Da Vinci Center for Gifted Children

Catherine Cook, MSEd       Head of School/Founder Da Vinci Center

                                        Teacher and Site Administrator

Ms.Catherine is an award winning teacher and administrator.  She won Teacher of the Year 2000 for the San Leandro Unified School District and Professional Woman of the Year 2011 from the National Association of Professional Women for her work in gifted education.

Ms. Catherine has taught students from elementary school to the university level and she has been a teacher and educational administrator for twenty-four years
She holds an Honors BA (Honors) in English and Philosophy from the University of Western Ontario; she earned her K-12 teaching credential as well as Masters of Science, Education degree (with a focus on statistics and educational research) from Canisius College in Buffalo, New York.  She is also currently completing her doctorate in Educational Leadership with her dissertation in gifted education at Saint Mary's College in Moraga.

Ms. Catherine is the mother of an eleven year old profoundly gifted son.

Catherine's areas of specialty are Gifted Education, Educational Administration, Educational Leadership, Cultural Diversity, English, English As A Second Language, Curriculum Design and Professional Development.  She also specializes in 2E gifted children.


Emma Pigott, BA                            Assistant Principal   

                                                     Art/Social Studies Teacher

Ms.Emma received her dual honors B.A. in Geography and American Studies from Keele University in Staffordshire, England, a multidisciplinary degree combining social and physical geography with American history, politics, literature and film.

Ms. Emma comes to us with over 10 years of experience working one-on-one and as a classroom art teacher in AUSD elementary and middle schools with students ages 5-12.  She has also worked in marketing and social media, authoring a weekly blog for her family business in the fitness industry.  She is our Art and Social Studies teacher.

Ms. Emma, her husband and four children live in Alameda.  Ms. Emma is a kind, compassionate, emotionally intuitive and loving teacher clearly dedicated to the success and creative growth and development of self expression in every child.   

Dr. Gregory Langland, PhD.                                    Science Teacher

´Dr. Greg Langland earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Cincinnati and his Doctorate in Philosophy from the Dept. of Molecular Genetics, Biochemistry and Microbiology at the University of Cincinnati, College of Medicine.  He performed his post-doctoral studies at the E.O. Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory. 
Dr. Greg realized his true passion is teaching and has been teaching either full-time or part-time since 2005.  He has served as Program Directors at Del Mar College for Biotechnology and at Merritt College for Clinical Histology and Immunohistochemistry. Dr. Langland is a board certified Histotechnologist by the American Society of Clinical Pathology.  He has taught both biology and chemistry at all levels from graduate and medical students to preschoolers and most ages in between. 
He lives in Oakland with his wife Rachel (also a biologist) and their four-year old daughter Lydia and one-year old son Conner.  His hobbies include motorcycles, gardening, aquaculturing and BBQ. 
Dr. Tom Howard, PhD                  Math and Physics Teacher

´Dr. Tom received his PhD in mathematics at University of California Santa Barbara and a BS in physics from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

´Dr. Tom is our math and physics teacher. Historically, the subjects of math and physics have grown up together and to this day there is a strong interchange of ideas between the two fields. Dr. Tom has taught math and physics for over 10 years, working with students from elementary school through university, and is passionate about sharing the beauty and power of these two fields of study, understanding how they shape the world around us, and discussing the cutting edge research being done by the mathematicians and physicists of today.

Dr. Luis Ibanez De Garayo, PhD                     Spanish and Forest Cloud Teacher
Dr. Luis earned his PhD in Environmental Informatics at UC Berkeley, as well as his Master's Degree in Forestry from UC Berkeley.  Dr. Luis earned his undergraduate degree in Engineering and Agriculture at Universidad Publica Navarra in Spain and his Superior Engineer degree in Forestry from Universidad de Lleida.
Dr. Luis' areas of expertise include:
10+ years Linux administration 10+ years computer programming: Python, Javascript, R, SQL Python environment: Web2py, Django, Pylons, SQLAlchemy, Modpython, etc Web Programming: HTML5, CSS3, jQuery, REST, AJAX, App Engine Geographical Information systems: ArcInfo, Grass Databases design and management: MySQL, GAE, DBF, SQLite Metadata Languages and Web 2.0 languages and protocols Mathematical modeling and engineering  Spatial, temporal, and multi-variable statistical analysis Operational Research: linear, non-linear and dynamic programming Silvicutural methods and forestry management Urban forestry and gardening planning and management. Micro-economy and budgeting  Environmental History International environmental conventions.
Dr. Luis has also been a soccer coach as well as a volunteer in the Berkeley Unified School District where his two children attended school. He is a native Spanish speaker and lives in Berkeley with his wife and both of his children are now in college.
Dr. Luis if our Spanish and Forest Cloud Teacher.

Ms. Natasha Kyczynska                                  Music and Inventing Teacher

Ms. Natasha earned her B.A in Vocational Studies in Philology at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun, Poland.  She completed her teaching training at the College of Foreign Languages in Torun, Poland.  She received the Teacher of the Year Award in 20004 at the Callan Method School of English.
Ms. Natasha also owns her own business, "What the Cake" where she designs, bakes and crafts incredible creations and has taught cake decorating classes to kids and adult.  She has also worked as a web translator and professional interpreter.  In her spare time she is a professional opera singer!
Ms. Natasha is our Inventing and Music teacher, and she lives in Oakland with her husband and five year old daughter.