4th Grade Teachers
Kristin Smith, Lead Teacher
I am joining the New School SF team with seven years teaching experience in the Bay Area plus three additional years teaching Pre-K. After spending a summer teaching in Kenya in 2008, I felt extremely passionate about education equality, and decided I wanted to be a teacher. I began my formal teaching career through Teach for America in San Jose and have had the privilege of teaching Kindergarten, 3rd, 4th and 5th! I have also spent the past four summers teaching science at Camp Galileo, which is where I discovered my passion for inquiry based learning.
In my free time, I love exploring the bay, hiking with my dog, and traveling the world. I've been to 32 countries on six continents. I like to bring my love of travel into the classroom as well, so don't be surprised if you hear New School students speaking a foreign language or telling stories of different cultures!
Phuong Duong, Lead Teacher
I was born in Vietnam and immigrated to Tacoma, Washington when I was 5-years old. I attended the University of Washington- Seattle and majored in Sociology with a focus on Race, Class, and Gender inequalities. After graduation, I became an Analyst for Nordstrom for two years. Ignited by my passion for social justice and education equity; I joined Teach for America. I have been in the Bay Area for the last 4 years teaching 3rd grade and then switching to Special Education. I am currently in graduate school for my Masters in Urban Education and Policy. I am an advocate for social emotional learning and the belief that all children want to do well, when they can. Restorative practices are at the core of my teaching philosophy and I look forward to bringing this into the classroom. I really value kindness and empathy in people and am so inspired when our kiddos display these traits on their own.
In my free time I like to grow and propagate succulents. I love being outdoors (camping, beaches, mountains, hiking, gardening). I travel every summer to a different country and am attempting to visit every continent by 2020!
Denisse Mancia Braun, Resident Teacher
Before joining New School, I worked with children as a nanny, camp counselor, after school teacher, theatre teacher, mentor and Court Appointed Special Advocate. I have also lead non-profits as a Managing Director, Program Director, Director of Development and Executive Director. Most recently, I was working with the youth at Buena Vista Horace Mann in the after school program. Working in the Mission has been a privilege close to my heart—my parents met in the Mission and my grandmother lived around the corner from Mitchell’s Ice Cream for my entire childhood.
I consider myself a creative type dabbling in theatre, paper crafts, knitting, sewing, and photography. That said, I’ve been working on the same picture book for the last six years! And now as a proud and busy mommy to Mila, a busy and empathetic two year-old, it might take another six years to complete. I could not be more excited about joining the New School SF community and serving our families, staff and partners in creating a learning community where every member thrives.