About the Team
Dreamed up over play dates and late night texts, Silver Oaks Cooperative School is the creation of two moms with a deep background in education and passion for learning. Co-founders Alicia and Annette collectively have 24 years of experience in public elementary education. Our parenting and educational experiences have cemented our desire for a new type of elementary school. We can't find an affordable, community-driven, child-centered school in our area, so we're building it, and lucky to have a talented team of teachers to join us!
Alicia Cacace, Director and Co-Founder
Alicia is a California native and earned her BA from the University of California, Berkeley in International and Area Studies, Latin America. Having spent her college years running tutoring programs, leading birthday parties, nannying, and volunteering with children in Guatemala and Mexico, she knew she wanted to be a teacher and received her bilingual multi subject K-5 teaching credential from California State University, East Bay. She taught Spanish bilingual and Reggio Emilia inspired arts integrated Kindergarten and first grade in the Oakland Unified School District for five years.
Inspired to learn more about best practices in education, Alicia moved to Boston to complete her masters degree in Educational Policy and Management at Harvard University. Alicia continued to teach and lead in schools for another three years in Boston and D.C., until her first son was born. Alicia is in her fourth year on the board at Silver Spring Nursery School and lives in Silver Spring with her two sons and husband.
Annette C. H. Nelson, President and Co-Founder
Annette taught in Howard County Public Schools as an elementary classroom teacher for five years until becoming an elementary school library media specialist. After 12 years in the county she had her son Jack and transitioned to being a stay-at-home mom. In 2015, she returned to work as a school library media specialist for Prince George's County School. Since the fall of 2016 she has worked as a school library media specialist for Montgomery County Public Schools. Annette is a Nationally Board Certified Media Specialist, holds a Maryland State Certification for grades 1-6, and has co-authored two books for school librarians. She is passionate about creating Silver Oaks to provide a unique educational experience for her own child and those in her community.
Christine Marie Waltz, Kindergarten Teacher
Before joining Silver Oaks Cooperative as our founding teacher, Christine began her career in Early Childhood Education as the lead teacher for six years in a 5-day four-year-old class. Her teaching philosophy is to teach to the whole child, incorporating all domains of learning by addressing the child’s senses in a realistic environment to encourage authentic learning. Christine frequently takes the classroom outside, believing that learning can and does happen anywhere and everywhere!
She holds a BA from the University of Pittsburgh, majoring in both Economics and Business with a minor in German. With a belief that further study is always valuable, she continued to advance her own education by earning an AAS in Early Childhood Education, graduating with Honors.
A proud mom of four daughters, she and her husband live in Montgomery County, where her daughters attended public school. She enjoys any day on the beach and skiing in western Canada. She serves on the board of the Potomac Association of Cooperative Teachers and is active in Operation HomeFront through Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Casey Skully, First Grade Teacher
Casey grew up in a small farm town in North Carolina and knew she wanted to be an educator from the time she was very small. She earned her BS from Winthrop University in Human Development and Family Studies, with a concentration in childhood development and developmental psychology. She spent several years practicing Applied Behavior Analysis techniques with learners on the Autism Spectrum as a Registered Behavior Technician.
After moving to the DMV, Casey completed the Capital Teaching Residency and earned her District of Columbia teaching certification for preK-3rd grade. She spent another year teaching 4th grade in S.E. Washington D.C. before transitioning to Silver Oaks. She chose Silver Oaks because of its whole child approach, student-led and student-centered model, and emphasis on learning through play.
When Casey is not in the classroom she can be found playing outside with her 2 dogs, hunting for the coolest new restaurants, or breaking a sweat at the gym.
Rebecca Rappoport, Lead 2/3/4 Math and Classroom Teacher
Becca discovered her love of teaching early on, while volunteering and working with children during high school and college. After four years as a project coordinator for the World Wildlife Fund, she knew teaching was her calling. Becca began teaching secondary math in DC Public Schools in 2009. She spent five and a half years teaching in DC, with a year-long break to be a stay-at-home mom (with some tutoring mixed in) when her first son was born. Since 2017, Becca has worked in a private school setting as a first and second grade teaching assistant, K-5 math specialist, and summer camp Assistant Director.
Becca earned her BA in International Studies from Dickinson College and her masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction from American University. Becca is originally from Massachusetts but has lived in the DC region since 2005. She currently lives in Hyattsville with her husband and two boys.
Jessica O’Roark, Lead 2/3/4 Literacy Teacher
Jessica believes that supporting students’ social and emotional growth is critical to their academic development. Her experiences with teaching the “whole person” began as a child when she participated in children’s theater programs, and later continued in her work at a camp for children with emotional and behavioral disorders.
After initially pursuing a degree in outdoor leadership, Jessica shifted her focus to teaching indoors with the dream of bringing her students out into the natural world as much as possible. She earned her BS in Elementary Education from the University of Maryland and spent nine years teaching 4th grade in Prince George’s County Public Schools. Jessica then became a stay-at-home mom to two daughters. During that time, she earned her MS in Curriculum and Instruction from McDaniel College, became a Lesson Coach for the University of Maryland’s Terrapin Teachers Program, and served on the PTA boards of her daughters’ schools.
Jessica enjoys singing, yoga, and meeting new people of all ages.