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About our School

Our Mission


At Sankofa United Elementary School all students engage in a rigorous academic program, enriched with music and art. We meet students where they are and position them to excel. Through the development of social-emotional skills, students learn to be in positive, respectful relationships that celebrate our similarities and our differences. We are creating a learning environment that is welcoming and reflective of all students’ and families’ abilities, cultures, and identities.



Our Vision


The vision of Sankofa United Elementary School is to nurture well-rounded people who are advocates for themselves and their learning. The Sankofa United community reflects the diversity of Oakland. Our students understand they are connected to and feel responsible for their community, and they know they are part of something bigger than themselves.

School Leadership Team

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Dennis Guikema


Dennis Guikema began serving children and families in Oakland Unified School District in 1994. His career in teaching and school leadership spans all levels, TK through 12th grade. After taking a year’s sabbatical and visiting 14 countries on 5 continents, he became principal of Kaiser Elementary in 2016. In 2019-20 he led the design process for the merging of Kaiser and Sankofa Elementary Schools. Mr. Guikema is the founding principal of Sankofa United Elementary School.
Mr. Guikema believes that every child deserves a world class education. He is a fierce advocate for racial and social justice and equity in our schools and community. Since 1994 he has lived within walking distance of Sankofa United Elementary and is deeply committed to our community. Mr. Guikema lives with his wife and daughter. Family time, cooking, cycling, running, and connecting with nature are all essential to Mr. Guikema.
Mr. Guikema holds a BA in English from the University of Michigan and earned his teaching credential from CSU East Bay and administrative credential from UC Irvine

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Erica Macklin
Community School Manager

Erica Macklin has worked with students and families for over a decade with the Oakland Unified School District. Throughout her career she has held many roles in leadership from a paraeducator to Resources Specialist. She has been on the Sankofa campus since 2014 as an advocate for students, families, and the community at large. 

As the Sankofa United Community School Manager, her role is critical in integrating the partnership work of the school with its academic mission. Erica serves as a high-level administrator by managing, leading, and coordinating the community work to support school and student needs. This work is accomplished by conducting ongoing needs assessments to provide proper alignment with school, student and family core values. Mrs. Macklin serves with a strong equity lens and strives for equality in education for all students. 

Erica earned a bachelorś degree from Holy Names in Oakland, California and is a wife and mother of two daughters.

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Velisa Woods, Ed.S
Teacher on Special Assignment

Ms. Woods is a native of Memphis, TN. She brings to Sankofa United 10 years of teaching experience in elementary and high school grades. Velisa has taught 2nd, 5th, and 9-11th grade English and Broadcast Journalism.


She is a graduate of Jackson State University in Jackson, MS and the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). Ms. Woods has a Bachelor and Master's degree (B.S & M.S) in Elementary Education and a Specialist degree (Ed.S) in Educational Leadership.


She enjoys traveling and hip hop concerts. Ms. Woods is the mother of two adult children, Alexandria and Aaron.

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Derrick Wesby
After School Program Coordinator

Derrick Wesby, affectionately known as ¨Mr. D",  is the Bay Area Community Resources After School Program Coordinator.


Derrick began his career with BACR in 2006 on the Sankofa campus as an instructor.  Derrick has over 15 years experience within the education and social justice realm and has held titles such as  program assistant, intervention specialist, and resource specialist.   Derrick supports students, families and staff through programs that not only enrich student academic learning but also support student social emotional growth. 


Derrick’s mission is to provide a safe space for youth, support student agency, and advocate for the Sankofa United community. 


Derrick has received many awards and accolades including the 2019 Superintendent Recognition Award. Derrick is a proud father and community member who is committed to social change in the community.

About our PTA

Meeting the needs of all our students

The Sankofa United PTA was officially founded in 2020, after the merger of Sankofa Academy and Kaiser Elementary. Our mission is to meet the needs of all students at the school. In this extraordinary year, we have focused on building community and supporting the students most affected by the pandemic and distance learning.

PTA Leadership


Nadia Rodriguez


Nadia is the mom of a first grader and a younger future Sankofa United student. She is excited to be a part of this dynamic community and to continue to build on the past successes of the Sankofa United PTA.

Image by Ronan Furuta

Jay Castle

Vice President

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Tamika Foster


Tamika is a parent of a Sankofa United 3rd grader and has worked for OUSD for 4 years. Her favorite school activities are dance parties and art.

Image by Freddie Collins

Anne Mills


Image by Rich Hay

Nicci Abram

Membership Chair

PTA Executive Board

Principal Dennis Guikema
Amy Haruyama - First Grade Teacher

PTA Committees


Community Building

We create opportunities for Sankofa United families to build an inclusive and respectful community together while having fun and building trust.


Campus Beautification

As a proud North Oakland neighbor, we're committed to caring for our school's campus. This group collaborates to create opportunities for families to care for, improve and enjoy our campus.

Image by Cedric Letsch

Nadia Rodriguez


Nadia is the parent of a 1st grader. This is her first year as president. 

Image by Ronan Furuta

Jay Castle

Vice President

Jay is a Sankofa United parent.

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Tamika Foster


Tamika is a parent of a Sankofa United 3rd grader and has worked for OUSD for 4 years. Her favorite school activities are dance parties and art.

Image by Scott Gummerson
Meeting Minutes

Our meetings are open to all members of the Sankofa United community! We encourage all families to join the PTA and have an active voice in everything we do to support the school. The minutes (notes) from all our meetings can be found here.

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