Sarah McNutt, Director of BookEnds, Art & Tinkering Specialist

As individuals, we endeavor to assert our uniqueness, but in the same breath, ask if our experiences are shared by others. In teaching and making, Sarah uses art and education as a platform in which to observe, comment on, and engage others about visual culture. She has worked actively as an artist since 2009 and has been a educator in a range of capacities since 2012, such as teaching undergraduate classes at KSU, workshops, and art education at local school districts across the country. Sarah’s artistic research leads her to exhibit nationally, write grants, and author for publications, such as "Ceramics Monthly." She currently resides in San Francisco and enjoys gardening, reading science fiction, and salsa dancing.

For Sarah, successful teaching possesses the ability to instill the passion for learning and discovery in students. It prepares them to perpetuate the education process themselves and become their own motivators and instructors. Her goal is to inspire students to assume responsibility for their own learning through reflection, and see for themselves the way in which their daily lives are intertwined with the art world.

  • B.S., Ceramic Design & Art Education, Summa Cum Laude - SUNY Buffalo State College

  • M.F.A., Fine Art, Summa Cum Laude - Kansas State University

Marissa Weitzman, Garden & Sustainability

Marissa is excited to return to AVS after apprenticing and living a regenerative lifestyle at Rancho Mastatal in Costa Rica, where she applied permaculture design process and mapping and managed the orchard and nursery systems which contain over 100 plant species. She worked as AVS’ garden and sustainability educator for three years where she built the living roof, earth benches, and natural built playground structure that the students continue to enjoy today, and originated the seed library. She loves to inspire others in the seed-to-table process to help others cultivate a strong relationship with the earth’s cycles. Not only does Marissa enjoy growing plants, but she enjoys being a flavor wizard in the kitchen and often cooks, bakes, ferments, and makes chocolate for her community. Recently, she helped Megan install the irrigation system in our garden. Previously, she served as the garden educator at Hayes Valley Farm in San Francisco. 

  • B.S., Environmental Studies, Minor: Biology and Geography - San Francisco State University

Alek Barkats, Music

Alek is an accomplished musician who performs at local venues with two different bands and has recorded albums.  Having written, directed, and starred in several plays and musicals while at Wesleyan University, he will be leading his own musical theater camp in San Francisco this summer. Most recently he served as the Music and Drama Program Director at AltSchool. He also teaches private piano and guitar lessons to students throughout the Bay Area. Previously, he taught first and second grade at The National Cathedral Elementary School in Washington, D.C., and at AltSchool. He enjoys guiding students to create their own original songs and dramatic works. When he’s not teaching, he enjoys making his own hot sauce. 

  • B.A., English, Creative Writing - Wesleyan University

Christine Armand, Drama

Christine has been teaching drama for more than 15 years. She is a trained performer, published playwright, and dynamic instructor, who is dedicated to the dramatic arts as a teaching tool. As a teaching artist for San Francisco Arts Education Project, she has worked at many diverse schools in the Bay Area, guiding students to wholeheartedly express themselves and create their own original stories and plays. A well-rounded theatrical artist herself, Christine has been involved with Bay Area theater for over 20 years, and has even travelled to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, performing in an original production. She is the founder of the theatrical troupe, The Momma Drama, where she produces, directs, and performs in a popular play that she co-wrote about motherhood. The play has enjoyed many sold-out shows in San Francisco, and has had a smashing debut on the East Coast.


Christine is most proud of her role as a mother to her lovely daughter, who will be heading off to college this Fall. One of her favorite things in life is to help children learn how to be heART-centered and to blossom creatively in this lovely journey called "LIFE." Her goal as a teaching artist is to instill the positive, empowering aspects of theatre arts, so that children can learn to be collaborative, compassionate, and creative in mind and heart.

  • B.A., Literature - Villanova University

  • M.A., Theater Arts - San Francisco State University

Gustavo Mondoy, Spanish

Gustavo was born and raised in Granada, Nicaragua where he pursued his college education. Gustavo began his education career in 2007, teaching Spanish at a bilingual elementary school in Nicaragua. In 2013, Gustavo moved to the United States to pursue his teaching career and enhance his education. He believes that every student is precious and has special gifts and talents; he believes it is his mission in life to encourage children and help them believe in themselves. In his spare time, Gustavo loves traveling, hiking, exploring nature, and coloring adult coloring books.

  • B.A., Spanish - Universidad Hispanoamérica de Nicaragua.

  • B.A., Education, in process - City College of San Francisco & San Francisco State University

Mio Fukushima, Junior Kindergarten - First Grade Physical Education

Mio has previously worked in programming and administration in various educational environments, including The Lyceum of Monterey and the Ecologic Design Lab. She was also a physical education instructor at Santa Catalina School, where she coached tennis after having played Division I collegiate tennis. Mio brings rich components to our BookEnds enrichment program from her background in Japanese culture and arts.

  • B.A., Film & Media Studies - University of California, Santa Barbara

  • Additional Language, Japanese (fluent)

Brandon Lee-Hyde, First - Fourth Grade Physical Education

Coach Brandon is full of energy and has a passion for health and physical education. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, he has been teaching and coaching basketball and running since graduating from The University of Dayton in 2016. Brandon has worked with children throughout his high school and college years. As a teacher and coach, Brandon understands that it is his purpose to inspire young minds to reach great heights with open minds, healthy bodies, and smiling faces. Brandon brings innovative teaching style to AVS by incorporating meditation and mindfulness exercises in his P.E. classes. 


Brandon aims to further develop AVS sports teams and encourage the students to compete for championships. He is a high-energy teacher who is often smiling and aiding someone in need.

  • B.S., Education and Sports Management with minors in Business and Communications - University of Dayton

Lauren Owenmark, Art

Lauren has worked as an art therapist and art teacher for over 15 years in both public and private settings in the Bay Area, Chicago, and the New York metropolitan area. Since living on the west coast, Lauren has taught high school studio art and lead creative arts workshops in a variety of community-based settings. The most consistent thread in all of the work that she has done is her love of working with children in the arts, collaborating with like-minded and creative professionals, and providing an environment where her students can safely and creatively express themselves.

  • B.A., Studio Art and Psychology - Georgetown University

  • M.A., Art Therapy - The School of the Art Institute of Chicago

  • Additional Language – Spanish (proficient)

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Lower School Specialists

©2020 Alta Vista School
 for curious young minds |

Lower School Campus:

450 Somerset Street | San Francisco, CA 94134 | ​Tel: 415-467-3700 

Middle School Campus:

2558 Mission Street | San Francisco, CA 94110 | Tel: 415-510-8492