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Kindergarten
Marissa Aclan
Marissa Aclan
Kindergarten Apprentice Teacher
Marissa is a recent graduate of UC Berkeley, where she studied Political Science and wrote her honor’s thesis on maternity and childcare policies. She started at HTe fresh out of college, spending most of the 2018-19 school year as an Academic Coach. Some of her most impactful experiences stem from her volunteer work with a group providing free summer camp for children whose parents/guardians were affected by cancer. From here, she got her nickname “BMO,” named after an adventure-loving robot from a show called “Adventure Time.” Her nickname means “Be More.”
 
As such, Marissa lives every day “being more” than the day before. Every challenge provides a new learning opportunity, and she seizes these with passion.
 
Starting out as an after-care member, then moving to an Academic Coach position with kindergarten, and now starting her teaching apprenticeship, she is excited for the new year! Marissa strives to impart to students her love of learning, empathy for peers, and kindness to everyone. She is excited for the new school year at HTe!

Ricardo Borja
Ricardo Borja
Kindergarten Teacher
Ricardo Borja was born and raised in East Los Angeles. After high school, Ricardo moved to San Diego where he attended Grossmont College and San Diego State University. Ricardo was fascinated by social group interactions, which led to a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and minor in Anthropology.

After college, Ricardo joined the High Tech High team as an academic coach at High Tech Elementary. He enjoyed working with his kindergarten class and being a part of students’ academic growth. Ricardo’s year as an academic coach sparked his passion for education and his journey to become a teacher. Last year, Ricardo was an Apprentice in a Second Grade classroom. This year, he is one of the Kindergarten Teachers and is excited for the school year.
This is NOT a photo of Aja Brydie!
Aja Brydie
Kindergarten Teacher
Ashley Wright
Ashley Wright
Kindergarten Teacher
Ms. Ashley is very excited to join HTe's Kindergarten team! I This is her 3rd year teaching Kindergarten and the little one's truly have her heart. She has previously worked in a Project Based Learning school and is happy to have found a school that aligns with her passion! She is a huge advocate for Social Emotional Learning and is happy to have the opportunity to bring it into the classroom.

Ms. Ashley is a San Diego native! She attended San Diego State University to obtain her Bachelors Degree and California State University Los Angeles for her Multi Subject Teaching credential.
 
In her spare time, Ms. Ashley loves spending time with her large Pacific Islander family! She enjoys traveling, road tripping, hiking, camping and just being in the great outdoors!
1st Grade
Alexandra Adams
Alexandra Adams
1st Grade Apprentice Teacher
Alex is excited to be working at High Tech Elementary for another year! She started her career at HTe as an Academic Coach in first grade, and she can't believe her luck that she's following her first group of students into second grade for the 2018/2019 school year. She is now a first year student in HTe's credentialing program and is looking forward to having her own classroom some day.
 
Alex graduated from San Diego State in 2017 with a Bachelors of Arts in Liberal Studies - Elementary Education. Before her career at HTe, Alex was a writing tutor on SDSU's campus and spent her summers as a camp counselor for the Mission Valley YMCA. When not at school, she enjoys exploring new places, eating good food, and spending time with family.
Lydia Callis
Lydia Callis
1st Grade Teacher
Lydia Callis is a transplant from Michigan, where she was born and raised, then attended Western Michigan University (WMU) to acquire her undergrad in English Literature with a Spanish Language Minor.  Post graduation, she took her BA to sunny San Diego.  In her former life she worked to improve transportation for the elderly and disabled, as a planner at the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) and project manager for the American Red Cross, San Diego Chapter.  Her realization to transform into an educator came through active involvement and initiating projects at the project based learning (PBL) schools her two children attended over the last several years.  She was captivated to see the PBL approach creating deeper and more equitable learning environments for students of all backgrounds.  Coupled with her love of children, she achieved her teaching credential through the High Tech High Apprentice program from 2015-2017, working in grades K-2. Lydia then spent the following year working with the 2nd grade team as an Academic Coach. In 2018 she became a joined the 1st grade team as a classroom teacher and is beyond excited to continue her work at HTe in 1st grade this year.

Lydia is married, has two amazing kids, an equally amazing husband who she spends time with during, before and after she’s done her yoga, reading, running and photography.  Most importantly she’s never stopped learning and looks forward to expanding her education through all the many and wonderful perspectives her students and colleagues will bring to her work everyday over the coming years.
Claire Deken
Claire Deken
1st Grade Teacher

Claire is very excited to continue her teaching career with the first grade team in the fantastic community of HTe teachers, students, and families. Claire joined the HTe family in the spring of 2016, and is thankful to have found a grade level that matches her sense of humor and attention span.


Claire received her Bachelors in Mathematics from the College of Creative Studies at UC Santa Barbara, and spent about 4 years working in finance for a trading firm in Philadelphia before moving back home to San Diego. When she's not at school, Claire enjoys being outdoors, spending time with family, and eating delicious food.

Cate Hoff
Cate Hoff
1st Grade Teacher
I grew up in a big family in a small town outside of Boston. I began studying Spanish in high school, which eventually lead to travel, teaching opportunities, and meeting my husband Charley. A few highlights from my twenty plus years as an educator include teaching in a variety of bilingual settings, earning a Master’s Degree at San Francisco State University, and joining the High Tech High community. When I'm not at school, you can find me relaxing at home with Charley and our two children, enjoying San Diego, camping, and visiting family back East.
2nd Grade
Josh Benedick
Josh Benedick
2nd Grade Teacher
Josh is thrilled to join the team at HTe as a 2nd-grade teacher. He was born and raised in Eastern Pennsylvania where he earned his bachelor’s degree from Penn State University in Elementary Education. He began his career as a kindergarten teacher for four years before moving to Brooklyn, New York. In NYC, he taught 2nd and 3rd grade over the five years he lived there. During this time, Josh also earned his master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Relay Graduate School of Education. After many years of dreaming about life on the west coast, Josh and his wife Lacey moved to San Diego. Josh was hired at HTe, Chula Vista as a full-time substitute for the 2017-2018 school year.

Josh always creates a welcoming environment within his classroom believes in building strong relationships with his students and their families. Josh holds all of his students to high expectations and values honesty and respect.

In his free time Josh enjoys hiking, playing basketball, motorcycles and riding dirt bikes, hanging out at the beach and taking his dogs for walks at the park. Josh’s door is always open and welcomes you to come by and say hello!
Janice Swaisgood
Janice SwaisgoodDP
2nd Grade Teacher
Janice is more than excited to continue on the second grade team this year! She earned her B.A. in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Spanish from San Diego State University, where she went on to complete her Bilingual/Cross-Cultural Teaching Credential. After teaching for a few years, she completed her Master's Degree in Teaching, Learning and Curriculum Design from the University of California, San Diego.

Janice has enjoyed serving students and families in a variety of capacities throughout her educational career -- as a classroom teacher, a mentor teacher, a literacy specialist/intervention teacher, a resource teacher, an academic liaison for parents, and as a world language teacher (Spanish as a Second Language for grades 1-2).

For the 7 years prior to joining the team at HTe, Janice has worked for the Children & Nature Network (C&NN), a non-profit that is dedicated to connecting children, families and communities to nature for their health and well-being, and for that of our planet. As the Director of Family Initiatives for C&NN, her work carried her to several corners of the globe where she taught and trained people from a variety of backgrounds and philosophies about the many benefits of time spent in nature, as well as how to work with children and families in fostering their connections with each other and the natural world.

You will often find Janice outside with her family, where they enjoy hiking, camping, traveling the world and other adventures together. Both of her sons are students in the High Tech Village in Point Loma.
Kayla Wisniewski
Kayla Wisniewski
2nd Grade Teacher
Kayla is so excited to be joining the 2nd grade team at HTe and continue sharing her passion for learning! Kayla believes in the importance of creating a safe classroom community where all students feel supported and inspired to be lifelong learners. 

Kayla earned her Bachelors degree from UCSD in International Studies with a focus in Sociology. After college, Kayla decided to pursue her love for learning and joined High Tech High. After working as an Academic Coach for HTHMA, she completed the 2-year HTH District Intern Credential Program, earning her Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential while working as an Apprentice Teacher in Kindergarten and 2nd Grade. She spent last year teaching 5th grade at HTeNC. 

Outside of school Kayla enjoys practicing yoga, reading, hiking, and being outdoors with her husband and two dogs.
3rd Grade
Tiffany Florio
Tiffany Florio
3rd Grade Teacher
Tiffany is a native New Yorker, born and raised in Brooklyn. Coming from a family of teachers, she also began to study early childhood education at CUNY Brooklyn College, where she earned her bachelors degree. After taking classes and working with a variety of grade levels, it was clear to her that she wanted to work with children in education.
In Brooklyn, she began working with preschoolers through the practice of Reggio Emilia. Following her passion for traveling, she moved to beautiful San Diego, continuing this practice, working on long term child centered projects with preschoolers. Her passions in teaching are incorporating the arts and sciences into her projects with the goal of giving children multiple outlets for their learning. She believes the bond between teacher and parent are highly impactful in a child's success.
When exploring elementary schools, she came across HTe and immediately felt connected to their philosophy and values. When beginning to work here, she also quickly formed connections with students and colleagues. She is absolutely excited to be working at this grade level and with such an amazing third grade team!

Some of Tiffany's favorite things:
The color blue, watching her favorite NY sports teams (Jets, Mets, Rangers), boating and jet skiing; San Diego sunsets, traveling, her two nieces Brooklyn and Reese, Christmas, Comic Con, and cooking.
4th Grade
This is NOT a photo of Charlotte Askem Smith!
Charlotte Askem Smith
4th Grade Teacher
Allyson Beasecker
Allyson Beasecker
4th Grade Teacher
Michelle Jaconette
Michelle JaconetteDP
4th Grade Teacher
Michelle grew up in Santa Barbara, California and came to San Diego to attend UCSD. As an undergrad, Michelle worked as a photographer for the UCSD Guardian, and a writing mentor at the UCSD Writing Center. After graduating with a BA in Literature/ Writing, Michelle joined the High Tech community as an Academic Coach at High Tech Middle Media Arts. It was during her year as an AC that Michelle realized she wanted to be teacher.

In order to pursue teaching, Michelle decided to leave sunny California to attend Columbia Teachers College in New York City where she earned a MA in English Education. After a year of hard work and a winter of snowy commutes, Michelle was thrilled to come back to the High Tech family as a 4th grade teacher at High Tech Elementary! Michelle was a founding faculty member at HTe in 2015.

When she is not at school, Michelle enjoys traveling to faraway places, reading, writing letters, swimming in the ocean, camping, doing word puzzles, hiking and watching Jeopardy!
Julie Schneider
Julie Schneider
4th Grade Teacher

Julie hopes to educate students through facilitation while they discover that their ideas, emotion and futures matter. She strives to make the most of time in school by challenging students with eye-opening content and tasks that lead to self-discovery when accomplished.

While earning her B.A. in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Science Education at Maryville University in St. Louis, Julie enjoyed partaking in outdoor education opportunities. She volunteered weekly at Litzsinger Road Ecology Center and spent a Summer working at Teton Science Schools through Americorps in Jackson, Wyoming. During her time as a student she also worked as a Lead Behavior Assistant, providing ABA therapy for children with autism.

For the past two years, Julie has taught 5th graders in the Pattonville School District in St. Louis, Missouri. After learning about project-based learning and implementing it in her classroom through student-led projects on global warming and palm oil deforestation, Julie decided to move to San Diego to be a part of a school community that promoted equity, creativity, collaboration, and other 21st century skills through project-based learning.

When Julie is not teaching and learning from her students, she is reading outside with (and to) her two cats.

5th Grade
Jeff Govoni
Jeff Govoni
5th Grade Teacher
Jeff is very proud to be a founding teacher for High Tech Elementary schools.  Going on his 10th year (in 2019) of project based teaching at High Tech!  He grew up in Boston spending summers on the Atlantic and feels very lucky to now spend his summers on the Pacific.

Jeff is into hands on, messy projects that challenge students to figure out the results on their own.  But he also understands that learning great basic skills and developing successful habits of mind also needs to be covered at the elementary level.  In Jeff's class your child should feel safe to be his or herself and know that he or she is an important part of the classroom community.
Allison Kucia
Allison Kucia
5th Grade Teacher
Allison is incredibly proud to be a founding teacher at HTe. She is originally from Connecticut, where she attended the University of Connecticut and graduated from their Integrated Bachelor’s/Master’s Teacher Education Program with her B.S. in Elementary Education, B.A. in English and M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction. Originally her intention was to attend a teacher education program in Connecticut to eventually teach in that state, but after a harsh winter on the East coast leading to a spur-of-the-moment trip to visit friends in California, she fell in love with San Diego. By the end of her week long stay, she had made up her mind to relocate across the country to begin her teaching career.

Allison is ecstatic to announce that her journey at HTe has provided her with 4 amazing years in Third Grade, "Yearbook Advisor" in the school's student-led Yearbook Committee, leadership opportunities in science (NGSS) and mathematics (MAIC), and most recently a spot on the Fifth Grade team for her 5th year of teaching!

Outside of the classroom, Allison most enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with family and friends.
All School
Alicia Wong
Alicia Wong
Dean of Students
Alicia Wong is extremely passionate about High Tech High's mission and philosophy, mainly because as a graduate of High Tech High International herself, she has seen firsthand the benefits of student-centered, project-based learning. After graduating from HTHI in 2007, Alicia completed her bachelor's studies at Soka University of America in Aliso Viejo, CA. She went on to obtain her Master's degree in teacher education and teaching credential from the University of Pennsylvania. Outside of school, Alicia's interests include soccer, musical theatre, reading, and traveling. Alicia taught at High Tech Middle from 2012-2016 and then attended the High Tech High Graduate School of Education for her second master's degree in Educational Leadership. She is excited to be continuing her learning journey this year as the Dean of Students at High Tech Elementary.
Jonathan Origel
Jonathan Origel
Site Manager
This is NOT a photo of Elliott Arnold!
Elliott Arnold
Aftercare Assistant
This is NOT a photo of Robert Beale!
Robert Beale
Afterschool Staff
Elizabeth Brown
Elizabeth Brown
Education Specialist
I am so excited to join the HTH inclusion team this year!  I grew up in rural Wisconsin and moved to Cambridge, MA to complete my B.S. in Counseling at  Lesley University.  While in college I selected internships focusing on mental health, homelessness and inclusive programs for children.  I deeply value my time working in inclusive environments that provide  access and opportunities for all, which led me working in education. When I moved to San Diego I began working as an art teacher and instructional assistant in an inclusive school and transitioned to supporting students with crisis-intervention and behavioral/academic interventions.  This year I started the HTH Ed Specialist credentialing program so I can better serve students with special needs. I am passionate about social-emotional learning, social justice and helping develop the next generation of changemakers.  
 
When I’m not at school, I love hanging out with my two cats and dog in the tiny house on wheels I built. I also love cooking, hiking, my vegetable garden, and finding new building projects! 
Annie Carter
Annie Carter
Inclusion Specialist
As a San Diego native I have always felt a strong sense of responsibility to make my city a great place to learn. I wanted to have the educational environment in our schools mirror the natural beauty that surrounds us. As I completed my B.A. in Interdisciplinary Humanities from USD ('12); I knew I wanted to be an Ed. Specialist in a great school district. My degree allowed me to focus on the different philosophies of education and the social obligation to defend and protect all of our kids as they grow. I completed my M.A. in 2015 where I student taught in North County and in SDUSD. Those experiences solidified my sense of duty to support kids with special needs. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to be working at HTe with great staff and I am excited to be the Kindergarten and First Grade Inclusion Specialist! Outside of school you'll find me either playing with my dog (Rex), at one of my four older siblings' homes,taking a hike outside, or of course, perfecting my stir-fry recipe!
Kristin Elia
Kristin Elia
School Psychologist
Georgia Figueroa
Georgia Figueroa
K-5 Support
Georgia is a San Diego native, born and raised. She earned her undergraduate degree from San Diego State University in Psychology with an emphasis in Psycholinguistics. Continuing her love for learning and working with children, she completed her graduate degree from University of California, San Diego in Education.

Georgia began her teaching career working in diverse schools all around San Diego county - El Cajon, National City, Chula Vista, and Encinitas. In 2011, Georgia was thrilled to be a founding faculty member of High Tech Elementary, Chula Vista (HTeCV); the second elementary school within the High Tech High organization. After teaching at HTeCV for several years, Georgia was equally enthused to help open another elementary within HTH. It is here, at High Tech Elementary in Point Loma, where she currently works as an Instructional Coach.

When Georgia isn't engaging in the meaningful work at HTe, she loves to get outdoors and travel with her husband, two daughters, and Boston Terrier.
Sara Gallagher
Sara Gallagher
Speech Therapist
Sara is a New Jersey native who moved to San Diego to attend UC San Diego. After earning an undergraduate degree in Cognitive Science, she stayed on in San Diego to attend San Diego State University’s Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences program. Sara has worked in pre-K through high school school settings, private practice, and as the speech-language pathology liason for San Diego Regional Center. She later returned to SDSU as an adjunct, teaching the clinical practicum for early intervention diagnostics to graduate students.

Sara is excited to be a part of HTe’s founding faculty. After working for three years at High Tech’s Chula Vista campus, she quickly embraced the full inclusion philosophy that allows her to help students develop and expand their communication skills in the classroom setting.

Outside of work, Sara spends her time with her two young children and husband. She takes advantage of any opportunity to travel back east, but never tires of all that San Diego has to offer.
Shana Jones
Shana JonesDP
Inclusion Specialist
Shana is a native of New Jersey but always knew she would end up on the West Coast.  Although she will begin working with Inclusion this year, she has taught First Grade for 8 years and Kindergarten here at HTe for 2 years. Despite her love for teaching, this is her second career.  She earned a degree in Art Studio with a minor in Theatre Arts from the University of Maryland. After moving out to California to pursue theatre, she realized that teaching was really her passion. This came through working with San Diego Youth Repertory Theatre and teaching young children to create sets. She earned her teaching credential at SDSU and was thrilled to begin working in the classroom.  Her background in theatre has really lent itself to working with young children and teachers because of the experience with collaboration and creating beautiful work.

Shana also received A Masters in Language Arts and a Reading Specialist Credential from SDSU. This year she transitions to Inclusion at HTe and looks forward to learning more about helping support students with special needs through their Inclusion Program.

In her free time Shana enjoys spending time with her son Waylon and her husband Zach.  She loves surfing, running, hiking, camping, traveling, home projects and reading non-fiction books about music and adventures. Her last trip was to Peru for her Honeymoon where she hiked Machu Picchu and surfed the coast (Haunchaco). She hopes to go on many more adventures including New Zealand, Iceland and Ireland.
Starry Krueger
Starry KruegerDP
Theater Teacher
When Starry was four, she played a cow in a production of "Farmer Duck" and fell in love with theater forever.  She holds a bachelor's degree in theater from Skidmore College and a master's degree in elementary education from the University of New Haven.  After graduating, Starry spent a year touring the U.S. and Canada with the Missoula Children's Theater.  In 2015, Starry founded Imaginary Theater Company, a children's theater in New Haven, CT whose mission is to produce original plays that empower children to be the heroes of their own stories.  When she isn't teaching, Starry can be found doing yoga and writing new plays.
Danny Lizza
Danny LizzaDP
Movement & Mindfulness Teacher
Movement & Mindfulness with Mr. Lizza is designed to provide K-5 students with happy, healthy, physically active lifestyles and an understanding of how their bodies are connected to their brains. In M&M, students will partake in collaborative peer relationships and learn self-regulation techniques through project based learning and physical movement. The program intends to honor HTe’s existing outdoor traditions while captivating students in new, inclusive outdoor experiences.

Mr. Lizza was born and raised near Detroit, Michigan. He earned his B.A. in elementary education and his multiple subject teaching credential from University of San Diego. He acquired his physical education credential through UCLA. He earned his meditation and mindfulness certification from Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga. He taught within the world of special education, and he directed an outdoor day camp for inquisitive four year olds. Throughout college, he served as a head lifeguard and led swimming lessons. Following a year of standards based kindergarten teaching, Mr. Lizza educated K-12 patients with chronic health care needs at University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. He engaged kindergarteners in SUPER FUN project based learning at HTeNC and HTe. Movement & Mindfulness is Mr. Lizza’s passion project.

Mr. Lizza is a beach volleyball player, a backyard trampolinist, a sidewalk jump roper and an inventor of games. He loves laughing with his cousins, eating spoonfuls of peanut butter, biking beside the ocean and crafting lengthy lists. Adventure is out there!
This is NOT a photo of Gina Lopez!
Gina Lopez
Academic Coach
Trisha Magoon
Trisha MagoonDP
K-5 Support
Trisha is proud to be a native San Diegan who earned her Bachelors Degree and Teaching Credential from SDSU. After teaching for several years, she returned to school to earn her Masters Degree in Education at National University. She worked for many years in two local elementary schools where she taught 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th grades, was a Literacy Resource Teacher and a Peer Coach.

In 2011, she was very fortunate to join the High Tech family as a founding faculty member at High Tech Elementary Chula Vista, where she enjoyed four great years! In fact, she enjoyed the challenging and rewarding work of project based learning in the elementary classroom so much that she decided to help bring that same work to a new community by becoming a founding faculty member at our newest school, HTe in Point Loma! She could not be more proud and excited!

In her free time, Trisha enjoys spending time with her friends and family, reading, watching movies, traveling, watching sports, and being near the water (preferably a tropical beach, but just about any body of water will do)!
Riley Meehan
Riley Meehan
Engineering Teacher
Riley is an engineer, maker, designer, educator, tinkerer, and lifelong learner. He believes that all children are budding engineers and that engineering provides authentic and practical opportunities to employ math, science, and critical thinking skills.
Riley grew up in Los Angeles, so he's no newbie to the west coast, but he is brand new to San Diego and just arrived after spending the previous six years in Boston, MA. Before joining the High Tech High team, he spent time working as an engineer, educator, and researcher. He has experience working on state of the art engineering projects with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He has taught engineering to learners from kindergarten to college and in many places from El Salvador to Minnesota. And most recently, he was a researcher in Boston while getting his Masters of Science in STEM Education at Tufts University. While working at Tufts, his research lived in the worlds of education, engineering, design, and sociology – focusing on how educational institutions design and make sense of the use of makerspaces as reflecting the existing commitments of a school community. He hopes to bring the lessons from that work to HTe and continue to cultivate learning spaces that support children in their engineering endeavors.

Riley is really excited to be joining the HTH family and is always looking to make new connections. His biggest weakness is not being able to say no, so feel free to contact him with any new ideas or ask him to get involved with whatever you’re working on – he'll definitely say yes.
This is NOT a photo of Tayla Webb!
Tayla Webb
Aftercare Assistant