UCDS Graduate School of Education

Meet the Faculty

Our Faculty

Katie Morrison, Ph.D., Dean of Graduate School of Education and Core Faculty


Katie Morrison is the Dean of Graduate School of Education and a Core Faculty member. For UCDS Schools, Katie was the Science Specialist and Resident Program Co-Coordinator. Katie taught science for 21 years, and she loved doing experiments and collecting data with her students. Katie continues to be an active committee member of the National Science Teaching Association, sitting on the Outstanding Science Trade Book Selection Committee as well as the Preschool and Elementary Science Teaching Committee. Katie is also the Board Chair for the nonprofit organization Friends of Cooper Island, which supports a long term Arctic seabird study. She regularly presents on Science Education at local and national conferences.

Katie received a Ph.D. from the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Molecular and Cellular Biology and a B.S. in Biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Erica Swanson, Student Services Director and Core Faculty


Erica Riley Swanson is a Core Faculty member and the Student Services Director. She also serves as a Student Teacher Supervisor in the School of Education at Seattle Pacific University. Erica has taught middle school language arts for twelve years and believes that building authentic relationships, placing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging at the core of all discourse, and being courageous around failure creates transformative opportunities for learning and action. Erica has presented at regional conferences including the Northwest Association of Independent Schools Fall Educator Conference, and the Northwest Teachers for Social Justice. She earned a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Washington. 

Hannah Bahn, Instructional Faculty

Hannah Bahn is an Instructional Faculty member in the UCDS Graduate School of Education. Hannah is the Academic Director at Rainier Scholars. Prior to joining Rainier Scholars, she worked at independent schools in California, Arkansas, and Washington as a curriculum director, instructional coach, and social studies educator. Her areas of expertise include curriculum design, grading and assessment, action research, and community-based learning. She enjoys walking, reading, and playing with her two dogs in her spare time. 

Hannah holds a B.A. in Anthropology and Education from Haverford College, a M.PS (Master’s of Public Service) from the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, and an Ed.D in Educational Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Sylvia Bagley, Instructional Faculty (emeritus)

Dr. Sylvia Bagley is a member of the faculty’s Academic Affairs Committee and instructional faculty emeritus for UCDS. Sylvia is a lecturer at the University of Washington, where she directs the instructional leadership masters specialization in the College of Education. She was the Fritz Burns Endowed Chair of Instructional Leadership at Mount St. Mary’s University in Los Angeles and was formerly an elementary school teacher and math coach in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Sylvia received her B.A. in Literature and Music from the University of California at Santa Cruz, her California Teaching Credential from California State University at San Marcos, and her Masters and Ph.D. in the Philosophy and History of Education from the University of California at Los Angeles.

Ben Chickadel, Instructional Faculty


Ben Chickadel is an Instructional Faculty member at the UCDS Graduate School of Education. He has over 20+ years of teaching experience at UCDS and has been the preschool through fifth-grade Design & Technology Specialist at UCDS for most of them. For 10 years, he co-directed the Creative Fusion summer arts program that connected Northwest artists and children to make art during a week-long mentor/mentee studio experience. He has presented at national conferences including the annual National Arts Education Association conference. Ben earned his M.F.A. at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and his Master’s in Human Centered Design & Engineering from The University of Washington.

Carmine Chickadel, Instructional Faculty


Carmine “Chick” Chickadel is an Instructional Faculty member. He has been an educator for over four decades. He was an independent school administrator for The Bush School and The Evergreen School, both in Pacific Northwest. In addition, he has taught in numerous college and university graduate and undergraduate programs, most recently at Seattle University and the University of Montana. His expertise is in educational cultures and philosophies, curriculum design, and teacher training and mentoring. Chick speaks and teaches frequently on the topic of qualitative evaluation and narrative assessments.

Chick was a co-founder in 2006 of Ravenna Solutions, designers of the innovative web-based platform ORCAS. ORCAS software is a sophisticated solution for student assessment, curriculum management, data storage.

Chick holds a BA in English from the University of Delaware and MIS from the University of Montana School of Fine Arts in the arts and education.

Deborah Chickadel, Instructional Faculty


Deb Chickadel is an Instructional Faculty member, the UCDS Resident Program Coordinator, Level Coordinator and Classroom Teacher in the UCDS Elementary School program. At UCDS she’s taught students from early-childhood through 4th grade. Active in also teaching teachers, Deb has presented and taught at the NSTA annual conferences since 2014 and facilitated mathematical workshops both nationally and internationally.

Deb earned her M.Ed. at the University of Washington in 1996 and has been teaching elementary and middle school classrooms since then.

Brenda Cram, Instructional Faculty

Brenda Cram is an Instructional Faculty member and currently serving in the role of Associate Head of Giddens School. She has held Associate, Assistant, Division, and Department Head roles at The Evergreen School and Bertschi School prior to her work at Giddens. Brenda is a founding faculty member of the NWAIS Emerging Leaders Program and serves as the Head Coach of the program. She is a certified leadership coach through Elena Aguilar and Bright Morning Consulting and currently consults with a range of educational leaders in both independent and public schools. Holding a Master’s degree from Lesley University in Curriculum and Instruction, Brenda established a resident program at Giddens School with the goal of immersing aspiring educators in a program that centers social justice and equity into curriculum design and pedagogy. In her free time, she likes to run with friends and her dog, Harlan, eat any and all food that is shared with her and cross country ski or hike in the mountains. She loves a good joke and has an affinity for clever comics (Far Side and the New Yorker). Left alone for several hours, Brenda would listen to loud music, sing at the top of her lungs, make pizza, and sit down with friends to eat together and tell stories.

Melinda Devin Deal, Instructional Faculty


Melinda Deal is an Instructional Faculty member, and she has been an enthusiastic classroom teacher of every grade level from preschool through eighth for over 35 years. After teaching 10 years in New York State public schools, she joined the faculty at UCDS, where she has been a classroom teacher, a curricular support teacher for Arts, Science, and Technology Specialists and a presenter at local and national conferences. 

Melinda holds a B.A. in Education and Psychology from the University of Washington and a M.A. in Educational Programming from the University of Connecticut.

Susan Foley, Instructional Faculty


Susan Foley is an Instructional Faculty member and has been a classroom teacher for over 30 years. Before coming to UCDS, she taught Preschool-Kindergarten and was the Interim Director at HHCC Daycare in Boston, MA. In her years at UCDS, Susan worked with students from early childhood through 4th grade. She has advised the UCDS Schools All-School Meeting since it began over 25 years ago. She has presented about student agency and advocacy through class meetings and all-school meetings at the NWAIS Educators Conference. 

Susan holds a B.A. in Psychology and Education from The University of Massachusetts and an M.A. in Special Education from The University of Washington.

David Garrick, Instructional Faculty

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David Garrick is an Instructional Faculty member and Dean Emeritus of the Graduate School. David has been an educator, administrator, and consultant at UCDS for over twenty years. His teaching experience ranges from children as young as three to adult professionals with years of experience in the teaching field.  David has consulted about mathematics curriculum design, school culture, and leadership with Seattle Public Schools, Philadelphia Public Schools, Independent Schools throughout the US and with Ascend International School in Mumbai, India.

David holds a B.A. in History from the University of Washington and an M.A. in Fine Arts from the University of Montana. He earned his Washington State teaching credentials from Western Washington University.

Jessica Garrick, Instructional Faculty

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Jessica Garrick is an Instructional Faculty member, artist, and teacher living in Seattle, Washington. She has been the Art Specialist at UCDS for 25 plus years, working with students aged 3 to 11. Jessica serves as the Division Head for the Specialist Team at UCDS. The Specialist Division includes teachers in Art, Music, Science, Library, Design & Technology, Spanish, and Physical Education. Jessica collaborates on curriculum development with teachers from various disciplines and consults with teachers to develop art curriculum.  She has been a member of the Washington Art Education Association (WAEA) for 16 years and served as the President of the WAEA from 2021 – 2023 and regularly presents on art education at the state and national levels. 

Jessica earned her BFA in Visual Arts from the University of Montana and her MA in Integrated Arts and Education from the University of Montana. 

Skúli Gestsson, Instructional Faculty

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Skúli Gestsson is an Instructional Faculty member in the UCDS Graduate School of Education. Skúli is starting his fifth year teaching music at UCDS after teaching in Icelandic elementary and lower secondary schools for seven years. Skúli holds an M.A. in music education from University of Washington and B.Ed. from University of Iceland. He is currently a PhD candidate at UW, has taught classes on musical cultures, songwriting and art pedagogy in higher education, and written elementary music textbooks. Born and raised in Iceland, Skúli co-founded the band Dikta in 1999 which went on to record five albums and tour internationally.

Melissa Holbert, Instructional Faculty


Melissa Holbert is an Instructional Faculty member and has been an educator for 20+ years. She started her career teaching in the public schools in the Kent School District (Kent, Washington) teaching 3rd-4th grade. Melissa then began teaching at UCDS and has taught at a variety of levels for over 15+ years. She is also a consultant with UCDS and works with their consulting team educating other teachers around the country and the world. 

Melissa holds a B.A. in Liberal Studies from the University of Washington and has a current Washington State Teaching Certificate with endorsements in Special Education and Psychology, she also has an M.A. in Education from Lesley University.

Drew Holloway, Instructional Faculty


Drew Holloway is an Instructional Faculty member. Drew joined the faculty of UCDS in August of 2000. Since that time he has taught across the school, both as a classroom teacher and music specialist. He currently works as the Digital Media Specialist at UCDS. Drew earned his M.A.T. from Trinity University in Washington, DC.

Sara Hoofnagle, Instructional Faculty

Sara Hoofnagle is an Instructional Faculty member and a seventh-grade science teacher at Eckstein Middle School, Seattle Public Schools. Throughout her 13 years as a classroom teacher, Sara has taught science at comprehensive middle and high schools in Colorado and Washington. Before entering the classroom, she worked for an environmental organization training classroom teachers. Sara earned her M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Colorado at Denver and a Bachelor of Science from Cornell University. 

Sara enjoys a good book, skiing and hiking, running, and eating delicious food with family and friends.

Nimisha Joshi, Instructional Faculty

Nimisha Joshi is an Instructional Faculty member. Her 15 years in education include teaching PK-7 as a classroom teacher, as a specialist, serving as an administrative leader, and DEI practitioner at international schools, and independent schools in Seattle. Working with the Seattle Teacher Residency (STR) program at UW she enjoys working with the teachers and advocating for educational equity. Nimisha’s self-care is to carve out time to do things that bring joy such as Afro-Brazilian dancing, Capoeira, hiking, and running. She is a self-identified expert in loading a dishwasher to maximize its capacity.

Nimisha holds an M.A. in English from the University of Mumbai and an M.A. in Educational Leadership and Administrative Licensure from the University of Northern Iowa. She has also participated in a year-long national SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) program and the NWAIS Emerging Leadership Institute.

Patrick King, Lecturer

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Patrick King (he/him) is an educator, consultant, and lifelong learner. Patrick is a Lecturer with the GSE. He comes from a background in curriculum development for various non-profits such as The Representation Project and classroom teaching. In the past few years, Patrick has stepped into Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion roles full-time and is currently working at UCDS as the DEI Curriculum Specialist. In this role, he enjoys collaborating with faculty, administrators, students, and families to find joy, further belonging, and asking questions to spark transformative change. He has presented a variety of DEI-related topics at a number of conferences such as NWAIS and NAIS’ People of Color Conference.

Patrick holds a B.A. in Media Studies and Political Studies from Pitzer College. 

Kawai Lai, Instructional Faculty

Kawai Lai believes in the power of visuals and finds purpose at the intersection of leadership, equity, and strategy. She is a designer and facilitator partnering with leaders across multiple industries to plan for the future and brings an equity lens and a visual practice to everything she does. Currently, she’s a Senior Transformation Consultant with August Public, an org. design consultancy focused on the future of work. She is the co-author of The New Team Habits © 2020, which provides practices for leaders to build better team habits, and the creator of the Strategic Planning Playbook, a step-by-step guide demystifying strategy for leaders who want to run an inclusive and joyful process. She has an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering.

José Leonor, Instructional Faculty

José Leonor is an Instructional Faculty member in the UCDS Graduate School of Education. He comes to Seattle from Northwest Arkansas, where he founded Thaden School, a 6-12 independent school. Most recently he served as Middle School Director at The Bush School. He has previously served as a teacher, coach, advisor, and facilitator at non-profit independent schools in San Diego and New York. In addition to his work with students, José has most enjoyed recruiting, developing, and leading educators and school leaders in serving their communities and fulfilling their educational missions. He is currently serving as a coach and consultant, where he focuses on his passion for organizational culture and youth and leadership development.

In his free time, José supports the Jets, Yankees, and Knicks, loves watching films, and travels around the country by road, enjoying this nation’s hidden gems. He and his spouse enjoy two wonderful rambunctious ‘doodles, Carlton and Nora.

Originally from New York City, José graduated from Princeton University. He holds an A.B. in Comparative Literature and an M.A. in Organization and Leadership in Education from Klingenstein Center at Teachers College Columbia University.

Kimberly Mitchell, Instructional Faculty


Kimberly Mitchell is an Instructional Faculty member, researcher and international speaker on inquiry-based instructional methods. She teaches at the University of Washington’s College of Education and is the author of Experience Inquiry. A former Teach For America corps member, high school vice principal and elementary principal, Kimberly was also a Senior Program Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Director of Partner Engagement for Teach for All in Argentina.

Kimberly received her BA in History and Philosophy from Skidmore College and her MA in Administration and Policy Analysis from Stanford University.

Abby Sandberg, Ph.D., Instructional Faculty

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Abby Sandberg is an Instructional Faculty member and the Director of Learning Support at UCDS. In her 16 years at UCDS, she has worked with teachers at all grade levels to maximize the academic and social success of their students. During her tenure, she has also served as the Early Elementary Division Head for 7 years. In addition, she has spent several years designing the curriculum for the UCDS Experienced Teacher Cohort, an annual multi-day educator workshop. Before joining UCDS, Abby worked with a broad range of learners from preschoolers to university students. Abby received a Ph.D. in School Psychology from Illinois State University and a B.S. in Psychology from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Katharine Sjoberg, Instructional Faculty


Katharine Sjoberg is an Instructional Faculty Member and educator at UCDS. Throughout her twenty years of teaching, she has taught students from preschool to fifth grade, serving as a classroom teacher, Division Head, and Learning Support teacher. Katharine has presented and instructed at conferences nationally and internationally.

Katharine holds a B.A. in Mathematics from Mount Holyoke College and a M.A. in Teaching from Seattle Pacific University.

Paula Smith, Instructional Faculty


Paula Smith is an instructional faculty member and has served as the Head of School at UCDS for more than 25 years after first arriving as a lead teacher in 1987. She loves working side-by-side with such a creative and passionate group of educators as they reimagine school design and provide a collaborative working model for the 21st century. A native of the Pacific Northwest, Paula received herBachelor of Education degree from Western Washington University, a Master of Education degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Washington, and a P-12 Principal Endorsement from the State of Washington. She enjoys the fact that two of her grandsons are now a part of the UCDS community and still considers the continuing evolution of the school to be the focal point of her career in education.

Matt Swanson, Ph.D., Instructional Faculty

Matt Swanson is an instructional faculty member and also serves as the Middle School Music Teacher and Chair of the Performing Arts Department at the Bush School in Seattle. He previously taught at UCDS as a classroom teacher and music teacher and also taught music at St. Johnsbury Academy Jeju in South Korea. He received his Ph.D. in Music Education from the University of Washington, a Master’s in curriculum and instruction from the University of Washington, and a Bachelor of Arts from Whitman College.

Jennifer Vary, Instructional Faculty

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Jennifer Vary is an Instructional Faculty member and Assistant Head of School at UCDS. During her 17 years at UCDS, she has taught all grades from preschool through fifth grade. 

Jennifer earned her Master of Education degree in Curriculum and Design from Lesley University. 

Aliya Virani, Instructional Faculty

Aliya Virani is an instructional faculty member, who has worked in independent schools for the last 23 years in various capacities, from teaching elementary grades to serving as Curriculum Director, Director of Inclusion and Community Building, and then Director of Admissions. She currently serves as the Lower School Director at Bush School. Aliya obtained her M.A. degree in Elementary Education from NYU and a Master of Education in private school leadership from Columbia University. Aliya’s love of learning and service led her to co-found an international summer program called Global Encounters and previously served on the Annie Wright Board of Trustees. Aliya treasures any opportunity to learn from other educators and most importantly her students!

Katie Walters-Krohn, Instructional Faculty

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Katie Walters-Krohn is an Instructional Faculty member and the Director of the UCDS  Infant/Toddler Education Program. Katie has been at UCDS since 2006. 

Katie holds a M.S. in Early Childhood Public Policy and Advocacy from Walden University and a B.A. in Elementary Education and Liberal Studies from Smith College. 

Amanda Ward, Instructional Faculty

Amanda Ward is an Instructional Faculty member and is beginning her fourth year as Head of School at The Island School, a K-5 independent elementary school on Bainbridge Island. Prior to her current role, Amanda spent 20 years in public education in Kitsap County, serving in a variety of roles including high school English and Social Studies teacher, department chair, instructional coach, dean of students, new teacher support specialist, National Board facilitator, and associate principal.

Amanda served as a national teacher fellowship with Hope Street Group, conducting research with other fellows on teacher preparation programs. She presented this research at the National Board’s National Conference in Washington, D.C. Amanda has also presented at local conferences about the positive impact of learning walks on both beginning and experienced teachers.

Amanda graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a B.A. in American Studies, earned her Master in Teaching at Seattle University, and received her administrative credentials from the University of Washington’s Danforth Program. She is a National Board Certified Teacher and holds both a Washington State teaching certificate and principal certificate.

Amanda enjoys running in the woods near her home, gardening, practicing yoga, and spending time with family and friends.

Lelia Yerxa, Instructional Faculty


Lelia Yerxa is an Instructional Faculty member and has been teaching for 10 years. She has been on the faculty at UCDS for four years, teaching in 1st grade through 4th grade classrooms. Before this, she taught at the elementary level in New York City public schools and taught English as a Foreign Language to children and adults in Moscow, Russia. She has also worked in staff development at Songadeewin of Keewaydin, a summer camp in Vermont, for 13 years. 

Lelia holds a B.A. in International Politics and Economics and Russian from Middlebury College, and an M.A. in Elementary Inclusive Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.

The UCDS team is incredibly warm and personable, while also delivering professional, quality content in an organized, efficient way. Every hour with them felt purposeful and worthwhile. I left each class a better educator!
UCDS Institute Student