Our Faculty & Staff

 

St Nicholas School has a dedicated, caring faculty and staff.  Many of our faculty and staff are graduates of Catholic Education themselves, and a number of our faculty members are alumni of St. Nicholas School  Additionally, we are proud that 57% of our faculty members hold Masters Degrees in Education.  

 

To learn about our faculty and staff members,  please click a name below or contact us!  Or jump to Administration, Transitional Kindergarten, Kindergarten, Elementary SchoolJunior High School,  our special subjects faculty , or staff and extended care to learn more about our teachers and staff! 

Administration

Jan Popolizio, Principal


Mrs. Popolizio is a graduate of Queen of Apostles Elementary School and Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Engineering, from Cal Poly, with Master’s work completed at San Jose State University. She worked for Lockheed Martin as a Systems Engineer and Project Manager for many years, then became a business development manager before turning to education. She earned her teaching credential from National University and taught 4th grade for seven years at St. Lucy School in Campbell. She then spent five years serving as Vice Principal at St. Lucy, focusing her attention and leadership on building the next generation educational programs in grades 4th-8th. Mrs. Popolizio is honored to continue leading the dynamic educators and students here at St. Nicholas School! Mrs. Popolizio enjoys cooking, yoga and spending time at her mountain home in Incline Village. She lives in San Jose with her husband and has three grown children who have also attended K-12 catholic schools in the bay area.




Father John Poncini, Pastor


Fr. John was born and raised in San Jose, he is one of nine children and has twenty-five nephews and nieces. His older brother, Fr. Laurence, is a priest of the Discalced Carmelite Friars. Fr. John earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy and Master’s Degree in Theology from Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University in Rome, Italy. He has worked as a missionary in both Spain and Mexico. Fr. John was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Patrick J. McGrath at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Joseph on June 4, 2005. His first assignment was at Saint Lucy’s Parish. In 2009, Bishop McGrath assigned Fr. John as Director of Vocations and Seminarians. He served as Chaplain to the English speaking Cursillo Movement, as well as to the Knights of Columbus. Bishop Daly worked closely with Fr. John in his capacity as Auxiliary Bishop. Fr. John became Pastor of St. Nicholas & St. William Parishes in July 2015.




Stacy French, Vice Principal, Director of Admissions


Ms. French is a Bay Area native, where she attended St. Mary’s, Five Wounds and Notre Dame High School, San Jose. She graduated from San Jose State University, with a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies, a minor in Psychology and completed the Multiple Subject Credential Program. In 2003, she earned a Master of Arts degree in Educational Administration from Santa Clara University. Ms. French came to St. Nicholas School in 1997 as the 5th grade teacher. She moved to the “other side of the quad” to teach 2nd grade before stepping into the Vice Principal role. Prior to coming to St. Nicholas she taught various grades in both the public and private sectors. She spent ten years working for a statewide Child Development organization as an Early Childhood Development Director, Program Supervisor, Human Resources Generalist and finally, a Recruiter. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, dancing, theater arts, traveling and spending time with her family and friends. For over 30 years, Ms. French performed and taught tap, ballet, jazz and theater arts. She continues her love of dance and theatre arts by teaching the St. Nicholas Young Performers (K-3) and co-producing the Spring Drama Production.





 
 

Transitional Kindergarten

Christine LoDestro, Teacher


Mrs. LoDestro has always loved teaching young children! She has been teaching since 1989, with both an elementary level teaching credential and Master’s Degree specializing in Early Childhood Leadership and Advocacy. During Mrs. LoDestro’s free time she enjoys cooking and entertaining, going to country music concerts, art museums, boating and hiking with her husband and most recently has taken up horseback riding. She is married, with four sons and four dogs!




Staci Cheu, Transitional Kindergarten Instructional Assistant


Ms. Cheu grew up in San Francisco before moving to the south bay to attend San Jose State University, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She has worked with children for nine years. Staci started her work with children in 2010 when working for an organization that helps children with disabilities learn how to ride ponies in Golden Gate Park. She spent the last three years working as a behavioral therapist for children with autism and took her board certification courses in Applied Behavior Analysis. She is currently working on a Master of Sciences in Psychology. She has worked as an extended care instructor here at St. Nicholas since September 2018 and is excited to work with the TK class.





 

Kindergarten

Elizabeth Nosal, Kindergarten Teacher


Mrs. Nosal was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska and graduated from Colorado State University in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in Human Development. Her first classroom experience came from the CSU Early Childhood Center. Her experiences there solidified her career path in teaching young children. She taught preschool in Omaha before moving to Chicago for graduate school. In 2016, Mrs. Nosal obtained her teaching credential and master’s degree from DePaul University in Early Childhood Education. She completed many internships and student teaching experiences throughout Chicago, while gaining more extensive classroom experience. In 2017, she married and moved to Southern California. She has spent two years teaching Pre-K in Newport Beach before relocating to the Bay Area. Mrs. Nosal enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, college football, photography/videography, and baking.




Kate Lincoln, Kindergarten Instructional Assistant


Ms. Lincoln grew up in Mountain View, where she attended Saint Francis High School and performed with Peninsula Youth Theater. She then attended Rider University in New Jersey where she majored in English and Musical Theatre. She is passionate about inspiring children to get involved in the arts and is grateful for the opportunity to work with the Catholic youth at St. Nicholas. In her free time, Ms. Lincoln enjoys reading, baking, singing, and playing with her two cats.





 

Elementary School, Grades 1-5

Lauren Ewing, 1st Grade Teacher


Ms. Ewing was born and raised in Los Altos and attended University of San Francisco’s dual degree teaching program. She graduated from University of San Francisco in 2019 with a Bachelors in Sociology and in 2020 with her Masters in Education. During her graduate year she became a volunteer in the kindergarten classroom at St. Nicholas School. She then began her student teaching in the 4th grade classroom. She fell in love with the school and the community at St. Nicholas, and loves being the 1st grade teacher. Ms. Ewing likes to draw, go on hikes, traveling and spending time with her family.




Heidi Hagenlocher, 2nd Grade Teacher


Ms. Hagenlocher graduated from Santa Clara University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies Pre-Teaching and from the University of San Francisco in 2017 with her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and a Masters of Arts in Teaching Education. Ms. Hagenlocher leads the 2nd graders in an important year – with special focus on the milestones of First Reconciliation and Communion! In her free time, she loves to travel, spend time with family and friends and cheer on the SF Giants!




Elyssa Vasquez, 2nd Grade Instructional Aide / Extended Care Teacher


Ms. Vasquez was born in Santa Clara and was raised in the Central Valley. Ms. Vasquez studied ballet for 16 years and spent 4 years as an assistant and lead dance instructor. During her time as lead dance instructor, she realized her passion for teaching, education and working with children and knew that she wanted to become an elementary school teacher. Ms. Vasquez educated young children and children with special needs during her time as a dance instructor. In college, Ms. Vasquez pursued Child Development and American Sign Language classes to further enable her to work with non-verbal or partially-verbal children. In her free time, Ms. Vasquez enjoys drawing and painting, reading as many books as possible, and spending time with her family.




Ellen Jewell, 3rd Grade Teacher


Miss Jewell graduated from Santa Clara University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies Pre-Teaching and a Minor in History. She continued on at Santa Clara to finish both her Masters of Arts in Teaching and Multiple Subject Teaching Credential in 2016. Miss Jewell loves sports! She has been coaching swimming for the past 11 years, and now runs the program at her club. Additionally, she coaches soccer at Saint Francis High School. She has coached at the Freshman and JC levels, and this year will be taking on the Varsity program.




Kerry Marzoni, 4th Grade Teacher


Mrs. Marzoni grew up in Southern California and moved to the Bay Area in 1999 to attend the University of San Francisco, where she received her B.A. in Sociology as well as a Multiple-Subject Teaching Credential and a Masters in Teaching Reading. Before joining St. Nicholas she taught 1st grade and served as the Reading Specialist (grades 1-3) for 11 years at the Nativity School in Menlo Park. She is blessed to have her son Tanner here at St. Nicholas and loves the community and surroundings!




Stacey Wilson - 5th Grade Teacher, Social Studies, Religion, Math & Athletic Director


Mrs. Wilson is a beloved alumni of St. Nicholas School returning to teach Homeroom, Religion, Math and Social Studies. Mrs. Wilson and her family have been active St. Nicholas parishioners for many years. Her father, uncle and brother are also St. Nicholas School Alumni. Both of her parents taught at St. Nicholas School and her grandparents have been active members in the parish and Italian Catholic Federation over the past 50+ years. After graduating from St. Francis High School, Mrs. Wilson earned her Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and worked in public accounting before returning to school to obtain her teaching credential from San Francisco State University. In her spare time, she enjoys coaching, being an avid sports fan and spending time with her friends and family.




Cliona O'Keeffe, Elementary Science Teacher


Ms. O’Keeffe was born and raised in Los Altos and graduated from Chapman University in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in Integrated Educational Studies, with emphasis in STEM and Developmental Psychology. She is currently working on her Masters of Arts in Education from University of San Francisco. In her free time, Ms. O’Keeffe enjoys hiking, yoga, traveling, and spending time with family and friends!




Joannie Paulsen, 4th Grade Instructional Aide


Miss Paulsen is very excited to be at St. Nicholas School as an instructional aide for the 4th grade classroom. Born and raised in Cupertino, Miss Paulsen has enjoyed being a part of the growing Bay Area. She graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology from John F. Kennedy University, and had a passion to work with children in her career path. Since graduation she has worked in the field of special education in the public school system. Her strong religious background and faith has drawn her to work with children in the Catholic School setting. Miss Paulsen plans to pursue the needed steps to achieve her Masters in Education with a Catholic School emphasis. In her free time, she enjoys arts and crafts, hiking, camping, cooking, and baking for family and friends.




Jin Su Seo, Science and Mathematics


Please see Mr. Seo's complete bio in our Junior High Section.




Serena Poon, 3rd Grade Instructional Aide & Extended Care Coordinator


Serena Poon grew up in the Bay Area and attended the University of Los Angeles where she received her B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Education Studies in 2020. During her time in college, she was involved in various organizations such as UECC Americorp and Summer Bridge, mentoring and tutoring students from K-8 in multiple subjects. She's excited to be with the students at St. Nicholas as she learns more about the joys of teaching!





 

Junior High School, Grades 6-8

Mary Gallivan, 6th Grade Homeroom, Language Arts & Religion


Mrs. Gallivan is the curriculum coordinator and writing coach for St. Nicholas School as well as 6th grade Homeroom teacher. Mrs. Gallivan is a long-time member of the St. Nicholas Community where she has been an active parishioner, a parent of four children who were educated at St. Nicholas, a past member and President of the St. Nicholas School Advisory Council. Mrs. Gallivan attended the Lucy Calkins Writing Institute for middle school teachers at Teachers College, Columbia University. Prior to moving back to California in 1996, Mrs. Gallivan taught 4th grade in New York City public schools, holding a Masters in Curriculum and Teaching from Teachers College, Columbia University and a B.A. in Psychology from U.C. Berkeley. In her free time, Mrs. Gallivan enjoys spending time in Santa Cruz with her husband Richard and their four children.




Stacey Wilson, Mathematics Teacher and Athletic Director


Please see Mrs. Wilson's full bio in the Elementary School Section!




Carlos Eulate, 8th Grade Homeroom, Language Arts, Social Studies & Spanish


Mr. Eulate (Mr. E) has been a teacher at St. Nicholas for over 20 years. During that time, Mr. E has taught a variety of subjects in grades 6th through 8th. Over the years, Mr. E has successfully integrated technology into his curriculum, and he continues to explore innovative ways to challenge his students. As a language arts specialist, Mr. E brings a variety of literature to share with his students and has even written a book on how to teach writing. Mr. E is a Los Altos native and a graduate of St. Simon and St. Francis High Schools. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Cal State, Long Beach, his teaching credential from San Francisco State and a Masters in School Administration from Santa Clara University. He and his spouse have two children, both of whom attended St. Nicholas. In his free time he enjoys cooking, writing and painting.




Adrienne Pauli, 7th Grade Homeroom, Language Arts & Social Studies


Ms. Pauli is in her second year at St. Nicholas. A Michigan native, she graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History of Art. With a passion for art and education, Ms. Pauli completed her Single Subject Teaching Credential in Social Science from Notre Dame de Namur University in 2018. She first taught at Ravenswood City School District in East Palo Alto before coming to St. Nicholas. In her free time she enjoys traveling, spending time with family and friends, and photography.




Nancy Talesfore, Mathematics & Religion Teacher


Mrs. Talesfore was born and raised in the South Bay, and attended Sacred Heart School, Saratoga, St. Catherine School, Morgan Hill, and Notre Dame High School, San Jose. After receiving her Bachelor of Arts and teaching credential from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon she returned to her roots to teach at Diocese of San Jose School’s: Resurrection, St. Lucy, St. Martin of Tours and St. Simon. Mrs. Talesfore has been a part of the St. Nicholas School Community for many years and has worn many hats. She has taught 6th grade and has been in Campus Ministry. She is our Junior High Math Teacher, using the ALEKS accelerated/enrichment program, teaching Geometry and Pre-Algebra. In addition to her responsibilities at St. Nicholas, she works as a tutor and property manager. As a private tutor, Mrs. Talesfore has worked with students from 3rd to 12th grade through Algebra 2 for over 30 years. She has also taught math for Bellarmine Summer School and De Anza Extend the Year Program. Mrs. Talesfore and her husband have four sons who are Bellarmine College Prep Alumni.




Angela Owens – Science and Religion


Ms. Owens graduated from Georgetown University with a BSBA in Finance in 2015 and worked at PwC with medical providers across the country as a healthcare consultant. Her love for school took her back to complete a post-baccalaureate program in the health sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. Ms. Owens has taught STEM subjects, Financial Literacy, and English for several years with a variety of educational organizations as well as through PwC. She is actively involved with CASA for Children as an advocate in child custody cases. She is also an admissions interviewer for the Georgetown Alumni Admissions Program. She credits her faith and Catholic Education for guiding her throughout her career and looks forward to ensuring her students thrive at St. Nicholas. In her free time, Ms. Owens loves hiking, horseback riding, and traveling to visit her 8 brothers and sisters who live all around the country and world!




Jin Su Seo, Mathematics and Junior High Science


Mr. Seo is originally from Elk Grove, California and attended St. Mary’s College of CA earning his Bachelor of Science in Biology. During his time at St. Mary’s, he traveled abroad teaching English in Cambodia as well as being a recreational aide at a boy’s orphanage in Romania. During this past year, Mr. Seo was a Lasallian Volunteer at San Miguel Middle School in Providence, Rhode Island where he taught 5th and 6th grade. Mr. Seo is currently an ExCEL student completing his Masters and Single Subject credential in Science at Santa Clara University. During his free time, Mr. Seo enjoys the outdoors with his family, especially different National Parks.




Melanie Talakai, 6th Grade Instructional Aide


Ms. Talakai was born in San Francisco and raised in East Palo Alto. Ms. Talakai has a love for service, especially service to God. She is an avid volunteer, and grew up dedicating her time and skills in various platforms throughout her community such as: giving 10+ years of volunteering at her local family health clinic and home parish, St. Francis of Assisi Church, in East Palo Alto. Her parish was a cornerstone in her spiritual journey and devotion to Jesus Christ, His Church, and His teachings. As a parishioner, she learned how to prepare and serve hot meals to the impoverished souls of her community, perform Polynesian entertainment at large parish events, participate in Youth ministry, and eventually become a Young Adult leader. Ms. Talakai realized the importance of solid Catholic education from having countless encounters with youth in ministry. In 2016, Ms. Talakai decided to pursue a vocation as a Contemplative Nun while working for adults with disabilities. After she discerned out from religious life in 2019, Ms. Talakai fell back into the rhythm of life back at home, and now follows her initial passion towards becoming an elementary school teacher. On her free time, she enjoys the Holy Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, Lectio Divina, nature walks, and a great book.





 

Special Subject Teachers

Peggy Carroll, K-8th Instructional Technology


Mrs. Carroll is a Minnesota native and graduated from St. Cloud State University with a Bachelors of Science degree in Elementary Education and a Minnesota teaching credential. She began her career as a Technology Teacher/Coordinator in the late 80’s and with the exception of one year as a third grade teacher and one year as a fifth grade teacher, she has spent her teaching career in the computer lab! Mrs. Carroll enjoys keeping up with all the changes in Technology and loves to explore new ways of utilizing Technology in Education. When she isn’t busy exploring new things in Technology, Mrs. Carroll likes to bake, read, vacation and spend time with her family. She lives with her husband in Saratoga and has a son and daughter-in-law in San Francisco and another son in Alameda.




Judy Bayse, Music Instructor


Mrs. Bayse is a music educator from San Jose, California. She has taught music to children from preschool to 8th grade for over twenty years in public and private schools. Her training includes Music for Minors, Orff Training, World Music Drumming, as well as many workshops and seminars. She has served as Musical Director for Peninsula Youth Theater and worked with Angels on Stage, a musical theater group for children of differing abilities. In addition to her teaching role, Judy is also a singer/songwriter with a CD of Family folk music entitled Purple Cow. She currently teaches general elementary music at several Catholic schools in the bay area.




Joan Loney, Library Instructor, Bird Club


Mrs. Loney is a graduate of Saint Nicholas School and Saint Francis High School. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Developmental Psychology at UC Santa Barbara and a Masters Degree in Teaching Young Children with K through 6 Teaching Credentials at Wheelock College in Boston. She taught grades 1 and 5 in the Wellesley Public Schools before transitioning to full-time motherhood for her three children, who are now grown. She worked in children’s and youth faith formation programs for 25 years in different parishes and completed a Masters in Pastoral Ministry in 2015 at Santa Clara University. In addition to leading library classes, she enjoys sharing her lifelong passion for bird life and environmental and species preservation with children at Saint Nicholas through the Young Birder’s after-school club. Mrs. Loney enjoys hiking and running in the hills, ocean swimming, reading great books, yoga, practicing Reiki healing, and facilitating small faith groups for spiritual growth and development. She lives with her husband in South Los Altos.




Cathy Rudolph, Learning Resource Specialist


Mrs. Rudolph was born in Guam but moved to Arizona and California because her father was in the Air Force. She graduated from the University of San Francisco with a BS in Information Systems Management, and a Masters in Special Education from the University of Phoenix. She was married to John Rudolph and together they produced award-winning wines at their boutique vineyard and winery in Morgan Hill. She enjoys spending time with her dogs, taking care of her mother, and watching romantic comedies and cooking shows. Mrs. Rudolph recently composed a musical called "City Hearts", which she plans to produce in the Bay Area.





 

Faculty & Administrative Support Staff

Jan Popolizio, Principal


Mrs. Popolizio is a graduate of Queen of Apostles Elementary School and Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Engineering, from Cal Poly, with Master’s work completed at San Jose State University. She worked for Lockheed Martin as a Systems Engineer and Project Manager for many years, then became a business development manager before turning to education. She earned her teaching credential from National University and taught 4th grade for seven years at St. Lucy School in Campbell. She then spent five years serving as Vice Principal at St. Lucy, focusing her attention and leadership on building the next generation educational programs in grades 4th-8th. Mrs. Popolizio is honored to continue leading the dynamic educators and students here at St. Nicholas School! Mrs. Popolizio enjoys cooking, yoga and spending time at her mountain home in Incline Village. She lives in San Jose with her husband and has three grown children who have also attended K-12 catholic schools in the bay area.




Father John Poncini, Pastor


Fr. John was born and raised in San Jose, he is one of nine children and has twenty-five nephews and nieces. His older brother, Fr. Laurence, is a priest of the Discalced Carmelite Friars. Fr. John earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy and Master’s Degree in Theology from Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University in Rome, Italy. He has worked as a missionary in both Spain and Mexico. Fr. John was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Patrick J. McGrath at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Joseph on June 4, 2005. His first assignment was at Saint Lucy’s Parish. In 2009, Bishop McGrath assigned Fr. John as Director of Vocations and Seminarians. He served as Chaplain to the English speaking Cursillo Movement, as well as to the Knights of Columbus. Bishop Daly worked closely with Fr. John in his capacity as Auxiliary Bishop. Fr. John became Pastor of St. Nicholas & St. William Parishes in July 2015.




Stacy French, Vice Principal, Director of Admissions


Ms. French is a Bay Area native, where she attended St. Mary’s, Five Wounds and Notre Dame High School, San Jose. She graduated from San Jose State University, with a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies, a minor in Psychology and completed the Multiple Subject Credential Program. In 2003, she earned a Master of Arts degree in Educational Administration from Santa Clara University. Ms. French came to St. Nicholas School in 1997 as the 5th grade teacher. She moved to the “other side of the quad” to teach 2nd grade before stepping into the Vice Principal role. Prior to coming to St. Nicholas she taught various grades in both the public and private sectors. She spent ten years working for a statewide Child Development organization as an Early Childhood Development Director, Program Supervisor, Human Resources Generalist and finally, a Recruiter. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, dancing, theater arts, traveling and spending time with her family and friends. For over 30 years, Ms. French performed and taught tap, ballet, jazz and theater arts. She continues her love of dance and theatre arts by teaching the St. Nicholas Young Performers (K-3) and co-producing the Spring Drama Production.





LEARN MORE!

​​Call Us:

650-941-4056

 

Email Us

St. Nicholas School

The Catholic School of St.Nicholas and St William Catholic Parish

12816 El Monte Road

Los Altos Hills, CA 94022 (near Interstate 280 & Foothill Expy)

Special thanks to Carla Razura-Duharte for the photographs. See her photos here.

Read the DSJ Standards for all School Workers Regarding Interaction with Youth here.

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