Staff Directory

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Ahlbeck, Somi



Somi began being a school nurse since 2015 and is at Magnolia Elementary, Lawton Elementary and the Seattle Preschool Program. The kids call her 'Nurse Somi.' Prior to school nursing, Nurse Somi was a charge nurse at Fairfax Behavioral Health on the adolescent unit and just LOVE working with kiddos in every age group. No matter the demographic, her passion is to encourage and educate individuals about their health so that they feel empowered to achieve anything that they set their mind to. Nurse Somi believes that students must be healthy not only physically but mentally, emotionally, and socially to learn well. Nurse Somi loves school nursing because she gets to be a part of a holistic approach to well-being and build relationships with students, their families, and the community. Find Nurse Somi with the dog/cat (whatever pet) at social events.

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Anderson, Erik

Lead Teacher

Personal Message

I 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 Green Lake with my lovely wife Rachel and our two adopted dogs Luke and Lupe.

Barrera, Michele

Administrative Secretary

Personal Message

Hello! My name is Michele Barrera 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, road trips, 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.

Colando, Julie

Classroom Teacher

Personal Message

I 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).

Cryan, Katie


Personal Message

My name is Katie Cryan Leary and I am the principal of Magnolia Elementary. I bring to this role 26 years of experience as a public-school educator (including elementary and middle school teaching and principal work), 10 years of experience as a public-school parent and 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 am so grateful to have the opportunity to lead the Magnolia Elementary school community in creating a culture of inclusivity, belonging and perspective validation. 


I look forward to meeting and learning more about you and your young person soon! 


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

Dickens, Jennifer

Lead Teacher

Personal Message

Hello 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!

Getzin, Taylor

Lead Teacher

Personal Message

I 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.

Harmer, Toni

Classroom Teacher

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I 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.

Hitchcock, Emily

Special Education Teacher (Access)

Jepsen, Jennifer

Occupational Therapist

Larson, Aaron


Leong, Claire

Classroom Teacher

Personal Message

Hello! 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.

Levin, Abigail


Personal Message

Greetings! 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.

Liner, Devin

Lead Teacher

Personal Message

Hi, 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.

Lusnia, Kelly


Marinella, Jeanie

Instructional Assistant

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Hello! I’m Jeanie Marinella. I will be working as an Instructional Assistant in Special Education at Magnolia Elementary and I am so excited! I can’t wait to work alongside the talented staff at Magnolia Elementary and help develop a positive school culture. I primarily grew up in Shoreline and studied Music at Western Washington University. For the last five years, I have been supporting people with disabilities, teaching private voice lessons, and working in public schools. Most recently, I worked at John Hay as an Instructional Assistant in Special Education.

At John Hay, I worked in Access and Focus. I am inspired to apply the knowledge I’ve obtained at John Hay and continue to learn at Magnolia Elementary. Before moving back to Seattle, I lived in Bellingham for several years. I discovered my passion for human services at a non-profit organization called Work Opportunities. At Work Opportunities, I was an Employment Specialist helping adults with disabilities find and maintain work. This included developing employment positions in community businesses and working directly with 12+ clients. At Work Opportunities, I learned how to give my clients autonomy, strive for acceptance and inclusion in their workplaces, and see abilities rather than disabilities.

The knowledge I gained as an Employment Specialist gave me determination and greater compassion towards others. After moving on from Work Opportunities, I taught private voice lessons along with working at Columbia Elementary in Bellingham as an Instructional Assistant. Working one-on-one with students in my music lessons has given me the ability to discover and understand the needs and learning styles of each individual. I am passionate about tailoring my instruction depending on each student’s needs.

Outside of work, I enjoy performing with my band, Motus, cooking, traveling and seeing friends/family.

Marks, Rachel

Classroom Teacher

Personal Message

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!