Kindergarten/grade 1 Teacher, Brook Pessin-Whedbee.

Brook Pessin-Whedbee has been teaching Kindergarten to 3rd grade at Rosa Parks Elementary School in Berkeley since 2009.  Before that, she worked in Oakland public schools for three years as a Kindergarten and Intervention Teacher.  She was Co-director and Founder of Lemon Tree Summer Outdoor Art Camp for six years and spent two years as a Malaria Educator in Mali, West Africa.

In the past two years, Brook has been spending more time outside the classroom supervising teaching candidates at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education, and at Rosa Parks as a Reading Intervention Specialist.

 Brook has a BA in Psychology and Sociology and an MA and Credential from UC Berkeley Developmental Teacher Ed.  She has served as a member of Lead Team, Equity Team, Welcoming Schools Team, and Academic Support & Coaching Team at Rosa Parks Elementary. She is also the founder of Gender Inclusive Schools Alliance for BUSD and author of Who Are You?: The Kid’s Guide to Gender Identity.  Most importantly, Brook is a proud mama of three children, ages 5, 7, and 9.

Brook looks forward to being back in the classroom and building community with her students.  She will be adding International Baccalaureate certification to her many credentials before the start of the 2018 school year.

Kindergarten/grade 1 Teacher, Nessa Mahmoudi.

Nessa Mahmoudi has been teaching in public schools in the East Bay since she moved to the Bay Area in 2008. For the last 8 years she has been working as a Spanish dual-immersion teacher at Melrose Leadership Academy in East Oakland. She has taught first through third grades there, and has also served as the school’s lead science teacher, a teacher coach, and professional development facilitator. She has been on the school design team, instructional leadership team and led the work to build school culture and climate using Restorative Justice principles.

Nessa also served as the director of Global Learning, a grassroots educational non-profit in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Mexico which connected local and global volunteers to collaborate with public school children and their families. She remains very connected to the community in Nicaragua, where she met her husband, and continues to collaborate with teachers there to connect their classrooms.

Nessa has a BA in Art History and Spanish/Latin American Culture from New York University and an MA and bilingual teaching credential from UC Berkeley’s Developmental Teacher Education program. She also attended North Carolina School of the Arts to study ballet and contemporary dance.

In Spring 2016, Nessa traveled to New Zealand as part of the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program. She spent time observing and interviewing indigenous Maori teachers in bilingual schools to learn how they incorporate both Maori language, but also Maori cultures, values and worldview into their curriculum. This inquiry project drew Nessa to the work at Golestan and she is looking forward to having the space to learn and grow as an early childhood educator.

She lives in Oakland with her husband and their one year old daughter, Mitra, who can babble in three languages!


Substitute Teacher, Amelia Jasmine Azul Elgas (English)

Amelia Jasmine Azul Elgas has been enthusiastically involved in education and community-based organizations for over 20 years. She has taught creative arts, life skills and yoga/mindfulness to young people from kindergarten to teen in several schools and community organizations in the bay area. She is delighted to join the Golestan community, which feels very much like the school she attended in her own childhood that was started by her mother and other parents.

Since 2014, Amelia has worked for WGU University, supporting elementary teachers in training around the United States. As a Cohort Facilitator, she leads online seminars for the teachers in training, coaches them on classroom skills and required assessments for graduation, and develops curriculum on topics ranging from culturally responsive classroom management to differentiated instruction.

Amelia holds a BA in Community Development and MA and Elementary Credential from UC Berkeley Developmental Teacher Education program. She is also certified in expressive arts therapy from JFK University, as well as trauma informed yoga from Niroga institute. She practices yoga/meditation daily and also teaches yoga/meditation classes in Oakland.

Amelia is passionate about learning, especially in the realms of ecological sustainability, personal/spiritual development, and social justice. She enjoys travel, time in nature, healthy living, creativity, laughter and fun!

Cooking Teacher; Julia Paige (English)

Julia came to California in 2017 from the water/winter wonderland of Northern Michigan. Julia cannot remember when she realized that her favorite room in the house was the kitchen: she has an innate love for food and cooking. Her interaction with local food communities began while working as a pastry chef at a small restaurant in high school. Through this, Julia’s love for cooking grew into a fascination with the role of food in the world. She attended the University of Michigan where she studied food anthropology, sustainable food systems, and writing.

After graduating in 2016, Julia moved back to her hometown of Traverse City, MI and served with FoodCorps, where she acted as a farm to school educator and gained the identity of food and environmental activist. During this time she worked with IB schools as the farm to school educator. She has worked as a personal chef, as well as a pastry chef at multiple restaurants throughout Michigan and California. She still bakes in her spare time and especially loves making other people their favorite pie.

 Physical Education Teacher, Nitzan Yerovam (Hebrew)

Nitzan Yerovam was born and raised in Israel and has been living in the Bay Area for twenty years.  He played soccer for CCSF and has been coaching soccer since 2007.  He is a certified soccer referee and soccer coach (D national certificate).

In 2013, Nitzan founded Soccer2together with the vision of bringing people together to build community and life skills through games and sports, with a focus on basic motor skills, collaboration, confidence, and team building in a relaxed and nurturing environment.  He has been working with kids from preschool to adulthood.
Nitzan has either coached or taught Physical Education at the following schools:
-Rosa Parks Elementary
-Washington Elementary
-Hickman charter school
-Visions in Education Charter School
Nitzan speaks fluent English and Hebrew, and has eight years of Arabic language education.  He lives in Berkeley with his wife and two children.

 Art teacher, Yasaman Sohrabi (Persian)
Yasaman  was born and raised in Iran and moved to the US with her family in 2010. She began working at Golestan eight years ago. She also worked as a founding teacher at Golestan collaborator, Aftab Kids and has been teaching at another Colab school, Shadi kids, for over two years. Yasaman (aka Yasi) loves working with children of all ages. Her teaching experience has exposed her to working with kids from two to fourteen years old, and has helped her develop diverse teaching skills. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition from SFSU in 2016 and is exploring continuing her studies in pediatric Occupational Therapy. In her spare time Yasaman loves to hike and spend time with friends.


Outdoor Education & Garden Teacher; Zeina Morad (Arabic)

Zeina Morad was born and raised on a mango orchard in Cairo, Egypt and spent her summers on the Mediterranean coast. She moved to Oakland two and a half years ago. Before coming to the States, she worked as a preschool teacher for 8 years. She is a strong advocate of free play and providing the space to “be”; to learn from discovering, playing and definitely spending more time in nature. Students and nature are her greatest teachers.

She has a BA in Sociology and Developmental studies from the American University in Cairo. She also has several certifications and a diploma in early literacy education.

Zeina is fluent in English, Arabic and has a fascination for languages. She is currently doing an “Eco-Art Therapy” certification course. She is also an artist and a energy healing practitioner.

Be sure to check back for regular updates!