Meet the PPBL Staff
Jessica Rishe, PPBL Principal
Since joining SMMUSD in 1996, Jessica has helped students, staff and families create integrated curricular learning experiences that focus equal attention to the social-emotional curriculum as the academic curriculum and nurture students' voice and choice in their education. She has been a classroom teacher at John Muir Elementary and SMASH K-8, educational services coordinator of teacher support K-12, assistant principal at McKinley Elementary, principal at SMASH since 2008, project-based learning professional development cohort co-leader, and is now a founding administrator of SMMUSD's personalized project-based learning high school pathway. Jessica is committed to helping student learning through their interests and to cultivating mentoring relationships with community experts in those fields of interests.
Jessica has a master's degree in education from UCLA, a master's degree in educational leadership from CSUN and is an active participant in the Big Picture Learning national network of school innovators. Jessica has two sons who attend SMMUSD schools so, in addition to attending school site and district events as a Principal, you will also see her as a cheering mom at Robotics Team builds, marching band competitions, other music concerts, sports games, and classroom project exhibitions.
Nicole Nicodemus, PPBL Assistant Principal
Nicole has been working with the education directors at the High School for Recording Arts in Minnesota and California, to push and challenge thinking in an effort to innovate/remix the educational design elements of the school to impact student learning.
Nicole spent over a decade developing and honing her instructional leadership skills as a Big Picture Learning school administrator and was an award-winning English and drama teacher for eight years prior to that in the LA area. Authentic, student-driven, project-based learning is where Nicole thrives.
Nicole aspires to create and nurture alternative schools that build active citizens who serve as change agents constantly looking to challenge and improve on the accepted status quo, foster a supportive and nurturing environment that is focused on direct experience and relationships and develop and deliver innovative curriculum and instruction that is relevant to the student and the world in which they live.
Nicole's son is starting as a freshman in college. She welcomes conversations with fellow parents about high school parenting experiences.
Amy Tsang, PPBL Mathematics Teacher Advisor
Before becoming a teacher, Amy worked five years in the engineering industry receiving both her bachelor's and master's in mechanical engineering. As a part of different aspects of engineering, Amy worked on projects like fuel pumps, hybrid vehicles like the Chevy Volt, and alternative energy research. She decided to change to education to make a bigger impact by working with students in the hopes of bringing her engineering knowledge to the classroom through making mathematics relevant. With her master's degree in education and five years prior experience as a teacher, she is capable of teaching all levels of mathematics. Amy is excited to join such a collaborative, hardworking team and work with the students of SAMOHI PPBL!
Bailey Field, PPBL Humanities Teacher Advisor
Bailey loves teens and loves learning. These passions have led her to teach in a variety of settings. She has been teaching grades 6th-12th since 1988. She developed her own major at Brown University to create a multicultural education degree. She then taught in a project-based middle school holding Greek pageants, Model United Nations, world religion explorations and realized she wanted to pursue a Master's in Education and add an English and multi-subject credential to her social studies credential.
Bailey also spent time working at Facing History and Ourselves and teaching outdoor education. She brings a passion for the environment, foreign travel and social justice to the classroom. Ultimately, she is committed to fostering a learning environment where students are engaged, curious, and informed members of their community.
Sara Plowman PPBL Science Teacher Advisor
Born in the mountains of Utah, Sara's early days were filled with snow, sledding and mountain biking. She then moved to the Napa Valley in California, where she spent her days finding frogs in the nearby stream, exploring the nearby reservoir in her make-shift raft, and, unfortunately, discovering exactly what stinging nettles look like.
Initially discovering her love of outdoor education through the lens of a student, Sara attended Midland, a small boarding school in central California with a strong focus on sustainability, environmental education and experiential learning. From there, she went on to earn her bachelor's degree in biochemistry and bachelor's degree in public health from UC Santa Cruz.
Sara has been a teacher for 14 years. Most recently she taught science at a small alternative high school in the Bay Area. Sara believes that learning in all of the disciplines is interconnected, and strives to help guide her students to be better global citizens through differentiated, cross-curricular, project-based learning experiences. She believes in the value of outdoor education and has taken her class on yearly camping trips to study the natural history, geography, and biology of the Bay Area.
Sara is a life-long explorer. Whether strolling through Havana, or hiking the mountains of California, she believes there's something to be learned from every experience. This love of exploration and her commitment to geographic education led Sara to be chosen as a Grosvenor Teaching Fellow in 2016. This allowed her to travel to Antarctica with National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions.
Tyler Parsons, PPBL Humanities Teacher Advisor
Tyler is a dual credentialed social studies and special education teacher. This is his ninth year teaching and third year at SMMUSD. Over the past three years, Tyler has been developing his craft as a project-based learning teacher and he loves it. He enjoys the balance and shifting of roles as students develop expertise, the excitement and engagement that comes with interest-based learning, and the creativity involved in teaching and learning through projects. Over time, he has realized the essential role of student voice and choice and the incredible power of community-based learning. With the opening of the new personalized project-based learning pathway, he is very excited to be building a program with a strong team and a shared vision and philosophy of education that is student-centered, hands-on, fun and engaging. Some of his memorable projects include an industrial revolution shark yank, medieval guilds, and a silk road marketplace.
Tyler is often found in the community riding and fixing bikes, exploring the city, and enjoying cultural experiences. Or, one may find him out in nature, playing at the beach or ocean, or hiking in the mountains. His goal is to provide meaningful educational experiences for all students and support their growth as learners. His dream is to rehabilitate theatres (hopefully through an epic class project) and create more spaces for performance art, community gatherings and rite-of-passage experiences.