Staff Directory

9th Grade
  • Mike Amarillas Engineering
    Mike Amarillas

    Engineering is more than creating objects that work. To engineer is to solve problems for people. Every engineering endeavor begins with empathy, by understanding another person’s needs and developing ways to address them. Tomorrow’s problem solvers must be equipped with both technical and human skills.

    Mike Amarillas studied physics at Stanford University but couldn’t handle summer cooped up in a laboratory. He applied his varied skill set (Intramural Dodgeball Champion 2006) working as a YMCA camp counselor and became convinced his future was in teaching. After receiving his B.S. in physics he entered the Stanford Teacher Education Program to obtain a teaching credential and M.Ed. At the end of the program, he was pleased to accept a position at the same diverse public high school where he had been training. He spent the next six years teaching physics there, specializing in a version for English learners. Students in his classes built Rube Goldberg machines, launched projectiles, and contemplated our place in the universe. This is Mike’s first year bringing his passion to HTHNC.

    A North County native, Mike is excited to return home after spending the last decade in the Bay Area. When not tinkering at HTHNC, he is most often found swimming with his son, watching Netflix with his wife, or playing with his dog.
  • Carol Cabrera Humanities
    Carol Cabrera

  • Cate Challen Physics / Math
    Cate Challen
    Physics / Math

    I am an Australian native with a background in biotechnology. I have always had a passion for science, but it was the application of science that gave me the greatest satisfaction. How can these incredible inventions and creations be used to better people's lives or improve the health and well-being of the planet? So, starting my career in venture capital made perfect sense. I was responsible for evaluating new technology companies and determining investment strategies that would help ensure these creative ideas made it to market. My goal is to encourage students to see the beauty in science and maths that is all around us - from rainbows, to music, to wildlife and the stars!

    In addition to my professional focus, I am an avid traveler, adventurer and lover of the outdoors. Therefore, the opportunity to come to San Diego, a hub for innovation and a mecca for outdoor activities, was something I could not resist. In 2012 I moved here with my husband. We love to mountain bike, surf and just generally enjoy the mild San Diego climate.

    My recent move into teaching is a reflection of the incredibly high value I place on education. Both of my parents were teachers and I applied myself diligently to my doctoral studies largely based on their support and encouragement. I feel so privileged to have received a high quality education and I look forward to inspiring students to love learning as much as I do.
  • Michelle Sadrena Clark Humanities
    Michelle Sadrena Clark

    Michelle Sadrena Clark is an 11th grade US History and American Literature teacher at High Tech High North County in San Marcos, California. She earned her Master’s in Pacific International Affairs, with a career concentration in International Development and a regional specialization in Latin America at the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, University of California, San Diego. Prior to entering graduate school, Michelle lived in Bisai, Japan for two years, teaching English and American culture at public junior high schools while engaging in performance dance and theater. Michelle received her undergraduate degree at the University of California, Irvine, with a major in International Studies and a minor in Clinical Psychology. During this time she also attended La Universidad Catolica Pontificia in Santiago, Chile for one semester. Proficient in Spanish and conversational Japanese, Michelle enjoys international travel and leaves the country at least twice a year. While working at High Tech, Michelle has taken student's to the Washington D.C., Dominican Republic, Vietnam, the U.K., France, Panama, and Costa Rica. As a member of the renowned public speaking organization, Toastmaster’s International, Michelle has won numerous accolades for competitive public speaking. Her most recent speaking engagements include the 2014 USC Shoah Foundation Gala when Stephen Spielberg presented President Barack Obama with the Ambassador for Humanity Award and TEDx Hollywood. Michelle recently earned her Certification in Dance at Palomar College and was awarded 2013 Dancer of the Year. With a dual passion for education and dance Michelle embraces an energetic teaching style that truly motivates students to learn.
  • Alicyn Henkhaus Engineering Apprentice Teacher
    Alicyn Henkhaus
    Engineering Apprentice Teacher

    “Engineering is like dancing; you don’t learn it in a darkened lecture hall watching slides; you learn it by getting out on the dance floor and having your toes stepped on.”

    --- Jack Alford (1920 - 2006), Harvey Mudd College professor and co-founder of the Engineering Clinic


    I’m so excited to be at High Tech High North County because I’ve experienced the benefits of project-based learning in my own academic career. I studied Engineering at Harvey Mudd College and Building Science at USC. The projects I’ve worked on span a wide range of Engineering disciplines (including design and testing of building modeling software, solar photovoltaic installation and economic analysis, and residential lighting). Educating others has been a passion for me since I was in high school, when I both volunteered at my school’s peer-to-peer tutoring program and worked at an afterschool homework center for elementary and middle school students. This past year I decided to make my love of education official, and I am currently pursuing my teaching credential through the High Tech High District Intern program.


    As a Southern California native (until a few years ago when I moved down to San Diego I had spent my entire life in Los Angeles County) I love exploring our beautiful state, and I may have a small obsession with chaparral and desert wildflowers.
  • Kurt Schwartz Physics
    Kurt Schwartz

    I was born and raised in Texas, where I met my wife working part time durning high school. We raised three exceptional, successful children. I made a career in the international arena of commercial and industrial building products, where I was in charge of six branches in the U.S. and Mexico.

    After our children finish their educations I decided to follow the mantra of Monty Pythons Flying Circus "and now for something completely different" and become a high school science teacher. This is my fourth year teaching physics at HTHNC.

    This will be my third year leading a team of future engineers into designing, developing and racing a solar boat in the Metropolitan Water District annual Solar Cup Race against 40 other high school teams.

    I have a passion for the my subject and all of science and believe that learning is a life long endeavor. My hope is to instill this passion for science and learning to all the students I work with.
  • Dave Willey Inclusion Specialist
    Dave Willey
    Inclusion Specialist

    Dave Willey, aka WD, is an Inclusion Specialist at High Tech. Dave spent that last four years teaching in Colorado Springs Colorado, following graduation from San Diego State University. Dave also has a B.A. in Social Science and loves history.

    Dave is a father of two daughters and has one grandson. Dave can be found riding his skateboard or hiking with his dog.
  • Julio Zuniga Spanish
    Julio Zuniga

    !Hola a todos! I am very excited to begin my teaching career at High Tech High North County. Although this will be my first year teaching, I have had five years of experience inside elementary, middle, and high school classrooms.

    In May of 2014 I received a double B.A. in Spanish and HIstory from CSUSM. A year later, I once again graduated from CSUSM, but in this occasion from the Single Subject Credential Program where I obtained both a Spanish and Social Science credential. In that year journey I was awarded the teacher candidate of year through the BEST Award (Bilingual Educators Succeeding Together).

    A Little About Me...
    Me llamo Julio Zuñiga and I was born in Tijuana, Mexico! :D
    At the age of eight, my parents realized that the crime rate continued to increase. For this reason we moved to Valley Center, California. Although my transition was a nightmare in the American educational institution, my parents were able to transfer me to the bilingual program. This experience completely changed my life and in the long term greatly influenced my view
    towards English Learners, Bilingual programs, and the amazing cultures that interconnect in our education system.
10th Grade
  • Samantha Heller Humanities
    Samantha Heller

    Samantha Heller grew up in Orange County, but for the past seven years she lived in the ever-foggy San Francisco. At San Francisco State University, she earned her Single Subject Credential in English and completed a B.A. in English Education. Now that she's returned to sunny SoCal, Samantha is excited to begin her teaching career at High Tech High!

    Samantha believes that learning about literature and history can help us all to tell our own stories, and to hear stories of those around us, with a deeper understanding and sense of empathy. This year, she looks forward toimparting a knowledge of and appreciation for these subjects with her students. She also firmly believes that you can relate most anything back to Shakespeare, Harry Potter, or both, and that all it takes to instill a love of reading is finding the right book. 

    Likes include: cooking and baking, travel (the most recent adventure included a trip to Paris, London, and Dublin with her wife), cats, books, swimming in the ocean, seeing plays, spending time with family and friends, yoga, and hikes. Obsessions include Harry Potter (you will frequently see her sporting Gryiffindor gear), coffee, and dark chocolate.
  • Jennifer Howard Humanities
    Jennifer Howard

    Jennifer knew she wanted to be a teacher at a very young age. She would spend hours lining up her stuffed animals for school in her bedroom.  In high school she fell in love with the stories of history and knew that she wanted to inspire other students and share those same stories.  Teaching in both Orange County and Los Angeles Jennifer found her way to HTHNC and is proud to say that this is her 9th year at HTHNC and her 22nd year as a teacher!! She graduated from Cal State Fullerton with a BA in History, then attended Loyola Marymount for her teaching credential, finally earning her MA in American Studies at Pepperdine University. Born and raised in Orange County, Jennifer  and her husband moved to San Diego many years ago to explore new adventures and loves living in North County. Passions include traveling all over the world; highlights have included riding a camel to the pyramids in Egypt, climbing the Great Wall of China and a glacier in Iceland, attending Oktoberfest in Germany and recently traveling through Scandinavia, Russia, Poland, and attending the Olympics in London. Her inspiration for her projects come from her passion Shakespeare and things British. Attending the theater, hosting parties and decorating for holidays, and watching movies/TV are a few of her favorite things, along with spending time with her family and friends. Jennifer looks forward to an amazing year, and getting to know each and every one of her students.
  • Shani Leader Visual Arts
    Shani Leader
    Visual Arts

      Shani grew up in Northampton, a college town in Western, Massachusetts. Throughout her life, Shani aspired to find a career where she could be creative and work with kids. Shani loves traveling and learning from other cultures. She studied abroad at The University of Legon in Accra, Ghana during her junior year in college. In 2001, she earned her B.A. in Child Development and Studio Art from Tufts University in Medford, MA. Shani realized that her love of art and children combined well and she went on to get her Masters in Art Education from Tufts and The Museum School of Fine Arts in Boston. Needing to get away from the New England cold, Shani moved to San Diego in 2003. She was a founding teacher at the original High Tech Middle that same year and continued teaching there for three years. Teaching middle school was an amazing experience which showed her that she had a natural ability to inspire young artists. Shani taught Art at High Tech High Media Arts during the 2006-2007 school year and was continuously amazed by the work her high school students created. Knowing that high school students could be so creative when given the opportunity, she jumped at the chance to open another High Tech High in North County San Diego. Shani also saw this as a chance to challenge herself by helping start a new school and learn by working with an energizing leader and innovative staff. 

    Opening the north county campus, Shani took on leadership roles by being the Community Connections Coordinator for North County as well as the Art Teacher. Although Shani is passionate about teaching art she was ready for new challenges and experiences in 2009. She accepted the Dean of Students position with the hope of building a uniquely positive student run culture at High Tech High North County. Shani loves being an educator and working with a community that encourages people to teach and learn from their passions. She returned to the middle school classroom after having her daughter in 2012. In addition to being a teacher, she loves surfing, yoga, painting, traveling, and being around wonderful people.
  • Johnnie Lyman Chemistry
    Johnnie Lyman

    Johnnie Lyman is a third generation Alaskan who has found herself in sunny San Diego! She went to college in a small town in New Mexico, where she earned a BS in Geology. After a year working for the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources mapping the beautiful rocks near Taos, she began grad school at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. There she earned her MS in Oceanography, and she has almost completed a PhD, with her research in the past climate of the earth. She uses biogeochemistry as a tool to study the world around her, and very much hopes to bring this interconnected view of science to her students.

    In her spare time, Johnnie can often be found outdoors, either running a very long way or rock climbing. She is generally not sitting still, always pushing her own limits, and smiling while doing it!
  • Alexandra Murphy Inclusion Specialist
    Alexandra Murphy
    Inclusion Specialist

    I am the 10th Grade Inclusion Specialist here at High Tech High North County. I was born and raised in New England. After high school I went on to receive my Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. After working in the field for over two years I realized my passions were truly elsewhere. I grew up in a family of educators and I saw how meaningful and impactful their jobs were and I wanted to do the same. I wanted to bring education to all students. I packed my bags and moved to New York City where I received my Master’s of Education with a concentration in Urban Special Education. I went on to teach in New York City and Boston, MA and have now come to High Tech High. I am excited to work in a fully inclusive school with a different approach to learning that I truly believe is the best approach for teaching all. 

    Outside of school my hobbies include eating out & cooking (foodie here!), hiking with my pup, going to church, traveling to historical places and learning about different cultures. I most recently spent some time in Ireland and hope to plan a big summer trip for 2017. Some of my favorite things include puppies, football (GO Patriots!), Harry Potter, strawberries and coffee!
  • Andrew Vernon Math
    Andrew Vernon

    Here's what I love:
    – Traveling (international travel rocks!)
    – Not traveling (e.g., laying on a beach)
    – Teaching (it's my second career)
    – Working out (so I have the energy to travel and teach)
    – New technology (I'm an almost-rehabilitated-gadget-freak)
    – Dogs!

    Here are a few (possibly little-known) facts about me:
    – I have three passports (American, Canadian and British) and in the process of getting my fourth (Irish: I was born in Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland)
    – The "Dr."in "Dr. Drew" is for real (a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering)
    – I can cook
    – I meditate
    – I really do like Math!
11th Grade
  • Kisha Baker Inclusion Specialist
    Kisha Baker
    Inclusion Specialist

    Hello, my name is Kisha Baker, and I am an Inclusion Specialist here at High Tech High, North County. I am originally from Michigan, and moved here to California when my father was in the Navy. I attended California State University, San Marcos and obtained a Bachelors Degree in Communication. Before, I decided to work in Education, I worked in the Fashion Industry in Los Angeles.
  • Melissa Cochran Humanities
    Melissa Cochran

    Melissa Cochran has spent the past 12 years working in education as a teacher, researcher, and teacher educator. After graduating from the University of Notre Dame in 2002, she moved to San Diego to pursue a career in teaching and earned a Masters of Arts in Teaching at USD. She joined the High Tech High community in January 2003 after learning about the organization’s innovative approach to teaching and learning.

    After spending nearly three years in the classroom, she was inspired to learn more about education reform and moved to Washington DC to earn her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Maryland. While in the DC area, Melissa worked as a teacher educator and education researcher, but she missed working in an environment that supported innovation. She returned to High Tech High in 2010 and has spent the past few years teaching humanities at HTMNC and HTHNC. When not at work, Melissa enjoys spending her time with her husband and their two amazing children.
  • David Corner Math
    David Corner

    This will be my sixth year teaching.  Teaching at HTHNC has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life.   

    During the rise of grunge and Pearl Jam, I attended  Mercer University  Macon obtaining a BA in Chemistry.  A life long passion for the  Georgia Institute of Technology  (Go Jackets!) brought me to Atlanta where I earned BS in Polymer and Textile Chemistry and MS in Fiber Chemistry.  I am a big fan of southern cooking and music (REM, The B-52s, Indigo Girls, etc)   

    After a lifetime in Georgia, I made my way to San Diego via Boston where I spent eight years in the printer industry as a chemist and engineer with Kodak Inc and various smaller companies.  During my free time, I picked up an MBA at  University of San Diego .  Having spent so many of my secondary years behind the desk, I am now excited about giving back some of my educational and life experiences.        

    My free time is spent with my family and friends conversing and laughing over good food.  My passion in life is learning and connecting to people.  I am a big fan of the The Yellow Jackets, Atlanta Braves, Padres and Chargers.  
  • Naomi Hayes Inclusion Specialist
    Naomi Hayes
    Inclusion Specialist

    I am originally from Southern California, and spent most of my years in San Diego. I received my BA in History, Multiple Subject Credential, Education Specialist Credential, and Master's Degree from Cal State San Marcos. This is my sixth year with High Tech High. I have a passion for helping students discover their own strengths and creativity and I am looking forward to this upcoming school year at HTHNC.

    In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my wonderful man at home and our Frenchie "Stella". Some of my hobbies include, cooking, crocheting, spending time with friends and family, making jewelry, and traveling.
  • Matt Leader Biology
    Matt Leader

    Matthew Leader is an 11th grade biology teacher at a project based charter school, High Tech High North County and Science Methods Instructor at the High Tech High Graduate School of Education. Before teaching biology, he traveled and volunteered in community development projects in Central and South America and worked in physical sciences and microbiology labs at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Matthew started teaching middle school math and science and has been teaching biology at High Tech High for the past seven years. He is a native of San Diego and received a Bachelor of Science at the University of California at San Diego in General Biology and Teaching Credentials at San Diego State University. Matthew is an AmeriCorps alumnus and has recently completed a Masters in Education in Teacher Leadership at the HTH Graduate School of Education and participated in internships with NASA and the J. Craig Venter Institute. He has also really enjoyed his time in recent fellowships including, the NSF funded Socrates Teacher Fellow at UCSD, SDSU’s CTCTC fellowship, and NOAA Climate Stewards Fellowship. In addition to teaching and research, he enjoys surfing, scuba diving, and spending time with his beautiful wife, daughter and son working on their hops farm in San Diego.
  • Aleida Rivera Gorgol Spanish
    Aleida Rivera Gorgol

    I cannot express how excited I am to be teaching Spanish this year! For those of you I haven't met, here's a little bit about me. I have a BA in Spanish Language and a minor in Latin American Studies from CSUSB. I have a M.Ed. specializing in Cross-Cultural Teaching from National University. Fun facts: I have a wonderful husband I love globe-trotting with, and I've ended up in some amazing places. The highlight of 2013 was having my sweet baby girl, Samantha Bee. I love to swim. I don't like cheese. I love people, culture, and language. I am excited to meet you all and look forward to a fantastic year!
  • Colby Young Humanities
    Colby Young

    Colby Young’s work in education focuses on building curricula and programs that cultivate student agency and interest in social justice as global citizens.  Since beginning work in gang prevention through AmeriCorps in 2005, Colby has taught subjects orbiting Social Studies and English in South Korea, the Boston Metrowest Area, and now San Diego.  Colby is a former History Department Chair, and now teaches while facilitating educator development through High Tech High (Induction Coaching) and Boston University’s teacher preparation program. As a teacher and researcher, Colby’s areas of interest include: peer leadership, social justice youth development, school culture, and high school internship.  Colby is a doctoral candidate, and most importantly, proud new Dad.
12th Grade
  • Joshua Brower Environmental Science
    Joshua Brower
    Environmental Science

    Playing in the ocean was a favorite activity for Joshua during his childhood on the east coast of Florida. His experience exploring the natural world inspired him to pursue a career in science. His passion for science and the environment brought him to Florida State University where he earned a B.S. in Biological Sciences with a certificate in Living Marine Resource Ecology. He got his first taste of running a classroom his senior year when he served as a Laboratory instructor for the Biology for non-majors class. During that time Joshua also introduced middle and high school students to the natural history of plants and animals in the Northern Gulf of Mexico through the Saturday-at-the-sea program. Joshua brought his dual passions for both science and education to his pursuit of a M.S. in Biology at San Diego State University. At SDSU Joshua taught laboratory courses, conducted original ecology research, managed the Coastal and Marine Institute Laboratory, and brought science to the community through the Marine Ecology and Biology Student Association.

    Joshua was very excited to join the High Tech High North County team teaching Environmental Science for the 2014-2015 school year. During his first year at HTHNC students in Joshua’s class used an interdisciplinary approach to explore the impacts of human society on the environment. Among many other things, Joshua hopes students leave his class with improved research skills, a better understanding of data interpretation, and the skills necessary to formulate specific research questions.

    Outside of teaching, Joshua enjoys time outdoors spent surfing, fishing, cycling, and climbing, as well as artistic pursuits including photography, music, and wood-working.
  • Tina Chavez Humanities
    Tina Chavez

    I found my way to San Diego County through a very roundabout way.  After graduating from the University of Virginia, I moved to Namibia for 2 1/2 years for the Peace Corps.  I fell in love with teaching while in the Peace Corps and came back to the University of Virginia to earn a Master's in Teaching for Secondary Education.  I worked for 3 years at Fluvanna High School teaching Government and US History.  I got the traveling bug again, and moved to the Dominican Republic for 3 years to work at the Carol Morgan American School in Santo Domingo teaching AP Government, AP Comparative Politics and European History. Although my Spanish improved greatly, my merengue skills did not.  When I moved out to San Diego, I was lucky enough to teach at High Tech Middle Media Arts in Point Loma for one year. In 2012, I completed a Master's in School Leadership at the High Tech High Graduate School of Education. Over the past few years, I have worked with a very dedicated group of students to bring theater back to HTHNC. We produced our first school musical in 2013, and it was a huge success! I'm excited to start my sixth year of teaching Humanities to 12th graders at HTHNC. We are continuing our 12th grade internship program, which has been a great way to give students real world experience. Last semester, I spent 4 months in Finland on a Fulbright Research Grant. after spending a lot of time in Finnish schools, I am looking forward to sharing my experiences with my students.
  • Henry Cohn-Geltner Inclusion Specialist
    Henry Cohn-Geltner
    Inclusion Specialist

    I moved to San Diego in August 2013 from Philadelphia where I lived for 8 years. I have committed my life thus far to story, both receiving and telling stories, through a variety of media. This year we will get to explore the full potential that digital tools afford us in sharing what we have to say.
  • Carlee Hollenbeck Math
    Carlee Hollenbeck

    Let’s adventure back to just over three years ago,
    Carlee Hollenbeck traveled here from the Michigan snow.
    She was invited to join the famous High Tech High crew.
    It was an absolute joy to try something new.

    From a small farm-town college, she earned her math degree.
    She started to wonder what the best way to teach math should be.
    Accepted a national fellowship with thirty other teachers,
    Carlee works hard to find the best math class features.

    In college, she began her love of traveling around.
    Teaching in Australia was the first adventure Carlee found.
    She has ventured with friends and students to many other spots.
    Costa Rica, Bali, and the D.R., which she liked lots!

    Last year she had the pleasure of teaching every student in 12th grade.
    For exhibition, a Calculus-inspired, mathemagical world was made.
    Within Carlee’s class, she works to balance both content and fun,
    Though her students may not, she loves a good math pun.

    Planning dances and events was Carlee’s favorite thing in school.
    She has helped High Tech’s ASB to show school spirit is cool.
    Taking time to make posters and selecting the spirits days.
    ASB is great for students to change the school in many ways!

    Although Carlee spends a lot of time thinking about math making,
    She has other hobbies, such as crafting, beachin’, and treat baking.
    There was even a weekly-student baking group, but no cake was allowed.
    These hobbies even led to Pintercession, full of crafts to make us proud!

    Her deep love for the power of math will always last,
    But Carlee makes lots of time to make connections with her class!
    She hopes to make math meaningful and something to apply.
    Let’s start off this year right North County High Tech High!
  • Asal Meyer Literature
    Asal Meyer

    Due to rather inconveniently timed repair work on the streets of San Diego, Ms. M. was born at home in a cozy condominium amidst the beautiful chaos of a frantic Iranian family. After a sunny youth, Ms. M. embarked on her academic career, attending UC Irvine and receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English and Educational Studies. Shortly thereafter, Ms. M. transitioned to a big city girl, living the life of a New Yorker while receiving her Master of Arts in the Teaching of English at Teachers College, Columbia University. Finally making her way back home to the west coast (the best coast), Ms. M. found her place in the educational sanctuaries of High Tech High North County.

    In her ninth year at High Tech High North County, Ms. M. continues to be wholeheartedly dedicated to finding meaning in her experiences as a teacher and furthermore, guiding her students to finding and understanding the value of meaning in their individual lives. Ms. M. knows that the Humanities can be a gateway to this pursuit. With that in mind, Ms. M. will work to empower herself and her students with the humanistic knowledge, tools, and language to believe in the magnitude of finding fulfillment in a meaningful life.

    When not teaching or thinking about teaching, Ms. M. enjoys reading, navigating life with her wonderful husband and beautiful baby girl, spending time with her family and friends, perfecting her cooking, feigning fitness, and attempting to control her inexplicable love for cleaning and organizing.
  • Anna Petrick Multimedia
    Anna Petrick

    I grew up in Huntington Beach California.  I was always interested in film and spent  a lot of time making short videos in high school.  This passion later translated into a career in the film/video field. My journey in multimedia began at UCSD where I received a BA in visual media. I spent 4 years working at Sony Playstation as a video editor and producer.  I loved working in production, particularly filming and editing.  Before working at Sony, I traveled the world and produced several surf videos.  It was not the most lucrative of businesses, but it was nice to travel, surf and explore the world.  This is my third year of teaching and I am excited for round two. That about sums it up..  If you are interested in checking out my past work, go to

  • Matt Ruppel Physics
    Matt Ruppel

    “The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas,” the great chemist Linus Pauling once said. To Matt Ruppel, this notion is a key to success both in and out of the classroom. His teaching philosophy encompasses this idea; specifically, he believes that all students can be scientists and do authentic science if given the opportunity to explore the world and the license to be creative. And by “exploring the world”, he often means “breaking things or making a huge mess to see how stuff works”, despite Gandalf the Gray's warning that “He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.” Gandalf was great, but one shouldn't blindly follow everything he said; he did fight a Balrog, after all.

    Matt is thrilled to embark on his teaching career at High Tech High North County. Born in Aurora, Colorado and growing up in Seattle, Washington, Matt always had a passion for talking about science and doing kitchen experiments. This interest took him to the University of Washington, where he earned his B.S. in Chemistry. After college, he moved to San Diego with his high school sweetheart to attend graduate school at UC San Diego. During this time, he studied atmospheric chemistry and the creation of scientific instruments for measuring environmental systems, and leading community outreach projects at Paul Ecke Elementary in Encinitas, and at the Birch Aquarium. While in his Ph.D program, he realized that education was where his passion truly lied, specifically at the high school level. He left with an M.S. in Analytical Chemistry, and earned his teaching credential at San Diego State University. Matt did his student teaching at Health Sciences High School in the City Heights neighborhood and at Innovation Middle School in the Clairemont Mesa neighborhood. He is driven to incorporate environmental measurements into the curriculum, having had a great experience working with the COSMOS program at UC San Diego helping high school students perform research with professors over the summer. When possible, he also wants to incorporate his love of science fiction and thinking towards the future.

    In his personal time, Matt enjoys reading science fiction or fantasy on a rainy day, tricking his cats with a laser pointer, bow-ties, cooking for his wife, writing his own stories, wedding and landscape photography, comic books, excessively pointing out his nerd-cred, board games, Dungeons and Dragons, and deciding that This sentence is already long enough, thank you very much, so just stop already.
  • Julio Zuniga Spanish
    Julio Zuniga

    !Hola a todos! I am very excited to begin my teaching career at High Tech High North County. Although this will be my first year teaching, I have had five years of experience inside elementary, middle, and high school classrooms.

    In May of 2014 I received a double B.A. in Spanish and HIstory from CSUSM. A year later, I once again graduated from CSUSM, but in this occasion from the Single Subject Credential Program where I obtained both a Spanish and Social Science credential. In that year journey I was awarded the teacher candidate of year through the BEST Award (Bilingual Educators Succeeding Together).

    A Little About Me...
    Me llamo Julio Zuñiga and I was born in Tijuana, Mexico! :D
    At the age of eight, my parents realized that the crime rate continued to increase. For this reason we moved to Valley Center, California. Although my transition was a nightmare in the American educational institution, my parents were able to transfer me to the bilingual program. This experience completely changed my life and in the long term greatly influenced my view
    towards English Learners, Bilingual programs, and the amazing cultures that interconnect in our education system.
All School
  • Isaac Jones Director
    Isaac Jones

    I am extremely proud to be the Director of HTHNC. I grew up in North County San Diego, having attended San Dieguito High School. Over the past 10 years, I have taught in New York City, Costa Rica, and at High Tech High in Pt. Loma. As a teacher, I believe strongly in engaging all students through real-world projects that force us to question, analyze, and wonder. Please feel free to contact me with questions, ideas, and concerns.
    "Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself." John Dewey
  • Tricia Abdullah College Advisor
    Tricia Abdullah
    College Advisor

    Tricia was born and raised in Providence, RI.  The University of Rhode was where she earned a B.A. in Spanish and a M.S. in Human Development and Family Studies with a concentration in College Student Personnel.  In 1996, she began her career in Admissions as a "Rhode Runner" for the University of Rhode Island.  She served as an Admissions Officer for two recruiting cycles.   After finishing her graduate studies she moved to Lubbock, TX to work at  Texas Tech University as an Academic Counselor for Student Athletes.  After leaving Red Raider land she had the opportunity to work with the  Scarlet Knights at Rutgers University. In 2003, she returned to her alma mater to  work as an Admission Advisor.  After spending  many winters in New England, she decided to relocate to a warmer climate.  Prior to joining High Tech High North County, she spent three years working in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at UC San Diego as an Admissions Officer. She is entering her sixth year as the College Advisor.

    She has a second and eighth grader who keep her very busy. When she is not here at HTHNC, you can catch her on the soccer field and basketball court watching her boys play sports. She loves traveling and tries to visit her home town at least once a year.
  • Gustavo Bautista HTHNC & HTeNC IT Director
    Gustavo Bautista
    HTHNC & HTeNC IT Director

  • Bret Faber Athletics Coordinator
    Bret Faber
    Athletics Coordinator

    Bret comes to us all the way from Detroit, Michigan.  He has spent 5 years as a history teacher in Inglewood, CA and 4 years as a teacher for students with brain injuries in Boston, MA.  Bret has a passion for sports that is borderline obsessive.  He claims that he is better than everyone at every sport, including hockey, golf, baseball, softball, tennis, football, curling, shot put, synchronized swimming, and equestrian dressage (that's a real sport). 
    In his free time, he can be found watching any Michigan based sports team on television, spending time with his family, or writing hilarious bios for himself. 
  • Jocelyn Flores Outreach Coordinator
    Jocelyn Flores
    Outreach Coordinator

    Jocelyn Flores was born and raised in Mexico City. She came to the United States 20 years ago and has lived in North County since. She first came about High Tech High when she was looking for an innovative teaching style for her younger brother and sister to prosper from. 7 years later both of her younger siblings have graduated and are continuing with higher education.
    Jocelyn has been with High Tech High since 2011 serving as the outreach coordinator. The main focus of her work involves assisting Spanish speaking families but sharing the unique teaching styles of HTH with the community. She advocates for diversity, primarily within the school, as it helps students create a valuable connection with the surrounding communities.

    She is passionate about the work she does and finds it rewarding to see that her help has made a difference in the lives of the individuals whom she has helped. When not at work she enjoys spending the day with her family at Disneyland or enjoys being part of the audience for Mexican Folkloric dancer, gymnast, cheerleader six year old daughter!
  • Ryan Fuller GSE School Leadership Resident
    Ryan Fuller
    GSE School Leadership Resident

    Ryan Fuller started his career in education in Colorado Springs where he taught math and robotics for 2 years at a traditional public high school. In 2012, he moved to Denver where he helped found DSST: Cole High School and has worked as a 9 th grade physics teacher and Science Department Chair for two years. Prior to working in education, Ryan worked as an aerospace design engineer for four years. His transition from engineering to education involved 18 months of traveling, reading and reflecting that changed his life forever. Ryan has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction and is honored and humbled to be a school leadership resident at High Tech High this year. He is constantly working to build the skills, knowledge and experience to help expand project-based learning to more communities around the world.
  • Spencer Gooch Dean of Students
    Spencer Gooch
    Dean of Students

    Spencer Gooch is the Dean of Students at High Tech High North County, and has worked in public schools for 16 years. Prior to his position as Dean, he worked as a 10th grade Humanities teacher also at HTHNC. He began his career in education working for a local non-profit health clinic as a peer counselor and health educator, specializing in reproductive health issues and relationship dynamics. He then moved into the field of health education, providing comprehensive reproductive health education classes to local North County School Districts. During this time he also assisted with curriculum development for pregnancy prevention programs.

    Spencer believes that schools offer a unique opportunity for students in that mistakes are frequent and should be sought out. By providing spaces that are safe and encourage exploration, students are then able to develop into the kind of people they hope to be.
  • Kristin Singh School Psychologist
    Kristin Singh
    School Psychologist

    Kristin Singh was born and raised in Hawaii and remains an island girl at heart.  She moved to California after high school to attend the University of California, Irvine where she earned a B.A. in Psychology and Social Behavior.  She later earned her M.A. in Psychology from Humboldt State University, with an emphasis in School Psychology. 
    Kristin has worked as a school psychologist in various districts in San Diego County for the last 12 years, and is excited to be joining the High Tech High community to support all schools in the North County Village.
    Kristin lives with her husband, daughter, and two dogs in San Diego, CA.  While away from work, Kristin enjoys dancing at live music concerts, watching her husband perform stand-up comedy, exploring San Diego through the eyes of a three-year-old with her daughter, and spending quality time at home with the whole family.
  • Sheila Van Metre Site Manager
    Sheila Van Metre
    Site Manager

    I was raised -- and raised a family -- in North San Diego County; but I have sought to broaden our horizons through travel. My personal and professional adventures have taken me to such places as Costa Rica, France, Ireland, Italy, and the monarch butterfly over-wintering habitat in south-central Mexico.

    I worked 18 years for the Zoological Society of San Diego, most of those in the Education Department of the San Diego Zoo's Safari Park. There I learned the critical role that support staff play in helping teachers and administrators deliver lessons to their students.

    I believe that experiences are more valuable than "things;" and, as one who sent her own children through charter schools, I believe that High Tech High offers unique project-based learning for the students, as well as opportunity for parents to "experience" their students' educational journey.

    In my free time, I like to visit new places, work in the garden, and dote on my grand-daughters!