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


Director of Professional Development & Curriculum: Kristin StoutTop of Page

Kristin has worked in the district for 19 years. She began her career in Los Angeles and moved to the Sequoia High School District in 1996. Her first role in the district was teaching social studies at Menlo-Atherton High School. Kristin moved to the district office in 2001 and coordinated the BTSA program and professional development programs. She helped to create the district induction program (TIPS) and has also served in the role of BTSA/TIPS advisor to new teachers. Kristin returned the classroom and mentoring in 2005, teaching at Sequoia High School. In 2010 Kristin took on the role of English/social studies resource teacher and PAR coach. In all of these roles, Kristin has enjoyed providing professional development for teachers and administrators in the district. Since 2012, Kristin has been in her district administration role as Director of Professional Development & Curriculum. She is passionate about the programs in her department, and believes in strong instructional practices for all students.

Administrative Secretary, Jennifer TomasinoTop of Page

Jennifer is an Alumni of Sequoia High School and joined the District back in 2012.

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

Debolina Dutta

Debolina has worked in public, private, and international high schools for 14 years. She began her career as a math teacher in a large urban high school. Soon, she transitioned into the subject she is most passionate about; science. She had the opportunity to help start small schools at two different high schools and was a part of establishing the Health Careers Academy at Sequoia High School. Although her background is in marine and environmental sciences, she has taught almost every type and level of science class.

Aside from her classroom work, Debolina works with new IB teachers to train them in teaching IB science courses. She also works with student teachers to help them become successful classroom teachers. As an instructional coach, Debolina’s goal is to support teachers so that they can attain success in their practice. She enjoys working with teachers to help revise lessons, observe classes, provide feedback, and by providing professional development seminars. Debolina believes that all students can succeed with guidance and support, and so she aims to provide the same for teachers.

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.

Allison Hyde

Allison has worked for 21 years in public education. She began her career at the middle school level in the Redwood City Elementary District, where she was a bilingual resource teacher and taught social studies/language arts core, ELD and Spanish. For the past 14 years, Allison has worked at the high school level in a variety of capacities: As a classroom teacher, bilingual resource teacher, advisor to beginning teachers in the TIPS program, and as a provider of professional development seminars.

Throughout her years of service in education, Allison has intentionally rotated between classroom teaching and leaving the classroom for periods of time to provide support and professional development to teachers. This movement has allowed her to learn research-based best practices in instruction, implement them in her own classroom practice, reflect and improve, and then share her experiences with other teachers. Allison believes that moving between the worlds of theory and application has greatly enhanced her teaching as well as the professional development trainings that she provides.

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.

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.

Tara Charles

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.


Curriculum LeadsTop of Page

Curriculum Leads Vision Statement:

  • Facilitate program and textbook implementation
  • Assist with placement charts and student placement
  • Coordinate professional development for programs or textbooks

Curriculum LeadsTop 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.

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.

PAR Program and CoachesTop of Page

PAR Vision Statement:

The PAR program provides veteran teachers with personalized and confidential support to ensure professional longevity and resilience, leading to continued student success over the long term.

PAR CoachesTop of Page

Liane Strub

After 12 years as a magazine editor, Liane decided to become a high school English teacher in 1994. She joined the M-A English department in spring 1995, teaching both regular and honors English. In the English department, Liane has taught every course, including both AP English Literature and AP English Language, as well as serving as department chair from 2001 to 2006.

For three years, she collaborated with the Western Civilization teacher to create a rich cross-curricular experience for their shared students. Subsequently, she taught AP European History during the 1998-1999 school year, an experience that whetted her appetite for the teaching of art history. In 2006, Liane began the AP Art History course at Menlo-Atherton, which gives students the opportunity to marry their visual acumen to their analytical abilities, while surveying thousands of years of world history.

Cat Burton Tilson

Cat has been in the district since 1998. In that time she has taught English to 9th and 10th graders, Reading and AVID to 9-12th graders . She has also served as a Reading Department Head, Title 1 Coordinator and BTSA provider. She received her degree in English and her teaching credential from San Francisco State University and her Masters in Literacy from California State University East Bay.

Cat has been a PAR coach since 2015. She works with teachers at six different sites including Carlmont, Sequoia, Menlo-Atherton, Woodside, East Palo Alto Academy and Redwood. Her main passion is bringing out and supporting the talents and strengths of individuals whether they are high school students or colleagues. She values the diversity of Sequoia Union High School District and appreciates the opportunity to work with and learn from so many different people.

Contact Us:Top of Page

Name Role Email Phone Ext.
 Stout, Kristin Director of Professional Development & Curriculum 22542
 Tomasino, Jennifer Administrative Secretary to Director 22543
 Dutta, Debolina Instructional Coach
 Hyde, Allison Instructional Coach  
 Placencia, Elizabeth Instructional Coach  
 Powell, Lance Instructional Coach  
Yang, Felicia Instructional Coach  
Charles, Tara Instructional/TIPS SPED Coach  
Ezrati, Joseph TIPS Coach  
Wachtler, Catherine TIPS Coach  
Ventura, Ana TIPS Coach
Karditzas, Jim Math Curriculum Coach  
Talesnick, Alissa Reading Curriculum Coach  
Burton Tilson, Cat PAR Coach  
Strub, Liane PAR Coach