Susanne Jenson, Lead Cooking Instruction
Susanne is a native of Denmark where she started cooking at 10 years old. In the early 80s she moved to the United States where she was introduced to macrobiotics, a natural foods movement. She studied cooking and natural healing in Boston where she became a cooking teacher. She later moved to San Francisco to study yoga and to take a break from cooking. It didn’t take long, though, before she was involved in starting a new natural foods restaurant in San Francisco and took on the job as head chef.
In the late 1990s, Susanne became the cooking teacher at Willard Middle School when the they started the cooking program to encourage students to eat more fruits and vegetables, She feels grateful to be working with young people, who inspire and makes her laugh.
In her spare time she still does yoga. If she was a fruit, she would be a Pink Lady Apple because it is crisp, firm, sweet and tart.
Ellen McClure, Growing Leaders Teacher and Garden Manager
Ellen developed an affinity for plants and the outdoor world as a child growing up in Indiana and explored this further through the Global Studies program at UC Santa Barbara where she received her BA. After college, she served as an Americorps garden educator at Willard from 2010 until 2012 where she fell in love with the garden as a classroom. From there, she left the East Bay for three years to follow more rural pursuits as a teacher at Slide Ranch in Marin County and as a farm apprentice working on several organic CSA farms in Vermont and Petaluma, CA. In 2015, with several seasons of vegetable farming under her belt, she returned to Berkeley Unified as a garden educator with Growing Leaders and as the garden coordinator at Longfellow Middle School. Now back at Willard full-time, Ellen manages the garden and teaches the Growing Leaders elective class and 6th grade garden classes. She is thrilled to bring experiential education opportunities to middle school youth so that they have spaces to thrive outside of the traditional classroom. Ellen holds a Career Technical Education Credential in Agriculture and Health Sciences. Ellen loves cycling, hiking in the regional parks and fiber arts. If she could be any vegetable it would definitely be garlic.
Mollye Chudacoff, Cooking Teacher and Program Manager
Mollye has a formal background in documentary photography and art from the University of CA, Santa Cruz. She worked in the photo industry in NYC and quickly learned she wanted to be outdoors. Mollye saved up her money, quit her job and spent a year learning about organic farming methods, cooking and eating well in France, Turkey, Greece and Spain. When she returned to the city, Mollye became involved in urban farming and community gardening, which led to her building gardens, and teaching preschool to high school age youth in garden and cooking programs. Mollye moved back to sunny California, and was a garden Americorps at Willard in 2015-2016. She's very excited to be back at Willard as a cooking teacher and loves working with middle school youth, who surprise her every day with their creativity and enthusiasm. Mollye is still passionate about photography and storytelling, and loves documenting the Growing Leaders and 6th graders hard at work. You can often find her trying not to drop her camera in the flour while baking cakes with Growing Leaders. If she were a vegetable Mollye would be an onion because it's versatile, sweet or savory and an essential ingredient!
Anna Reed, Americorps
Sierra Goldstein, Americorps
Sierra Goldstein is completing her first year with BAYAC as a Garden Educator.
She worked on small farms around the PNW and at UC Davis with the aim of learning how to connect farming to social/food justice. Her favorite part of working with middle school youth is getting to empower and watch them take agency in their education.
When Sierra is not at Willard, she is finding new ways to get involved in the community or simply stretched out in the sun. If she could be a fruit/veggie, she would be an artichoke-- tender at heart.