Acting Head of School
Dave Lessing is passionate about the Presidio Knolls mission and educational model. He brings over 20 years of leadership and general management experience to his role at PKS, with a proven track record building and scaling organizations in a variety of fields ranging from internet technology to education. Previously, Dave served as Chief Operating Officer at PKS as well as a member of the Board of Trustees finance committee. In those roles, he helped close the landmark transaction that allowed the school to own our campus.
Before joining the Presidio Knolls leadership team, Dave was a senior leader at PsPrint LLC, where he scaled the business through its acquisition by Deluxe Corporation in 2011 and managed the web-to-print unit for several years thereafter. Dave also previously worked at Hotwire, Yahoo, and Deloitte & Touche in online marketing, business development and management consulting roles.
Dave and his wife Judy have two children attending PKS. In their free time, they enjoy travelling, scuba diving, reading, and vacationing with family and close friends. Dave and Judy decided early in their children’s lives to prioritize Mandarin fluency and literacy, and he is proud to see their skills and confidence growing each year.
Dave received his MBA from Harvard Business School and his BS in economics, cum laude, from Miami University. From 2014-2016, he served as a member of the Presidio Knolls School Board of Trustees.
Advisor to the Acting Head of School
Lee Drolet is the former Head of School at Presidio Knolls. She is a longtime educator who hails from Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she spent 35 years as a teacher, school principal, and educational leader. During that time, she founded and built one of the nation’s most respected public school Mandarin immersion programs from the ground up -- from recruiting teachers, to introducing the concept to skeptical parents, to building and testing the curriculum. In addition to her extensive experience in Mandarin immersion, Lee also led a well-known program for highly gifted students in the Minnetonka, Minnesota, school district.
Lee received her B.A., M.A. and Ed.S. degrees from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She and her husband Peter live in Sausalito and share four adult children.
Head of Elementary
Renee Miller is an educator and teacher mentor with more than 20 years of classroom experience. She has deep expertise in progressive learning, with particular emphasis on curriculum development and issues connected to assessment, inquiry, and social emotional learning. She is also an expert in the fields of math and maker education, and she has extensive experience in providing and leading professional development for teachers.
Renee completed her graduate work at Bank Street College, a school founded in the tradition of progressive education, where she earned an MS in educational leadership with a special emphasis in math education. Prior to joining PKS, she served as a teacher, math specialist, and classroom mentor at Park Day School in Oakland, one of the leading progressive schools in the country. While at Park Day, she worked under the direct tutelage of Tom Little, the visionary progressive educator and author who led the school for nearly 40 years.
In 2012, Renee joined Agency by Design, a multiyear research initiative at Harvard University’s Project Zero. As part of this team of teacher researchers investigating the promises, practices, and pedagogies of maker-centered learning, Renee focused on developing instructional strategies and tools to help students think deeply about the design of ideas and systems. Her work is featured in the hands-on guide and theoretical framework Maker-Centered Learning by Clapp, Ross, Ryan, and Tishman.
Renee loves grappling with issues related to gender, equity, social justice, leadership, and mathematics education. She has presented both nationally and locally on issues of progressive education, maker-ed, mathematics, and teacher excellence and leadership.
When not engaged with work at PKS, Renee can be found digging holes and building driftwood sculptures with her wife and daughter at local beaches. A Bay Area native, Renee loves the A’s and Giants equally, finds deep comfort in foggy mornings, remembers well the ‘89 AND ‘84 earthquakes, and comes by her snobby foodie ways naturally.
Head of Preschool
Simona Chongo has led the innovative Presidio Knolls early childhood education program since 2009, shortly after the school’s founding. As a parent, former Board member, and school leader, she has played a central role in creating the warm, loving environment that makes the PKS preschool such a special place.
Simona is passionate about children and works tirelessly with our parent association and staff to create a respectful, diverse, and vibrant community. She is especially committed to fostering our twin goals of progressive Reggio-Emilia inspired education and Mandarin immersion.
Simona and her husband have two daughters who are being raised in English, Mandarin, and Romanian. Her family enjoys traveling around the world in the summer and skiing during PKS breaks.
Simona has a BA in Languages and Literature with an emphasis in American Cultural Studies, as well as teaching credentials from Bucharest University in Bucharest, Romania. She is fluent in English, Romanian, and French and loves practicing her Italian and Spanish every chance she gets.
Director of Admission
Ron Yu has served in multiple capacities at PKS since he joined the community as a parent in 2011 - member of the Board of Trustees education committee, chair of the Board Head of School search committee, and co-director of the school. In his current role, Ron serves as the first point of contact for prospective students and families and is charged with shepherding each family’s transition into the PKS community.
Prior to joining the PKS team, for the past 20 years Ron has played startup and leadership roles in education, nonprofit and business organizations. After beginning his career as a third grade teacher in nearby Oakland with Teach for America, Ron moved into nonprofit management and worked as a consultant at Deloitte. In addition to these experiences, he helped build an international technology startup, expanded and oversaw the leadership training program for the renowned KIPP charter schools, and launched and managed a charitable foundation that has raised over $12 million for brain tumor research and patient care.
Ron holds a BA from Stanford University and an MBA/MEd from the University of Washington. While he is conversant in Mandarin, he still enjoys learning new words and songs from the PKS preschoolers.
Ron and his partner Jane spend their time outside PKS chasing their five children around the parks and museums of the Bay Area. He will be the first to tell you that being around children at home and work is truly the fountain of youth.
Director of Auxiliary Programs
Kristina Coleman has been the Director of Auxiliary Programs at PKS since 2014. She is an experienced educator and program manager who has spent many years delivering hands-on learning experiences to children. In her current role, Kristina works to enhance and expand enrichment opportunities for students on and off campus. She develops relationships with external providers to offer educational and engaging classes.
Kristina is passionate about the afterschool program because it gives children an opportunity to widen their interests, find what challenges them, and let loose. She believes the non-traditional classroom environment leads to new and exciting experiences, which allows children to find their passions.
Prior to joining PKS, Kristina worked in many educational roles. She taught as a preschool teacher in South Carolina, provided one-on-one ABA therapy services to children removed from their homes, and helped run a program that provided alternative care to dual working families.
Kristina graduated with a BA in elementary education from the University of Minnesota. She is currently taking Mandarin classes (ni hao!), and she is constantly learning new words and phrases from the students and teachers. In her free time she enjoys baking, bicycling, drinking coffee and exploring the city.