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    Magnolia Planning Staff Bios

    Katie Cryan Leary, Principal

    Photo of Principal CryanMy name is Katie Cryan Leary and I am so excited to be the planning principal for Magnolia Elementary’s reopening in the fall for 2019. I bring to this role 25 years of experience as a public-school educator (including elementary and middle school teaching and principal work) as well as a passionate belief in public education as the foundation of our democracy. Throughout my career, I have been completely engaged in the work of creating safe and inclusive school communities that prioritize caring and connection and provide all students with the learning opportunities they need to thrive academically and socially. I look forward to working with our Lead Teacher Team to create a learning community that will welcome all of our students to be engaged at school and involved in the process of learning. My hope is that all Magnolia Elementary students will become useful, contributing members of society who are collaborative, aware, kind, able to solve problems, able to decide what is right for them and able to stand up for what they believe in.

    When I am not at school, I love to run, read, travel, spend time in the mountains and hang out with my family.


    Erik Anderson, Lead Teacher

    Photo of Erik AndersonI am so fortunate to have taught and learned from the amazing community of students, fellow educators, and families at Catherine Blaine K-8 for the past 12 years. I'm always eager for new challenges, so I'm very excited to be a part of the Magnolia Elementary Lead Team. Helping to co-create and design a school has always been a dream of mine and I am grateful for the opportunity to build a student-centered learning environment. I truly love being around creative and enthusiastic young learners; it makes every day memorable. Supporting students and helping them learn and grow makes me look forward to coming to work each day.

    I was born in Nebraska and have lived in many US cities as my father was in the Navy. I received my undergraduate degree at Western Washington University and my Master's in Education through Antioch University. My hobbies include cycling, reading and cooking. I live near Greenlake with my lovely wife Rachel and our two adopted dogs Luke and Lupe.


    Taylor Andrykowski, Lead Teacher

    Photo of Taylor AndrykowskiI love being a part of the Magnolia neighborhood community. Being immersed in the community has made it so I can be more a part of the lives of my students and their families. I earned my teaching certificate from Western Washington University and my Masters in Reading Instruction from Grand Canyon University. One of the things I love about teaching kindergarten is being able to help kids develop interpersonal problem solving and social-emotional skills - life skills! I believe that including choice and play in my classroom is an important part of the kindergarten experience. Outside of school, I love to paint, sculpt and make pottery. I love the art community in Seattle and bringing opportunities for art and creativity into my classroom.

    Team teaching this year has fueled my passion for collaborating with other teachers. I am excited to help make collaboration an important part of Magnolia Elementary with the lead team this year.


    Jen Dickens, Lead Teacher

    Photo of Jen DickensHello Magnolia Elementary! My name is Jen Dickens, also known as “Miss D.” Having the opportunity to co-create this school and be part of the design team is a dream come true! I spend each day learning and growing with our future and the most fascinating people on Earth! I can’t imagine it any other way.

    I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, studied elementary education and Spanish teaching at Central Washington University. I spent my first three years teaching in the Wahluke School District where I taught first grade and bilingual second grade. I continued my education in a Master’s program with an emphasis in teaching English as a Second Language (ESL).

    I’ve spent the last 6 years teaching K-2 at Queen Anne Elementary. This community of learners, teachers and families are what kept me there and I feel so lucky to have been a part of this special place. Leaving my QAE family will be one of the hardest transitions in my career, but I am excited and eager to bring some of the values and strategies that made QAE so amazing, to a new community.

    My students and families know me as passionate about music, sports, languages, books, my dog and whales.

    I’m very fortunate to join such a special team of professionals, creating and establishing a positive learning environment for all of our students at Magnolia Elementary. I look forward to sharing ‘Miss D’ with our learners, families, peers and community, while also learning about all of you! In my heart, this journey is all about coming together to highlight the important values and skills that will empower each student and give them the tools to be good humans while navigating the world!


    Drue Hawrylak, Lead Teacher

    Photo of Drue HawrylakMy calling and my passion are teaching at the elementary school level. I am honored to have the opportunity to participate in the development of the opening of Magnolia Elementary School. As a lifelong learner, I strive to integrate research and coursework to improve instruction and outcomes for students. I love working with staff members across grade bands to support children, staff and families, in order to align instruction, provide resources, and contribute in a holistic manner. My experiences have opened me up to a perspective that creates space for a wide variety of learning, both academic and social/emotional.

    I grew up in New Jersey and moved to Seattle to pursue my master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education. I am now in my 25 year of teaching. During this time, I have worked with students birth through the eighth grade, from a broad spectrum of racial, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds both as a general education teacher and as a special educator. Currently, I am a Resource Room Teacher at Lawton Elementary School and a member of Lawton’s Multi-Tiered System of Support team. For the past two years I have been a Career Ladder Teacher and have achieved National Board Certification as an Exceptional Needs Specialist.


    Devin Liner, Lead Teacher

    Photo of Devin LinerHi, my name is Devin Liner and I have been lucky to live out my passion as an elementary school teacher for the past seven years! I went to Seattle University for a Humanities of Teaching degree and continued in the program to earn my Master’s in Teaching. I would say that attending Seattle University with the focus around social justice and service instilled a strong understanding and drive to create a racially equitable classroom. Knowing that this is not something to just "achieve", I have sought opportunities for professional development and connections with other educators engaging in such powerful and important race and equity work within the classroom.

    My years and experience at Queen Anne Elementary with their focus on Social-emotional learning and Positive Discipline within the classroom align with my hope to teach to the entire child through meaningful connection, voice, and ownership of their learning. Classroom meetings and teaching problem-solving strategies form the heart of our classroom community as we engage in a meaningful exploration of the world.

    Outside of the classroom, I am a Pacific Northwest local. I grew up in North Seattle, and later Shoreline and have always felt that this wet, upper left of the United States had a natural beauty to it that I love so much. My happy place is on a beach, exploring tide pools, or hiking somewhere on the Olympic Peninsula or in the Cascades. When possible, I love taking opportunities to see the world, get out of my comfort zone, and try new things. Bringing these stories and experiences back into the classroom is such a gift!

    I can’t wait for this opportunity to connect with a new community, motivated educators, enthusiastic students and continue to grow as a lifelong learner.


    Rene Ward, Planning Teacher (Consultant)

    Photo of Rene WardHi! My name is Rene Ward and I am working as part-time Planning Teacher for Magnolia Elementary. In this consulting role, I have been working closely with Katie Cryan Leary to develop building-wide systems that support a welcoming and engaging school experience for students, staff, and families. As a part of this consulting role, I will be a member of the Magnolia Lead Team who will work collaboratively to draft the mission and vision, student and family translation plan, and host community meetings. I look forward to getting to know the Magnolia community as we work together to plan the reopening of Magnolia Elementary.

    My background is grounded in teaching our youngest kindergarten learners; giving them the tools they need to thrive academically, socially, and emotionally. This year I stepped out of the classroom and into the Magnolia Planning Teacher role as a way to increase my impact as an educator. I view public schools as an entry point for change, with students traveling through it asking themselves deep questions about who they are, gaining insight on a variety of world perspectives, and taking in what they have learned to create a more just world.

    My step out of the classroom is an exciting one as I continue to work towards ensuring a high-quality school experience for all students, beginning right here with Magnolia Elementary.


    Finn Menzies, Kindergarten Teacher

    Finn Menzies

    Hi! My name is Finn Menzies. I’ve spent the last five years joyfully teaching in Pre-K – 1stgrade classrooms. I couldn’t be more excited to be part of the founding teaching team at Magnolia Elementary.

    I love teaching early learners because I get to help children build their social and emotional skills. I believe that when students feel seen as a person, when they feel that they belong, they grow a natural inclination to become cooperative community members. My teaching style is inspired by my hero, Fred Rogers, who used empathy above all else to engage with the human experience and to learn about the world. Families know me for being gentle and direct when speaking to my students and for using music, art, and theater as universal languages in my classroom.

    I can’t wait to collaborate with this incredible team of educators to bring all students the care and environment they need to become engaged, curious, and compassionate learners.

    When I’m not teaching, I’m tending to my garden, writing poetry, cooking for my wife who is in medical school, or getting out to the mountains on weekends.


    Rachel Marks, Classroom Teacher

    Rachel Marks

    Hi! I’m Rachel Marks and I am a kindergarten teacher and a parent at Magnolia Elementary.

    I am a PNW native and I am coming from QAE.  I am grateful for my 9 years of growth there. I am so excited to join this community and help build an environment where students feel safe and valued while growing a love of learning. I believe in finding ways to connect with students (through play, art, etc.). My teaching style is kind and firm and I establish classroom routines to help students know what’s expected. These routines include singing, dancing, yoga and silliness daily!

    I have been teaching kindergarten since 2009 and there is no grade I would rather teach. I love getting them fresh and helping them navigate school for the first time. Those first weeks are exhausting weeks, but so much fun! I love teaching kindergartners that they are writers, readers, scientists, and mathematicians…. But more importantly I love teaching them that they are important members of our community. Helping kindergartners solve problems, learn through mistakes, make repairs, be inclusive and empathetic is my passion.

    As much as I love seeing their brains grow daily academically, watching kindergartners play is the best part of my day. I believe in choice time daily where I can help them build friendships, work through conflicts and pursue their passions. When I’m not teaching, I’m hanging out with my family. My husband (Greg) and my kiddos (Simon and Samara). I love to run, paddle board, be active, travel, read and play games.  I can’t wait to get to know your families!  


    Kayla May, Classroom Teacher

    Kayla MayHi! I am Kayla May. I am so excited to be a part of the Magnolia Elementary team and continue to work in the community! I have been teaching for the past seven years in grades kindergarten through second. Growing up with a mom who was a ballet teacher, I was constantly surrounded by someone who absolutely loved to teach and who was also inspired by the excitement and joy that students can have towards learning. Seeing this everyday was inspiring and gave me my first inclination that a career in teaching was in my future. My love of education and teaching continued to grow in high school when I began teaching ballet classes at my childhood studio. Seeing the eagerness, passion and creativity in my students brought me such joy and pride. I continued to teach dance to elementary students in Arizona while earning my Bachelor’s in Fine Arts at the University of Arizona. During this time, I fully realized where my true passions lie: education. In 2011 I moved to Seattle to attend the University of Washington, where I earned my Master’s in Teaching with endorsements in Elementary Education and English Language Learners. I learned quickly that my educator heart is with the lower elementary students. I love the creativity, collaboration, and social emotional learning that happens during these primary years, and I love seeing their participation in creating a positive classroom community and how they take an ownership in their learning! I look forward to continuing to collaborate and grow as an educator with the Magnolia Elementary team and community!

    When I am not at school, I am reading, crafting, attending Seattle sporting events, or adventuring with my husband, Drew and our dog, Rainier! 


    Molly Meck, Classroom Teacher

    Molly MeckI am so excited to be joining this amazing team of educators in Magnolia. I have spent the last 10 years teaching mostly 1st grade in Seattle Public Schools. I started at Arbor Heights in West Seattle and then joined Queen Anne Elementary in my 3rd year. I can’t tell you what an honor it is to spend my days with students that I truly believe are going to change our world for the better.

    I came to teaching a little late in life. My first career was in television news and after graduating from Washington State University, (GO COUGS!) I worked as a reporter at stations in the Tri- Cities, Eugene, Portland and Seattle. I left broadcasting when my kids were born. And it’s because of them that I got involved in education. Hayley, now 22 and Sam, 19 are confident, caring young adults and I am always looking forward to our time together. They are both graduates of Ballard High School and I am thankful for the many SPS teachers that helped them become the people they are today.

    As a teacher, I am passionate about creating a classroom where all students feel safe and connected. I believe in tying curriculum to real world ideas and I look for opportunities to connect with a real-world audience using technology. I have experience with Project Based Learning and I am currently a member of the Seattle Public Schools Information Technology Advisory Committee. I use Twitter to learn and grow as a teacher so if you want to know what I’m thinking about in education please follow me.  @MollyMeck

    When I'm not teaching, I am always looking for ways to get outside!  I love the outdoors and the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. I can’t wait to start this new journey with all of you!


    Laura Shaw, Classroom Teacher

    photo of Laura Shaw

    Hi Magnolia Elementary! I’m so lucky to get to work alongside this incredible staff as we build a community that honors every one of its members and their perspectives. Coming to work at Magnolia Elementary is a particular joy because I grew up in Magnolia myself! Now I’m living in West Seattle but still love to run the loop at Discovery Park or play catch at Raye Field.

    I first taught in Brooklyn after graduating from the University of Washington. During my seven years in New York, I taught 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. I loved working with kids and families who came from all over the world. Then, I decided to move back home to Seattle and started teaching 2nd grade at Queen Anne Elementary. It was the youngest grade I’d taught and I was nervous—turns out I love it! I also got to teach 5th grade Math, Science, and Social Studies at Queen Anne as part of a departmentalized 5th grade, which was really fun and let me dive deeply into those subjects. Now that I have taught for 10 years I know that some of my favorite things about being a teacher are hearing my students’ thoughts (about everything!), playing games, and reading beautiful stories. I cannot wait to do all those things here at Magnolia Elementary.


    Cassie Jones, Classroom Teacher

    Cassie JonesHi! My name is Cassie Jones and I couldn’t be more thrilled to join the team at Magnolia Elementary School!  I grew up in a small town in Maryland and knew early on that I wanted to be a teacher, impacting young children and instilling a love for learning, just as my teachers did for me!  I earned my undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from Penn State University and moved to Washington, D.C. right after graduating. I spent the first five years of my career teaching kindergarten and second grade in Fairfax, VA.  There, I discovered my passion for creating a student-centered classroom environment, developing their social emotional intelligence and fostering a classroom community in which students are invited to take academic risks, challenge themselves and grow as individuals.  I also experienced first-hand the importance of strong, early literacy instruction, which led me on my Master’s Degree journey at George Mason University in reading instruction and intervention, with a focus in special education. I moved to Seattle in 2015 and have spent the past 4 years teaching kindergarten and 1st grade at Catharine Blaine K-8.  Being a part of the Magnolia community has been a wonderful experience and I am excited to continue to learn and grow as a member of this amazing staff at Magnolia Elementary School!

    When I’m not at school, I love to read, cook, spend time with my friends, explore the beautiful Pacific Northwest, and Macramé!


    Claire Leong, Classroom Teacher

    Claire LeongHello! I am beyond excited to be joining the Magnolia Elementary School team. Currently I live in Magnolia and teach 1st grade in Tukwila. I am so grateful for the opportunity to join this incredible team. Prior to teaching in Tukwila I worked in Seattle Public Schools for 4 years as a tutor and student teacher.

    I grew up in San Luis Obispo, CA and moved to Seattle for college. During my years at Seattle Pacific University while I was studying Elementary Education, I fell in love with the northwest. After earning my B.A. I pursued my Master’s in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Living in Boston for a year made me eager to return to Washington, and I am thankful to be back in this beautiful place.

    One of my favorite things about being in the classroom is seeing students develop a sense of ownership and confidence in their accomplishments. Seeing students solve a hard problem and tell me “I am smart!” or “Even though it took me a long time, I got it!” Is why I teach. Building these relationships with students is foundational and essential, and I cannot wait to meet my future students and families. I also love diving deep into great books, science experiments and projects as a class. In my classroom I place a high value on humor and strive to create a community that is welcoming, encouraging, and rigorous.

    Outside of the classroom and in my free time you will find me reading, hiking, and traveling.


    Toni Harmer, Classroom Teacher

    Toni HarmerI am honored and excited to serve Magnolia Elementary as an elementary educator.  My name is Toni Harmer and I’m a Magnolia resident, parent, teacher, and volunteer.  I recently completed my Masters of Arts in Teaching from Antioch University and spent the last two years in kindergarten, third, and fourth grades at Seattle Public Schools.  

    My teaching philosophy is based on a foundation of creating authentic relationships with my students and their families.  I work to understand my students’ strengths and needs as a way to better serve them.  I believe all children can learn but not all in the same way and I utilize music, movement, art, and technology to create engaging projects and lessons for all learners.  School is an opportunity to demonstrate democratic values and our role as citizens, and that is true for the classroom community.  Student voice and choice are valued in everything including expectations, celebrations, topics of study, and conflict resolution.  I work hard to role model social and emotional capacities while acknowledging that I’m an ongoing learner as well and my students are my teachers.

    Outside of the classroom, I enjoy time with my family and lead a Girl Scout Troop in Magnolia.  My hobbies include reading, baking, gardening, and walking.  Prior to teaching, I earned a Bachelor Degree in Business and spent 16 years in corporate training and leadership development in the Seattle area.  I’m looking forward to learning from this accomplished team of educators and getting to know more students and families in Magnolia.  


    Julie Colando, Classroom Teacher

    Julie ColandoI am so happy to be part of the Magnolia Elementary community! I love teaching and learning alongside kids beyond measure and to do so with such a stellar team of educators committed to equity, academic rigor, connection, and belonging for all students is a dream and an honor. 

    My fourth grade teacher, Ms. Barientez (Roseville, MI) was the first person in my life that truly made me feel seen. This very well might be why this particular age of development resonates with me so deeply. I strive to make all students feel seen, heard, and valued. 

    Some of my favorite things about teaching include:

    • cultivating a classroom culture based on connection, the power of YET, and inclusivity
    • the confluence of ideas, interests, and voices
    • the hearts and minds of children
    • bearing witness to students identifying their differences and discovering their superpowers
    • books, language, research

    For the past nine years I have taught at Queen Anne Elementary (2013-present), and John Stanford International School (2010-13). I have my Masters in Education (Antioch University), my B.A. in English (Michigan State University), and my National Board Certification in Literacy (early/middle childhood). Prior to teaching I was a designer/letterpress printer, and prior to that I worked in film/tv production. 

    Outside of school I enjoy reading, exploring, making things, and being with my family (husband Chris and daughters Anna and Finn). 


    Abby Levin, Librarian

    Abby LevinGreetings! It is with joy and gratitude that I introduce myself as inaugural Teacher-Librarian at Magnolia Elementary. I'm thrilled to establish a dynamic library program at Magnolia and partner with this talented team on positive social change through education. After over a decade in public and private K-8 teaching roles here and abroad, Magnolia will be the second library program I’ve been lucky to launch. I currently serve as founding Teacher-Librarian at Cedar Park Elementary, a new Seattle Public School in Lake City. In this role, I seek to promote a lifelong love of books while harnessing their power to nurture self-awareness, ignite curiosity, and grow empathic global citizens. As at Cedar Park, an early priority at Magnolia is to develop a rich collection that celebrates the diverse voices of our community and our world.

    Along with representation, core education values include innovation (opportunities for art, technology, makerspace), community (student leadership, social/emotional learning, strong relationships), and authentic inquiry (boosting students’ natural sense of wonder). While preparing students to be systematic researchers and critical thinkers, I seek to promote balance via antidotes to information overload such as mindfulness, nature, and movement.

    I join librarian colleagues across the district and nation in advocating for school libraries, most recently through a collaborative K-12 zine project called Library Love Letters. I live with my husband and two kids (grades K & 3) in east Ballard, where we create lots of things, make lots of messes, and ask lots of questions.


    Jon Skoog, P.E Teacher

    Jon Skoog

    I am extremely excited to be joining the Magnolia Elementary community of educators, students and parents! I am also thrilled to be joining this community as the Health and Fitness ambassador. It has been a dream and goal of mine to become a PE teacher as two of my passions in life are working with kids and enjoying sports. I have been a teacher for the past 19 years in the Shoreline School District, teaching both 5th and 6th grades.

    It is an honor to be joining a school community who has such strong beliefs in Positive Discipline and Social Justice.  I can’t wait to connect with each and every student and bring the joys of being active, playing sports, and living a healthy life to them and the community. 

    I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest and went to college at the University of Washington (Go Dawgs!).  I currently live in Wallingford with my amazing wife Julie and our three daughters.  My interests include playing soccer and golf, following sports, listening to music, and hanging out with friends and family.


    Andy Wakefield, Art Teacher

    Hello Magnolia families! My name is Andy Wakefield and I am so thrilled to be joining you in September! Next year will be my 10th year teaching and the beginning of my 7th year with Seattle Public Schools, and I couldn’t be more excited. I feel incredibly fortunate to be an arts educator and go to work each day looking forward to engaging students in fun and unique ways. In my art room we experiment with all types of mediums, study master artists and explore how cultures have expressed themselves in the arts throughout history.  We will learn basic/foundational art skills while also making personally meaningful art, exploring who we are as individuals and sharing our unique perspectives. We will also acquire many skills that apply outside of the art room, such as how to learn something challenging, perseverance, critical thinking skills and creative problem solving. We might also make some messes, have some laughs and smile a lot along the way too.  

    Outside of my classroom, I love spending time with my wife and two children. I try to see art in person each week- I am a big fan of modern, contemporary and conceptual artists. I also love listening to music, reading, coffee and painting. I can’t wait to meet all of you!


    Kyle Robinson-Jaynes, Access Teacher

    Kyle Robinson-JaynesHi, my name is Kyle Jaynes.  I’m very excited to be joining such a talented team of educators and have the opportunity to be a part of the Magnolia Elementary School community from the start!  I’ve been working in special education for 14 years now.  Ten of those years were spent as an instructional assistant in various inclusion programs in both the Mercer Island and Seattle school districts.  I’ve taught 3 years in an elementary ACCESS position and am currently teaching in Ballard High School’s Life Skills program.  I’m thrilled to be back at the elementary level and back in an ACCESS program where my passion and talents for teaching are rooted. 

    I grew up in Manson, WA on the north shore of Lake Chelan.  I moved to Seattle right after college and have been living in the Queen Anne neighborhood ever since.  When I’m not enjoying time with my family (Leslie, Nettie 7, and Parker 2), you’ll probably find me on a motorcycle ride to a favorite coffee shop or a local beach for some fly fishing.


    Natalie Pret, ELL Teacher

    Natalie PretHi! My name is Natalie Pret and I am thrilled to join the Magnolia Elementary community! I feel so fortunate to be part of the collaborative staff at Magnolia. I believe that by collaborating we can improve our own practice, attend to students’ individual needs, and come up with creative solutions to challenges that arise.  I can’t wait to work closely with students, staff, and families to create a school where everyone is included and empowered to participate fully.

    My passion has always been teaching English learners (ELs). I, too, was an English learner in elementary school!  Through my teaching I ensure that students have the academic, cultural, and social/emotional support they need to be successful in their grade level. I also believe that every student’s voice must be heard and every student’s contribution to the community is vital. I work hard to make sure all students feel included and see themselves reflected in the content that they learn.

    I have been teaching ELs for 9 years in Seattle Public Schools and before that I taught students at the University of Washington for many years. I completed my BA in Political Science and South Asian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. I then got a Master’s in Teaching English as a Second Language at the University of Washington and earned my Elementary Teaching Certification from Western Washington University.

    I come from a multi-cultural family (Colombian and Swiss) and I grew up in several countries. My favorite thing to do is to visit my family which is spread around the world. In Seattle, I love spending time with my husband and daughter, taking long urban walks, and getting to the beach or mountains as much as possible!


    Michele Ramirez, Administrative Secretary

    Photo of Michele Ramirez

    Hello! My name is Michele Ramirez and I am so excited to be a part of the Magnolia Elementary team. I have a passion for creating welcoming spaces that allow for creative, safe, and inclusive learning environments. I earned my Bachelor’s degree at the University of Florida in Political Science and Environmental Studies and my Masters in Nonprofit Management with a focus on Global Affairs from Northeastern University. I began my love for Seattle Public Schools as a City Year AmeriCorps Member, where the diversity of this district fueled my interest in bringing cultural understanding and acceptance into every learning space. Most recently, I come to Magnolia Elementary from the Seattle School Board Office, which has given me a fantastic understanding of the policies and procedures that run our district.

    I was born in Pensacola, Florida and enjoy going home to visit my family whenever I can. My hobbies include cooking, hiking, kayaking, and spending time with my family and friends. As a member of the Magnolia community, I can’t wait to be a part of this incredible school.