Hillbrook Upper School
Founding Staff & Faculty
Upper School Faculty
Upper School English
Crystal Matsuoka is excited to bring her passion for teaching and curricular innovation to Hillbrook’s Upper School. Before joining the Hillbrook team, Crystal grew her craft as an educator for twelve years at Woodside Priory School, where she served as Upper School English Teacher, as well as Director of Curriculum and Instruction, and most recently as Academic Dean.
As an English teacher at Priory, Crystal taught a range of high school language arts and literature courses, from 9th grade World Literature to AP Literature and Composition, as well as upper division electives such as American Women’s Literature, Poetry: Sonnets to Slam, and Fairy Tales, Myths, & Urban Legends. Alongside teaching English, Crystal served as the Director of Curriculum & Instruction starting in 2014. In this role, Crystal led faculty in building and revising the discipline-specific vertical articulation of curriculum for grades 6-12, streamlining milestone skills and content for rigor and developmental appropriateness. She also led in-house Professional Development around the recalibration of backwards design and authentic assessment, the implementation of schoolwide competencies, and the alignment of curricular programs with a common institutional understanding of student balance and diversity, equity, and inclusion. In her most recent role as Academic Dean, Crystal professionalized and managed the teacher evaluation system, with the goal of creating a culture of reflective practice to advance student learning; redesigned and facilitated New Faculty and Staff onboarding; coordinated student course registration, revamping student and parent education around course selection philosophy, process, and policies; and spearheaded the initiative to re-envision a criteria-based, student-centered, and equity-centered teacher hiring process.
Prior to Woodside Priory, Crystal taught English at Summit Preparatory Charter High School, where she had the first opportunity to design interdisciplinary study trips and senior exhibitions with a grade level team. Crystal started her career in teaching 9-12th grade English at Wilcox High School in Santa Clara, California.
In addition to teaching English, Crystal has specialized as an educational consultant in instructional coaching and curriculum design. At Insight Education Group, Crystal delivered professional development on standards-based instruction at various California school sites, and wrote a teacher certification course on instruction for English language learners (K-12). Crystal has also mentored first and second year teachers through the Stanford Graduate School of Education, and served as a cooperating teacher for the Stanford Teacher Education Program.
Crystal earned her BA in Psychology with a minor in English from Stanford University and her MA in Education and California Teaching Credential in English from the Stanford Teacher Education Program.
Crystal looks forward to sharing the Hillbrook community with her husband, Reid, and daughter, Kayla.
Upper School Math
Jeremy Smart is excited to be returning to the classroom after taking the past few years to be a stay-at-home parent. While he has been teaching primarily upper school math courses for the better part of the past 22 years, his initial training and teaching was with young children at Bing Nursery School, a play-based, child-centered school associated with Stanford University, where he did his undergraduate work. He graduated having earned a BAS degree with a double major in mathematics and developmental psychology. While at Bing, Jeremy worked on teaching teams in a 2-year-old class and a mixed-age 3- through 5-year-old class, and he still credits his experiences with young children as foundational to his educational approaches across all ages.
As an upper school math teacher, Jeremy has always tried to implement student-centered, problem-based curricula whenever possible, which he first discovered while teaching summers at Phillips Exeter Academy, a boarding school in Exeter, NH. Jeremy took these experiences with him while teaching a wide range of upper school math courses for 12 years at Sacred Heart Schools in Atherton, CA and 4 years at The Dwight School in New York, NY. He has taught courses at both remedial and advanced/AP levels as well as courses within the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at the Middle Years and Diploma Programme levels. Jeremy also developed a post-AP Calculus senior-level course for prospective mathematics majors, designed to introduce them to a wide range of topics that could reasonably be encountered at the university level. At various times throughout his teaching, he has served as an advisor for seniors completing their IB theses, a mentor to beginning teachers, a class advisor, and an assistant director for a senior retreat program.
While teaching in New York, Jeremy also earned his MA in mathematics education at Teachers College, Columbia University. He enjoyed his time in the program so much that he decided to continue taking courses until he practically exhausted the options available to him at the time before returning to California to teach once again, and remained in the classroom for 8 more years before deciding to take time off to stay home with his children.
Jeremy lives with his wife, Kellie, an elementary music teacher, his 8-year-old daughter, and 4-year-old son. He enjoys playing guitar, being in nature, cooking for his family, and reading well-thought-out children’s stories to his own kids.
Upper School Biochemistry
Mike Judge is passionate about helping students to uncover, appreciate, and care for the beauty of their world through the application of science. He cannot wait to guide student explorations of the many, extraordinary opportunities for learning that Hillbrook School and its environs offer.
For the past eight years, Mike has taught Advanced Placement Environmental Science at Sacred Heart Prep in Atherton. While at SHP, he has served as a leader across campus in a variety of programs, including creative inquiry, service learning and immersion trips, senior independent studies, the annual social justice teach-in, the Kairos retreat program, and the Sophie’s Scholars program. Additionally, Mike has been a member of SHP’s admissions committee; has taught courses in biology and molecular agronomy; and since 2020 has been a member of the Advisory Council for The Climate Initiative, a national organization facilitating solutions-oriented, educational experiences related to climate change.
Prior to his time at Sacred Heart, Mike spent eight wonderful years at the Punahou School on the island of ‘Oahu. There, he primarily taught biology at the ninth grade and Advanced Placement levels, in addition to courses in chemistry and the senior Capstone seminar in science, which he co-designed. He served multiple terms as a faculty representative on the school’s curriculum committee, and participated in the Mentoring at Punahou Program for new teachers, both as a mentee during his first year and later as a mentor teacher.
Mike earned his AB in Biology from Harvard College, where he conducted independent research on Alzheimer’s disease, with an emphasis on novel molecular mechanisms of beta-amyloid clearance that could serve as therapeutic targets for future treatments. He is currently in his final semester in the MS program in Natural Resources and Environmental Science at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. There, his research has centered on the Bay Area’s serpentine grasslands, focusing on soil properties and their influence on vegetative community structure and invasibility of these incredibly unique ecosystems.
Mike, his wife Eunjae, and their two daughters are all so very glad to join the Hillbrook community!
Director of Design and Innovation Labs
Richard is very excited to begin a new path at Hillbrook as the Director of Design and Innovation Labs. Richard brings experiences from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. Prior to being a teacher, Richard worked professionally in the design industry as an architectural and fabrication designer. His work ranged from helping to increase urban housing with the development of small lot homes to the engineering of stage set pieces for the Grammys and Academy Awards.
Before venturing into the design world, Richard earned his BA from Bowdoin College in biology. Recognizing natural systems and processes greatly contributed to Richard’s appreciation and application of design philosophies while he earned his Master of Architecture from MIT.
These experiences prepared Richard for the numerous roles and responsibilities that he would be embrace as the engineering and robotics teacher at The Quarry Lane School in Dublin, CA. Over several years, Richard was able to find immense success, leading multiple robotics teams to the World Championships. However, he is most proud of inspiring a number of young people to pursue a career in engineering and design.
Throughout the years, Richard has also taught in both the AP and IB curriculums. Additionally, he was responsible for teaching, design, robotics, engineering and computer science to elementary through high school students. On the side, Richard continues to develop his non-profit organization little DESIGN LAB, where he hopes to bring STEAM education to less represented students.
Of the many things that Richard is looking forward to, the most is working with Hillbrook students that care and contribute to their community. As a first-generation college graduate, Richard knows the tremendous value of a solid education, but also recognizes the barriers that must be addressed to provide access to more. As a team of dedicated and passionate individuals, Richard is looking forward to being a part of something that matters.
UPPER SCHOOL HISTORY TEACHER AND LEARNING SPECIALIST
Lauryl Grimes joins Hillbrook with a passion for democratic education, relationship-oriented classrooms, and innovative curricula rooted in climate justice and change-making. Lauryl came to teaching via a Master in Public Health from Tulane University and an AmeriCorps Garden Coordinator role at Trillium Charter School in Portland, Oregon. Her success developing a K-8 food education program and supporting students in planning, planting, and maintaining an organic garden to supply the school’s kitchen, led to a position as the Upper School Health Teacher and Internship Coordinator. Lauryl is grateful for this unconventional path because she learned how to be a teacher directly from her students. She will always center student voice and choice in her classroom and continues to prioritize the experiential teaching practice that grew in the garden.
Lauryl comes to Hillbrook from New Harmony High, a small start-up high school in New Orleans, Louisiana with a mission to restore and preserve the Gulf Coast and educate the next generation of local climate activists and problem-solvers. As a founder of the Social Studies Department, she developed project- and place-based curricula for US History, World Geography, and US Government courses that highlight marginalized voices and ignored narratives. She approaches the study of history as a practice in uncertainty, curiosity, interconnection, and nuance and hopes her students leave class with an understanding of both the unknowability and enduring impact of history.
Lauryl was also fortunate enough to enhance her teaching practice with experience as a Reading Interventionist and Case Manager. As a founding member of New Harmony’s Diverse Learning team, she supported students in the design of their own Individualized Education Plans and the practice of academic and social self-advocacy. She also helped develop school-wide information-sharing and progress-monitoring systems that centered students’ strengths, growth, and goals. She is thrilled to continue her inclusive, accessible, rigorous teaching practice as part of the Hillbrook community.
Lauryl earned her Master of Arts in Teaching as a SEED fellow at Loyola University, New Orleans. She lives in a secret garden with her partner and their spunky baby daughter, as well as Zuzu, the dog, and Moosh and Zazz, the bunnies…who eat the garden.
UPPER SCHOOL Mandarin Teacher
Sisi is thrilled to be part of Hillbrook’s new chapter as the Upper School Mandarin Chinese
Teacher. She grew up in the southern part of Jiang Su province in China, a place that is known
for its rich educational heritage. The culture and history of her hometown has inspired Sisi, from
a young age, to embark on a journey to becoming an educator. After teaching English in China,
Sisi moved to the US and pursued her Master’s degree in Teaching Foreign Language at
Middlebury Institute of International Studies. During her time there, Sisi co-founded the
renowned Foreign Language Education Symposium, fulfilling her commitment to advance
foreign language education.
Following the completion of her master’s degree, Sisi discovered her true passion for K-12
education upon joining Stevenson School, where her dedication thrived. She played a pivotal
role in establishing and promoting the middle school Chinese program through immersive field
trips, cultural events, and engaging projects. Her primary teaching goal is to ignite a love for
learning and foster lifelong learners. Many of her former students are now living their dream of
studying and working in Chinese-speaking countries.
In 2018, Sisi returned to the Bay Area to be closer to her family. She joined Silicon Valley
International School (INTL), an IB school in Palo Alto, as a Grade Level Lead and Chinese
program teacher. Working with bilingual students at INTL have further enriched her
understanding of second language acquisition. As a team lead, Sisi actively supported her
colleagues in navigating new challenges and fostered a collaborative work environment to create
interdisciplinary learning experiences for their students.
In addition to her teaching endeavors, Sisi is a dedicated language educator who continuously
seeks personal and professional growth. She has presented at esteemed language education
conferences, including ACTFL's Annual Convention and World Language Expo, Chinese
Language Teachers Association of California (CLTAC) Conference, and the CLTA International
Symposium on Chinese Language Teaching and Learning.
A proud mom of a 6.5-year-old daughter, Sisi cherishes spending quality time with her family.
Her husband is an acupuncturist, specializing in traditional Chinese medicine, and he also
teaches at Five Branches University.
UPPER SCHOOL Spanish Teacher
Profesora Noelia Galvez-Fernandez is a native Spanish speaker born and raised in
Malaga, Spain. She moved to California seven years ago to fulfill her childhood dream of
becoming a teacher in America. She received her B. A. in Teaching a Foreign Language from the
University of Malaga, and her Single Subject credential as an Instructor of the Spanish Language
from California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. She earned 12 credit units in Master of
Individualized Learning with the University of La Rioja (Spain) and she will soon be a graduate
student at San Francisco State University in the Master's of Arts in Spanish program. She also
has 13 years of experience teaching all levels from kindergarten to adult education teaching
different subjects matters in Spain as well in the USA.
Upon graduating in 2008, Profesora Noelia began teaching at various schools as a drama,
and English teacher during summer, and in after school programs, as well as tutoring students.
She has also taught English courses for restaurant workers, and she has prepared teachers to take
their proficiency tests in English according to the The Common European Framework of
Reference for Languages. Later she worked for the Department of Education in Spain for over
three years. She then moved to California to teach Spanish from Kindergarten to sixth grade for
four years. During that time, she developed her own syllabus and teaching philosophy. After that,
she came to Mt. Diablo Unified School District in 2018 where she taught the general curriculum
for a dual language program in a self-contained class to the upper levels of elementary School.
Finally, Noelia Galvez comes to Hillbrook from Crystal Springs Uplands School, an independent, coeducational, college prep day school in Hillsborough, California, where she very quickly came to love the supportive and structured environment that was created there. At Crystal, she taught Spanish I, II, and III.
Spanish is her passion and she believes that Spanish (and foreign languages in general)
gives us an unique perspective into the world and the people who we live in it with. The value of
learning Spanish extends beyond the ability to verbally communicate with others, and provides
countless neurological benefits and social advantages. She is very excited to share their
language, and culture at Hillbrook, and take the language from the classroom to the community
where students will explore the complexities of the Spanish language in America and Europe and
will address a range of issues, such as the past and present of Spanish language in the United
States, the relationship between language and identity, and the tensions and hopes around the
maintenance of Spanish in immigrant communities. As an immigrant herself, she hopes to give a
greater sense of the many contributions Latino communities have made to American culture and
politics, and develop a greater awareness of some of the challenges and injustices that
Spanish-speakers have faced and currently face in this country. She has a passion for connecting
the language with the culture, and celebrating every identity in the classroom, as well as for
Spanish poetry, literature, arts, and history. Apart from her life in academia, she spends the rest
of her free time hiking with her dog Lola, doing yoga, reading books in English and Spanish, and
Upper School Leadership
Head of Hillbrook School
Mark Silver is the Head of School at Hillbrook School, a JK-12 independent school located in Silicon Valley. Since his arrival at Hillbrook in 2009, Mark has deepened the school’s connections to its historical roots as a leader in innovation and best practices in education. As part of the school’s ambitious strategic plans, Visions 2015 and 2020, Hillbrook has launched the Center for Teaching Excellence and the Scott Center for Social Entrepreneurship, established itself as a leader in the use of technology, earning designation since 2012-13 as an Apple Distinguished School, and placed itself at the forefront of conversations about the Maker’s movement, social entrepreneurship, learning spaces, and co-teaching. Today, the school is embarking on its most ambitious undertaking ever - expanding from a JK-8 into a two campus JK-12 with a new Upper School campus in downtown San Jose.
Prior to his arrival at Hillbrook, Mark spent a number of years as an administrator, teacher, and coach in independent schools, including Holland Hall School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Crystal Springs Uplands School in Hillsborough, California, and Francis Parker School in San Diego, California. Mark graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude from Amherst College with a degree in American Studies, and later earned an M.A. in American History at Stanford University and a Ph.D in Leadership Studies at the University of San Diego. Mark was a fellow at the Heads of School program at the Klingenstein Center at Teacher’s College Columbia University, and also is a certified Executive Coach through the Berkeley Executive Coaching Institute. He has served on many Boards, including the California Association of Independent Schools, the Elementary School Heads Association, Crystal Springs Upland Schools, and, currently, the Girls Middle School in Palo Alto.
Mark has three children and his wife, Carla, is the Executive Director of Leadership & Design, a non-profit organization that “designs experiences for the people who design the future of education.” Outside of work life, you can find him walking his beloved dogs (Duke and Izzy), hiking and running, reading, watching sports (especially English Premier League), and beekeeping.
Founding Head of Upper School
Mike Peller joined White Mountain School in July 2018 as the Assistant Head of Teaching and Learning, where he has served as the chief academic leader of the school. During his time at WMS, he led the design and implementation of the Inquiry, Innovation and Impact Lab, developing a Design Engineering department along the way; he led a schedule redesign to prioritize inquiry learning , engagement and community wellness; he supported enrollment management initiatives, including travel to China; and, he developed a system and strategies to transition to a competency-based learning environment, so as to develop learner experiences and assessment tied to the school’s transferable competencies. To do the latter, Mike drew from his work experience at Nueva, where he served as the Assistant Head of Upper School, as well as the site director for Global Online Academy and the Mastery Transcript Consortium. His focus while at Nueva was on building and refining a standards-based grading system, which evolved into a competency-based learning system. He has led numerous workshops on this and has presented at a number of national conferences including: NAIS, O.E.S.I.S., and Nueva’s Innovative Learning Conference. Relevant conferences include:
Building Teams, Breaking Paradigms: Human-Centered Approaches for Implementing Mastery Learning, NAIS 2022
Accelerating through Crises, NAIS 2021
Leading Across Schools: Co-creating a Competency Roadmap, NAIS, February 2020
Leading Change in the Mastery Revolution, NAIS, February 2019
What is a B+, Anyways?, NAIS, March 2018
Changing to CBE: A Bottom-Up Approach, O.E.S.I.S., March 2019
A Transition to Competency Assessment, O.E.S.I.S., October 2018
An Evolution of Interdisciplinary Competency-Based Assessment, O.E.S.I.S., April 2018
Transforming your Math Program with Standards, Innovative Learning Conference, October 2017
Prior to Nueva, Mike worked as the Math Department Chair, director of Project Outreach, and the Assistant Director of the Senior Honor thesis at Holderness School in New Hampshire. He was also one of the founding faculty of Sonoma Academy, where he was a science and math teacher, ninth grade dean, and a member of the admissions committee. Mike earned his BA in environmental engineering at Harvard University and his MA in Independent School Leadership at Columbia University. Mike, being a child of two boarding school teachers, grew up on the campus of Northfield Mount Hermon: independent schools are part of his DNA.
Mike is a proud and adoring parent of Mira (6.5) and Wendell (3). His partner, Kelsey, is a middle school Humanities teacher, and a remarkable homeschool teacher and mother!
Director of College Counseling
Charlotte (Charley) Burkly is our founding Director of College Counseling. Before joining Hillbrook Upper School, Charley spent six years at University School (OH) as Associate Director of College Counseling. Previously, Charley served as Assistant Dean of Admission at Princeton University and Assistant Director of MBA Admissions at Columbia Business School. She started her career teaching middle school science as part of the New York City Teaching Fellows program.
In addition to her main work in college counseling, Charley has been an active member of her campus communities, most recently serving as a leader within student life and advising, coaching Track and Field and Cross-Country, and facilitating diversity, equity and inclusion programming for both students and faculty. She currently serves on the leadership team for the Association for College Counselors in Independent Schools (ACCIS) as Colloquium chair.
Charley’s work in college admissions, college counseling, and classroom teaching ensures that she understands how best to support students as they navigate high school, apply to college, and prepare for the next stage of their education. At Hillbrook Upper School, she is excited to play an active role in laying the foundation for an exceptional educational experience - one that prepares students not only for school, but for life.
Charley graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Colgate University with a BA in Chinese, and later earned an MS in Science Education from CUNY-City College and an MA in Higher and Post-Secondary Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Charley joins the Hillbrook community along with her husband, Woli Urbe, and their two children.
Upper School Athletics Director
Tim comes to us from Westminster School in Atlanta, where he has served as the Athletic Director since 2015. Westminster finished the 2021-22 school year ranked #1 in the country according to MaxPreps, a program designed to rank and recognize the top high school athletic programs in the country. Prior to Westminster, Tim served as the Athletic Director at several colleges and universities between 1999-2015, including Emory University, Franklin & Marshall College, and the California Institute of Technology. Tim graduated from Dartmouth University with a BA in English and Government, where he was a four-year varsity lacrosse starter, and later earned a JD from Washington & Lee University with a focus on Title IX and intercollegiate athletics.
Tim was drawn to the opportunity to take his many years of experience at top schools building and refining athletic programs that coexist with top academics and apply it from the ground floor in our expanding high school program. His reference spoke to his work as a relationship builder, his connection with students, and his ability to combine big picture, visionary thinking with attention to the smallest details. During his interviews it became clear that Tim understands the invaluable role that an athletic program plays in an independent school, and that he has the experience and expertise to help us design an exceptional program to build on our existing JK-8 program.
In addition to Tim, we are excited to welcome his wife, Beth, to our community. Tim also has three older children - Kelley, a senior at the University of Georgia, Drew, a sophomore at Rhodes College, and Will, a junior at Westminster.
While Tim will not begin his role full-time until July 1, 2023, he will be starting to partner with Upper School Head Mike Peller in the Spring to design the programs for our first year and to start the hiring process for founding coaches. He is excited to build connections with the members of the Class of 2027 and their families, and to start laying the foundation for what we know will be an excellent high school athletic program.