Meet Our Instructors

Teachers for the Adult School are professional educators. All state-funded courses and many community interest classes are taught by credentialed teachers. In addition, some of our instructors bring to the classroom their expertise from other professions or occupations.


Mishan Afsari, MD

Mishan is a doctor-turned-health coach who believes in the power of nutrition and prevention. She loves teaching people how the body works by making it personal and easy to understand. Her mission is to help people master their health and be their strongest, most vibrant self. You can find Mishan and her weekly health tips (more)

DeAnne Appleton

DeAnne Appleton has been Sewing since she was 9 years old. She says, “They couldn’t keep fabric, needles, and thread away from me!” She constantly expands and refines her skills by taking challenging classes and attending professional conferences. A dress, jacket, and purse ensemble that she designed and made was accepted into the juried Wearable Art Exhibit (more)

Halina Asada

Originally from Japan, Halina lived in Canada and the United Kingdom. She learned to cook from her grandmother and mother since she was little. She is fascinated by creating her own homestyle recipes by updating traditional Japanese technique. Halina teaches cooking at home and at Google.

Mitra Bahrami

Mitra Bahrami teaches ESL, writing, and communication courses to international students and professionals. She has over 30 years of writing, training and production experience in high technology, education and broadcasting, and has been teaching at the Palo Alto Adult School since 2007. Mitra’s teaching focuses on making sure students develop the confidence to take what (more)

Elizabeth Bales-Stutes

Elizabeth Bales-Stutes grew up with her nose in a book and loved studying the English language even as a child. She worked as a copy editor before becoming a teacher and enjoys sharing her enthusiasm for English with her students. Her student-centered teaching style makes learning more fun through lively discussions and humor, with a (more)

Katherine Barg Ed.D.

Kay Barg began teaching at the Palo Alto Adult School last spring when she taught Business Communications. This fall she taught Fundamentals of Writing II as part of the new Writing Academy. Kay comes to PAAS with over 25 years experience in California public school classrooms where she taught everything from Video Technology to History and English. Kay has (more)

Mary Bazigos

Mary Bazigosis a Palo Alto Adult School credentialed teacher with a Master’s degree in English as a Second Language from San Francisco State University. Her Bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley is in Spanish literature. She has been teaching at the Palo Alto Adult School since 2003. As a first generation American with parents who immigrated from (more)

Mireille Belloni

Mireille Belloni, a native of France, has taught and directed French Language Programs in the United States for many years. An alumn of the Ecole Normale Supérieure, she also studied at the Sorbonne and at the University of Kent (U.K.). In the U.S., she has been on the faculty of the University of Michigan, Middlebury (more)

Ferenc Besze

Ferenc Besze was born and raised in Budapest, Hungary.  His love for art surfaced early on in his childhood when Ferenc filled all his textbooks with drawings to the frustration of his teachers and parents.  He started his career decisively influenced by the internationally known Ernő Zórád’s comics.  They were an inspiration to him when (more)

Sherri Bohan

Sherri Bohan is a State Board credentialed instructor and has a degree in Ornamental Horticulture. In 2016, she will celebrate 20 years as a Palo Alto Adult School instructor! She has been a local landscaper, garden instructor, designer, consultant, licensed contractor and professional horticulturist for over 30 years. A small business owner doing residential landscape (more)

Susan Cole

Susan Cole has been teaching ESL at Palo Alto Adult School since 2002, at levels from beginning to advanced. Susan’s goal is to help her students become more confident, effective and enthusiastic communicators in English. She seeks to structure her classes and materials so that students develop and improve in the directions that are most (more)

Liz Crandall

Liz Crandall has a degree in photography and digital imaging from Foothill College. She taught in the open lab classes at Foothill and has assisted with various photography workshops. Liz has worked in custom photo labs as a film processor, copy photographer, custom printer and in digital production where she has provided graphics, posters and (more)

Matthew Dodder

Matthew Dodder, Palo Alto Adult School’s Intermediate/Advanced Birding instructor since 1999, got his start as a birder at age 14 when he sprinkled birdseed on the snow after a heavy snowstorm and identified his very first Northern Cardinal. He has traveled around the world birding but says that his some of his most enjoyable birding experiences have (more)

Ellen Engelman

Ellen Engelman is a California credentialed teacher, and has been a PAAS Computer Applications instructor since 1998. She is also the PAAS webmaster, maintaining and updating the Adult School website each quarter, and also produces the school catalog content each quarter. Ellen is a member of the PAAS WASC (Western Association of Schools & Colleges) team which (more)

Taia Ergueta

Taia Ergueta is an experienced operational executive and business strategist. She has managed the start, acceleration, and turn-arounds of businesses in the computer services, personal computing and life sciences industries. Ms. Ergueta was Vice President of Strategic Marketing for the scientific instrumentation businesses at Thermo Fisher Scientific and, before that, at Varian, Inc. Prior to (more)

Christina Felschen

Christina Felschen teaches Storytelling with Photography for advanced students at the Palo Alto Adult School. Originally from Germany, she came to the Bay Area in 2014. As journalist and photographer for different magazines, newspapers and NGOs, she has worked in Marseille, Buenos Aires, Kolkata and on the world’s oceans. Christina holds a Master’s degree in (more)

Stefania Filigheddu

Stefania Filigheddu – Born in Civitavecchia (Rome) and raised in Sardegna, obtained her Bachelor Degree in Political Science at the University of Pavia with a special focus on Economics and then attended a Master Course on European Economics Programs. She worked 7 years in Milano as a Human Resource Specialist and Human Resources Consulting, then (more)

Robert Furrow

Rob Furrow is a biologist and educator, teaching introductory science courses as a Thinking Matters Fellow at Stanford, while researching ecology and evolution. A friend introduced Rob to his backyard birds when he was 17 years old, and he never looked back. He has birded and surveyed wildlife in the US, Europe and Central America, (more)

Sarah Gitter

Sarah Gitter has been teaching ESL to students in many different settings including adult schools, community centers, and community colleges since 1990. She currently enjoys teaching lively conversation courses at Palo Alto Adult School. Her many years living in Japan and teaching English there have given her an appreciation for the challenges and excitement of (more)

Claude Godcharles

Claude has been involved in woodworking for over 12 years, with interests in furniture design and production, woodturning, marquetry, and almost anything involving wood. A big motivation for teaching woodworking is that teaching is learning: it forces an instructor to dig deeper and figure out how to transmit skills and techniques by interacting with students.

Christine Bell Green (Chris Green)

Chris is a professional genealogist who has been teaching Intermediate Genealogy at PAAS since the Spring Semester of 2013. Every student has a unique family so everyone’s research journey and expertise is different. Sharing these journeys and celebrating the successes with a group of enthusiastic genealogists is an important part of the class. All have (more)

Sharon Hampel

Sharon Hampel has enjoyed teaching writing at Palo Alto Adult School for the past several years. Prior to moving to San Francisco, she taught literature and writing at the University of Colorado and the University of Denver. Sharon has a Masters in Literature with an emphasis on ESL teaching and a Ph.D. in Literature with (more)

Carrie Harper Hechtman

Carrie Harper Hechtman has had a lifelong passion for reading, writing and teaching literature. She received an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of San Francisco, where she also worked as a teaching assistant, and has led writing workshops for children and adults in the Palo Alto area. She is actively involved in the (more)

Garth Harwood, M.A., M.B.S.

Garth Harwood, M.A., M.B.S., is the Director of Education at Hidden Villa, an organic farm and wilderness preserve in Los Altos Hills, where he has trained countless schoolchildren and many adult staff and volunteers in naturalist skills for the past 15 years. An avid birder and compulsive naturalist, he leads occasional Audubon Society bird walks (more)

Ramesh & Bharati Joshi

Ramesh Joshi came to Stanford University in September 1968. Bharati joined him six months later. Both were professional engineers by day, and cooking became their hobby and passion. Ramesh learned cooking from watching his mom cooking. After arriving in the U.S., he needed to start cooking what he was used to eating every day in (more)

Kathleen Koenig

My interest in sewing and textiles started in childhood with making clothes for Barbie dolls! To encourage me, my mother let me use a sewing machine at a very young age. Eventually I experimented with car upholstery and then found the niche in furniture upholstery. I discovered the Palo Alto Adult School Upholstery class in (more)

Malika Labidi

My name is Malika Labidi and I am from France. I studied English and linguistics at the University in Paris where I received a BA as well as my teaching credentials. I have been teaching for more than twenty years at different levels. I have been living in the Bay Area for fifteen years and (more)

Ann Laveroni

I first started as a student in the Upholstery class in 1991. I loved it immediately and began my student teaching after 2 years. About the same time I started my home upholstery and slip covering business. I have been teaching this wonderful class ever since!

Shaowei Liu

Shaowei Liu studied Illustration at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco from 1982-85 and graduated with both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in commercial art. After several years working on commercial and editorial jobs, she started her long career in the game industry in 1992, 7 years for computer games and 15 years for (more)

Francesca Lorenzon

Francesca was born and raised in North Eastern Italy. There she completed her studies and lived until 2011 when she moved to the Bay Area with her whole family. She earned a Master’s Degree with Honors in Modern Languages and Literatures from the University of Trieste. Besides maintaining her innate love for Italian regional cuisine, (more)

Brenda Lowen

Brenda Lowen has taught Literacy at PAAS since 1995. Brenda received her B.A. from Antioch College, Ohio 1961 and M.A. from Standford University in 1966.

Leonardo McCord Salazar

Leonardo McCord Salazar has taught the Spanish language for 33 years. He holds a B.A. in Spanish and French from U.C. Berkeley and an M.A. in Spanish from UCLA. He is a UC Regents’ Scholar, a Peace Corps Volunteer, and a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Delta Pi (the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society), and Alpha Mu (more)

Marcus Miller

Marcus enjoys teaching woodworking at all levels and has been teaching through Palo Alto Adult School for over a decade. He blends a power tool and hand tool approach to fine furniture building with an emphasis on safety and enjoyment of the craft.

David Nagid

David Nagid was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from North Texas State University, studied graduate music at San Jose State and obtained an AS degree in Math and Computer Science from Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz. He has worked as a recording musician in Memphis, Tennessee (more)

Thanh Kosen Nguyen

Thanh “Kosen 紅泉” Nguyen was introduced to Ikebana at an early age in Vietnam but only had the opportunity to study this art after she came to the USA. She was born in Vietnam into a family of 12 children. Twice her family left everything behind to escape to South Vietnam and later to America. (more)

Christine Palen

Christine Palen, owner of Chaos Control® and Life Artistry®, inspires and guides clients in a lifestyle of choice. Since 1991 she has provided consulting, coaching, and motivational workshops on life and work priorities, values-based schedule planning and effective time management. Christine designs creative, customized solutions to streamline office systems that increase productivity and performance. She is (more)

Paul Prochaska

Paul Prochaska is a classically-trained musician (CSM & UC Berkeley), but grew up in a “traditional folk music” family.

Jamila Rufaro

Jamila Rufaro: A native New Yorker with roots in Jamaica. She can quote from every episode of Seinfeld. Her heroes are Rosa Parks and Lisbeth Salander. Juxtaposition that provokes a smile, or even better a laugh, are her favorite. When I was about eight years old I made paper angels out of notebook paper and (more)

Miriam Sachs Martín

Miriam R. Sachs Martín is an ecologist, native plant landscaper, and educator who is very excited to create a community of happy hikers with PAAS. She is the land manager at Portola Valley Ranch, and was previously the Chief Preserve Steward of Pearson-Arastradero Preserve. Miriam is a credentialed Adult Education Instructor with over a decade (more)

Anjani Sarma

Anjani Sarma is a credentialed adult ESL instructor with a graduate certificate in TESOL. As a second language learner herself, she understands the cultural and linguistic challenges adult learners face in an ESL class. She believes that with lots of meaningful practice in a low stress, fun environment, all adult learners can learn English and (more)

Julie Shanson

Julie Shanson has a passion for tasty whole foods. She’s been teaching middle school cooking classes since the fall of 2013 with titles like Food Glorious Food and Soup, Salad, Bread and Blogs. She holds a degree from Cornell University, has worked at several tech companies in mentoring and training roles, and has had an (more)

Paulina Shapona

Paulina Shapona studied art in the San Francisco-Oakland area. For many years, Paulina apprenticed with Ugo Graziotti, the master of the Renaissance school in Italy. Paulina traveled to Europe where she lived for some time in the villages along the Adriatic. She drew, painted and sculpted village life where the way of life had not changed (more)

Mollyanne Sherman

Mollyanne Sherman is a 25 year design and remodeling veteran and owner and lead designer of Mac Design.

Nilou Shokrani

Nilou Shokrani has been teaching ESL for ten years and loves it.The feedback she receives from her students makes her feel excited and pleased to teach. She loves to introduce new methods, books and materials to make her classes more exciting and fun. Nilou has a BA in English and a clear credential in teaching English (more)

Jane Silver

Jane Silver has an Adult Education Teaching Credential. She obtained a MATESOL from San Jose State University in 2013.

Zaida Soriano

Zaida Soriano was born and raised in Oaxaca, Mexico. She learned to cook from her Mom, grandmothers, and aunts. She also learned from other Oaxacan women who brought her into their homes and gave their time to teach her their traditional cooking. Zaida owns The Oaxacan Kitchen Markets, Inc.  Her company sell delicious foods native to Oaxaca in seven different Santa Clara (more)

Judy Lee-Squire

I have been practicing pilates for the past nine years, primarily mat. I came to pilates because I needed to find an exercise program that I could do on my own and stick with it. I enjoyed it so much, I decided to become certified in mat so that I could improve my practice. I (more)

Dana St. George

Dana St. George has taught Low Intermediate ESL at Greendell School since 1998 Students learn listening, speaking, reading and writing skills and have lots of conversation practice. She uses use a variety of teaching modalities, with a strong emphasis on practical communication, listening and speaking. Dana has a B.A. in English from the University of Minnesota, (more)

Sue Stevick

B.A. Univ. of Calif. at Berkeley; Master of Arts in Teaching, specializing in English; Calif. Community College Teaching Credential; Calif Standard Secondary Teaching Credential. Over 25 years’ experience teaching ESL. Lecturer, English for Foreign Students, Stanford University; Instructor, Workplace English, Stanford University Hospital; Instructor, Studies in American Language, San Jose State University; Instructor, Canada and (more)

Lori Stoia

Lori Stoia has been showing students how to create their own Bath and Body products since 2004. She has taken classes in bath and body products from The Nova Studio in Point Richmond, CA since 2004. Lori holds a BA in Mass Communication from Cal State East Bay, an AA degree in Communications and A.A in Accounting from (more)

Kamal Vilms

Kamal Vilms has been studying and practicing yoga since1977, first in London with Dr. Martin Underwood, whose style of yoga derived from study in Madras with TKV Desikachar. (For those interested in yoga history, both Desikachar and Iyengar learned yoga from Desikachar’s father T Krishnamacharia, who is credited with rekindling interest in hatha yoga in India (more)

Nerissa Wong-VanHaren

Nerissa grew up dancing hula, jazz, tap, and ballet as a child in Hawaii. She studied with Kumu Hula Clark Bolivar and the Ladies of Moani Ke ‘Ala O Ka Mailelauli’i, and taught both hula and zumba for four years at the Palo Alto Family YMCA. She is an avid dancer and performer of many (more)

Kathy Woveris

Kathy Woveris was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Kathy studied classical piano lessons at The Eggert Academy of Music where she received her Master’s Degree in piano beginning at the age of 10 years old and continued thru high school. Kathy not only loved the piano but also studied French Horn and participated in (more)

Wing Hung Wu (Lucia)

I was born and raised speaking and reading both Chinese and English. I was exposed to both Chinese and the Western cultures in a variety of ways. I also traveled extensively throughout China every year. I chose to teach my own language as I have always appreciated and truly loved its beauty. I started to (more)

Cathy Zander

My love of art started at a very young age. At eight years old, I would get on a bus, by myself, every Saturday morning for an hour long ride to take art classes in the Cleveland Museum of Art. I would sit for hours on a little stool with a pad of paper and (more)