Kirk Staff

Experienced Staff

Our experienced, well-qualified staff provide a high quality of instruction and positive relationships with both students and teachers.

All of our lead classroom and specialist teachers hold credentials or degrees appropriate for their grade levels and subject areas. Ongoing staff development ensures that we are in step with the most up-to-date education research.

Our teaching and administrative staff maintain membership in a variety of education associations, including National Education Association and CAEYC among others.


Diana Kirk
Jo Saraie
Katie Kobrossi
Christine Greenberg

First Grade:
Bonnie Corkran
Wendy Gennaro
Shelly Caserta

Second Grade:
Connie Idolor
Ellen Holy

Third Grade:
Paul Bernstein
Kari Eigenbrodt

Fourth Grade:
Summer Starr
Julie Kasem

Fifth Grade:
Pam Sellers
Julie Kasem

Enrichment Staff

Elementary Art: Amy Rauer
Elementary Music: Katie McTyre Elementary P.E.: Erik Romo
Elementary Science: Nicole Turner
Technology: Planet Bravo
School Librarian: Alana Escalante Preschool Science: Nicole Turner
Preschool Music: Katie McTyre

Administrative Staff

Administrative Director: Hillary Felder
Director, Preschool: Becky Jenkins
Director, Tot Center: Cheryl Sheaffer

School Office

Administrative Assistant: Heather Kayne
School Billing: Lorena Gonzalez
Accounting/Finance Manager: Caleb Hummel
Facilities: Robert Jolly
Technology: RM Consulting


President: Shelley Oberlin
Vice President: Sonya Wright
Secretary: Lisa Alexander
Treasurer: Reena Patel
Room Parent Chair: Ciara Parker
Community Outreach / Passive Income Chair: Tony DeFrank

Christa Nahhas

Ms. Christa and her husband, Buddy – you may see him underneath a desk or standing on a ladder around Kirk – have a technology integration and management firm. She has nearly 20 years in the tech industry with an emphasis on management and training in accounting software and educational technology. In 2009, while her son, Jack, was attending Kirk o’ the Valley, she decided to help give Kirk a technology makeover. She brings her training background into the classroom and teaches in a collaborative and project based manner. From Pre-Kindergarten to fifth, children are introduced to software and products with real world application in school and beyond.

Ms. Christa has a variety of enrichment classes that pop up at Kirk. Kinder Tech, Techno Kids, Yearbook & Digital Photography all give kids the chance to use tech, cameras, robots, snap circuits and programming beyond what is possible in the class time. Look around her room. Besides the cool old museum, antique cameras and gadgets, you will see photographs all taken by our student body. Students look forward to showcasing their work at the Art Show every year!

Ms. Christa’s other love is cooking. She was a caterer and cook for many years. She and a fellow Kirk mom have brought Pop Up Food Events to Kirk and a wonderful new veggie garden along with Ms. Amy and the Garden Club. Whether it is a Food Truck class, a bake shop or a restaurant, every year she holds a class where students do all the work and bring their amazing talents to the Kirk Community!

You are likely to see a small child running around in her classroom during off-hours, that is James. He attends Preschool at Kirk, just like his brother Jack did 13 years ago!

Becky Jenkins

I am the Director of the preschool as well as a pre-k classroom teacher. I grew up in the San Fernando Valley. I have an AA degree in Child Development and am continuing my education. Teaching children was a goal of mine since I was young. It has been one of my greatest pleasures to be able to share with the lives of so many children through the years.

Arpi Huverserian

I was born in Istanbul where I attended French High School and University. Our honeymoon was in Los Angeles, and we decided to stay and I continued my education here. I love children and I love to encourage their creativity through art. Kirk has been my caring second family, celebrating the good times, and supporting me through challenging times. I have a son and a daughter, and am honored to be a part of the Kirk family.

Diana Kirk

I graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in History and received my Multiple-Subject Teaching Credential and Education from Pepperdine University. I worked for many years in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District and took a few years off after the birth of my children. I started at Kirk as a perspective parent, got hired as a long-term substitute for second grade, and was then asked to continue on with the Kindergarten team. I feel so lucky to be a part of the Kirk community as a teacher as well as a parent. I love to travel and have enjoyed traveling to many parts of the world throughout my life.

Jo Saraie

I have the great pleasure of working at Kirk O’ valley for nearly fifteen years. I started at Kirk as a volunteer parent and was quickly drawn into the warm and nurturing environment. I loved the school so much that when my children graduated from Kirk (they are now twenty and twenty four years old) I went back to school to get my degree in Early Childhood Education. I have taught second and third grade curriculums; but by far, my favorite grade is where I am now, Kindergarten. I am currently a mentor teacher for Early Childhood students from Pierce College. I am originally from England, where I was an international flight attendant for over twelve years.

Pam Sellers

I graduated from Pepperdine University in 1992 with a B.A. in Sociology. After working for several years, I went to CSUN to pursue a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential which I completed in 1998. My employment at Kirk O’ the Valley began in January of 2003 as a substitute teacher. In the fall of that year I was hired as part of the Kindergarten team. I have been a teacher at Kirk ever since, working first in Kindergarten and now in second grade. I feel fortunate to be a part of such a dedicated and caring educational community.

Paul Bernstein

I earned my B.A. in Liberal Studies/Multiple Subjects in 1991 from Humboldt State University and my Multiple Subjects Clear Credential at National University in 1994. Since then, I have taught general curricula in every grade from pre-K through 6th. I am Orff-Schulwerk certified and have created and implemented music programs at four different schools. I am thrilled to be at Kirk, teaching the 3rd grade class – my favorite grade of all!

Debbie Swartz

I am a Kirk O’ the Valley parent and teacher. Both of my children attended Kirk. In fact, my daughter was a member of the first graduating class. I taught at Kirk for 10 years as part of a teaching team with Susan Thompson in both 1st and 2nd grades. Additionally, I taught elementary science workshops and elementary music/Spanish for a time.
I also taught for seven years at Ivy Academia Entrepreneurial Charter School (6th, 8th, and 11th grades). While at Ivy, I had full-time teaching duties as well as responsibilities attendant to being department chair, grade level leader, and curriculum council member.
I hold a California multiple subject credential for grades K-8 and a California single subject credential in English for grades K-12. In addition, I earned a Master of Science in Brain-Based Teaching/Learning in 2011.
On a personal note, I love everything to do with language, including reading, crossword puzzles, puns, and writing. I enjoy cooking (I am a foodie!) and traveling, and I am a passionate advocate for the empowerment of women on local and global levels.

Hillary Felder

I am honored to be only the third director in the history of Kirk School since it was founded in 1961. I came to Kirk in 2007 as a parent and watched both my sons progress through our school. I began working in kindergarten and enjoyed five years with the amazing teachers in that classroom. I then started to work in the school office along with our director at the time, Carol Piekaar. I worked with Carol until the time of her retirement in 2015.

I graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a BA in Political Science and a concentration in Italian Politics and Culture and spent seven years living and working abroad in Italy, Greece, and Serbia.

I returned to the United States where I settled down in Los Angeles with my husband and started our family. We enjoy traveling with our sons, learning about new cultures and exploring the amazing world around us.

I love that Kirk offers our families the feeling of a small town community within a big metropolis. It is a place many of our students and staff call home and I am thankful for all our community does to make Kirk a wonderful place to educate our children.

Laura Peisner

Laura Peisner is a classically trained artist and professional educator. After graduating with a BA in art from California State University, Northridge she began her career as a teacher at The H.E.L.P. Group. For over 25 years she developed and taught inclusive art education programs in both public and private schools. When not painting in her home studio, Laura can be found teaching art at the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, where she has been inspiring children for over 10 years. Her passion for creating & love for children come together in all of her classrooms. Laura is also a published author & illustrator. (

Laura has two amazing daughters and encourages them, and children of all ages to follow their dreams.

Nicole Turner

Nicole Turner teaches science to Tot Center children through 5th graders at Kirk. She earned her Bachelors in Biology/Zoology at San Diego State University and then went on finish with their credential program to become a science teacher. She worked at LA Center for Enriched studies and Panorama High, both schools in the LAUSD. She taught high school Biology, AP Biology and Ecology. She is very excited to join the Kirk Family as she has long time connections to both the school and the church. Not only is she a preschool alumni but her Grandmother used to be a preschool teacher as well. She has also attended the Kirk O’ The Valley Presbyterian Church since she was a baby. Nicole has three children that attended Kirk and her youngest, Lily, is in preschool.

Erik Romo

Erik Romo is excited to be teaching P.E. at Kirk O’ The Valley. He has been working with children from preschool to high school for the past 10 years in various arenas and joined 5 Star Sports & Enrichment last year to teach preschool and elementary students both P.E. and after school enrichment classes. He is also the Head Football Coach at Sun Valley High School. Erik did his school-age teaching certification through Los Angeles Valley College and he will be getting his B.A. in Kinesiology from California State University Northridge in 2019. 

Erik’s philosophy is meeting children where they are in their development and presenting them with attainable goals. Areas of development that will be spurred in P.E. include:

1. Physical: Large/Fine motor skills
2. Cognitive: Learning concepts of the body, muscles, etc.
3. Skill Development: Sports skills, fitness, health and physical activity
4. Emotional: Understanding feelings during activities and attaining self-confidence
5. Social: Cooperation, leadership, and respecting others
6. Behavioral: Self-control with a focus on following directions
7. FUN: Classes must be geared towards the child having FUN. One of Erik’s goals is to have children excited to come back to class!

Katie McTyre

Katie McTyre

Katie is a proud graduate from NYU Steinhardt’s Master of Music program, and obtained her BA in Music from the University of Connecticut. She has been teaching private instruction in voice and piano since 2008. Since moving to California in 2015, she has been the acting music director for Kismet Kids Musical Theater, taught Pre-K through 5th Grade music, and continued instruction with private lessons with her studio, Performing Arts Collective. She is so excited to begin the new adventure into the joy of music with the students of Kirk!

Wendy Gennaro

I graduated from CSUN with a BA in Child Development with emphasis in Psychology. I earned a post graduate certificate in Special Education.

I began my Kirk career over 20 years ago teaching Preschool in Rm.2. I also have worn the hats of student council moderator, Tot Center Assistant Director, and Performing Arts Assistant. After my husband and I welcomed our second child into the family, I took time off from teaching and became a Kirk parent. I was an active member of the PTF and Room Parent. Our family grew with 2 more children. I’m proud to say that all 4 of them made their way Preschool – 5th at Kirk. They now are in college, high school, and middle school.

My free time is filled with family, friends, baseball, horses, and dogs.

I am excited to be back at Kirk as an educator.

Connie Idolor

I graduated from California State University, Northridge and have taught both kindergarten and first grade since then. Teaching children to develop a love of learning has been my passion for over 20 years. My goal is to foster a growth mindset that helps students develop confidence in themselves and excites them to take on new learning opportunities. I am looking forward to getting to know you and your children.

Hailey Loman

My name is Hailey Loman, and I was raised in Ventura, California. For the past ten years, I have lived in Mount Washington. I am a trained artist and librarian with a special interest in small edition art books. I founded the Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (LACA), an artist book library and nonprofit gallery located in Chinatown. I received my master’s from the University of California, Los Angeles, in Studio Art with a special focus on Information Studies. My research explores intergenerational testimony that led to the creation of a project called the Autonomous Oral History Group. Since my studies, I have been teaching elementary art and bookmaking workshops on the eastside of Los Angeles. These experiences have informed my commitment to the positive impact that libraries and teaching can make on communities and their children. I am thrilled to be joining the Kirk Community.

Planet Bravo

PlanetBravo is proud to join the Kirk community in the 2021-2022 school year to deliver technology education. Since 2003, PlanetBravo has educated tens of thousands of students in the Los Angeles area with innovative computer science, engineering, and artistic project-based curriculum.