Staff

 Iman Guiga, Lead Educator  Iman was born on the East coast, raised in the Midwest, and recently moved to the West (best) coast. She has a passion for working with children and enjoy seeing their curiosity and learning grow. She holds a Masters in Elementary Education and a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential through the state of California. Before moving to the Bay Area, she co-taught kindergarten for a year and taught first grade for 3 years. In her spare time, she enjoys outdoor activities like surfing, hiking, and climbing.   

Iman Guiga, Lead Educator

Iman was born on the East coast, raised in the Midwest, and recently moved to the West (best) coast. She has a passion for working with children and enjoy seeing their curiosity and learning grow. She holds a Masters in Elementary Education and a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential through the state of California. Before moving to the Bay Area, she co-taught kindergarten for a year and taught first grade for 3 years. In her spare time, she enjoys outdoor activities like surfing, hiking, and climbing.

 

  Yi Wang, Mandarin Lead Educator   Yi Wang is a passionate Chinese teacher with a strong belief in individualized teaching. Prior to receiving her MA in education and teaching credential from Santa Clara University, she worked as a professional news editor in a major Chinese broadcasting station for more than 15 years, where she developed an acute sense of modern Chinese language and culture. Since 2004, she has dedicated herself to Chinese teaching and has worked with children of all ages. Her students find her approachable and her class enjoyable despite the challenges of learning a difficult language.  In her spare time, she likes to have intellectual conversations with her daughter, swim with her husband, and read books in Chinese, English, and French.   

Yi Wang, Mandarin Lead Educator

Yi Wang is a passionate Chinese teacher with a strong belief in individualized teaching. Prior to receiving her MA in education and teaching credential from Santa Clara University, she worked as a professional news editor in a major Chinese broadcasting station for more than 15 years, where she developed an acute sense of modern Chinese language and culture. Since 2004, she has dedicated herself to Chinese teaching and has worked with children of all ages. Her students find her approachable and her class enjoyable despite the challenges of learning a difficult language.

In her spare time, she likes to have intellectual conversations with her daughter, swim with her husband, and read books in Chinese, English, and French.

 

  Audrey O'Donnell, Educational Facilitator/Spanish Educator   Audrey is a recent graduate from the University of Tulsa with a BA in English and minors in Psychology, Creative Writing, and, after studying abroad in Argentina, Spanish, where she also earned her CELU certification of fluency. She has worked with children in many capacities: as a camp counselor, nanny, tutor, and creative writing workshop leader. She believes each child is special and strives to help create an environment in which they feel supported to be their best selves. In addition to joining UP Academy this fall, Audrey will be earning an MS in Human-Canine Life Sciences from Bergin College with the eventual goal of working in service dog training and placement. Her work here and her pursuit of her master’s will aid her in melding her passions for children and dogs.

Audrey O'Donnell, Educational Facilitator/Spanish Educator

Audrey is a recent graduate from the University of Tulsa with a BA in English and minors in Psychology, Creative Writing, and, after studying abroad in Argentina, Spanish, where she also earned her CELU certification of fluency. She has worked with children in many capacities: as a camp counselor, nanny, tutor, and creative writing workshop leader. She believes each child is special and strives to help create an environment in which they feel supported to be their best selves. In addition to joining UP Academy this fall, Audrey will be earning an MS in Human-Canine Life Sciences from Bergin College with the eventual goal of working in service dog training and placement. Her work here and her pursuit of her master’s will aid her in melding her passions for children and dogs.

  Jessica Bok, After School Educator   Jessica earned her BA in Philosophy from UCLA. She has been working with kids of all ages since 2007 by teaching through private ESL tutoring, mission trips, VBS, Sunday school, violin lessons, and a language school in Seoul, Korea. During this time, she discovered her passion for teaching young students.       She believes in the importance of students building a solid foundation of learning habits and cognitive skills as well as discovering and developing their respective unique talents in their childhood years.      Currently, Jessica also teaches dance at a studio in San Jose. She hopes to work with foster kids in the near future and make meaningful impact in the bright young minds of all children from different backgrounds.  

Jessica Bok, After School Educator

Jessica earned her BA in Philosophy from UCLA. She has been working with kids of all ages since 2007 by teaching through private ESL tutoring, mission trips, VBS, Sunday school, violin lessons, and a language school in Seoul, Korea. During this time, she discovered her passion for teaching young students.  

 

She believes in the importance of students building a solid foundation of learning habits and cognitive skills as well as discovering and developing their respective unique talents in their childhood years. 

 

Currently, Jessica also teaches dance at a studio in San Jose. She hopes to work with foster kids in the near future and make meaningful impact in the bright young minds of all children from different backgrounds.  

  Mendy Thijssen, Yoga/Mindfulness   Mendy Thijssen loves being around kids. She excells at engaging them in ways to challenge themselves, learn healthy ways to be in their bodies, and have a playful attitude to help deal with stress.   Leading different types of art and yoga classes and groups for adults and kids since 2002, Mendy strives to keep the playful alive in everything she does.

Mendy Thijssen, Yoga/Mindfulness

Mendy Thijssen loves being around kids. She excells at engaging them in ways to challenge themselves, learn healthy ways to be in their bodies, and have a playful attitude to help deal with stress.   Leading different types of art and yoga classes and groups for adults and kids since 2002, Mendy strives to keep the playful alive in everything she does.

  Harold, School Ambassador   Harold was found on the side of the road bloody to the bone from dragging his paralyzed back legs behind him unprotected.  A rescue found him, aided him and he came to be with Rescue the Underdog in the San Francisco area.  We saw him up for adoption on the Magical Bridge website and knew he needed to be our dog.  Our family adopted him and plan to train him as a therapy dog to show kids and adults of all abilities that disabilities don't matter - attitude does.  Follow his journey on Instagram @haroldonwheels.

Harold, School Ambassador

Harold was found on the side of the road bloody to the bone from dragging his paralyzed back legs behind him unprotected.  A rescue found him, aided him and he came to be with Rescue the Underdog in the San Francisco area.  We saw him up for adoption on the Magical Bridge website and knew he needed to be our dog.  Our family adopted him and plan to train him as a therapy dog to show kids and adults of all abilities that disabilities don't matter - attitude does.  Follow his journey on Instagram @haroldonwheels.