Da Vinci Center for Gifted Children

Dr. Catherine Cook, BA, MSEd, Ed.D.       Head of School/Founder Da Vinci Center

                                                             Reading and Writing Teacher

Dr. 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.

Dr. Catherine has taught students from elementary school to the university level and she has been a teacher and educational administrator for twenty-five 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  completed her doctorate in Educational Leadership at Saint Mary's College of California. Her dissertation was on cultural whiteness and preparing preservice teachers for  success in the diverse classroom.

Dr. Catherine is the mother of a fifteen year old profoundly gifted son.

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

Dr. Karl Debro, BA, Ed.D.                                  Leadership and Outreach                                  
Dr. Karl was born at Oakland’s Kaiser Hospital, and grew up in Castro Valley. He holds a BA in Philosophy from UC Berkeley and a Doctorate in Education from Mills College. He taught English at both middle school and high school in San Leandro for more than 20 years. Dr. Karl moved to the community college level to pilot a transition to college program in 2008. Since 2012 he has been principal of a dual enrollment continuation program for struggling high school students. He has led professional development on institutional racism, student success, culturally responsive pedagogy, and equity, among other topics. A recipient of the Jefferson Award for public service, Dr. Karl has been honored for his work to bring safety and respect to LGBTQ students; his work to help under-served students gain admission to university; and for his work with high school dropouts. His work and track record with students who have unique learning needs is exemplary. He has two adult children, Kyle (24) and Kira (21). He lives in Lafayette.   
Dr. Tom Howard, BS, 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.

Ms. Audrey Brown, BA, BFA                                                   Art Teacher

Ms. Audrey is a recognized leader in Art Education, and an exhibiting artist.

She has taught Advanced Placement Studio Art since 1998, and has International AP Studio Art Certification. Audrey was a presenter at the National Art Education Association Conference, Seattle, 2011, on the topic of “Equity Issues in AP”. She has received numerous fellowships, including an NEH fellowship to a Harvard Summer Institute, and a Fellowship for Teachers of the Arts, to study at the Florence Academy of Art, in Italy. In 2000 and 2001, she was the President of the California Art Education Association for Northern California.  In 2010, she was the San Leandro School District Teacher of the Year. That same year she was presented with an award for Innovation in Education from California College of Art.

  She and student Michelle Lagasaca were featured in School Arts magazine, published in 2015.She is recognized as an authority on Advanced Placement portfolios ,having written several presentations shown nationally to high school students. Ms. Brown served on the Educational Advisory Board for the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, as well as the Educational Advisory board for the San Francisco Academy of Art University.

 Audrey has had numerous art shows, participated in juried shows, and one museum exhibition. Her work has been sold to private collectors, and she continues to paint at her home studio.


Audrey has extensive education in Art, Fine Arts and Advertising. She attended University of Michigan , Ann Arbor, MI, California College of Arts, Oakland, CA, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA, San Francisco Academy of Art University, San Francisco, CA and the University of London, Slade School of Art, London UK. She also holds a California State teaching credential in Art.


Her lifelong interest is in painting, seeing art exhibitions and art education. She is also an obsessive fiction reader and dancer, is devoted to her wire fox terrier, Lulu, and loves to travel.

Ms. Kirsten Evans-Orville, BA, MA                          Parent Librarian                                                                               
Ms. Kirsten is a life long bookworm, and lover of stories. She has a B.A. from Yale University and a Master of Liberal Arts from Naropa University. Her Master’s thesis was on the transformative power of stories.  Her passion is connecting readers with books they love, and giving them the skills to find those books on their own as children grow and learn. Ms. Kirsten recognizes the challenges for sensitive, asynchronous, and 2E learners and helps them to discover the books that resonate with them.  
A long time parent at Da Vinci, Ms. Kirsten's daughter graduated from Da Vinci last year, and her son will be attending his last year at Da Vinci in 2020/2021.