our teachers

Mountain School teachers are such a special part of this school. These amazing women are our head teachers, who, as you'll read below, pour their heart and soul into teaching... 


teacher leslie (4/5s & director)

Teacher Leslie started as a parent in the Mountain School community in 1998 when her daughter Adrienne and husband joined the Saturday PM class. The following year, she started the Wednesday 2s with her son August. She was so grateful for the many things she learned about parenting, herself and her children that when she had the chance a few years later to assist in the 3s class, she eagerly accepted. Before Mountain School, Leslie received a BA from SDSU and an MBA from Santa Clara University and worked in the computer industry for 15 years. After several years assisting at Mountain School, she started working on an Adult Education Credential which was required at the time to move into a head teacher position. (At the time, LGSON's program was classified as adult education under the LGSUHSD.)  She taught the Sat 2s for several years and then moved to the 3/4s when Laura Snyder, who had taught that class for 9 years, wanted to step down. In 2014, she took over the administrative director role from our beloved Teacher Jane. When she's not at school or on the trail, you might find her at Breathe Yoga, in her kitchen or with her nose in a book! 


teacher Tricia (3/4s)

 Teacher Tricia found Mountain School in 2005 when her twin daughters started in the 2’s class on Friday’s with Teacher Jane and Teacher Cathy. She fell in love with the teachers and families who all believed in a play based nursery school. The lessons her girls learned were priceless and they still use their friendship skills today. They have also learned how to say no.

    Tricia grew up in Portland, Oregon, and her family owned a condo in Black Butte Ranch where her family went adventuring on the weekends. She attended Oregon Episcopal School which prioritized getting their children outside. The school offered woodshed, music and physical education outside whenever possible. The woods were right next to school, where the children went to sing.  

    The belief in the 70’s was to let kids run free in the woods with their dogs tagging behind. Tricia would always run to the stables and pretend she owned her favorite horse. Tricia and her siblings only came in for dinner when it was dark. They climbed trees, played hide-and-seek and always had a group of neighborhood kids outside to play. Tricia’s parents never hovered over and let their three children work out their own problems. Tricia feels this is what the kids are missing today and need more uninterrupted playtime.    

Tricia went to Saint Mary’s College and got a B.S. in Health Science.  In 1987 she started her masters in exercise physiology down at San Jose State University and started teaching tennis at Courtside Bay Club.  She retired in 2010, and enjoys yoga, golf, hiking and running.  Now she is looking forward to head teaching the 3/4’s class this Fall after being an assistant teacher with Mountain School for four years. It will be fun to explore new trails together. 


teacher Alis (3s)

Teacher Alis is an outdoors woman, maker, gardener and designer.  Her son Seth started Mountain School in the Saturday 2s and graduated from Lakeside.  Upon arriving at Mountain School Alis realized that she had found her people, a community that melds outdoor education with hands on and emergent learning.  After Mountain school, Alis volunteered teaching garden education at Lakeside, and served on the Lakeside School Community Foundation board for six years.  

 When it comes to teaching kids, Alis strives to foster resilience, collaboration, compassion and creativity.  Alis has a knack for leading adventures, hiking mindfully, making things, growing food, playing and connecting with little people.  

Alis believes that a Mountain School teacher’s job is to hold space for families through the journey of early childhood.  It is about listening and supporting parents, as they hone their observation skills, gaining insight that will guide them in nurturing their individual child.  Alis encourages parents to examine their own skills, personalities and gifts, and apply these to create educational experiences, participate in school/activities and foster community.   

 When she is not working with the under 5 crowd, Alis designs information products with big people.  Some of her crossover skills include; user experience, user research, design thinking, agile, sprint facilitation and makerspace creation.  Alis earned a BFA in Industrial Design from the Rhode Island School of Design.  In addition to a Palo Alto Unified education, Alis’ formative education was lovingly augmented by her art teacher mom, scout master dad and naturalist grandparents.  This experiential childhood is responsible for Alis’ success in adult life, and she is grateful for the chance to pay it forward.

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Teacher sarah (friday 2s & saturday 2s)

Teacher Sarah came to Mountain School as a parent in 1997 in the Wednesday 2s class. Teachers Jane Krejci and Jill Hyman were her son Adam’s teachers! "As older parents with one child, finding Mountain School was the most enriching experience we could ever have hoped for. So much to be learned through so much play. We might not have seen it that way without the gentle guidance. The sense of community and the inspiration to foster a love for all things natural....Our first early childhood school years had filled us with gratitude". Parent friendships have continued to this day. In providing this “bio” we would be remiss not to mention the fact that her son Adam passed away at the age of 12. As you might imagine, his life... and loss continue to be a significant part of Sarah's daily life. After years of bereavement help, she was at first hesitant but then thrilled with the opportunity to return to Mountain School as an assistant teacher for three years.

She has now been a lead teacher since 2012. Some of the activities she shares were Adam- inspired from those days back in the late nineties at Mountain School. "So much of the joy that he passed on to me I love to carry every day, right into the 2s classes on Friday and Saturday". On a volunteer basis she has been involved with child loss support groups. When not at Mountain School, she enjoys time as a hospice volunteer, and does some garden work at Montalvo Arts Center. Each summer she volunteers to run off to Wavy Gravy’s circus camp Winnarainbow in Mendocino County as a nurse. This camp has provided fun, circus, and life skills to hundreds of underserved children each summer for nearly 40 years.


teacher lilo (wednesday 2s)

Teacher Lilo came to Mountain School as a student in the 4/5s class. She went on to Daves Avenue Elementary, Fisher Middle School, Los Gatos High School, Mills College (undergrad), Stanford University (MA in Ed) and now Santa Clara University (MA in Counseling Psychology/MFT Program). She was an exchange student twice in France (High School and Undergrad), and once at Wellesley in Massachusetts (for an undergrad semester). The year after she graduated from college (double majored in English Lit and French Studies), she worked as an English Language Assistant in a French Public High School (Lycee), followed by a couple of years in San Francisco in a law firm where among other things she worked with a Coder, trouble shooting an early billing software program (1990-91).

When she finished Stanford, she taught Middle School in San Francisco to kids from Bayview, Hunters Point and the Mission for three years, and married her kids’ father along the way. Her stepdaughter, Kathleen, was 4 when Lilo married her dad, and she has just given birth to Lilo's first grandchild. (Her husband is a Veteran and a sophomore at Northeastern, and she is a lawyer in Boston.) Lilo stopped working for a couple years when she had her son, Aidan (now a junior at NYU), and she has taught part time at Mountain School since he started the 3/4s class all those years ago, taking a hiatus when her youngest, Declan, was born. Lilo's youngest is still at home and is now (2017) a Freshman at LGHS.

Teaching the Wednesday 2s class at Mountain School is Lilo's passion. "The best job on the face of the planet is one in which with warmth I get to help children learn about themselves, each other, nature, and the glory of questions and investigating answers. When my own schooling is done, I hope to work in a therapeutic setting with young children. My therapy practice will hopefully pay the bills, and allow me to continue teaching and learning at Mountain School as long as I am upright."


Teacher jeanne (Saturday PM)

Hi, I am Jeanne Cosby, the Saturday Afternoon, multi-age class teacher. I grew up roaming the Berkeley hills, sailing on San Francisco Bay, living with a mother with whom I rode horses, a father who told stories and illustrated postcards sent home during his business trips, about mice and cats with names such as Elderberry and Steinmetz, and a brother who thankfully still lives nearby. I lived in England with my godparents when I was 12 and 13, in France for over a year after graduating from Colorado College (English and History), and in Japan for six months with my husband and children. I have travelled in much of western Europe and had short stays at various times in parts of India and Tibetan cultural areas.

Much of my educational philosophy and strong preference for learner initiated pedagogy comes from my experiences teaching and developing a humanities program at Sunnyvale High School; being in the Demonstration Infant Program at the Children’s Health Council in Palo Alto, California, observing with Tom Forrest, M.D. as Magda Gerber modeled how to respectfully interact with normal and at risk children in a play group setting; and being at Bing Nursery School, Stanford University, for ten years, as both a head teacher and a parent with our youngest, Theo. My M.A. in Human Development is from Pacific Oaks College.

As parents living in Palo Alto, it was a real disappointment that we couldn’t work out how to be in Mountain School with our three preschoolers, Michael, David, and Amanda, but I had two very memorable years at Mountain School with my granddaughter, Maddie. She is now a freshman at Saratoga High School, but I stayed as the Saturday Afternoon teacher, because we have such a nurturing and respectful community of teachers, parents, and children. I treasure the on-going opportunities to foster play; to model respect by being supportive and patient; to give children time and space to initiate things themselves; to ask questions, listen and learn from others, be they child or adult; to encourage children, parents, and teachers to speculate, to verbalize feelings and wants, to talk out differences. I think it’s so critical to healthy child development for parents and teachers to work with each other as we strive to interpret concepts such as conflict resolution, emotional intelligence, and wonder and to integrate our practices into our daily lives. Thank you, thank you, thank you very much! 


Our lead teachers are supported each day by an amazing team of assistant teachers, many of whom have been lead teachers in the past! And almost all of whom have been Mountain School Parents with their own children or grandchildren!

Our lead teachers are supported each day by an amazing team of assistant teachers, many of whom have been lead teachers in the past! And almost all of whom have been Mountain School Parents with their own children or grandchildren!