Professional Development Department
Professional Development & Curriculum Department Vision Statement:
  • To support teachers in the implementation of curriculum and instructional strategies to maximize student engagement and success.

  • To provide equity for students through the consistent use of culturally responsive and standards-based instruction that emanates from high expectations and PD on the best strategies, materials, and programs for Sequoia students.

PD & Curriculum CalendarTop of Page


January 8, 2018 All Staff Professional Development Day @ Sequoia High SchoolTop of Page

On January 8th, 2018, Sequoia Union High School District held its annual all-staff professional development day at Sequoia High School.  We were joined once again this year by elementary partner districts; Ravenswood City School District middle school teachers participated in the morning professional development session at Sequoia High School, while San Carlos Schools and Belmont Redwood Shores middle school teachers engaged in articulation conversations at Carlmont High School. 

At Sequoia High School, we were exceptionally fortunate to have had a keynote address by Stanford Professor, Dr. Guadalupe Valdes.  She provided a strong, research-based rationale for the importance of dialogue-based pedagogy for all learners to understand complex concepts.  Additionally, she highlighted the particular need for English Learners to have ample opportunities in varied contexts to partake in conversations with both English Fluent students and fellow English Learners 

Following the keynote address, teachers participated in morning breakout sessions on the topic of integrating rigor into academic conversations.  Teachers experienced a number of structured student talk routines and had the opportunity to incorporate them into an upcoming lesson.

Concurrent to the keynote address and morning breakout sessions for teachers, Dr. Martha Merchant from the UCSF HEARTS program met with guidance counselors, mental health staff, administrative assistants and other non-classroom staff to provide training around trauma-informed practices.  Following Doc Martha’s address, staff members met in cross-district  job-alike groups to discuss implications for their role.

In the afternoon, Sequoia teachers were offered seventeen wide-ranging choices of breakout sessions delivered by local experts and SUHSD leaders.  Presentations included:

  • Building Students Conversation Skills in Every Lesson by Stanford Professor, acclaimed author, and former SUHSD teacher, Jeff Zwiers.
  • Socratic Seminars:  Pursuing Equity and Increasing Capacity and Confidence of All Students by Esther Wu
  • Desmos by Anthony Relator, Nancy Ku & Laura Luttrell
  • Understanding Autism at the Secondary Level by Clare Chandler
  • The CA History Social Science Framework by the UCB History Social Science Project
  • Trauma-Informed Practices for Teachers by Dr. Martha Merchant
  • Supporting and Monitoring Academic Progress of English Learners in All Content Courses by Isabel Cervantes-Falk.

There were also ten differentiated Canvas sessions. Teacher technology leaders provided targeted support for teachers to integrate the Canvas LMS into their practice more effectively, from reviewing basics to exploring high leverage tools such as instructional modules.

The feedback from the day was resoundingly positive; 92.6% of survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed that their sessions were effective and that they would recommend them to colleagues..

Victoria Dye, Director of Professional Development & CurriculumTop of Page


Instructional CoachesTop of Page

Instructional Coaches Vision Statement:

  • Help to facilitate subject area councils
  • Facilitate creation of Common Core Standards curriculum
  • Provide professional development for staff
  • Coach teachers with research-based strategies and curricular support

Instructional CoachesTop of Page

Alissa Talesnick

Alissa is originally from San Carlos and graduated from Carlmont High School. After earning a Bachelor's Degree in English at UCLA, she obtained her teaching credential in English and her Master's Degree in Education from Stanford University. She also holds a Reading Certificate. This is Alissa's tenth year teaching at Sequoia High School, where she has taught classes ranging from 9th grade Reading Intervention to 11th grade IB (International Baccalaureate) English. At Sequoia, Alissa has also worked as English Department Chair and WASC Self-Study Coordinator. She is excited to have the opportunity to work with English and Reading teachers across the district this year.

Jose Rosario

Jose Rosario has been an English Teacher at Sequoia High School since 2013. Jose worked with the 9th-grade course team to create cohesion across the different tracks by making sure each level has the same texts, assessments, rubrics, and pace in an effort to increase equity in access. Jose has taught writing for the summer school enrichment program Compass and Team Ascent. He's tutored for Sequoia's SAFE program, while recruiting and training a couple dozen students to do the same. He was an advisor for the club Our Voice. He's mentored both Stanford Interns through ATLAS and graduate students for Stanford's Teacher Education Program.  

In Jose's latest role as an instructional coach, he hopes to use technology to make teaching more efficient and effortless. He will also work with the Assessment and Research team in Ed Services to make testing procedures and results transparent. Lastly, Jose can be counted on to support teacher's rights as a Union Representative for the District.

Tara Charles


Lance Powell

Lance Powell has been teaching science in the Sequoia Union High School District for the past 11 years. He has taught biology, chemistry and environmental science to a wide variety of students at different grade levels. He values hands-on, inquiry driven projects that put students in the drivers seats and serve as vehicles for students to develop critical thinking and communication skills. Previous to his work in the SUHSD, he worked in San Francisco where he co-founded the progressive high school, June Jordan School for Equity.

Lance is looking forward to continuing to collaborate with other science teachers in his role as an instructional science coach. The mission is to help other teachers work towards integrating Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards.

Felicia Yang

Coming from an engineering background, Felicia found her passion in teaching secondary math.  She started her career teaching middle school math at an urban public school in Harlem, NY, where she was captivated by the excitement, challenges and newness that each day brings in the classroom.  She then transitioned to teaching high school and eventually moved to California to teach math and engineering at Woodside High School, where she has enjoyed teaching both the high and the low, and everything in between.  Besides teaching math and engineering, she has branched out to learn new educational technology strategies both through the district and beyond, become trained as a district professional development speaker, and earned her administrative credential to further learn how to best support students and staff.

As a math instructional coach, she is excited to support her fellow teachers by collaborating, sharing resources, leading workshops, observing, reflecting with and learning alongside them.  As a lifelong learner, Felicia hopes to share her positive attitude and enthusiasm for learning with students and teachers alike.

Jim Karditzas

Jim had two careers before joining the world of education. He spent 11 years in the army and resigned in 1992 to pursue a civilian career in sales. He worked in high-tech sales and eventually was training non-technology sales people to sell high-tech parts. This led him to pursue and obtain a masters in education before transitioning into teaching.

Since 2006, Jim has been teaching mathematics at Sequoia High School, focusing on algebra and geometry. He served as the lead for the geometry team, then as an algebra coach. He assisted in the creation and implementation of the algebra readiness two year program. Recently, he has participated with the Silicon Valley Math Initiative and the district math grant (Spotlight on Success) for the implementation of Common Core in the district. He currently teaches at Sequoia and serves as the district lead for Common Core State Standards for Mathematics algebra implementation.

Elizabeth Placencia

Elizabeth has worked for 18 years in public education. After graduating from college, she became an AmeriCorps volunteer, supporting literacy programs at a continuation high school in East Oakland. Discovering that teaching was her passion, she returned to graduate school and officially began her career as a high school English teacher in Marin County. After 6 years of teaching in Marin, Elizabeth ventured overseas to work at in International School in Mexico City. Upon returning to the United States, she began working in the Sequoia Union High School District. Since joining the district, Elizabeth has worked in a variety of capacities: as a classroom teacher, as a 9th and 11th grade instructional coach in English, and most recently as the director of Menlo-Atherton's Writing Center. 

As lover of both literature and writing, literacy has remained Elizabeth's passion throughout her teaching career. She works to instill this same passion in all of her students.

TIPS Program and AdvisorsTop of Page

TIPS Vision Statement:

The TIPS program provides new teachers with personalized support that equips them to provide high quality instruction to engage students and foster excellence for the unique student population of SUHSD.

  • Coach new teachers with the framework of the California Standards for Teaching Profession
  • Collaborate on formative assessment work such as setting goals and analyzing student work
  • Provide professional development

TIPS CoachesTop of Page

Joe Ezrati

Joe has taught over seven years as a science teacher at Woodside High School, where he has spent his entire teaching career. He has taught Integrated Science in a SDAIE model, a mainstream model, and in a small learning community, which catered toward special education students. In addition to that, Joe has taught both regular biology and advanced standing biology. This is Joe's second year as a TIPS mentor, where he is assisting teachers in planning lessons and helping them develop better classroom management skills.

Catherine Wachtler

During my 23 years teaching at Woodside I have most enjoyed working with freshmen. I like the challenge inherent in welcoming and guiding ninth graders through their first year of high school as well as the reward of assisting in their exponential growth. Whether in one of my Biology, AIS, Algebra I or AVID I classes, the curiosity, enthusiasm and potential my freshmen students bring with them every day remain the magnets that keep me attracted to teaching.

I have also been fortunate to work closely with many colleagues during my tenure, and it is from these relationships that I have experienced my greatest professional growth. My first team experience was with an inter-disciplinary group that created and sustained the Freshman Houses Program for many years. During that time, I also worked with an intra-district team to develop our district’s original Advanced Integrated Science course. Following that, I partnered with colleagues in the Students Offering Support Program to continue focusing on ninth graders through the Freshman Transition Program. For the past four years, I have teamed with AVID teachers to help hundreds of students get ready for college.

Being a TIPS advisor combines my two favorite aspects of teaching. I am thrilled to be working with “freshman” teachers who bring much excitement, creative ideas and fresh perspective to their new careers.

Tara Charles (SPED Coach)

Ana Ventura

Ana began at the Sequoia District as an Instructional Associate at Menlo-Atherton High School in 2007. Working with struggling 9th and 10th graders inspired her to pursue her teaching certification, and she quickly transitioned into a teaching role in 2008. Since then, she has taught various levels of 9th, 11th, and 12th grade English; AVID I, II, III, and IV; and Journalism I, II, and III. Ana joined the TIPS team in 2016, where she hopes to provide new teachers with the same outstanding support that she herself received as a TIPS participant.


Contact Us:Top of Page

Name Role Email Phone Ext.
Dye,Victoria Director of Professional Development & Curriculum 22542
Tomasino, Jennifer Administrative Secretary to Director 22543
Talesnick, Alissa Instructional Coach
Rosario, Jose Instructional Coach
Placencia, Elizabeth Instructional Coach  
Powell, Lance Instructional Coach  
Yang, Felicia Instructional Coach  
Karditzas, Jim Instructional Coach
Charles, Tara Instructional/TIPS SPED Coach  
Ezrati, Joseph TIPS Coach  
Wachtler, Catherine TIPS Coach  
Ventura, Ana TIPS Coach