Kirk Staff

Experienced Staff

Our experienced, well-qualified staff provide a high quality of instruction and positive relationships with both students and teachers.

All of our lead classroom and specialist teachers hold credentials or degrees appropriate for their grade levels and subject areas. Ongoing staff development ensures that we are in step with the most up-to-date education research.

Our teaching and administrative staff maintain membership in a variety of education associations, including National Education Association and CAEYC among others.

Enrichment Staff

Elementary / Preschool Art: Amy Rauer
Elementary Music: Sarah Salazar
Elementary P.E.:
Elementary Yoga: Liz Hoffman
Elementary Science: Nicole Turner
Technology: Christa Nahhas
Elementary / Preschool Spanish: Michelle Gil
School Librarian: Gretchen Becherer Preschool Computers: Christa Nahhas
Reading Readiness: Lucille Lundgren
Preschool Science: Nicole Turner
Preschool Music: Sarah Salazar

Extended Day Staff

Arpi Huverserian (A.M.)
Diane Roe (A.M.)
Katie Kobrossi (P.M.)
Donna Manring (A.M. / P.M.)
Doreen Martinez (P.M.)
Zinnia Rogue
Ana Murguia
Nikki Giles
Blake Hixson

Administrative Staff

Administrative Director: Hillary Felder
Director, Preschool: Becky Jenkins
Director, Tot Center: Cheryl Sheaffer

School Office

Administrative Assistant: Heather Kayne
School Billing: Lorena Gonzalez
Accounting/Finance Manager: Dalya Aviv
Facilities: Robert Jolly


President: Lisa Tamburrino
Vice President: Erin Kennison
Secretary: Andrea Sisti
Treasuerer: Adina Shetty
Passive Income Coordinator: Shira Brill
Outside Fundraising Coordinator: Jacqueline James

Christa Nahhas

With over 13 years of experience in the IT industry, I work closely with small businesses to provide a wide range of technology solutions. As a trainer and consultant, I guide educators, students and professionals in the proper use of technology as a safe, effective yet creative tool in the classroom and office. I developed Braingears, a new educational initiative from RM Consulting, to meet the ever growing demands of technology in the the 21st century classroom. After watching my son, Jack, spend 8 wonderful years at Kirk, I knew I had to be involved. The kids, the staff, the families… everyone drew me in and I just couldn’t leave. I LOVE KIRK! Additionally, I am the CFO and technical advisor for Habit Forming Films, LLC., an independent multimedia production company. Also, I serve on the board of the nonprofit organization, Girls in Power (, where I work with teens in the culinary and technology fields. In my spare time, I like to cater small parties and play basketball with Jack.

Donna Manring

My teaching credential is from Pierce College. I have taught Pre-K for 30 years, and am now also in charge of the extended day program at Kirk. Besides teaching and loving the children, my fun for celebrating the holidays in costume and spirit is known school wide.

Diane Roe

I grew up in the San Fernando Valley, and attended Pierce College for my Child Development courses. I have taught preschool at Kirk for 19 years, and over the years have assisted in the library and taught computers to several age groups. I love teaching computers and currently teach to pre-k and kindergarten.

Becky Jenkins

I am the Director of the preschool as well as a pre-k classroom teacher. I grew up in the San Fernando Valley. I have an AA degree in Child Development and am continuing my education. Teaching children was a goal of mine since I was young. It has been one of my greatest pleasures to be able to share with the lives of so many children through the years.

Arpi Huverserian

I was born in Istanbul where I attended French High School and University. Our honeymoon was in Los Angeles, and we decided to stay and I continued my education here. I love children and I love to encourage their creativity through art. Kirk has been my caring second family, celebrating the good times, and supporting me through challenging times. I have a son and a daughter, and am honored to be a part of the Kirk family.

Diana Kirk

I graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in History and received my Multiple-Subject Teaching Credential and Education from Pepperdine University. I worked for many years in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District and took a few years off after the birth of my children. I started at Kirk as a perspective parent, got hired as a long-term substitute for second grade, and was then asked to continue on with the Kindergarten team. I feel so lucky to be a part of the Kirk community as a teacher as well as a parent. I love to travel and have enjoyed traveling to many parts of the world throughout my life.

Jo Saraie

I have the great pleasure of working at Kirk O’ valley for nearly fifteen years. I started at Kirk as a volunteer parent and was quickly drawn into the warm and nurturing environment. I loved the school so much that when my children graduated from Kirk (they are now twenty and twenty four years old) I went back to school to get my degree in Early Childhood Education. I have taught second and third grade curriculums; but by far, my favorite grade is where I am now, Kindergarten. I am currently a mentor teacher for Early Childhood students from Pierce College. I am originally from England, where I was an international flight attendant for over twelve years.

Pam Sellers

I graduated from Pepperdine University in 1992 with a B.A. in Sociology. After working for several years, I went to CSUN to pursue a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential which I completed in 1998. My employment at Kirk O’ the Valley began in January of 2003 as a substitute teacher. In the fall of that year I was hired as part of the Kindergarten team. I have been a teacher at Kirk ever since, working first in Kindergarten and now in second grade. I feel fortunate to be a part of such a dedicated and caring educational community.

Paul Bernstein

I earned my B.A. in Liberal Studies/Multiple Subjects in 1991 from Humboldt State University and my Multiple Subjects Clear Credential at National University in 1994. Since then, I have taught general curricula in every grade from pre-K through 6th. I am Orff-Schulwerk certified and have created and implemented music programs at four different schools. I am thrilled to be at Kirk, teaching the 3rd grade class – my favorite grade of all!

Debbie Swartz

I am a Kirk O’ the Valley parent and teacher. Both of my children attended Kirk. In fact, my daughter was a member of the first graduating class. I taught at Kirk for 10 years as part of a teaching team with Susan Thompson in both 1st and 2nd grades. Additionally, I taught elementary science workshops and elementary music/Spanish for a time.
I also taught for seven years at Ivy Academia Entrepreneurial Charter School (6th, 8th, and 11th grades). While at Ivy, I had full-time teaching duties as well as responsibilities attendant to being department chair, grade level leader, and curriculum council member.
I hold a California multiple subject credential for grades K-8 and a California single subject credential in English for grades K-12. In addition, I earned a Master of Science in Brain-Based Teaching/Learning in 2011.
On a personal note, I love everything to do with language, including reading, crossword puzzles, puns, and writing. I enjoy cooking (I am a foodie!) and traveling, and I am a passionate advocate for the empowerment of women on local and global levels.

Natasha Levy

Natasha Levy, better known as Miss Jo’s daughter, is our 4th and 5th grade aide. Natasha is a UCLA graduate, holding a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations and a distribution in American Politics and Political Theory. Natasha has taken many courses in Speech Pathology and Language Development, and holds a Certification in TESOL, which allows her to teach English internationally. Natasha was a student here herself and has the honor of being a member of the first 5th grade graduating class. Natasha has tutored many of Kirk’s students from kindergarten through fifth grade, and continues to tutor Kirk students that are now in middle school and high school. She also spent a year at Kirk as a one-on-one aide, spending the entire year in Amanda Vanek’s classroom. We are excited to have her join Mrs. Swartz and Mrs. Vanek.

Amanda Vanek

I grew up in the San Fernando Valley. I attended California State University Northridge and graduated with a degree in Child Development. I have a multiple subject credential and experience in both elementary and secondary classrooms. I love teaching 5th grade and preparing students for middle school.

Kenneth Wright

My name is Kenneth Wright, better known as ”Coach Ken”. I am the PE teacher at Kirk O’ The Valley. I was born and raised on the East Coast in Washington, D.C. and moved to California in 2006.
I’ve worked with youth, and youth organizations across the country, as a sports coach, mentor, and teacher for more than 20 years.
In 2010 I formed “OFF THE BENCH YOUTH SPORTS”, an organization dedicated to building strong character in our youth through fun sports, games, and activities.
I really enjoy my work with young people. I think it’s important to engage them with enthusiasm, energy, and excitement!!!
The Physical Education & Play (PEP) curriculum that we will be teaching at Kirk integrates exercise and physical fitness with fun sports, games, and activities to achieve a proficient level of physical skills, knowledge, and abilities for students in Kinder-5th grade.
The PEP program will provide the students with a quality physical education experience that will have a significant and positive impact on them, their personal growth, their academics, and I hope their life skills.
• Students will be able to identify individual muscles and muscle groups (deltoids…biceps…triceps…abdominals…heart…pectorals…quadriceps…hamstrings…calf muscles etc…)
• Students will attain a basic knowledge of nutrition and healthy living.
• Students will learn hand-eye coordination and develop psychomotor and gross motor skills (running, jumping, skipping, hopping, etc.).
• Students will participate in FUN games, sports, and activities designed to promote good sportsmanship, teamwork, and fairness in competition.
• I hope to build self-confidence, motivate, and encourage participation at every grade level.
I am excited and looking forward to the new school year, I know you are too!

Hillary Felder

Amy Rauer

My name is Amy Rauer and I teach art to the little ones at the Tot Center all the way through Elementary to 5th Grade. I am a working artist with a BFA degree focusing in Illustration and a minor in Ceramics as well as a BA degree in Graphic Design. The opportunity to teach children fell into my lap a few years ago and I couldn’t be happier. I believe every child truly is an artist and want to inspire them to explore the art world that surrounds them! We use all kinds of materials in my classes from pencil and markers to clay and fabrics. The children have the freedom to express themselves in a unique way all while picking up new skills and reinforcing others. The smiles I see on the children’s faces each day tells me I am in the right place. Kirk is a true family!

Joan Montez

Joan Montez has joined Kirk to teach kindergarten through 5th grade music. Joan is a renowned vocal coach in the San Fernando Valley for over 26 years. Many of her students are in television and film or have gone on to study in prestigious universities and conservatories. In addition to her vocal tutelage, she has been the Music Director for Golden Performing Arts in West Hills, for 9 years (27 shows). Joan has taught elementary music education at Heschel Day School, First Lutheran of Northridge, and Castlebay Elementary. Prior to teaching, Joan toured as featured vocalist and was the leader of her own ensemble, SilverStrings. She played jazz and classical flute and sang jazz, classical and pop songs in a myriad of venues. Joan is looking forward to bringing her talents and knowledge to the students at Kirk of the Valley. She will teach Music Theory- incorporating instruments, both pitched and non-pitched. In addition to theory and singing, she will be teaching the use of:
Glockenspiel – Grades 1 and 2
Recorder – Grades 3 and 4
Bells, recorder, ukulele and barred instruments – Grade 5

Nicole Turner

Nicole Turner teaches science to Tot Center children through 5th graders at Kirk. She earned her Bachelors in Biology/Zoology at San Diego State University and then went on finish with their credential program to become a science teacher. She worked at LA Center for Enriched studies and Panorama High, both schools in the LAUSD. She taught high school Biology, AP Biology and Ecology. She is very excited to join the Kirk Family as she has long time connections to both the school and the church. Not only is she a preschool alumni but her Grandmother used to be a preschool teacher as well. She has also attended the Kirk O’ The Valley Presbyterian Church since she was a baby. Nicole has three children that attended Kirk and her youngest, Lily, is in preschool.

Michelle Gil

My name is Michelle Gil and I am the Spanish teacher at Kirk for Tot Center through 5th grade.. I am originally from the Dominican Republic, and was raised on the island until the age of 10. I started studying Ballet at the age of 6, and was introduced to Jazz and Tap shortly thereafter at the tender age of 9 years old. I have been bilingual my entire life, and have taught Spanish for 25 years. I also teach Dance (Latin, Jazz , Salsa, Tango, Musical Theatre), Theatre, Music and Cooking to children ages 3-14. My specialty is preschool and elementary aged children. I incorporate music, puppetry and dance when teaching the youngest of students.

This year we are embarking on a cultural journey together as your child learns more about other languages and cultures around the globe. The Spanish program at Kirk of the Valley has some exciting new changes. I am teaching Spanish language using; Spanish conversation, culture, dance, cooking, games, and theater. This unique program of my design helps children learn the language while engaging in a new activity. We will reveal our efforts at a special performance in the Winter Concert and again in the Spring.

Gretchen Becherer

My name is Gretchen Becherer, and I’ve been the librarian at Kirk O’ The Valley School since 2007. I’m a parent to Jackson, an alumnus of Kirk, and Jane, a current fifth grader here, so I’ve gotten to know a lot about the Kirk Library collection from personal experience. I make it a habit to keep up on the latest books and series as I hone my skills from fairy to folk-tales while pursuing my MLIS at San Jose State University.

I gear my lesson plans to what the various preschool and elementary classes are studying throughout the year, starting this Fall as we highlight books about different cities, states and countries that our students may have visited for their Summer break, as well as maps of California National Parks. We work on atlas, encyclopedia and dictionary activities, in addition to reading the works of numerous children’s books throughout the year to celebrate author birthdays. We always make an effort to celebrate National Poetry Month, create book-marks, and even make book jackets for picture books that may have lost theirs. We will celebrate fun literary holidays like international Hobbit Day, and listen to various bird-calls as we take a closer look at our non-fiction pure-science collection while examining all the library has to offer.

Lucille Lundgren

I am a Jersey gal, born an hour from New York. After nine years, the Navy took my dad to Chicago. There I was married before moving to California. I have been in the childcare industry for 45 years, 36 of them at Kirk. I teach Reading Readiness with Pre-K children on a one to one basis. I use interesting and challenging games getting them ready to read. Also, I look for any potential problems; such as, speech, visual, emotional or behavioral problems. It is very rewarding to me to see each child grow as they experience another stage in life.

Sarah Salazar

Sarah Salazar is excited to be teaching music to children of the preschool ages. She enjoys introducing children to the wonders and joys of music. She was Miss Tustin 2010 and won the Preliminary talent award at Miss California 2010. She has had the opportunity to perform as a soloist around the world. Her favorites include Carnegie Hall in New York City, the Valley Performing Arts Center in Northridge, and Salzburg, Austria. She holds a Bachelors of Music from California State University in Vocal Arts and is currently a candidate for her Masters in Music. She enjoys sharing her passion for music with others, especially with children. She has worked in a preschool setting for over 6 years and has taught preschool music for two. She is excited to share her knowledge and skill set with the children at Kirk.

Jocelyne Lucol

I was born in France but raised on the beautiful Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. At age 15 I moved back to France to pursue my dream of becoming a fashion designer. I had always had a passion for fitness and health and decided to make a career change and trained to become a physical trainer. I began working in several health clubs in Paris.

In 2007 I left my native France and moved to the United States. I continued my education in the U.S. and became a certified physical trainer specializing in strength and conditioning training.
I am certified to work with any age group at any fitness level.

I am also a natural bodybuilder competitor. I have been competing since 2013 and won first place in my category in 2015. I have an athletic mentality with a love for discipline, focus, and dedication.
Now, as the Kirk PE teacher, I am looking forward to teaching these attributes to the children. I believe these characteristics will help them achieve their own goals here at Kirk and later on in life.