Sara Mithra facilitates writing workshops and leadership at Olive Children that grow children through creative expression and whole-child learning. She began as a Writers Workshop facilitator, radically transforming a small group of bored and reluctant writers into a raucous and engaged team of eager writers. In fact, children not officially enrolled in the class would often beseech her, “Pleeeeaaase, can I do writing?” She noticed that not only were children falling in love with writing, but they stopped “acting out” when she ceased rewarding them with negative attention. Her guidance philosophy adheres to positive discipline and trust. Her academic philosophy follows the model of emergent curriculum to support new stringent K-8 Common Core standards in writing, meaning that she uses student’s interests and language to teach critical thinking and creativity by building portfolios on subjects such as museums, amusement parks, video games, the Great Depression, comics, superheros, and seashells. Her role at Olive expanded when she refocused the after school enrichment program to emphasize leadership, collaboration, decision-making, and internal motivation by adding a greater variety of interdisciplinary activities and building stronger personal relationships among children. To inspire young people, her vision for education includes numerous hands-on experiments and place-based investigation so that children can discover not just what they can accomplish, but what brings them joy.
Sara has developed curriculum for art museums, led field trips at the Port of Oakland, hiked with budding scientists at the Peralta Hacienda in Fruitvale, and taught art and cultural awareness in Pasadena. At UC Berkeley, she was a graduate student instructor in anthropology, archeology, and folklore. Her current goals include innovating curriculum that fuses local culture with artistic expression in an academic context. As some sometimes quips, “I adapt college classes for seven year olds.”
Sara graduated with highest honors in American Literature (minor in Mathematics) from UC Santa Cruz and with a Master of Art from UC Berkeley in Folklore (Materiality Studies). She pursued further coursework in Environmental Education at Merritt College and Curriculum Development at Ohlone College. When she’s not writing and performing poetry, she enjoys biking and hiking the East Bay Regional Parks and making books.
Michelle St. George has the pleasure of leading our writing workshops. For the past seven years, she has taught English and composition courses in various settings including Southern California and South Korea. Michelle holds a master’s degree in Literature and Writing Studies and also teaches freshman composition and GE Writing at our local university. As an instructor, she strives to help students mature as writers, readers, and thinkers and to foster an environment that promotes a love of language and literacy. She looks forward to working with Berkeley Academy and Olive Children students in the upcoming term and is always happy to answer any questions either in person or via email.
Caitlin Howell is our newest reading and writing instructor here at Olive Children. She has loved reading and writing ever since she was a child, which ultimately led to a bachelor’s degree in English-Language Literature from the University of California at Santa Cruz and a Master’s degree in 20th century American Literature and Composition/Rhetoric from California State University, East Bay.
While she did not focus on creative writing for either of her degrees, she has dabbled in this area with various school projects. As a student at Las Positas College, she had a poem and a short story published in consecutive editions of the Las Positas College Literary Anthology (2009 and 2010). During her time at UC Santa Cruz, she wrote a short movie script as a portion of her final senior project.
Other academic interests include how computers and social media are changing literacy, cinematic literacy and analysis, and evidence of the writing process in canonical literary works. For fun, she spends her time analyzing the messages present in children’s media (particularly Disney films and holiday specials).
As for her work at Olive Children, she hopes to give students a platform from which they can develop their voice and express their ideas.
Anita Patel holds an Associate’s degree in science, with a major in Mathematics and a minor in Physics from India. She is a college champion (double) and runner up (single) in badminton. Anita is currently finishing a her bachelor’s degree. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, playing badminton, and especially cooking with her daughter.
Sunny Yuan currently teach at the following schools: Berkeley Academy K/G1, Yellow River Chinese School, CACC Chinese School, and East Chinese School. Mrs. Sunny previously taught at Yew Chung International School in Mountain View as a preschool bilingual teacher.
Her experience and credential includes Early Childhood Education certificate from Ohlone College, U.C Berkeley Certificate in Teaching Chinese as a Heritage or Foreign Language, State of California Commission Teacher credential.
In China, She taught at the Beijing First Experimental Elementary School and then became the Vice Principal. Mrs. Sunny has a degree from the College of Economic Management Beijing Union University, Beijing, China.Aside from this, her hobbies include traveling, zumba dancing and socializing.
Mrs. Lindsay Shen is the fourth grade, Math Infinity and Science instructor. She is eager to work with young and eager minds. As a mother of two, Lindsay Shen has quite an experience in fostering creative learning environments for kids to grow and explore. She has also worked as a third grade teacher for the past four years, cultivating much experience in academic enrichment, class management, and homework/GATE enhancement.
Prior to her educational work, Lindsay was a software engineer.
In her spare time, Lindsay likes to take her son out to do exercises as well as calling and catching up with her college daughter in New York City.
Mowtusi Guha completed a Masters in Business Administration from India and Early Childhood Education courses from USA. She two interests are teaching and gardening. At Berkeley Academy, she is the second grade classroom instructor. Mow likes to teach young children because she believes that sharing her academic knowledge with them at this age can guide them to a brighter future.
Jyoti Swamy teaches Speech and Confidence Voice at Olive. She has competed in high school speech and debate for about 2 years. In her short time of participating in speech, she competed both on the state and national level.
She loves the arts, especially poetry. Jyoti performed at various venues including Fremont, Oakland, and SanFrancisco. She have also studied at the Meisner Technique Studio in SanFrancisco, where she has learned the techniques of acting under the teachings of the prestigious Sanford Meisner.
If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it!
Edward Njoo holds a bachelor’s of science degree in Biochemistry from Loyola Marymount University with high honors and certification from the American Chemical Society, and is currently pursuing a master’s degree from Biola University in Science and Religion. He is currently co-authoring his second peer-reviewed publication in the interface of synthetic organic chemistry and biochemistry, and has served as teaching assistant for undergraduate chemistry courses including general and organic chemistry. Edward’s research interests include synthetic and physical organic chemistry. Additionally, Edward has several years of experience teaching students at the elementary school, junior high, and high school levels in subjects ranging from AP Chemistry to Conceptual Physics and K-8 Hands-on Science, and currently serves as an assistant cross country coach at Mission San Jose High School. Edward teaches several of Olive’s K-8 science courses over the summer and has also helped to develop curricula for NGSS and Hands-On Science summer classes. He is passionate about science education and making STEM education engaging, relevant, and accessible to all students. Edward is a member of the American Chemical Society, American Physical Society, and American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. As a chemist and a teacher, he finds great fulfillment in teaching kids to think like scientists.