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A Message from the Head of School

Imagine a school where a young learner’s social-emotional growth and development is just as important as their academic achievement. AltSchool Fort Mason is a learning community where whole-child learning is embedded into the learning journey, allowing for students to be co-designers of their experience and genuinely celebrate what makes them unique. It’s a community where families are authentic partners in their child’s learning and growth and where educators push the limits of pedagogy and personalization. 

What I love most about AltSchool Fort Mason is that students truly find their voice when they join us. Learners are able to articulate who they are, how they are changing, and their areas for growth. They are no longer passive participants in their learning; they can expand their understanding of what is possible and learn to question—not just accept answers because an educator tells them so. 

The whole city of San Francisco is our classroom. On a weekly basis, our learners travel to new and familiar spaces to seek the expertise of others, utilize the vast resources around us, and give back in meaningful and relevant ways. 

The Fort Mason community would love to meet you and have the opportunity to show you what we’ve been learning. Join us at an open house or on a school tour!

David Dobson-Smith

Highlights from AltSchool Fort Mason

Everything we do is geared toward a whole-child, personalized approach to education that fosters student agency and helps prepare our learners for the future. Take a look at some of the things that are integral to AltSchool Fort Mason.
Community Resources
The local community is an extension of our classroom. Educators and students regularly visit local parks and outdoor spaces such as the Fort Mason Community Center and the school garden.
Experts
To encourage a hands-on approach to learning, our educators bring in experts from the community who challenge students to solve real-world problems and connect their work to skills-based practice. We partner with local experts including scientists, artists, and musicians.
Partnerships
Educators and students collaborate regularly with local organizations to delve more deeply into project work. SF Children's Art Center, Green Arts Workshop, and LeapArts are just a few of the organizations we partner with to bring learning to life.

Meet Our Educator Team

David Dobson-Smith
Head of School

David’s 15 years in education spans both inclusive and special education settings. His passion for personalized learning began when he was charged with expanding the early years department at Phoenix Secondary and Primary School in Bow, East London. While at Phoenix, David built systems of collaboration between educators and parents; designed personalized learning plans for all new students; trained and mentored new staff; led parent training and support groups; and served as a consultant for other educational organizations.

In just over four years, the department quadrupled in size and became a training center for new educators and assistants entering the field of autism.

Throughout his career, David’s commitment to creating strong learning communities has only strengthened. While working at the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, he deepened his experience in personalized learning, co-developing a professional learning program for educators and new staff, expanding parent support groups and designing and facilitating parent training.

Before joining AltSchool, David was Vice Principal at Corbets Tey School in Upminster, East London, a K-12 program focused on personalized education to enhance student agency. In this leadership role, he was instrumental in creating the child-centered curriculum and student assessment protocol. In three years, Corbets Tey transformed from an underperforming, at-risk school, to a beacon of excellence within the community and district.

David believes that every student has infinite potential. By honoring students’ curiosities, abilities, and learning styles, and designing individualized curricula, David believes educators can help each student reach his or her potential. David holds a B.Ed in English and Special Education from the University of Alberta.

Learn more about
David Dobson-Smith
David Dobson-Smith
Head of School
Amy Soukup
Lower Elementary Educator

Amy comes to AltSchool with multiple years of experience teaching in elementary school classrooms and supporting learners throughout the Bay Area. She is especially passionate about creating inclusive and personalized learning environments where each student has the ability to grow and thrive.

Amy holds a Master’s in Special Education from the University of San Francisco with further background as a reading and math interventionist. She believes in a holistic approach to education, blending hands-on, student-centric work with the teaching of specific tools and strategies to empower students. In her spare time, Amy enjoys finding outlets for creative expression, such as painting, dance, and aerial arts.

"I am thrilled to join AltSchool and be a part of this learning community where innovation is infused into every aspect of what we do, and where there is such a focus on supporting each and every student to succeed!"

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Amy Soukup
Amy Soukup
Lower Elementary Educator
Anna Varnay-Truong
Upper Elementary Educator

Anna has been an instructional coach, intervention teacher and classroom educator for eight years. What always remains at the forefront of her instructional practice is the desire to help students find their passion and develop the tools needed to show agency in the areas that are important to them. Anna joined AltSchool in January 2017 as a Middle School lead educator focusing on STEM instruction, and has since transitioned into the Upper Elementary classroom. What drew Anna to AltSchool is its vision for the future capabilities of education.

In her spare time, she enjoys spending time outdoors with her family, including her two young children. Anna has a bachelor's degree from Barnard College at Columbia and received her teaching credential and Master of Education from the University of California Los Angeles.

“Teaching, in its best form, is a dynamic process. It doesn’t make sense that our educational system has been static for so long. I am excited to be part of a network of schools that values innovation.”

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Anna Varnay-Truong
Anna Varnay-Truong
Upper Elementary Educator
Bryanna Fenton
Middle School Spanish Language Educator

As a Spanish language educator, Bryanna encourages her students to take risks and explore Spanish culture by blending authentic resources and experiences that help bring the language to life. Previously, she co-created a curriculum that focused on language proficiency using real-world tasks such as writing letters and shopping in grocery stores. She also led a 45-student school trip to Spain, an enriching experience in which students learned from different perspectives in an authentic environment. She tries to bring those experiences into the classroom to bring a real sense of purpose to learning a language.

Bryanna has a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and foreign affairs and a master’s in teaching foreign language, both from the University of Virginia, and completed a study-abroad program in Valencia, Spain. Along her journey, she has taught Spanish to K through 12 students in both public and private school settings in Charlottesville and Tampa.

“I’m particularly excited to join the AltSchool team because of the enthusiasm of every educator and student!”

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Bryanna Fenton
Bryanna Fenton
Middle School Spanish Language Educator
David Rodriguez
Middle School ELA and Humanities Educator

David is considered by many to be a teacher whose impact on students truly lasts a lifetime. He brings extraordinary creativity, depth, and passion to the classroom, and thinks big about the field of education, constantly learning and looking critically at his own practice.

David is thrilled to be returning to the classroom at Fort Mason after a one year fellowship within the Central Learning Team at AltSchool. His research focused on student agency assessment. During the first six months, he engaged in research which included a trip to Finland to examine the role assessment plays in school culture. Now he is working with a group of teachers in grades K through 4 to explore how to build a culture of student agency and reflection.

David began his career at AltSchool at Fort Mason teaching upper elementary and middle school English. His emphasis on student agency saw students begin the year studying scientific papers about adolescent psychology with the aim of arming them with the knowledge to be full partners in co-designing their learning experience. He loves to create rich, integrated units that culminate in elaborate projects. His goal for every project is to develop authentic relevance outside the school community.

After graduating from Georgetown University, David spent two years teaching at the elementary and high school levels in Provence, France, where he learned to speak French fluently. After receiving his Master of Education from UCLA, he taught for five years at Extera Public Schools. For two of those years, he had a dual role as a curriculum innovation specialist. David represented the United States at the World Cross Country Championships in Marrakech, Morocco and is a former professional cyclist.

“I believe that experimentation is necessary for American schools to reach their full potential. AltSchool's commitment to experimentation and innovation is exciting to me.”

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David Rodriguez
David Rodriguez
Middle School ELA and Humanities Educator
Dina Hamaoui
Lead Educator

Dina is a founding educator at AltSchool’s Fort Mason campus and is returning after a year at the Yerba Buena campus. As a trained art therapist, Dina believes in integrating social-emotional learning in the classroom to engage students in both thinking about others and understanding themselves. Inspired by the Reggio Emilia method, Dina advocates for the learning environment to be seen as the third teacher and takes much pride in designing classrooms to be both inspiring and accessible to children. She looks for ways to continuously engage students and educators in dynamic, child-led inquiries and in-depth, project-based learning.

Dina has worked with children for over 14 years. Prior to joining AltSchool, she was a founding teacher at Blue School, a co-constructivist preschool through 8th grade school founded by the Blue Man Group in New York City. She founded the school's studio art program and was lead educator of the two-year-old program. Dina lived in New York City for 12 years before relocating to the Bay Area to help Harker School in San Jose open their preschool campus in 2013. She has an master’s degree in arts therapy and creative development from Pratt Institute and a B.A. in English and film studies from UC Irvine.

“I am constantly amazed at the quality of teachers at AltSchool and how lucky I am to be in this community of professionals. They are both passionate and highly educated, and it’s clear how committed we all are to changing education and creating the best possible experiences for our students.”

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Dina Hamaoui
Dina Hamaoui
Lead Educator
Erin Kahn
Middle School Science Educator

Erin has been teaching science in both public and private settings for over a decade with a particular passion for biology. She loves to educate students about biomes, climate change, and the impact of human activity on the planet, grounding her curriculum on encouraging the most student engagement. Her goal is to always cultivate curiosity and foster excitement around science.

Erin received her B.S. in cell biology and M.A. in secondary science education from UC Davis. She is passionate about mindfully integrating technology into her curriculum and collaborating with her personalized learning network to constantly expand her knowledge in the area. Since joining Fort Mason’s team in 2016, Erin has grown in her practice and passion for education. AltSchool’s vision and commitment to whole-child learning has supported Erin’s drive to create a learning environment that meets each student where they are and creates opportunities for personalized growth. When she’s not in the classroom, you can find her outdoors spending time with her husband and two boys or running.

“I am drawn to AltSchool's innovation and mission of whole-child learning. It is a truly unique model that I’m thrilled to be a part of.”

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Erin Kahn
Erin Kahn
Middle School Science Educator
Karen Chu
Lower and Upper Elementary Educator

Karen has many years of teaching experience in lower elementary grades. Her favorite thing about teaching this age group is being able to give the gift of reading to students. With extensive training in reading intervention, Karen has helped many struggling readers reach and even surpass their reading goals. Many of the students she’s worked with felt a renewed sense of confidence after realizing their power as an independent reader, which is one of the beauties of teaching.

Karen started her teaching career off by receiving her credential and B.S. in Applied Learning and Development from the University of Texas at Austin. She then taught first grade for five years in a public school setting in Texas. After moving to California, Karen became a founding teacher for a charter school and worked hard to help close the achievement gap that her students were facing. Aside from her dedication to teaching, Karen has also volunteered countless hours to different nonprofits. One of the nonprofits she volunteered for gave her the opportunity to mentor many high school students, helping them build confidence and leadership skills. Although far away from home, Karen still remembers to eat her fair share of barbecue and fried chicken!

“I am so excited for this opportunity to work with such a great team of people and students. I can’t wait to see how our work in the classroom will help transform, inspire, and innovate the education field.”

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Karen Chu
Karen Chu
Lower and Upper Elementary Educator
Kelsey Simpson
Upper Elementary Educator

Kelsey joined AltSchool Fort Mason in 2016 as a Middle School partner educator where her focus centered on supporting the math curriculum. Last year she transitioned to the Upper Elementary classroom with her partner teacher, and together they built a strong mathematical foundation and designed engaging social studies and science content. This year, she plans to incorporate even more creative projects that help students draw connections between content areas. A proud moment for her as an educator was when her UE class planned, budgeted, and carried out meal preparations for their learning exposition and end-of-year camping trip.

Prior to moving to California and joining AltSchool, Kelsey taught at the secondary level abroad in New Zealand and in Washington state. She earned her teaching certificate and bachelor’s degree at Western Washington University. She loves cooking, rock climbing, and the great outdoors. She has completed nearly 2,000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, rafted the Grand Canyon, and this summer she sailed through the Caribbean.

“I believe in AltSchool’s vision to nurture and educate the whole child in a personalized way, and charting their academic, social, and emotional growth.”

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Kelsey Simpson
Kelsey Simpson
Upper Elementary Educator
Rosie Gloistein
Lower Elementary Educator and Learning Specialist

Rosie graduated from the University of San Francisco with a Master in Special Education. She is currently working toward becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) at the Florida Institute of Technology. In her 10-plus years of experience as a personalization lead, learning specialist, rethink coach, resource specialist, and classroom teacher, she gained the knowledge and tools to help students from transitional kindergarten to high school succeed. She also had the privilege of coaching other educators to provide all students with the best educational experience.

For the past two years, Rosie has worked as a personalization lead at Alamo Square and Dogpatch. She had the opportunity to support and watch each student grow and progress academically and socially as they developed strong habits as learners and citizens of our community. She has supported each and every student in their social and emotional growth through the use of Kimochis, Social Thinking, Kidpower, Superflex, and Growth Mindset curricula. Her goal is to better equip students to apply the right knowledge, attitude, and skills to develop an open-mind, empathy, positive relationships, and make responsible decisions and set and achieve goals. In addition, she has worked closely with each student, family, and educator to assure every student receives a personalized education. She also provided remedial programs and individualized services to students who benefited from additional support and resources to help them achieve their goals.

“What I enjoy most about AltSchool is the opportunity to collaborate with such a talented, highly qualified, and inspiring team of professionals with unique teaching backgrounds. Together we will develop the educational tools that will help prepare our students for real world challenges and the future.”

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Rosie Gloistein
Rosie Gloistein
Lower Elementary Educator and Learning Specialist
Kate Moriarty
Personalization Lead

Kate was a founding educator at AltSchool Fort Mason and previously taught in its Upper Elementary classroom. During her time at AltSchool, Kate's practice was guided by her belief that relationships are the foundation for meaningful, relevant learning. She begins a new role as personalization lead where she will apply her expertise in educational neuroscience, Universal Design for Learning (UDL), and social-emotional research to help create space for students to be the designers of their own learning through the understanding of their needs and passions.

Kate has been working in TK through 12 classrooms for the past six years. She spent her early teaching career at a private boarding school in western Massachusetts where she taught in the social sciences and learning skills departments. It was there that Kate realized the importance of personalization when looking at each child's academic and social needs to best support their overall growth and development. Kate attended the Harvard Graduate School of Education where she received a Master of Education in the Mind, Brain, and Education program. She applied her learnings while working in a Reggio Emilia beginner’s classroom at Buckingham Browne and Nichols School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Before teaching, Kate received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Amherst College where she played on the women's soccer team.

“Teaching is the ultimate practice in empathy. In order to truly understand your students’ needs, you need to foster relationships based on trust and compassion. AltSchool provides me with the flexibility and tools to really know my students.”

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Kate Moriarty
Kate Moriarty
Personalization Lead
Daurah Williams
PE Assistant

Daurah found her calling at the age of 17 where she spent two years as a nanny, care-taking and facilitating physically and mentally stimulating activities for many children. Throughout her high school and college career, Daurah stayed involved in a plethora of extracurricular activities including varsity basketball and competitive vocal jazz, both of which included time spent teaching children the values of both.

Daurah is currently in her last year on the path to receiving her B.S. in Health Education at San Francisco State University, with a focus in Pre-Med. Her goal is to travel around the world to underdeveloped communities, spreading health services and health education to children that otherwise may not have the opportunity to receive such services.

“I believe that every child, regardless of background, has the ability to learn, grow, and expand their environment. In my experience, curiosity and diversity can only serve as positive learning experiences for both children and educators. Our children will lead the world one day; I believe it is our duty to set each and every one of them up for greatness through encouragement of new ideas and creative personalities.”

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Daurah Williams
Daurah Williams
PE Assistant
Doug Chancellor
PE Assistant

Doug is thrilled to be part of the team building the physical education program at AltSchool Fort Mason. Doug is an avid proponent of inspiring children of all ages with the wonders of play, physical activity, sports, and a love of being in nature whenever possible. 

Doug holds a B.S. in Physical Education from Loma Linda University and recently began studying early childhood development at the College of Marin. Doug was previously a PE coach at Willow Creek Academy, a charter school for grades K-2. Prior to teaching PE, he was a play-at-home dad to his daughter and started a preschool along with three mothers.

“I look forward to sharing the first of many power triangles with the students at AltSchool Fort Mason. The triangle of trust, respect, and feeling safe can strengthen each student’s authentic self-development. This can lead to sharing, co-operating, and team play, which builds strong community inside and outside school.”

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Doug Chancellor
Doug Chancellor
PE Assistant
Sarah Rothenberg
Operations and Innovation Lead

Sarah was one of AltSchool’s founding educators and now runs school operations and innovation at AltSchool Yerba Buena. As the operations and innovation lead, Sarah is able to combine her decade-plus classroom experience with her interest in exploring and implementing systems that help schools run efficiently—as well as include students, parents, and educators as equal partners in this journey.

After earning her master’s degree from the Furcolo School of Education at the University of Massachusetts, Sarah moved to Boston to help launch the full-day kindergarten program in Milton, Massachusetts. As lead teacher, curriculum developer, and technology specialist for the district, Sarah facilitated conferences and workshops for colleagues on current topics in education. Sarah also explored ways to utilize technology as an integral classroom tool when she served as director of the iDTech Camp and Academy at MIT in Cambridge.

Sarah has completed the School Leaders Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Exceptional Leader course at Stanford and participated in the Reggio-Emilia International Study Group in Reggio Emilia, Italy. Sarah also holds her Children’s Yoga Teacher Certification (YTC) through YogaEd and Yoga Alliance.

“As a lifelong learner and committed educator, I am passionate about fostering a child-centered, creative learning environment that embraces innovation and social emotional growth as the cornerstones to prepare our children to be the leaders of their tomorrow.”

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Sarah Rothenberg
Sarah Rothenberg
Operations and Innovation Lead

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