Teachers
Our teachers are the guideposts for the preschoolers and their parents on their way to the kindergarten. All our teachers meet or exceed state requirements.

Amy Thieman, Director and Teacher 4/5s Class

AmyThieman Amy is a Palo Alto native, where she grew up attending Palo Alto schools, including Parents Nursery School for two years with Virginia Debs as her teacher! She has a BA from Middlebury College, an MA in education from Stanford University, a California teaching credential, a California Child Development Site Supervisor Permit, and numerous ECE units. She taught at the high school level for eight years, both at St. Francis High School in Mt. View and at Palo Alto High School, before becoming a full-time mom when her second child was born. Amy, along with her husband Joe, came to PNS as a parent with their oldest child Luke and was delighted to join such a wonderful community for both children and parents. She completed seven consecutive years at PNS as a parent, first with Luke, then with daughter Anna, and finally with her youngest daughter Sarah. Amy was teacher of the Mixed Age class for four years and is excited to begin her second year teaching the 4/5s class for the 2015/2016 school year. Like the other PNS teachers, she truly believes in the value of early and consistent parent involvement in their children’s education, and loves working with this age group. Amy lives in Palo Alto where she enjoys spending time with her busy family.


Theresa Hentzel, Teacher Mixed Age Class I

Theresa was born and raised in Palo Alto. She studied sociology at California State University, Sacramento, and has received her Master Teacher Permit from the State of California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Theresa is a dyed-in-the-wool Giants fan and a bit of a gadfly. She married “the boy next door” (a PNS alum) and they’ve been together twenty years. They have a son, Jack, who went to PNS as well. Theresa joined PNS as a parent in 2009, but when Jack was promoted to elementary school she didn’t want to leave! She joined the PNS teaching staff as an Assistant Teacher for the mixed age class at the start of the 2011/12 school year because she loves everything about it: the philosophy of the school and the parents who believe in it, the sense of community, the fantastic play space, and the snickerdoodles. This year she is looking forward to returning as lead teacher in the Mixed Age classroom. When she’s not at PNS she can be found biking around town or goofing off with Jack. She enjoys reading, cooking, swimming, photography, and being outside. Theresa believes in parent involvement, play based learning, and paying things forward.


Kelly Sims, Teacher Mixed Age Class II

Kelly grew up in Stockton, California and is the oldest of three girls. She naturally took on a nurturing role being the big sister, and babysat throughout high school and college. She credits these early experiences as helping to pave the way and lead her to a passion for working with young children. Kelly later set her sights on sunny Santa Barbara to attend college and that is where she met her husband Brad. She transferred to San Jose State and earned a degree in Behavioral Studies which included Cultural Anthropology, Psychology, and Sociology. During her time at San Jose State she expanded her interests in children and became fascinated with Pre/Post-natal Education. Upon finishing her studies at SJSU, Kelly followed her passion and went on to become a Birth and Postpartum Doula. When her oldest son Rowan was born, Kelly worked as a nanny to stay with her little one. In 2007, Kelly and Rowan started at PNS and instantly felt at home in this wonderful community. Rowan flourished as he made his way through PNS and younger brother Colby followed in his footsteps. Kelly has been at PNS since 2007 as a parent, Co-President, and Assistant Teacher and was promoted to Teacher of one of the Mixed Age Classes at the start of the 2013/2014 school year. When Kelly is not busy working, and volunteering at her boys Parent-Participation Elementary School, she loves spending time with her family, having girl time with friends, running, and watching her boys in sporting events. She also loves to sing and has high hopes that she will be able to find time to join a choir again.


Greg Hentzel, Assistant Teacher 4/5s Class (Thursdays) and Mixed Age Class II

Greg is native Palo Altan and a graduate of San Jose State University as well as Parents Nursery School. He’s married to Teacher Theresa.  Their son, Jack, will be starting 5th grade this year. He holds a multiple-subject teaching credential from San Jose State. He enjoyed his time as a substitute teacher at PNS during the spring of 2016 and he’s looking forward to joining the teaching team! He enjoys sports and reading non-fiction, especially US history.


Summer Marshall, Assistant Teacher 4/5s Class (Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays)

summerSummer loves discovering new things along with fun people. From her days in Indonesia as a teenager to her part-time job in college as a “Mad Scientist” at birthday parties and shows, from her six years as a science museum educator to her time teaching fifth grade, she has always been passionate about learning and sharing. She considers finding PNS the best thing that’s ever happened to her family–and she loves to learn and discover with Teacher Amy’s class! She lives with her husband, Austin, and their awesome kids, Sagan (Teacher Amy’s Class of 2015) and Aurora (Teacher Theresa’s class), who all love to camp. Her obsessions include whatever she’s binge-watching, puns, the International Space Station, Hamilton, iridescence, and coffee.


Diana Fong, Assistant Teacher Mixed Age Class I

Diana grew up in Taiwan and Wisconsin.  She has a master’s degree in Materials Science Engineering from MIT.  For seven years she worked as an engineer before switching to pursue her passion in working with children.  After taking classes in Early Childhood Education, Diana started work as a teacher in an after-school kids club through PACCC.  She also served as a classroom aide at Ohlone Elementary School.  Diana became a stay-at-home mom after the birth of her first son Adam.  When she first visited PNS in 2010 with Adam, she knew it was a special place.  Adam loved every second of his time at PNS, as does his younger brother Daron, now.  Diana is thrilled to be joining the PNS staff as an Assistant Teacher for the mixed-age class.  She enjoys biking and eating ice cream with her family, having nights out with girlfriends, and singing in the car.


Kathy Sherman, Music

Kathy writes: “I’m so honored to be able to teach your children music. I hope to create a musical community where our students and their families will share and enjoy music together for many years to come.” Kathy is originally from Los Angeles and began her professional music career at 15, playing guitar and bouzouki. It was there that she observed the emotional impact music has on people. Ever since then it has been her goal as a musician to create this joy in my audiences. Kathy studied ethnomusicology at UCLA and earned a degree in classical guitar performance from the SF Conservatory of Music. She received my early childhood music education in a joint class from Music for Minors and Foothill College. She worked for 5 years as a music docent for Music for Minors at Ohlone School in Palo Alto teaching the K-1 classes. She was also a member of People of Note, an organization bringing concerts for children to the Bay Area. Kathy is married to Len, an analog engineer who dabbles in machining and metal art. She has two almost-grown sons; her older son Nathan is at Berklee College of Music in Boston majoring in sound design and production and her younger son Max is at Willamette University. Kathy plays with her Greek group, The Plaka Band. Her CDs include: “Listen to Your Mama” and “Singing on a Star” with her band Hey Mom!; “Welcome to the Folk Song Cafe” with her band The Good Folk Collective; and “A Time to Sing, A Time to Dance” and “New Songs of Old Athens” – this one, a Grammy semi-finalist for best world music album – with The Plaka Band.


Virginia Debs (Grandma Virginia)

Grandma VirginiaVirginia is a native Californian and was raised in small towns throughout the West and Midwest, spending summers in Berkeley with her Swedish grandparents. She studied at UC Berkeley, Harvard, and Tufts, and holds a Life Credential in Parent Education. Virginia began teaching parent education at PNS in 1969. In 1996, she began team teaching, which allowed her more time to travel. Now 92 years of age, Grandma Virginia has only the occasional opportunity to visit classes, but her visits are memorable! She loves teaching about nature and science, starting with all the things to be found on our great PNS yard. She and her late husband, Bob, have two children – Douglas, an engineer (and railroad enthusiast), and Missy, a communications specialist working overseas. Virginia is enthusiastic about people, the out-of-doors, books, opera, ballet, cooking, and (of course) PNS. The Grandma Virginia Memory Project, a series of interviews with Virginia, was completed as a gift for her 82nd birthday in 2006.