August 14, 2019

New Faces at Oakwood School

Elementary Campus

Therese Do, Joanie Pimentel, Troy Lawson

Therese Do, Julie’s kindergarten associate from last year, will become our new first-grade teacher. Therese taught first and second grade at the UCI Child Development School where she also received certification as a Paraprofessional Behavior Specialist. She has teaching experience in both the regular classroom and in planning instruction for students with therapeutic needs.

Joanie Pimentel is our new K-4 music teacher. Joanie is well-known to our students through her involvement in the orchestra, afterschool music program, and the Exploratorium. She is a seasoned educator with over 20 years of experience as a vocal and instrumental instructor and is well-versed in the Kodaly, Orff-Schulwerk, and Suzuki methods of instruction. Joanie will be partnering with her sister, Lisa, in the music department.

Troy Lawson, the fifth-grade teacher, originally hails from Louisiana where he taught multiple grade levels from first through fifth. For the last two years, Troy has been the Dean of Instruction and Culture at Equitas Academy where he was primarily responsible for coaching, developing, and evaluating teachers. In 2015, he was one of 10 winners of the New Orleans Excellence in Teaching Award.

Kai Sionas, Olivia Krane

Kai Sionas, sixth-grade humanities, comes to us from Graland Country Day School in Denver, Colorado. At Graland, Kai served as the lower school lead teacher, English Department Chair for grades K-8, and a mentor teacher in the Boettcher Teacher Residency program. Prior to his work in Colorado, Kai was an upper elementary teacher and academic technology teacher at the Metropolitan Montessori School in New York.

Olivia Krane has joined the admission department as Admission Coordinator. For the last four years, Olivia had a dual role on the secondary campus where she was the admission assistant and the parent of Herbert, a rising 10th grader. This year, she will be joined by her kindergarten son, Stuart.

Secondary Campus

Alizeh Ahmad, Nitzaira Delgado Garcia, Yvette Devereaux

Alizeh Ahmad joins our faculty as a member of the Social Studies department. Alizeh’s scholarship and research focus has been on religious literacy, Islamic Studies and international relations, including her recently-completed Masters from Harvard Divinity School. Her community leadership and teaching experiences have empowered youths to explore the intersections of religion, ethics, politics, law and identity, including through a Beyond Bans, Beyond Walls Symposium on reimagining gender and Islam.

Nitzaira Delgado Garcia is a Spanish teacher in our World Languages Department. Nitzaira has been teaching in the Department of Spanish and Portugese at UCLA, where she also recently completed her Ph.D. Nitzaira embodies an immersive and communicative approach to teaching her native Spanish language, as evidenced by her work helping to lead a group of undergraduates studying language abroad in Barcelona.

Yvette Devereaux is our new Orchestra Conductor. Yvette’s career includes key teaching posts at South Pasadena Music Center and Conservatory, Mount Saint Mary’s College and Compton Community College. An extremely accomplished conductor and concert violinist, Yvette’s resume reads like a who’s who of the music world. She continues to play with the Desert Symphony and the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, conduct for films and television, and teach people of all ages.


Kwesi Johnson, Kamesha McNeil, Jenny Meza

Kwesi Johnson is not new to Oakwood, but will be moving from adjunct to full faculty for Film-Video in our Visual Arts Department. Kwesi has taught for two years at Oakwood, as well as teaching positions at Inner City Arts, the Youth Science Center, and Calibraska Arts Initiative. Kwesi is also a professional film and television editor. He has been a strong supporter of Oakwood’s mentorship and affinity group programs.

Kamesha McNeil is our new Assistant Dean of Students for the High School. For the past decade, Kamesha has been working at school sites in and around Houston, Texas teaching speech and debate, overseeing curriculum, and acting as a Title I Supervisor in high-poverty schools. She comes to Oakwood with a deep commitment to and experience in diversity, equity and inclusion work.

Jenny Meza, a member of the Oakwood Class of 2012, returns to Oakwood as our new Admission Coordinator 7-12. She is coming to Oakwood from admissions work at Sierra Canyon School. Jenny also brings her training and background in Psychology, including time working in the Latino Family Therapy Program of the California Family Counseling Center in Chatsworth. Coming to Oakwood also means that Jenny will be working on campus with her father, Jose Meza, Oakwood’s long-time Plant Manager for the Secondary Campus!


Trish Robitaille, Myra Uytiepo

Trish Robitaille is also joining our World Languages Department as a Spanish teacher. Trish brings 29 years of teaching experience, including 13 years at Cincinnati Country Day School where she also served as a Dean of Students. In addition to her experience teaching Spanish at nearly every level, Trish has worked as an AP Test Reader for the College Board and a Curriculum Consultant.

Myra Uytiepo will be the newest member of our Mathematics Department. Originally from the Philippines, Myra has 15 years of experience teaching math, both in the Philippines and here in Los Angeles. For the past eight years, Myra has been teaching multiple levels of math at New Roads School in Santa Monica. At all levels, Myra infuses her teaching of math with a classroom commitment to discovery learning and investigations.