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Teachers' Bios

Teacher Bios

Mike Pappas, Principal 

Mr. Pappas is starting his 4th year here at Fox as our Principal. He previously served as an elementary principal and assistant principal in the Fremont Unified School district for 3 years as well as serving as an elementary teacher for 10 years (3rd-6th grades).

He is married to his wife of 22 years, Cindy (also a teacher) and they have two sons, Michael (20) and Jonny (18). They will soon be "empty nesters" as their boys are both off to college, however they will still have their dog Cooper to take care of. They live here in Belmont. Along with his passion for serving the students and families of the community, he enjoys music and has been writing, recording, and performing original music with his band for over a decade.

Toni Strickland, Kindergarten

I have been working with children since I was a teenager. I worked for Concord Park and Recreation during the summers and ran sports camps in the fall. As a college student, I started teaching children’s enrichment classes in art and cooking. It seemed a perfect fit to pursue a degree in Early Childhood Education at Cal Poly State Univ. in San Luis Obispo. I began as a director/teacher at a parent cooperative preschool for many years. As my own 2 daughters grew up, I took classes for my teaching credential. I taught for 20 years in Concord at the same elementary school I attended as a child. It was fabulous. I moved over to the Peninsula to live with my sweetheart, Scott. Between us we have 6 children, 2 “in-law” children, and 3 grandchildren. I started teaching at Fox in 2014, in Room 16. I taught one year at Kindergarten and 1 year of first grade and then moved to Room 5 where I have been teaching Kindergarten since. I am enjoying Fox School and love watching the children grow!!


Carol Raisner, 1st Grade
RaisnerI joined the Fox staff in 2015, after being an active and dedicated member of the parent community. My daughter Allison attended Fox and is now in 10th grade at Carlmont High School (where my husband Justin teaches). The amazing teachers, staff, students and families at this school are what drove me to finally pursue my dream of teaching (after far too many years in corporate).  

I am thrilled to be at Fox again this year, and I look forward to a memorable and successful year. I am passionate about teaching, and it is such a joy to be here to help and support my students, watching them grow and thrive as each year progresses.  Our class motto is:  Be Kind!  Work Hard!  Learn Lots! Have Fun!

In my free time I enjoy reading and book club, going to the movies, hiking/walking with friends and traveling with family. I love the San Francisco Giants and enjoy spending time on Twitter (@MrsRaisner) to gain ideas and inspiration from awesome educators around the country.


Bart Leaver, 1st Grade

200This will be my fifth year teaching First grade at Fox. I received my BA from San Francisco State, and my teaching credential from San Jose State. I am currently attending Norte Dame de Namur; I will receive my MA in School Administration and Administrative Services Credential in the Spring.

I love teaching at Fox, and I couldn’t imagine teaching anywhere else. I enjoy all aspects of First Grade, especially reading. Outside of school I enjoy spending time with my wife and daughter, and our menagerie of cats, fish, and snakes. I also enjoy cooking, gardening, and running. 

Karen Bowman, 2nd Grade


I started teaching at Fox in August of 2008 in 1st grade. I have taught 1st grade for 10 years and will start this August 2018 as a 2nd grade teacher. I am excited for the change and all the new challenges it will bring. I am a local Belmont girl as I went to elementary, middle school, and high school in Belmont. I went to the college of Notre Dame De Namur University and received my B.S. in Liberal Studies, a minor in art, my teaching credential, and a Master's in education and curriculum. Guess you could say I love Belmont schools! I love teaching and I enjoy bringing out the creative side in learning.This really comes out when I teach writing units in folk and fairy tales, as well as realistic character writing. In my free time, I’m with my girls Lucy and Lily (2 cats). I’m a huge Disney fan and know a lot of Disney trivia. 

Nerina Carpenter, 5th Grade

This is my sixth year teaching in BRSSD, and my second year full time at Fox. After receiving my credential from Notre Dame de Namur University, I taught 5th grade full time at Sandpiper Elementary. I have also worked as a 4th and 5th grade long-term substitute at Fox Elementary and Redwood Shores Elementary. My teaching philosophy is centered on providing a well-balanced, supportive, and engaging learning environment enabling students to reach their highest potential. I grew up in London and have been enjoying life in the US for 20 years. I live in Belmont, with my husband and two sons, Callum (10th grade @ Carlmont) and Aidan (7th grade @Ralston), so I am also a parent in the district. I have been a Cub Scout leader at Fox, and I have developed a love of baseball with my sons through BRSLL. In my free time, I love to cook, dance, travel, read, and spend time with my family. After transitioning from a fifteen-year career in finance, I’m delighted to be fulfilling my teaching dream. This summer, I had the absolute pleasure of travelling to New York to attend the Readers Workshop Institute with my 5th grade colleagues, Ms. Kaa and Mrs. Grogan Crane. Not only did we have the chance to delve deeply into new instruction methods and ways to develop passionate readers, we also had to chance to bond as a grade team. I’m looking forward to facilitating shared book club experiences and differentiated informational research groups.


Julie Grogan-Crane, 5th Grade
I became a teacher in 1988, graduating from Brighton Polytechnic, England with a Bachelor of Education. My mom always said I was a born teacher as I lined up my teddies and dolls, and pretended to teach them, and as I made my little brother sit and play schools for hours! She also said that if talking was an Olympic sport, I would have won the gold medal! I worked as a teacher in Fulham, Hounslow, and Farnborough. I came to Belmont in 1997, from England, and have 3 sons, Max, born in ‘94, Scott born in ‘97 and Alec born in ‘00. Central, Ralston and Carlmont have been in the family for 18 years! I joined Fox for the 2015-16 school year, but I was not new to the Belmont-Redwood Shores School District. I began as a substitute teacher in 2007 and worked two days a week in 3rd grade at Sandpiper. I then joined Central Elementary in 2009,  teaching Kindergarten, 4th, 4/5 and 5th.

I am a very passionate teacher, enjoying helping the students find their voices and inspiring them to give things a try, rising to the challenge. I enjoy teaching everything, but I am especially loving going deeper into writing and reading. It’s so exciting to hear the students talking about their writing or their reading with confidence and passion. I also love teaching Second Step, the social and emotional curriculum. I think it is so important to equip students with the skills and knowledge to deal with their strong emotions. I am thankful to be part of the Fox family.


Kortney Kaa, 5th Grade 
KaaWay back in high school, I was working on service units in my OWN SAME KINDERGARTEN CLASS (yes, same teacher, too) in order to graduate, still not having a clue what I wanted to do in life despite them pressing seniors to have that all figured out (as if!). And there in Mrs. Stanley’s room, where it all began for me 13 years prior, it clicked for me how much I loved being in there with those kids. The engagement and dialogue with kids; the joyous, silly fun and pure unfiltered honesty that kids share was way more interesting and entertaining than what I thought adults had to offer. My considerably younger siblings (12 and 15 yrs younger) also played a large role in this time of recognizing my gift with littles, so that I recognized how my influence and engagement in their early lives really enhanced and magnified their growth and development of personality and learning life-skills, and eventually who they are now as adults. What if I could do that for more than just them? For kids who didn’t have those role models in their lives?

I began teaching with Tami Schilling here at Fox 11 years ago with first graders and knew instantly it was the right fit after my job interview with Mr. Marchetti, Ms. Hall, and Ms Schilling. Then I moved to second grade for a year and loved that, too. I was pushed up to 4th grade, as that was the only Fox job available at the time, and guess what -- I enjoyed that even more. Then I had a chance to experience the 4/5 combination class for two years and that was an even better experience than I could have hoped for, and this year is my first year in a full 5th grade classroom with all the ‘changing’ and preparation and growth that goes on in this last year before middle school.


Angel Hession / Learning Center ParaEducator
HessionI have worked in Special Education with BRSSD since 2001. I started my family in Belmont 30 years ago, but am a true native San Franciscan. My passion to help children with challenges to be happy, confident, and independent learners is the ultimate reward at the end of my day. I am truly privileged to be a positive role model for students. I am married to my high school sweetheart of 34 years.  We have two grown daughters and one amazing granddaughter.  We are a very close family and these qualities show through in my work approach. I am also inspired by and volunteer to enrich the lives of the elderly in memory care facilities. It’s an amazing day when you can bring joy to those that have lost their memory and see them smile and feel successful all over again.  
My side interests are cooking, dancing, party planning, arts and crafts, and decorating. I’m also an animal and music lover!  I use many of my side interests to inspire creative learning in students. There is no better job than mine!   #Iamblessed  


Sarah Muscolina, Reading Specialist
MuscolinaI grew up on the Peninsula and am a proud graduate of San Mateo High School.  I graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in Biology.  After college, I taught preschool for two years before heading to UCLA for graduate school, earning a Masters in Psychological Studies in Education (MA) and a Masters in Education (MEd). After completing my graduate studies, I taught K-5 for eight years in Culver City, Hillsborough, and in the suburbs of Chicago. I returned to the Bay Area, taking some time off from full-time teaching to be home with my children and to volunteer in their classes. I returned to teaching as a substitute teacher at Fox school in 2014, before transitioning into classroom teaching positions in 2015, teaching first, second and third grades. I am passionate about teaching to the whole child, instilling a love of learning, and helping each child reach his or her potential. I enjoy teaching all subject matters, but especially reading! When not in the classroom, I enjoy spending time with my family – my husband, Chris, my two children (Emily, 12 and Danny, 10), and our dog, Rosie. I enjoy reading, taking long walks, skiing, playing guitar, volunteering at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, and cheering on all Bay Area sports teams.