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  Sheryl Ahrens Staff
  Gabriela Alvarez (925) 377-2091 Counselor
  Ms. K. Anderson (925) 377-4239 ELA Teacher
  Mr. Benton Teacher
  Mr. Blalock (925) 377-4250 Science Teacher
  Julie Carlson Library Media Specialist
  Catherine Cespedes (925) 377-2092 Learning Center Teacher
  Ms. Contreras (925) 377-4246 Spanish Teacher
  Ms. Cortright (925) 377-4238 Core Teacher
  Ms. Detter (925) 289-8035 ELA Teacher
  Olivia Flint (925) 255-5476 School Psychologist
  Ms. Gavello (925) 377-4247 French Teacher
  Mr. Gilbert (925) 377-2092 Learning Center Teacher
  Mr. Gruen (925) 376-8743 PE Teacher
  Mrs. Gruen (925) 377-4241 Core Teacher
  Annette Herbert (925) 377-4223 Student Support
  Genevieve Huttman Learning Center Teacher
  Mr. Kamian (925) 377-4228 Math Teacher
  Katy Keough Staff
  Mrs. Lezak (925) 377-4241 Science Teacher
  Ms. Lichti (925) 377-4245 ELA Teacher
  Mr. Lorie (925) 377-4233 Math Teacher
  Mrs. Marin Math Teacher
  Mrs. McDevitt (925) 377-4226 Social Studies Teacher
  Mrs. Navarro (925) 376-8743 PE Teacher
  Leann Nixdorff Teacher
  Noriko O'Neal Staff
  Alisa Oliver (925) 376-7206 Administrative Assistant
  Marie Olson Speech/Language
  Mike Plant (925) 376-7206 Principal
  Margaret Rosso (925) 376-7206 Administrative Assistant
  Mrs. Shimer (925) 377-4236 Math Teacher
  Mrs. Standring (925) 377-4248 Science Teacher
  Ms. Steelman (925) 377-4234 Math Teacher
  Robert Todd Music Teacher
  Ms. Tondi (925) 377-4249 Science Teacher
  Virginia Vu (925) 377-4225 ELL Teacher
  Ms. Warmboe Social Studies Teacher
  Mr. Wayne (925) 377-4230 ELA Teacher
  Ms. Wire Learning Center Teacher




Mrs. Ahrens is a Learning Center Assistant for 6th/7th/8th grade at JM. She grew up in Moraga and attended JM and Campolindo High School. She has undergraduate degrees in English Literature and Spanish Language and Literature from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Mrs. Ahrens also has a Master’s Degree from San Francisco State University in Broadcast Journalism. Prior to having children, Mrs. Ahrens worked at KGO-TV and in Silicon Valley in the high tech public relations industry.  Mrs. Ahrens has been working for the Moraga School District in Special Education for the past 6 years. She enjoys working with children, traveling with her family and watching her kids sporting events.  


Gabriela Alvarez is our school counselor at J.M. Gaby received her teaching credential and masters degree in Education at Stanford University  and served as an intern Spanish teacher for 1 year at James Lick H.S. She was a Spanish and ELL teacher for 3 years at Chatsworth H.S. and a Spanish and Enrollment Coordinator for 1 year at Leadership Public Schools. She later obtained her a masters degree in Counseling at San Francisco State University and was a counseling intern at LPS and Presidio M.S. where she later became the 8th grade counselor. She will help run various programs here at J.M. including the WEB team, SSA, conducting lunch and after school groups, 504 meetings and providing individual academic and emotional support to students who are in need.  For fun Gaby enjoys swimming, going camping and snow boarding in Tahoe and spending time with her family especially her two twin boys.




 Julie is thrilled to be working at JM as the library media specialist.  She's lived in Moraga for over 20 years and has two sons in college.  Julie has a B.A. in English from UCLA, and an MBA from Santa Clara University.  After college, she taught high school English for the Peace Corps for two years.  She also worked as a investment analyst for over a decade.  In her spare time, she loves to write, garden, and go for walks with her two beagles. 


This is my tenth year as a teacher.  My teaching experience has been primarily in the Oakland Unified School District, where I taught multiple subjects in grades 3 through 5, 7th grade English, and specialized reading instruction. I live in Walnut Creek with my husband and have two college-aged daughters, as well as three cats and a dog. I am an avid reader and movie-goer, and a novice horse rider.


Olivia is excited to be the School Psychologist at Joaquin Moraga. This is her 16th year of working in schools and with children. She taught in Osaka, Japan, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Mill Valley.  She has experience doing counseling and psych-educational assessment in schools in Berkeley, San Leandro, and San Ramon. Olivia has worked with children between the ages of two and twenty, and most recently, was a Transitions Counselor at Orion Academy in Moraga. She is passionate about disability rights and making sure that all children are supported and welcomed at school. She loves collaborating with teachers and parents to this end. 

Olivia has a BA in English Literature and Psychology from Smith College, an MS Ed in Elementary Education from the University of Pennsylvania, and is currently completing her PhD in School Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. 

Olivia lives in Berkeley with her husband and son. She loves reading mysteries and adventure novels, watching comedies, and singing silly songs with her toddler (and anyone else, really). 


Jerry Gruen teaches Physical Education at JM, and  has led the eighth graders of Joaquin Moraga to Washington D.C. since 1996.  Before coming to Moraga, he taught in the West Contra Costa Unified School District and at Fairmont Private School in Anaheim.  Mr. Gruen received both his Bachelor’s Degree, in Kinesiology, and his Master’s Degree, in Applied Physiology, from Long Beach State University.  His teaching credential was earned at Chapman University.

He enjoys working with his wife, Lisa Gruen, who is a sixth grade Core teacher at JM.  In his free time, Mr. Gruen enjoys coaching, reading, running, and exploring with his family.


Lisa Gruen is a Sixth grade Core teacher at Joaquin Moraga. She is happily married to one of JM’s Physical Education teachers and mother of two sons.  She is an energetic, artistic, and gentle Hawaii-raised woman who is a perfect example that the Aloha spirit can live outside the islands. She focuses on the whole child in her classroom enjoys partnering with parents to nurture her students.

Lisa attended Marymount College and Saint Mary’s College where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Developmental Psychology and Pre-school-8th grade Multiple Subject Teaching Credential.  She has taught first second and sixth grades. In her free time, Mrs.Gruen enjoys nature, photography, travel, volunteerism, and cooking. As long as her family is with her, Mrs.Gruen is happy.


Genevieve Huttman is a Bay Area native and has been teaching at Moraga for three years. She received her Bachelor’s degree at DePaul University in Chicago and her Education Specialist credential at St.Mary’s. In her free time she enjoys bike rides, reading, art, and spending time by the water. 


Aaron Jorgensen is the Assistant Principal at Joaquin Moraga.  Prior to JM, Aaron was an educational leader and district administrator in the Berkeley Unified School District.  He also served as a middle school math lead teacher in Berkeley.  He attended UC Berkeley for his undergraduate degree in Economics and graduate degree in Educational Leadership.  Go Bears!  

He began his teaching career in Oregon prior to returning to the Bay Area.  He loves working with intermediate school students and being a part of this critical time in their life and looks forward to working with the Joaquin Moraga staff, students, and families. In his spare time he enjoys running, baking, cooking, and experiencing new outdoor activities with his family.  He lives in El Sobrante with his wife, Lindsey, and their two sons.



Mr. Kamian absolutely loves teaching math at JM! He has been teaching math at JM since the year 2000. Mr. Kamian loves the fun fact that he and JM were both born in 1967. Passionate about student learning, he firmly believes that every student can be successful in math with patience, effort, persistence, and organization. Mr. Kamian employs a wide variety of teaching methods to meet the educational needs of a vast array of learning styles and abilities. In their spare time, Mr. Kamian and his wife enjoy travel, sports, cooking, and spending time with family and friends. 


Jessica McDevitt has  been teaching history at JM since 2014. Prior to teaching at JM, she taught history and economics in private Bay Area high schools and did her student teaching in the International Baccalaureate program at Berkeley High. She earned her masters in American history and her Single Subject Teaching Credential at San Francisco State University and majored in English and history at the Claremont Colleges in Southern California (Pitzer). Ms. McDevitt enjoys teaching students how to improve their reading comprehension and how to think, write and present clearly. Her classes explore connections between the history they are studying and current events. She has two teens at home, so it’s non-stop adolescent exposure for her right now! She loves to travel and enjoy water activities, gardening, tennis and piano. 


Mrs. Muldoon is a Canadian who has made her way to California and loves the weather.  Mrs. Muldoon has a goal to create meaningful connections with all of the students she interacts with.  She has worked at both Rheem and JM in the Moraga School District.  In her spare time, you can find Mrs. Muldoon and her husband cheering on their children at various sporting events and theater performances.  You may also spot her walking around town with her dog Moose.  Mrs. Muldoon is also an avid reader who loves discussing all things books.


Leann Nixdorff has enjoyed teaching in Moraga for many years.  After spending 21 years at Camino Pablo in 3rd, 4th and 5th grades, this will be her 5th year teaching 6th grade core at JM.  Helping students develop and cultivate a love of learning is a passion for Leann.  In her spare time, she loves spending time with her family including her twin 8th graders, rooting for the Oakland As, and taking advantage of living in the beautiful bay area.


Marie is a speech therapist at JM and LP. She holds a Masters in Journalism and Mass Communication from NYU and a Masters in Communicative Sciences and Disorders from Cal State East Bay.  Before becoming a speech therapist, she worked as a teacher and a journalist and editor in New York and the Bay Area, and she became certified as a yoga instructor. When her oldest child was born with congenital deafness, she decided to change careers and start helping children and adults with communication impairments. She lives in Orinda with her husband, their 3 children ages 11, 9 and 2, and a rather interesting cat.  In her spare time, she likes to cook, hike, read, listen to music and go to her kids' soccer games.

Debbie Standring



Mrs. Standring teaches 6th grade and 7th grade Science at JM.  Mrs. Standring attended the University of California, Davis and majored in Biological Sciences. She grew up in Walnut Creek and went to high school in Oregon. Mrs. Standring lives in Moraga with her husband, Eric. They have three children. In her spare time, Mrs. Standring watches lots of volleyball, as well as other sports, she enjoys her garden and traveling. She loves all her great JM students!





Michaela Tondi has been a science teacher at JM for three years.  After completing her undergraduate degree in Marine Biology from UC Santa Cruz, she continued there for another year to earn her Masters in Science Education. She enjoys learning and teaching about marine ecosystems and conservation biology. Ms.Tondi lives in Berkeley and loves swimming, yoga, hiking and visiting her family in San Diego.



Kerry Warmboe has always had a passion for history; she is delighted to be able to teach both 7th grade World History and 8th grade US History at JM. Kerry grew up on the Central Coast. She received her BA from UC Santa Cruz. Go banana slugs! Then earned her teaching credential at Sonoma State University.  In her free time she enjoys traveling, reading, working on sewing projects, and of course watching Giants games.




Mr. Benton has enjoyed learning about history since he was in the fourth grade.  He has traveled throughout the United States and to different countries in Asia, Africa, and South America to research historical sites and learn more about different cultures.  Mr. Benton has a B.A. in Communications and three credentials in History, English, and Multiple Subjects.   He is proud and honored to be a member of the JM community.  Mr. Benton is passionate about sharing his love of history with his students in an informative and entertaining way that meets the needs of 21st century learners.  In his spare time, he enjoys reading, writing, exercising, and watching historical documentaries.


Mr. Blalock has been teaching at JMIS since 2011. He currently teaches Earth Science, Computer Science, and Drama. After attending Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University and receiving his BA in Anthropology from San Francisco State University in 2005, he went on to get his teaching credential in science with a focus on the geosciences from SFSU in 2010.

Teaching our young ones the ability to think critically in an increasingly technological world is an imperative of Mr. Blalock’s approach to teaching science. Only by having an educated and discerning citizenry will we be able to choose the right applications of scientific knowledge and ultimately create a more sustainable and just society.

He is proud to have a ten year old son at Cragmont Elementary in Berkeley. His interests include: reading, music, hiking, camping, and nature.


 Catherine Cespedes is a New Yorker who has found her way from the city to sunny California! This is her 4th year of teaching, and 2nd year joining us at JM. Catherine received her Bachelor’s Degree in History from Baruch College and Masters in Special Education from Brooklyn College; both located in New York City. Catherine has co-taught 7th grade English, 8th grade Math, and is an 8th Grade Learning Center Teacher. In her free time Catherine enjoys playing volleyball, watching history documentaries, attempting puzzles that are way too hard, and camping. 






  Heather was born and raised in Oakland and currently resides in Concord with her husband and two children Ellie and Luke, ages 9 and 10.  She worked at an elementary school in Oakland through her college years at San Francisco State University, then took a long hiatus from education to utilize her Broadcast and Electronic Communication degree as a television director for KTVU news for nine years.  As a new mom, she opened a preschool from 2012-2016, thoroughly enjoying her work with kids, but missing her daily interactions with the outside and adult world. She returned for her Master’s degree in School Psychology & Marriage and Family Therapy so that she can continue meaningful work with children here in the Bay Area, graduating in 2020 at the heart of the pandemic.  Heather worked the past two years at a performing arts middle and high school, and is now thrilled to join MSD.  Outside of school, she loves running around to her kids' many sporting events, reading, eating all things Italian, Mexican and Indian, watching her favorite TV shows (some too junkie to admit) and traveling!


Moving back to the States from Singapore was a "re-entry" experience of epic proportion. Watching our children adjust to Moraga honed my compassion for students coping with all sorts of changes, and prepared me for my 20-year career as the District’s student support specialist.

I work under the supervision of the school psychologists at Camino Pablo, Los Perales and Rheem as the director of Kids’ Connection – our 28-year supportive play room program. I create and implement our kindergarten “Get-Along Gang” problem-solving program.

At JM I provide counseling support; assist with Safe School Ambassadors, WEB, lunch groups, and Peer Tutoring; meet with students in need of academic and emotional help, and support Student Success Team meetings.I am a member of the District’s Wellness Committee and its Student Safety Committee.



Welcome parents and students to my classroom.  I'm looking forward to teaching your child this year and meeting you as well.  First, some background on me. I have been a classroom teacher for 32 years. Twenty one of those years have been here in Moraga, the first 11 in Fairfield.  All 31 years have been teaching 7th and 8th grade English. In addition, I am now in my fourth year of teaching 6th Foods in the Wheel and also teaching the 7/8th Foods Elective Class.  My B.A. is in English, I have a teaching credential from Hayward State, and a masters degree in Humanities from San Francisco State. Second, why I do what I do. I love teaching! Whenever someone asks me what level I teach and I respond middle school, there is always one of two responses, "You're crazy." or "You're an angel."  I just smile. I think teaching middle school is fun, never the same experience twice. From the 6th graders who are getting their feet wet, to the 7th graders who are starting to be independent, to the 8th graders who need help bridging to high school, middle school provides an important learning experience for all.


Entering my 16th year of teaching (all at JM), my excitement levels are just as high as they were on my first day of teaching.  In those days, I had just completed my Master's degree and Teaching Credential at U.C. Berkeley.  Since that time I have worked hard to make math fun, engaging, and challenging.  I have also made a point to give students the opportunity to see other important aspects of life by coordinating field trips to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, a variety of theater shows in San Francisco, and multiple volunteer opportunities, from Glide Memorial Church to programs at Cambridge Elementary School.  I believe that a lot of learning can take place in a wide variety of places.  I look forward to another wonderful year!


Dawn Lezak has been teaching in the Moraga School District since 1991. She earned her B.A. at Mills College in Economics and German Studies, her Teaching Credential and Masters in Teacher Leadership at Saint Mary's College. She began her career teaching elementary school at Rheem, then moved to Joaquin Moraga to teach 6th grade Core and 6th grade Science. She currently is teaching 6th grade Science and the EARTH class. Her hobbies include gardening, hiking, swimming, skiing, traveling, and most of all learning from each day.



Christina Marin loves teaching math. She majored in math at the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!) and received her Masters in Teaching and Teaching Credential at the University of California, Santa Cruz. This is her second year teaching at JM, but her ninth year teaching math. She encourages students to take risks in math and work together to solve problems. She believes in a student centered classroom with discussion and students helping students. In her free time, she enjoys running, exercising, watching baseball and playing outside and going on walks with her two sons, her dog, Archie and her husband. 


This is Stacey Navarro’s fourth year teaching Physical Education. Prior to teaching at JM, Stacey taught in Oakland Unified. She has coached countless kids and young adults for over 20 years in many sports, with positions ranging from the Saint Mary's College Division I Volleyball team to youth camps in Europe and Southern California. Stacey was a professional athlete for 7 years, playing volleyball for teams throughout Europe and the Great Britain National Team. She played volleyball collegiately at Saint Mary’s College where her senior year team advanced to the Sweet 16. Stacey is passionate about living a healthy lifestyle and loves being home in the Bay Area where she can hike, run, cycle in boundless beautiful places. Stacey married Bryan Navarro, a fellow Gael, in March 2018. They love taking road trips, visiting Yosemite, and spending time with friends and family.





Mike Plant is the Principal of Joaquin Moraga Intermediate. After graduating from King's College, London, Mr Plant moved to California in 2000 and spent almost twenty years as a math teacher at Miramonte High School. After moving to administration, Mr Plant served as an Associate Principal at Acalanes High School for four years. Mr Plant's ethos is built around relentless positivity, clear communication and student-centeredness. As a leader, he strives to engender authentic relational trust which increases capacity and improves outcomes for all. He lives in Walnut Creek, with his wife Kristen, an outstanding teacher, and their two sons, Jackson and Connor.



Mary Ann Shimer, who teaches Math at JM, strives to foster a love of learning in her students.  After receiving her degree in Math/Applied Science (Engineering) at UCLA, Mary Ann designed data networks for AT&T.  Mary Ann obtained her teaching credential from Cal State East Bay and values the positive collaboration of JM teachers.   With three children who attended Camino Pablo, JM and Campolindo, Mary Ann appreciates the value placed on education in the community.  In her spare time, Mary Ann loves to garden, read, and spend time each summer at the beach in Maine.


Karlene Steelman is a fifteen year veteran math teacher at Joaquin Moraga.  Karlene has been a Moraga resident since the 8th grade and attended both Joaquin Moraga and Campolindo before going to the University of The Pacific to get her degree.  She is passionate about teaching and inspiring students to see the beauty in math. She also teaches the Magic of Electrons elective. In her spare time, when she is not busy with her four children, Karlene enjoys running, reading, and playing basketball.


Ben Wayne has been teaching 7th and 8th grade English since 2000.  He started his career with San Francisco Unified School District and has recently made the move to the East Bay.   He has a degree in literature from UC Santa Cruz and received his teaching credential from SFSU.  He enjoys the vitality of students in middle school--they are eager to learn and full of energy.  He loves teaching writing and encouraging students to become lifelong learners.  When he's not teaching, Ben enjoys spending time with his wife and three children.  In addition to being a teacher, Ben is a drummer and an avid fisherman.