August 24, 2020

New Faces at Oakwood School

As we embark on the 2020–2021 school year, we would like to introduce these new teachers, staff, and administrators to the Oakwood School community—welcome!

Elementary Campus

Claire Aufhammer, Presli Guy, Lily Diamond, Stacy Sanchez

Claire Aufhammer will be joining the elementary campus as a first-grade teacher, teaming with Therese Do. She is an experienced educator who has taught in urban, international, and bilingual contexts having been a teacher at the Inter-American School in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, and her most recent school, Achievement First North Brooklyn Prep in Brooklyn, New York. In addition to being well-traveled, Claire speaks fluent Spanish.

Presli Guy is bringing his teaching skills to a partnership with Claire Friedman in the third grade. Presli hails from Houston,Texas, where he was born and raised. He has taught both third and fourth grades in the Katy and Klein Independent School Districts. Prior to becoming a credentialed teacher, Presli worked as a special education assistant and after school program teacher.

Lily Diamond is our new fourth-grade teacher bringing her expertise to her partnership with Nicola Berlinsky. She most recently taught at The School at Columbia University, New York, and prior to that, was across the country at the East Palo Alto Charter School, an Aspire Public School. In 2016, she won the NCTE Donald H. Graves Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Writing.

Stacy Sanchez will be teaching fifth grade this year, partnering with Troy Lawson. A fluent Spanish speaker, she last taught at the Escuela Bilingue Internacional in Emeryville, California, which is both an inquiry-based and a Spanish immersion school. Stacy has a breadth of teaching experience having also taught in Oakland, Santa Ana, and San Francisco and, for two years, was an Americorp member.

Secondary Campus

Nicole Luque, Tyron Young, Mary O’Malley

Nicole Luque joins the Middle School campus as a new Mathematics teacher. She comes to Oakwood with experience teaching math to both middle and high school students at New Village Girls Academy, Renaissance Arts Charter School, and other institutions, as well as a position as assistant cross country coach at La Canada High School. In addition to her educational career, Luque has completed two iron-mans and fifteen marathons! She received her teaching credential from Cal State Dominguez Hills in 2016, and also has an MBA from USC, and a BS from UCLA in Mathematics and Applied Science.

Tyron Young will be teaching Middle School Science this year. Before arriving at Oakwood, he taught 4th and 5th grade at Waterfront Montessori in Jersey City, NJ, and 5th grade Math and Science at Ascend Public Charter Schools in Brooklyn. He is also a founding board member of Thrival World Academies in Oakland, assisting with the development of two charter schools that send high school students abroad. Tyron has a BA in Child Development from Morehouse College, a Teacher Certification from Spelman College, and an MS in Education from Temple University.

Mary O’Malley is joining Oakwood’s Middle School Campus as a Learning Specialist. She has over fifteen years of experience including almost a decade as a study skills teacher and writing lab instructor at Wildwood School, and in her role as an independent service provider offering one-on-one intensive instruction to students at Valley Torah High School in Valley Village and for the Manhattan Beach School District. Mary has a Professional Certificate in Learning Differences and Neurodiversity from Landmark College in Putney, VT, as well as an MA in Text and Performance Studies from King’s College London.

Kavita Ajmere, Jenna Ross, Emma Patten

Kavita Ajmere comes to Oakwood this year as the new Director of Counseling and Wellness for the Secondary Campus. She is a licensed psychologist who has provided counseling for institutions including the Curtis School, Harvard-Westlake, and the Francis W. Parker School, Chicago, alongside her private practice. She also has experience as a professor, teaching psychology and counseling at the university level. Dr. Ajmere has a PhD in Counseling Psychology from Indiana State University, and MAs in Community Counseling Psychology and Educational Psychology from Ball State University.

Jenna Ross will be teaching social studies this year on the high school campus. A self-described “pedagogy geek,” her previous experience in education includes teaching Special Education in Naples, Italy for two years, and a recent stint as an online teacher for high school students in the Department of English Literature at the Harvard Extension School. Jenna received her PhD from USC in history earlier this year, with an emphasis in modern European history, and has intermediate language proficiency in French, German, and Italian.

Emma Patten will be joining the high school staff as a new social studies teacher. Before arriving at Oakwood, she taught anthropology, sociology, and religion at both the community college and research university levels. She also has performed field research in Russia, the UK, Northern California and Nevada, and is fluent in Spanish, with proficiency in Russian. Emma received both her MA and PhD in Sociocultural Anthropology from Princeton, as well as a Masters of Theological Studies in Comparative Religion from Harvard.

Lluvia Higuera, Karen Dunbar, Jill Turner

Lluvia Higuera is a new instructor in the photography/visual arts department. She has a wide range of educational experience, including devising and leading original lessons for K-12 groups at both the Museum of Latin American Art and LACMA, as well as giving bilingual tours at the Hammer Museum. Lluvia received her BFA from the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, and has over twenty years of experience as a freelance photographer, with a diverse portfolio of fine art and commercial work.

Karen Dunbar will be returning to Oakwood to teach Art History this fall. She previously taught Visual Arts at Oakwood from 1995-2015 and again in 2016 and 2018. A veteran artist and educator, Dunbar has taught art, architecture, art history, and critical studies at high school and university levels. She also served as Interim Director of Education at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and has been on the editorial board of X-TRA: Contemporary Art Quarterly since 2015. She is the Executive Director of the Michael Asher Foundation, a nonprofit founded to maintain the legacy of the late LA artist and provide charitable grants for artists. Dunbar received her BA in Art History and Studio Art from Brown, her MFA from the California Institute of the Arts, and participant in the esteemed Whitney Museum Independent Study Program.

Jill Turner will be joining Oakwood’s faculty as a High School English Teacher this year. She has a long history of teaching English to high school and college students, including positions at Harvard-Westlake, Anhui University in China, the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, and Idyllwild Arts Academy. She previously held the role of Communications Coordinator at Oakwood, and also has nearly a decade of experience as a contracted writer and editor. Turner holds an MA in English Literature from Penn State, and a Master’s in Communication Management from the Annenberg School at USC.

Advancement & Communications

Craig Arteaga-Johnson, Lexi Ibañez

We are thrilled to announce that after a national search, Oakwood has hired Craig Arteaga-Johnson as Senior Advancement Strategist. Craig arrives at Oakwood after eighteen years at Pomona College and will fill the vacancy in the Advancement Office. At Pomona, he served as Senior Manager in the Office of Capital Giving and Assistant Vice President for Alumni & Parent Engagement, increasing donor and volunteer support through high-trust, high-outcome relationships with alumni, parents, faculty, students, staff and other members of the community.

As a senior leader, Craig will partner with Jaime, Advancement colleagues and the Board of Trustees to engage the entire community in support of Oakwood’s strategic and capital plans. This will include developing further Oakwood’s capability for major gifts fundraising and organizing comprehensive campaign initiatives.

Craig’s career in advancing education is inspired by his own formative experiences as a student. Growing up in Seattle, he attended Summit K-12, a progressive public school, before transferring to the independent Lakeside School. He moved to California to attend Pomona College, where he majored in Studio Art.

Craig lives in Pasadena with his wife Giselle and their daughter Olivia, who is an eighth grader at Polytechnic School.


We are also pleased to welcome Lexi Ibañez as she takes on the role of Communications Content Manager. As a member of the Marketing and Communications team, Lexi will play a vital part in keeping our community informed and connected. She will also engage faculty, student, and alumni voices in telling compelling stories about teaching and learning.

Lexi joins Oakwood School after six years at the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association. She has been instrumental in overseeing the online presence of the Tournament of Roses through management of various digital projects including websites, internal portals, the event app, social media, and email communications. She owes her professional skills to past roles with The Walt Disney Company, FX Networks, Allison & Partners PR, and Northstar Travel Media.

Lexi’s excitement to join Oakwood stems from her own experience in independent schools. She attended St. Mary’s K-8th and Rosary High School in Fullerton, CA. She hopes to share her gratitude for the independent school experience with the Oakwood community. Lexi graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in Political Science and an emphasis in International Relations.

She currently resides in West Los Angeles with her soon-to-be husband, Austin.