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School Administration

“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

Joseph Piazza, Principal

Mr. Piazza joined our Courtyard Community with 30 years of experience as a K-12 teacher and administrator. He has also been an adjunct university faculty member for teacher credentialing programs. His daily commitment to the benefit of each student cultivates and reinforces an atmosphere of children first, and valuing student voices. Mr. Piazza works with parents and staff to maintain an instructional program that builds on the natural learning processes of children and their interests, while supporting the individuality of teachers to create instruction that is personalized for each child.

Mr. Piazza lives in Folsom, California with his partner. He has six children and three still at home. His love of family is his priority and focus when not leading Courtyard. He enjoys the natural recreational resources of the Sacramento region which supports his active lifestyle.

Mr. Piazza has a Bachelors of Science degree in Combined Sciences from Santa Clara University, a Masters degree in Education from the progressive Claremont Graduate University, three credentials from California Statue University at Sacramento, and is finishing his doctoral program at University of California at Davis.

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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. Piazza, 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.

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Rose Green, Office Manager


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.

Visit the TK classroom here

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.

Visit the Kindergarten classroom here

Erin Zgraggen, First Grade



Visit the 1st grade classroom here

Saumirah McWoodson, Second Grade


Visit the 2nd grade classroom here

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.

Miss Standaert is new to the Sacramento area, being a native of Olympia, Washington. Her previous experiences include working at and coordinating summer camps in Washington state, instructing art at Camp Galileo in Palo Alto, and teaching second grade.
When not teaching, Miss Standaert enjoys spending time with her friends and loved ones, singing and performing with the Sacramento Choral Society, cuddling with her cat, and reading a good book.
Miss Standaert holds a BA in Elementary Education and a Teaching Credential from Pacific Lutheran University, as well as a California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential.

Visit the 3rd grade classroom here

Zia Sloan, Fourth and 5th Multiage


Visit the 4th grade classroom here

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.

Visit the 6th grade classroom here

Seventh and Eighth Grade Multiage


Visit the Middle School classroom here

Chris Baker, Sarah Heyne, Brooke Steurer-Lopiccolo, Physical Education

Matt Kramer, Kitchen

Sarah Heyne, Kitchen

Christopher Baker, EDC

Heather Dominguez, EDC

Erika Lutz, EDC

Kenzza Nadeem, EDC

Rob Loflin, Janatorial/Maintenance

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