Faculty & Staff

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


Laura Johnson-Ross Principal

Diana Kong Director of Curriculum and Instruction

Jamila Dugan  Head of Professional Development

Lina Huang Operations Manager

Mica Tucci  Office Manager and After School Program Director

Mandarin Immersion Teaching Staff

Eve Wu Kindergarten Teacher

Jennifer Suen Kindergarten Teacher

Alice Chiu First Grade Teacher

Kristina Lau First Grade Teacher

Wei Shen Second Grade Teacher

Rui Fan Second Grade Teacher

Xinyi Xu  Third Grade Teacher

Lin Qu Third Grade Teacher

Jason Lu Fourth Grade Teacher

Han Han Fourth Grade Teacher

Carol Kao Mandarin Reading Specialist and First Grade Teacher

Sandra Sheng-Chuan Chang, Mandarin Reading Specialist

Robin Chen Kindergarten Mandarin Immersion Teaching Assistant

Sadie Wong First Grade Mandarin Immersion Teaching Assistant

Renee Chang Second Grade Mandarin Immersion Teaching Assistant

English Teaching Staff

Lisa Jordan Head of English Department and Fourth Grade English Teacher 

Mia Perez  Kindergarten English Teacher

Jill Yee  First and Second Grade English Teacher

Melanie Cardoza Third Grade English Teacher

Luanda Wesley English Reading Specialist

Other Staff

Danielle Simons Special Ed Coordinator

Jenna Ornbaun School Counselor

Bethany Avila  Director of Health Services

Larry Liang Lunch Supervisor – Alcatraz site

Ajman Thrower Lunch Supervisor – Herzog site

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.


Diana Kong, Director of Curriculum and Instruction

Diana Kong was born in Taiwan and was educated in the USA since high school on. She earned her bachelor degree in Child Development and Family Studies, and minored in Youth Services. She has also completed her master degrees in Educational Leadership and Educational Psychology. Currently, she is still working on her Ed.D. in Curriculum & Instruction.

Diana has been working, locally and internationally, in bilingual programs for over 15 years. Her duties involved, not limited to, in teaching, hiring, evaluating, program and curriculum planning, and other administrative tasks. Prior coming to YuMing, she was working for International School of the Peninsula as an Academic Dean in the Chinese program which was established in 1996, the third Chinese immersion school opened in the USA.

Being educated in both countries and having a passion in exploring children’s development and learning, this has driven Diana to continue seeking possibilities to make education different in bilingual education. Education covers more than just teaching and learning. It is affected by many other factors, such as curriculum planning, psychological influences, communities, the program itself and many others. Therefore, it is Diana’s desire to identify the factors that could influence how children learn and how teachers teach. Her goal at YuMing is to work with teachers and administrators to ensure learning and teaching are effective and productive. Being bilingual is not the only goal for the students studying in a bilingual immersion program. It is the path that leads students to be not only bilingual as they can communicate in different ways, but also bi-literate as students can think critically, and bi-cultural as students can see things differently through other cultural aspects. Students can also become individuals who can easily learn and adapt no matter where they go.

Besides academic learning, leading children to become the global citizens is another goal when looking at the curriculum design in the 21 century. We need to help students to be inclusive in everything they do and learn, so they will flourish into the responsible and well-balanced whole child.


Jamila Dugan, Head of Professional Development

Jamila comes to Yu Ming born and raised in Oakland with an incredible passion for education driven by social justice. She has grown up in one of the most diverse communities experiencing both school and work throughout Oakland and greater East Bay. After completing high school and junior college, she completed her undergraduate studies in psychology and graduated with a B.A. from Fresno State University. Upon graduating, she joined Teach For America in DC and taught kindergarten and first grade for three years. After earning her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction with a focus on early childhood education, she relocated back home to Oakland to work for the Teach For America staff as a primary coach for new teachers. As a coach, she supported teachers to create transformative visions for their classrooms while also building foundational teacher skill, knowledge, and mindset. Before Yu Ming, Jamila most recently worked with Teach For America as a Director of Teacher Learning in which she designed robust professional learning experience to increase teacher effectiveness and ability to drive toward equity in the classroom.

Jamila is also a mother of two beautiful children. Outside of work, she loves to spend time in nature, walk the lake, and enjoy the sun with her family and friends. As a mother and student of Oakland, Jamila believes in the potential of every child as well as the importance of equity driven instruction to the end of empowered young learners ready to lead change in our diverse world. In addition, she believes in the power of joy and love in the classroom as key levers help every child reach their potential.

Jamila comes to Yu Ming excited to be learner immersed in the school community. While working at Yu Ming, Jamila is also pursuing her doctoral degree at UC Berkeley in the Leadership for Educational Equity program. She hopes to bring her experience working in underserved communities, passion for social justice, and research to improve the system of education for all students.


Lina Huang, Operations 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!


Mica Tucci, Office Manager and After School Program Director

Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, I left home for college at the age of 18 and spent several years traveling and working abroad.  I earned a BA degree from Lawrence University, in Appleton, Wisconsin, where I studied Anthropology, Music and Spanish.  I then worked in educational administration as a Spanish Program Assistant for a study abroad program in Costa Rica, and later as coordinator for the ArtsBridge program back at Lawrence.  Being passionate about education, I became interested in teaching and went on to earn an MA-TESOL degree from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California. I gained my first formal teaching experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer at a primary school in La Palma, El Salvador. I then moved across the world to teach English at a university in Bhutan for two years.  Upon returning to the U.S., I decided to return to the administrative side of education and found the perfect opportunity at  Yu Ming Charter School.  I am honored to contribute my skills to the innovative,  international community of Yu Ming as the school’s Office Manager and After School Program Director.


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.


Kristina Lau, 1st Grade Teacher

Kristina was raised in Hong Kong, China and Vancouver, Canada. She grew up speaking Mandarin with her grandparents, Cantonese with her parents and English at school. She obtained her Bachelors Degree in Sociology and Economics at the University of British Columbia, and earned her Teaching Credential in Liberal Studies and Chinese Teaching as a Second Language from the University of Hong Kong. She also has an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education.

Upon graduating, Kristina worked as a high school teacher in Hong Kong, playing multiple roles in her school. She had the pleasure of being the coordinator for Extracurricular Committee and the Liberal Studies Department, coordinating work for Liberal Studies Teacher and organizing extracurricular activities to enrich student’s learning. Prior to joining Yu Ming, she was a Kindergarten Teacher at a Russian Immersion School in the Bay Area. Throughout the years, she had also developed a passion in Humane Education, working closely with SPCA and the Director of Greater China Region at the Institute for Humane Education, they’ve established the first Humane Institute in Hong Kong.

Kristina was born and raised in multicultural and multilingual environments, where she learnt to value and appreciate the importance of a second language. She looks forward to incorporating interactive and inquiry based learning approaches in her classroom, where students experience the same joy she had in learning Chinese. Outside of Teaching, Kristina loves to take up dance classes and get close to the nature. She is very excited to start the new school year here at Yu Ming with her little Tigers


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!


Rui Fan, 2nd Grade Teacher

I was born and raised in Anhui province, located in eastern China across the basins of the Yangtze and Huai Rivers. I have a B.A. in English Literature from Chuzhou University; an M.A. degree in Criminal Justice that was jointly awarded by Nanjing Normal University and the University of Maryland; and a second M.A. degree in Curriculum and Instruction, with a Certification in Teaching Chinese as a Second Language, from the University of Maryland.

Before joining Yu Ming, I taught elementary students for two years in a Mandarin immersion setting at the Baltimore International Academy. My teaching philosophy is to motivate students to learn. I am a facilitator who builds students’ motivation and self-confidence to learn. I enjoy working with different learning styles, and I prepare lessons by breaking down math or language arts concepts into simple components that allow my students to understand. It is my passion to bring meaningful and fun learning experiences to children.


Xinyi Rachel Xu 許昕怡, 3rd 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!


Lin Qu 曲琳, 3rd Grade Teacher

I was born and raised in Dalian, China. Then I headed to Guangzhou to attend South China Normal University, a university which mainly concentrates on teacher education and training, and I got my Bachelor’s degree of Arts in Chinese Language and Literature and a High School Chinese Teaching certification. After graduating I came to San Francisco to further my study of language teaching at San Francisco State University and received a Master’s degree in Education. During my graduate school study, I have taken every opportunity to explore the language teaching and learning environment in local San Francisco schools. I observed almost every local school which has Chinese programs, either in Mandarin or Cantonese, and had my internship in a public school as a Chinese student teacher for 1 year. After receiving my master’s, I became a 3rd grade Chinese Immersion teacher at a public school in San Francisco. I really enjoy teaching children because it gives me a sense of fulfillment and happiness while developing my Mandarin teaching skills. Staying with children helps me maintain all of the cherished qualities which we were born with, but people tend to lose with the passing of time.

I believe that learning should be fun and happy, therefore my mission as a teacher is to promote positive learning, to foster students’ love of learning in Mandarin, and to provide a strong foundation for lifelong learning. I love my work and love interacting with kids. I like to energize students and myself through positive daily classroom experience. I like to involve students in the class. I hope I am able to teach all the students, not just the motivated ones. I want to make learning fun for all my students. Then I will feel so fulfilled because I know that my students look forward to coming to school every day, ready to learn. Years later, when they look back on their school years, their 3rd grade year will stand out as a breath of fresh air in their younger lives.


Jason Lu 鲁雋, 4th 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.



Han Han 韩寒, 4th Grade Teacher 

Ms. Han Han is the 4th grade Mandarin teacher. She was born and raised in Hangzhou, China. She moved to Beijing for high school and college, attending the University of Science and Technology where she received a Bachelor’s degree of Arts in English Literature. Ms. Han has taught second and third grade at Post Oak IB Magnet Elementary School in Lansing, Michigan. Meanwhile she also attended Michigan State University to attain her Master’s of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction. After 2 years she was invited to be a teaching administrator for an educational company in Beijing where she led the program designing English learning and Social-Emotional Intelligence curriculum for 3 to 6 year olds. After 4 years’ work and exploration in 2 different countries, Ms. Han decided to come back to the States and keep the passion of teaching and curriculum designing for Chinese immersion programs. Her first stop was Lake Forest, Illinois where she witnessed the tremendous growth of her little friends as well as the realization of globalism and diversity among the whole community. Next Ms. Han chose to be a part of the excitement of the Bay Area, bringing her ideas, passions and loves.

Ms. Han believes that every child has an incredible capacity to learn and the job of educators is to create an environment to inspire and empower all students to maximize their growth as learners, cultivate their minds, create enduring connections and discover their passions. In Yu Ming, Ms. Han’s vision is to see all her children actively engaged in solving problems where they will be supported socially, emotionally, physically and intellectually.


Carol Kao  高芮蓮, Mandarin Reading Specialist

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!


Sandra Sheng-Chuan Chang   張聖涓, Mandarin Reading Specialist


Sandra has taught in various educational institutions before joining Yu Ming Charter School. She started her teaching career in Washington American School, an English-immersion school in Taichung, Taiwan.  At Washington, Sandra served as the lead teacher of a class of 5th graders and also the social studies teacher for the lower grades. After discovering her passion in teaching, she pursued her master degree in art education in Houston and received her single subject teaching credential in studio art and technology.

Sandra taught for two years as a high school art teacher in Alvin High School in Houston, Texas. Her job required her to instruct art foundation class and also teach digital graphics classes from ninth to twelfth grade. Her responsibilities include planning and implementing lesson plans, conducting student performance assessments, organize art supplies, maintaining communication with parents, engaging in problem solving and providing guidance for the students. She was positive and eager to acquire new skills and knowledge, and have developed essential teaching skills through hands-on experience.

Attracted by the rewarding experience of teaching a diverse group, Sandra also occasionally taught English in a refugee program hosted by the Bilingual Education Institute. Through this program, she taught foreign students from all over the globe with a wide range of literacy level.

Originally from Taiwan, Sandra has never lived in a city for longer than five years ever since she was a child. She has taken residency in Hualiang, Taichung, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Irvine, Houston, Boston, Oakland and now Berkeley. Sandra has a BA in Fine Art from University of Southern California and a MA in Art Education from University of Houston. She is happy to finally settle and raise her two children with her husband in this vibrant city. Sandra enjoys baking, playing piano, swimming and creating projects with her little ones in her spare time.


Robin Chen 陳盈, Kindergarten Mandarin Immersion 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!


Sadie Wong 黃穎芯, 1st Grade Mandarin Immersion Teaching Assistant

I was born and raised in Hong Kong, China. Hong Kong is known for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour, and is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. It’s where I attended kindergarten through high school. Cantonese and English are both official languages there, and it’s also the place where I learned Mandarin. After I graduated high school in Hong Kong, our family moved to San Francisco and then to the East Bay. I’m currently finishing up my degree in early childhood education. I’m so lucky that I worked in the After School Program with Yu Ming Students as my first teaching experience. In the fall 2014 semester, I officially became a part of the Yu Ming teaching team. I enjoy experiencing the uniqueness and laughter of each child.

Being able to teach Chinese and work with kids is not only fun. Children motivate me to be a better person. Children make me a more knowledgeable person: Children are, by nature, very curious. With all the questions they ask, I constantly find myself looking for answers in books and on the internet. Children make me a well-informed person: As kids often expect for me to know exactly what they are talking about, I also have to keep up-to-date on current affairs, as well as on the latest video games, cartoons, and coolest apps for iPads and phones. Children make me a healthier person: I am a firm believer of leading by example, therefore I follow a healthy lifestyle by eating healthy foods and keeping active (which comes in very handy when I need to keep up with them!).


Renee Chang 蔡麗媚, 2nd Grade Mandarin Immersion Teaching Assistant

I was born and raised in a subtropical coastal city called Kaohsiung from the southern part of Taiwan. In 1992, I moved to the United States with my husband to pursue our “American Dream.”  Being raised as a traditional Chinese kid through my early adulthood, I have learned many important virtues that every Chinese values: persistent, patient, and hard work. Combined with my continued growth as a first generation immigrant, I have significantly expanded my value system with optimism, diversity, and sincerity.  I believe in these values and practice them every day; I believe this will significantly benefit the children who I work with.

My career as an educator started in 2000. Prior to join the Yu Ming school, I was the math teacher and teacher assistant of the lower Elementary class at the Mission Montessori School at Scottsdale, Arizona; I was responsible for the teaching, planning and the design of the math curriculum for the first to third grade student as well as assist my colleagues to manage and maintain an attractive learning environment for the class.

I am very excited to be part of the family of Yu Ming. I believe my experiences and the values I practice will better prepare the young students I work with for a life long journey of success and learning.


Lisa Jordan, Head of English Department and Fourth Grade English Teacher

Photo and bio to come


Mia Perez, Kindergarten English Teacher

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!


Jill Yee, First and Second Grade English Teacher

I spent the first half of my life on the east coast (Massachusetts, Maine, New Jersey) and the second half of my life on the west coast (southern and northern California.) My siblings (four sisters and a brother) and their families still live on the east coast, but I consider California my home.
After graduating from Colby College in Maine with a B.S. in Mathematics, I went to work in the corporate world. I started in software development – writing computer programs for telecommunications companies. Eventually I transitioned to Project Management and put my slightly obsessive organizational skills to good use. I worked for a large consulting firm in San Francisco, but traveled all over the country. At first I loved the fast-pace and the excitement of the travel, but after ten years I was ready to settle down and pursue my love of teaching.

I traded in long hours at the office for long hours grading papers and planning lessons. And I loved every minute of it. I received my California Teaching Credential (with CLAD emphasis) through St. Mary’s College. I spent seven years in the Walnut Creek School District, teaching mostly second grade with a short time in fourth grade. WCSD is a highly collaborative school district with a strong focus on literacy and differentiation. The experience and knowledge I gained will be invaluable for the next phase of my career.

After taking time off for my family, I’m so excited to be teaching again. And especially happy to be teaching at Yu Ming, a wonderful school where my two children are learning and thriving. I believe that an important aspect of successful teaching is trust. I work hard to get to know my students and their interests, treat them with respect, and set high expectations. I have seen the most hesitant learners make much progress within a safe, nurturing environment; and I look forward to joining such an environment at Yu Ming.



Melanie Cardoza, Third Grade English Teacher

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!


Luanda Wesley, English Reading Specialist

I am a native San Franciscan born and raised. Working as an pilot intern at Buena Vista Elementary and Hawthorne Elementary School for San Francisco State University’s teaching credential internship program ignited my passion for teaching.  Soon after, I graduated from San Francisco State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies and a Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential with an emphasis on multicultural studies.

For the past 23 years that I have spent teaching, I have experienced a variety of teaching environments and have grown to appreciate a child’s innovation. Over the years, I worked with middle schoolers from Central and South America within a self-contained ESL classroom at Ben Franklin Middle School;  taught 5th grade at Sir Francis Drake Elementary in Hunter’s Point; relocated to Dublin, GA with my family and taught kindergarten at Saxon Heights Elementary; experienced a year round calendar (which I love!); traveled to Davao, Philippines as a Fulbright Scholar; became a co-founding kindergarten facilitator at Nea Community Learning School in Alameda; worked for the Oakland School District as a long term 8th grade substitute teacher; and accompanied the San Francisco storytelling troupe, Eth Noh Tech, to China where we exchanged stories with the elders and children of Gensun.

In addition to my passion for teaching, I am a massage therapist and a global citizen. On my most recent adventure, I traveled to Thailand, where I supplemented my massage therapy education at Wat Pho Traditional School of Medicine and Massage. For the past four years and for the years to come, I have embarked on my dream of being a massage therapist; although, I can never truly step away from teaching due to its unending rewards.

Due to my love for travel, the opportunity to become a part of the Yu Ming family, where cultural immersion is of paramount importance, is a seamless continuation in both my teaching career and personal outlook. As a global citizen, I bring my love for culture to the classroom and strive to develop students’ awareness of children both local and abroad. I believe we all learn in different ways and that every child can learn. We (peers, parents, families, community) are all teachers and every child is a precious gift that we are entrusted to nurture and encourage the development of their talents, skills, and love of learning.


Danielle Simons, Special Ed Coordinator

I’m Danielle Simons and I’m the special education coordinator and teacher for Yu Ming. Before coming to Yu Ming, I worked in Oakland Unified as a Resource Specialist and at Lincoln Child Center as a Day Treatment Teacher. I received my training from Oakland Teaching Fellows a year after graduating from UC Berkeley with a degree in English. I’ve continued my education through Oakland Practitioner Teaching Program and BTSA. This will be my fifth year teaching.

In all of Oakland, Yu Ming is a very unique and special school. I am excited to work  here because the energy of the students, the expertise of the teaching staff, and the strength of the leadership. I’m proud to work in a community where expectations for students are high and students are striving. I love that diversity is honored and cultures are celebrated. I also feel honored to collaborate with expert teachers who foster an environment for continued growth in best practices. Lastly, I’m pleased to be at Yu Ming where leadership has strong vision and great follow through.


Jenna Ornbaun, School Counselor

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.


Bethany Avila, Director of Health Services

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!