Administration and Faculty
Tamara Hernandez – Executive Director
Tamara Hernandez’s passion for children’s education began ten years ago when she gave birth to her first child, Tuesday. Tamara saw that her daughter was an eager learner and so began looking into the latest research in childhood development to meet her needs. Tamara became fascinated with the amazing potential children have to learn anything at a young age, and especially their ability to learn multiple languages at the same time. Eventually, this led Tamara to co-found an educational production company, Productive Playhouse, geared towards piloting and creating content teaching children foreign language, reading, math and music in ways that challenged them but were fun and engaging at all times. One of the production company’s first projects was to create curriculum and teach a trilingual foreign language class at Kidspace Museum in Pasadena. Tamara then went onto to co-produce, direct and write several educational series, including Your Child Can Learn, and Your Child Can Discover. These series won nine parenting awards between them, including the Parenting Media Winner, The National Parenting Center Award and the Brain Child Award Winner. The series sold in many languages all over the world, which eventually helped to launch Oasis Trilingual Community School. As Tamara’s two children grew, she became a volunteer parent for the Pasadena Unified School District. Here she expanded her experience with educational organization by becoming a School Site Council member, helping launch and manage the STEAM program for the Mandarin Immersion program, starting the after-school book club, coordinating the implementation of after-school Spanish classes, and co-launching a Mandarin Immersion Pre-K. Before founding Oasis, Tamara received a B.A. in English Literature from UCLA, and became a screenwriter and director after college. Her first two short films premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, with one then playing at the Cannes Festival and in theaters throughout Paris, eventually selling around the world. Her first feature film won Best Narrative Feature at the South by Southwest Film Festival, and awards at five other festivals. After her first feature, Tamara turned her focus to documentary filmmaking, and directed two films, including The Chicano Collection, about the Chicano art movement, for executive producer/art collector Cheech Marin. The Chicano Collection is now used to teach students about Chicano art movement during Latino History Month throughout schools in the United States, and her short film is currently used as an example to teach graduate students short filmmaking at USC. Tamara is extremely grateful and thrilled to work alongside such an amazing and talented staff at Oasis, and is proud to witness everyday the behind the scenes hard work, dedication and thoughtfulness the staff puts into the lives of their students each and every day!
Rachel Chadwick – English Program Director, Lead English Teacher, Oasis Student Newspaper
Rachel Chadwick has been an educator for eight years plus, teaching ages TK-12th grade, in various content areas including English, Science, History, Music, and Physical Fitness. She taught for six years at Aveson Charter School as the K-2 Literacy Specialist, Middle School Literacy Lead Teacher and Project Supervisor. She enjoyed the rigor of leading, planning and being a part of a start-up educational organization. She is currently heading up English at Oasis Trilingual Community School as the Program Director and has loved every minute! Oasis provides the opportunity to stretch and pilot new creative educational solutions through the implementation of languages and hands-on learning. She received her BA from Biola University in Latin American Studies, with a minor in Spanish and Bible. Her Multiple Subject Credential was completed at Cal State LA. Rachel and her husband also collaborate musically and run an art project space in Old Town Pasadena along with raising their two wonderful daughters, Mavis and Rosetta.
Iris Hao – Mandarin Program Director, Lead English Teacher, Social Studies
Iris Hao is delighted to be part of the Oasis Trilingual School community! She has a music education background from Interlochen Arts Academy (MI), San Francisco Music Conservatory, and the University of Southern California (MM in Music Education and BM in Piano Performance). During the final year of her undergraduate program in college, she was very fortunate to have found her passion in teaching. Since earning her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential in 2003, her elementary teaching experiences include all the grades from first through sixth (in English Only, English Only Immersion, Dual Language Immersion, and Inclusion classrooms with students of all learning abilities including GATE). Being a mom with two beautiful and inquisitive children has given her the joyful opportunity of volunteering actively as a parent and thus grow further as an educator in learning the true meaning of what a school community is, from all aspects. It has also strengthened her belief that the most important goal of an educator is to guide students to discover their individual gifts and then offer the tools which will allow for them to become independent learners. Iris believes that it is the teacher’s job to show students how to cultivate, challenge, and compassionately utilize those talents to serve the best way possible as tomorrow’s responsible global citizens. Iris, her husband Peter, and two kids, Colin and Kalei, recently repatriated from Shanghai, China. They love traveling around the world and learning about each country’s unique culture as well as tasting all the yummy food! On their days off from school, you may find them at swim meets, playing at the park, hiking around the local mountains, and enjoying the beaches.
Harry Ralston – Director of Operations
After graduating with a B.S. from Syracuse University, Harry Ralston entered advertising as a copywriter and worked as a writer and creative director at several top twenty agencies creating advertising for major clients. He then traveled and worked as a writer in Mexico, emerging in Los Angeles, where he wrote and directed his first feature, The Last Man, an award-winning comedy released by Lion’s Gate Films. Harry spent the next several years writing screenplays for producers, and in collaboration with writer/director Roger Avary. Additionally, Harry wrote on TV shows for MTV, Paramount, Animal Planet, and Comedy Central. He and Tamara Hernandez formed Productive Playhouse in 2008 and met with immediate success, producing, writing and directing several children’s series over the following years focused on teaching fundamental skills. To date the company’s work has won nine parenting and educational awards. Harry also oversees a research division of the production company, focused on doing language projects for various tech clients. In 2014 Harry joined with other co-founders to establish Oasis, where he has served as a board member, technology teacher, and in other capacities.
Maestra Judith – Spanish, Math, Gardening
Judith Oropeza was born and raised in Mexico. She is a passionate and experienced Spanish teacher. Her teaching career includes being the lead Spanish teacher at Frontiers Academy, and previously teaching for over eight years in Mexico in a bilingual immersion setting, She is highly experienced in tutoring as well. Maestra Oropeza received her teaching credential in Mexico, and holds a BA in Child Development from Colegio de Tzumpanco. She loves educating and immersing her students in the Spanish language, culture, and customs through games, songs and exciting lessons! Judith is very excited to work with our students and help them develop their skills through an deep and authentic experience of Spanish.
Clarke Sumner – English, Spanish, Social Studies, Math, Music, Technology & MakerSpace
Ms. Clarke is thrilled to be teaching at Oasis Trilingual Community School and be a part of the school’s thriving community. Clarke believes that education is a facilitative process, in hands-on projects that seize student’s curiosity and make learning fun! After growing up in Chicago, she completed dual Bachelor’s degrees in Middle Childhood Early Adolescent Education and Spanish Teaching from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude. She holds certifications in Reading Instruction and Assessment, English Learner Instruction and Assessment, ACTFL Spanish Proficiency and edTPA Mastery Level Teacher Performance. After completing her Bachelor’s degree, she moved to California and worked as a full-time tutor for grades 1-12 in science, math, Spanish, reading, writing and logic. When she is not teaching, she loves to spend time with her husband, family and friends. She enjoys traveling, gardening, running, cooking, and trying new things. She looks forward to a great year, and to helping students develop a passion for learning!
Xu Laoshi (Ms. Chang) – Mandarin, Math, Science
Xu Laoshi made up her mind to become a teacher at the close of her undergraduate study. Her biggest takeaway from her learning experience was the joy of bringing the most potential out of all kinds of students. She enjoyed school so much she didn’t want to leave, so she chose to stay in a different way, as a teacher. Upon graduation from college, she was determined to pursue further study at American University in Washington, DC. These two years as a graduate student were definitely an eye-opening experience for her! She learned about American educational policies, history and teaching techniques. She couldn’t feel prouder than when she earned her Master’s degree as an elementary teacher. When back in China, she worked as a curator in our local history museum and taught high school and college students to prepare for TOEFL tests, but her most impactful experiences were in the States. She did her student practicum in fourth grade in a DC Public School and worked as a full-time student teacher in first grade in a Montgomery County Public School. There she worked with a lot of diverse learners, and taught kindergarten as a Chinese immersion teacher. Looking back, she gets the feeling that her life’s path has been paved by all the inspiring teachers she met all along the way. She couldn’t thank them more for making her the teacher she is today!
Ke Laoshi (Ms. Kaya) – Mandarin, Math, Science, Art
If you have ever been in Ke Laoshi’s class, you would see traces of art and culture in the language she uses. As a Mandarin language teacher, she embraces the intuitive artistic expression in children. From drama, visual art, music and creative movements, the children take in new information, new words and new knowledge without translation. Ms. Kaya’s professional journey began shortly after she graduated from ChengChi University in Taipei, Taiwan with a B.A. in Communication and a minor in English Literature. First she started as an ESL teacher in a private school in Taipei. Then in 2008, she relocated to New York City, where she transitioned herself into a Mandarin Chinese language teacher to children in the after-school programs in Harlem. For over seven years, she developed her own teaching style that distinguished her from the traditional Asian way of learning, while also finding a way to connect to children of all backgrounds in a second language. She has since developed Mandarin learning curricula for several institutions and has continued to sharpen her skills in language teaching and art.
Liu Laoshi (Ms. Sophia) – Mandarin, Math, Science, Yoga & Dance
Growing up in a home of educators in China, Liu Laoshi knew from the age of seven that she wanted to be a teacher. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English and her Master’s degree in Education from Hong Kong University, and then continued her studies in the teacher certificate program at Columbia University in New York. During those years, she taught a variety of subjects to a wide array of learners, ranging from preschoolers to adult students in China, Hong Kong and New York. She is a passionate, creative and professional teacher, who loves teaching and cares about her students. Through several years of nonstop self-improvement efforts, practice and reflection, she feels she has grown with her students. Ms. Sophia believes that everyone deserves a great education, with respect, dignity and individuality. This, she feels, is her responsibility as a teacher and as an individual in society as well.
Davy Sumner – Music, Art, Technology
Originally from the Northwoods of Wisconsin, Davy Sumner is a composer, sound artist, audio engineer, and educator based in Los Angeles. He has recorded on Grammy-nominated albums and showcased his original works at REDCAT, Grand Central Art Center, The Eaux Claires Music and Arts Festival, and The King Hing Theater. A specialist in the integration of electronics with they physical world, he designs, fabricates, and performs with custom circuitry, electroacoustic interfaces, and handmade instruments. Davy strongly believes that the creative problem solving, critical thinking, and peer collaborations facilitated in his music and design classes are essential skills for future generations.
Davy received his B.A. in Music Composition from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and earned his M.F.A. in Experimental Sound Practices at CalArts in 2016. As an instructor in the CalArts Arts Integration Program, Davy collaborates with core subject teachers at Patrick Henry Middle School and Van Nuys High School to incorporate music and the arts into their curriculum. Davy is currently serving as the Lead AmeriCorps Fellow/Program Director at the CAP Saturday Music Program, which provides free, weekly music classes for 100 underserved youth in the greater LA area.
Paul LeDoux – Physical Education Sports
“Coach Paul” is a Soccer Specialist and found his love of soccer while living in Europe as a youngster. Coach Paul trained with the Olympic Developement team in New Mexico and was a captain and All-Star soccer player in high school. Coach Paul continues to play soccer in adult recreation leagues in Pasadena. Paul believes “sports is a way for the world to communicate” and that “it is an honor to coach our youth.”
Master Shi Yan Hui – Physical Education Mandarin Kung Fu, Meditation
Master Shi YanHui, originally from China’s Songshan Shaolin Temple, is the thirty-fourth generation monk master of the Shaolin Temple. During his 18 years of monastic life in Shaolin Temple, he has received extensive training in Shaolin Kung Fu and Zen meditation. He has attended over 200 different large scale stage performances and various major world leaders events including performances for the Chinese President Jiang Zemin, Russia President Putin, Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge, etc.
Master Yanhui is the president of the US Kungfu Association and has now opened a martial arts school- “ Shaolin Kung Fu Yuan” Arcadia, CA- to teach traditional Shaolin martial arts, 18 weapons, self-defense techniques, Ba Duan Jin holistic exercise, cotton boxing, Yi Jin Jing and other body exercises.
Flavia Carbone – Spanish Drama, Spanish Culinary Instructor
Flavia Carbone was born in Rosario, Argentina. She fell in love with acting while attending elementary school. Since then, she has been studying drama at different schools, and obtained a minor in Theater at Oklahoma State University. She moved to Los Angeles a year and a half ago to continue pursuing acting. Flavia has also been involved in education for the past thirteen years. She has worked as a teacher with pre-k students, elementary and high school. In Los Angeles, she also works for Los Angeles Unified School District with elementary students. Her passions are teaching and drama, and she wishes to continue learning and making a positive impact on every child. As part of her culture and healthy lifestyle, Flavia also loves cooking, therefore, during the summer, she teaches cooking at KitchenKid Cooking Camp for children ages six to teens. Teaching, cooking and acting are her passions, and she wishes to continue learning, being creative and making a positive impact on every child.
Josh Ssettuba – Filmmaking
Josh Ssettuba has been involved in the arts since a sixth grade production where he played the dogcatcher in an elementary school production of Annie. A Canadian by birth, Josh was raised in a home surrounded by arts and crafts from his parents home country of Uganda, and has infused all of his decade plus professional work as a performer and artist with the inspiration, color and soul of African art. “My focus is to help bring a personal connection to the artwork as a means of creative expression. An extension of self into the world, and a reflection of our creativity as individuals within a larger group. To create a fun bonding experience and to have FUN!” He is thrilled to lead Oasis students in comprehensive filmmaking and editing projects.
Kristen Lynn Herbert – Music
Kristen Lynn Herbert joins Oasis bringing her experience as a professional working actor and musician. From Philadelphia, PA, she holds a BFA in acting from WVU and has extensive training in various styles of theatre, performance and music. Since the performance bug hit Kristen at a young age, she realized that the artist she had become was truly inspired by the professional performers from her childhood. She realized if she could use her gift to give back and inspire kids in the performing arts, she could make a difference in a child’s life. Some of Kristen’s credentials include: Teaching after-school enrichment programs over the last 6 years, with classes such as Music, Guitar, Piano, Cooking, Acting, Musical Theatre, Improv, Stage Combat, Dance and Movement with companies such as Kid’s Music N’ Motion, Music Together, Got Game Kid’s Camp and Aimee Arts Productions. Kristen also performed with Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theatre Program in and around schools in LA. Working with ages 3-14, Kristen currently teaches private Guitar, Voice, Piano, Flute, Ukulele & Acting Lessons. Whether Kristen is performing for or teaching children, she has found a great love in knowing the impact she can make on a child’s life by not only sharing her experiences but by being a great role model. This kind of work is absolutely inspiring and rewarding.
Dr. Simona Montanari – Language Immersion and Linguistic Advisor
Simona Montanari, Ph.D., is Associate Professor in the Department of Child and Family Studies at California State University, Los Angeles. She received a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Southern California specializing on early multilingual development. Her research, which has focused on the acquisition of phonology, lexicon, morpho-syntax and communicative competence in two or three languages, has been published in the Journal of Child Language, in Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, and in the International Journal of Bilingualism among others. Dr. Montanari has also been involved in the creation and implementation of the first public Italian/English dual language program in the Glendale Unified School District (Los Angeles County), and has been studying its educational outcomes since its launch in 2009. At California State University, Los Angeles, Dr. Montanari teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on language development and second language acquisition in childhood, and she is currently involved in research on phonological development in Spanish-English dual language preschoolers. She also continues to works as a consultant for the Glendale Unified School District and has designed common core standards-aligned curricula for its Italian/English, French/English and German/English dual language programs. She has been working with Oasis since its inception to ensure the highest level of linguistic quality will be given to its students.
Joyce Hisao – Mandarin Language Advisor
Joyce Hsiao brings a wealth of teaching and administrative experience to Oasis Trilingual Community School. She has served in numerous capacities such as a classroom teacher in a Mandarin Dual Language Program, a Mentor Teacher for LAUSD’s Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment Induction, and an assistant advisor for school site principal. Joyce has been a proactive K-5 classroom teacher for 15 years. She holds a BS in Psychology from University at Buffalo, a Master’s in Education from UCLA, and she is a National Board Certified teacher proficient in Mandarin. As the Mandarin Language Advisor of Oasis Trilingual Community School, Joyce will ensure academic quality, human resource development, and the growth of the school while collaborating with administrators in advancement and execution of Oasis’ vision.