Extraordinary Teachers who Love Learning
Teaching at The Island School is as much a passion and a vocation as it is a profession. Caring and accomplished educators model a love of lifelong learning. Our teachers know each child deeply and devote tireless effort to meeting children’s “different needs and different speeds." We stand in awe of the courage of our young learners and are honored to be part of their educational journey.
TRISH KING, Head of School
Trish has been Head of The Island School for more than 12 years, a position that she describes as “the best job in the world!” Her career in education spans nearly 30 years of administration and teaching in Central Oregon and Louisiana. She has a Bachelor of Science in Education from Louisiana State University, holds a lifetime teaching certificate from Louisiana and engaged in graduate work at Lewis and Clark College. When Trish was hired at The Island School, the Chair of the Search Committee stated that she “matched every single one of the qualities we sought from ‘creating and maintaining a clear vision for the school’ to ‘getting down on her knees to play with children.’” Trish currently serves on both the board of the Northwest Association of Independent Schools and its Accreditation Committee and is past chair of the Washington Federation of Independent Schools. Trish is passionate about education that emphasizes developing good people, in addition to offering that rare combination at The Island School of so much learning and so much fun! Away from school, Trish enjoys yoga, weight-lifting, good books, a good walk almost anywhere outdoors, good friends, spicy food, strong coffee, friendly dogs, toddler talk, and time spent with her husband, Paul, her kids and four grandkids.
KRISTEN BRELSFORD, Administrative Assistant & Registrar
Kristen has served as The Island School’s Administrative Assistant and Registrar for more than four years. She has been part of the Bainbridge Island community for many years and brings many years of experience working in various administrative capacities within the public school system. Kristen has a degree in Business Administration and has pursued additional coursework in business and technology and served as the Bainbridge High School Band Boosters President. She loves engaging in athletic activities of various kinds: swimming, hiking, climbing and biking. Family, friends, exercise, music and the outdoors are all things that make her happy. She shares that she loves the work she does here and that The Island School is a place where she can feel comfortable in her own skin – that this work environment is “the best!”
JOAN HENDERSON, Advancement Director
Joan is not only our Advancement Director; she is also the proud parent of two Island School alumni. Joan has a BA in English from the University of Washington and a JD from the UW School of Law. A long-time resident of Indianola, she co-edited the history book Indianola: A Community Memoir. Joan has served as an art docent, a coach and a Big Sister in King County and wrote a monthly local-interest column for the Indianola Breeze. She joined The Island School community as a brand new kindergarten parent in 1998 and later subbed for our school, worked as an aide and taught as a classroom teacher, in addition to serving on our Board of Trustees. Joan eventually joined our staff to manage the Capital Campaign for Webster Hall and also worked as our part-time school librarian prior to moving into advancement full-time. In her free time, she enjoys playing soccer, reading, cooking and sharing delicious meals with good friends.
LORETTA MORGAN, Business Manager
Loretta Morgan, Business Manager at The Island School, was awarded a 2015 Will Hancock Unsung Hero Award from the National Business Officers Association for making a significant impact in our school. Demonstrating a high standard of integrity, knowledge and motivation to help our school succeed, Loretta has been a quiet leader in all financial and facility aspects of the school for over 20 years, and we couldn’t be prouder to see her recognized for excellent service to our children, families and faculty. She also has been a long-standing member of our school’s Green Team. Loretta loves reading, cooking, gardening, listening to music and hanging out with Punkin and Pete, her pups. She grew up in New Hampshire, where she learned to work hard, be resilient and try to be a better person each day.
KRIS ROGERS, School Counselor
Kris has a strong background in youth counseling and program administration at numerous local schools and organizations. Kris developed the counseling program at our school in 2000 and has served as a consultant for various independent schools in Seattle, in addition to working as a school counselor and Dean of Students at Hyla Middle School. Kris serves on the steering committee for The Holt Webster Fund, which serves at-risk youth on Bainbridge Island, and she is a board member for the Bainbridge Island Chapter of “Make Some Noise, Cure Pediatric Cancer Research”. Kris worked as a counselor for Bainbridge Youth Services where she also founded and facilitated the BYS Youth Board, a peer education program where high school students work with middle school students to promote drug/alcohol education and prevention. At Seattle Country Day School, Kris formed the counseling program, served as interim dean of students, worked in admissions, served as counseling consultant and served on the Board of Trustees. During the early part of her career, Kris worked in the King County juvenile court system, at Seattle Children’s Hospital, a runaway shelter, a Seattle youth service bureau and a community mental health center. She also had a private practice on Bainbridge Island for over 10 years. Kris has a BA in Social Work, and an MA in Psychology. Kris lives on Bainbridge Island with her husband Brad. Her daughters are both Island School graduates. Kris enjoys spending time with her family and granddaughter, as well as traveling and reading in her spare time.
Teachers and Staff
CINDY BRICKLEY, Kindergarten Teacher
Cindy Brickley, our kindergarten teacher, has 36 years of teaching experience (20 of which are at The Island School as the first grade teacher). She understands the needs of kindergarten and first grade children from team-teaching K/1 learning buddy projects and demonstrates leadership by bringing the Responsive Classroom and Wired for Reading to our classrooms. Cindy has been one of the most passionate voices for reminding us that every decision at this school is based upon what is best for the children. Cindy’s unbridled enthusiasm for learning is one of the many gifts she brings to The Island School every day. Cindy loves to make things and enjoys both quilting and sewing. She is happiest when the people around her are happy and enjoys the creative aspects of teaching. She has wanted to be a teacher ever since she was spanked as a child for being left-handed. She never wants a child to be treated as she was. The Island School is a place where she can be herself and teach with people who can also be themselves.
CHRISTINE BROGA, 1st Grade Teacher
Christine is our first grade teacher, has 14 years of teaching experience and a degree in U.S. History from University of Puget Sound. She has conducted a number of professional development workshops for teachers, including co-teaching at the University of Washington’s Summer Institute in Life Sciences, and she was a nominee for the Disney Teacher of the Year Award for Creativity in Teaching.
URSULA PONTIERI, 2nd Grade Teacher
Ursula has been our second grade teacher at The Island School for more than 12 years. She was selected for The Sun newspaper Teacher Spotlight in 2017. She taught in public school for several years prior to that. She is passionate about poetry, birds, the environment and social justice. Some of the projects she brings to her second graders are weekly poetry notebooks, the science of flight, bird identification, and community service—students grow seedlings to plant in the sensory garden at Owen’s Playground (a park for children of different abilities), and illustrate and sell the Kids Can Make a Difference calendars to benefit students on the sister island of Ometepe, Nicaragua. Ursula respects young learners and their ideas, and encourages all of us to really listen to kids. She enjoys camping and being outdoors, dancing and reading. What led her into teaching was the honesty and “unexpectedness” of children. One of her favorite experiences at The Island School was being lifted in a crane with Jenn S. at the Science Fair as the crowd roared in anticipation of the egg drop.
JENNIFER SIMONSON, 3rd Grade Teacher
Jenn S., our third grade teacher, holds a Master’s degree in Education, loves being at The Island School and loves being a teacher. Education is her venue for “the betterment of the world – socially, environmentally – everything!” Jenn previously worked for Starbucks as a Distribution Project Manager, where she learned that hard work, perseverance, creativity and empathy towards others helped her excel in her job and made it very enjoyable to go to work every day. Jenn is an alumna of The Island School and the first student ever enrolled here, and she loved being a “staff kid.” She knows the school well, historically, culturally and experientially, first as a student, then as a parent and finally, as our third grade teacher. Her most favorite things are being with family, watching kids engaged in activities like sports, and gardening and walking the dog. She shares that she is her happiest when those around her are happy. Both of her children are Island School alumni.
JESSICA CHRISTIANSON, 4th Grade Teacher
Jessica, our fourth grade teacher, has 16 years of teaching experience with much of it at The Little School in Bellevue. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Girls Rock Math, a hands-on summer camp program for girls in several locations in the Seattle area. She holds a B.A. in English, a Masters in Education and a Masters in Education in Teacher Leadership in STEM Education. Jessica has a 2 year-old son named Kaplan.
JENN OSBURN, 5th Grade Teacher
Jenn O., our fifth grade classroom teacher, worked for eleven years as a teacher/counselor prior to joining The Island School. Jenn initially served as our first grade teaching assistant/Friday classroom teacher before becoming our fourth grade teacher for five years. Jenn now teaches our fifth grade, along with George Shannon, the fifth grade teaching assistant. Jenn has a Master’s Degree in Education and a Washington State Professional Education Certificate with a K through 8 elementary education endorsement. She loves traveling with her family in their Airstream trailer and laughing with and enjoying friends. She is also a self-proclaimed “foodie.” Jenn shares that she feels like she has found her place at The Island School, where she can be herself and celebrate others being themselves, too. Success for Jenn is doing what she loves! Both of Jenn’s children are graduates of The Island School.
AMBER BECK-GARCIA, 4th Grade Teaching Assistant
Amber, our fourth grade teaching assistant, has a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Washington and is a licensed counselor who has worked as a therapist for Kitsap Mental Health, as an education specialist in dropout prevention for the Suquamish Tribe and as a substitute teacher for the Hawthorne Unified School District in California. She has worked on numerous teams as a supportive, therapeutic case manager for diverse populations in modeling healthy and appropriate behavior intervention to build trust and relationship, even in the most stressful of circumstances. Amber is passionate about multi-culturalism, social justice and instilling a love of learning in children. She shares that she deeply appreciates The Island School because “she has never seen a teaching environment like this, ever” where “certain things are really mindful,” such as the focus on social/emotional learning that is so deeply imbedded in all of the academic learning. Amber is also the parent of two boys, one in preschool and the other enrolled here at The Island School.
LESLEY COLLINS, Extended Day Childcare
Lesley has worked as a volunteer reader, a substitute teacher and as a teaching assistant over the years. Currently she supervises our Extended Day Program for children who remain with us after the school day, along with Geoff Vigneron. Lesley was born and raised in Buffalo, New York, and she acknowledges that the rich diversity of ethnicities with whom she was surrounded enhanced her openness to different people and cultures. Grandma Pat introduced her to The Island School because she witnessed Lesley’s love of working with children. Lesley sees The Island School as a place that offers a great atmosphere where all the faculty and staff work so well together, and do so respectfully. She shares that everyone’s value is recognized for their personal gifts and talents at The Island School. Lesley loves being able to serve with kindness and to be able to help children feel better about themselves when having a challenging day. One of her favorite memories here was helping to teach cedar bark weaving to some of the classes and sharing the Native teachings and the absolute need for respect when working with the cedar. Her interests include arts and crafts and sewing with all ages.
JESSIE DAMERON, Spanish Teacher, Kindergarten Teaching Assistant
Consistently kind, positive and enthusiastic, Jessie is both our kindergarten teaching assistant and our Spanish teacher. She was also one of the “garage kids” who were among the first students to attend The Island School when the classroom was located in a remodeled garage at a residence in Rolling Bay many years ago. Kathy Schott, with whom she taught here for many years, was Jessie’s kindergarten teacher. Jessie has previous experience working with youth in various settings, including working as a nanny in Bellingham and as a respite specialist in Family Support Services in the Bay Area. She is a graduate of WWU/Fairhaven College with a degree in Cultural Anthropology and a minor in Spanish. During high school, Jessie served as a community volunteer in Ometepe in spring of 1995 and then engaged in a Spanish Cultural Independent Study in Oaxaca and the Southern Coast of Mexico. She continued her Spanish independent studies in Baja and the Western Coast and NW Mexico in college and then completed a Spanish intensive study with Instituto Allende in Guanajuato, Mexico. Her daughter Maia is a graduate of The Island School, and her daughter Lily attends here. Jessie enjoys spending time with Geoff and her girls, outdoors or at home, as well as with family and friends. She is currently pursuing a degree in Education.
MIKE DERZON, Music Teacher
Mike is our music teacher, Green Team leader, Rube Goldberg-inspired Science Fair guru and so much more. Mike has been an integral member of our teaching staff since 2002, and you’ll be amazed at his resourcefulness and drive. As a professional musician, and as an avid outdoors person, he brings his love of music and the natural world to all that he does, including his inspired leading of our weekly Monday Morning Sing. In June of 2017, Kiwanis chose Mike as Bainbridge Island’s “Educator of the Year,” the first time a teacher from a private school had been given this award. In recognition of Mike’s stellar leadership on the Green Team for the past several years, he received the 2015 Partner in Environmental Education Award from the Kitsap County Commissioners as part of their 24th Annual Earth Day Awards. Additionally, Mike has accepted NWAIS’ invitation to share his expertise by serving on six accreditation teams over the years, one of the latest being for the Journeys School of Teton Science Schools in Jackson, WY.
DREW KELLER, PE Teacher, 2nd Grade Teaching Assistant
Drew teaches physical education to all grades at our school, and he is the second grade teaching assistant. An independent tutor on the island for several years, as well as here at The Island School, Drew has a degree in Early Childhood Development. He continues to coach a variety of sports teams and was voted Coach of the Year in 2015 by Bainbridge Island FC. A “Renaissance man,” Drew is skilled at drawing, playing guitar, designing and constructing, as well as playing the full range of sports (soccer, water polo, lacrosse, skiing, etc.) He and Mike Derzon have collaborated on such projects as a really sophisticated Rube Goldberg machine and a race track for student-designed “box cars” at our Science Fair. Running and playing, enjoying nature and building and creating are some of the activities that make Drew the happiest. His mom is a teacher and his dad always coached his teams, so teaching has always been “in his blood.” He loves teaching because it’s fun, and it allows Drew to share, learn, and grow along with the kids.
ALETA SCHUELKE, 3rd Grade Teaching Assistant
Aleta was one of our favorite substitute teachers until she became our third grade teaching assistant at The Island School. In addition to serving as a teaching assistant, teaching our Extended Day Japanese class and offering “Aleta Tuesdays” in Extended Day kindergarten, Aleta also serves as our Auction Coordinator. She has a degree in Japanese Language and is working toward a Masters in Education, which she will complete this year. Aleta’s twin sons are graduates of The Island School.
GEORGE SHANNON, Librarian, 5th Grade Teaching Assistant
George Shannon is our part-time school librarian, fifth grade teaching assistant and a beloved author who has published more than 40 books, including 30 popular picture books. He has taught a number of writing workshops, is a professional storyteller and received the “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. George not only has his B.S. degree in Education and Library Science, he also has his M.S.L.S. degree in Children’s Literature and Children’s Services. He previously worked as a children’s librarian at an elementary school and at a public library in Kentucky. We love to share that he was also selected as an Island Treasure in 2012. George grew up in a farming village of 1500 people and his father was the principal of the high school; thus, he has always been surrounded by teachers and teaching. He enjoys reading, theater, laughing with friends and “the quiet,” when he can find it.
GEOFF VIGNERON, 1st Grade Teaching Assistant, Breakfast Club, Extended Day Childcare
Geoff has served as a teaching assistant in Kindergarten, 1st and 4th grades and currently serves as the teaching assistant in first grade, our Breakfast Club teacher and as a partner-teacher in Extended Day with Lesley Collins. Geoff has worked as an educator at numerous institutions since 2004: The Museum of Children's Art in Oakland, CA, Seattle Art Museum, KiDiMu, BIMA, Indianola Preschool and currently at The Island School. Geoff brings his years of experience and passion for early childhood education, along with a degree in Painting and Drawing. If you’ve experienced his teaching in the past, you’ll know why we appreciate having Geoff as a full-time member of our faculty. Geoff enjoys canoeing, sailing, hiking, biking, music, art and family time, as well as being part of a community like The Island School. Growing up with a hearing-impaired mother taught Geoff many lessons in how to be a supportive problem-solver with a growth mindset. Geoff loves the sense of accomplishment he experiences when he looks back on a day of teaching.
DANA WEIR, Art Teacher
Dana, our art teacher, has 15 years of teaching experience, including six years of teaching art at Swan School in Port Townsend, where she continues to teach part-time. Dana has taught art to all ages, from preschoolers to adults. She taught both family and adult classes at The Multnomah Art Center in Portland and K – 6 art for many years, in addition to teaching preschool. Her grandfather was her first art teacher. She is also a working studio artist who holds a B.A. in Art and a Masters in Interdisciplinary Studies. Dana has been working with her husband on designing and finishing an art studio at home, and she continues to exhibit her art in various venues in Pt. Townsend. Dana enjoys making art with photos and collage methods. She collects natural treasures like butterfly wings, feathers and bones and loves great film, art exhibits and music. She enjoys meditation time on the beach near her home, her two cats (Luke and Leia), and traveling with her husband, often to visit family. She was born and raised in Northeastern Washington in Newport, which used to be a port town along the Pend Orielle River. The region is mountainous, wild, remote, very beautiful and very, very rural. Her mother still lives there, and her father lives in Vancouver, BC. Dana hauls her recycling to recycle centers in Kitsap or King counties because Pt. Townsend does not have a recycling center.