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Team Preschool

Our Preschool/Kindergarten teachers and assistants have a wonderful team spirit and are enthusiastic about teaching young children.

Heike Schmalstieg copyHeike Schmalstieg
Preschool Principal

I received my degree in Early Childhood Education in Germany more than 20 years ago and have continued my studies here in the US. I also received a certificate in teaching a second language from the University of California at Berkeley. I have gained valuable experience in German, as well as American preschools and of course here at GAIS.

read more about Heike Schmalstieg

I started teaching at GAIS in 1994. Over the years, I have seen the preschool grow from 24 children to more than 100 and the whole school from less than 100 to more than 300 students. During my stay at GAIS, I have taken two extended leaves to stay home with my own children, until they reached preschool age. I have always been excited to return to GAIS and my children have had the privilege to attend GAIS as well. The school has changed and evolved over the years, yet it has always kept its special appeal. The preschool has a truly unique concept, combining the need of the child to explore freely, challenging the child on all levels and providing a great balance between structured activities and free exploration. The IB Primary Years Program is inquiry based and fosters the child’s natural curiosity.  It is a pleasure to run a program that provides as many opportunities, while a child can still be a child. The children in our program have the opportunity to become independent thinkers, solve their own problems and conflicts, be creative, become knowledgeable about the world around them and so much more; all while learning a second language.

However, it was not only the philosophy of the program that appealed to me, but also the teaching staff. The preschool has an amazing staff of very dedicated and enthusiastic teachers that love what they do.



Carol Ferrieri copyCarol Ferrieri
Preschool Teacher

I grew up in the United States and Germany and truly consider myself  “German-American” or “American-German.”

I completed a B.A. degree in Developmental Psychology from San Francisco State University and an Early Childhood Education Certificate from Canada College.

I have lived in Redwood City since 1982 and began teaching, directing and then teaching again in the Kindergarten since 1996.

read more about Carol Ferrieri

Over the years I have also operated my own child care business, taught in English language programs and raised two sons.

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”
~Albert Einstein

Why did you choose to teach at GAIS? 

Having lived outside of Germany for so many years, teaching at GAIS gave me an opportunity to teach in the German language. Other factors: the preschool philosophy and wonderful preschool environment for the children!

What are some qualities that you see within the GAIS teaching staff? 

The preschool staff is very dedicated, enthusiastic, cooperative, supportive, creative and a lot of fun to work with!


Anita Stoney copyAnita Stoney
Preschool Teacher

I was born in Westwood, NJ and lived there for 2 years before moving to California.  After four years of living in California, our family moved back to Stromberg, Germany, where our parents are originally from. We stayed in North Rhine-Westphalia until I was 15, at which time we then returned permanently to California.

After graduating SJSU with a BS in Human Performance I continued my education by completing my units in Early Childhood Education at Canada College to become a pre-school teacher.  I began working at the GAIS  pre-school in 2002.

read more about Anita Stoney

Teaching at the GAIS pre-school continues to bring me a lot of pleasure.  I enjoy the children’s honesty, egocentricity and energy.  I believe in children learning through play. I find the work challenging and rewarding, and I hope to be able to teach for many years to come.

I currently live in Belmont with my husband and our two children. When not at work I enjoy family time, out door activities and sports, reading, yoga, turtles, and travel.



Moni Oser copyMonika Oser
Preschool Teacher 

I was born and raised near Stuttgart, Germany, and received my Diploma in Child Development (staatlich anerkannte Erzieherin) in Ludwigsburg in 1983. I worked in different preschool programs near Stuttgart before relocating to the United States with my family. Since 1998 I have been living in the Bay Area. I started at GAIS as a substitute preschool teacher in 1999 and I became a full-time teacher shortly thereafter. In addition, I worked at the German Saturday School for more than 10 years. Now I enjoy working in an international school environment with enthusiastic and motivated teachers.

read more about Monika Oser

Why did you choose to teach at GAIS?

I started working at GAIS “by accident” but within weeks I recognized the  great atmosphere at the school. The teachers are enthusiastic and motivated and there is a great team spirit.

What are some qualities that you see within the GAIS students? 

The students in our school are caring, thoughtful, respectful and responsible. They are also open to other cultures and curious individuals.


Dunja Zaun copyDunja Zaun
Preschool Teacher 

Having grown up in a small town in Thuringia, Germany, I went to Frankfurt/Main to study for a diploma in hotel management. I then worked as a housekeeping manager in a first class hotel in the vibrant city of Berlin. After moving to the US with my husband in 2000, I started volunteering at the German-American International School and other non-profit organizations working with young children. I enjoyed this work very much and decided for a career change. So, I took classes in early childhood education and earned the Child Development Teacher Certificate from Foothill College in nearby Los Altos Hills.

read more about Dunja Zaun

Why did you choose to teach at GAIS?

GAIS offers a great learning environment in all areas of children’s development and I love being part of it.

What are some qualities that you see within the GAIS teaching staff?

The GAIS preschool team works closely together, shares ideas and experiences, supports each other and models many of the IB’s attitudes and attributes of the learner profile.


Jennifer Porscha copyJennifer Porscha
Preschool Teacher / After School Program Teacher

I grew up in a small town between Heidelberg and Karlsruhe, Germany.

After finishing my Child Diploma in 2010, I came to the US to be an AuPair and took care of two wonderful twin-girls in the Bay Area. During that year I met my husband. We recently moved to Redwood Shores and we enjoy going for walks or runs with our dog.

I’ve been working at GAIS since May 2012 in the afterschool care (Hort) program. I am very excited to be working in the Preschool and to be part of the GAIS Team.

Michaela Coan copyMichaela Coan
Preschool Teacher

I grew up in Westphalia but spent my college years in Hessen and Bavaria where I graduated with an Environmental Science degree.

My husband and I moved to California 16 years ago. While my twins attended GAIS,  I volunteered in the class and realized how much I loved working with preschool aged children. That is when I started to think about a career change and subsequently got an Early Childhood Education degree from Cañada College.

I began working at GAIS when my son was ready to visit preschool in 2008 and have worked there ever since. I believe in learning through play and love to see the enthusiasm the young children have in everything they do.

In my free time I enjoy spending time with my  children, the outdoors and going camping.


Katrin Huelse copyKatrin Huelse
PM Site Supervisor / After School Program Teacher

I’m originally from Germany and had a  multi-lingual upbringing, speaking German, French and English. I came to the U.S. in 2006 as an AuPair and lived with a family in Marin.
 In 2008, I started studying ECE (Early Childhood Education) at local community colleges and graduated in 2013. I have been working with children of various age and developmental levels in a variety of settings for about 10 years and have been loving it!

read more about Katrin Huelse

I am a spontaneous, creative and active person and I love to travel. While working here at GAIS I am looking forward to expanding my horizons and knowledge and enriching your children’s experiences and relationships to make there time here memorable.
 My favorite quote is: “A great life isn’t about great huge things; it’s about small things that make a big difference.”


Sarah Roth copySarah Roth
Preschool Assistant / After School Program Teacher

I grew up in a small city in the beautiful wine region of Pfalz in Germany.

I received a masters degree at the University Koblenz-Landau in Educational Science with an emphasis in Early Childhood and Intercultural Education in 2011. After my graduation I worked as a socio-pedagogical family assistant with troubled families. Then I worked as preschool teacher at a German kindergarden and after school child care. I also provided educational counseling for the families there.

read more about Sarah Roth

Since I began my studies, I have worked with children and their families in a professional setting. Now I am very happy and excited to work in an international environment like GAIS!

In my free time I like hiking, listening to and making music, baking and cooking.


Anna Tyloch copyAnna Tyloch
Preschool Assistant / After School Program Teacher

I am originally from Poland. I attended the University of Warsaw and earned two Masters degrees: German language and Musicology.

After graduating, I worked as a German language and music  teacher in an elementary school and a high school in Warsaw.  My family and I came to the United States in 2011 and currently live in Sunnyvale. I joined GAIS in 2014 as a preschool assistant. Working with the children in the Preschool is a lot of fun and affords me the opportunity to  take additional classes in early childhood education at De Anza College.

Franziska Braunstein copyFranziska Braunstein
Preschool Assistant / After School Program Teacher / Specialist for Physical Education

I grew up in a very small town in the beautiful Black Forest in Germany.

I received my diploma in Child Development in 2010. I took one year off from university and became an Au Pair in Woodside where I took care of four lovely kids.

read more about Franziska Braunstein

After my Au Pair year I worked from 2011- 2012 as a preschool teacher in Germany, before I started an advanced training in Cologne to become a therapist for children with special needs.

Because I enjoyed working and living in the Bay area, I decided to come back to the States and became a teacher at GAIS. I’m very proud and happy to be part of the GAIS team.


Katarina Kuhlke copyKatarina Kuhlke
Preschool Teacher

I was born in Croatia, but I grew up in a small town in Austria.

I studied Educational Science (Pädagogik) at the University of Vienna, Austria from 2005 to 2010. From August 2007 until August 2008, I took a year off from university and worked as an Au Pair for a family in Pacifica, CA, taking care of three boys.

I came back to San Francisco in 2010 after graduating from University to be with my now-husband, Matthew. In August 2011, I started working at GAIS as a preschool assistant and enrolled at Cañada College to take additional classes in early childhood education. Since then I have had the opportunity to work as a preschool teacher for the 2 and 3-day groups. I am very happy to be part of the GAIS preschool team.


Tina Rauch copyTina Rauch
Preschool Assistant / After School Program Teacher

I grew up in a small village between Linz and Salzburg in Austria.

After graduating from college with a degree in Social Occupations, I started working as a pre-preschoolteacher in my village in 2010. I really loved my work there as every day was a new experience; I never knew what would happen next. Kids have a way of making you feel happy and always give you an honest feedback. That´s what I really loved about my job.

In 2013 I decided to come to the US as I wanted to  increase my English knowledge and I also wanted to learn more about the American way of living and their education system. So I came over in August and took care of 3 wonderful boys in the Oakland hills. During that year I got the chance to work in a German summer school for about four weeks, which led to me working at GAIS. I am very excited to be working in the Preschool and being part of the GAIS team.


Ulla Yechale copyUlla Yechale
Preschool Assistant / After School Program Teacher

I was born and raised in Hessen. My first career was in an entirely different field than education. In 1987 I received my degree in agriculture, specializing in cattle embryo transfer, ethical husbandry and organic cultivation farming. I also have experience in direct marketing of agricultural products, under USFDA standards.

After a few years, I decided it was time for a change and so in 1992 I completed my training as a preschool teacher. Since then, I have been working for and with many families and children with special needs, at centers and schools practicing the Reggio Emilia approach for education.

I am a very positive-spirited person, enthusiastic and always eager to find new and interesting ways of approaching and involving the children in my care.

My hobbies are: traveling, horseback riding, cruising on my motorcycle and… I LOVE to cook!!