Faculty & Staff Listing

Baba Jahi Awakoaiye

School Staff
Mama Mildred Rose
Baba Adafo El-Mueed
Mama Kelly Kouyate
Mama Pamela Williams
Baba Quinton Sankofa

Preschool Teachers
Mama Kelly Kouyate
(Preschool Director)
Mama Lisa Smith
Mama Aisha Stephens

Elementary Teachers
Baba Ajamu Stewart (4th/5th)
Mama Tyanne Moore (3rd)
Mama Kara Cotton (2nd)
Maba Darnisha Wright (1st)
Baba Ambessa Cantave (K)

Middle School Teachers
Baba Abubakar Omari
(MS Coordinator)
Social Studies/Boy's Health

Baba Ajamu Stewart
Pre-Algebra/6th Math
Baba Jahi Awakoaiye
Advanced Math, Computer Technology, Humanities, Science
Baba Damu Sudi Ali
Jazz Band
Mama Barbara Hunter
Jazz Band
Baba Sidney Coulter
Boot Dance

School Wide
Baba Obafemi Origunwa
Baba Eugene Hamilton
Mama Taiwo Seitu-Kujichagulia
Baba Kele Nitoto

Faculty and Staff

Ile Omode is blessed with an amazing and talented group. Our faculty and staff are commited to our students' development. They are commited educators and are in many cases leaders within the broader community.

Ile Omode Staff

Director, Baba Jahi Awakoaiye
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Baba Jahi

Instructing a middle school class.

Jahi Awakoaiye was born and raised by his mother in Oakland, California, and has served as the director since 2003. He earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering at San Diego State University, and minored in Africana Studies and Economics, while working fulltime. At SDSU, he was the president of the African Student Union, served on the student council, wrote for the school’s daily newspaper, and published a city-wide magazine, the “Alarm”, for 3 years. In recognition of his community efforts he received the National Society of Black Engineers, “National Community Leadership” award. He was honored by his selection to speak at the school's Black Baccalaureate.

After graduating from SDSU in 1991, Jahi accepted a position with Intel Corporation, and worked there for ten years. He held design responsibilities for the Pentium processor, coded one of the first media processor video players for the PC, and received numerous awards for his work. As a software developer and manager, he led efforts that resulted in his code appearing in products from Symantec and Macromedia. While at Intel he attended school fulltime, and earned an M.S. in Computer Engineering from Santa Clara University. He also co-founded Intel's first employee group, NIA-e (Network of Intel African Employees), and instituted the first student "Shadow Day".

While at Intel he created the "High School Engineering Program" at Castlemont, and began teaching fulltime at Laney College, earning tenure, and serving as the Department Chairperson of the Computer Systems department. At Laney, he taught Java and C++ programming, web page design and other courses; he also created several new degrees and certificates programs. After leaving Intel, he continued to work at Laney, until the call of supporting and growing Ile Omode proved much stronger than parttime participation would allow; although he served as an adjunct faculty member at Holy Names University in Oakland, teaching computer programming.

In the evenings Jahi can often be seen participating in youth sports, and has volunteered with youth track, softball, and soccer, as well as coaching football for the Oakland Dynamites, a team he played for while growing up in Oakland, and serving as assistant coach for CA Track Club.

He and his wife own two businesses, CalPremiere, Inc., a realty and mortgage company, and Awakoaiye Properties, a property investment firm. Their family strongly believes in the need to develop, sustain, and support enterprise in our community. He lives in Oakland with his wife, Sia, whom he met while at SDSU. The couple has been together for nearly 30 years, and they have three children, Bakare, KaRa, and Khukheper, each of whom attended Ile Omode until graduation.

He serves on the Council of Elders at Wo’se Community Church, and has taught courses in the Medu Neter (Egyptian Hieroglyphics), Rhythms of Nature, 2000 Seasons, and others. While at Ile Omode he has authored several books addressing critical social studies lessons, including: "Africans in Americas", "Black Power Movement", "Kemet: The First Civilization", and "Africans Fight Against Slavery" (see excerpts of some of the books).

Jahi believes that his life has prepared him for this unique position, and he says that Ile Omode is “my life’s work, and my calling”.


  • Middle school humanities (English)
  • Middle school science
  • Upper grade math, including Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2
  • Computer Technology
  • Various middle school electives, including Journalism, Drafting, and Critical Thinking

Middle School Staff

Baba Jahi

Baba Abubakar Omari.

Social Studies:
Baba Abubakar Omari

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Abubakar Adisa Omari, began teaching over twenty years ago, beginning at Ile Omode in 1996. Serving as a middle school teacher and coordinator, Baba Abubakar teaches several subjects including social studies and boy's health. He teaches 6th grade Ancient Civilization, 7th grade Medieval Period, and 8th grade United States History.

Growing up in Oakland, Baba Abubakar spent several years training in martial arts, eventually earning a Black Belt in 1988. Additionally, Baba Abubakar created and currently operates three businesses ranging from martial arts training to professional massage.

As a father of ten children, Baba Abubakar hopes to serve as a pivotal element in the lives of our children. Baba Abubakar strives to be a positive example for young men, making them productive members and leaders of a strong Black nation.


  • Middle school social studies
  • Middle school boy's health class
  • Upper elementary mathematics
  • Afterschool program

Elementary School Staff

Baba Ajamu

Baba Ajamu.

Primary Grade Teacher:
Baba Ajamu Stewart

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Dr. Ajamu Stewart graduated from San Francisco State University (SFSU) in 1981 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Microbiology. While still an undergraduate at SFSU, Baba Ajamu founded the Black Children’s Learning Laboratory (BCLL), an educational enrichment program that provided activities in Science, Math, and African American History and Culture. The goal of BCLL was to encourage African American students to pursue careers in science and engineering tempered with a commitment to the betterment of their community. When Baba Ajamu joined Wo’se Community Church in 1982, BCLL became the first children’s educational enrichment program provided by the church.

Baba Ajamu held positions as Disease Control Investigator and Environmental Health Specialist while working for the City and County of San Francisco for twenty five years (1983-2009). During the same period (1990-2003), he also worked as Group Counselor at Alameda County Juvenile Hall for thirteen years. He earned a Master of Public Administration Degree from California State University, East Bay in 1990.

In preparation for a second career, Baba Ajamu earned his Doctor of Education degree from the University of San Francisco in 2008. He began his teaching career as a Science teacher at Lafayette Elementary School in Oakland California. He has also taught Biology, Biotechnology and Environmental Science at Oakland Technical High School.

Baba Ajamu has two daughters, and his youngest daughter, Ayoka, is one of the first students to graduate from Ile Omode. Having previously taught science at Ile Omode as a volunteer, Baba Ajamu returned to Ile Omode to teach 4th and 5th grade in 2014. He considers Ile Omode home and loves working with his students.


  • Primary teacher for 4th/5th grade
  • Pre-Algebra instruction
  • Afterschool instructor

Mama Tyanne

Mama Tyanne.

Primary Grade Teacher:
Mama Tyanne Moore

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Mama Tyanne hails from Los Angeles ; she is the product of a loving family of five. She attended and graduated from the University of California at San Diego , where she majored in Psychology with a minor in Political Science.

Mama Tyanne began teaching at Ile Omode in 2007; initially as a teacher's assistant for 3rd grade history and math, and continued teaching primary elementary grades. She is an enthusiatic arts and crafts hobbyist and she brings her love of crafts to her classroom as well as the greater Ile Omode community.

Mama Tyanne is particularly famous for her contributions to Ile Omode Family Nights (generally on Friday's and during school session breaks) where the children and their families come to play various games -- Wii and assorted board games -- and enjoy, music, movies and, of course, food; and where students can experience positive interaction between their teachers, family members and friends.

Mama Tyanne believes the success of Ile Omode grows out of its committment to family and culture. She resides in Oakland with her husband Baba Jeffery -- a longtime member of Wose -- and her son Nkosi, an Ile Omode student.


  • Primary teacher for 3rd grade
  • Afterschool instructor

Mama Kara

Mama Kara.

Primary Grade Teacher:
Mama Kara Cotton

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Mama Kara was born and raised in the Bay Area. She is the daughter of two loving parents and the youngest of her siblings. She is a learning practicitioner of Isese, the traditional spiritual tradition of the Yoruba people. She attended Bishop O Dowd High school and went on to graduate from the historic Howard University.

During her time at Howard, she was the co-founder and co-president of the Howard University's Community Development Association as well as the Undergraduate Lab supervisor in the archaeology research laboratory. She presented at symposiums and conferences such as the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilization (ASCAC) and worked on three archeological collections, one of which was the Buffalo Soliders project where she participated in an excavation in the Gila National Forest. Her most important time during college was under the direction of Howard's Africana Studies professors and her relationship with Washington D.C.'s greater African-centered community. She learned to read and write MDW NTR (hieroglyphics) and traveled to Ghana and Nigeria.

She was blessed with the intellectual and political foundation that equipped her to seek out institutions who were committed to African liberation. In the summer of 2013, Kara volunteered at Ile Omode, assisting Baba Abubakar with the summer program. She had found her calling and was committed to joining the Ile Omode family as a teacher upon her graduation.

Today, Mama Kara is the primary 2nd grade teacher and is committed to the work that needs to be done to activiate the Ase of our children and maximize their power so that they can continue on the mission to liberate our people.


  • Primary teacher for 2nd grade
  • Afterschool instructor

Mama Darnisha

Mama Darnisha.

Primary Grade Teacher:
Mama Darnisha Wright

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Mama Darnisha is a married mother of two adult sons. In her recreational time, she enjoys gardening, photography, reading, cooking and baking. She hold a Bachelors Degree in Liberal Studies with an emphasis on Social Studies and a minor degree in Black Studies from San Francisco State University, and completed a masters’ degree in Elementary Education at Grand Canyon University. Although she didn't begin her professional career in teaching, she has felt that education has always been her passion.

Previously, she served the City and County of San Francisco in a management capacity for nearly 20 years. Her work experience includes supervising staff, legal and legislative research, grant writing, construction project management, and various special projects as assigned by the agency director(s) and mayors. Mama Darnisha has extensive background in Emergency Management and Emergency Communications management and training. With the 911 Project / Emergency Communications Department (now Department of Emergency Management (DEM)), she had the opportunity to further refine her project management and organizational skills. Her most recent management position was that of Deputy Director of the San Francisco Economic Opportunity Council. In her short time there she was able to help facilitate successful summer programming utilizing 1 million dollars in Obama stimulus funds while helping to stabilize the agency which had previously been in grave jeopardy of loosing funding and its Federal designation as a Community Action Agency when she arrived.

She is a motivated individual with excellent organization skills, and is an outstanding communicator and facilitator. She considers her interpersonal skills to be one of her strongest assets. In addition to her professional work experience, she has worked extensively with community and volunteer organizations on a wide range of projects and issues, across a variety of roles and capacities. She has enjoyed contributing to projects that benefit young people and her community. She enjoys having the opportunity and resources to give back to those most in need. While giving back, she has enjoyed the experience of helping others, in the same way she have been assisted many time in her own life. She was taught by her great-grandmother early in life that “if you wish to receive, you must first be willing to give freely from your heart”. She has tried to live her personal and professional life with this primary philosophy in mind.


  • Primary teacher for 1st grade
  • Afterschool instructor

Baba Ambessa

Baba Ambessa.

Primary Grade Teacher:
Baba Ambessa Cantave

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Baba Ambessa is an educator of 12 years and began his teaching career at Ile Omode in 2003, as a preschool teacher. After leaving in 2005, he went on to teach and work with students at Richmond High School, Galileo High School and provided direct services for youth at Leadership Excellence, Alliance for Climate Education. Ambessa also co-founded Grind for the Green where he hired High School Students to produce environmental awareness raising hip-hop events.

In his spare time Ambessa makes hip-hop music, and provides astrological consultations. He is also a social media and online media marketing professional and work with clients in New York, Atlanta and the Bay Area. Ambessa attended York College in Jamaica, New York and is a father and number one fan of his daughter Aissaade Negus.


  • Primary teacher for Kindergarten
  • Afterschool instructor
Mama Jasiri Preschool Staff

Mama Lisa

Mama Lisa.

Preschool Lead Teacher:
Mama Lisa Smith

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Mama Lisa, a California native, was raised in Oakland and graduated from Oakland Technical High School. She worked for the County of Alameda in the Personnel Department and then in the Mental Health Department for a total of seven years. She then worked at a bank in San Francisco for twelve years, but as the twelve years came to a close, she felt her job becoming more and more unfulfilling.

For years Mama Lisa organized craft projects for her nieces and nephews to complete at family holiday dinners. These fulfilling family experiences led her to consider a career in child care. Her family and friends thought she would make a wonderful teacher so she quit her job and went to school full time at Merritt College, earning her AA in Child Development.

Mama Lisa's first job after graduating was as a substitute caregiver for infants. Admittedly, her first thought was, "you've got to be kidding me. I'm ready to work with toddlers and preschoolers. The last baby I took care of was my fifteen year old nephew". On her first day working with the infants, she channeled her mother. She sang plenty of songs and had many conversations about nothing, just the kinds of conversations babies like most.

While Lisa was working as a substitute teacher, she learned about an open preschool teaching position at Ile Omode. Once she learned that the school was African centered and closely related to the Wose Community Church, Mama Lisa became interested. When Lisa found the job posting, confirming that Ile Omode was a school dedicated to African American children in Oakland, she was more than excited and eager to become a part of the community.

Mama Lisa is still amazed that she works at Ile Omode. She is extremely thankful that she has experienced the fruits of the parable, "ask and you shall receive". Working at a school where the children are "family" and the staff members are supportive is exactly the kind of career Mama Lisa was looking for. She calls the children her "little people" and they are expected to act as people, not babies. Ile Omode expects the best of their children, and Mama Lisa wants to give her little people the foundation they need to not only meet but exceed the expectations of the teachers at Ile Omode. (written by Zenzile Riddick, class of 2011)


  • Primary teacher for preschool

School Wide

Baba Eugene

Baba Eugene pictured with his wife, Keishna.

Physical Fitness:
Baba Eugene Hamilton

Baba Eugene Hamilton was born and raised in Oakland, Ca. He is the youngest of five siblings and is a married father to five amazing children. Eugene has owned and operated a 24 hour daycare in Oakland, Ca for over 15 years and has been a coach and mentor throughout the bayarea for the greater part of 17 years.

Baba Eugene is passionate about improving the lives of our youth by focusing on their mental and physical wellness. He believes that through sports and physical education children can be taught to access an inner strength that helps build character, self discipline and an awareness of self that transcends into their daily lives. Ultimately, Baba Eugene's goal is to help children become mentally and physically self empowered adults.

He holds a BA in Physical Education Sports Management and has over 10 years of experience coaching for Oakland East Bay Regional Parks Association. For 5 years he was an integral part of the Bishop O'Dowd coaching staff- 1 year as the junior varsity offensive coordinator (OC), 1 year as junior varsity defensive coordinator, and 3 years varsity as the quarterback coach and assistant OC. In addition, Baba Eugene has been the OC and Assistant Head Coach for The Cali Classic Allstar game and the CFO for Break The Huddle Sports which has obtained 45 scholarship offers for their players in the past two years.

Baba Eugene's oldest daughter graduated from the school in 2013, and his youngest is currently attending.


  • Physical fitness teacher for elementary
  • Physical fitness teacher for middle school

Baba Obafemi

Baba Obafemi Origunwa.

Baba Obafemi Origunwa, MA

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When I was in first grade, I attended Omowale Ujamaa Community School in Altadena, Ca. On the 1st day of school, the director, Mwalimu Hodari inspected my lunch box. "Lays potato chips. Nope. 7Up. Nope. Ham sandwich??? NOPE." I think the only thing I was allowed to keep was my fruit and graham crackers. It was the first of many adjustments I would make as a student of Omowale, which means "the child returns home."

Several years after 1st grade I began my college career at Howard University and earned a BA in Spanish from UC Berkeley. As a Spanish major, I participated in the study abroad program in Costa Rica and took advantage of the opportunity to visit Panama and Ecuador. After Cal, I earned an MA in Education with an emphasis on multicultural couseling.

My professional experience has included teaching middle school bilingual math and science, high school Spanish and elementary school conflict resolution resource teacher. More importantly, I founded and direct an arts and outdoor education program called Camp Iwalewa. Since 2001, I have used visual and performing arts and outdoor education to teach character development and sustainable culture to K-5th grade children.

I look forward to making a meaningful contribution to the Ile Omode community. One of my sons graduated from Ile Omode, and a second attends middle school. (Obafemi Origunwa, MA)


  • Spanish for middle school
  • Spanish for elementary
  • Spanish for preschool

Baba Kele

Baba Kele Nitoto.

Traditional African Drums and Creative Percussion:
Baba Kele Nitoto

Kele Nitoto is a second-generation African American percussionist. Having studied with Masters of many styles, Kele has become proficient in West African, Congolese, Afro-Cuban, Afro-Peruvian, and Afro-Haitian traditional drumming.

Since 1993 Kele has performed throughout California with such groups as the children's group S.U.D.U.A. House, award winning modern dance ensemble Dimensions Dance Theater, Haitian group Project Reconnect, The Peruvian Dance Ensemble, Congolese troupes Ballet Lisanga, and Internationally renowned Fua Dia Congo.

A co-founder the Black Dot Artist Collective, Kele has also become one of the Bay Area’s most sought after percussionists for R+B, Hip-Hop and Jazz. He has played with such Funk/R+B groups as Electric Church, Xroads, The Jua Theory, Hip-Hop/ band Hairdoo, and Jazz trio E.S.P., Funk group Soul Mechanix, and Bay Area blues legend Augusta Lee Collins. He currently plays with World Soul artist WolfHawkJaguar, Haitian Dance ensemble Elwa Movement.

Kele has taught hundreds of workshops and classes over the years with adults and children. He has taught at summer camps, spiritual and workplace retreats, and for countless ceremonies and celebrations. Through it all he continues to explore all aspects of percussive music, and what it can mean to those who hear it.


  • Drumming for middle school
  • Drumming for upper elementary


Mama Rose

One of the finest chefs in the SF-Bay Area.

Cafeteria Manager:
Mama Mildred Rose

Born in New Iberia, Louisiana, the southern transplant has called Oakland her home since 1963. Her first job cooking was in Oakland at the Pacific Bowl, a bowling alley long since closed located at 73rd and East 14th Street (now International Boulevard). Everything was going well until the owner Ester, also from New Iberia, had to leave town and needed Mildred to cover the morning cook shift. There was one problem; this southern Black woman didn’t know her way around the kitchen. The moment of truth came when one of the frequent customers came in and said he wanted his usual steak, eggs, and hash browns. She said, “I know what you want, I just don’t know how to cook it.” She uncertainly placed the steak on the grill and with determination, acumen, and a little help from the customer she prepared a delicious meal. When the steak began sizzling on the grill this began her work in food service.

Since that time she has developed herself into one of the finest cooks not featured on a cable show, and has developed a unique combination of healthy southern cuisine. Over the years her repertoire has broadened considerably, although she is still known for a making a mean pot of gumbo. Along the way she earned two degrees from Laney College, in business and nutrition, finding a thrust for learning; and starting a very successful catering business.

She has worked as a cook and chef at a number of restaurants throughout Oakland, eventually retiring from Alta Bates Hospital, as a manager in the cafeteria. She was a member of the union at the hospital and took responsibility for promoting Kwanzaa at the hospital’s cafeteria, and later became a member of Wo’se Community.

She is a mother of two, and was a frequent PTA supporter. Her role as a grandmother has shown no let down, and she is frequently seen in attendance at dance performance, track meets, as well as football and soccer games. Her spirit resonates in the meals she prepares at the school, and she is truly a godsend to Ile Omode’s community.

Mama Pam

Joined Ile Omode in 2010.

Business Manager:
Mama Pamela Williams

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As a team member of Ile Omode Mama Pam's responsibilities include working with parents to become current in tuition, planning and developing an Ile Omode Mama and Baba Organization (PTA) and Financial Development of Ile Omode program for Fundraising and Grant procurement.

Mama Pam has been in the Financial Banking Industry for more than 30 years. Her career choices have afforded her the opportunity to be in various aspects of banking to include but not limited to a Quality Control Manager for Irwin Home Equity, for more the 10 years, an Assistant Vice President for San Francisco Federal 10 years, and a Loan Servicing Manager for Provident Funding 2 years.

Mama Pam's background experience includes analyzing data, interpreting diverse and complex information making recommendations to enhance various areas by process improvements in Real Estate Loan Servicing and Asset Resolution business. She provided written evaluations of business units performance within their procedural guidelines to ensure the work flow supported all entities affected by their processes.

She also served as the coordinator for Sisters of Tomorrow, a rites of passage program, for over 14 years working with young girl’s ages 6 to 21. Mama Pam has been a member of Wo'se Community for over 20 years and is a member of its Council of Elders.


  • Middle School girl's health class

Mama Kelly

Mama Kelly

Office Manager:
Mama Kelly Kouyate

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Kelly Kouyate is the Office Manager at Ile Omode. She is the proud mother of two beautiful children and wife of Senegalese entertainer Ousseynou Kouyate.

Mama Kelly began working with children while in high school and completed her Early Childhood Education units at Merritt College. From there she has taught preschool at Aspire, Adventure Time in Berkeley and Ile Omode School. Her undergraduate degree is in Business Management with an emphasis on Human Resources from the University of Phoenix, and she’s worked within Oakland and Berkeley Unified School Districts.

Mama Kelly has danced professionally with Diamano Coura West African Dance Company since the age of 19 years old. Performing throughout California, New York, Washington DC and Senegal West Africa, and continues to dance weekly with her husband and children.


  • Serves as administrative preschool director

Baba Quinton

Baba Quinton and family

Fundraising Coordinator:
Baba Quinton Sankofa

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Quinton was born in a poor, racially segregated neighborhood on the east side of Cleveland, Ohio. A strong work ethic with a loving and supportive family helped him navigate the challenges of racism and poverty. His love of geometry and science led him to Michigan State University, where he initially studied Civil Engineering. As part of his extra-curricular experience Quinton became active in many groups, one being the Multi Racial Unity Living Experience (M.R.U.L.E.), where he co-facilitated weekly discussions on race, class, and gender issues.

During an M.R.U.L.E community-building trip to Detroit he met revered community activist Grace Lee Boggs. Quinton was so inspired by the work of Grace and the Boggs Center that, despite being a junior, he switched his major to Urban Planning. His desire was to build quality communities in solidarity with poor, marginalized, and oppressed people. After graduating from Michigan State, Quinton accepted the “Leader in Community Development” fellowship from Clark University, where he earned an M.A. in Community Development and Planning.

Determined to continue his social justice work, Quinton and his soul mate moved to Oakland: a place that has become their home away from home and the birthplace of their first child, a smart and beautiful little boy. Now, with over 10 years of community based social justice work, Quinton brings an array of skills to Ile Omode, such as community organizing, strategic planning, and *fundraising (*Quinton is a graduate of the Fundraising Academy for Communities of Color).