Head of School
Peter Reinke joins St. James' from the K-12 Buckley School, where he served as Assistant Head, leading teacher recruitment & retention and the curricular program. Through his work at Buckley, Peter was also appointed to serve on the Board of Standards for the California Association of Independent Schools, the accrediting body for California’s 400 independent schools.
Prior to his tenure at Buckley, Peter spent almost twenty years at the Head-Royce School in the Bay Area, the oldest K-12 institution in the western United States. At Head-Royce he played a variety of roles, including serving 6-12 History Department Chair and teaching middle and upper school History. While at Head-Royce, Peter and a group of trustees, faculty, students and alumni founded the K-5 Vincent Academy, an award winning charter school in the heart of one of Oakland’s most disenfranchised neighborhoods. Peter was also a founding trustee of the K-8 San Francisco Friends School, one of the only Quaker institutions in CAIS.
Peter thoroughly enjoys public policy; he was an assistant to the late United States Senator John Chafee of Rhode Island and was a public commissioner of the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS). He also is a past vice-president of Oakland’s municipal ethics commission and he spent over a decade on the California board of Common Cause, a national organization championing transparency and ethics in government.
A fifth generation Episcopalian, Peter has served in a variety of leadership roles at the parish level including senior warden, vestry clerk, stewardship committee chair and Lay Eucharistic minister. Additionally, he was a trustee for the Episcopal Diocese of California’s School for Deacons, and board chair of Clausen House, an Episcopal agency which provides essential services for almost 200 developmentally disabled adults. Peter is very proud of his brother Steven, a longtime resident of Clausen.
Peter grew up on a farm in New England, and has always enjoyed animals, and two rescues make their home with him, Toby, a 50 pound hound mix and Maisha, a cantankerous calico-tabby.
Assistant Head of School
Elizabeth Desmarais joined the administrative team at St. James’ Episcopal School in July 2016. A native of Rhode Island, Elizabeth holds a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from Rhode Island College and an master’s in administration from Pepperdine University.
Elizabeth spent the eight years prior to her arrival at St. James’ at Episcopal Collegiate School in Little Rock, Ark., where she was a key member of the lower school’s implementation team. In that role, Elizabeth was instrumental in developing and implementing the lower school curriculum. Throughout her tenure, she held a number of roles including head of lower school, director of studies, chair of accreditation, and math specialist.
Elizabeth has a long history of working in independent schools in Southern California. She was the assistant head of school at the Westerly School in Long Beach, as well as its founding middle school head. Additionally, she taught middle school English, humanities, and pre-algebra. She also served as the assistant administrator and 3rd-grade teacher at the Village School in Pacific Palisades.
Elizabeth is honored and excited to be a part of the St. James’ family.
Director of Admission
Joan Hester is in her second stint at St. James' Episcopal School as Director of Admission after leaving in 2016 to work as Admission Director at Seoul Foreign School in Korea. Joan comes to St. James' with over 20 years experience in education. Before her first tenure at St. James' from 2012-2016, Joan worked Associate Director of Admission at St. Margaret's Episcopal School in San Juan Capistrano, California. Prior to that she taught fourth grade and Kindergarten at the Viewpoint School in Calabasas, California. Joan began her career as a music teacher in New York City at the Cathedral School of St. John the Divine. In her off hours, Joan spends time with her husband, Jeff and labradoodle, Lucy. Avid hikers and backpackers, Joan and her husband can often be found hiking trails throughout Southern California and beyond.
Pat Joseph Thomas, Ph.D.
Director of Preschool & Civic Engagement
Pat joined the St. James’ Episcopal School administrative team in July 2016 with over 30 years experience in early childhood education. As a classroom teacher, Pat facilitated children and their families in developing meaningful relationships which support/enhance positive school engagements. A tenure in independent schools, as a teacher and supervisor, have enhanced Pat’s knowledge of and respect for diverse learning communities. As a life-long learner, Pat’s education spans over the course of her teaching career with a BA in human development from Pacific Oaks College, MS in child/family counseling from Springfield College, and PhD in child/family studies from CGI/Branston University.
Most recently, Pat has worked as a consultant, helping parents navigate their search for educational programs and learning environments. As a child development specialist, she has been a resource for families in understanding the complexities in finding the “right fit” and comfortable balance between home, school, and community.
I am delighted to be a part of the Saint James’ community and eager to share my knowledge of creative programs, which enhance curiosity, encourage explorations, embrace differences, and engage in joyful learning experiences for all ages.
The Rev. Canon Aidan Koh
Father Aidan Koh has been working at St. James’ Episcopal School since September 1991 after his deacon’s ordination that June by the Rt. Rev. Frederick H. Borsch, Bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles. Prior to arriving at St. James’, Aidan was fortunate to have attended seminaries in Claremont, California, and the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California. He attended both of these seminaries after having graduated from Hankook Theological Seminary, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. Born in Korea to a family deeply rooted in the Anglican faith, Aidan started his ministry during his early high school years, teaching Sunday school children and leading youth groups. Teaching at a high school and working as a member of the administrative team at a university in Korea added to his experiences in academia.