Board of Trustees

Jay Jackson, Ed.D.


Dr. Jay Jackson is a Licensed Educational Psychologist (CA) and a Nationally Certified School Psychologist.  Jay is a lifelong educator who worked in several roles in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).  In her 37-year history with LAUSD, opportunities as a teacher, counselor, school psychologist, and administrator in psychological services afforded rewarding, exciting, and challenging experiences.  A native New Yorker, Jay earned her bachelor’s degree in English at Barnard College, and after relocating to Los Angeles, earned master’s degrees in Counselor Education (CSU Los Angeles) and Administration (Pepperdine).  She also earned a Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership from Pepperdine University.  Jay has served as an adjunct professor in education at CSU Northridge, CSU Dominguez Hills, and Pepperdine University.  She is currently on faculty at Loyola Marymount University as a part time instructor and Practicum supervisor in the school psychology program.

As a youngster growing up in the New York City public school system, Jay recognized early that she wanted to be a teacher and actively engaged in developing skills early on as a participant in the city’s Future Teacher programs in middle and high school.  Shortly after beginning her teaching career, she extended her attention to developing expertise in the social emotional development of children.  Academic and professional experiences later followed to focus on educational leadership.  

 Jay’s experiences growing up in a working-class family and community; being educated in a public school system noted for its rigor and opportunities; and, working professionally in many diverse communities in Los Angeles have shaped her vision for what a compassionate educational environment, that works for all children and families, can be.  Such communities celebrate the humanity of its members, embrace diversity, and strive for social justice practices that endorse educational equity.

Academic research integrated with professional experiences support Jay’s passion for empowering the compassionate educational community (students, parents, and educators) by encouraging strength-based approaches through the application of positive psychology concepts and principles.  

It is a privilege for Dr. Jay Jackson to be a member of the Sycamore Community School and to promote the school’s vision of education rooted in academic excellence and personal growth.

Deb Murray Lemon


Deb Lemon is co-CEO of On Board Experiential (OBE), an award-winning full-service experiential marketing agency with offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City, and serves as a partner and board member at Think TRUE, the multicultural marketing agency she helped incubate.  

A former college athlete, Deb started her career working retail for Nike and quickly rose through the ranks, ultimately overseeing many brand experiences including Marathons, Olympic Games, product launches and creating the Nike Women’s Marathon. Refusing to slow down, as co-CEO of OBE she uses straight talk, smart strategy, and relentless energy to connect brands to their audience and make real impact, one unforgettable experience at a time. 

Deb’s passions include bringing more women into the C-suite through mentorship and support, including as a member of Chief, a private network for female execs. Her drive to bring more women and diversity into the industry included incubating and advising on the creation of a brand-new minority-owned and led agency, Think TRUE. 

An expert at building teams, Deb’s formula for creating a successful organization of any size starts with setting up strong institutional values, nurturing them into an inclusive and durable company culture, and fairly weighing all stakeholder opinions, needs, and feedback. 

As a mother she is a firm believer in the power of life-long learning and is excited to bring her business acumen and passion for adventure to Sycamore Community school. 

Toni Spatola


Toni is an accomplished educator with over fifteen years experience in the classroom and a commitment to excellence. Her passion lies in the science of teaching reading and helping young learners realize their potential by instilling in them confidence, independence, and a love of reading.

Most recently, she was the lower elementary (TK-2) head at a local LA school, where she enjoyed an exciting year of leading her team through the pandemic. Previously, she taught at elementary schools in San Francisco and in the Washington D.C. area. In the past five years, Toni has trained in Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop, CGI, Responsive Classroom, Mindfulness, and has served as a WASC/WCEA visiting committee member. She holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology from Allegheny College and obtained her teaching credential through a graduate level program at The College of Notre Dame of Maryland.

Outside of the classroom, she is the proud mother of an inquisitive, strong-willed, happy two-year old daughter and enjoys family time at the beach, park, and local farmer’s market.

Toni is honored to serve on the board at Sycamore Community School and thrilled to support this exceptionally talented group of educators as they follow their passion!

Monica Lalanne


Monica is an Oakland native and has lived for short periods of her life in Northern Italy and Seattle, Wa.  After graduating from Santa Clara University, with a degree in Italian Studies, Monica spent 10 years in retail buying with firms such as Il Fornaio, Williams-Sonoma, and Whole Earth Access.  
Drawn to early childhood education as an expectant parent, Monica changed course and received her Montessori certificate from the Association Montessori International. Her 29-year career has been centered in Early Childhood Education, primarily following Montessori and the Reggio Approach.   For the past ten years, her work has been in School Administration and teacher training with a strong emphasis on how children learn differently.  Volunteer opportunities have been shared between the Santa Cruz Child Care Council, Association Montessori International, NAREA (Reggio Approach to Early Education),  and the Pacific Northwest Montessori Association.  
Currently she is the Director of Early Childhood Education at La Scuola International School in Palo Alto.  A parent to two young adults, Monica has always believed strongly in building resiliency in children.
Vegetable gardening, the beaches of Santa Cruz County, and laughter bring joy. 

Susan Magnano Salazar


Susan grew up in Seattle, Washington in a family with seven siblings; the youngest of eight. It was an expectation that her and her siblings all went to college so they did. She enrolled at the University of Washington, pledged the Delta Gamma sorority, and graduated with a degree in Speech Communications in 1983. After a few years, Susan started to work for the family business; The Napoleon Co. which was an importer of specialty foods, a 4th generation company her Grandfather started in 1903 after immigrating here from Genoa, Italy.  The company imported products from around the world; Olive Oil from Spain, Kalamata Olives from Greece, Artichokes, Piquillo Peppers from Peru etc. 

Susan started out in an entry-level sales rep position, eventually becoming the key Account Manager responsible for the Pacific Northwest region selling to wholesalers, distributors, and retailers. Her career there lasted thirty-two years. During that time, she got married and together with her husband, raised their boys; Alex and Mario.

 It was instilled in Susan, at a very young age the importance of a strong education so when it came time for her two boys to go to school, she wanted them to go where we felt they could receive the best education.

 To this day, Susan and her husband believe one of the biggest gifts they gave their children was the gift of an incredibly rich academic experience.  All along the way, Susan stressed to her boys the value of education just as her parents had with her.  Susan shares the idea that quality education provides above all else;  CHOICES. Having a choice is monumental in life as it provides endless opportunities.

After working for The Napoleon Co. for over 32 years, Susan decided to retire and have since re-invented herself. In 2020 Susan enrolled in a yoga teacher training program becoming a certified yoga instructor, now guiding meditation and yoga to others. Yoga has played an instrumental part in her spiritual journey and she truly believes she is now aligned with what she has been called to do and that is to help others discover a sense of self through the practice of yoga and meditation

Susan is now living out her dream which is in great part due to the path her parents set out for her, emphasizing the importance of quality education, hard work, dedication, and a commitment to excellence.