About the People
























































































Francisco Lacayo

Eighth Grade Connections Teacher, Social Studies, flacayo@pausd.org

I am a Bay Area native, born and raised in the East Bay. I earned a B.A. in Urban Studies from San Francisco State University, and later earned my social studies credential and a Masters in Education from UCLA.

I started my work in the field of education volunteering at a state pre-school in San Francisco's Sunnydale District during my junior year of college. This experience led me to spend a summer working for an academic enrichment program in Washington D.C. as a summer teacher where I taught math and social studies to seventh and eighth grade students in Columbia Heights. This unforgettable teaching experience led me to pursue a teaching credential. While finishing my last year at San Francisco State University, I worked as a teacher's aide in Special Education classrooms. The summer after earning my B.A., I worked at a day treatment program in the East Bay with sixth to eighth grade students who suffered from post-traumatic syndrome, bi-polarity, and schizophrenia. While applying to graduate school I worked as a substitute teacher in Culver City. I taught one year in Los Angeles before returning to the Bay Area and am now enjoying my new teaching position in the Connections Program at JLS.

Kim Lohse

Seventh Grade Connections Teacher, English, klohse@pausd.org

I graduated from Hunter College in New York City after studying English with an emphasis in Creative Writing and Music with an emphasis in singing Early Music. Before finishing my studies in New York, I went to nine different colleges, including NYU, U. of Hawaii, SF State, and more. From Project Pipeline, a credentialing program through Sacramento which seeks to serve underprivileged communities, while also credentialing teachers, I received my secondary teaching certification for teaching English. I received my MFA from Vermont College, where I studied Creative Writing, emphasizing in poetry and French translation.

I first started teaching Special Education to adults at Easter Seals in Hawaii. I then worked with developmentally disabled children in New York State and in California at Via Center, in Berkeley. When writing poetry became more important in my personal life, my teaching choices shifted also. I have taught freshman English at Touro College, in Harlem, high school English and character education at Hyde School in Connecticut, English and just about every other humanities course (grades 6-12) at The Purple Lotus Buddhist School in California, Language Arts at East Palo Alto Charter School in California and English at Jordan, here, in Palo Alto. Beyond this list, I have briefly taught music, dance, photography, outdoor education and cooking. I continue to teach Creative Writing workshops, primarily for adults.



Diane Luu

6th Grade Connections Teacher, English & Social Studies, dluu@pausd.org

I began my first year as a Connections teacher in 2014. A native of the Bay Area, I attended San Francisco State University to earn my B.A. in Liberal Studies with a History minor. As an undergrad, I interned at the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge as an Environmental Educator to promote wildlife conservation and habitat restoration. I earned my Master's in Education and teaching credential from UC Santa Cruz in 2014. My passion for project-based learning, social justice, English and Social Studies can be exuded through the Connections program at JLS. I am very honored and excited to be here!

Mikaela Mckenna

Sixth Grade Connections Teacher, Math & Science, mmcKenna@pausd.org

I couldn’t be more pleased to have joined JLS as a math and science teacher in the connections program. I was born and raised in a small suburb of LA, Whittier, where most of my 52 first cousins still reside. I come from a large, loud, and loving family so that’s the environment I am most comfortable in. I first left Whittier to attend UCSB and study Global and International Studies and History. I left knowing that I wanted to work helping others so  the Teach for America program appealed to me and luckily, I did to them. They sent me to Ravenswood where I worked for four years teaching 5th grade at Willow Oaks School. I found that my true passion is teaching math and science, so when an opportunity in Palo Alto appeared, I jumped for it. I am looking forward to another great year together. 



Kari Nygaard

Eighth Grade Connections Teacher, English, knygaard@pausd.org

After growing up in Palo Alto and Cupertino, I ventured across the country to Vermont where I received a B.A. in International Studies from Middlebury College. I loved living and working in Boston for a few years after college, but eventually I returned to California where I received my teaching credential and M.A. In Educational Administration from Santa Clara University.

I have been teaching 7th and 8th grade English at JLS since the 2005-06 school year. I currently mentor new teachers in the district, and in past JLS roles I have served as the English Instructional Supervisor, the Student Activities Director, and the Leadership teacher. Outside of PAUSD, I have taught summer programs in civic leadership, design thinking, creative writing, Italian, music, and HIV/AIDS education in a range of locations: Palo Alto, Berkeley, San Francisco, Maine, and Malawi. My husband is an English teacher at Gunn High School and we have a toddler son, Emerson.




Tyler Parsons

7th Grade Connections Teacher, Social Studies, tparsons@pausd.org

I grew up in Minnesota and studied history at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. My girlfriend and I have lived and worked around the country as she pursued her medical education while I have worked as a teacher. I received my Master’s of Education in Secondary Social Studies from Truman State University in Missouri and have since lived and taught secondary social studies in Tempe, Arizona, San Antonio, Texas, and most recently, Santa Monica, California. We have enjoyed living in so many different places, but are excited to be near so many of our family and friends in California.

I am currently teaching 7th grade Connections social studies. I have a social studies and special education credential and this is my sixth year teaching. World History is among my favorite subjects and I previously taught it at the high school level for 3 years. I love exploring connections to today and examining how people lived in different civilizations and times. I greatly enjoy project based learning and watching students take ownership and become experts in a subject. I am also involved around JLS as a mentor, a homework habitat tutor, and knowledge bowl sponsor. In my free time, I enjoy working on and riding bicycles and outdoor activities.




Arianne Piedrahita

Sixth Grade Connections Teacher, Math & Science, apiedrahita@pausd.org

I was born and raised in Davis, California.  I went to UCDavis for my undergraduate degree in managerial economics.  In 2003, I studied at San Francisco State and earned my multiple subject teaching credential.  I taught for 7 years in Redwood City, in both 3rd and 5th grade classrooms.  In 2013, I taught English Language Development in San Jose.  I joined the connections team at JLS in 2014.  I am so excited to be a part of such  a wonderful community of teachers, students and parents.






Katie Schramm

Sixth Grade Connections Teacher, English & Social Studies, kschramm@pausd.org

I have been a connections teacher since 2004. Born and raised in the Bay Area, I graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a B.A. in psychology, then earned my teaching credential from San Francisco State's middle level program. Currently I'm in the administrative master's program at Santa Clara University, but I don't plan to leave Connections any time soon!! I can't imagine not being a Connections teacher. I love going to work.