Meet our team

Kate Dao

Parent & Founder

Kate is a lifelong learner. She believes children should have the freedom to explore their natural curiosity and creativity. When this happens, children are happy. They are self-motivated because learning becomes a joy. Kate founded Acton Academy East Bay to create a space for students to experience an education that encourages critical thinking, imagination, creativity, and exploration. Her mission is to allow all students to test their ideas to discover how and why things work and to find answers to their questions in a caring and nurturing environment.

For the past decade, Kate has worked as an educator developing individualized programs for K-12 students that emphasize critical thinking and problem-solving. Her work has helped countless students succeed academically and realize their full potential. Before her career in education, Kate worked at startups in the tech industry-leading teams in marketing, HR, and business development. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of California at Davis and a master's degree from the California State University of Sacramento.

Kaylee Herrera

Guide

Kaylee graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Education. She is currently working toward obtaining her Master's Degree in Instructional Design. Her continuous excitement for learning motivated her to focus her future on helping students discover the same passions in education. Kaylee is an advocate for the individual student; she understands that students may learn differently. She holds communication as a top priority when helping students achieve their goals.

In her free time, you can find Kaylee exploring local backpacking trails, completing DIY projects, and cooking large meals in her kitchen. Kaylee often spends her weekends playing with her two dogs and enjoying time with her family.

Han Le

Guide

Han has a strong belief that learning is not only about reaching the destinations, it is more about the growth that students experience on the journey. She understands that learning is not always a linear process, students are likely to encounter many failures and setbacks along the way, yet as long as they choose to move forward, the successes that they achieve could be great and unimaginable. She also advocates students prioritizing their mental and physical health on their academic journeys because their well-being will be the most valuable asset in any quests they choose to participate in. Han received her Bachelor's Degree in Comparative English and Literature at San Jose State University and her Master's Degree in Creative Writing in Edinburgh, Scotland. She has many hobbies, including painting, Muay Thai boxing, running, writing, and hanging out with her friends. She particularly loves traveling around the world and immersing herself in different cultures. She has traveled to 12 countries.

Sylvie Salib

Guide

I graduated with a bachelor's degree in Accounting. My love for children and my passion for teaching motivated me to change careers and earn my Montessori credential to become a part of the American Montessori Society (AMS). I am a firm believer in children's potential. I believe that the healthy development of children is crucial to the future well-being of any society. It is vital that children be offered meaningful opportunities to individually develop their potential, enabling them to step out into the world as responsible, engaged, competent, and respectful citizens with an understanding and appreciation that learning is for life.

Guiding children, playing with them and getting into their world have always been a source of joy to me. Over my 8 years of teaching different ages, I've learned that children are great teachers and amazing problem solvers.

I enjoy being with my family and friends, meeting new people, cooking, reading, traveling, learning something new, and enjoying all forms of arts.

Afsaneh Noorparvar

Writing Specialist

Children are one of the greatest sources of inspiration for Afsaneh. She believes that their sense of wonder and curious absorption with the world are sacred and need to be kept active. Acton Academy philosophy creates a framework to do just that and Afsaneh has enthusiastically found her way to our team.

She has a Bachelor's degree in English and a Master's in Education and she has spent most of her professional life in classrooms. Her purpose in the field of education is to be open to new ways of harnessing that sense of natural curiosity in children and directing it towards a lifelong passion for learning and development. Her focus will be mostly on our learners' writing skills at Acton Academy East Bay.

Amongst many things, Afsaneh particularly enjoys movies and arts, outdoor living, and socializing.

Prezleigh Colburn

Music Guide

Prezleigh Colburn has been a lover of music her entire life. Having been a professional musician for the past 10 years she views music as a language and hopes to instill a love and passion for music before anything else. She has studied at Berklee College of Music and obtained a B. M. in Commercial Music from Azusa Pacific University. There she focused heavily on classical guitar and audio engineering. She has gotten to mix and master large sound libraries, video game scores, and many live shows. Since moving back to the Bay Area she has been running her private studio with her husband called Good Vibes Music Academy where they both teach music lessons and record students of all ages, backgrounds, and experiences. When she's not playing or writing she loves all of her animals (Guinea pigs, hamster, hedgehog, bearded dragon, dogs), beekeeping and mountain biking. Above all, she cherishes life with her incredible husband Joshua and two kids Jack (12) and Henry (10).

Our Advisors

Laura Sandefer

Laura Sandefer

Advisor

Laura lived on both US coasts and in between as a child, then settled into Vanderbilt University for her undergraduate studies in the College of Arts and Science.

After being awarded the highly competitive Walter Wattles Fellowship at Lloyd’s of London, Laura worked in the aviation insurance industry in New York City. Deciding to follow her calling into the world of education, Laura returned to Nashville and earned her Master of Education at Peabody College. This led her to her work at the Oklahoma Arts Institute, creating fine arts education programs for teachers and talented high school students.

Laura married Jeff Sandefer and is the happy mother of Sam and Charlie and step-mother to Taite. It is the inspiration of these children that led Laura and Jeff to co-found Acton Academy.

Her greatest hero is her mother who was a Master Teacher. Her wisest mentor is her father who sent her off to college with two words of advice: "Be curious".

Jeff Sandefer

Jeff Sandefer

Advisor

Jeff Sandefer lives a dual life as an entrepreneur and a Socratic Guide.

As an entrepreneur, he founded his first company at age 16 and went on to found or co-found seven successful businesses.

As a Socratic teacher at the University of Texas, Jeff's students five times voted him the school's Outstanding Teacher and Businessweek named him one of the top Entrepeneurship professors in America. Jeff went on to co-found the Acton School of Business, an MBA program perennially ranked by the Princeton Review among the best in the nation. In 2012 The Economist honored him as one of the top fifteen Business School professors in the world.

Jeff is a graduate of the Harvard Business School, where he served for over twenty years on the school's governing committees. He was a longtime director of the Philanthropy Roundtable and National Review magazine and one of the youngest members ever elected to the Texas Business Hall of Fame.