Faculty & Staff

Meet the Yu Ming team that brings a wealth of experience — professional and cultural — to our school.

Administration

Laura Johnson-Ross Founding Principal

Lina Huang Office Manager

Polly Yan Administrative Assistant & After School Program Director

Teaching Staff

Eve Wu Kindergarten Teacher

Jennifer Suen Kindergarten Teacher

Alice Chiu First Grade Teacher

Carol Kao First Grade Teacher

Wei Shen Second Grade Teacher

Xinyi Xu  Second Grade Teacher

Carl Chang Third Grade Teacher

Jason Lu Third Grade Teacher

Lisa Jordan English Language Coordinator

Christina Cotham   English Teacher

Mia Perez Reading Specialist

Melanie Cardoza Reading Specialist

Robin Chen  Teaching Assistant

Kate Jiaying Xu Teaching Assistant

Counseling Staff

Bethany Avila  School Nurse

Jenna Ornbaun Counseling Intern

 

Laura Ross, Founding PrincipalLaura Ross

A Multicultural Leader for a Multicultural School

Principal Ross understands what it takes to teach and nurture global citizens, and brings the leadership skills and experience needed to build a strong institution and community. As a former teacher, Laura highly values the work of teachers and has a proven track record of being able to work collaboratively with individuals from a variety of backgrounds. She is extremely knowledgeable, well-versed in instructional leadership and able to attract great talent to the staff of educators and administrative support at Yu Ming.

Originally from the UK, Principal Ross spent the last five years in China, first in Hong Kong and then Beijing. She was the co-founder and Education Director of LEAP Child Development Centre in Beijing, which taught English language and communications skills to over 150 four to twelve year olds in an immersion environment. At LEAP, she developed an innovative new curriculum for teaching English as a second language and built successful partnerships with some of Beijing’s most prestigious international schools, including Harrow International School and the Canadian International School.

Principal Ross started her career as a member of the inaugural intake of Teach First, the UK equivalent of Teach for America. While teaching in one of the poorest boroughs in London, she acquired Qualified Teacher Status, was selected as a national “Fast Track” teacher by the UK Government’s Department for Education and was promoted to Head of the school’s physical, social, health and citizen education department.

Her school served a large immigrant population of several different ethnic groups, including children from Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, China, Eastern Europe, Africa and the Caribbean; the number of children speaking English as a second language was approximately 30%. Principal Ross is accustomed to working with diverse communities and has extensive experience identifying and working with children with special education needs or who are struggling to stay on top of their education. Her comprehensive training in behavior management has been critical in her success with working in challenging school environments.

Laura has an MA in Geography from Oxford University and an MBA from Peking University.

 

Lina Huang, Office Manager

I lived in Tokyo until I was 6 years old, speaking Japanese and Taiwanese with my parents. I still remember my struggle with Mandarin when I first started elementary school in Taipei. By third grade, I was fluent in Mandarin. My family immigrated to United States after I completed elementary school, and again I had to immerse myself in a new language. I graduated from UC Davis majoring in pre-veterinary medicine and Chinese with a minor in art studio. Base on my own experience, I understand what it is like to learn a new language in an immersed environment. I believe it is truly the best way to learn new languages, and Yu Ming students are extremely fortunate to have this opportunity.

I started my professional career during dotcom years hence most of my past experience has been with high-tech start-up companies. I learned a wide range of skills and often had to wear multiple hats while working in start-up environment. I have worked as an IT specialist, web designer, technical support manager, and software development administrative assistant.

I am very excited to now join a start-up Mandarin immersion school. I believe that I can make a great contribution with all the experience and skills I have. I am looking forward to learn all the ins and outs of school management and get to know every student!

 

Teacher and Staff Bios

 

Eve Wu  吳怡玟, Kindergarten Teacher

Eve WuBorn and raised in Taiwan, I grew up in a family that shares two different languages, Hakka and Taiwanese. I embrace different cuisine, culture and languages from my parents. With this attitude, I have a greater appreciation for learning different cultures and languages. I have a B.A. in English education from National Pingtung University of Education, Taiwan. During my study, I was actively involved in tutoring and school activities. I worked around children all the time which formed my interest in teaching young learners as my future career. After graduating from National Pingtung University of Education, I had my half-year internship at my hometown, Tainan, public elementary school and got my certified G1-6 teacher in Taiwan before coming to the U.S.

I have an M.S.Ed in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from the University of Pennsylvania. Studying in the U.S., I had different chances to teach people from diverse cultural backgrounds. I also gained further experience in teaching Chinese language and culture to young learners. Afterwards, I began to work at Ying Hua International School as first-grade head teacher. Ying Hua gave me an opportunity to understand Chinese immersion schools and to develop an inquiry-based curriculum. I was amazed by students’ language acquisition when they are fully exposed to a Chinese environment.

I believe that social curriculum is as important as academic curriculum. I enjoy integrating various games and activities in my lessons. Students can not only learn while having fun, but also establish their social skills while cooperating with one another. I am passionate about teaching and look forward to sharing my enthusiasm in lifelong learning with students at Yu Ming.

 

Jennifer Suen 孫婕, Kindergarten Teacher

Jennifer Suen
I was born in Taipei, Taiwan, and moved to northeastern Ohio with my family when I was eight years old. I grew up in a bilingual household, and continued my Mandarin studies throughout high school and college. I received an undergraduate degree in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, and recently completed a Masters in Elementary Curriculum and Instruction at George Mason University near Washington DC. I have lived in four continents, studied six languages, and taught students of all ages between preschool and college. As an educator, I am passionate about interdisciplinary curriculum, inquiry-driven lessons, and project-based learning. I believe that a strong collaborative relationship between teachers and families can lead to a more exciting and engaging learning environment. Also, since guest lecturers and “experts” can truly bring a lesson to life, I hope that many of you will be able to join us in the classroom in order to share your experiences and expertise with the students.

 

Alice Chiu  邱芸, 1st Grade Teacher

I grew up in the Bay Area and attended U.C. Santa Cruz where I majored in Psychology. I received my California Teaching Credential three years ago and have been teaching ever since. I spent the last year living abroad in Taiwan to gain a deeper understanding of my culture. While I was there, I had the privilege of working at a language school teaching English. As a teacher in a different country, I was challenged to modify my teaching methods in order to accommodate the cultural differences between our two countries. I enjoyed my stay in Taiwan immensely and truly appreciated my heritage. I learned something new everyday and my time there has turned into an unforgettable journey.

I believe that education is important and a valuable asset to everyone. As a teacher, I hope to inspire my students to love knowledge and to have a desire to keep on learning. My desire is to help your child discover his or her individuality and work alongside with them to maximize it. My aim is to provide a safe learning environment that encourages students to grow socially, emotionally, and cognitively.

 

Carol Kao  高芮蓮, 1st Grade Teacher

I was born and grew up in Taiwan —about 6,000 miles from California. I received a Bachelor’s degree and teacher credential in Early Childhood Development and Education. After graduating, I taught in kindergarten for two years, during the teaching, I have learned many teaching strategies that support students’ needs. I left for United States in 2005. I obtained my Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Upon graduating, I worked with students who were from Minnesota competitive school in Chinese immersion program. After two years spent in Minnesota I moved to Indonesia and taught Chinese in an international school for another year. Thus I know all about what it’s like to be in an “immersion” environment.

Throughout my extensive and academic teaching experience, I have developed a deep understanding of culture differences, individuals’ learning and thinking patterns and social development. I am passionate about developing innovative curriculum. I enjoy using music, singing, and chanting in my curriculum. I also enjoy exploring the world and playing the Chinese instrument, Er-Hu. I volunteered to teach Er-Hu in my spare time in addition to teach in the school. I look forward to sharing my experiences and passions for education with Yu Ming School!

 

Wei Shen 沈 薇, 2nd Grade Teacher

I was born and raised up in Shanghai, speaking Shanghainese at home while learning Mandarin and English at school. It was six years ago that I majored in Exterior Chinese (Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language) at Shanghai University and received my Bachelors degree there. After my graduation, I became a Chinese language teacher in a private international school for a multi-age classroom of kindergarten and first grade students. My first year of work experience as a Chinese teacher provoked me to seriously think about my career development as a Chinese language teacher. How could I effectively provide my students with opportunities to explore the Chinese language? Therefore, I decided to further my study of second language teaching at DePaul University of Chicago and received my Master in Education. During my graduate school study, I have taken every opportunity to explore the language teaching and learning environment in local Chicago schools.

Having completed challenging study, research, and teaching experience in Chicago, I have acquired a deeper understanding of teaching, especially in second language education. I implemented my understanding of second language teaching theories into a real classroom, and developed my own language teaching philosophy. My classroom has always been a safe place for children to freely share their ideas, to comfortably try the new things, and to appreciate diversity. I am excited to join Yu Ming School and to share my passion with the team!

 

Xinyi Rachel Xu 許昕怡, 2nd Grade Teacher

I am from hairy crab and smelly tofu; I am from steamed buns and fried dumplings dipped in vinegar; I am from the most crowded streets, with trotting people, ringing bicycle, and honking cars.This is the sleepless city called Shanghai. I am from Dragon, Panda and Monkey King; a mysterious country with 5000 years of history. Red is the passion; Yellow is the bright. The characters with graceful strokes painting my language makes me proud.

Hi, Everyone! My name is Xinyi. I attended East China Normal University where I majored in early child education. In my junior year, I had my intern in Walt Disney World in Orlando for 5 months. This was the first time I came to the United States and I truly treasure all the memories there.

After I graduated, I became a Chinese teacher in Meadow Brook Elementary at Forest Hills Public Schools in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I received my Master’s Degree in Teaching and Curriculum from Michigan State University in the summer of 2011. I have taught kindergarten Chinese immersion for three years and enjoyed the challenge of developing an immersion program. What makes teaching so enjoyable to me is that it is also a learning process. My students are amazing and they motivate me to be a better teacher. Having been educated in eastern philosophy and teaching in western culture, I am very lucky seeing pros and cons in both education systems. My favorite thing about being a teacher is seeing my students smiling faces every day!

I believe that life is an adventure which makes me open-minded and courageous. I enjoy living in different cities and I love to travel seeing people in different places and experiencing different cultures. I have been to most provinces in China, 25 States in U.S., and Toronto – Niagara Falls in Canada. I am very excited about moving to the Bay Area and joining an awesome team, Yu Ming!

 

Carl Chang 張喬豪, 3rd Grade Teacher

Carl ChangWith two master’s degrees from the Ohio State University and the University of Arizona, I started my teaching career at the university level, and my Chinese teaching experience shows a “backward” design—from college to high school and finally elementary school. My teaching at the elementary school is really a marvelous repeat of my childhood—I teach what I learned and played with when I was at that age.

So I teach kids how to learn Mandarin tricks and learned them in an intriguingly motivating way, exactly as I promised as a schoolchild to myself what I’d do when I became a teacher in future. For instance, I teach students how to fly their first self-made kite and bring in the background knowledge, or etymology, if you’d like this fancy word better, of the Chinese characters of 風, and 箏. The interesting part of this story-learning does not end there however. I also design a scene for the West to meet the East by bringing in Benjamin Franklin, since he seemed to be more Chinese than American with his experience of flying the kite under the rain to fit perfectly the etymology of the Chinese word 電.

I also repeat my childhood when I teach the life cycle and see students raising silkworms from eggs to eggs—being hatched from eggs to laying the 2nd generation eggs. In each of the students I see myself in my childhood and it feels as if I were one of them working together in that subject. We don’t forget the plant part, of course. We’d also learn the plant version of the life cycle when we plant corn from grain/kernel to the 2nd generation grain/kernel. Higher graders will learn heredity from the same experience.

Math is fun and beautiful and most importantly, simple and easy. Yes, it was my way of learning math. If this ideology confuses you or runs counter to your experience with math, you’re more than welcome to observe why math is so charming.

Oh! How much do I enjoy this philosophy of 返璞歸真 and live it out loud with such a great innocence in all of it!

 

Jason Lu 鲁雋, 3rd Grade Teacher 

I have under my belt a non-conventional teacher formation: MFA in the Media (TV & Theater Production), MA in Elementary Education (Instruction & Curriculum), and BFA in Applied Arts (Graphic Design & Photography). During the course of this path, I spent most of my formative years in Taipei, then five years in NYC, and the recent six years in the Bay Area. Yes, it is a full circle, resolving to lead back to how and why we learn, and share.

In educational terms, I am life-long learning and have now consolidated most of my knowledge-processing and conceptualizing mechanisms and strategies into a platform that always “spirals up”—I stretch to reach to young minds to maximize the development of their potentials: Language arts, cognitive thinking, music, visual arts, drama, and a variety of diverse learning preferences are incorporated in my lessons, to ensure my students are connected, motivated, and engaged in their daily school life. We work together to always strive for better and higher goals. This, a personal ambition, would definitely be empowered by the parents and colleagues around us. So I sincerely invite your comments and suggestions, and please drop by Phoenix Class and I promise you will like what you see.

Professionally, I am credentialed to teach CA public schools, grades K-12, in both English and Bilingual settings (Mandarin). I have been teaching English in Taipei for 6 years, and Mandarin Immersion in the Bay Area for 3 years.

 

Lisa Jordan, English Language Coordinator

Photo and bio to come

 

Christina Cotham, English Teacher

Christina ChenI was born in Taipei, Taiwan and raised in Davis, California. Some of my earliest language memories include: hearing my relatives speak Taiwanese and Mandarin, and attending a nursery school in the Philippines where we learned the word for “watermelon” in English, Tagalog, and Mandarin. In junior high, I began to study French at school as well. My exposure to different languages and cultural experiences in my youth definitely made a lasting impact on me! I received my Bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology at UC Berkeley and my Master’s degree and Elementary Credential at Stanford, and then taught Kindergarten in Alameda where I had an amazing year with 20 unforgettable children.

Now, I am an Oakland resident in the Lake Merritt neighborhood and ride my yellow bike to work. When not at school, I can most often be found reading, creating, and cooking.  In my teaching practice, I am passionate about interdisciplinary learning, multilingual literacy, and multicultural identity.

I am excited to support Yu Ming students in their growth as bilingual learners, and to encourage their curiosity about the world around them. I look forward to an excellent year of close collaboration with a wonderful team of teachers, parents, and community members.

 

Mia Perez, Reading Specialist

Mia PerezBorn and raised on the island of Guam, I attended the same school from kindergarten to twelfth grade. I grew up immersed in an incredibly diverse racial and cultural environment. I left this environment for Seattle where I received my Bachelors degree from the English Honors Program at the University of Washington. Upon graduating, I began working at University Child Development School (UCDS), an independent Seattle elementary school, nationally recognized for its excellence and innovation. I taught at UCDS for two years. My first year, I taught in a multi-age classroom of pre-kindergarten and kindergarteners and my second year in a multi-age classroom of fourth and fifth graders.

I then received my Masters in Education and Multiple Subject Credential from the University of California, Berkeley’s Developmental Teacher Education Program. Throughout my two years at UC Berkeley I taught throughout the East Bay public school system, teaching a wide variety of students from different socio-economic, linguistic, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds.

Throughout my professional and academic experience, I have developed a deep understanding of students’ cognitive and social development. I am passionate about designing curriculum that is academically challenging, equitable, and socially just for a diverse classroom of students. I enjoy integrating the arts into my curriculum specifically through the use of Visual Thinking Strategies. I look forward to sharing my experiences and passions for education with Yu Ming School!

 

Melanie Cardoza, Reading Specialist

I have been lucky enough to call the Bay Area home my entire life. I grew up in Livermore, where I attended public school from kindergarten through high school. My elementary school experience was unique in that I was in a multi-graded classroom with 60+ first through fifth graders. I had three amazing teachers who ignited my passion for education and teaching.

After high school I received a B.S. in Organizational Communication from the University of Portland in Oregon. I spent several years in the workforce as a Special Events Coordinator for the American Cancer Society, and as the Selling Department Manager at Anthropologie in Blackhawk before I went back to school to get my teaching credential.

I received my multiple subject teaching credential from St. Mary’s College in Moraga. I student taught in a 3rd grade classroom in Alameda, and also a kindergarten classroom in Berkeley. I am so excited to be a part of the Yu Ming community and am looking forward to meeting all of you!

 

Robin Chen 陳盈, Teaching Assistant

Robin ChenI was born in New York, but at the tender young age of two weeks old, I moved to Hong Kong. Raised by my grandparents from Chaozhou and Shanghai, I grew up speaking Cantonese and Shanghainese. At the age of 5, I moved back to the United States, where I immediately was immersed in both an English and a Mandarin learning environment. My parents strongly believed that Mandarin would be a useful language to me in the future — and they were right. I studied both Traditional and Simplified characters, learned both Zhuyin Fuhao and Hanyu Pinyin, and took Mandarin classes in places as diverse as Beijing, Kaohsiung, Hong Kong, and Pittsburgh (where I earned a double bachelor’s in Chinese and Linguistics from Carnegie Mellon University). I ended up in California in 2010 when I enrolled in Monterey Institute of International Studies to earn my Master’s in Teaching Chinese.

Like my parents and grandparents before me, I place a high value on education and second language learning. Through my own diverse language learning and teaching experiences, I have developed a unique understanding of language acquisition, with a focus on communicative language learning activities and assessments. I am excited to encourage the young learners at Yu Ming on their journey toward bilingualism!

 

Kate Jiaying Xu 徐嘉莹, Teaching Assistant

Greetings to you! I am Jiaying, the teaching assistant for 2nd and 3rd grade. I was born and raised in Shanghai, a multi-cultural metropolis with both eastern and western features. Growing up under such circumstances, I always open to new ideas and different cultures. Within cultures, language is the thing I feel fascinating. I speak Shanghainese with my family and Mandarin with my friends. English was the first foreign language I learnt since I was ten. After I went to the college, I learnt German and Japanese. Now, I am studying Cantonese by myself.

I attended East China University of Science and Technology in Shanghai in 2007 and received my Bachelor degree in English and English literature. During those four years, I thought about my future and decided to continue my love for language by teaching it. In order to be a more qualified teacher, I came to the U.S after graduation. This May, I earned my Master degree in TESOL from University of San Francisco. During my stay in the US, I taught Chinese in YMCA afterschool program and summer camp at Malcolm X Academy. Besides, I tutored in several public schools in San Francisco, including William L. Cobb Elementary School, Bryant Elementary and Fairmount Elementary School. All these precious experiences help me not only with my teaching skills, but also with a better understanding of American Education system, school daily routine and classroom management, which I cannot learnt from professors or books.

Now, I am very excited to join Yuming, a wonderful and energetic family, as a TA. I am looking forward to work with every student.

 

Bethany Avila, School Nurse

I was born in Marietta, Georgia. Relocated several times as a child, from living in the Philippines to California, New York and back here now in California. I believe living in so many different places has made me a more balanced person by being exposed to and having adapted to a variety of cultures. Starting at a young age, caring for the well-being of others has been a love of mine. I’ve taken a strong interest in philanthropy and the health of children. To better my understanding, I furthered my education in Unitek College’s Nursing program for Vocational Nurses and graduated in 2012. I will ultimately like to continue my cultivation of healthcare and receive my BSN in the future. I have high hopes to one day travel and provide excellent healthcare to many countries that lack the access to any kind of wellness program.

For now, there is no better place to broaden my knowledge and care for children than working as the nurse for Yu Ming Charter School. I will be here at Yu Ming Monday through Friday! On the weekends I work with children at an intermediate care facility and I’ve been with them for over a year now. I enjoy working with children, being able to take part in the framework of their foundations. I take passion in the health and wellness of a child and couldn’t be more happy to be here!

 

Jenna Ornbaun, Counseling Intern

Jenna Ornbaun
I was born in Oahu, Hawaii and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in elementary school. I attended the University of California, Davis where I received a Bachelor’s degree in Developmental Psychology. I’ve worked with children and families for over a decade; my experience has taken me from the classroom, to foster youth group homes to teaching preschool here in Oakland. I have worked with children of all ages, from infants to teens, from diverse backgrounds and family structures. In order to continue to expand the scope of my praxis I am currently a Master’s Candidate in Infant Mental Health at Mills College.

Through my experience working with children, families and mental health workers I have gained a deep appreciation for a holistic view of children with an emphasis on relationship-based practice. My special interests include fostering social-emotional development and working to support parents and caregivers. I am tremendously excited to be a part of Yu Ming Charter School and to make my own contribution to the growth of the Yu Ming community, school and students.