Principal's Welcome and Admin Team
Kirstin Snyder, Principal
"Be the change you want to see in the world." Mahatma Gandhi
My name is Kirstin Snyder, and I am your new Principal. My career began in Oakland as a College and Career Counselor. After becoming very curious about the acquisition of reading, I spent five years in Hayward working in the elementary world as a teacher and trained reading coach. My transition to Berkeley resulted in a very long stop, and I have spent the last twenty years there teaching, coaching, and coordinating intervention at the district level. I have my Master’s in Urban teacher Leadership and administrative credential that is focused around equity. I am deeply committed to disrupting education’s systemic inequities and rebuilding our instructional practices so that all students thrive. In my short time, it has become evident Encinal is an amazing place, and wonderful people surround me. You will find I am solutions based and lead with clear communication and kindness. I believe in human connection and relationships, and I look forward to being a part of the Encinal Community.
Jamilah Jones-McLean, Assistant Principal
I am a born and raised New Yorker living my California dream. After accidentally discovering my love of teaching, I sought out the area where there was most need and embarked on a path to study and teach special education in New York City. I later brought my passion for teaching and learning to Oakland and San Francisco, where I have not only had the pleasure of teaching diverse learners in middle and high school, but I have also had the good fortune to be able to teach and coach teachers. In my 12 years working with students and teachers from elementary to high school, I have seen the impact that high quality teaching and engaging learning experiences can have on students at each level. I believe that a school is responsible for the learning and development of every student and teacher in its community. I am excited to support that development with my new Encinal family. I join the Admin team ready to use my passion and dedication to be a leader for equity and social justice, to support all learners, and to uplift those in our community that have been underserved and left behind. I am inspired by the devoted team and dynamic students at Encinal to do my part to ensure that every person thrives and our most vulnerable students feel like they belong. Go Jets!
Melissa Sackett, Assistant Principal
My name is Melissa Sackett; I am excited to join the Encinal staff in the fall as your new Assistant Principal in my home community. Before coming to Encinal, I have had the privilege of serving in education for the past 25+ years as an administrator, school counselor, teacher, and paraeducator, primarily at the secondary level in various diverse settings in Washington and California from urban to rural and everything in between. For the past two years, I have been a Vice Principal at a middle school in Pleasanton.
My core values are grounded in building and sustaining authentic relationships across differences through transparent communication, respect, listening to understand, and being responsive to feedback. As a leader of instructional leaders, I am committed to being visible on campus, in classrooms, and in the community. Being visible in the school community keeps my focus on teaching and learning, climate and culture, and provides opportunities for genuine staff, student, and community dialogue and connection.
One of the many things that drew me to Encinal was its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. I am a student-focused educator and co-conspirator excited to join the Encinal team focused on culturally responsive teaching practices and creating and maintaining brave spaces to do this crucial and challenging work.
I hope you finish the year strong, and I look forward to meeting everyone in the fall. My door is always open.
Tim Zolezzi, Dean of Students
My name is Tim Zolezzi and I am honored to be joining the Encinal community as your new Dean of Student Support Services. I am a Bay Area native who has called the East Bay home for over a decade. My journey in education began as a teacher in South Texas, before returning to California to work as a Behavior Therapist with preschool & elementary-aged children navigating developmental differences. I’ve spent the last 15 years teaching sociology and history. My leadership experience includes serving as a new teacher coach, department chair, and most recently as the school-wide Professional Development Coordinator at Berkeley High. I believe schools have the potential to play a powerful role in moving us towards a more just and equitable society. My core values are centered around confronting and dismantling racial injustice while promoting an education system that serves to inspire and empower young people.
Thank you for welcoming me into your community. I look forward to learning and growing with you!