Teachers and Staff | Mission Dolores Academy
Mr. Paul Recktenwald
Paul Recktenwald (Mr. R.), his wife Sara, and daughter Charlotte moved to San Francisco 7 years ago from New York City. In 2006, after 20+ years in finance, Paul retired from the Fixed Income, Currency and Commodity Division of Goldman Sachs, & Co. and entered into the New York City Teaching Fellows Program. Upon completion of the Fellows Program, Paul spent 2 years teaching middle school mathematics and science at Archimedes Academy for Math, Science and Technology in the South Bronx. Not long after arriving in San Francisco, Paul had the great fortune of being introduced to Megan Furth Catholic Academy! He began teaching mathematics at MFCA and continued on to Mission Dolores Academy. At MDA he has taught 6th/7th/8th grade mathematics, been Dean of Students and held the position of Assistant Principal for 3 years. In 2014/2015, Paul took a brief hiatus from MDA and helped a former colleague launch a charter school in Richmond, CA where he taught mathematics and was part of the administration team. Paul has a passion for education reform and the use of technology to promote data driven instruction and he is extremely excited to be back home at MDA! When away from MDA, Paul and family enjoy sailing, fishing, paddle boarding and all things water!
Mrs. Meredith Essalat
Meredith Essalat has spent over 14 years in academia. Before arriving to Mission Dolores Academy as Principal, she was both the Dean of Middle School Curriculum & High School Preparation and Eighth Grade Teacher at Nativity School in Menlo Park. Meredith possesses a BA in Mass Communication from Menlo College, a California-Clear Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from Notre Dame de Namur University, an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership, both from the American College of Education. A native to the San Francisco Bay Area, she began her career in collegiate Student Activities before moving into both elementary and secondary academic communities in the areas of fundraising, development, and alumni relations. Meredith is an advocate for all students, believing that each individual is in possession of strength of character, boundless talent, and expansive intellect. Some of Meredith’s favorite things are: her husband, ice cream, Christmas lights, pizza, and New York City.
Grades K-2 Team
Mrs. Rochelle Reid
Rochelle Reid is the kindergarten teacher. She studied Liberal Arts at San Francisco State University and later obtained her teaching credential at Dominican University in San Rafael, CA. Rochelle always knew she wanted to work in the teaching profession. She has taught first grade for 10 years, 5 here at Mission Dolores Academy and another 5 years in a public school in Tracy, CA. She loves teaching first grade but is welcoming a new career adventure; teaching kindergarten! She believes in teaching students holistically, which includes academics, projects and social skills. She continues to study and research the best practices for her students because they deserve the best. A favorite moment for Rochelle is watching her students enjoy reading and developing a love for books. Besides teaching, Rochelle love spending family time with her husband and two little boys along with dancing hip hop.
Ms. Megan Cimino
Megan Cimino is the first grade teacher. She studied psychology and sociology at the University of Notre Dame and went on to get her Master of Science in Education at Northwestern University. While at Northwestern, Megan focused her Master's Project on how children can develop both imagination and empathy in the classroom, as she is passionate in developing the whole child. After six years of teaching at private schools in Chicago, Megan finally made her way home to the state of California and was happy to escape the snow! Megan enjoys sharing her passions and experiences with her class and encourages students to explore their interests. She loves reading and cooking, as well as being active outdoors and makes a point to travel and seek new experiences at every opportunity!
Ms. Kathryn Wilchynski
Kathryn Wilchynski is the second grade teacher. She studied Psychology and Elementary Education at Northeastern University and completed her Masters of Education for Science in Education at Lesley University. Kathryn has been teaching for the past three years as a middle school science teacher in Massachusetts where she is originally from. She is very excited to be teaching second grade and to be living on the west coast, as San Francisco is one of her favorite cities. In her free time, she enjoys being outside in nature, going to the beach and exploring all the city has to offer.
Grades 3-6 Team
Ms. Bea Araujo
Bea Araujo is the third grade teacher at Mission Dolores Academy. She has been lucky enough to be part of the MDA community for three years, joining first as a volunteer, then as an Associate Teacher, and most recently as a Lead Teacher. She studied Creative Writing and Comparative World Literature at San Francisco State before obtaining her Masters Degree at University of San Francisco in Education with a focus in Urban Education and Social Justice. Outside of school, Bea loves relaxing at home with a great book or movie, as well as experiencing all of the amazing museums and restaurants that the Bay Area has to offer.
Ms. Jane Victor
Jane Victor is the fourth grade teacher. She studied Elementary Education and American History as a member of the Lynch School of Education at Boston College. Jane spent three years student teaching in a first, third, and fourth grade classroom before becoming an associate teacher in a first grade classroom full time. Her interest in teaching began when she spent a summer volunteering at Breakthrough SF, which first introduced her to the idea of education as a vehicle for social change. Jane is passionate about the importance of developing the whole child, which benefits her students both in and outside of the classroom. This is her first year at Mission Dolores Academy, and she is very excited to be joining such a close knit school community. Outside of school, Jane loves spending time with friends and family, exploring the Bay Area, and rooting on the SF Giants!
Ms. Krista Forgey
Krista Forgey is thrilled to be the fifth grade teacher at MDA. Krista earned her Bachelor’s degree in Education, with minors in Spanish, Philosophy, and Global Studies, from Purdue University and is currently working on her Master’s degree at University of San Francisco. She has four years of classroom teaching experience, two years each in Chicago and Oakland. In addition to classroom teaching Krista has taught English as a Second Language in Ecuador, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. That being said, Krista is excited to teach in San Francisco where she now calls home. Krista is constantly finding ways to make learning meaningful, powerful, and fun for students. She finds the best way to make learning impactful is to integrate subjects into real life situations or areas of high interest to her students. Krista makes sure that each student has his or her academic needs met in order to be successful in middle school and beyond. Krista enjoys traveling and the outdoors, reading, most forms of exercise, and spending time with her family and cat.
Ms. Angelina Gonzalez
Angelina Gonzalez is eager to join the Mission Dolores Academy family as a sixth grade teacher. Angelina first earned her Associate degree at Glendale Community College before moving on to receive her Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies with a concentration in education and political science from Westmont College in Santa Barbara. She was a scholarship athlete in cross country and track and field, and still holds her college record in the steeplechase. She began her career with the St. Mary’s School community in the Chinatown neighborhood before joining Mission Dolores Academy. She believes that her role in the classroom is to guide students in forging connections with their academics, with each other, with our community, and eventually, the world, to enable them to achieve their fullest potential in every facet of their lives. Outside of teaching, Angelina enjoys living an active lifestyle that includes running, cooking, reading, listening to music, and spending quality time with quality people in the greatest city by the bay.
Middle School Team
Mr. Brian McGovern
Grade 7-8 Math and Science
Brian McGovern is the 7th and 8th Grade Math and Science Teacher. He is a native San Franciscan. He attended Gonzaga University, in Spokane, WA, where he graduated with a degree in sociology and a minor in business. He plans on returning to school for his masters and single subject credential in the future. He has always been passionate about working with children and has done so in various capacities over the years. Outside of school, Brian enjoys any activities that involve being outside, such as running, hiking, rock climbing and playing golf. Brian also enjoys exploring San Francisco and spending time with friends and family.
Ms. Michelle Escobar
Grade 7-8 Language Arts & Social Studies
Michelle Escobar has been the middle school language arts and history teacher at MDA for the past eight years. She previously taught first grade for three years before moving onto bigger and better things...middle school! Michelle spent the early part of her life trying to teach her cat to write. Despite the failed lessons with her cat, she knew she wanted to be a teacher and her passion never wavered. Michelle believes that every child's potential is limitless. In her spare time, Michelle enjoys following her two year old daughter, Bella, while she discovers new things. If Bella ever allows, Michelle would enjoy to travel, read, and maybe see a movie again.
Ms. Nancy Medina
Kindergarten Associate Teacher
Ms. Debbie Ray
Grade 1 Associate Teacher
Mr. Julian Thomas
Grade 2 Associate Teacher
Mr. Chris Lawton
Grade 3 Associate Teacher
Ms. Whitney Brezina
Ms. Breanna Barajas
Grade 5 Associate Teacher
Ms. Anna Center
Grade 6,7,8 Associate Teacher
Ms. Elizabeth Faherty
Reading Resource Teacher
Elizabeth Faherty is the MDA Reading Specialist. She has a BA in Middle School Language Arts and a MA in Curriculum and Instruction from the the University of Missouri and did further graduate work in Reading at UC-Irvine. Elizabeth has been teaching since 2001, and teaching reading at Mission Dolores Academy since 2013. The best parts of her job are being able to work with the individual needs of each student in her classroom, and watching their excitement as their reading abilities grows. Outside of work, Elizabeth enjoys walking, cooking, volunteering with Pets Are Wonderful Support, and reading...lots and lots of reading!
Ms. Christina Lancaster
Math Resource Teacher
Christina Lancaster is the MDA Math Specialist. She earned a BA in Liberal Arts from Sarah Lawrence College, MFA in Creative Writing from The New School, and multiple-subject teaching credential from CSU Los Angeles. She loves helping students learn math in creative ways. Beyond teaching, Christina is a poet and maker specializing in the fiber arts.
Ms. Sam Alfonso
Sam Alfonso is joining the MDA family as the new Latin teacher. She received a B.A. in Classical Philology from San Diego State University and a single-subject teaching credential from San Francisco State University. Sam recognizes that the learning process is unique to each individual; she is always striving to learn different teaching techniques to help her students become successful. In her spare time, Sam loves to travel, read, watch movies, take her dog on walks, and spend time with her friends and family.
Ms. Elena Patiño
Elena Patiño is an Art Education Specialist with 15 years of experience teaching, working with and building curriculum for young children. She is highly passionate about Progressive Education and strongly believes in the arts as a vehicle for learning. Elena, who is a recent transplant from the Washington DC area, holds a Bachelor's Degree in Studio Art from American University in Washington DC and an MFA in Sculpture and Extended Media from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, MD. She most recently served as Adjunct Professor of Art and Design at Montgomery College and as the Early Childhood and Lower School Studio Teacher at Green Acres School in Maryland. When Elena is not teaching, she devotes time to her family, to her professional art practice and to explore San Francisco and the Bay Area. You may visit her art website at www.elenapatino.com.
Sister Ann Providence, O.P.
Director of Religious Education
Born in Ukiah, California, Sister Ann studied the Catholic faith with the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose. In 1965, she entered the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael. Her first mission was St. Dominic’s Elementary School in San Francisco where she taught 6th Grade and 7th Grade, before becoming the Principal. Sister Ann has always loved teaching, and has taught at St. Dominic’s in Eagle Rock, St. Vincent’s Elementary School in Vallejo, and at San Domenico School in San Anselmo. In 1995, she returned to San Francisco, teaching 5th Grade at Sacred Heart Elementary School. At Megan Furth Academy she became the Director of Religious Education, and has continued her ministry as Director of Religious Education for Mission Dolores Academy. She loves the families of Mission Dolores Academy, and cherishes the opportunity to prepare students for the Sacraments and to share in the joy of belonging to this beautiful community.
In the summer, for the past 40 years, she travels to the border, where she serves God in the beautiful people of Casa de los Pobres, in Tijuana, and to Ciudad Juarez, where she ministers with the Dominican Sisters of Christian Doctrine, in a daycare with 100 precious babies! She feels richly blessed to have been able to serve families and their children throughout her life.
Coach Steven Ta
Physical Education Teacher and Athletics Director
Fr. Charlie Gagan
Ms. Cat Hunter
Ms. Ivana Iacolino
Mr. Francisco Luna
Administrative Assistant/Recruitment and Admissions
Ms. Jenny Sandora
Data Analyst/Executive Administration
Mr. Matt Safranek
Ms. Margaret Walden
High School Counselor
Mr. Mike Ward
Director of Student Services/Facilities