the Leadership team
Christy Durham
Christy Durham

Christy Durham is an educator with over 20 years of elementary and middle school teaching experience. She holds a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, as well as a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. First beginning her career at the Walt Disney Company as a recruiter, she pursued her passion for teaching in 1998 and soon landed at the prestigious Buckley School in Sherman Oaks as a middle school teacher.  Having increasingly developed a teaching philosophy around integrated, project-based learning, Christy left Buckley in 2012 to teach 4th and 5th grade at Los Encinos School, where this teaching philosophy is part of the daily curriculum.  Christy is active in promulgating her vision for change in education by presenting to other educators.  She has presented at Archer School for Girls STEM conference, Playful Learning Summit, Games in Education conference, IndieCade, Intentional Play Summit, Online Educational Symposium for Independent Schools conference, and local public charter schools.  Christy is currently co-founder and administrator of the Sycamore School, which is focused on revolutionizing education for the Twenty-first Century.

Tedd Wakeman

Tedd Wakeman has been working with children in education, recreation, and research for three decades. He worked locally with LAUSD in South Central LA, teaching at the elementary and middle school levels for 14 years, while concurrently traveling the country developing and implementing STEM curriculum for Nike/Eco Educators.  In addition, Tedd taught extensively across the globe. He worked in the Republic of the Maldives, teaching English to groups of adults from over 25 nations while diving the local coral reefs as a PADI dive master. In Bali, he lived and worked among Indonesian farmers, learning permaculture practices while utilizing a distance education program created through Queensland, Australia, to educate local teenagers. Tedd went on to spend two years teaching in Costa Rica while exploring local rainforest ecosystems. After these varied approaches and experiences in culture and education, he returned to Los Angeles and joined the GameDesk team in founding the revolutionary PlayMaker School. PlayMaker gained notoriety for its unique approach to 21st Century learning and game-based curriculum.  Tedd has delivered keynotes, spoken on panels, and presented at numerous conferences, including LA’s General Assembly, Progressive Educators Network, California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS), Playful Learning Summit, and Game Learning Society.  With his current adventure, the founding of The Sycamore School, he hopes to preserve the spirit of creativity and curiosity while developing young problem solvers who possess the desire and skill to innovate in the 21st Century.

AJ Webster
AJ Webster

Innovator and educator, AJ Webster brings two decades of educational experience to the Sycamore School. AJ has his Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. He specializes in game-based learning and embraces the Maker Movement, in which students design, construct, and “think with their hands.” AJ’s work with the PlayMaker School was featured on PBS NewsHour. He is a frequent speaker and has conducted workshops at numerous conferences including the Game Learning Society, Progressive Educators Network, California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS), Games in Education, the Institute for the Future, and the Playful Learning Summit. A multi-subject expert, he has taught science, Latin, language arts, math, and social science. AJ continues his mission of revolutionizing education as a co-founder of the Sycamore School, a project- and play-based elementary in the LA area. While AJ is no longer a part of the day-to-day running of the school, he remains a valuable resource for the Sycamore community.

director of admissions
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Molly's history in admissions began in 2006 in Shanghai, China, where she was the Director of Admission and Marketing at an international school.  After seven years, in search of blue skies, she relocated to the island of Oahu, where she served as Director of Admission at Honolulu Waldorf School, Island Pacific Academy, and as Admission Associate at Punahou School.  Molly is passionate about the value of engaged and future-focused learning and is excited to share the Sycamore School philosophy in the community as the Associate Director of Admissions.

Molly Ripton
our educators
Brie Tompkins

Brie is grateful for the opportunity to teach and learn with the Kindergartners at Sycamore!  She has over 10 years of experience in primary grades and a passion for nurturing the youngest students at our school.  Brie received her Bachelor's Degree from Middlebury College in Education, Psychology, and Art, and her Masters in Literacy from the University of Vermont.  As an educator, Brie is inspired by her students’ creativity and adapts her teaching to their interests and their play. She loves imagining with children as they explore stories, test experiments, create art, cook recipes, perform plays, and solve real problems.  Integrating Kindergartners’ interests with game-development is an exciting way that Brie leads her students through a design-thinking process. Through game-development, she helps students merge their ideas with their new learning as mathematicians and communicators.  Brie also enjoys collaborating with colleagues and community members to develop authentic opportunities for kids to learn in the garden. She wants her students to know that their ideas, feelings, and questions are valuable and that she wants to learn alongside them. Brie lives in Topanga with her husband and two children, who welcome the opportunity to grow at Sycamore! 

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Colbey Waggoner

Colbey graduated from Texas A&M-Commerce in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education, as well as a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. Much of her experience in the classroom includes teaching kindergarten through third grade, where she excels in helping these early learners build a foundation for mathematical thinking and reading skills through structured play, games, and various hands-on activities. Colbey has taught in a variety of school settings including public, private, charter, Montessori, and Reggio Emilia. Using a combination of these vastly unique and differing teaching styles, Colbey’s educational approach focuses on the use of student interest to create authentic, project-based lessons in which students take ownership of and pride in their learning. She works hard to create a warm and safe environment where students can question, wonder, and thrive. Outside of the classroom, you can find Colbey rock climbing, traveling, or simply enjoying good company alongside a delicious meal. She is genuinely excited to learn and grow with the 1st and 2nd graders at Sycamore, while adding her energy and expertise to the staff and community! 

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Stephanie Bentivoglio

Stephanie Bentivoglio is from Los Angeles and currently resides near Santa Monica. She graduated from California State University Long Beach with her bachelor’s in anthropology and started working for a non-profit animal rescue organization. She soon felt a calling for education and wanted to become a part of the meaningful work that teachers do every day in their classrooms. She went on to receive her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from California State University Northridge and has since found her passion in teaching. Stephanie loves spending her day supporting the academic and social-emotional growth of young learners. She began her career teaching in progressive, project-based charter schools in the Los Angeles area. She is experienced in the inquiry-based learning model that teaches 21st century skills such as collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking through authentic, real-world tasks. Stephanie believes that the most meaningful learning comes from a space where children feel they are part of a close community in which they can openly share their ideas with confidence. She is excited to collaborate with the staff at Sycamore to provide an engaging educational experience for her students.

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Hanna Walker

Originally from Iowa, Hanna recently relocated to the Los Angeles area to join the Sycamore team. Hanna’s passions are marine sciences and ocean conservation. She attended Drake University to study biology with a desire to educate people in marine sciences. Hanna spent a year managing a marine science lab, and four years working at a veterinary clinic, where both of these experiences showed her the value of collaboration and learning in a hands-on environment. She looks forward to sharing her knowledge and love of conservation with the students and is excited to be a part of a community that values experiential and future focused learning. In her free time, Hanna enjoys photography, painting, and being outdoors.

Kylie Walker
Educator and
Associate Adminstrator

Over the past few years, Kylie has developed a passion for working with students from diverse backgrounds and nationalities all over the world. Originally from Des Moines, Iowa, she graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Spanish from Central College. During her undergraduate career, Kylie spent a semester abroad in Granada, Spain, where she realized the importance of experiencing new places, cultures, and ways of life. Upon graduating, Kylie worked as a Language and Culture Assistant in Mallorca, Spain at CEIP Ponent Primary School where she supported children of all ages in a variety of classrooms and subject areas. In 2015, she traveled to South America and ultimately settled and lived in Montevideo, Uruguay for one year. There she worked for two different language academies teaching English to children, adolescents, and business professionals. These experiences were incredibly inspiring to her, as she learned how much she enjoys connecting with, educating, and having a positive influence on children. Kylie moved to Los Angeles in 2017  to join the Sycamore family and hopes to further her educational experiences, while working with a team of talented educators who foster students’ growth through experiments, play, problem solving, reflection, and interactive learning in a fun and engaging environment. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, playing soccer, reading, and spending time with her family.

innovation specialist
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Agustin Molfino

Agustin Molfino is a learning designer and artist informed by a multinational upbringing, his mother’s artistic tenacity, his father’s coaching sense, and principles found in psychology and anthropology. He has worked in education for nearly a decade, including in public, private, and charter schools in DC, São Paulo, and Los Angeles. As a curriculum designer in LA, he designed ed-tech instructional experiences and worked alongside Tedd and AJ supporting curriculum and instruction at the PlayMaker School at NewRoads. For the past three years, Agustin was the STEM Learning Designer at JetSpace, a 21st century innovation hub situated inside of Locke High School in Watts, CA. There he designed and delivered curriculum around 21st C. skills, 3D printing, game design, making and tinkering, poetry, performance, and art. Agustin is passionate about exploring what an ideal education looks like for each community, supporting efforts he believes help the members of that community to self-actualize, and creating new systems when innovation proves necessary. Currently he thinks that innovation is especially needed in redesigning learning spaces, reimagining assessment, and inventing personal learning technologies and practices. He is excited to be joining a team of passionate educators and a community willing to entrust him with the development of their youth!

educational assistant
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Zoe Lozano

Zoe is a Los Angeles native who currently resides in Encino, California. For as long as she can remember, Zoe always had a desire to work with children as a teacher, care taker, mentor, and role model. After graduating from Arete, a high school in West Los Angeles, she volunteered as an assistant teacher at the Westside Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles. There she applied her artistic and creative abilities to the lessons she taught, keeping the children happy and engaged. This experience was satisfying and it confirmed that teaching was the right path for her. Zoe attended Chapman’s sister school, Brandman University. While in college, she worked for five years as a teacher’s assistant for The Open School, a magnet charter school in Los Angeles. She graduated from Brandman with a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. After moving to Encino in 2019, Zoe began teaching at Child’s World, a preschool in Encino, California. She enjoyed her work with children very much, but her time there was cut short due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  With one door closing, she knew another would open, and it did. Zoe is thrilled to have found the Sycamore school! The philosophy, values, and new teaching methods align with her beliefs and experience. She values the powerful and enlightening nature of this type of education and is excited to be a part of the team!

office manager

​Born and raised in Mexico City, Karla moved to Pasadena, CA at the age of 13 where she remained through high school. After attending college at LMU, she had the opportunity to study abroad at Louvain-la Neuve, Belgium where she was able to meet people from a wide range of nationalities. Upon her return to the States she began to work in a variety of fields from a start-up in the sports industry to real estate development. As a member of the founding team, Karla played a major role in building the foundation for the Sycamore School and continues to be a vital part of its success. Karla calls Santa Monica home where she lives with her husband, two adopted cats and some fish. She enjoys learning through experience and is passionate about her family, friends, and animals.

Karla Reyes - Cooper
rotation specialists


Liz Berger


Chad Scheppner