Our Academic Team

Marion Addo Marion Addo
Dean of Curriculum & High School Placement Counselor

Born in Lyon, France, Marion began studying Archeology and Classics, later continuing her studies in Athens, Greece. After receiving her Master’s in Classics, she participated in a teacher exchange program in Northern Greece. Marion then pursued studies in teaching French as a Second Language (FSL) and children’s theater. After this, she taught French literature and Classics, and served as the coordinator of the French department in a K-12 bilingual school in Istanbul, Turkey, where she remained for eight years. During her time at SDFAS, Marion went from teaching Middle School French literature, to taking on the coordination of the Middle School and the French program. Since Marion joined SDFAS in 2016, she worked diligently in developing student engagement and facilitating student-led committees.

Francis Carlier Francis Carlier
Dean of Faculty & Director of Upper Elementary & Middle School

Originally from Bayonne (Pyrénées Atlantiques), Mr. Carlier studied at the Schools of Fine Arts in Pau and Lyon before his military service. He then enrolled at the University of Toulouse Le Mirail where he earned his Bachelor's Degree in Art History. After teaching art in middle school for a year, he completed his Masters of Education at the Academy of Versailles. He taught at the French school for two years in Portland, Oregon and then moved to the east coast to join the faculty of L'Ecole Française du Maine, where he worked for three years before joining SDFAS. Since 2011, Francis has been the director of the Lower School, and he also continues teaching, as he loves to keep in touch with the students. In San Diego, he discovered a new passion: surfing.

Sophie Ricouard Sophie Ricouard
Academic Director of La Maternelle (PK/K)

Born and raised in Brittany (France), Sophie received her bachelor of of Arts Degree in Foreign Languages with a majored in  English and Spanish and Economics. After she earned her Master’s of Education, she taught 3 years in France in multi-level classrooms. With her husband, she moved to NYC and taught at the Lycee Français of New York where she discovered  the power of bilingual education. This amazing first experience was a revelation for her. Teaching  and co-teaching in a bilingual environment became her passion. She continues to enrich her experiences using different pedagogical approaches, working methods and teachintechniques/practices.  Before joining the SDFAS community in 2009 as a mother and Kindergarten Teacher, she taught at Ecole Bilingue in Berkeley. After many years of teaching, Sophie is now the preschool pedagogical director . Her children, Jane and Gabriel, are students at SDFAS. During her free time she enjoys outdoor activities and spending time with her family.

Sylvie Toudic Sylvie Toudic
Director of Lower Elementary & Coordinator of FLE/ESL

Originally from France, Sylvie’s international education started at the International School of Lyon (OIB). After graduating with a Master of International Law, she pursued a career as Credit Manager. Passionate about foreign languages, she volunteered to develop and implement a program to teach English in local schools around Lyon. Following her husband to England, she decided to embrace her true passion for teaching and graduated from The London Institute of Education in 2005. She taught at St Edward’s School in London for 5 years where she was promoted Head of the French Department, teaching A Level French and mentoring newly qualified French teachers, and became a Cambridge International examiner. At the same time, she developed an Outreach program to facilitate the acquisition of languages in 13 different primary schools, which increased students enrollment in Middle school. Moving to New York in 2010, she became Chair of World Languages at Leman Manhattan Prep school, leading a team of 9 teachers in both Lower and Upper schools. At Leman, she developed a new project based curriculum and the IB program, and implemented Standard based grading in middle and high school. In 2014, she was delighted to reconnect with a bilingual education and joined FASNY to teach in CE2 and CM1 (3rd and 4th Grade). In 2020, Sylvie was recruited by SDFAS as French literature teacher for the middle school and has also taught preparation for the AP exam to our alumni. She is delighted to take on the new roles of Lower Elementary Director and Coordinator of FLE/ESL.

Alice Kong Alice Kong
Director of Technology & STEAM Coordinator

Alice began her career as an IT project manager at Disney in Burbank, California. She honed her skills at Hewlett Packard for over 13 years as a Research & Development project manager and then as a global supply chain manager partnering with Fortune companies like Adobe, Apple, Foxconn, Microsoft, and Samsung. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and Computer Information Systems and a Master’s Degree in Education from UC San Diego, with additional certifications in Bilingual Education, Mathematics, Business Management, and Computer Applications and Concepts. She is trilingual in English, Mandarin, and Cantonese. When she is not in the Innovation Lab inspiring STEAM projects, she loves to play with her dogs.

Emilie Ballivy Emilie Ballivy
Preschool French Teacher

Originally from Lyon, Emilie holds a Master’s Degree in Applied Foreign Languages and International Management from the University of Lyon III. She worked for 4 years in the software industry in Ireland before deciding to dedicate herself to her passion: education. After earning a Montessori credential from St. Nicholas Montessori College in Dublin, Emilie taught three- to six-year-olds in Montessori schools for two years in Ireland and three years in France. Thanks to this education and work experience, Emilie draws on a scientific teaching methodology based on children’s natural psychological and physiological development. Emilie has worked as a substitute teacher at SDFAS from PK0 through 5th grade, and as an assistant in PK2. Her children, Julie and Jack, are students at SDFAS. Emilie loves traveling, hiking, wide open spaces, and the magnificent beaches of the West Coast. She earned her 12 Early Childhood Education units at San Diego Miramar College and French Pre-School and diploma with Mission Laïque Française and University of Caen (France).

Gwenaëlle Caillaud Gwenaëlle Caillaud
Preschool French Teacher

Born and raised in Paris, Gwenaëlle lived in France until 2016 until she moved to Los Angeles to follow her husband with their two daughters. After receiving a Master’s in biology at Paris XI University, she obtained her CRPE teaching credential in 2000 and taught for 15 years, mainly in preschools near Paris. She loved teaching young students and focused on French language learning. When she arrived in the US, she dedicated her time to helping her two daughters adjust to their new life. She volunteered at their elementary school and became familiar with a new way of teaching and was able to learn a lot from this experience. The family is now relocating to San Diego and Gwenaëlle is very happy to join the SDFAS team. When not working she loves baking French pastries that she misses from home and loves to craft and create.

Gaëlle Deriot Gaëlle Deriot
Preschool French Teacher

Gaëlle Deriot was born and raised in the western part of Paris. She earned her high school diploma at the Lycée Français de Baden Baden in Germany and her teaching credential and elementary school teaching diploma at the University of Saint-German-en-Laye in 1998. She then taught in preschool in the Yvelines suburb of Paris until her departure for the United States. In 2002, with her three children, she followed her husband to California, landing first in Silicon Valley and then in San Diego. In 2009 she joined the teaching team at SDFAS to work as a substitute teacher for short and long-term assignments. Her children now grown up, it is with pleasure that she has decided for the 2018-19 school year to teach full time in PK0. Outside of school, with a friend who is also a teacher, Gaëlle develops pedagogical material designed for students in preschool, marketed under the brand name “dito”. She is also happy to be able to participate in a program helping homeless individuals in Del Mar.

Virginie Gaudin Virginie Gaudin
Preschool French Teacher

Virginie will be joining SDFAS from France, where she has been teaching Kindergarten. Virginie is originally from Normandy. There she studied at University and received her degree in psychology. During her time in University, Virginie volunteered at a home for the disabled, which inspired her choice to become a teacher for students with special needs. She taught for three years in an “Institut Médico-Educatif” and for five more years in a “Unité Localisée pour l'Inclusion Scolaire”. In her free time, Virginie enjoys hiking, cooking for friends, meeting new people and discovering new places where she lives.

Gladys Guesnard Gladys Guesnard
Preschool French Teacher

Originally from Brittany, Gladys left France in 2004 after her studies. She lived 5 years in Prague and 7 years in Sweden where she taught french in elementary school and High School. She worked in preschool and learned a lot about the Scandinavian education practice . She arrived in San Diego in 2018 and she started working at SDFAS as a substitute teacher, from PK0 to 8th grade, before becoming a PK0 assistante and PK1 teacher. She has 3 children at SDFAS. She loves travelling, meeting new people and exploring cultures. She also enjoys hiking, riding and swimming.

Wendy Lizarraga Wendy Lizarraga
Preschool Teacher Assistant & Spanish Instructor

Wendy was born in San Diego and spent a part of her childhood in Tijuana, Baja California in Mexico. She has worked for SDFAS for the past 13 years as an Preschool Assistant Teacher & Spanish Instructor, as well as an SDFAS summer camp lead counselor. She holds a degree in Child Development. Wendy’s love for her native Spanish language and culture, as well as for the promise of multilingualism and global citizenship for our youngest students, are true passions for her.

Isabelle Senecal Isabelle Senecal
Preschool French Teacher

Isabelle was born in Dijon and raised in a franco-portuguese bicultural setting that nurtured her love for travel, languages and cultures. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Translation in Portugal, she arrives in California in 2006 where she starts working in a preschool with a French immersion program. Since then she has loved watching children grow while helping them know their full potential. Isabelle starts working at SDFAS in 2017 as a PK1 assistant and then earns a French elementary teaching diploma with La Mission Laïque and the University of Caen. With two sons attending SDFAS, Isabelle loves sports, nature and music.

Anne Ferton Anne Ferton
Kindergarten French Teacher

Anne is French, born in northern France and raised in the Alps. In 1994 she completed her Master of Science degree in Management at the Lyon School of Management (EM Lyon), with an emphasis on Marketing and Communication. For the next 18 years she worked in leadership roles at several international companies, before accompanying her husband to San Diego where he was transferred for professional reasons. It was at this point that she decided to put her passion for working with and serving children into action, shifting her career in the direction of education. She earned her Teaching Certificate in Early Childhood Education (ECE) at San Diego’s Miramar College, followed by a French elementary teaching diploma with the La Mission Laïque Française and the University of Caen. She began working at SDFAS as a substitute teacher in the Preschool and Elementary School, and then became a PK2 Assistant. With her varied work experience as a strength informing her approach, Anne emphasizes cross-disciplinary teaching with a sense of responsibility for the environment and for humankind, and respects the individuality of each child, preparing her students to become stewards of the earth and citizens of the world. Mother to three young children, Anne is passionate and engaged. Sports have always been a part of her life, highlighted by numerous volleyball and snowboarding competitions. Free time is now devoted to outdoor sports, individually or with her family: surfing, paragliding, skiing, and snowboarding. Anne studied music and piano from the age of 7, and was a singer in a rock band for 10 years before coming to the U.S.

Marie-Claire Kouakou Marie-Claire Kouakou
Kindergarten Assistant Teacher

Camille Plantier Camille Plantier
Kindergarten English Teacher

Camille was born and raised in Orange County, California. She got her Bachelor's Degree at UC Berkeley in Molecular and Cellular Biology with a minor in Education. After graduating, she moved to Baltimore, Maryland to get her Master's Degree in Elementary Education and Special Education at Johns Hopkins School of Education. While in Baltimore, she was also in a teaching program called Urban Teachers for four years. She taught 2nd and 3rd grade her first year as a resident teacher and then taught Kindergarten at a charter school for three years. Her passion is making sure school and learning are fun, engaging, and interactive! In her free time, she likes to play with her Australian Shepherd named Indie, try new food places, and travel.

Laurette Reinhardt Laurette Reinhardt
Kindergarten French Teacher (Maternity Leave)

Laurette was born and raised in a small town in Northern France and holds a Master’s Degree in Translation from the University of Lille 3. She has worked in schools in England, Australia, France, India, and the US, which provided experience in a variety of teaching methods and environments. Before joining SDFAS, she was a founding faculty member at a new French-speaking school in Oakland, California. She has also worked as a volunteer for literacy and refugee programs. Her passion for travel and education has taken her all over the world, including backpacking across Asia. She believes that discovering new cultures is the best way to open minds and build a better and more tolerant community.

Whitney Cronin Whitney Cronin
Elementary School English Teacher

A California native, Whitney grew up in Los Angeles, spent her college years in San Francisco, and recently moved down to San Diego with her husband and two little girls. She holds her Master's Degree in Education and her Bachelor's in Psychology from the University of San Francisco. She spent the last 14 years teaching elementary school at charter, private, and micro-schools in Los Angeles. She sees each child as an intelligent, capable being with many gifts to offer the world. Her expertise is in constructivist curriculum development, which promotes the belief that learners construct knowledge rather than just passively take in information. Her goal is to create an inviting learning environment where children are comfortable taking academic risks, and helping city kids maintain a connection to nature. She is very excited to be amongst the warm community at SDFAS in the beautiful setting of La Jolla. When she isn't lesson planning, she loves hiking, yoga, and going to the beach with her family.

Sylvia Aka Sylvia Aka
Elementary School French Teacher

Sylvia was born and raised in Paris. As of a very young age, she developed a passion for teaching and for high-level athletics (gymnastics and judo). This passion drove her to undertake her studies in Sciences and Techniques of Physical Activities and Sports. Sylvia taught physical education and sports at the middle school level on Réunion island and in Paris. After the birth of her oldest son, she became interested more and more by younger children and decided to take her teaching credential for elementary school which she earned with high marks. She taught for 10 years in schools of diverse socio-economic and cultural profiles before settled in Arizona where she has served for four years as elementary teacher and French-as-a-foreign-language teacher at the International School of Arizona. Sylvia is always seeking out new pedagogies which allow her students to find in their learning both joy and confidence. Mother of two boys, Sylvia devotes herself primarily to her family and loves to discover different cultures through numerous travels around the world.

Cathleen Murillo Cathleen Murillo
Elementary School English Teacher

Ms Murillo was born and raised in Southern California, where she studied education at San Diego State University and began her career as a teacher. After traveling across Europe in 2009, she took a course to earn her certification in teaching English as a second language (TESOL). Teaching abroad for 2 years in Turkey and South Korea provided her an opportunity to teach children in different social, economic and cultural backgrounds that broadened her teaching experiences. She loves traveling and while abroad also visited such amazing places as Germany, Greece, China, Taiwan, Thailand and the Czech Republic. Ms Anderson loves using creative/artistic approaches to her curriculum, and in her spare time enjoys reading historical fiction, visiting museums, practicing yoga and playing beach volleyball!

Murielle Brimaldi-Jensen Murielle Brimaldi-Jensen
Elementary School French Teacher

Originally from Bordeaux, Murielle is French-American and she joined the teaching team of SDFAS in 2009. She has been in charge of 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade. She has a Degree in Language Art and Modern Literature from the University of Dijon Bourgogne and earned the French elementary teaching Diploma with the Mission Laïque Française and the University of Caen (France). Before starting her teaching career, she worked as an activity coordinator for children's summer programs in Italy, Switzerland, Greece, The Bahamas and Mexico. She then moved to the United States and began her teaching career at the Portland French School in Oregon. She moved on to teach at L'Ecole Française du Maine where she was a teacher and the curriculum coordinator for the pre-elementary and elementary grades. During her tenure in Maine, she taught Preschool, CP and CE1. Muielle loves travelling, hiking, walking on the beach and practicing yoga.

Karin Brittain Karin Brittain
Elementary School English Teacher

Karin Brittain loves teaching because it is a profession that allows her to be creative and make meaningful connections with young learners. Karin grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and obtained her bachelor’s degree at the University of British Columbia. After graduating, she served as a school-based AmeriCorps volunteer in Providence, Rhode Island. It was her experience in the AmeriCorps that influenced her choice to pursue a career in education. Karin also had the desire to explore the world, and after earning her TESOL certificate from Western Washington University, started teaching ESL overseas. Karin began by going back to Canada, followed by France (Normandy and Bordeaux), and then Madrid, Spain. Eventually, Karin returned to school to earn her Master’s degree in Curriculum & Instruction through a program at George Mason University specialized in teaching in international schools. She continued on to teach second grade at a small international school in South Korea. Karin now holds teaching credentials for grades k-12 (elementary, ESL, and English) in Virginia and California. Karin loves reading, writing, learning languages, and outdoor activities such as hiking and paddle boarding. Karin is excited to join the 5th grade team this upcoming school year!

Fabienne Debrand Fabienne Debrand
Elementary School French Teacher

Originally from Jura in France, Fabienne holds a doctorate in pharmacy from Université of Besançon. While traveling around the world with her family, she has accumulated multiple teaching experiences starting at Lycée Francais de Bangkok, then as English tutor in mainland China for a private company and more recently with the French International School of Philadelphia (EFIP). She has also taught music to private students for several years. Mother of two children who both attended SDFAS, she enjoys traveling, discovering new cultures, hiking and cooking.

Pauline Dubeaux Pauline Dubeaux
Elementary School French Teacher

Pauline was born and raised in Paris. It is also where she obtained her bachelor's degree in Spanish literature and civilization. After earning a master of education she taught three years in Paris before leaving for San Diego in 2017 She has been teaching 2nd grade and Spanish before joining the preschool at SDFAS this year. Since she arrived in San Diego she has had two babies and she loves spending time with her family and walking by the beach.

Sylvie Hocquet Sylvie Hocquet
Elementary School French Teacher

Sylvie was born and raised in the North of France, near Lille. She has a degree in Geography and she is a certified French Elementary Teacher by the French government. Sylvie is also a certified IB Teacher. Teaching is her passion! As soon as she started school, at the age of 3, she knew that she wanted to be a teacher. She worked for 10 years in the Lille area before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area. There she worked for 11 years as a 4th grade teacher and Coding teacher for grades 1 to 5 in a private French school (ISTP Palo Alto) before moving to San Diego in July 2021. Sylvie loves to cook/bake and she enjoys having family and friends gathering together in her new home. Sylvie likes to go on walks and visit the beach with her family and her black lab named “Sangria”.

Jana Kenney Jana Kenney
Elementary & Middle School Visual Arts Teacher

Sarah Leboyer Sarah Leboyer
Elementary School English Teacher

Sarah Le Boyer holds a B.A. in Physics and French and a Masters degree in Education. She holds additional certificates in Supporting Children With Difficulties in Reading and Writing (Dyslexia) and Everyday Strategies (ADHD), Responsive Classroom and French as a Foreign Language (FLE/ESL). She has a diverse work history in education with experiences teaching at University, in High School, Middle School, Elementary school in addition to school administration and communication. After teaching in France for five years she moved to San Diego. She is raising a French-American family and has 2 children at SDFAS. She is a firm believer that bilingual education is a wonderful gift we can give our children!

Shanon Mazeaud Shanon Mazeaud
Elementary School French Teacher

Shanon Mazeaud was born in Paris, France. She learned English at L’Ecole Bilingue de Paris, an American immersion school. She began her education by pursuing a degree in hospitality and ventured from France to Switzerland (L’Ecole Hôtellerie de Lausanne) and Universities in San Diego and New York. Shanon realized early on in her work experience that she had a desire to build a career in child development. It was after having her first child that she returned to school to study child development and completed her degree in early childhood education and child psychology. Shanon worked hard by attending night school, being a new mom, and working multiple jobs. But it was during that time that she was able to find her first teaching position. Shanon has ten years of teaching experience when she was able to use her bilingual skills. She has also attended many teacher’s conferences, has earned awards and gained certification in children’s yoga. All of these have given her various skills that she utilizes in the classroom. Mother of three sons, Shanon has an immense passion for all mountaineering sports and was even once a snowboarding instructor at UCPA Argentiere/Chamonix.

Cara Mitchell Cara Mitchell
Middle School English Language Arts & MS Advisory Coordinator

Originally from Boston, Cara earned her B.A. in Educational Studies and Africana Studies at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York. After graduating, she earned her Masters in Education through the Shady Hill School’s Teacher Training Center and Lesley University, both in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Cara was drawn to teaching and working with middle school students because of the period of great change and growth that characterizes this time in a young person’s life. She is passionate about helping students navigate their ever-growing sense of identity and independence. To this end, she loves to use the study of humanities as a lens through which to understand ourselves and the worlds we inhabit. Cara has also taught at The Philadelphia School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as well as the Oak Hall School in Gainesville, Florida. Cara lives in Encinitas with her husband and toddler, Wes. As a family, they love traveling, hiking, gardening, and cooking.

Audrey Monpays Audrey Monpays
Elementary School French Teacher

Audrey was born in Pau and raised in the south of France! When she was younger, she already enjoyed working with children as a recreation center facilitator. She obtained a Master's degree in Mathematics in 2006 and has been a teacher since 2007. Prior to joining the SDFAS teaching team, Audrey worked for ten years in a bilingual school (French-Occitan). This wonderful experience afforded her the opportunity to understand first hand the many benefits of a bilingual education for children. She is dedicated to making her students feel comfortable in school so that they can thrive academically, socially and emotionally. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, cooking and traveling. She enjoys meeting new people, discovering new cultures and learning about new and innovative ways of teaching!

Bastien Monpays Bastien Monpays
Elementary School French Teacher

Originally from Tarbes in the southwest of France, Bastien graduated in Physics and Chemistry from the Université de Pau before earning his teaching credential in Toulouse in 2007. Passionate about the English language, he participated in the creation and development of the first French-English bilingual teaching program within his administrative "département" of France, in 2016, in Bagnères de Bigorre. He has been working in this program as a teacher and English program coordinator ever since, committed to providing students with a meaningful and innovative English learning experience. He also recently earned a FLE degree (the teaching of French as a second language) to further deepen his skills in didactics and with the use of best practices for teaching language acquisition. In addition to his commitment to education, Bastien is devoted to protecting people and the environment. He volunteered in France as a firefighter and first aid instructor for almost 10 years. Looking for peace and serenity in the wilderness, Bastien enjoys cross-country skiing, paragliding and mountain biking.

Birka Nielsen Birka Nielsen
Elementary School English Teacher 

Birka Nielsen was born in Germany and grew up in San Diego. She received her B.A. in Education and Elementary Teaching Credential from the University of San Diego. She received her M.A. in Language Arts Curriculum Design from San Diego State University. After teaching in the Solana Beach School District, Birka joined SDFAS in 2005. Birka has two children who attend SDFAS and they enjoy visiting family in Québec, Canada during the summer. Teaching is a true passion for Birka and she loves working with children of all ages. Birka is pleased to be part of the vibrant SDFAS community as a teacher and as a parent.

Yuriko Patino Yuriko Patino
Spanish Teacher (Kindergarten / Elementary) & Spanish Coordinator

Yuriko Patino is a native from Puebla, Mexico, who has been working at our school for nineteen years. She speaks English, Spanish and French. She worked with middle school students for 19 years at our school and is now developing and running the Kindergarten to 5th grade Spanish program. She holds a B.A in Psychology and a minor as a Preschool Teacher, minor in French and is currently working on her M.A in Neuroeducation. She loves working with all ages, she is passionate about teaching with compassion, love, and challenging students in a healthy way.

Elisabeth Perdereau Elisabeth Perdereau
Elementary School French Teacher

Ms. Perdereau was born in Paris, France the oldest of four children. She holds a degree in English from the University of La Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris, and is accredited as a teacher from Pre-K to 5th grade by the IUFM d'Antony, Academy of Versailles. She also completed a Masters in French as a Second Language, University Stendhal, Grenoble. She worked mainly in North America at the French American School of San Francisco (one year), she substituted in French for private American schools in the Mainline area (Philadelphia), French International school of Philadelphia (two years) and the French International School of Vancouver in Canada (two years). Her daughter was born in the US and attends San Diego French-American School. Ms. Perdereau loves traveling, arts, reading and genealogy.

Megan Comerci Megan Comerci
Elementary School English Teacher & English Coordinator

Originally from the North Bay, Megan earned her BA in History from Pepperdine University, and then moved to Seattle to earn her M.Ed. from the University of Washington in Educational Psychology for the Learning Sciences and Human Development, with an emphasis in Project Based Learning, Gifted Education, and Social Justice Education. For the past 5 years she has been teaching at a project based school for gifted students in the Bay Area. Prior to that, she tutored student athletes at the University of Washington, worked as a Research Assistant studying the relationship between morphological awareness and reading comprehension, and worked as a preschool teacher. She recently moved to San Diego with her fiancé and is very excited to be here. Megan firmly believes that quality education starts with strong, healthy relationships. She wants all her students to feel like school is a secure, reliable, and inviting place, and to leave her room feeling both confident and deeply valued for who they are. Megan also highly values international travel and international communities, and finding ways that people and cultures around the globe are connected. She has travelled to 22 countries, and some of her favorite past trips include walking pilgrimages across both Spain and Italy, and driving across Norway, beginning above the Arctic Circle.

Claire Selva Huerta Claire Selva Huerta
Elementary School French Teacher & Musique/Chorale/Arts du Spectacle Coordinator

Originally from the Southeast of France (Ardèche), Mrs. Selva Huerta received in 1995 the female scientific achievement award (Rhône-Alpes region). After two years of intensive math prep courses (Math sup, Math spé) in Grenoble, she entered the ENESAD (Dijon) and graduated in 2002 with an M.S. in engineering, with a specialization in agriculture. After spending four years working in the development of agriculture, she moved to California to be with her husband. In November 2006, Mrs. Selva Huerta joined San Diego French-American School as a preschool assistant and a substitute math teacher from 2nd to 8th grade. In the meantime, she earned her certificate in early childhood education (ECE) from San Diego City College, as well as her French elementary school teacher certification. Passionate about music, Claire started playing the flute at the age of seven. Since September 2007, Claire has been teaching in PK classes and sharing her passion for music by directing the school choir. She is trilingual in French, English and Spanish and loves traveling, ceramics, South-American dances, and outdoor sports (climbing, skiing, and hiking).

Britta Fischer Britta Fischer
Middle School Teacher of Social Studies & English Language Arts

As a result of her mother’s international career Britta has been lucky enough to live and learn in six different countries. She grew up bilingual, speaking both English and French until her mid-teens. She hopes to reignite her French skills where she left off! Her learning communities, peers, and teachers were a constant source of comfort and joy throughout her many moves around the world. These factors sparked her love for school and education. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College (South Hadley, MA) in 2018 with a degree in Geography and Gender Studies. In early August 2021 she graduated with her Master’s Degree in Secondary Education in Social Studies with a certification in teaching English as an Additional Language from University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is thrilled to join the SDFAS learning community and hopes to inspire her students to love Social Studies as much as she does. Britta is new to San Diego and cannot wait to begin exploring the area with her dog, Misty. In her free time she loves to hike, cook, and swim.

Hervé Gaudin Hervé Gaudin
Middle School Histoire-Géographie (French Program)

Originally from Vitré, a small town on the outskirts of Brittany (Ille-et-Vilaine), Hervé studied at the University of Villejean in Rennes where he obtained a degree in History. After working a few years in a car company, he began as a substitute teacher in 2001 before being admitted to the “CAER – CAPES Histoire et Géographie” in 2006. Over the years, he has gained solid experience in all levels of middle school. He has also worked in parallel with his profession as an assessor at the children’s court in Laval (Mayenne) for 8 years. A function that allowed him to participate in hearings alongside the children’s judge on issues of childhood and adolescence. Hervé loves to travel. He has visited many countries in Europe and has traveled to the East Coast of the United States in 2019. Discovering new cultures and meeting people from all over the world during these trips has helped to implement a dynamic teaching open to the world. In his spare time, he enjoys walking and hiking, reading novels and playing the guitar, especially the bass guitar. An instrument he practiced in a group of teachers with whom he performed in front of all the students at the end of the school year!

Youssef Hajir Youssef Hajir
Middle School Mathematics (French Program)

Youssef grew up in Nantes (known among other things for its muscadet white wine), a city on the Loire river of the Upper Brittany region of western France. Arriving from Morocco to France at the age of three and raised within a multilingual and multicultural environment, Youssef attended university in his home city of Nantes, earning a Master's degree in Mathematics as well as his French national teaching credential (Certificate of Aptitude for Secondary School Teachers). Youssef has taught at Middle School, High School and University levels for eight years, driven by a constant desire to inspire in his own students the same degree of passion he himself shares for the beauty and utility of Mathematics. Among other downtime interests, Youssef plays both basketball and soccer; and, he also loves reading, especially poetry.

Alexandra Mobley Alexandra Mobley
Middle School Science & Sustainability Coordinator

Alex has held a passion for the environment since a very young age. This passion led her to study marine biology at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. During her studies, she traveled abroad to Australia to study adaptations in coral reefs at James Cook University. After graduating with her Bachelor of Science degree, she worked on the Great Barrier Reef as a marine biologist, teaching species identification and marine conservation. Once her visa expired, she moved to the British Virgin Islands to teach marine biology at Sail Caribbean. She earned her PADI dive instructor certification and became captain of a 50 foot sailing vessel and taught sailing, diving, and marine biology to high school students where her true passion for teaching emerged. Alex moved to San Diego in 2014 and taught marine biology at SEACAMP San Diego for a year before deciding to pursue a career in formal education. She earned her Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction and her single subject teaching credential in science from the University of San Diego. Alex has been teaching biology and environmental science in southeast San Diego for the past 6 years. She has also sailed from Australia to Papua New Guinea, developed curriculum for a nonprofit organization that connects young people exiting the juvenile justice system with nature, and studied inclusive and special education policies and practices in Cambodia. She enjoys life in sunny San Diego and spends her free time walking her dog, sailing, kayaking, camping, and just recently, roller skating.

Talena Smith Talena Smith
Middle School Mathematics (English Program) & Math Coordinator

Talena was born and raised in Texas. After earning her BBA in Finance at the University of Texas at Austin and her MBA from the University of St. Thomas, she worked for several years in Finance before realizing her passion lay in teaching Mathematics to young minds, hoping to instill the same love for numbers that she has. She started her teaching career in Houston before moving overseas to teach math in Kuwait, South Korea, and Guam in addition to here in San Diego, CA. While in South Korea, she met her husband, who is active duty US Navy, which has led to the relocation to San Diego twice now. They're very happy to be back again! While overseas, she also earned her Masters in Education with a focus on Mathematics Curriculum and Instruction. She is delighted to bring her experience and love of math to SDFAS. In her free time, Talena loves to play board games, go to trivia nights, and watch all things Star Trek and Harry Potter.

Mayra Vazquez Mayra Vazquez
Middle School Spanish & Spanish Coordinator (Maternity Leave)

Mayra was born and raised in Tijuana, Mexico. She moved with her family to the United States when she was in the 10th grade. After graduating high school, she attended San Diego State University, where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish and had the opportunity to study abroad in Madrid, Spain. Mayra then joined the Teacher Credentialing Program at California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA). Successfully credentialed and with several years of teaching experience under her belt, Mayra went on to earn her Master’s Degree in Spanish from CSULA in the Spring of 2020. For the last six years, she has taught Spanish to native, heritage and non-native speakers in both public and charter schools. She also has experience teaching Advanced Placement courses approved by the College Board and served as World Language Department Chair for four years prior to joining SDFAS. During her free time Mayra enjoys spending time and traveling with family and friends.

Catherine Wattara Catherine Wattara
Middle School French Literature & Alumni French

Catherine was born and raised in Guadeloupe, a department of France in the French West Indies. Her passion and interest in ancient languages influenced her to pursue the study of Classical Languages in the Lycée Honoré de Balzac in Paris. Catherine then went on to complete a Master’s degree in Classical Languages at the University of Paris X. She has taught French, Latin and Ancient Greek in the academy of Versailles and at the academy of Guadeloupe. While at the academy of Guadeloupe, she often accompanied students to the archaeological sites of Europe and most recently had a life changing experience in Ivory Coast. When not at work Catherine loves reading, theatrical activities, traveling and photography. She has also developed an interest in cooking for which she has received “approving looks” from her family, leading her to believe that she is a promising chef.

Catherine Rebiffé-Newnam Catherine Rebiffé-Newnam
French as a Foreign Language & ESL Teacher

A native of Chartres, France, Catherine’s passion for the English language and teaching began well before she earned her baccalaureate degree. After studying English culture and literature for a year in the EF International School in Brighton, England, Catherine returned to France to earn her bachelor’s degree in English. She was subsequently awarded a Fulbright scholarship, which funded a year-long study of English Literature in Davidson College, North Carolina, where she met her future husband, Michael. In Tours, France, Catherine completed her Master’s Degree in teaching French as a Second Language. Next, she obtained the CAPES teaching credential and taught high school English for four years in the Académie de Versailles. In 2005, Catherine moved to San Diego to begin teaching at SDFAS, initially as a preschool teacher (PK2 and PK1). Since 2007, she has taken charge of the French as a Second Language (FLE) program and now teaches both FLE and ESL (English as a Second Language) to Elementary and Middle school students. Catherine enjoys running, Flamenco dancing, cooking, and doting on her beautiful boy, Jack.

Isabelle Roy Isabelle Roy
French as a Foreign Language & French Program Support

Isabelle was born and raised in Burgundy, France, and graduated from the University of Burgundy in Dijon with a Bachelor of Literature and Philosophy. Passionate about seeing the world, she worked in Tourism for a major French airline company which enabled her to travel extensively. She then decided to move to Morocco where she started her career in Education. In 2006, she settled down in the United States to pursue her love of teaching French as a foreign language at Acadomia, CCLS, Consulate of Canada amongst others. During this period, she also received her DAEFLE diploma. She then moved to New York State and taught FLE in Montessori, Elementary, Middle, and High school levels as well as French AP classes. She now enjoys the great weather of San Diego, where she spends most of her free time with her family and friends, doing yoga, hiking, and playing golf.

Diesa Eléonore Seidel ( Diesa Eléonore Seidel ("SeiSei")
Physical Education Teacher & Sports League Coach/Coordinator

Diesa holds French and American nationalities. She has a French mother and an Austrian father. She has progressed through her life-experiences and initiations as a collegiate scholarship athlete, professional athlete, private school teacher, coach, and ultimately as the founding director for the accredited non-profit United Initiatives for Peace. After a distinguished athletic career at Red Hook High School (Red Hook, NY), Diesa graduated cum laude from Marist College (Poughkeepsie, NY), receiving her B.A. in Psychology/Public Relations. Following a professional basketball career in France and Italy, Diesa developed a passion for teaching and became a Physical Education teacher. She taught for four years at St. Virgil's Academy in New Jersey. During that time, Diesa also worked on creating a character education through sports curriculum with Peace Dream Foundation, where she co-presented seminars to thousands of athletic clubs throughout south Asia. Diesa participated in numerous international service projects, completing over 15 programs in 13 countries with four organizations. Through her experiences, she has honed a keen interest in global issues, specifically those invoking gender equality. Diesa is bilingual in English and French and has traveled and served in more than 58 countries on five continents. Her untiring commitment to positive social change has been recognized worldwide. Today, Diesa enjoys competing in triathlons and marathons, snowboarding, surfing, hiking, cycling, indoor rock climbing, coaching basketball, and organizing service trips that bring sports and recreation to under-served populations.

Anne Ricart Anne Ricart
Librarian & Media Specialist

Mrs. Anne Ricart came to the United States for the first time as an exchange student when she was 18, lived with an American family for a year and graduated from the high school she attended. Back in France, she majored in English with a minor in French as a Second Language (Français Langue Etrangère) from the Université de Provence and spent another year in the States, this time as a French teaching assistant in a small college. She then obtained her Professional Secondary Teaching Credentials with an emphasis on Information Science. After four years as a school librarian in France, she was hired by the Lycée Français de New York where she worked for five years. She is now married to a Californian, and perfectly at home in San Diego where she joined the SDFAS team in 2006.

Marilyn Rakow, RN BNS Marilyn Rakow, RN BNS
School Nurse & Pandemic Coordinator

Marilyn was born and raised in San Diego, CA. While obtaining her first B.S. degree from UCSD in biochemistry, she volunteered her time in the emergency room at UCSD Hillcrest. Here she discovered her passion for medicine. She was inspired by the nurses’ sharp decision-making along with their deep compassion, which compelled her to pursue nursing. Marilyn graduated from National University with a B.S. in Nursing with honors. Throughout her coursework Marilyn soon realized she had both the aptitude and demeanor for caring for pediatric patients. Her genuine compassion, flexible communication styles, and strong advocating voice helped secure her first nursing job at Rady Children’s Hospital in their emergency department, where she practiced for 2 years. Her bounding interests then lead her to Bend, Oregon, where she backpacked and hiked to her heart’s content, while rounding out her nursing knowledge caring for both adult and pediatric patients at St. Charles Medical Center for 3 years. After 5 years of dedicated pediatric and mixed adult/pediatric ER experience, Marilyn set her sights back on her hometown and pursued her dream job of becoming a school nurse. At SDFAS Marilyn enjoys being a kind, protective, and healing presence for the students, as well as a straightforward, approachable resource for their families.

Beverly Portillo Beverly Portillo
School Counselor

Beverly Portillo was born and raised in Southern California and moved to San Diego in 2013. She studied psychology at CSUSB and obtained her graduate degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at Loma Linda University. For over 10 years she has worked with children in families in underserved communities, most recently with San Diego Center for Children. She also provides services in her private practice located in Solana Beach. When not working Beverly enjoys walking to the beach, playing with her dog Kai and spending quality time with friends and family.