Omni Teachers

Our Teachers

 Margaret Lotz

Margaret Lotz has been a teacher for over 40 years, and she remains as passionate about her work now as when she first began.  Graduating from California State University with honors, she was initiated into the honorary history society, Phi Alpha Theta. She then joined a masters program at the University of Wisconsin where she began her teaching career.  Margaret has been an administrator, designed award-winning curriculum, and taught in both public and private schools in Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New Jersey, southern California, and in the Monterey Bay area.  She credits Dr. Roger Taylor’s work Curriculum Design for Excellence with much of her creativity in interdisciplinary teaching.  Widely traveled and with an insatiable universe of interests, Margaret considers herself blessed beyond measure to be a teacher, mother and grandmother.


Lorraine Gerstl

Lorraine Gerstl is truly a woman for all seasons! She taught deaf children in her native South Africa before migrating to the United States, where she raised her own children, then recommenced her teaching career at Briarcliffe Academy / Robert Louis Stevenson before moving to Santa Catalina for nearly three decades as its beloved third grade teacher. She’s produced, directed, and acted in plays, musicals, variety shows, and programs of all kinds, picked up a National Disney Teacher of the Year nomination along the way, and traveled a good slice of the world in the process. An editor and internationally published writer, who won’t hesitate to stretch her students’ reach to the stars, she still revels in her favorite title – “Mom.”


Zoe Sippel (Reading, writing)

Zoë taught second grade for 12 years at Stuart Hall for Boys in San Francisco, a unit of Sacred Heart Schools which operates more than 150 schools and colleges in 41 countries around the world. From Stuart Hall, Zoë moved on to Santa Catalina Lower School in Monterey, where she taught first grade for 11 years. While there, she won the most prestigious honor the school awards a faculty member. Zoe was trained by Lucy Calkins, internationally known Director of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University, who developed state-of-the-art teaching methods used around the world. Zoë, who has been a reading teacher for 23 years, brings a passion for teaching children how to unlock the mystery of decoding. She loves to teach reading and writing in small group settings which ensures that every child learns to read in an environment where they can take academic risks as a reader and a writer.


Richard Lake (Chess)

A polymath, Renaissance Personality, and “Man for All Seasons,” Richard attended the University of Pennsylvania (sociology) and trained on the 1972 Munich US Olympics Crew team. He spent four months traveling in India climbing in the Himalayas and taking trains to all points south into Sri Lanka. He wrote his thesis on the Evolution of Western Civilization from Mesopotamia to the Renaissance and the founding of America. When he relocated to Monterey, Richard obtained his California Teaching Credential. He taught English at MPC before moving on to the Monterey County Office of Education, where he taught life science, physical science, math, algebra, English, World and U.S. history, English as a Second Language, Environmental and Outdoor Education, Computer lab skills, culinary arts, performance art, guitar, and chess in the Alternative Education Department for 27 years. Along the way, Mr. Lake served as a chef at numerous high-end Peninsula restaurants. While working with Carmel High’s Desert Spring trip for 30 years, he taught workshops in survival skills, cooking, yoga, meditation, night poetry readings, photography, and Eastern philosophy and led many desert hikes and climbs. He recorded the sound for documentary films on location in Nepal and Samoa. Subsequent to his retirement from the County, Mr. Lake has taught gardening and cooking at Junipero Serra School, as well as a popular chess class for Omni Learning Center.


Susan Smith (Strokes of Genius – Creative Art)

Susan Smith is passionate about two things: children and art. Her work in the art world has inspired thousands of people in museum exhibitions, public and private schools, outreach programs, art docent groups, and private art classes. She is best known for creating inspiring adventures in art using the links between visual art, cultural anthropology, and art history to help students make real-world connections through art and interdisciplinary study. With over 40 years of experience, she has taught students of all ages at Santa Catalina School, the Washington Union and Monterey Peninsula unified school districts, as well as the Monterey Museum of Art, where she developed a multicultural curriculum and directed school site visits for the Museum on Wheels which served 10,000 students annually in four Central Coast counties. A member of InSEA and the NAEA, she has presented at national and international art conferences and published several articles in art education journals. A practicing artist, educator, program director, and consultant Susan earned her B.S. in art education and art history from Southern Connecticut University with advanced work in curriculum, instruction, and administration.



As a master of sewing with a background in education, Sarah brings a unique blend of expertise and enthusiasm to teaching sewing to children. Graduating from Campbell University and the University of Rochester with degrees in Psychology and Nursing, Sarah has honed a deep understanding of both the technical and creative aspects of sewing.  She is passionate about inspiring young minds to explore their artistic abilities while mastering practical skills. At Omni Learning Center, Sarah looks forward to nurturing a new generation of creative talents, using a hands-on approach that makes learning both fun and impactful.