MEET OUR TEACHING TEAM
At the Berkeley Turkish School we are fortunate to have a passionate and experienced local teaching team that are actively involved in designing and strengthening our curriculum as the needs of our community evolve.
Gülten is from Ankara, Turkey where she lived her entire life until moving to the Bay Area 24 years ago. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Media (Radio & TV) from Gazi University in Ankara. Subsequently, she was trained in AutoCAD as a structural designer-draftsperson and worked for various engineering and construction companies in Turkey. She continued in that profession with engineering firms in San Francisco and the East Bay.
While always loving and connecting with children, when her nephew was born in 2010 in El Cerrito, Gülten became immersed in caring and working with infants and preschoolers. Spurned by this experience, Gülten received Certificates of Achievement and of Accomplishment in Early Childhood Education in both the Basic and Associate Teacher programs at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill in August 2013. Gülten's inspiration is drawn from the world-renowed educators and preschools of Reggio Emilia in Italy, and others from around the U.S. and the world who are also influenced by the Reggio Emilia approach to Early Chilhood Education.
She now works as a substitute preschool teacher at several Berkeley, Albany, Lafayette and El Cerrito preschools. She has a high-energy personality and communicates very effectively and responsively with children from diverse populations.
For relaxation, Gülten enjoys photography, gardening, cooking, traveling and cross-country skiing. Frequently, she can be found alongside her husband remodeling their 100-year old Albany house
Elif is from Istanbul, Turkey and is volunteering her time as a teacher aid for the Elma Classroom. She holds a fashion design degree from Refia Ovuc Institute Fashion School. Before joining the BTS community, Elif worked as a fashion design assistant and collection customer representative at a Textile Company in Turkey.
Hande started her career in 2009 as the Teacher of Turkish Language and Literature in a high school in Turkey. She was teaching high school students aged between 14 and 17, developing and evaluating examinations and participating in the material development and testing sessions. After two years, in 2011, she started working as an Instructor of Turkish Language (Turkish for Foreigners) in Istanbul University. In this position, she was teaching the Turkish to exchange students from all over the world including Erasmus Program, co-authoring and proofreading the textbook Istanbul, supervising city tours aimed at introducing and orientating students to Istanbul as well as to Turkish culture. In 2013, she started working in Zonguldak Bulent Ecevit University; and taught Turkish Language and Literature to undergraduate students both in-class and online. She also has experience teaching the Turkish to exchange students.
Hande holds a Master’s degree in Teaching Turkish Language and Literature from Istanbul University. Also, she holds a Bachelor’s degree in Turkish Language and Literature from the same university. Currently, she is a candidate for a Ph.D. degree in Turkish Language and Literature.
Hande is a Turkish expert with several books and publications. She has more than six years of experience in teaching, material development, testing, publishing in Turkish. Having the experience of working in schools at different levels, she has the know-how regarding how to educate and how to test any level of students.
Gulten Hanim comes to us with over 35 years of professional primary school education experience. After graduating from Anadolu University, Eskişehir, Turkey in Primary School Teacher Vocational Education, she practiced her career as a primary school teacher in many cities in Turkey including: Agri, Konya, Eskisehir, and lastly in Istanbul. Gulten Hanim has one daughter and two beautiful grand-daughters living in Berkeley, CA.
In her spare time, she loves jogging, and playing the piano.
We are very excited to have her join our BTS teaching team.
Licensed Civil Engineer & K-12 Teacher-in-training
Pelin was born and raised in Ankara, Turkey. She first came to the U.S. in 2003 to pursue graduate studies in civil engineering. She and her husband moved to Bakersfield, California and Pelin progressed in her civil engineering career both in the private sector and the public service. She was an engineer at County of Kern between 2008 and 2014. Their daughter was born in Bakersfield, California in 2011. Bektur family then relocated to the S.F. Bay Area in 2014.
Pelin has been volunteering at her daughter’s elementary school recently, and realized that she really enjoys teaching, and decided to become a teacher. Meeting and joining the Berkeley Turkish School Family and becoming a Teacher Aide for the Magnolia class is the next exciting milestone in Pelin's new endevour in the teaching path.
Pelin will continue to learn, teach and give back to the community of families and teachers in the Bay Area, and she is especially excited to join the Turkish American community in Berkeley, California.
Fatoş Arabacıoğlu was born in North Cyprus and started playing piano at the age of nine. Two years later Fatosh was accepted into Bayrak Radio Television Corporation’s (BRTK) Children Choir and Orchestra where she performed weekly on television and radio. Inspired by Cypriot Folk Music, Fatosh began playing accordion, and for the last 20 years she has been traveling Europe and America representing Cypriot Folk Music at international cultural festivals.
After studying violin performance at Eastern Mediterranean University in Cyprus, Fatosh moved to Tucson, AZ to continue her studies at the University of Arizona. In 2012, Fatosh completed her degree in music performance for flute at Middlesex University in London with a focus on Suziki Method early childhood music education. During this time, Fatosh studied with artists from John Hopkins University - Peabody Institute, Hacettepe University, Royal Academy of Music, Université Paris Sorbonne - Paris IV, and the Royal College of Music.
In 2014, Fatosh founded the band Turkoise in Washington, DC, performing a mix of contemporary and traditional Turkish music. She has also taught flute, violin and chorus at a private primary school in Virgina and Dr. Fazil Kucuk Turkish School in London.
Today, Fatosh teaches music at her private studio, and lives with her husband, baby boy, and their maltese Kopuk in their Berkeley home.
Mehmet was born in Ankara. He studied civil engineering in Middle East Technical University and then came to the US to earn a PhD degree at Penn State University. After completing his PhD, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher and since August 2017, he has been working in a catastrophe risk modeling company in Oakland as an earthquake engineering expert.
Despite a highly technical engineering education, Mehmet has always been an outdoor and outgoing person. Mehmet likes running, skiing and cycling. He has completed 3 ultra-marathons, 6 full marathons and many half-marathons. He was a licensed orienteering athlete and trainer when he was in Turkey. He served as track and field, and orienteering coach for children aged 8 to 16 years old in several high schools such as TED Ankara College High School, METU College and summer camps in Turkey.
Mehmet has been involved in several folk dance groups for the last 10 years. In 2012, he joined Penn State Turquoise Folk Dance group where he performed dances representing different regions of Turkey including Ankara, Ege (Harmandali), Trakya, Artvin, Trabzon, and Bitlis. He served as a folk dance instructor from 2015 to 2017 and taught dances to many Penn State students from different nationalities. Mehmet’s dance group performed in big East Coast festivals such as Washington DC Turkish Festival, Philadelphia Penn Museum International Days, Penn State Turkish Republic Day Celebrations and many local events. We are very excited to have Mehmet Bey as our Folklore Dance Instructor at the Berkeley Turkish School.
Sema Altan brings to our school over 30 years of diverse education experience. After retiring as a math teacher in Izmir, Turkey, Sema continues to spend her time volunteering at the Izmir Ataturk Community Library teaching mathematics for the blind and visually impaired. Along side of being a passionate educator, she is an active environmental community organizer and is the founder of one of the first community gardens in Izmir, Balcova Ekoljik Komsu Bahcesi.
Sema’s passion for mathematics, environmental justice and experience as a professional floral designer was the inspiration behind her teachings at BTS for the Fall 2017 semester.
She is a mother of two children, and grandmother to three girls.
Taliha was born in Istanbul and grew up in Bursa. She studied at Bogazici University where she obtained a BS in Molecular Biology & Genetics and a MS in Biomedical Engineering.
She moved to Puerto Rico in 2011. Taliha completed her Ph.D. degree at the Universidad Central del Caribe in 2015 where her doctoral dissertation was awarded summa cum laude. As an expert in electron microscopy, she developed and implemented innovative approaches to brain sectioning. She identified an optimal solution to serial-sectioning by finding the narrowest possible way to trim. As a result, lab scientists have implemented her new technique in their research. This proved to be the most accurate, cost efficient and expeditious way to reconstruct 3D models.
Taliha has passion for education. She believes in the growth mindset approach as a teaching strategy where students focus on improvement instead of worrying about how smart they are. With effort, it is true that anything can be achieved. Focusing on the process rather than the result helps students to grow and evolve. They work harder to learn more. As a result, they become more intelligent through the increase of synaptic connections in their brains.
Taliha is committed to improving scientific education at all levels. She is enjoying her role as volunteer Science Teacher at the Berkeley Turkish School. She is proud to be part of this effort to preserve the rich traditions of Turkish culture and language. Currently, she is seeking her next career step in Biological Sciences.
Doctorate student of USF, School of Education.
Didem has just finished her master program in TESOL and worked as a graduate assistant in the Center for International Education at Salem State University. Her undergraduate degree is on Foreign Language Education, Middle East Technical University, Ankara. Before coming to the US, she taught English to young learners in different parts of Turkey for 9 years. She serves as international coordinator of Pax Populi, a non-profit organization which aims to teach English to Afghan students in online environment.
Didem was the volunteer teacher for Group 2 during Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 semesters.
VOLUNTEER TEACHER AIDES
We are grateful to our volunteer teacher aids who assist our teachers in and out of the classroom.