MEET OUR BROOKFIELD PRINCIPAL
Principal Jo Gonsalves, Ed.D.
“Dr. Jo” became our school’s instructional leader in 2007. Dr. Jo was drawn to Brookfield School because of its reputation for excellence and its commitment to serving the area’s brightest and most motivated students, a population that is grossly underserved in most schools today, but is so important to the betterment of our society’s future. If you ask Dr. Jo what she sees as her personal mission as Brookfield’s principal, she would tell you, “My purpose is to provide a safe and happy environment, combined with a rigorous and creative academic program, and emotional and social support so my bright students have the best opportunity to reach their potential. I see each of my students as a future leader.”
President John Sittner
Mr. John Sittner, Owner, has a B.S. in Biology and Psychology from Baylor University and did graduate studies at the University of Utah. He also has a real estate broker’s license in Utah and California. A life-long entrepreneur, Mr. Sittner founded Ethos Investments in 1980 and Ancestry Inc., also known at Ancestry.com, in 1983. He and Mrs. Sittner founded Pinnacle Schools in 2003.
Mr. Sittner also provided the vision and leadership for Salt Lake City’s preparation for the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympics. Mr. Sittner is the Business Manager for the schools, which includes oversight of the long-term planning, financial, facility, payroll, and marketing needs of the schools. All major financial decisions rely on his approval. He is also involved in policy making for employees, students, and parents, as well as promotional activities and limited tech support.
Mrs. Kathi Sittner
Mrs. Kathi Sittner, co-owner with her husband, John, acts as our curriculum coordinator and personnel manager. She received her B.A. in German, a Minor in French, and her Master of Arts in Teaching from Beloit College in Wisconsin and taught German in grades 7-12. More recently, she received a national certification as a piano teacher from the American College of Musicians. She has lived in Germany and has traveled extensively throughout the world. Mrs. Sittner worked for many years as a professional genealogist and a published writer for genealogical magazines, and for the past ten years has been teaching private piano lessons. She was involved in the Utah public and private school systems for many years. She has done much research in gifted education, successful school techniques, and the best curricula in the various subjects. She believes in the wisdom of early childhood education, including instruction in languages, music, and general education. She also believes passionately in creating a superior education for her students, including making gifted teaching methodologies available to all students. Under her guidance, Brookfield’s students and teachers are truly “rising to the challenge!”
Mrs. Amy Mertell
Amy Mertell joined Brookfield as a Pre-first teacher in 2008. She began teaching adults in the military and made the transition to teaching children after she finished her service. She has teaching degrees from Auburn University Montgomery, Alabama, in Elementary Education, Early Childhood Education, and Reading. Mrs. Mertell has a taught children in California and Washington state public and private schools.
When Mrs. Mertell isn’t teaching, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Rob, who is a retired Navy Career Counselor Chief Petty Officer of the US Navy. She loves to read, go boating, and travel.
BA Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle
BS Education, Auburn University, Montgomery, AL
Clear California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential
Master of Science in Education Specializing in Teaching, California Baptist University
Ms. Lindsey Baker
Social Studies Specialist
Ms. Baker joins Brookfield in Fall 2021, following a five year term as the Middle School Social Studies Department Chair and Model United Nations Coach at the well-regarded Pulaski Academy, AR. She has experience teaching abroad in the West Bank, Istanbul, and Turkey, and has traveled extensively throughout the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and North America. As a result of these experiences, Ms. Baker teachers Social Studies through a global perspective. She is dedicated to broadening her students’ world view and understanding of various cultures.
She continues to enjoy travel and is an avid sand volleyball player and volleyball coach.
- BA in Religious Studies – Ouachita Baptist University, Magna Cum Laude
- MA in Teaching – Southern Arkansas University
- Educator License for Social Studies – certified for grades 7-12, State of Arkansas
Dr. Urey Gantt
Dr. Gantt joina Brookfield in Fall 2021 as the Math Specialist and Math Team Coach. Dr. Gantt has taught all disciplines of Mathematics, from basic arithmetic through advanced level Calculus. He is the author of a textbook on Linear Algebra. After moving to the United States from the Ukraine, Dr. Gantt taught in the Math departments of Los Rios Community Colleges and most recently served as the Math Department Chair of Futures High school in Sacramento. He is regarded as a dedicated professional and is admired for his sense of humor and positivity.
He enjoys spoiling his grandson and spending time with his family.
- BA and MA of Science in Mathematics – Kamyanets-Podilsky Ivan Ohienko National University
- PhD in Mathematics with specialization in Mathematical Analysis – National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine Institute of Mathematics
Ms. Darth Clurman
Ms. Clurman joined Brookfield as the English Specialist in 2016, after moving to Sacramento from the bay area. Prior to joining our faculty, she taught Literature, Composition, and Interdisciplinary Humanities as an adjunct college professor and senior lecturer for 13 years. See is a dynamic, friendly, instructor who is effective at taking advanced level content and adapting it for our middle school students. Ms.Clurman lives in Fair Oaks with her husband, two daughters, and two dogs, and spends her spare time in the great outdoors or with the great books.
Mrs. Lisa Cullen
2nd Grade Teacher
Mrs. Cullen joined the Brookfield faculty in 2012 as a second grade teacher. Mrs. Cullen taught 1st and 2nd grade for the first five years of her teaching career in private schools in Sacramento, followed by grades K through 4 in local public school districts. Throughout her 11 years of teaching, she has taught a diverse population of students, including English language learners, students with learning disabilities, and both high and low academic level students. She is adept at using a variety of teaching strategies and techniques in her classroom to address the different learning styles of her students.
Mr. Stephen Davis
1st Grade Teacher
Stephen Davis joined Brookfield as our first grade teacher in August of 2010. In his 18th year teaching first, second and third grades, he has taught in private, public, and charter schools in Chicago and Sacramento. Mr. Davis specializes in language arts, and combines research based techniques with energy and humor, making first grade a fun place to learn and grow. Mr. Davis also enjoys moderating our “Junior Journalists” program, and serves as our first grade writing specialist.
Mr. Erik Boice
Mr. Erik Boice, Operations Manager
Mr. Boice, Operations Manager, was hired in August 2014 and has gradually been expanding his role as an aide to the Sittners and a liaison between the owners and the schools. He has a B.A. in Theater Performance and Video Production from Pitzer College and worked for many years as a manager of restaurants in Utah and Oklahoma. Mr. Boice oversees the financial aid program and the summer camp program, coordinates the school marketing, helps to oversee and develop the facilities, and interacts with staff and administrators concerning facilities, staffing, and student issues. He also acts as the lead in communication with parents as needed.
Ms. Souzie Fonte
Souzie has enjoyed working in the field of Early Childhood Education for over 24 years. She loves providing children with opportunities to grow and develop the skills that will help them become successful students, while watching their love for learning continue to grow. Prior to joining Brookfield, she taught 4/5yr old children for 18 years, directed an after-school program for students in grades K through 6 grade for a year, served as a preschool director for 3 years, and was the lead teacher in a 2/3’s combination class. Souzie strives to provide a classroom where children are engaged with many hands on activities, and where their creativity and independence can thrive. She enjoys developing fun art projects, and sharing fun learning games, and reading stories to her students.
When she’s not teaching, she is at home with her husband of 24 years and their three children. The family includes a twenty-year-old daughter, eighteen-year-old daughter, and a fifteen-year-old son. The family pets include a Pit, a Rottweiler, and a cat. Ms. Souzie has a full, happy home! The family enjoys camping, hiking, biking and spending time by the pool. Additionally, Souzie enjoys reading, scrapbooking, and photography.
She is excited to be part of her students’ learning journey at Brookfield Preschool.
Mr. John Flolo
John Flolo joined the Brookfield Staff in 2004. During his tenure, he has served as our school’s Physical Education Instructor and Health Educator for all grade levels, Pre-First through 8th grades. He also Directs and Coaches all of Brookfield’s 13 Athletic Programs. Mr. Flolo challenges all of our Brookfield Students to “Always Do Their Best”. All of our Brookfield Students participate in daily, rigorous physical education activities and are tested weekly to determine improvement within the President’s Council National Fitness Testing Standards.
Ms. Claudia Gonzalez
My love for children lead me to pursue a career as an early childhood teacher after earning an AA Degree in Early Childhood Education from Sacramento City College. I’ve been teaching for three years and have learned so much about how young children learn through this experience.
I have two “fur babies,” Lex and Buddy. We love to go to grandma’s house and we especially love kayaking. I’m excited to be a part of Brookfield School and look forward to what’s in store for me.
Ms. Renee Janota
Social Studies Teacher
Ms. Renee Janota comes to Brookfield from the state of Michigan where she taught Social Studies for 18 years in private and public middle schools. She was born in Oregon, raised in Alaska, and has lived in many of the states in the U.S.A., as well as 3.5 years in Frankfurt, Germany. Ms. Janota earned her Master’s degree in Education with a focus on Technology in the Classroom through Walden University. Ms. Janota returned to the west to be a part of her three grandsons’ lives in the Sacramento area.
As a middle school teacher, she has used a variety of educational techniques to engage, educate, and empower her students to reach their full potential. Ms. Janota believes in creating a classroom community based on respect for each other, so that everyone has the opportunity to learn and grow. Her warm smile, and words of encouragement have helped her connect with thousands of students in her previous classrooms.
In addition to teaching U.S. History and Government, Ancient World History, and World Geography in grades 5 – 8; Ms Janota has served as a Junior Honor Society chaperone for field trips, planned many dances, sponsored two high school classes, co-coached Mock Trial teams for three years, invited many speakers to her classroom, and planned grade level field trips. She is excited to get to know each new class and embracing our school culture.
I am the mother of four wonderful young men and the grandmother of four amazing grandsons and a beautiful granddaughter. I have a wonderful husband of 28 years.
I have worked with children in many aspects of the field of early childhood education for over 24 years. I have extensive training in my field, including First Five, S.C.O.E, Preschool Bridging Model Plus, P.I.T.C, as well as training through the Sacramento Office of Education.
I believe in blending curiosity, creativity, with emergent teaching. One of the greatest rewards of teaching young children is taking a moment to pause and observe a child and seeing the world through his or her eyes. Children grow so quickly in preschool, and there is so much to learn. My goal is to help children develop an appreciation for education and reach their highest potential. I believe that each child is unique and holds the future in his or her busy, curious little hands.
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to provide your child with quality care in a nurturing environment.
Mrs. Michelle Schumacher
Mrs. Schumacher came to Brookfield in 1999 and has been the Office Manager for 13 years. She is responsible for the every day operation of the school, assisting parents, students and faculty in various ways. She is the first person you see when you come into the office and is always ready to lend a helping hand.
Ms. Erin Kahle
Miss Erin Kahle has been an educator since 2003. She joined Brookfield in 2017 with experience teaching a wide range of ages, from toddlers through third grade. She most enjoys teaching Pre-k children, and prides herself in creating a classroom culture that celebrates and nurtures a child’s ability to explore, discover and learn. Erin holds a BA in Liberal Studies and a Primary level Montessori Teaching Credential. Outside of the classroom, Erin enjoys relaxing with her husband and two dogs, reading, spending time with good friends, and rooting for the Oakland Raiders.
Madame Claire Michelet
Primary Level French
Claire Michelet was born and grew up near Paris. During her high school studies, she received a solid foundation in French language and literature, which were strongly emphasized, as were classical studies such as Latin and Greek. She moved to the United States about 22 years ago, and also studied at CSU Chico, where she got her Master of Fine Arts. Claire became an American Citizen in 2000, and now resides in Sacramento, and goes to France regularly to visit. In addition to her love for literature and the arts, she enjoys teaching. She finds it a rewarding experience and takes great pleasure at the daily interaction with students, responding to their innate curiosity and monitoring their learning process. She has taught French for years, giving group and private lessons for all ages. Claire is enthusiastic about sharing with her students the French language, culture, and lifestyle which are so familiar to her.
Mrs. Afiya Moore
3rd Grade Teacher
Mrs. Afiya Moore first began her teaching career in 2002, in East Palo Alto for Ravenswood City School District. After pursuing other career endeavors, she relocated from the Bay Area to Sacramento and returned to the field of education in 2012. Mrs. Moore is stern, yet fun and loving and treats each of her students as if they were her own. She believes every child has the innate desire to learn and also craves the guidance needed to reach their fullest intellectual capacity. Mrs. Moore has taught grades K, 1, 2 and 5, and has even served as an instructional coach for other teachers. She is organized and has strong classroom management skills.
Mrs. Moore is a published children’s book author and mother of two.
Masters in Educational Leadership from Cal State East Bay
Bachelors in Political Science and Minor in Mathematics from Chico State
Multiple Subject Teaching Credential
Since 2001, my life has centered around children in a variety of ways. I have taught preschoolers and infants for 17 years. Everyday is different in my role as an educator, and it’s never boring. I love working with children, and enjoy the challenges and especially supporting the children to be the best they can be. I am both a Brookfield teacher and Brookfield parent; my son joined Brookfield School in the first grade! During my spare time I enjoy spending time with my family and baking.
Ms. Penny Renaud
4th Grade Teacher
Penny Renaud begin teaching second grade at Brookfield School in 2000. She taught third and fourth grades, before deciding that fourth grade was where she was meant to be! Prior to joining the Brookfield faculty, she taught sixth through eighth grade at Merryhill Preparatory School and El Dorado County Office of Education. “My educational goal is to provide each student with an equal opportunity to succeed by promoting intellectual growth, creativity, self-discipline, cultural and linguistic sensitivity, democratic responsibility, and physical and mental health so that each student can achieve to his or her maximum ability.”
Dr. Stacey Schwartz
English and Speech
Dr. Schwartz joined Brookfield in 2019, after two decades of leading educational programs in higher education and nonprofit settings. The daughter of math and English teachers, as a teenager, she ran a summer school in her parents’ home and dreamed of being a teacher; however, her parents discouraged her from pursuing a K-12 career. Instead she served as a counselor, professor and dean of special education at Coastline Community College in Orange County. Later, when her husband’s career took her to South Carolina, Kansas and Arkansas, Dr. Schwartz created and taught remedial, accelerated, and vocational programs for young adults and co-founded a nonprofit that creates apps and app training for people with cognitive challenges. Now, having returned to her native California, Dr. Schwartz felt compelled to revisit her childhood goal of teaching children. While substituting in middle school classes in 2018-19, she fell in love with Brookfield.
Throughout her career, Dr. Schwartz has focused on challenging people to build on their strengths while strengthening their abilities to compensate for their challenges. Her belief in developing a growth mindset, combined with a love of grammar and books, makes her excited to teach sixth grade English and speech to Brookfield students.
Education could be called Dr. Schwartz’s family business. Not only is she the daughter of high school teachers, but she is also the wife of a law professor and dean and the mother of two daughters, one who teaches third grade and the other a former kindergarten teacher pursuing a doctorate in school psychology.
Ph.D. in Education (Counseling Psychology), University of Southern California
M.A. in Counseling Psychology, Loyola Marymount University
B.A. in Psychology (Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude), University of California, Los Angeles
Mrs. Meeker joined Brookfield with 9 years of teaching experience, primarily in middle school science. She has a BS in Zoology from UC Davis and she completed the Teacher Preparation program at CSU Sacramento. Mrs. Meeker holds three California teaching credentials: Multiple Subjects, Single Subject Biology, and Single Subject Business.
Mrs. Meeker hasn’t always been a teacher. In 2004, she did a crazy thing. She chucked her successful career as a technology industry technical writer and went back to college to become a teacher! She had worked for some established companies as well as some wildly fun, but ultimately doomed startups. Most of the time it was extremely interesting and satisfying work. Learning so much about how computers work and the software development process satisfied her innate geekiness. She even got to help design the user interfaces for a few products. She loved the challenge of finding ways to break down and describe complicated concepts so anyone could understand them.
After some time in the technology industry, she began to feel that she needed to do something to make a contribution to the future. If there’s such a thing as a career bucket list, teaching was in hers. She often told herself that, when she grew up, she would become a teacher. So, in 2004, it was time to grow up! She tells us,“It was honestly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!”
Mrs. Meeker loves helping young people learn about the world and find their own unique paths to their futures.
Mr. David Shackleford
2nd Grade Teacher
Mr. David Shackelford joined the Brookfield faculty in 2013. He hails from Odessa, Texas, where he taught undergraduate classes and served as the supervisor of the Literacy Center in the University of Texas at the Permian Basin. In addition to his experience as a primary teacher and tutor, Mr. Shackelford taught English Language in Taizhou, China. He is fluent in conversational Mandarin. Mr. Shacelford is energetic, friendly, and enthusiastic about his favorite subject, Reading! He is an avid reader and self-proclaimed Science geek, and has a background in graphic design.
Ms. Sarah Buth
I began working with kids at the age of 11 at a local church where I was a Sunday School Teacher’s Assistant. I had my first teaching job in 2014 as a Teacher’s Assistant while I was earning my Bachelor’s degree. I realized my passion for teaching and decided to pursue it. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development with a concentration in Early Developmental Care and Education in the Spring of 2017 from Sacramento State. I am passionate about instilling a love of learning in all children. I love how children’s faces light up when they accomplish a goal, or when they learn something new. When I’m not teaching, you can find me reading and crocheting in one of the local coffee shops or out exploring Sacramento.
Ms. Sara McDonough
3rd Grade Teacher
Ms. Sara McDonough, joined Brookfield in 2016 as a substitute teacher, in-house tutor, and summer camp counselor, where she became well acquainted with the school staff and students. In 2017, she accepted the position to partner with Ms.Tran as a third grade teacher. Ms. McDonough is well-educated, creative, organized, industrious, and is very well liked for her friendly disposition.
Ms. McDonough is currently completing her Ph.D. program in Sociology through Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Her education brings a rich multicultural understanding of domestic and international history and culture, and she is an experienced instructor from primary through the collegiate level.
M.S. Sociology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
B.A. Sociology, College of William and Mary
Sr. Alvaro Yepez Lemus
Sr. Alvaro Yepez Lemus joined our faculty in 2018 as the Middle School Spanish Teacher. He is a native Spanish-speaker and comes from a bi-cultural background, from which he is comfortable interacting with students of multi-ethnic backgrounds. He is also adept with technology, having worked to incorporate various new technology enhancements to the Spanish Language Program at CSU Sacramento. Sr. Yepez has a Bachelors and Masters Degree from CSUS in Spanish, from which he graduated with honors, and has worked as a student assistant to the professors in the Spanish Language Classes during his time as a graduate student. He brings youth, vibrancy, and a high level of Spanish and technical fluency to our Middle School World Language Faculty.
Señora Jacquelin Anaya de Cory
Señora Cory joined Brookfield’s faculty in 2016 as the Spanish Teacher. She has a deep passion for teaching. As a native Spanish speaker, she knows the challenges associated with learning a new language. “I draw on my childhood experiences learning English to make Spanish classes fun for my students. I utilize games, songs, and art projects in my curriculum to ensure students remain engaged in the new language.”
Señora Cory is an experienced Spanish and ELL English and Science teacher, with several years of classroom experience working with middle school at Will Rogers Middle School and high school students at Bella Vista High School. She is a creative, engaging teacher, who learned how to create and deliver interesting lessons for younger students through her experience homeschooling her sons through the elementary grades. She is excited to return to classroom teaching where she can “embrace all the students with my enthusiasm, expertise, and energy. I will bring cultural awareness to my students through songs, games, and art projects that will help immerse them in the Spanish language and culture.”
Señora Cory enjoys travel, day trips to San Francisco museums with her family, and golf. She also enjoys art, film, reading, and adding new specimens to her growing succulent collection. .
Señora Cory holds a B.A. in Spanish from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Clear California Teaching Credential.
Mme Cat Laborde Lagrave
Middle School French Teacher
Mr. David Taylor-Gomes
Music and Theater Teacher
David Taylor-Gomes is a Composer, Pianist, Musical Director, Actor, and Educator, best known for writing the music and lyrics for Boxed Up: The Musical. David began his musical training at age 4 studying classical piano, and throughout his childhood he studied music composition and debuted his first original piece at age 12 with the Markham Middle School Concert Band. As a high school senior he wrote and produced an original musical (Miss Fortunate), which performed to sold-out audiences and won a medal for original script at the Lenaea Theatre Festival, as well as the Larry Shumate Synergy Award. As an adult David has performed professionally as an actor and musical director for Sacramento Theatre Company, Capital Stage, Missouri Street Theatre, and Boxed Up Productions. In 2015 David performed at TedX Sacramento with Tresa Honaker and AirAligned Aerial Dance. David has received multiple Elly Awards from the Sacramento Area Regional Theatre Alliance for Best Musical Direction, including In The Heights (Green Valley Theatre Company) and Lizzie: The Musical (The Actor’s Playpen). He also received an Arty Award for Best Musical Direction of a Youth Musical in 2012 (Les Miserables).
David has taught musical theatre for Sacramento Theatre Company’s School of the Arts since 2014, and has been the musical director for Granite Bay High School’s theatre arts program since 2012.
David’s original compositions have been performed at STC, GVTC, and Bottle Rock Napa, where he performed with the alternative rock band Autumn Sky. He was also a top-200 finalist on American Idol, season 11. David is a proud member of Actors Equity Association (AEA) and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP).
“I am a musician, composer, actor, and educator based in Sacramento, California. I have taught music and theatre arts for the last 8 years to students of all ages. I believe that it is my responsibility to meet students at their level by creating an environment where they feel safe to ask questions, take risks, and find joy in the pursuit of music. It is my goal to allow every student the opportunity to learn and grow through the study of music so they can build the same skills and reap the same benefits that I’ve enjoyed through my commitment to music. I believe the fine arts play a vital role in education by creating community, providing entertainment, and teaching students how to positively express themselves in a way that is not only fun, but builds confidence and collaborative skills that they can use for the rest of their lives.” David Taylor Gomes
Ms. Mai Xiong
Ms. Mai was born in Fresno, but spent most of her life in Sacramento. She is the 4th oldest child of a family with ten siblings! Ms. Mai has a BA in Child Development with a concentration in Early Development Education and Care from CSU Sacramento. She worked in the field of Child Development for more than six years before joining the Brookfield Preschool faculty, and she loves everything about it. Mai enjoys spending time to engage with her students, and finds that every day is an amazing day with many different things to learn and to teach. She enjoys spending personal time cooking, playing with her son, singing, and visiting farms with her parents, She also enjoys going on walks and traveling with her husband and her son. She hopes to hopefully, extend her family, so her son will have siblings!