Faculty and Staff

Deborah Sommers

Deborah Sommers, Administrative Assistant

New to Independence High School, Deborah is enjoying getting to know the staff and students at Independence High School. She has been living in San Francisco for over 25 years and is a proud SFUSD parent of two children. Before having children, Deborah worked in operations and marketing for Antenna Audio Inc., an international audio tour company. She holds a B.A. in English from Rutgers University.

Jennifer Roffle

Jennifer Roffle, Head Counselor

Jennifer Roffle is in her eighth year at Independence High School, where she serves as Head Counselor, Facilitator of the Student Engagement Team and member of the School Site Council. She previously taught special education and worked at the Educational Placement Center. Ms. Roffle holds a B.A. and M.A in History. Ms. Roffle has one daughter and they enjoy going to the park and story time.  She is also an avid sports fan and is responsible for organizing the Independence Field Day and other sports activities. Ms.


OTTP Therapist- Simmin Holland

Simmin is a psychosocial Occupational Therapist who enjoys supporting youth to explore interests and develop skills through engagement in activities.  A native Jersey girl, Simmin received a B.A. in Sociology-Anthropology from Skidmore College (NY), migrated to the west coast where she received a B.F.A. in Printmaking from the California College of the Arts (Oakland), and eventually combined her passions to finish a M.S.


Andronike Giannopoulos, ​Teacher

Andronike Giannopoulos is in her eleventh year of teaching and her fifth year at Independence High School,. Ms. Giannopoulos holds a B.A. in Developmental Psychology from National-Louis University and an M.Ed. in Teaching and Learning from DePaul University. Originally from Chicago, Illinois, Ms. Giannopoulos is an avid reader who is fluent in Greek and conversational in American Sign Language. She enjoys spending her time with her dog Anakin and her daughter.  She says, “What I love about Independence students is the diversity and strength they show.

Rose Ludwig

Rose Ludwig, Teacher

Rose Ludwig is in her eighth year of teaching, and her third year at Independence High School. Ms. Ludwig holds a B.A. in Political Science from Loyola Marymount University, an M.A. in International Political Economy and Development from Fordham University and an M.A. in Special Education from San Francisco State University. Ms. Ludwig likes to read, hike, cook, and travel in her free time. She loves the sense of humor of her Independence students.

Joseph Machado

Joseph Machado, Teacher

Joseph Machado started teaching in 1999 at a small middle school in central California where he was born and raised. They came to Independence in January of 2014 after completing their M.A. in Somatic Psychology from California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. In their spare time, they enjoy dancing, hiking, and slothing around at home. There are many things Joseph appreciates about their students, but the thing that stands out the most are when students give permission for their unique personalities to be seen.

Peter Hippard

Peter Hippard, Teacher (on sabbatical)

Peter Hippard is in his seventh year at Independence High School. Prior to this, he taught at Clarendon Elementary School, JBBP for 16 years. Mr. Hippard has a BA in History of Public Policy from UCSB, and an MA in Instructional Technology from SFSU. He is credentialed in Social Sciences and enjoys teaching about the connection between historical events and current topics. Mr. Hippard enjoys the great outdoors, traveling around the world, and practicing yoga.

Helen Tam

Helen Tam, OTTP Therapist

Helen is in her first year at Independence High School Wellness Center as one of two occupational therapists! She grew up in Vancouver, B.C. and attended UC Berkeley for a BA in Psychology and the University of Alberta for a  MS in Occupational Therapy. She is happy to be back in the Bay Area and is excited to be part of the Independence team.

David Allen

David Allen, Paraprofessional

David Allen has been a paraprofessional at Independence for six years. He holds a B.A. from San Francisco State University. Born in Chicago, Mr. Allen is a long-time Bay Area resident who enjoys working with the staff and students at Independence.  Mr. Allen is also a member of the Para to Teacher program with the district.

E.Michael Chelsky

E. Michael Chelsky Teacher

Mr. Chelsky’s experience in education includes teaching throughout the Bay Area including five years at Vallejo High School where he was Certificated Staff Member of the Year 2014-2015.

Eric Harper

Eric Harper, Teacher

Eric Harper is in his seventh year of teaching, and his third year as a special educator at Independence High School, where he also serves on the Instructional Leadership Team. Mr. Harper holds a B.A. in History from the University of California at Santa Barbara, a Single Subject Teaching Credential from California State University at Monterey Bay and an M.A. with Education Specialist Credential from San Francisco State University. Mr. Harper loves spending time with his dog, Rune, and his wife, Michelle, whose sister is an Independence High graduate.

Mira Raykova

Mira Raykova, Teacher

Mira Raykova joined Independence High School in 2018 and SFUSD in 2015. Her academic background is in Environmental Science and  Biology. She holds two teaching credentials: Science Single Subject, and Multiple Subject teaching credential from San Francisco State University. Prior to teaching, Ms.Raykova worked on eelgrass restoration and research at Dr. Boyer’s wetlands ecology laboratory at Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies. In her free time, Ms. Raykova enjoys spending time outdoors with her family, two rescue dogs, and friends.  Ms.

Linda Sawamoto

Linda Sawamoto, Learning Lab Coordinator

Linda Sawamoto is our Learning Lab Coordinator. Ms. Sawamoto was born and raised in San Francisco and has served the students of this city for 30+years. When she is not working, Ms. Sawamoto enjoys gardening, spending time with her family and being silly. Ms. Sawamoto loves the diversity at Independence and she loves being a HAWK (caw caw)!

Shuohua Zhen

Shuohua Zhen, Custodial Services

Born in Canton, China, Shuohua Zhen has served SFUSD as a custodian for over 25 years. He lives in San Francisco and has two sons who are SFUSD students. When he’s not working, he enjoys spending time outdoors with his family.

Suzanne Choy-Li

Suzanne Choy-Li, School Lunchroom Assistant

Suzanne Choy-Li was born in Canton, China and moved to Stockton, California in 1985. A recent addition to SFUSD, Suzanne started working as the Independence High School lunchroom assistant in April 2019. She lives in the Sunset with her husband of 24 years. Her daughter is studying pharmacy at UC Irvine and her son is a graduate in Microbiology from UC Riverside and is studying to be a nurse.


Michelle Agbayani

Michelle Agbayani, Occupational Therapist

Michelle Agbayani is an occupational therapist in her first year of working with the students at Independence High School. She holds a B.A in Psychology with a minor in Education from UC Santa Barbara and an M.S. in Occupational Therapy from San Jose State University. In her spare time, Michelle enjoys dancing, doing art, swimming, and traveling.

Yolanda Reyes

Yolanda Reyes, Spanish Teacher

Yolanda Reyes brings 40 years of experience in education- twelve teaching at Independence High School.  In addition to her wealth of experience, she brings a wealth of education including a B.A. in Liberal Studies and Ethnology, a Clear Multiple Subject CLAD Credential, and an M.A. in Educational Technology, all from San Francisco State University.  Ms. Reyes enjoys reading, traveling, music, dance, cooking, and building strong relationships with students.


MaryHelen Sherman

MaryHelen Sherman, Teacher

MaryHelen is in her first year at Independence where she teaches Humanities, Advisory, Journalism and Health. MaryHelen earned her B.A. in Cultural Anthropology  at UC Santa Cruz and her M.A. in Educational Technology at the University of San Francisco. MaryHelen spent eight years as a health coach and she is passionate about food, fitness and well-being. MaryHelen is a tech nerd who loves using technology to support students. When she’s not teaching, she likes hiking and cooking with her son.


Andrea "Dre" Collaco

Andrea “Dre” Collaço, ​Wellness Coordinator

"Dre" Collaço is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has been the Independence Wellness Coordinator for seven years and has spent eleven years as a School Social Worker in SFUSD. Ms. Collaço holds a B.A. in Psychology and an M.S.W. in Social Work, both from San Francisco State University. 

Andrea Haun

Andrea Haun, School Nurse

A Bay Area native, Andrea was born in Berkeley to hippie parents who moved to San Francisco when she was sixteen.  At that time, she went to CCSF and continued to attend off and on before transferring to Dominican University of California to complete her B.A. in Art History.  Her passions include the arts-especially film studies-and health which lead her to become a nurse. She graduated from the Licensed Vocational Nursing (LVN) program at CCSF in 2009 before completing a one-year accelerated B.S.

Michael Broom

Michael Broom, Security

Michael joined Independence as our security guard in 2019. Michael is a San Francisco native and a graduate of Lincoln High School. When he’s not at work, he enjoys working out, traveling with friends and being a dad. Michael appreciates the close-knit atmosphere at Independence where co-workers “feel like family”.

Ashley Hildred

Ashley Hildred, CEC Social Worker

Ashley is the Social Worker for the Counseling Enriched Classroom. She holds a Pupil Services Credential in California and Illinois, and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of Illinois. She has a BS in Psychology from Montana State University at Bozeman, and an MA in Social Work from The University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, where she specialized in school social work with an emphasis on Community Schools and the overlap of education and human rights.

Jocelyn Gutierrez

Jocelyn Gutierrez- Community Health Outreach Worker

Jocelyn is in her first year at Independence High School and is LOVING IT! She holds a B.S. in Kinesiology from San Francisco State University with a focus on empowering marginalized youth to pursue physical activity. Jocelyn has experience coaching, facilitating youth groups, and running mindfulness activities. She is also a proud AmeriCorps Alumni where she served at Lowell High School’s Wellness Center during the 2018-2019 school year. 


Anna Klafter

Anastasia Klafter, Principal

Anastasia "Anna" Klafter has been the principal of Independence High School since 2016.  A San Francisco native, Ms. Klafter came to Independence from Boston Public Schools, where she spent three years as the Chief Academic Officer of TechBoston Academy, a 6th-12th grade school in the Dorchester neighborhood. Ms. Klafter holds a B.A. in Art from the University of California at Los Angeles, an M.A. in Art from New York University and an M.Ed. in School Leadership from Harvard Graduate School of Education. Ms.

Mary Chirichella

Mary Chirichella, Teacher

Mary began working in special education in her home state of New Jersey twelve years ago. After moving to San Francisco, she immediately began her career with SFUSD as a paraprofessional at George Peabody Elementary School. She then moved to Visitacion Valley Middle School where she was special education department chair, resource specialist and special day class teacher. During her time there, she earned her master’s in special education and completed her education specialist credential.

Monet Diaz-Huth

Monet Diaz-Huth, Teacher

Monet ("MD") joined Independence High School in 2019. They completed their B.A. at UC Berkeley, their M.A. at San Diego State University, followed by a special education and social studies teaching credential through Teach for America on the Big Island of Hawai'i. They have taught in both public and non-public schools and enjoy learning from their students and collaborating with their families.

Cicily Ennix

Cicily Ennix, Resource Specialist

Born and raised in San Francisco, Cicily is an SFUSD alum, who attended CCSF and SFSU.  She first began working as a paraprofessional at Visitacion Valley Middle School, where she earned a credential and master’s in special education through SFUSD’s Para-to-Teacher Program.

AJ Johnstone

AJ Johnstone, Teacher

This is AJ Johnstone's 20th year in SFUSD teaching a variety of grade levels and subjects. AJ is a National Board Certified Teacher. She attended Barnard College and the University of Virginia and holds a B.A. in Sociology and an M.A. in Teaching from the Curry School of Education. She enjoys cooking, knitting, dancing, reading history and discovering tessellations in nature. AJ loves digging into exciting mathematical ideas here in the small, close-knit community that Independence provides.

Jennifer Klecker

Jennifer Klecker, Art Teacher

Jennifer Klecker is in her fourth  year at Independence High School. Ms. Klecker has taught for nine years and she holds a B.A. in Art Education from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, WI and an M.F.A. from California College of the Arts. Outside the classroom, Ms. Klecker’s art practice includes drawing, photography, video and installation. She spends her breaks backpacking in the Sierra Nevada mountains and traveling to Italy. Ms.

Christopher Lamb

Christopher Lamb, Librarian

Chris Lamb has been teaching in SFUSD for 27 years.  This is his thirteenth year working as a librarian and his third at Independence.  He holds a B.A. in French from SUNY Binghamton, a BCLAD teaching credential from SFSU and a Master's degree in library science from San Jose State University. Born and raised in New York City,  he moved to San Francisco 27 years ago after serving in the Peace Corps in Honduras. In his free time he enjoys reading (naturally), traveling and hiking.


Donna Muse

Donna Muse, Teacher

Donna Muse is in her fourth year at Independence HS and in her sixteenth year of teaching. She is a math content specialist as well as the facilitator for Independence. She holds a B.S. in Business Administration from California Polytechnic Institute, a Teaching Credential from John F. Kennedy University, and M.S. in Math Education from Western Governors University. Her goal is to have students approach mathematics more positively and improve their mathematical confidence.

Claudia Shehan

Claudia Shehan, Teacher

Claudia Shehan joined Independence High School in 2006.  Ms. Shehan studied Social Work at Universidad Tecnológica de El Salvador,  and received her B.A. in Liberal Studies and a bilingual credential (BCLAD) from San Francisco State University. Ms.