martine obtained 13 units in Early Childhood Education.
Ms. Martine enjoys spending time with her family, especially her son and daughter who soon will leave for college. She practices yoga, makes jewelry, plays Sudoku and hikes with her husband.
Amanda Lyon, Head Teacher, 3s Class
Ms. Amanda has been in early childhood education for over 10 years and this is her 4th year teaching at St. Mark's. She was born and raised in California and lives in Pleasant Hill with her husband and three children. She discovered her love of teaching while volunteering in her son's preschool class at Diablo Valley College where she went on to study Early Childhood Education. Her passion for early childhood is rooted in helping children develop the tools they need to be successful in their relationships with peers and in developing a life-long love of learning.
Breanne Dashner, Head Teacher, 2s Class
Ms. Breanne is beginning her first year at St. Mark's as the lead teacher in the 2’s classroom. She recently graduated from The University of Alabama with a BS in Early Childhood Education and worked in various preschool settings while in school. She is excited to be living in the Bay Area and starting her career as an Early Childhood Educator.
Mary Lind, Extended Program Assistant Teacher
Ms. Mary joined the St. Mark’s team as the Extended Program Assistant Teacher in the summer of 2017. She has a BS in Communications from Oregon State University, as well as 15 units of early childhood education coursework (and is currently working towards more!). Before joining the St. Mark’s crew, Ms. Mary spent some time living in Cusco, Peru, as a volunteer preschool teacher—that’s when she knew she had found her calling! Ms. Mary has also worked as a behavioral therapist for children with special needs all over Contra Costa County. Ms. Mary was born and raised in Walnut Creek, and while she enjoyed the rainy Oregon weather during college, she could not wait to return to the beautiful Bay Area. She currently resides in Moraga and enjoys her new, much shorter commute every morning.
Catharine “Cat” Arroyo, 3s Assistant Teacher & Substitute
Ms. Cat joined the St. Mark’s team in 2017 as an aide in the 3’s class with Ms. Amanda. She has a BA in History with a Specialization in Diversified Liberal Arts. Ms. Cat is presently studying to be a full-time preschool teacher. When Ms. Cat isn’t at St. Mark’s she can most likely be found on a pool deck nearby coaching the girls of Diablo Alliance Water Polo Club. When she is not coaching or teaching (also a substitute for local area schools), she is probably doing laundry, chauffeuring one of her four children around town, cleaning her house or drinking mass amounts of coffee at any of the local cafes. If Ms. Cat has some down time she enjoys spending time with her family and friends!
Vanessa Tran, Assistant Teacher, 2s room
Ms. Vanessa joined the St. Mark's team in the fall of 2017. At 17 years old, she first realized her passion for working with children through her high school's Child Psychology ROP program that gave her the opportunity to work with preschoolers. Before coming to St. Mark's, she invested her time at Diablo Valley College's Children's Center as a student teacher and worked at a K-5 child care site for 2 years. She received her Associate of Science degree in Early Childhood Education from Diablo Valley College. She is currently attending San Francisco State University in pursuit of her bachelor's in Child and Adolescent Development with a school age concentration. Her ultimate goals are to teach either elementary or middle school and to become a qualified pediatric dental assistant.
Gina Gabriel, Assistant Teacher, 2s Class
Ms. Gina recently joined the St. Mark's team and enjoyed getting to know the St. Mark's community over summer camp. She lives in Orinda with her husband and their two young children. It is her second year back to teaching after becoming a full-time mom in 2010. Before kids, she taught in both private and public schools in the Philippines and in Washington, DC. She got her Bachelor's degree in Communication Disorders from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, and completed a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education at the George Washington University in Washington. DC. After all her moves, Ms. Gina is happy to call the East Bay her home for the last seven years. When not teaching, she enjoys gardening, spending time with her huge extended family and going on local adventures with her husband and kids.
Margaret Navarro, Assistant Teacher, 3s Class
Margaret joined St. Mark's in 2016 as the 3s assistant teacher. She received her AA degree from Merritt College, and BA in early childhood development and education from Sacramento State University. She has many years of experience working with preschool and school-aged children. Margaret was born and raised in the Bay Area and enjoys finding new hiking trails to take her bloodhound Duke. In August 2017, Margaret and her husband welcomed their first baby boy into the family; they enjoy watching him grow each and every day.