Faculty/Staff Bios

Awele (ah WAY lay) Makeba

Daughter of Alice. Granddaughter of 2 Ruths. Great-granddaughter of Mu’dear Corrine. Great-great granddaughter of Anna. Born in the Midwest spending her summers in Mississippi and of African American, Ghanian, Cameronian, and Nigerian roots with some Scottish and Irish blood in her ancestral background. Ms. Awele loves dancing, storytelling, theatre, and traveling. She has performed in 12 countries. Ms. Awele’s Drama Program (Drama 1, Professional Drama and Advanced Professional Drama) is a nationally recognized training program by the American High School Theatre Festival for their outstanding commitment to artistic excellence in Theatre Arts, dramaturgical research, and social justice. Her curriculum focuses on developing young artists, scholar, activists. She helps students find their own voice to know the power that their voice can have within a community through creative exploration of social-political issues that impact our lives through scripted, original plays, and civic engagement that humanizes those issues with intellectual rigor, fervent humanity, and vibrant imagination. She teaches essential foundational skills in acting and ensemble-based theatre making are combined with scene study, voice, movement, directing, play writing, devising original work, stage combat, Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process, critical reflection and the business of creating, producing, presenting, and performing to emphasize the concept that theatre is a collaborative art form. We design bold opportunities for participation and unforgettable experiences, with rigor and striking physicality. We want to inspire people to envision a more just and humane world. Ms. Awele’s students perform on the mainstage at Skyline, the world stage such as Festival Fringe in Edinburgh, Scotland with the American High School Theatre Festival (2017), in our community at Shotgun Players, African American Shakespeare Company, ACT-SF summer Young Conservatory, Mills College, Oakland City Hall, Sacramento State Capital, conferences festivals and in The Lower Bottoms, web series. Her community partners provide free and discounted tickets to professional theatre.

Degrees & Certificates:

Bachelor of Fine Art, Theatre Arts, Webster University; Master of Arts, Language and Literacy, San Francisco State University; Literacy Specialist Credential, San Francisco State University; Multiple Subject K-8/Adult Education, San Francisco State University

Awards, Grants, & Distinctions:

2019: “The Dramaturgy of the Classroom in an Underserved School”. Kelly, P., & Ramananeds, A. (Eds.). Dramaturgy, Diversity, Representation and Inclusion: Case Studies from the Field. New York: Routledge; NBC Universal All-Star Teacher Award. 2018: CTEIG Classroom Innovation Grant–21st C State-of-the-Art Classroom; California Arts Council Artist in the Schools Grant. 2017 – 2019: OUSD Externship at CalShakes. 2017: American High School Theatre Festival – Professional Drama Performance at Festival Fringe, Edinburgh, Scotland. 2015: District Leadership Award. 2012: TED-Ed Speaker/Storyteller. 2007: U.S. Department of State Speaker & Special Grant Tour (Suriname, Trinidad, Guyana). 2005: Excellence in Leadership, Alameda County Arts Initiative.

Kisasi Brooks

teaches American Government and Economics to Seniors and World History to Sophomores. He is a native of Oakland, California and an alumni of Skyline High School. Kisasi comes from a strong background of working on progressive policy and social equity issues both in the Bay Area and in New York City. He enjoys outdoor sports, spending time with his family and cheering for his favorite Oakland sports teams: the A’s, Raiders and Warriors.

Degrees & Certificates:

Bachelor of Arts, American Studies, U.C. Santa Cruz. Teaching Credential, Cal State East Bay.

Amy Burns

was born on US army base in Germany. She lived back East in various states and also attended some school in West Oakland (Cole Elementary). She worked her way through UC Berkeley and graduated with a BA in history. She taught English in South Korea and explored the Asian continent. She has been teaching wonderful students at Skyline since 1998.

Degrees & Certificates:

BA History UC Berkeley, Administration Credential CalState EastBay, Teaching Credentials in Multiple Subjects, Social Science, and Exceptional NeedsMs. Burns was born on US army base in Germany. She lived back East in various states and also attended some school in West Oakland (Cole Elementary). She worked her way through UC Berkeley and graduated with a BA in history. She taught English in South Korea and explored the Asian continent. She has been teaching wonderful students at Skyline since 1998.

Conor Carroll

is from Sebastopol, CA, which is about an hour north of here, in Sonoma County. When he was in high school, my favorite class was physics; he loved doing all the hands on labs and just figuring out how the world worked. Later in college at UC Berkeley, he discovered that in addition to physics, he enjoyed teaching. Particularly, he enjoyed helping young people succeed, and hopefully inspiring some to pursue a degree in science, technology, engineering or math. He loves to read, his house is filled with plants (his two favorite days of the year are the spring and fall Botanical Garden sale at UCB), and he is addicted to watching RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Degrees & Certificates:

Bachelor of Arts, Physics with a Minor in Science and Math Education; California Teaching Credential

Shanti Elliott

(coming soon)

Degrees & Certificates:

(coming soon)

Matt Donahue

is from Lowell, MA and has been living in the Bay for less than a year. He loves music, basketball and being in nature. This is his second year at Skyline and he is the Intensive Counseling Enriched case manager in the Special Education Department. He teaches English and Study Skills. He teaches because he believes education is a means to gain personal freedom in your life. Education gives you the tools to express yourself as an individual.

Degrees & Certificates:

Bachelors Degree in History and a Masters in Social Studies Education

Kristina Garrett

hails from the small town of El Dorado Hills, California, and has wanted to be a teacher since she was seven years old. Despite not receiving her Hogwarts letter at 11 years old, she never lost her love of the creative unknown, and was rewarded in her Junior year of high school when she discovered her passion of Theatre Arts. Since 16, she has worked in the field of Technical Theatre, specializing in Scenic Painting and Sound Design. She has worked in theatre all over the bay area, honing her skills in all the fields she can, hoping to become a “Master of All Trades.” When first deciding how to achieve her dreams of teaching young adults, she found her passion through the written and spoken word (not to mention loving to read), and that along with her passion for plays, found her career role in teaching English, then eventually Technical Theatre elective. (What better combination for a passionate fan of Shakespeare?) In her free time she enjoys reading all the books she can (while also repeatedly re-reading Harry Potter), drawing, practicing calligraphy, listening to musicals, and playing adventure video games. She hopes that through her English and Technical Theatre classes she can inspire young people, as she was in high school, to pursue their passions and talents. She hopes to help every person she has the pleasure to teach in her career find their “role” in life.

Degrees & Certificates:

San Francisco State University, Class of 2017: BA in English Education, BA in Drama (Technical Emphasis) || San Francisco State University, Graduate College of Education, Class of 2018: Single Subject English Credential || CTE Credential, 2019: Arts, Media, Entertainment 2019

Adam Green

Oakland native and Skyline Alum (’11), Mr. Green rejoined his Titan family in 2018. In addition to a robust teaching schedule publicly and privately, Mr. Green also maintains an active and eclectic performing schedule with groups such as the Folsom Lake Symphony, Current Personae, Steven Green and the Lifeline, and a host of other recording and musical projects throughout the Bay Area, Sacramento, and Central Valley Regions.

Degree & Certificates:

Bachelor of Arts, Viola, University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music; Bachelor of Arts, Voice, University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music

Courtney Gumora

(coming soon)

Degrees & Certificates:

Dawn James

grew up in Berkeley California, graduating from Berkeley High School in 1979. She began her teaching career at El Cerrito High School in 1989 and joined the Skyline High School faculty as Artistic Director of Dance in 1992, where she teaches Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced Dance. In 1996 she joined Nuba Dance Theatre under the direction of Ms. Evelyn Thomas where she served as Principal Dancer and Rehearsal Director through 2002. Ms. James has also served on the faculty of Peralta Community Colleges since 2009 where she teaches Aerobics and Strength Training. She is an active member in her church in Tracy California where she works with young children in the Praise Dance Ministry. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, reading and working on all types of puzzles. She absolutely adores animals and has a huge German Shepherd that she loves dearly.

Degrees & Certificates:

Bachelor of Arts, Physical Education, San Francisco State University; Master of Arts, Educational Leadership, National University, National Board Certification in Art

Rachel Kantor

Originally hailing from a farm in rural PA, Ms. Kantor grew up riding horses, staying up late drawing and listening to punk music. She moved to Oakland right after graduating from art school in 2011. She currently works at her dream job teaching Intro to Visual and Commercial Art (10th grade CTE & General Ed) and Illustration (11th grade CTE & Advanced General Ed) at Skyline High School. During the summer, she also oversees the VPA Pathways student internship program. When not teaching, shes rock climbing, skiing, reading comics, going to concerts, drawing or laying on the couch with her cats.

Degrees & Certificates:

Bachelor of Fine Art, Illustration, University of the Arts; Art Credential, Mills College; Career and Technical Education Credential: Arts, Media & Entertainment, University of California, Berkeley

Brandi Nelson

grew up in a rural town among the Adirondack Mountains of Northern New York on Lake Champlain. She moved to California seven years ago, and she now resides in San Leandro next to a ridiculously tall tree. She enjoys being out in nature, traveling, reading, dancing and spending time with friends, family, students and cats. She teaches English classes, and she currently teaches sophomores and juniors. She loves working with young adults because they never cease to amaze, inspire and bring her the serum of youth: kindness and joy.

Degrees & Certificates:

Bachelor of Arts, Adolescent Education Concentration in English, Plattsburgh State University; Master of Arts, English, Bread Loaf School of English Middlebury College

Carla Oden

is a Graphic Design/Digital Photography Instructor, with CTE Career Technical Education Certification. Her experience and qualifications include Architecture Graphic Technology Academy Director, Skyline High School, Special Ed. Instructor and Special Ed. Department Chair Castlemont High School. She has professional experience includes Columbia University School of Medicine, Residency Program, Harlem Hospital NYC, Medical Illustrator, Communications Graphics Supervisor, University of Miami School of Medicine, Medical Illustrator, and Medical Graphics Stanford University.

Oden once used a barn as an art studio located Mendocino County to complete work for the San Francisco Art Commission Artist in Residency. She was also the featured Artist for Essence Magazine African American Women on Tour exhibiting Micrographic paintings of the AIDS Virus. She is a member of Silicon Valley Chapter Special Interest Group for Computer Graphics.

Degrees & Certificates:

As a Scholarship recipient at CCAC California College of the Arts, Oden Majored in Graphic Design. Oden’s Internships included San Francisco City Hall and The Museum of Modern Art.

Oden earned a Masters Degree in Special Ed at San Francisco State while teaching Special Ed for OUSD.

Dylan Ohara

While originally from Vacaville, CA, Mr. Ohara has spent the past 10 years in the Greater Bay Area. As a former instructional manager and counseling intern for Oakland Unified, he’s accumulated years of experience supporting students and their families in various capacities. As a music and theatre enthusiast, Mr. Ohara is proud to support Skyline’s Visual and Performing Arts Pathway.

Degrees & Certificates:

Bachelor of Arts, Liberal Studies, concentration Education, San Francisco State University; Master of Arts, Counseling Psychology, concentrations School Counseling and Professional Clinical Counseling, University of San Francisco

Ana Ponce

teaches Art 1. She has a degree in Graphic Design and studied photography as an undergraduate. Besides artmaking, Ana is also a performing artist in Ethnic Dance focusing on Latin American dance.

Degrees & Certificates:

BA Graphic Design SFSU , BCLAD Bilingual Certification

Genesis Rubin

(coming soon)

Degrees & Certificates:

(coming soon)

Donna Salonga

is the ceramics teacher and is in her fourth year. She lives in San Francisco and commutes everyday to work. She rock climbs both indoors and outdoors. As well as loves camping, although she is new to it.

Degrees & Certificates:

Bachelor of Arts, Art Education

Rachel Simon-Bryant

As an O.U.S.D Special Education teacher, former School Counselor and O.U.S.D parent, Mr. Simon-Bryant has worked with community groups such as Local Control Accountability Plan (L.C.A.P), School Site Team (SST) and Special Ed. Parent Community Members, and have gained real-world experiences. Her experiences with teaching and counseling outside of the DC Metropolitan area also contributes and broadens her knowledge of student’s needs. Her training, education, and experience in teaching and counseling have provided her with a strong background in I.E.P. services, individual and group therapy. She is adept at assessment, intervention treatments, counseling and therapy of youths and adolescents, and have experience with mentally, emotionally, and physically disabled students. She has worked in a wide variety of setting and addressed crisis situation leading programs such as Positive Behavior Intervention & Supports (P.B.I.S) and Restorative Justice. She diligently works on increasing the graduation rate for high school students. Her background has included teaching and counseling in cases of academic, emotional crisis, substance abuse, sexual harassment, learning disabilities, child development, anxiety, stress, and depression. She coordinate I.E.P. teams, dedicated and student-focused teaching professional who is committed to providing a well-balanced supportive and engaging learning environment for all students. A Special Education Specialist and experienced Counselor, that strives to ensure that every student’s learning style and emotional needs are addressed. Hardworking and a trusted educator who strives to collaborate with all members of the school community. She enjoys gardening, hiking, biking and drawing. Also, she shows a passion for learning new things and acquiring immense knowledge. Someone who questions everything, yet consistently looks for answers. She listens to various genres of music such as world music, rap, country and jazz.

Degrees & Certificates:

Bachelor of Science, Special Education, University of Central Oklahoma; Masters of Education, School and Agency Counseling, George Mason University; Credential, Education, San Francisco State University; Pupil Personnel Counseling Credential, Specialist Instruction Credential in Special Education, Education Specialist, Resource Specialist, Multiple Subject, Single Subject Matter English, CLAD and Autism Certification.

Jamie Treacy

s an Oakland, California-based visual artist and art educator. He received his BFA at the University of Michigan and his MFA from CCA (both degrees in painting and drawing). He also holds a Single Subject Visual Art credential and a Career Technical Education credential in Arts, Media and Entertainment. Jamie’s artwork is imbued with themes of eco-justice, speculative fiction and exo-biology. He creates bodies of work in acrylic painting, drawing and mixed media cut paper. His philosophy as an art educator is that all youth deserve access to a high-quality free arts education, and that creative inquiry is fundamental to solving the most pressing problems of our future. Jamie is the recipient of the William H. Lewis Watercolor award and an Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation fellowship. Jamie’s work has been exhibited in the California Bay Area, Canada, Mexico and Japan. He currently serves as the Director of the Visual and Performing Arts Pathway at Skyline High School in Oakland.

Degrees & Certificates:

Bachelor of Fine Art, Painting and Drawing, University of Michigan; Master of Fine Art, Painting and Drawing, California College of the Arts; Visual Art and Career Technical Education (CTE) in Arts, Media, Entertainment Certification; Director of the Visual and Performing Arts Pathway