Staff Directory

6th Grade
  • Emily Carter Math/Science
    Emily Carter

    I have lived all over the country and my most favorite place of all is San Diego!  I went to high school in Chicago and then moved to Los Angeles to go to the University of Southern California.  I earned my B.A. in Political Science and Public Policy and worked for several years in political advertising.  While in LA I also volunteered at a day camp on the weekends. This is where I discovered my passion for working with kids!  I took a chance and moved to San Diego to get my teaching credential.  I had the opportunity to work for three years as a math and science teacher at Gompers Preparatory Academy.  And now I find myself in my 7th year at High Tech Middle Media Arts and am so honored to work with the amazing students here! I can not imagine teaching anywhere else! 

    I have a Master of Education with an emphasis in Technology so I love to incorporate technology in all of the projects we do.  In my free time I watch college football (Fight On Trojans!), travel, go camping, read, and hang out with my daughter Lucy, husband Brian, and my dog Bailey. And we have a baby boy on the way!
  • Sharon Choi Math/Science
    Sharon Choi

    I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois until I was 9 years old. I have since lived in Harrisburg, PA and Baltimore, MD, where I received my  Psychology degree from the University of Maryland College Park. I have since been enjoying my stay in sunny San Diego, where I completed my Teaching Credential at CSUSM. 
    I have taught Kindergarten, 2nd, 4th and 5th graders for Escondido and San Diego School District schools, and I am really enjoying teaching 6th graders here at HTMMA. While I was a student teacher at CSUSM, I had the opportunity to visit HTH in San Marcos and fell in love with the school. I am so honored to be working with HTH.
    Outside of school, I could be found hiking, going to the beach, exploring new cuisines, crocheting, listening to music, singing on a stage, spending time with family and friends, and/or making future plans with my lovely fiancé, Jason!
  • Vanessa Joy Math/Science
    Vanessa Joy

    A California native, Vanessa Joy grew up in Southern and Northern California and ended up settling in San Diego for college. She received her B.A. in Business Administration with a concentration in International Development from Point Loma Nazarene University just up the road from HTMMA. Throughout her time at PLNU, she led a youth program for middle and high schoolers in Coronado, lived in a small Provencial town in France, and volunteered teaching English to children in the Dominican Republic. After graduation, she followed her interest in international issues and began working with newly resettled refugees in San Diego, helping them to find employment in the local area. As rewarding as this work was, Vanessa missed working with children and decided to go back to PLNU to obtain her teaching credential and Masters in Teaching.

    Vanessa has taught at HTMMA since 2015, following three years of teaching 5th and 6th grade in National City. What drew her to HTMMA were the passionate teachers and the unique teaching and learning philosophy that truly supports individual learning needs. Her favorite moments in teaching are when she is able to introduce her students to a topic she is excited about, and seeing their own excitement build in the subject matter. San Diego is blooming with exciting math and science applications for sixth graders to explore and learn from, and Vanessa enjoys delving in to the subject matter within our community alongside her students.

    Vanessa Joy's passions include studying topics related to international development and social justice, cooking, traveling, spending time with her family, and rereading the Harry Potter series.  She recently completed her Master of Arts in Teaching in the summer of 2016. As part of her research, she studied the impacts of students reflecting on their growth in mathematics and is excited to apply her own continuing education to classroom practices.
  • Jen Morrison Multimedia
    Jen Morrison

    I am thrilled to be joining the High Tech Middle Media Arts community as a multimedia teacher for the 2016/2017 school year! I am originally from Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, and was a middle school humanities teacher for 5 years prior to moving down to San Diego in July 2015. Last year, I completed my Masters of Education with a concentration in school leadership through the High Tech High Graduate School of Education. This experience was transformative for me, and I can't wait to dive into learning with the amazing students and staff at HTMMA!

    I love to spend my time doing things that make my heart happy. I love being outdoors and exploring nature, hanging out with family and friends, putting color on a blank canvas, capturing beauty through photography, and traveling. I look forward to sharing my journey with you this year. Feel free to reach out and contact me, I'm always down for a great conversation!

  • Braden Philips Humanities
    Braden Philips

    I grew up in San Diego, and traveled to Los Angeles for college. I graduated from Loyola Marymount University with degrees in History and Education.

    After 4 years I was tired of the traffic in LA, so I moved to the mountains of San Diego and taught Outdoor Education for a year at Camp Marston, where we are going this year for sixth grade camp! I loved and always will love the mountains, but decided to move back to the city to teach at HTMMA.

    At HTMMA, I have been a coach, taught seventh grade for a year, and this is my second year teaching sixth grade. When I am not at school, I thoroughly enjoy drumming, reading, hiking, backpacking, camping and cooking, yummy food and traveling. My favorite books are The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain and Catch 22 by Joseph Heller.

    I'm currently enrolled in the High Tech High Graduate School of Education, and am really excited to be continuing my education!
7th Grade
  • Shane Duenow Makers Teacher
    Shane Duenow
    Makers Teacher

    Mr. Shane is a graduate of the SDSU Applied Design School, with a focus in woodworking and furniture design. I live in San Diego with my wife and two little dogs, they constantly bring joy and happiness to my life. I love to ride my bicycle and try to do so everyday. While riding I view the world from a different perspective. To me it is important to remind myself to step up and step back, seeing situations and problems from different perspectives reveals answers that might not have been thought of. I enjoy making and discovering and look forward to find new ways to alter our environment for the better!
  • Nicole Hubbard Math and Science
    Nicole Hubbard
    Math and Science

    Nicole Hubbard is originally from Chico, CA. She attended Cal Poly, SLO where she earned her B.S. degree in Industrial Engineering and later attended USC for her Master’s of Arts in Teaching and teaching credential. In 2006, she became a Math Fellow with the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation(KSTF). She continues her affiliation with KSTF as a senior fellow and team member of Project ASCENT.

    Nicole moved to San Diego in 2007 and has been working with the High Tech High organization ever since, teaching math and physics at High Tech High International. She is excited to make the transition to 7th grade at High Tech Middle Media Arts this year.

    When she is not teaching or working, Nicole enjoys spending time with her 16 month old son, Brody, and her husband, Brandon. You can usually get her to talk endlessly about her hometown of Chico, about Cal Poly, SLO, about babies and children, about traveling the world, and of course - about math, engineering, science, and learning. She is an avid traveler who has ventured on many international trips with and without her students, and also lived and taught in Thailand for one year. She is thrilled to work in an environment like HTMMA with amazing students and colleagues, and looks forward to a great year full of growth, learning and fun.
  • Sonya Ramirez Humanities
    Sonya Ramirez

    Born and raised in Los Angeles, Sonya has been a part of the High Tech High community since 2010. She received her BA in Literature with an emphasis on Writing and a minor in Education from the University of California, San Diego. She then stayed at UCSD to receive her M.Ed. and credentials. Still unsatisfied, Sonya received a 2nd M.Ed. in School Leadership through HTH's Graduate School of Education. After spending five wonderful years at HTHNC teaching 9th grade, Sonya is excited to go back to a 7th grade classroom this year!

    Outside of the classroom, Sonya enjoys snowboarding during the winter and hiking/camping during the off season. She also loves great books, animals, food and movies. Sonya lives in San Diego with her husband, daughter and dog.
  • Jaimee Rojas Humanities
    Jaimee Rojas

    I grew up on the 34 mile-long island of Guam, my home, where I learned how to be generous, ride a caribou, eat massive amounts of carbohydrates, and how to put family first. I also learned that there is a great inequity in education, one that I want to help eradicate. I love making sure each child feels safe, loved, challenged and supported in our classroom.

    Hanging out with middle-schoolers gives me hope. They have beautiful ideas and I love using their ideas to create projects that are authentic and purposeful. I have taught high school and middle school Humanities at several of the High Tech High schools since 2008. I also served as an Associate Director of Admission at Pepperdine University, where I received my undergraduate degree in English and Writing/Rhetoric. I have also completed coursework toward my Master's in Business Administration at Pepperdine's Graziadio School of Business. I love learning and am constantly reading about what we can do to improve our education system so that children are encouraged to love themselves, love others, and love learning.

    When I'm not hanging out with my HTMMA 7th graders, I am playing baseball or basketball with my son Cayden, reading books just for fun, and adding and crossing off items on my bucket list.
  • Jordan Templeton Math/Science
    Jordan Templeton

    Ms. Jordan grew up in a small town outside of Cleveland, Ohio. She comes from a big Syrian family that loves to cook and eat delicious Syrian food and spend time together! Ms. Jordan went on to earn her B.A. in Business Administration with a focus in the economics of poverty and development from Ohio University’s Honors Tutorial College. During her undergraduate studies, Ms. Jordan had the opportunity to work with nonprofit and student groups in low-income communities in China, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Thailand.

    Through her experiences she came to believe that educational opportunities are the most important factor to improving the quality of life for people in low-income communities. These experiences compelled her to become a teacher herself and to work to improve the state of education in the United States. Before joining the HTMMA family, Ms. Jordan taught math for four years to fifth and sixth graders in East Los Angeles. Ms. Jordan also enjoys traveling, coaching youth running teams, reading, to-do lists, hiking, cooking and exploring the beautiful parks and beaches of California with her fiancé.
  • Gina Wickstead Math/Science
    Gina Wickstead

    Gina Wickstead has been a Language Arts and Social Studies teacher for 11 years, and taught for 10 years at Aki Kurose Middle School in Seattle. She received an undergraduate degree from The Evergreen State College and a Master’s in Teaching from Johns Hopkins University. In 2008 she received a National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certificate. Along with teaching, she has been a staff  and site supervisor for student teachers.
8th Grade
  • Matthew Adams Humanities
    Matthew Adams

    I was born and raised in East County, San Diego, and am returning to the area after about 15 years of living all over the place. I've worked as a German instructor, legal proofreader, researcher, postdoc, and editor of computer science curricula at a Silicon Valley education startup. I hold a PhD in linguistics from Stanford and an MA in German from Georgetown. Deep down, I've always loved teaching and writing, so I knew I'd eventually gravitate back to classroom-based education.

    I feel deeply drawn to the mission of the High Tech High schools, and I'm passionate about helping students become self-directed, flexible learners as well as thoughtful, compassionate citizens whose first impulse is to learn rather than judge. I'm also invested in helping students become craft-aware writers, using writing (and reading!) as a tool to discover more about themselves and the world around them. Wearing my other hat, I'm working on a short stories collection; it's said that teaching is one of the best ways to learn, and I'm excited about the way my classroom teaching and the input and experiences of my students will transform how I think about writing, too.

    I love traveling and have lived in Germany and France for extended periods of time. In the summer of 2016, I got married and was able to visit South Korea for the first time to meet my wife's family. I'm also a big-time camper, hiker, and backpacker when I need to see some stars or hear a new language.

    I'm thrilled to be part of HTMMA and the community of teachers and other educators who make our school an enriching and compelling place for students to grow and change.
  • John Derksen Math/physics
    John Derksen

    John grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he developed his love of green chile and the outdoors. He went on to attend the University of Puget Sound in rainy Tacoma, Washington. During the summers, John worked at YMCA Camp Surf in Imperial Beach which inspired him to continue in youth leadership. He spent 6 months studying in New Zealand, topped off with a three week surf trip in Australia. He has spent the past few years teaching Middle School in Phoenix, earning his Master's in Secondary Mathematics Education, and being close to family.

    John enjoys reading, writing, surfing, swimming, traveling, and camping. He is currently writing a Science Fiction novel and improving his surf skills in his spare time. He is passionate about education because it paves the way for students to determine their own futures and shape the world that they will live in. John is excited to teach at HTMMA because of its community and the way it enables students to make a meaningful impact in the world.
  • Antonette Hrycyk Humanities
    Antonette Hrycyk

    I'm originally from Western Pennsylvania, about 45 minutes north of Pittsburgh (Go Penguins, Go Steelers!). I moved to Ohio when I was 17 to attend THE Ohio State University (Go Buckeyes!), where I majored in Anthropology and Comparative Studies, though I had a total of six majors in my four years there.

    Following college, I worked for the YMCA of Central Ohio and the YMCA of San Diego teaching Outdoor Education (aka 6th grade science camp). While working for Camp Marston in Julian, CA, I first met the fantastic staff of High Tech Middle Media Arts - little did I know that I would be working there in four years!

    Wanting to go back to school to learn more about informal learning (aka learning not in a super structured school setting), I attended the University of Colorado at Boulder for my Master's of Science in Museum Studies, where I focused on museum education and evaluation. I moved back to San Diego (accompanied by a cat named Mr. Abby) because of my love for the city and my partner's love for working at High Tech. Though I still love museums, I feel like working with the students of HTMMA on their exhibitions and turning our school into a living and breathing museum is where I am best served. I began working at HTMMA as an academic coach, then co-taught Humanities with Mrs. Robinson last year. I also help to coach the High Tech High Swim Team in the spring.

    I live in Ocean Beach with Mr. Brady, my dog Herman, and my cat Mr. Abby. I enjoy running and working out in the early morning, swimming long distances, a great non-fiction book, finding new podcasts, a good cup of coffee, and laughing. My personal heroes include Mr. Rogers, Leslie Knope, Jonas Salk, and Eleanor Roosevelt.
  • Lawrence Ortiguerra Math/Science
    Lawrence Ortiguerra

    A San Diego local, Law received his BA in Mathematics Secondary Education from the University of California, San Diego and his MA in Counseling from the University of San Diego. For the last five years, Law was an eighth grade math and science teacher at High Tech Middle Media Arts.  Before HTMMA, he worked a floor above at High Tech High Media Arts as the Director of Career Development and Community Outreach. There, he coordinated the Academic Internship Program. Law is also the head coach of the High Tech High girls varsity volleyball team.

    Prior to HTHMA, Law was the coordinator of a youth development program, called " Friday  Night Live", where he focused on promoting positive alternative activities away from alcohol, tobacco and drug use. He was also a coordinator for  Friday  Night Live Mentoring, where he trained and mentored high school students to become mentors for at-risk middle school students.

    This year, Law is stepping outside of the classroom and is excited to take on the role of Outreach Coordinator for the High Tech High Graduate School of Education.  He is looking forward to meeting the over 5000+ visitors that come to HTH annually and share with them the many aspects of HTH he has been able to be a part of since 2007.
  • David Smith Fine Arts
    David Smith
    Fine Arts

    David Smith’s images are diverse in character, stemming from his urban upbringing to college life as the University of San Diego and beyond. He instills life lessons and values with each of his works. Painting ekphrastically unlocks the attribute of creating images that speak to the viewer. His ambitions dwell in revealing an interconnection between subjects that do not necessarily mesh. As long as an attempt to marry these subjects progress, his strongest paintings surface. Painting on found, discarded, or appropriated substrates able the material to voice itself.

    Ultimately, his intention is to make works that communicate for groups that are so often predetermined and judged. As a young artist, David feels it is his responsibility to be the voice for the certain subjects in his work. Having grown up in Compton, Los Angeles, experiences inform his paintings because they develop a ruggedness which display their imposing presence to the observer which is why he paints on such a large scale.

    Maya Lin, Isamu Noguchi, and Christo Javacheff are public artists that stimulate his series of images and installations. Encouraged by their ideology and the procedures of addressing the public, David persists. The work is not geared at the attention of a specific audience or genre; it is constructed for the people rather. Like Christo, some series are about an unveiling of something that is too often overlooked. By bringing the outside in, David Smith’s hope is to give onlookers insight.
All School
  • Casey Salmon Director
    Casey Salmon

    Casey Salmon has taught at a variety of grade levels over the past sixteen years. After graduating from Westmont College, she moved to Houston, Texas where she taught third grade for two years with a program called Teach for America. Those two years were eye-opening and completely changed her views on education. She became passionate about ensuring that all students had an equal opportunity to be successful. 

    Missing California, Casey moved to San Diego in the summer of 2002. She spent a year working at a small, private school in North County, where she taught English to 6th-9th graders who needed more individual attention and smaller classroom sizes than their neighborhood schools could provide.  Through this experience she was inspired to return to school to learn more about how to meet the needs of students with learning challenges. She received her Education Specialist credential from San Diego State University in 2005, and completed her M. Ed in Education with an emphasis in Special Education from Point Loma Nazarene University in 2007. 


    This will be Casey’s thirteenth school year working for the High Tech High organization. She worked at HTH as an Inclusion Specialist for a year and has spent the rest of her time working at HTM as an Inclusion Specialist and supporting school leadership through the role of Associate Director. She truly loves her job and feels very lucky to have the opportunity to work with such amazing teachers and students. For fun she enjoys  playing with her two year old twins,  training for triathlons, reading, scuba diving, traveling and cooking.
  • Amanda Carlson Student Support Coordinator
    Amanda Carlson
    Student Support Coordinator

    I graduated from Villanova University with a Bachelor's in History and Education and then continued on to New York University where I graduated with a Master's in Special Education. I've spent the majority of my teaching career working at a middle school in Harlem where I served as the Special Education Coordinator and Inclusion Teacher for 6 years. After visiting HTH, the inclusive culture built around finding your passion instantly drew me in. Taking on the role of Student Support Coordinator is something that I am so excited about. Simply put-I love kids. I advocate for them. I believe in them. I revere them. 

    A little bit about me...I am a born and raised New Yorker who loves bagels, pizza, and snow. When I am not at school, I enjoy traveling, trying new restaurants, working out, and spending quality time with my fiance. (He's a 5th grade teacher at HTeX!) We are having so much fun exploring our new home and eating lots of delicious Mexican food!
  • Zac Clarke Inclusion Specialist
    Zac Clarke
    Inclusion Specialist

    Zac is excited to be in his third year here at HTMMA. He’s originally from the middle of nowhere in Ontario, Canada. Staying true to his heritage, he loves real maple syrup, the metric system, and playing hockey. Since moving to San Diego four years ago with his family, Zac hasn’t had to shovel snow once, and all of his relatives are jealous. A long time ago he attended Trent University, where he earned a B.A. and later, a teaching credential. Before moving to San Diego, Zac taught in schools across Canada and overseas. Lately he spends a lot of time in his garden trying to distract his daughter, Harriet, so that she doesn’t pull all of his plants out of the ground.
  • Sarah Foat Inclusion Specialist
    Sarah Foat
    Inclusion Specialist

    I received a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from San Diego State University and a couple years later decided that education was my true calling. In between my BA and teaching credential, I moved to the east coast and worked as an animal caregiver in an animal shelter. For as long as I can remember advocating for the ethical treatment of all creatures has been a passion of mine. When I moved back to San Diego, I continued working with animals at the San Diego Humane Society. Knowing that I wanted to move forward with my career in education, I returned to SDSU and earned my teaching credential in Mild to Moderate Disabilities. I started at HTMMA as an academic coach and am now honored to be a part of the school’s Inclusion Specialist team. I genuinely enjoy working with the students at HTMMA and look forward to our adventures this coming year!

    As a San Diego native, I naturally feel at home near the beach exploring tide pools or swimming about the ocean waves. Growing up eating some of the best Mexican food around, it has turned into my soul food. I really, really love Mexican food. Some of my hobbies include rock climbing, snowboarding, and wake boarding. Dance and yoga have also been a huge part of my life as I find expressive body movement to be vital. When I’m not involved in one of these activities, you will find me spending time with my partner, Reuben (Mr. Foat), and my black cat, Jackson. Reuben and I met on a study aboard trip while in Japan, and I met Jackson in an animal shelter in Massachusetts. These two guys bring me so much joy.  

    "The three hardest tasks in the world are neither physical feats nor intellectual achievements, but moral acts: to return love for hate, to include the excluded, and to say, 'I was wrong'." -Sydney J. Harris
  • Eduardo Gallardo IT Coordinator
    Eduardo Gallardo
    IT Coordinator

    Mr. Eduardo as the students call him, is the IT Administrator for High Tech Middle and High Tech Middle Media Arts. He is an alumni from High Tech High.He enjoys working in the IT department helping out students and staff with their technology needs. During his free time he enjoys watching soccer and exploring new places outside of San Diego.
  • Naiby Mencias Site Manager
    Naiby Mencias
    Site Manager

    Naiby  received her bachelor's degree from San Diego State University in English with an emphasis on linguistics. After a couple years of working many different roles at High Tech Middle, she has found a great place where she can utilize her bilingual skills and provide support for spanish speaking parents at High Tech Middle Media Arts. Naiby loves being a part of the High Tech community. In her free time she enjoys traveling, cooking and spending time with her familia.
  • Cecilia Nevarez Extended Services Coordinator
    Cecilia Nevarez
    Extended Services Coordinator

    Cecilia is native to San Diego and grew up with four brothers and three sisters. She spent much of her childhood with her family in Mexico. Her father trained her in archery and music appreciation and her mother gave her the skills of all things creative including sewing, cooking and adventuring. She currently lives with two little Jack Russell Terriers and most of her family remains close. Cecilia began working with High Tech Chula Vista in 2011 during which time she launched the middle and high school OAS Archery teams. In the summer of 2013 she ventured to Catalina Island and began working as the manager of Visitor Services for the Santa Catalina Island Company. After two years as an island resident, Cecilia returned to San Diego and to High Tech.

    Prior to moving into her current position at HTMMA in 2015, Cecilia spent the last 20 years gaining experience and education in the field of wildlife conservation, outreach education as well as special education and social services. Cecilia’s first work experience, over 20 years ago, was volunteering for animal care and group presentations at the Chula Vista Living Coast Discovery Center. With that experience as a launching point and later gaining a degree in biology she was able to have the privilege of working for many years at the San Diego Wild Animal Park primarily with the charismatic mega fauna such as rhinos, giraffes, and elephants!

    It was during her time in college that she gained experience working with youth first at a teen runaway shelter, followed by a position as counselor at a children’s home in New York. When she returned to San Diego after a year in New York, she worked closely with middle school SED students in a self-contained classroom setting for three years. Because of the rich and rewarding experiences she has had guiding youth in achieving good character and great ambition, as well as helping them to tap into their best talents and strengths, Cecilia is now working on an M.A. in Transformational Leadership and in the future looks forward to devoting herself to others in the field of personal and spiritual development.