Faculty & Staff
“One of the best and most unique things about Courtyard is the teachers. They don’t just help their students because it is their job, they truly care about them. They do a fabulous job encouraging them and interacting with them.” -Courtyard Middle Schooler
Jonathan Molnar, Principal
Mr. Molnar is in his seventh year as Principal and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Courtyard School and loves working with the students, staff and parents of this unique school. Mr. Molnar has a wide variety of roles and responsibilities at Courtyard. As Principal he works with staff and parents to develop and maintain a school environment that is safe and welcoming of our students and all of the members of our community. He is also the instructional team leader, working with staff to ensure that we have a successful instructional program that meets the needs of our students and supports the mission of the school. As CEO, Mr. Molnar works closely with the School Board and staff to develop policies, maintain and develop the school campus, administer the school’s finances and personnel practices, and market the school.
Mr. Molnar is married to Aimee Myers, who is a Professor of History at Sierra College. They have three children – Laura, Paul and Thomas. Outside of school, Mr. Molnar studies Ishinru Karate and has earned a second degree black belt. He also enjoys practicing yoga. His family loves the outdoors He is an avid hiker, and loves to camp and backpack.
Mr. Molnar is in his 25th year as a professional educator. He has worked as a social studies and alternative studies teacher, as a middle school vice-principal, as a principal at a small high school and as the principal at two private elementary schools. Mr. Molnar holds a BA in History from the University of California, Riverside and a single Subject Teaching Credential. He also studied school administration at the University of Redlands and at Humboldt State University where he earned his first and second tier Administrative Credentials.
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Melissa Krause, Vice Principal/EDC Director
A valuable addition to the administrative staff in 2010, Ms. Krause translates her passion for helping children to learn, grow, and have fun into an exciting Extended Day Care program that Courtyard kids don’t want to leave. In addition to her responsibilities for the before and after school program, Courtyard camps, and school to home communication, Ms. Krause is the right-hand to Mr. Molnar, lending her insight and skills to various projects that make the school run seamlessly.
Off campus, Ms. Krause is very family-oriented, spending time with her extended family whenever possible. She loves being outdoors to pursue activities such as hiking, swimming, and cycling.
Ms. Krause holds a BS from Cal Poly in Social Sciences, an Elementary Multiple Subject Teaching credential, and a Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology.
Moira O’Brien, Director of Admissions and Office Manager
Mrs. O’Brien joined the Courtyard family in 2014 and, as a former Director of Admissions for St. Francis High School, brings with her many years of experience working with students and their families. As Office Manager she endeavors to keep all the wheels turning and assist where needed. She loves being on a school campus where every day is filled with bright smiles.
Mrs. O’Brien enjoys theatre, music, movies, and just being with her wonderful family.
McKenna Colvin, Office Assistant
Ms. McKenna graduated from Courtyard School in 2008 and went on to St. Francis High School. She became a part of the Courtyard community in September of 2015 and is now a part of the office admin team with two years of office experience in property management company. She also has the pleasure and difficulty of keeping us all in line and happy.
Jennifer Mattson, Transitional Kindergarten
Brooke Steurer-Lopiccoio, TK Aide/EDC
Ms. Mattson joined the Courtyard community in 2004 as a middle school Language Arts instructor. In 2007 she segued her talents into creating an exceptional TK program. In addition, she is the Yearbook Editor; capturing campus life with her camera and turning her photographs into a book of memories for our community to enjoy.
Her many interests include playing oboe and English horn with local community orchestras, volunteering at her church, and spending time with friends and family. Reading, watching movies, cooking, crafting, and photography activities fill in any extra time.
Ms. Mattson holds a Liberal Studies degree and Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from California State University, Sacramento.
Caitlin Peters, Kindergarten
Kathy Cruz, Kindergarten Aide
Ms. Peters joined the Courtyard family in 2013. Our Kinder classroom is a dynamic environment, full of joy and creativity. She also serves as the technology coordinator; researching, developing and implementing cutting-edge technology tools and programs for our students.
A Sacramento native who enjoys spending time with her large, extended family, Ms. Peters can often be found at a CrossFit gym pushing herself to a new level of fitness comfort, or at Bikram Yoga, recentering. In calmer moments she loves to take in a theatre performance and curl up with a good book.
Ms. Peters holds a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from UC Davis and an MA in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Literature/Language Arts from USF.
Ms. Kathy has worked at Courtyard for 20 years and has spent the last 8 years as the kindergarten teacher’s aide. She is a very patient, calm, kind, and steady presence at Courtyard.
Outside of her Courtyard life, Ms. Kathy enjoys spending time with her family. She has been married to her wonderful husband for 15 years and has 2 awesome children. Nerissa is 11 years old and in the 7th grade. Lilah is 9 and is currently in 4th grade. Ms. Kathy is also the proud owner of Lincoln, who is a 13 year old corgi.
Ms. Kathy holds a BA in Psychology from Sacramento State. Ms. Kathy finished up her education at Sac State while working as an EDC leader at Courtyard School. Ms. Kathy has also been an aide for most grades from kindergarten to 5th grade.
Katherine Prudhomme, First Grade
Maelvy Saucedo, First Grade Aide
Ms. Prudhomme joined Courtyard staff in 2016. Formerly, she served on the Courtyard Board and is a proud Courtyard parent. Ms. Prudhomme holds an M.A. in Education, is dually credentialed in K-8 general education and mild/moderate K-8 special education from CSUS, and holds a BA in Child Development and Family Studies from Purdue University. Her career in education is extensive. She taught in the K-8 setting both general and special education, was Adjunct Faculty at CSUS in the Teacher Credentialing Department, Special Education Division, and an Educational Consultant for WestEd focusing on supporting English Learners in the classroom, developing multi-tiered systems of support targeting instruction for all students, and managing a nation-wide family and community engagement program, Academic Parent Teacher Teams (APTT). Albeit the global impact on the realm of education was a unique opportunity in her career, Ms. Prudhomme’s heart remained with students and families in the classroom. She is excited to bring her passion for teaching and learning to the Courtyard community. Her teaching philosophy is anchored in this anonymous quote, “I facilitate thinking, I engage minds, I listen to questions, I encourage risk, I support struggle, I cultivate dreams, I learn every day, I teach.” Her first grade classroom fosters an environment of wonder, encouragement, reassurance, and discovery.
Ms. Prudhomme’s personal and professional passions extend into the arts with painting, drawing, writing poetry, and photography. She has a love of animals, music, attending performances (theatre, dance, etc.), visiting the ocean, and spending time with her family when she is not teaching.
John Cunningham, Second Grade
A perfect fit for second graders, John brings a global perspective to his classroom that focuses on combining exploration and collaboration with academics and character development.
Mr. Cunningham’s early career experiences include playing pro-am basketball, more than a decade working and traveling globally in the semiconductor industry, and teaching 8th grade Language Arts and Social Sciences.
His passions outside the classroom include live music, family camping trips with his wife and two children, and training for century cycling rides with friends.
Mr. Cunningham holds his undergraduate degree in History from Chico State and his teaching credential from St. Mary’s College.
Tess Standaert, Third Grade
Miss Standaert joined the Courtyard community in 2016. She brings her love of art and music into the classroom, fusing academic core content with student expression and creativity.
Dorothy Steinman, Fourth Grade
Dorothy joined Courtyard in 2010 as an experienced teacher. Her teaching style lets fourth graders have fun, while her rigorous lessons address and exceed state content requirement. She also serves as the facilitator of Courtyard’s student council, cultivating students’ leadership skills.
Mrs. Steinman enjoys spending her time with her family, which includes baking with her daughter, and playing with her son, both of whom are Courtyard students, watching Giants baseball, running 5ks, and reading.
Ms. Steinman holds a BA in History and Elementary Education from the University of Arizona, completed graduate coursework for a Master of Arts in History from San Diego State University, and completed her teaching credential at National University in San Jose.
Gretchen Johnson, Fifth Grade
Ms. Johnson joined the Courtyard team in 2007. She infuses the fifth-grade class with her joy for the natural world and her love of reading and history. She is also instrumental in developing and maintaining the various campus gardening activities.
A former educator for the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, she has also worked for the Audubon Society. A proud parent, Ms. Johnson also enjoys gardening, reading, theatre, and yoga.
Ms. Johnson holds a Multiple Subject Teaching credential, Supplemental Authorization for Middle School, and CLAD Certification (Cross Cultural Language and Development) from California State University, Sacramento.
Carol Behnken, Sixth Grade Teacher
Ms. Behnken brings to Courtyard a passion and dedication to her profession and her students. Grounded in the belief that building strong character is as important as building strong educational foundations, 6th grade students takes pride in their environment as being one where successes are celebrated and collaboration is valued. As such, every day offers both her and her students new opportunities to grow in knowledge and in character. As their guide in their education, Ms. Behnken appreciates the higher level of critical thinking and application skills of the 6th graders and how they challenge each other to stretch these skills to strategize and creatively problem-solve.
With over 30 years in the teaching profession, Ms. Behnken has enjoyed a variety of professional environments, including Montessori, parochial, private, charter, district, and site-based home schools. Five years as a recreation leader, day camp director and PE teacher in high school and college laid the foundation for a lifetime spent with children. She was also a piano teacher for nearly 35 years and has always played an active role in her church community. She proudly boasts of her now-married children: her daughter in the Bay Area teaching Special Ed high school and raising baby Calvin, her first grandchild, and her nuclear submarine son in the US Navy. Her family also includes her 2 cats, Kona and Ty. In her leisure time (which, to a teacher, means during the summer and brief school vacations), Ms. Behnken can be found “playing” in her yards and garden (she enjoys yard work that much!), reading Mary Higgins Clark mysteries-preferably poolside after yard work, or walk/jogging the Loomis neighborhoods.
Ms. Behnken earned her BA degree and teaching credential at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, CA, where she minored in Theater Arts. She holds a Lifetime Multiple Subject Credential and is an NCLB highly qualified teacher. She also holds a CLAD certificate (Cross-cultural Language Arts Development) from the University of San Diego.
Mr. Mattos, Seventh Grade Teacher
An outdoor enthusiast from the Tahoe area, 7th/8th grade teacher Mr. Mattos utilizes project-based learning, multimedia applications, and a student centered learning approach. He encourages Courtyard middle school students to embrace technology and appreciate art and culture throughout the world.
Outside the classroom, Mr. Mattos enjoys spending time outdoors cycling, rock climbing, swimming, and snowboarding. One of his great passions in life is music and he has spent the past 12 years composing, collaborating, and recording with others. When not making music or climbing rocks, he makes time to travel, finding it develops his sense of culture and gives him a great appreciation for the diversity that is found in the world.
Mr. Mattos holds a B. S. from SFSU and a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential through UC Davis with a M. A. in Education.
Kristi Muraoka, Performing Arts Teacher
A member of the Courtyard family since 2005, Ms. Kristi performs several roles on campus–from director and choreographer of Courtyard’s theatrical productions to guidance counselor for students moving on to high school. Courtyard’s Leadership curriculum was created by Ms. Kristi, and under her direction it continues to be a yearly highlight for 6th through 8th graders.
Ms. Kristi enjoys spending time with family and friends, fashion, DIY projects, and indulging in naps with her cats.
Ms. Kristi is a graduate of California State University, Sacramento, with a degree in English and a minor in Theatre Arts.
Ms. Astrid , Music Teacher
Ms. Astrid joined the Courtyard community in 2011. A classically trained musician with music teaching and performance degrees, Ms. Astrid gets students moving and grooving and they explore rhythm, song, and music history. She also leads the Glee Club and partners with the Performing Arts program to produce Courtyard’s many performances.
In her spare time Ms. Astrid enjoys spending time with her 5th grade son, playing guitar, piano, and flute with friends, and teaching music to many more talented people in her community. She also enjoys practicing yoga and taking day trips.
Ms. Astrid holds a BA in Psychology and Human Resources Management from San Francisco State University and studied at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, Austria.
Joanna de la Cuesta, Spanish
Joanna de la Cuesta studied classical vocal music at the Instituto de Bellas Artes in Colombia, South America, holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music from California State University, Sacramento, received her Master in Education in Educational Management from the University of La Verne, and earned a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership from the University of Southern California. She holds several teaching and administrative credentials: Clear Multiple Subject, Clear Single Subject, Clear Administrative and certificates: NCLB Highly Qualified Teacher, CLAD, and Teacher of the Year 2nd Place. She has worked as a teacher, mentor teacher, bilingual Spanish resource teacher and an administrator for over 30 years in public and private education. In addition, she worked as an adjunct instructor for Chapman University in the teaching credential program. She was founder and principal/superintendent of a Public Charter School grades 7-12 and of a Private School grades PreK-6. Joanna de la Cuesta was appointed to the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission by the Mayor of the City of Sacramento and served the city for six years until termed out.
Outside of education, Dr. de la Cuesta enjoys the peace and serenity that comes with country life in Clarksburg, CA. In addition, she enjoys animal rescue and care, gardening, volunteering at her church, singing, arts & crafts, and spending time with her loving family who reside in the United States and Colombia.