- Lili Abbott
- Raquel AlcaláXRaquel Alcalá
Hello friends! My name is Raquel Alcala and I am a Kindergarten Teacher at High Tech Elementary. I was born in Caracas, Venezuela and moved to San Diego with my family when I was five years old. Ever since I could remember, I’ve always wanted to be a teacher; I love learning, I love school and I want to share that love with others. I took a detour in my path to becoming a teacher and received my degree in Business Administration from the University of San Diego, always knowing that I would go back to school to get my teaching credential. While in school, I started my professional journey in working with children at the YMCA as a Youth Leader and as a Teaching Artist for CYT@school. After graduating I explored my business degree in corporate America, but quickly realized I had to go back to working and inspiring children.
In January of 2015, I was hired at HTeCV as an Academic Coach in Kindergarten, then went on to receive my Multiple Subject Teaching Credential at High Tech High's Graduate School of Education while working at HTeCV as an Apprentice Teacher in Kindergarten, 1st grade, and 2nd grade for the school years 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 . This year, I am thrilled to be joining the HTe campus in Point Loma as a Kindergarten Teacher.
An inspirational quote that resonates with my teaching philosophy is, “I want to inspire people. I want someone to look at me and say, ‘Because of you I didn't give up’". I hope to inspire students to love learning, to explore, to wonder, to work together, to see the priceless value of education and to be excited to walk into our classroom everyday! Every student deserves the opportunity to learn, grow and make progress; I hope to provide an engaging, hands-on learning experiencing in a nurturing, organized and peaceful environment. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my loved ones, exploring the many delicious restaurants San Diego has to offer and relaxing by dancing, listening to music and doing Kickboxing.
- Andrea FriasX
This will be Andrea Frias’ sixth year teaching kindergarten at HTe. At HTH for a number of years now, she has also taught 9th grade Math/Physics, 10th and 11th grade Spanish, and served as Dean of Students. Previous to working at HTH, Andrea taught the upper elementary grades and preschool dance in San Diego and Rhode Island. Andrea grew up in the San Diego area and graduated from Chula Vista High School: School of the Creative and Performing Arts with a major in Dance. She then left San Diego to study across the country. Andrea received her Bachelor’s in Hispanic Studies with a focus in Literature and Culture from Brown University. She continued her graduate studies at Brown receiving a Master of Arts in Elementary Education. Most recently, Andrea graduated from the School Leadership program at the High Tech High Graduate School. The kindergarten world is one of rigorous learning and Andrea loves to help students develop mindsets that will help them always try their best and feel empowered as life-long learners. She feels very fortunate to be able to support students as they harness the power of wonder and collaboration. Puppetry, song, dance, tinkering, loose parts play, prototyping, engineering, data collection, building, and exploring all have a place in the daily life of a kinder student. She feels honored to be able to live in the kindy world. Andrea is also the mother of an elementary-age explorer and spends a lot of time taking nature walks, attending tea parties, and helping a future chemist-ballerina-engineer seek answers to her many wonderings. In any spare moments, you can find her practicing her dance moves or enjoying the outdoors.
- Cereescia SandovalX
Cereescia in Keres, Pueblo translates as Mountain Bluebird. The bluebird in many cultures symbolizes transformation, growth, and indicates that greater sunshine is soon to come. I fully embrace the power of my name. As a teacher, I work to transform the traditional classroom into a student-centered space that hums with discovery, problem solving, and excitement. I am constantly evaluating the best ways to help grow the mind, body, and spirit of each child. To teach to the whole child I strive to incorporate challenging projects that invite collaboration while encouraging play and inciting joy.
Before arriving at High Tech Elementary, I was a graduate student at the University of Oregon. I received a degree in curriculum and education with endorsements in K-12 instruction. My decision to pursue my master’s was born out of a passion for teaching that developed while operating a preschool program in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I have also taught in many other capacities, including as a youth worker in inner city Chicago and an English teacher in Japan. Beyond being a teacher I am an outdoor enthusiast, a dedicated runner, and a traveler.
I incorporate my own life story into my teaching. I also value the cultures and understandings that every student brings with them into the classroom. My hope is that through the positive exchange of ideas and culture students will gain the confidence to find possibility in the face of probability.
- Claire DekenX
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 HTe as an Academic Coach for second grade in the spring of 2016, and is currently a student in the HTe credentialing program. She 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.
- Trisha MagoonX
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)!
- Amy StrayerX
Amy is an East coast native, but is so happy to now call San Diego her home! She moved here two years ago with her husband to enjoy the beautiful weather and beaches! Amy went to Lasell College in Boston where she majored in Early Childhood Education and minored in Child and Adolescent Studies. She earned her Masters of Science in Educational Studies from Johns Hopkins University. Amy is entering her sixth year of teaching (four in 3rd grade and second in 1st grade). She feels so fortunate to be a part of the wonderful HTe community!
Amy is extremely excited to share in the curiosity, wonder and exploration of learning with her first grade students this year and have the privilege of getting to know them and their families over the coming months!
During her free time Amy enjoys being outdoors, exploring San Diego, relaxing at the beach, playing with her dog and reading books.
- Ricardo BorjaXteaching Apprentice
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. He is now participating in HTH’s credentialing program and will be an apprentice teacher this school year.
- Desiree PowersX
Growing up in northern New Jersey, in the shadows of Manhattan, Desiree discovered her passion for learning and culture at a young age. With endless sights and attractions in her backyard, she would often find herself lost in one of the many museums or historical landmarks New York has to offer. Her thirst for knowledge is something she still carries today and has since developed into her desire to teach and share with others.
Desiree received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Certification of Elementary Education at William Paterson University. After graduating, she worked closely with 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders, teaching academics as well as life skills for 3 years, before moving to sunny San Diego.
Desiree began her career at HTe Chula Vista in 2014, working with the 2nd Grade team as an academic coach. She stayed on to open HTe in Point Loma where she worked with the 2nd grade team for the first trimester and moved on to teach 5th Grade for the second and third trimesters. She is beyond excited to be working with the 2nd Grade team again as a teacher this year.When she is not teaching, Desiree enjoys traveling to Asia, catching up on a good book, or cheering on her favorite baseball team, the New York Mets.
- Jami SavilleXJami Saville
Jami Saville is a Southern California native who was born and raised in Hermosa Beach. Raised by two Deaf parents, Jami learned how to sign before she could speak! She graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in Education. A beach girl at heart, she returned to California to get her teaching credential and Masters in Education from UCLA. Jami began her teaching career in South Los Angeles and taught kindergarten for three years. In 2006, she found herself traveling to San Diego to visit friends so often that she decided to just move on down! Before coming to the High Tech High organization, Jami taught kindergarten and 2nd grade in the San Diego Unified School District. In 2011, she was one of the founding teachers at High Tech Elementary Chula Vista. It was an amazing experience to open a school, collaborate with such positive teachers and build exceptional relationships with students and their families. Because of this rich and meaningful experience, Jami decided to join the team that opened High Tech Elementary in Point Loma. It has been an amazing journey so far!
When she is not teaching and learning with her students, Jami enjoys spending quality time with her husband, Eric and two boys, Evan and Levi.
- Janice SwaisgoodX
Janice is more than excited to return to the classroom and join the HTe team as a second grade teacher 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 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 past 7 years, 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.
- Tiffany FlorioX
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.
- Allison KuciaXAllison Kucia
Allison is incredibly excited to be a part of the HTePL community as a founding third grade teacher. 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 stay, she had made up her mind to relocate across the country to begin her teaching career.
Outside of the classroom, Allison most enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with family and friends.
- Samantha LipmanX
Samantha Lipman is excited to join HTe this year with the third grade team. She has a B.A. in English with Honors from Georgetown University and a M.A. in Elementary Education from Stanford University. In college, Ms. Lipman volunteered with CentroNía, a bilingual charter school, was selected for the Lannan Literary Fellowship, served on the brainstorming committee for a nonprofit writing center, and the youth advisory board for a spoken word performance group for teenagers.
In graduate school, Ms. Lipman had the opportunity to learn about Jo Boaler's innovative math approach at the Graduate School of Education. She also studied design thinking through the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design/"the d. school" at Stanford. She has previous experience teaching at Carlthorp School and Brentwood School in Los Angeles.
Ms. Lipman loves combining STEM education and literacy. She is passionate about design thinking and will brainstorm with you about anything. She always has post it notes and cardboard for this purpose. For fun, she loves to hike, swim, cook, travel, and watch Georgetown basketball and Stanford football games.
- Ally BeasackerX
Ally was born and raised in San Diego. She attended Western Kentucky University where she studied English and journalism. After leaving WKU, she travelled through Latin America and worked remotely for an online news source. Through her travels, Ally realized she wanted to change paths and become a teacher.
In 2015, she was fortunate to be hired as a fourth grade academic coach at HTe. This year, Ally is joining the incredible fifth grade team. She is excited to continue to learn and grow with the students at HTe.In her free time, Ally loves to surf, read historical fiction novels, write, bike around town, and dream up her next international adventure.
- Michelle JaconetteX
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!
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!
- Heather McNamaraX
Heather McNamara is excited to take on the role of teacher this coming year, following two years as Academic Coach in 4th grade here at HTe. Part of a High Tech High family (her husband, Tim, is down at HTHCV, her sister was a founding teacher at HTeCV, and her children are at HTM and HTe), Heather is passionate about great projects. After previously teaching History and English at a traditional middle school, she’s excited to teach in HTH’s project-based model.
Heather prioritizes time with her family and loves to read with her boys, cook real food from scratch, make music, and be outdoors camping and skiing - usually with camera in hand! She also gets inordinate enjoyment out of watching her San Diego kids do things she never did growing up in New York - - including skating, surfing, and playing outdoor sports all year long.
- Natalie AlliX
Natalie grew up in Salinas, California, a central coast agricultural town, and moved to Northern California to attend high school in Davis. After graduating high school, she attended San Diego State University, earning a B.A. in Liberal Studies with a minor in Spanish, and a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. She is a graduate of the High Tech High Master’s in Teacher Leadership Program. Natalie taught elementary school for eight years in Chula Vista, California. When she arrived to High Tech High she taught seventh grade math/science for 2 years and seventh grade humanities for 2 years at HTMMA. Natalie then returned to Chula Vista where she taught fifth grade at HTeCV. She is thrilled to be a founding teacher at HTePL where she will be teaching fourth grade.
She and her husband enjoy traveling anywhere they can! Experiencing the cultures of the Philippines, Italy, and Costa Rica were particularly fascinating to them. In her free time, Natalie enjoys spending time with her son Zeke, gardening, cuddling up with a great book, scuba diving, collecting insects and rocks, and photography.
- Janna AndersonX
Janna joined the High Tech High organization in 2011 as a second grade teacher the founding year of HTe Chula Vista. She is beyond excited to be joining the HTe Point Loma team and continue to work with second graders. Janna enjoys trying to build projects that strive to satisfy children's innate curiosity and desire to explore the world around them.
Janna attended Bowling Green State University in Ohio and studied abroad in France, Canada, and on a Semester at Sea program while earning a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with minors in French and Psychology. Upon graduation, Janna taught English in Japan and moved to San Diego for the beautiful weather and beaches and fell in love with the city. She taught several elementary grades at San Diego’s Language Academy in French immersion classrooms for seven years. During this time, Janna also earned a master’s degree in Teacher Leadership from High Tech High Graduate School of Education in 2010.
In Janna’s free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling to new and exciting destinations, running, swimming at the beach, or curling up with a good book.
- Brandon Duong
- Madison O'MaraX
Madison is a San Diego native and a High Tech High graduate. She is thrilled to reunite with the High Tech High community and teach at HTe. Madison graduated with a BA in Psychology and a minor in Spanish from the University of Portland, in Portland, Oregon. After graduating, she traveled to New Zealand where she worked on a farm and explored New Zealand’s countryside through hiking and horseback riding. When she returned to the United States, she decided to become a preschool teacher. It was her time as a preschool teacher that ignited her love and passion for students and teaching. Madison spent the last two years at the University of San Diego where she earned her Master of Education and teaching credential.
In her spare time, Madison can be found outside hiking with her dog, camping, or horseback riding. She also enjoys traveling, cooking, drawing, and painting.
Madison is eager to be a part of the High Tech High community and share her love for education. She creates a classroom environment where students are collaborative, empathetic, and involved in their community.
- Cady StaffX
Cady Staff Hwang loves kids, science, literature, writing, poetry, math, U.S. history, being a mom and an auntie, playing soccer, surfing, gardening, cooking with her husband, and exploring outdoors with her daughter. Cady began her teaching career as a high school teacher - first, as a 12th grade ELD teacher at San Diego High School and then as a 9th and 10th grade English teacher at Madison High School. She has been teaching at High Tech High since 2005 and was a founding 8th grade teacher at both HTMMA and HTMCV.
Last year, she became Ms. Cady the Science Lady and taught K-5 Science at HTeX. She fell in love with teaching elementary school and looks forward to continuing science explorations with her fifth graders. She is so excited to be joining the HTe family and teaching on the 5th grade team with friends and inspiring colleagues from graduate school.
Moving to San Diego from LA, she earned her undergraduate degree, her teaching credential and a Masters in Education at UCSD. She completed work for her second Masters in Teacher Leadership through the HTH Graduate School of Education where she focused on social entrepreneurship, empowerment and engagement in the classroom.
During the 2012-2013 school year, she moved to England to work with schools interested in implementing project-based learning. This summer, she traveled to Australia to work with schools interested in pbl. She loves to discover new things and figure out solutions to problems, while celebrating life and learning along the way!
- Anne Worrall DirectorXAnne WorrallDirector
Anne Worrall believes that small children's intellect and capacity for mischief are often vastly underestimated by adults. She has been committed to exploring this theory for more than two decades as an Elementary school teacher and principal.
Anne holds a B.A. in International Relations and an Administrative Services credential from the University of San Diego, a California State Bilingual Crosscultural Language & Academic Development Certificate, as well as a Masters of Education in Cross-Cultural Teaching. She is the founding Director of two HTH elementary schools, and currently serves as Director of High Tech Elementary in Point Loma.
Anne enjoys continuously reassessing her understanding of the world, partly as a result of interacting with her daughter. She looks forward to learning and laughing each day with kids, colleagues, and friends.
- Allie Wong Dean of StudentsXDean 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.
- Susan Baldwin GSE ResidentXSusan BaldwinGSE Resident
When a flower doesn't bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower" Alexander Den Heijer
Susan Baldwin is a "fixer". A mother of three and a professional musician, she left the recital hall in order to transform classrooms in inner city Hartford, CT., remake arts programs across Kansas City, Missouri, and turn around failing schools in Baltimore, Maryland. Susan is a proud graduate of the "New Leaders" transformational leadership development program, Cohort 11, and is presently serving as the principal of the Millwood Elementary Learning Academy in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Working through a vision of creative, collaborative and personalized instruction, Susan, along with her staff strive daily to ignite every child's passion for learning while empowering their belief in themselves and the unlimited potential of hard work and consistent effort. Although she will miss her students, her staff and her community, Susan is looking forward to once again hearing the sound of the ocean, instead of the tornado siren, and to working with the High Tech staff to explore the possibilities of project-based learning as the next vehicle of transformation for the Millwood Elementary Learning Academy.
- Araceli Carrera Performing ArtsXPerforming Arts
I believe that art & dance provides a powerful outlet for everybody to build a strong voice, opinion and perspective of our world.
I first discovered visual arts the moment I held my first pencil, and dance came to me as a beautiful surprise. Both art forms continue to inspire me and I always look forward to the exchange they provide for self and others. In 2001 I received a BFA in Dance Education from Arizona State University. The momentum of teaching, choreographing, collaborating has been non-stop. I have been fortunate to dance, teach, choreograph and tour. I held the role of Arts Education Director, developed a youth dance touring school show called I Speak...Dance! I am the Artistic Director for Impulse Danza Youth Company and continue cultivating connections through Visual Art, Modern Dance Technique, and Afro Caribbean Dancein the community.
It is through exploring, discovering, creating, recognizing, connecting & reflecting through the arts that an artist's voice is built. It is an honor to teach all these qualities to HTe students.
- Annie Carter Inclusion SpecialistXAnnie CarterInclusion 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!
- Georgia Figueroa K-5 Support TeacherXK-5 Support Teacher
After graduating from San Diego State University in 2008 with a B.A. in Psychology and an emphasis in Psycholinguistics, Georgia decided to pursue her passion for working with children. In 2010, Georgia earned her Multiple-Subjects Teaching Credential along with a Master’s in Education from the University of California, San Diego.
Georgia taught 3rd grade in National City before joining the High Tech organization. In 2011, she served as a founding faculty member for the first High Tech Elementary in Chula Vista. She instructed 3rd graders for four years at HTeCV. She is thrilled to have yet another opportunity to help found the newest High Tech Elementary, in Point Loma. Georgia believes in teaching the whole child by truly working to understand who her students are as individuals. She encourages them to take risks, transform, and grow in both heart and mind. She strives to help students discover the world around them and how they hope to impact it through hands-on, collaborative, inquiry-based projects.
When Georgia is not working with children, she enjoys spending time with her family. You can find them surfing at the beach, camping and hiking around the U.S., indulging at their local coffee shop, or enjoying home cooked meals with good friends.
Publications and Posts:
Unboxed article: www.hightechhigh.org/unboxed/issue11/growth_through_reflection/
Teaching philosophy video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=itMn0PVZcQE
- Sara Gallagher Speech Language PathologistXSpeech Language Pathologist
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.
- Cathryn Magielnicki PsychologistXPsychologist
I have been working within the field of Education since 2009 in various roles: Teacher, Creative Arts Therapist, Researcher and School Psychologist. I am a native New Yorker, who moved to Boston to pursue degrees in Child Development and School Psychology from Tufts University. Prior to pursuing a degree in School Psychology, I worked heavily in the field of research for various institutes including Tufts University, MIT, and Tufts Floating Hospital for Children where I looked at resiliency factors in students who participated in music programs, ADHD and the benefits of neurofeedback, and early indicators of Dyslexia. In 2012 I moved to San Diego where I taught in a Reggio-Based School and then moved back to Boston in 2014 to finish my degree in School Psychology. Upon returning to Boston, I worked in the Boston Public Schools as a School Psychology Intern. In 2016 I joined the High Tech Community! I am passionate about Social Emotional Learning, Social Justice, collaborating with parents and advocating for our students.
Outside of work, I enjoy spending my time hiking, baking, traveling and cuddling with my dog.
- Sylvia Martinez Site ManagerXSylvia MartinezSite Manager
Sylvia was born in Tijuana, Mexico and raised in San Diego with her loving parents and 3 siblings. Sylvia attended Sweetwater High School in National City, Ca.
Sylvia's most memorable moments growing up were the twice yearly trips her family would take to Chihuahua, Mexico where her maternal grandparents and extended family are from as well as monthly visits to her father's extended family in Los Angeles. Having come from a bi-racial, bi-cultural family background, Sylvia believes she's been blessed with "the best of both worlds."
In her spare time, Sylvia enjoys traveling, reading, watching her youngest daughter play volleyball at HTHCV and spending time with her three older children & extended family.
Favorites Questionnaire (by request)
My Birthday: August 16
Favorite Candy: Dark Chocolate w/Almonds
Favorite Flower: Gerber daisy
Favorite Drink: Decaf Green Tea
- Riley Meehan EngineeringXRiley MeehanEngineering
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.
- Shana Pitcher Education SpecialistXEducation 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.
- Alex Pugnali EngineeringXEngineering
Alex Pugnali is very excited join the HTe family this year as an Engineering teacher. He graduated from Tufts University in 2016 with a background in Human Factors Engineering and Child Development. After graduating, Alex spent a year working as an Education Specialist at Tufts and ran Engineering Workshops for Elementary-High School students and teachers. He loves working with kids, which is why he decided to become a full-time teacher. Alex believes that kids have the power to be whatever they wish, regardless of the background they come from.
Alex grew up in Brazil, where his family is originally from. He has also lived Mexico, Florida, and Boston (where he spent the last 5 years) and is excited to make San Diego his new home. He loves to travel and explore new cultures. He will gladly take suggestions of new places to visit! Aside from traveling, Alex loves to paint, hike, bake, and spend time with friends.
- Robin Rubenstein Elementary Learning GuruXRobin RubensteinElementary Learning Guru
Robin is excited to join the team at HTe as a School Leadership Resident. For the past two years she has been the Elementary School Principal at DREAM Charter School in New York City and she brings over 12 years of elementary school teaching and leadership experience to HTH.
Robin received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona’s School of Education and a master’s degree in Special Education with a focus in Learning Disabilities from Hunter College in New York City.
She has lived in New York City with her husband and two daughters for the past 11 years. While in New York she taught for the New York City DOE and was the founding special education teacher at Harlem Success Academy, before working at DREAM Charter School as both a teacher and school leader.
Robin is passionate about education equality, facilitative learning, and teaching students with learning struggles. She is committed to her own continuing education and is looking forward to working with the staff, students, and families at HTH to deepen her understanding and practice of project-based learning and school leadership.
- Scott Shepherd Outdoor LeadershipXOutdoor Leadership
Scott Shepherd is a San Diego native and outdoor enthusiast. His passion for the outdoors lead him to a bachelor's degree in Adventure Education from Fort Lewis College in Durango Colorado. Upon graduation, Scott returned to San Diego with a desire to bring the outdoors to those who may not have the opportunity to experience them. Through his work at Outdoor Outreach, Scott helped share the outdoors through rock climbing, surfing, kayaking, camping, snorkeling, mountain biking and snowboarding to over 1,000 individual youth from underserved communities of San Diego. When not teaching, Scott can be found surfing and exploring San Diego’s Marine Protected Areas or hiking with his family in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park.
- Laurel Showstack Inclusion SpecialistXInclusion Specialist
Originally from Virginia, Laurel has lived across the country and around the world, finally finding a new place to call home in 2016 in sunny San Diego. She earned her BA in International Studies from Old Dominion University, MS in Special Education from National University and a Clear Education Specialist Credential through the High Tech High Intern program. In her spare time, Laurel loves to read travel and try new foods. Her favorite life experiences are teaching abroad because she gets to experience culture first hand and feels like she is giving back to the community. She is passionate about reading and everyone have access to books that take them on adventures! This is Laurel's 4th year with the HTH family. She has been an Inclusion Specialist at HTM and HTeCV. She is very excited to join the HTe family year!