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.
Fatoş Arabacıoğlu - Music Teacher for all Groups
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.
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.
Elif Kolay- Volunteer Teacher Aide
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.
Mehmet Ünal- Folk Dance Instructor
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- Volunteer Teacher
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 professionalfloral 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.
Didem Ekici- Volunteer Teacher
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.
Taliha Pasaoglu, Ph.D. Neuroscience - Volunteer Science Teacher for all groups
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.
Ayşegül Gökmener Ateş
Ayşegül Gökmener Ateş has finished Early Education program at Marmara Univeristy in Istanbul. She pursued education with a master's degree from yeditepe University on Educational Leadership and Management and Human Resources at HKU. Her dissertation is on transcript analysis.
While working as a teacher at the Ministry of Education for over 10 years, she coordinated projects such as "Istanbul Dersi", "Istanbul Avrupa Kultur Baskenti", "Egitime Yolculu", "Lise denkligi" in Istanbul.
Aysegul also has a three-year leadership experience as a school principle. She took active roles in the foundation of Tarabya British School besides coordinating many social responsibility projects in Istanbul.
Aysegul believes that the bliss of learning from and with the children is one of the assets of being a teacher. She is currently on maternity leave.
Sibel Debruyn- Teacher
Sibel was born and raised in Istanbul. She studied at Istanbul Technical University, and obtained her BS degree in Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering. Since then she has been learning and teaching. Starting at 9th grade she tutored other students in mathematics and physics. She extended her teaching and understanding of children's behavioral and intellectual development through her personal experience with her own son who is 25 years old now.
Sibel worked for national and international companies for years. When her family moved to England for a year due to a job assignment she studied fashion design. She worked as a substitute teacher in the K-12 system in Illinois for nearly three-years, mostly in the “Special Education” department with mentally disabled children . She developed great interest in the methods that have been designed for these children. Applied teaching techniques and their concrete results challenged her to move forward into early childhood education. When she moved to California, she obtained her internationally recognized Montessori Teacher diploma in Mountain View in 2011 and worked for pre-schools in different positions such as Site Director and Lead Teacher.
Since Sibel is a silversmith and self-taught enamellist, she is very much involved in fact based art activities as well. She has taught arts classroom as a part of enrichment program for different age groups and helped the children how to see objects, how to blend colors, and encouraged them to expand their creativity and small motor skills.
She has also established and maintained Kindergarten programs in different schools including expanded Montessori jobs, social programs, cooking classes, and advanced reading program. Sibel enjoys sharing her perspective about Montessori early childhood education, revolving around her passion and experience.
Sibel taught Fall 2015 Semester as the group 3 teacher, Spring 2017 Semester as the group 4 teacher.
Berkeley Turkish School is a secular 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization and is not associated with any other non profit or political movement.