Welcome New Faculty/Staff!

We are so pleased to introduce the newest members of the CEE faculty and staff to our community.
Briana Amezquita, Instructional & Auxiliary Support Teacher
Briana joins CEE following time working for Karate for All, where she worked directly with an occupational therapist to support children with special needs. She then became an ABA therapist working in an elementary school.

Nicolette Anderson, Instructional & Auxiliary Support Teacher
Nicolette started at CEE last spring, and recently completed her Masters degree in Education. She is also currently working towards completing her multiple-subject teaching credential. Nicolette has worked and volunteered in multiple school districts in Seattle, Washington, and near Glendora, California, doing student teaching, before- and after-school care, reading and other intervention instruction, and college readiness programs.

Christian Davis, Director of Student Placement
Christian is CEE’s new Director of Placement, bringing with him more than 10 years of experience within the independent school market of Los Angeles as a school admissions director and student outplacement director. Most recently, Christian served as the Director of Admission and Enrollment Management at Notre Dame Academy Schools of Los Angeles. He also had the distinction of serving on the steering committee as co-Chair for the Los Angeles Independent School Consortium (LAIS), and previously worked at Turning Point School. Christian is originally from New England.

Nikki De La Rosa, Instructional & Auxiliary Support Teacher
Nikki holds a BA in History from Portland State University in Oregon and is an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at Antioch University. She has several years of experience working with elementary and EC students, most recently as a Behavior Interventionist with the Institute for Applied Behavior Analysis.

Edda Fransdottir, Instructional & Auxiliary Support Teacher
Edda joins CEE after five years in research and evaluations at a legal non-profit, prior to which she earned her Masters degree in Criminal Justice. She also previously worked as a second grade teacher for Teach for America in Oakland, California, and is excited to be back working with children at The Center. Edda has a passion for music and opera, and speaks Icelandic, French, and English!

Jasmine Harleston ‘09,  Instructional & Auxiliary Support Teacher
Bio coming soon

Sonia Horn, In-House Floating Teacher
Sonia joins CEE full-time after some time serving as a substitute teacher at CEE, and following a long-term substitute teaching role in The Caring Place last year. Sonia has over 15 years of experience in early childhood education. She loves to develop learning games that introduce young students to the basic fundamentals of math and science, and has a passion for art. 

Danny Kirk, Innovation and Design Specialist
Danny has several years of experience teaching innovation and design to elementary students, most recently as a STEM Specialist at the Los Angeles Education Partnership. He also recently worked as a manager of a museum maker space at the New York Hall of Science. Danny understands the incredible ways that hands-on, experiential, design-focused learning experiences can empower people of all ages and help them to find unique new personal connections to their school experience, and he is excited to share his love of making, building, and creating with the CEE community.

Ellen Krissman, Assistant Director of Advancement
Four years ago Ellen (also a CEE parent!) joined the Center in the Advancement Department as the Director of Annual Giving and Gala and will be returning this school year as the Assistant Director of Advancement. Over the time Ellen worked at the Center, she is most proud of her scope of work in the Advancement Department with restructuring the AFD format and creating and streamlining workflows and processes across the entire Advancement Department.

Jessica Langsbard, The Caring Place Co-Lead Teacher
Jessica started her career in the entertainment industry and discovered while working a side job as a birthday party entertainer that she had a talent for connecting with young children. She began continuing education in Child Development and Early Childhood Education which led Jessica to her first role as an infant teacher with Bright Horizons at their UCLA Westwood Childcare Center. She has spent many years as a private educator, caretaker and nanny. Jessica holds a BA in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania.

Lisa Gilbar Levy ‘87, Director of Extended Programs
For the past 10 years, Lisa has been inspiring kids through musical theatre at YADA (Youth Academy of Dramatic Arts)(, where she taught classes to ages 3-16 and most recently served as Executive Director. Lisa was the Assistant Director for the 2001 Broadway revival of “Noises Off” and the 2005 Broadway premiere of “Monty Python’s Spamalot.” She directed the Patti Austin show “BeboperElla” at Lincoln Center and has worked on multiple films, television shows, and New York and Los Angeles theatrical productions. Lisa is also a Licensed Clinical Cognitive Behavioral Therapist. From 2013-2019, Lisa created and ran an after-school drama class called Opening Night Kids, specifically designed to teach at her alma mater...The Center!

Aisha Marshall, Fifth Grade Teacher
Aisha has a BA in Music, a Specialization in Education from UCLA, and an MS in Educational Psychology, with an emphasis in Special Education and Gifted and Talented Education from the University of North Texas. Aisha has several years of experience teaching elementary students, most recently as a Resource Specialist at UCLA Lab School.

Laura Obuobi, Library Support Clerk
Laura began at CEE as a substitute teacher in the Toddler and Early Childhood (EC) Program, took on the role of Instructional Support and Auxiliary Programs Teacher for EC students in daycare, and finally transitioned into the role of Library Support Clerk/Associate last year. She moved to Los Angeles in 2021 from New York where she worked as a Preschool Teacher for about eight years, before returning to graduate school to pursue a career as a Writer/Author. Laura published her first picture book, "Black Gold,” in October 2022!

Olúwakémi O'Neal, Third Grade Teacher
Olúwakémi comes to The Center with over 20 years of teaching experience. At her last school, she launched and implemented a writing program that is still in use tpday, in addition to creating a new community educational garden program. She is passionate about food and the culinary arts, mindfulness and breathing practice, and fostering community!

Ellie Rafferty, Sixth Grade Language Arts Teacher
Ellie has several years of experience as an elementary and middle school teacher, most recently at Park Century School teaching Humanities for sixth through eighth graders. She is also passionate about serving as a student advisor, supporting the social and emotional growth of students. Ellie has a Bachelor's Degree in Education with a concentration in Adolescent-Young Adult Integrated Language Arts from Ohio University.

Ashley Ross, Toddler Teacher
Ashley started teaching Woodworking and Ceramics in The Center's After School Program in 2022 following a move to California from New York. This past spring, Ashley worked as a long-term sub in the Toddler program before joining the team full-time this year. Ashley studied Fine Art and Sociology at the University of Colorado, and, while a student there, hosted art workshops at the local Boys & Girls Club. Teaching in preschools, afterschool programs, and camps led her to teaching at Montessori schools. Ashley has also taught English in Asia and Europe.

Sage Sarason, In-House Floating Teacher
Sage has six years of experience teaching music to elementary students, including at the Schools & Arts Foundation in Brooklyn and with individual students. Her interdisciplinary approach to teaching led her to develop a curriculum called ‘Music Math,’ which was recognized by the International Society for Music Education. Sage holds a BA in American Studies with a Music Concentration from Georgetown University. 

Mary Ruth Schuler, Upper Elementary Music Teacher
Mary Ruth has many years of experience teaching music to elementary students, most recently at Campbell Hall, and as the Executive Director and Founder of The Schuler Music Studio, serving hundreds of private students. She also helped out with the 2023 CEE Sixth Grade Graduation Play. Mary Ruth holds a BA in English Literature from UCLA. 

Vivian Ponte-Fritz, Lower Elementary Science Teacher
Vivian has several years of experience as a Spanish and Support Teacher, most recently as a Nutrition and Health Educator with SEE-LA. She started her teaching journey as an assistant teacher in the Bay Area Teacher Training Institute in Oakland, California at Prospect Sierra Elementary School. Later, Vivian moved to Chacala, Mexico and taught in both Spanish and English at a small elementary school in a fishing village. Upon returning to the US, she was the starting teacher in Prospect Sierra Middle School's new Heritage and Bilingual Spanish Program. Vivian has a Bachelor's Degree from Pitzer College in Media Studies and Art and a Master's in Education from the University of the Pacific.

Mason Stewart, In-House Floating Teacher
Mason has a BA and a Master's in Teaching from National Louis University and has earned his elementary teaching credential. He has several years of experience teaching fifth through eighth grades, most recently at McAuliffe International School in Denver, Colorado.

Arielle Valdivia, Flex Nurse
Arielle earned her BSN degree from UC Irvine in 2022, where she was heavily involved with the nursing fraternity. Through connections with her peers, she decided to pursue pediatric and school nursing, following five years of individual caregiving where she provided health support and personal care plans to her patients.  

Yeliz Williams, Kindergarten Teacher
Yeliz has over 15 years of experience teaching pre-K and Kindergarten students, most recently at Citizens of the World Charter School. Yeliz is originally from Istabul and lived in Chicago for 20 years, where she taught in Chicago Public Schools for 12 years. She also earned a BA in Early Childhood Education at DePaul University.
    • Briana Amezquita

    • Nicolette Anderson

    • Danny Kirk

    • Jessica Langsbard

    • Jasmine Harleston

    • Edda Fransdottir

    • Ellen Krissman

    • Aisha Marshall

    • Olúwakémi O'Neal

    • Vivian Ponte-Fritz

    • Ellie Rafferty

    • Ashley Ross

    • Arielle Valdivia

    • Yeliz Williams

The Center for Early Education, a socio-economically and culturally diverse independent school for children, toddlers through grade six, strives to graduate students who are joyful, resilient, life-long learners. The Center embraces a philosophy of education that combines a nurturing, inclusive learning environment with an increasingly challenging academic program that addresses the developmental needs of each child.