Leadership

Incoming Leadership

Read about our 2018-2019 incoming Head of School Chris Livaccari.

Interim Head of School

Judy Fox

Judy is the Interim Head of School at PKS for the 2017-2018 school year. From 2015 to 2017, she served as Head of the Upper Division at Avenues: The World School, an independent, progressive, language immersion (Chinese and Spanish) school in New York.

She has served significant roles in both public and independent schools. During the 2014-15 school year,
she served as the Interim Head at La Jolla Country Day School in La Jolla, California. Prior school posts include Head of School at Princeton Day School (2001 to 2007), Superintendent of Schools for the Byram Hills School District in Armonk, New York (1997 to 2001), and Principal of Scarsdale High School (1988 to 1997). She also has experience as an educational consultant, including work with Avenues. In addition, from 2009 to 2013, she served as Executive Director of the Louis August Jonas Foundation.

Judy graduated from Cornell University with a BS in Science Education and Biochemistry. She also holds an MS from Queens College in Science Education and an EdD in Educational Administration from Columbia University. 

Chief Operating Officer

Dave Lessing

Dave 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 Acting Head of School 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.    

Head of Middle School

Mike Levy

Mike has spent his career educating students around the world -- he has taught history, literature, economics, humanities, and Chinese in the United States, Israel, and China. He has taught in boarding schools and day schools, middle schools, high schools, and universities. He is a proficient Mandarin speaker.

Mike began his career teaching in Quaker schools in the Philadelphia area. He then moved to China to teach at Guizhou University. After returning to the U.S., Mike taught at Saint Paul’s School in New Hampshire, and Saint Ann’s school in Brooklyn, New York. Most recently, as Associate Division Head of grades 6-8 at Avenues, The World School in New York City, he led hiring, faculty evaluation, coherence of curriculum, and overall success for the Middle School. Avenues is a new breed of global educational schools with a focus on bringing progressive learning to campuses around the world.

Along with his teaching, Mike is also an author. His memoir, Kosher Chinese: Living, Teaching, and Eating with China’s Other Billion, won multiple literary awards and was a New York Times bestseller. His shorter work has appeared in numerous anthologies, magazines, and newspapers.

Mike graduated from Cornell University in 1998 with a BA in philosophy and religious studies. He met his wife, Ines, in his freshman dorm. Mike received his MAT from Columbia University’s Teachers College. He has also studied at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem, Israel.

Mike and Ines have a three-year-old daughter, a one-year-old son, and a five-year-old dog, Tudou. All members of the family love dim sum, except for Tudou. He prefers Sichuanese food.

Head of Elementary

Renee Miller

Renee 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

Simona 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 Admissions

Andrea Banks

Andrea Banks has over 10 years of admissions experience in independent schools, both in upper school and lower school. Most recently she was the Assistant Director of High School Admissions and International Student Recruitment Coordinator at San Domenico, a day and boarding school in Marin County. She has experience in international admissions and has done outreach throughout Asia and Europe. But her experience with lower school admissions, coupled with her (somewhat) recent venture into motherhood and being the product of a multicultural family, are what bring her to Presidio Knolls School. 

With African-American and Filipino roots, she understands firsthand how important it is for children to celebrate multiculturalism. She grew up in a multilingual household with experiences that differed from her classmates, and she was eager to share these experiences with her friends. Children learn best when they share their days and classes with students from a diverse range of backgrounds and learning styles. Furthermore, children are more enthusiastic about their education when their love of learning is instilled at a very young age.

Andrea was born and raised in Los Angeles and received her BA from the University of Southern California.  She is also certified in child development assessments. She loves spending her rare extra time as a dance instructor at a fitness studio in Oakland. She shares her heart and love with her husband Isaac, her three-year-old son Isaiah, and her dog Monty.  

Director of Auxiliary Programs

Kristina Coleman

Kristina 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.