Damon Grant, Principal

Damon Grant was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She first became interested in education while attending Dartmouth College, where she earned a BA in English.

After graduating from Dartmouth, she moved to the Bay Area in 2004 and taught 2nd and 4th grades at the San Francisco Day School before going to Stanford University to receive her MA in Education.

Ms. Grant joined the Unity High School staff in 2007 and has worked as an English teacher, Advisor, and the Director of Instruction over the past eight years.

She was part of the team that wrote the charter for Oakland Unity Middle School while getting her Administrative credential through New Leaders for New Schools. This is her second year as Principal of Oakland Unity Middle School.

Kate Goedeker, Assistant Principal

Kate Goedeker earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and comparative politics from Loyola University Chicago. While in Chicago, she worked for Loyola’s School of Education and taught in Chicago Public Schools. When her students won scholarships to college in a knowledge bowl, she was driven to pursue her Masters degree in Education.

Ms. Goedeker served as a middle school social studies teacher, teacher mentor, and instructional coach in Waianae, Hawaii. While there, she helped found a non-profit organization, Hoku Scholars, dedicated to ensuring all students have college opportunities. Ms. Goedeker’s passion for education, community, and nature further developed in Hawaii.

Her involvement in an Educational Leadership program in Hawaii introduced her to dynamic leaders in education who were based in the Bay Area. She was inspired to move from the islands to the mainland in July 2014. Ms. Goedeker was the Assistant Principal of a K-8 charter school in the Fruitvale. While it was refreshing to be on a campus with little scholars, her true passion is middle school. She is so excited to BUILD and CREATE at Oakland Unity Middle School.

Thanh Le, English

Thanh Le was born in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and moved to the States with his family at the age of 10. Thanh has one brother, one sister, one nephew, three nieces, and one “on-the-way” niece or nephew.

Thanh Le became a first generation college graduate in May 2015 and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, Business Administration and Legal Studies from the University of Arkansas. While at Arkansas, he worked in Washington D.C. for a Senator and a Congressman. He also interned for a fundraising firm, law firm and a lobbying firm.

Thanh is a proud member of his fraternity, Kappa Alpha Order. He is an advocate for the College Housing Infrastructure Act and was on the Board of Directors for the Fraternity and Sorority Political Action Committee. Outside of his political work, Thanh have worked as an Operation Coordinator and Campus Campaign Coordinator for Teach For America in New York City and Arkansas. During his senior year of college, Thanh was accepted to Teach For America Bay Area and recently made his big move from Arkansas to California.

His interests include traveling, photography, politics, staying healthy, designs, and technology. He is excited to live and work in the same community here in Oakland.

Alicia Farre, Science

Alicia Farre grew up outside of Houston and started working with kids on staff at a children’s museum.  She earned a geology degree from the University of Texas at Austin with an emphasis in teaching science. Summers working at camps, outdoor education programs, and community foundations strengthened her belief in hands-on science for all students.

After graduation, she taught high school chemistry and physics at Hays High School for three years. Alicia mentored the National Honor Society and Science Club and served as a member of the Campus Leadership Team at Hays. Following this, she gained experience as a student affairs administrator in the Geology Department at UT Austin and supervised doctoral students in the Integrative Biology Department at U.C. Berkeley.

Most recently, Alicia taught 5th-7th grade at Lake Travis STEM Academy in Austin, TX. In her free time, she likes to draw, read, and go hiking. She believes that respect, open communication, and a positive attitude are the keys to a wonderful classroom experience for students. She is excited to be teaching science at Oakland Unity Middle School for the second year in a row.

Eric Romero, Physical Education

Eric Romero was born in Fresno, CA but was raised in Oakland. He comes from a hispanic background and is very proud of his roots. He is also a proud brother of Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity Inc.

Eric graduated from Unity High School, and is working on his BS in Accounting. He is very excited to come back and join Unity Schools, and to be able to work along students and parents to better serve their needs. Furthermore, he enjoys connecting with and motivating youth to pursue a higher education.

Eric knows that is tough to grow up in Oakland, with so much going on around the community, especially if the resources are not there. He will definitely be around for the students and parents, to provide the support needed to excel inside and outside the classroom.

“Be the change you want to see in the World” -Mahatma Gandhi

Aracely Garcia, Math

Aracely Garcia was born in San Diego but raised in Oakland. She comes from a Hispanic background and is very proud to be Guatemalan and Mexican. She is the oldest of four; one brother and two sisters. She is also a mother to an unpredictable 3 year old.

Ms. Garcia is an alumni of Unity High School; Class of 2010! She was a part of the student government’s founding team at the high school and also enjoyed being a part of their soccer team. Right after her high school graduation, she continued her education at Sonoma State University and worked towards obtaining a B.A. in Sociology.

Ms. Garcia was a recent graduate from SSU when she became a part of the OUMS team. She started off as the ASP Coordinator but this year she will be working at OUMS as the 6th grade math teacher. She always knew she wanted to work with children but she would have never guessed she would become a teacher. Ms. Garcia hopes to make a positive change in all of her students so they can eventually change the future.

Tim Sheil, English

Tim Sheil es un papá, era un periodista durante muchos años y ahora está en su cuarto año en la enseñanza. Nació en la ciudad de Nueva York, se crió en Long Island y vivió en Dublín, Irlanda, durante cuatro años.

Su hijo, Eoin, nació en Dublín. Eoin se graduó en la Universidad de Illinois con un grado de matemáticas y ahora trabaja con una empresa financiera. Su hija, Siobhan, nació en Louisiana y se graduó en Truman State en Missouri. Ella obtuvo una licenciatura en Inglés con especialidades en francés y jazz. Ambos son inteligentes , cortés, desafiante, bien adaptados.

Como periodista, Tim trabajó en periódicos de Nueva York, Irlanda, Iowa, Louisiana y en los suburbios de Chicago. A la edad de 50, volvió a la universidad para aprender a ser un maestro. Cree que la lectura es una de las actividades más beneficiosas que cualquier persona puede aprender. La lectura proporciona estimulación mental, al igual que lo hace el ejercicio para el cuerpo. La lectura mejora y amplía nuestro vocabulario y nos permite para comunicarnos mejor con los demás en cualquier situación. La lectura mejora las habilidades analíticas, que podemos aplicar a cualquier empresa en la vida. La lectura ofrece muchos tipos de conocimientos e ideas — sobre la vida, el amor, las situaciones sociales, la historia, otras culturas, y sobre nosotros mismos. Cuanto más conocimiento tengamos, mejor equipados estaremos para hacer frente a cualquier desafío con el que alguna vez  nos enfrentamos.

Tim Sheil is a dad, was a longtime newspaper editor and is now in his fourth year of teaching. He was born in New York City, grew up on Long Island and lived in Dublin, Ireland, for four years in his 20s.

The older of his children, his son Eoin, was born in Dublin. Eoin graduated from the University of Illinois with a math degree, lived with his fiancée in Ireland for two years, then was married and got a job with a financial firm in San Francisco. The younger, his daughter Siobhan, was born in Louisiana and played jazz trombone while earning her English degree at Truman State in Missouri. She also earned minors in jazz and French, and studied a semester in the Caribbean island of Martinique. Both are intelligent, civil, defiant, well-adjusted.

As a journalist, Tim worked in New York newspapers , Ireland, Iowa, Louisiana and in the suburbs of Chicago. At the age of 50, he went back to college to learn to be a teacher. Tim believes that reading is one of the most beneficial activities anyone can undertake. Reading provides mental stimulation, as exercise does for the body. Reading improves and expands our vocabulary and allows us to communicate better with others in any situation. Reading improves analytical skills that can be applied to any endeavor in life . Reading offers many kinds of knowledge and ideas – about life, love, social situations, history, other cultures and ourselves. The more knowledge we have, the better equipped we are to deal with any challenge that we ever face.

Suzannah Cordeiro, Science

After Suzannah Cordeiro graduated from Oregon State University, she started working as a SCUBA diver in Newport, Oregon. Shortly thereafter, she returned to her home town of San Diego to begin  her career as a high school biology teacher. While teaching at Crawford High School, she started a science club and invited speakers to the classroom as well as science fair project mentors.

She also coached gymnastics and advised a hiking club while teaching in San Diego. Later in her career, Ms. Cordeiro helped found a Charter School in North San Diego county. In 2009 she moved to the bay area and taught at Burlingame High School and then transitioned to Fusion Academy. Suzannah accepted a position in Seattle, Washington for the 2014-15 school year, teaching the salmon lifecycle and environmental stewardship. She arrived in Oakland following that year and found her new favorite role as middle school teacher. 6th graders are so much fun to work with because they take risks with their learning and know how to support each other in achieving their goals.

Austin Razavi, Social Studies

Mr. Razavi was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and grew up in Iowa City, Iowa. He went to St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minnesota where he majored in Social Studies Education and minored in Political Science. During his time at St. Cloud State University, Mr. Razavi also worked in the university’s Office for Institutional Equity and Access as well as in the Student Government.

As a member of Teach For America, Mr. Razavi moved out to Oakland in 2015 to be a founding teacher at Castlemont Community Transformation Schools. He taught fifth and sixth grade there. Mr. Razavi is really excited to join the Unity team, where he will be teaching sixth and eighth grade social studies.

In his free time Mr. Razavi likes to read, play basketball, listen to music and hang out with friends and family.

Mascharney Franklin, Social Studies

Mascharney Franklin was born and raised in Oakland California in the Maxwell Park Area. She attended  Oakland Public schools until the 9th grade when she went to University Preparatory Charter School ( where the Unity Middle School is currently located). Ms. Franklin realized very early the power of education, especially for young women of color. Thus she she worked extremely hard in high school to beat the odds and excel academically.

Upon completion of High School, Ms. Franklin embarked on a ten year academic, professional and personal journey in New England. While she was away from home, Ms. Franklin obtained her B.A. in Philosophy from Wellesley and her Masters of Art in Teaching from Simmons College. Ms. Franklin has taught in various charter and public schools in the Boston area for six years. She has taught both English and World History courses to mostly seventh grade scholars.

Ms. Franklin  is beyond excited about returning to her roots and making positive change for some of the Bay Areas most deserving students. She hopes to continue the legacy of breaking down barriers in her community and the world. This school year, in addition to serving students as a Social Studies and Learning Lab instructor, she will facilitate the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship after school program as well as several local fellowships for leadership and school equity.

Maryam Toloui, Director of Wellness Services

Maryam Toloui was born in Iran and moved to the Bay Area as a toddler. She completed her K-12 education in public schools in Albany, El Cerrito, and San Pablo, and went to UC Berkeley for college, where she received Bachelors degrees in Social Welfare and Psychology.

Maryam received her Masters of Social Work degree from New York University and has been working as a social worker to support youth and families since 2004. Maryam is super excited to join the Unity team to continue supporting students and their families at both the middle and high schools.

In her spare time, Maryam loves to watch football, spend time in the sun, do crossword puzzles, eat ice cream, learn new languages, and travel.

Billy Reed, Instructional Aid

Billy is a Bay Area native born and raised in Oakland. He is the youngest of five and the first to complete college in his family. Billy (among others on the staff) is also an alumni of the Unity High school class of 2007. He received a B.A. in American Studies from the University of California Berkeley. While at Berkeley, he studied the effects of society, social media and news media on inner city youth.

As a former athlete, Billy enjoys watching and playing football and basketball. He spends his time outside of Unity leading summer, winter and spring camps for Oakland Parks and Recreation.

Billy, like the current youth in Oakland, has gone through the trials and tribulations that come with inner city life and plans to to use his experience to help those in similar positions. He is excited about returning to the Unity family and his community to lead by example and have a positive effect on youth in the way his former Unity teachers had on him.

Sam Brewer, Director of Special Education

Sam is a Bay Area native, born and raised.  He grew up in the city of Alameda, and after graduating high school, he worked and attended community college, and then ultimately graduated from UC Berkeley with a Bachelor’s degree in American Studies, and more recently, earned his Masters Degree in Educational Leadership from CSU East Bay.

Sam has taught in Oakland public schools for eight years, and became a high school administrator at Unity High School in 2010, ultimately serving as Principal of the school for four years between 2012-2016, which was one of the biggest honors and privileges of his life.

Sam is married and the father of two daughters who are in second grade, and enjoys Bay Area pro sports, music, exercise, friends and family. Still a school administrator, Sam is now the Director of Special Education for both Unity Schools, and is excited to support students and staff in this new role.