Meet the Staff

Andrea Benson

Founding Teacher, Advisory Consultant

Andrea (she/her) is a co-founder of The Bridge Cooperative Elementary School, and has taught every class in the school and, most recently, has served as the Instructional Director. Andrea’s natural exuberance combined with her passion for teaching and theater result in a learning environment where children feel nurtured and empowered while further developing their skills as students and artists. She is excited to create a learning environment where student interests steer thematic studies, allowing for deep exploration of subjects and avenues of learning. She is particularly fond of delving into mathematical thinking, cultural studies, history, and scientific exploration.

Andrea draws heavily on her theater background as she believes theater offers an opportunity to develop the skills of active listening, presentation, working as part of a team, creativity and risk-taking. Her goal is to cultivate enthusiastic, compassionate, independent thinkers.

She holds a Master’s in Education from Washington University in St. Louis and a BA in Theater from Western Washington University. Andrea is constantly striving to further develop her skills as both an artist and an educator. Most recently she graduated from the Washington State Teaching Artist Training Lab at Seattle Children’s Theater.

She also has a wonderful husband and two amazing boys…and three dogs.

Ashley Dunn 

Director

Ashley (she/her) is a proud Canadian! She grew up in Calgary, AB and moved to Seattle with her family in 2011. She has been married to Jason for 20 years, and they have two awesome kids – Logan (12) and Alanna (8). They also recently got a dog named Moka who is a regular fixture at The Bridge School.

She earned her degree in Applied Communications with a Public Relations focus from Mount Royal University in Calgary. After spending 10 years home with her kids, Ashley began her journey at The Bridge School in 2014 when Logan became a Coho student. Since then, Logan has graduated from The Bridge School and Alanna has joined the student body. Ashley has served on the Bridge School Board as the Membership Coordinator and Board Chair, and in 2018 joined the staff as the Office Manager. In 2019, in partnership with Andrea Benson, Ashley took on a Co-Director position as the Operations Director, and is now the Director of the Bridge School.

Ali Arnote

Wilderness Explorations & Cedar Play School Instructor

Ali (she/her) grew up between the wilds of Northern Arizona and Tokyo, Japan, where she was lucky enough to play freely in the outdoors creating such vivid memories of her adventures that she still finds herself sizing up trees for their climb-ability, looking for sticks to race down streams or introducing herself to new plant friends. She returned to the US to earn degrees in Visual Anthropology and Photography from University of Southern California and Visual Communications from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising.

While she has worked with kids her entire life, Ali began working in a school setting in 2004 which grew into opening a process based kid’s art studio in Southern California. She is a certified Tinkergarten Leader and has been exploring outdoors with kids and their grown-ups since 2016. Ali wears a few different hats at the Bridge School, working with the Coho students for Wilderness Explorations and as our Cedar Play School instructor. She is also a parent to two current students. Ali continually finds delight in sharing her connection with nature while watching the pure joy as students develop their own.

Leah Fadness Biseda

Classroom Teacher

Leah (she/her) is a Seattle based visual artist who earned her BFA in Painting and Video from Cornish, College of the Arts in 2006. While she was in art school, Leah explored a ton of different mediums outside of her core studies including book arts, printmaking, and sculpture. Leah also holds a Master’s degree in teaching from Seattle University’s MIT program, and her Washington State Teaching Certification with endorsements in Elementary and Visual Arts Education. Post Art/Grad school Leah has worked as an elementary educator and art teacher for public schools throughout the Seattle area. Leah has also participated in live painting/drawing musical events and collaborative work with an arts/music collective that cross pollinates between Seattle and Guadalajara.

At home, Leah enjoys spending time building Lego models and watching animal documentaries with her fantastic husband and cat in their triangle shaped apartment. Her current illustration series are Sengi and Bilby: A Story of Friendship Among Uncommon Critters and Photohopper, a visual narrative featuring a rabbit who loves to snap interesting photos and a little family of cats and rabbits who often find themselves on an adventure together.

Allison Gobat

Music & Theater Instructor

Allison (she/her) is a hands-on, sensory-led, active teacher. She likes to keep the children moving, experiencing, having fun, and learning through doing. She likes to bring multiple senses into her teaching so that she can reach each student wherever their strengths lie. She believes in allowing skill development to happen in its own time for each student — there is no “one size fits all” for learning. Allison has taught Preschool through High School in various positions: special education inclusion specialist, one-on-one instructor, special programs teacher, specific subject tutor, and music, theater and arts teacher.

She has a Master’s degree in Special Education from the University of San Diego and holds certifications in Elementary Education, K-8 Special Education, and Early Childhood Special Education.

Kevin “Porcupine” O’Malley

Wilderness Explorations Instructor

Kevin O’Malley (he/him) has been serving adults and kids as a naturalist educator and wilderness skills instructor since 2005. He started his career in Alaska where he became a Naturalist-in-Residence for the Juneau School District and taught hands-on inquiry-based science for elementary age students.  From there he has served as a freelance naturalist in various settings on the West Coast from Walker Creek Ranch in Marin, CA to the In-School Programs Specialist at Seward Park Audubon.

He served as a Teaching Assistant for the renowned Wilderness Awareness School Adult Tracking Intensive Program 2015-2018.  He currently holds a Cybertracker Level 3 Wildlife Track & Sign and coordinates the Seattle Tracking Club.

Wanting to deepen his naturalist training he completed the rigorous, nine-month Anake Naturalist Training Program at Wilderness Awareness School in Duvall, WA.  During that time, he also completed the certification through Kamana Four, a self-directed three-year nature study program.  All these years he has been connecting adults and kids to nature, others, and to themselves in wild places of the Pacific Northwest.  He is the Director and Lead Instructor at South Sound Nature School in Washington State.

Yon Rowe

Classroom Teacher

Yon Rowe (she/her) holds a MEd in literacy instruction, a BA in elementary education with a science minor and an AA in Early Childhood Education. She has been involved in one form or another with The Bridge School since its founding, including as an enrichment instructor and currently as the Coho teacher. She has taught art to individuals as well as large-scale community events. Her early career in ECE took her through Montessori, Head Start, Reggio Emilio-inspired, and cooperative models of education. Her passion and talent for facilitating learning through child-led play has been informed by all of these approaches and experiences.

Kat Stein-Ross

Literacy Specialist

Kat Stein-Ross (she/her) loves being called a weirdo and encourages her students to embrace their own weirdsies, too. She earned her degree in English Language and Literature from the Univ. of Southern California with a minor in the Teaching Profession. She has been a teacher in both classroom and summer camp settings since 2004, serving students ranging from 5 to 18 years old. She has taught in schools in California, Venezuela, and Washington and is also a parent of a Bridge School alumnus. Kat’s hobbies include cooking, traveling, reading, practicing yoga, van camping, hand-cutting silhouette portraits, inventing parody song lyrics, and finding ways to connect to her Filipina heritage.

Katie Streit

Classroom Teacher

Katie Streit (she/her) has a background in teaching, communications, and writing. She specializes in teaching language arts and social studies, with an emphasis on social justice and Culturally Responsive Teaching. Katie is a Washington State certified teacher, and also holds a Master in Teaching, Master of Arts and a Bachelor of Arts. She is passionate about nurturing a love of reading and writing and cultivating a mindset of curiosity and exploration. She works to get to know each student as an individual, and encourages them to express their unique voice, ideas, and perspectives through their work inside and out of the classroom. She embraces a variety of learning styles and gets kids outdoors as much as possible.

She lives in West Seattle with her husband, three kids and two cats.