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Staff Directory

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Kindergarten
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Layla Baily
Kindergarten Teacher
        Hello fantastic HTeCV families! My name is Layla Baily and I will be teaching kindergarten this school year. Last year I was on campus as an Apprentice Teacher in both kindergarten and fourth grade, and I am thrilled to be returning for my second year at HTeCV. Before my time at High Tech, I taught English to second grade students in Buenos Aires, Argentina for three years. The time I spent teaching English abroad changed my life and my perspective on the world forever. Not only did I become fluent in Spanish, I learned about the importance of building new friendships, learning new languages and accepting new challenges. Luckily, I was not alone during my adventure through Argentina because I had my husband, Maximiliano, by my side the entire time! We often travel back to Buenos Aires to catch up with his family and spend time in the beautiful city. 

        I believe that a classroom should be a safe space where joyful learning can take place. The classroom environment should cultivate curiosity in a way that meets student needs and helps students to be seen and to succeed. In my classroom, I strive to cultivate a creative environment where empathy and kindness are at the center of all we do. Students need to feel comfortable in their learning atmosphere before their knowledge can grow, and with empathy at the foundation of this environment, I am confident that we can succeed. My hope is that we will continue to involve our families and welcome our friends into our virtual classrooms. I know that we can continue to provide inclusive settings online which ignite a love for learning and create a shared space for growing our knowledge together. Through all of this, students will feel pride in their learning because after all, the learning belongs to them.
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Rosemarie Biocarles-RydeenDP
Kindergarten Teacher
When Rosemarie came home from her first day of Kindergarten, she exclaimed to her father, “I want to be a teacher when I grow up!”  Her first teaching experiences were during her own summer breaks, where as an elementary student herself, she set up her own “classroom” and taught her preschool aged cousins their letters, sounds, colors, and shapes. Her love of teaching has never left.  She went on to attend San Diego State University where she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies (Theatre Specialization), a Multiple Subject CLAD Credential, and a Master’s Degree in Policy Studies in Language and Cross-Cultural Education.  She spent nine years in the Chula Vista Elementary School District as a Primary Grade Teacher, Mentor Teacher, and Instructional Leader.  She became part of HTeCV's founding faculty as a Kindergarten teacher in 2011.

As a South Bay San Diego native, she is passionate about teaching and learning in multicultural and multilingual settings.  Growing up in a bilingual home nurtured her love of words and language.  She is constantly thinking of fun and innovative ways to develop the language and literacy of her young students.  She is a fierce advocate of play based learning and is inspired by the schools of Reggio Emilia, social constructivist teaching practices, and the Forest Kindergarten movement.

In addition to teaching, the great loves of Rosemarie’s life include her husband, Eric and their children Taylor and Ben .  She also enjoys coffee and dessert dates, nature walks, and searching for rocks and minerals with her son.
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Jeanine BlumDP
Kindergarten Teacher
Hi Friends! My name is Ms. Jeanine and I was born and raised right here in lovely San Diego! I attend the University of California, San Diego where I earned a B.S. in Biology. After college, my desire to travel took me abroad to teach English in Thailand. That experience helped solidify my decision to become an educator so I enrolled at San Diego State University, and in 2009 I earned my Multiple Subject Credential. After finishing school I began my career as a K-5 substitute teacher, working all over with the San Diego Unified School District. During that time I also was a tutor for Sylvan Learning Center, a Mad Science Instructor and then a preschool teacher! But I was still looking for something, that extra special something, a school to call my own...

As soon as I stepped foot inside High Tech Elementary in January 2013, I knew this was were I was meant to be! Never had I experienced such a positive learning environment, the energy was tangible! I noticed right away how the students, families, and staff here at HTe have created the most amazing atmosphere of collaboration, respect, and meaningful learning - it truly is an amazing place and it continues to inspire me every day! Teaching Kindergarten is my dream. It is by far my favorite grade and the best part is watching all the amazing growth and development our students go through during this single, but hugely important year!

I have always loved our vibrant city, full of culture and so many things to do, and I especially love the amazing natural spaces San Diego has to offer. I try to get outdoors to take advantage of that as much as possible - and I encourage my students and families to do the same! I grew up next to the ocean and have never been able to drift too far from it. Not surprisingly, teaching ocean science - or any science topics really - continues to be my passion. I also have a great appreciation for music and love attending live concerts. When I am not at school, you might catch me and my family enjoying San Diego's nice weather on a hike through Mission Trails, people watching at a local street fair, traveling around our big blue beautiful planet, or hanging out with our dogs down by the water!
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Meagan Makapugay
Long Term Sub
Hello! My name is Meagan Makapugay & this is my second school year working here at High Tech Elementary in Chula Vista. I am excited for what this year has to offer! Being a part of the Inclusion Team has not only allowed me to work one-on-one with students, but to work closely amongst all students and staff with their needs.

Here's a little bit about myself...

I was born and raised in Palm Springs, CA. In 2011, I moved to San Diego when I attended college at San Diego State University. In 2015, I received my BS in Child and Family Development & I am currently working towards my Mild/Moderate Credentials and MS in Special Education. I have had 5 years of experience working as an early childhood teacher before working in the elementary setting. Currently, I am an Academic Coach & a Behavioral Interventionist. I have had such wonderful opportunities to provide ABA therapy to my kiddos & watch each unique individual improve in their overall developmental skills. My ability to work with students with special needs is so rewarding!

Some fun facts would be that I love singing, playing the piano, and dancing. I am a very family oriented person, and with that being said, I love to spend most of my free time with family & friends.
1st Grade
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Raquel Baumgardner
1st Grade Teacher
Hello friends! My name is Raquel Baumgardner and I'm a 1st Grade Teacher and Inclusion Specialist at HTeCV. I was born in Caracas, Venezuela and moved to San Diego with my family when I was five years old.

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 through HTH's Teacher Center while working at HTeCV as an Apprentice Teacher. I started my career as a classroom teacher at the Point Loma campus as a Kindergarten teacher, and had the opportunity to transfer back to the Chula Vista campus as a 1st grade teacher. I also received my Ed Specialist Credential through HTH's Teacher Center and am now an Inclusion Specialist in my classroom as well.

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 practicing yoga, listening to music and dancing.
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Ruby Rodrigues
1st Grade Teacher
Ruby Rodrigues attended the University of San Diego and was fortunate to experience studying abroad in Viña del Mar, Chile and Guadalajara, Mexico. She graduated from USD with a B.A. in Liberal Studies and a concentration in the Spanish Language and Latin American cultures, as well as a BCLAD teaching credential.

Ruby's first years teaching took place in the Bay Area as a founding teacher at a dual-immersion charter school. After teaching there for three years, the opening of High Tech Elementary Chula Vista in 2011 drew her back to San Diego. In 2015, Ruby was also a founding teacher at High Tech Elementary in Point Loma and then returned to her beloved Chula Vista campus in 2016. All three of those experiences, helping to open schools and build the culture and community were so rich and valuable! Ruby loves being a part of the High Tech community and being surrounded by extremely passionate and inspiring colleagues.

As an educator, Ruby is passionate and thoughtful about building a happy, strong, and supportive classroom culture in which students feel safe to take risks, learn from mistakes, explore their wonderings, seek critique, and create beautiful and meaningful work together. Ruby also strongly values collaboration with teachers and parents as well as experts in and around the community who can help enrich project experiences for her students.

Outside of school Ruby enjoys adventuring and exploring with her husband and two young daughters. Seeing the world through their eyes brings her such joy and gratitude. Some of their favorite places to play and learn are, The New Children's Museum, The San Diego Zoo, the beach, and the San Diego Botanic Gardens.
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Jami Saville
1st Grade Teacher
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 career as an educator in South Los Angeles as a kindergarten teacher.

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 and in 2015, she was a founding teacher at High Tech Elementary in Point Loma.  It has been an amazing and rewarding experience to open two schools, collaborate with such positive teachers and build exceptional relationships with students and their families.

Jami is excited to be a first grade teacher here at HTeCV!  She loves the transformation that happens during this year of school. The students grow so much in all areas and it is wonderful to witness.

When Jami is not teaching and learning with her students, she loves spending quality time with her husband, Eric and her two boys, Evan and Levi. Jami's happy places are Target, the beach and Starbucks. ;-)
2nd Grade
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Simone BanksDP
2nd Grade Teacher
Hello! My name is Simone Banks and I am so excited for another amazing year in  2nd grade at HTeCV. I grew up in beautiful San Diego, California and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Child Development from San Jose State University in 2015 and a Master of Education in Teaching from Alliant International University.

Through my time at SJSU, I developed a passion for working with students in both an educational and outdoor setting. I began my career working as a Swim Instructor for 3 years. After graduating from SJSU, I moved back to SD and decided to pursue an education career. I taught a wonderful Pre-school classroom for 2 years, and also worked as Physical Education teacher for 1 year. In 2016, I began my journey at HteCV as an Academic Coach in 1st grade. Since then, I have worked throughout the K-5 classrooms, and I have loved every minute of it.

When I am not teaching, I enjoy spending time with my 3 sisters and relaxing at home. I am a huge Netflix & Hulu fan! I also love to swim, go to the beach, cook, shop, and nap. I am so excited to continue my journey teaching with the amazing High Tech community.
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Katie Meyers
2nd Grade Teacher
Hello! My name is Katie and I'm so excited to begin my sixth year of teaching at HTeCV!  I first joined the High Tech High community in March 2014 working in inclusion as an Academic Coach at High Tech Middle before pursuing my passion of working with elementary students. I spent my first four years teaching 4th grade before making the switch to 2nd grade. I graduated with a degree in World History from UC Riverside, and completed my teaching credential through the High Tech High credentialing program.  As an educator, I am passionate about building a classroom community that is supportive, engaging, and fun. I find so much joy in getting to know my students and their passions in and out of the classroom. When I am not in the classroom, you can find me playing or coaching volleyball, traveling, cooking, and spending time with friends and family. I love the community here and look forward to another wonderful year with amazing students and families!
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Matt Sheelen
2nd Grade Teacher
Originally from the East Coast, I slowly began my trek westward with my first stop in Illinois where I attended Northwestern University. While there, I studied Theatre and spent significant time in the field of Creative Drama using the arts to integrate into schools to provide a more holistic learning experience for children.

After college, I headed out to Los Angeles where I worked with non-profits the Story Pirates and Young Storytellers focusing on providing arts education to underserved populations in LA. With the Young Storytellers, I led a group of 10 writers in mentoring fifth graders in the writing of original screenplays. My love for theatre and education took me to Italy for 3 summers to work for an organization called ACLE that providing English education using Theatre techniques to Italian children. Eventually, I felt the pull to San Diego and worked as the Education Program Manager as the San Diego Junior Theatre in Balboa Park. I taught classes and directed camp programming for the organization. I attended graduate school at Stanford in their Teacher Education Program (STEP).

I am thrilled to be teaching second grade for a second year after three years teaching first grade at High Tech Elementary Chula Vista! When I am not teaching, I can be found hiking, performing & teaching improv comedy, having game nights with friends, and sailing. I love food except foods with gluten and dairy (so everything) who are my enemies! Looking forward to a tremendous year!

"Matt is the most hilarious and charming eldest son I have." - my Mother
3rd Grade
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Candice ArancibiaDP
3rd Grade Teacher
Candice Arancibia is 3rd year teacher at  HTHeCV and is a living her dream to be a High Tech High teacher. While student teaching at SDSU she did many hours of observation at High Tech Schools and always dreamed of working at High Tech.  Candice comes to us with 10 years of teaching experience in the South Bay where she served a very diverse population. She has taught kindergarten, 1st grade, 6th grade, and 3rd grade. Candice gives the gift of literacy by teaching her students to read, write, speak, and listen to the world they interact with. She has developed numerous social justice projects that involve a combination of rigorous academic expectations, critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and a labor of love. She empowers her students to believe that their voice and actions are important and that they can create change.

Candice earned her Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies and Bilingual Multiple Subject Teaching Credential at San Diego State University. She is currently enrolled at SDSU for her Masters in Bilingual education with an emphasis in Social Justice and Critical Literacy. Candice is part of the National Writing Project and Amplifier foundation to support her love for learning, social justice and continuous growth as an educator. Much of her teaching and life philosophy was developed from her experience abroad. She studied Spanish and Cultural Literacy at the University of Havana, Cuba. Then traveled to Dominican Republic to teach social-emotional learning and build communal chicken coops . These experiences helped shape her deep sense of gratitude which push her to create change for equity.
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Desiree Powers
3rd Grade Teacher
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 then moved on to teach 2nd grade for the past three years. Desiree is beyond excited to be back at HTe Chula Vista as a 5th grade teacher this year.

When she is not teaching, Desiree enjoys spending time with her two young daughters, catching up on a good book, or cheering on her favorite baseball team, the New York Mets.

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Lisa Saldias
3rd Grade Teacher
Lisa is overjoyed to be teaching Third Grade at HTeCV this year! Lisa grounds her teaching in deep care and respect for her students and their families. She is passionate about co-creating a community of learners within the classroom and offering encouragement and support to students on their learning journey. This will be Lisa's fifth year on the 3rd Grade Team at HTeCV. Lisa has also taught Kindergarten and Second Grade in Miami, Florida with Teach For America.

Raised in San Diego County, Lisa is the first in her family to graduate from college. She earned a B.A. in Sociology with minors in Spanish and Leadership from the University of San Diego. Lisa loves continually learning. In fact, she is a graduate of High Tech High's Graduate School of Education Master of Educational Leadership program.

Lisa loves traveling the world to experience different cultures. While in school she was able to study in Spain, Mexico, and Chile. While not teaching, Lisa is spending time with her family and sharing the joys of nature, books, and good food with her 6-month-old son.
4th Grade
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Amanda Borow
4th Grade Teacher
Hello! My name is Amanda Borow and I am excited to be continuing with the 4th grade team at HTeCV. I love working with 4th grade students at HTeCV and look forward to making connections with my future fourth grade students and their families.

I believe that education can empower students to critically engage with the world around them as life long learners. I view the classroom as a space in which students not only work to develop their skills as readers, writers, mathematicians and scientists but also as members of a community and society. I am excited to share my love of questions with my students - I believe that questions are the foundation of learning in all disciplines and will encourage curiosity and exploration in my classroom.

I believe that each child deserves to feel a sense of belonging in their community and should be confident in their own identity. In our classroom we celebrate and explore diversity to cultivate students’ empathy and compassion for everyone and their ability to respect how others might be different from themselves! Social justice focused projects allows our students to deepen their understanding of themselves, ideas of justice and and how they can make changes in the world around them.

I am looking forward to the learning adventures we will have together!

Amanda
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Samantha Lee
4th Grade Teacher
It is my second year on the fourth grade team at HTeCV and I am so excited to learn and grow together this year!

I am inspired by the curiosity, bravery, and kindness students bring with them to school each day. I believe that children care deeply about making a difference in their community and can truly do so by taking action through our learning experiences in the classroom.

Growing up, I loved school and the time I got to spend with my teachers and classmates.  I have many fond memories of creating art, reading, writing, and learning about our world together through hands-on experiences.  I carried that sense of wonder with me as I continued my education and realized what an amazing privilege it is to be able to support students at different points on their own educational journeys.

Before joining High Tech High, I taught third grade at a project-based school in downtown San Diego.  There I developed an appreciation for project-based learning as an effective practice for cultivating student agency, especially when paired with socio-emotional learning.  This built on the student-centered practices I honed when I earned my master’s degree and Multiple Subject Teaching Credential at UC San Diego, where I had also earned my undergraduate degree and worked on staff as an academic counselor.

When I'm not at school, I find joy in experiencing our beautiful San Diego community. I love visiting our local cafes and farmers' markets and enjoying coffee, tea, and healthy meals.  Being active, especially in nature, is a grounding practice for me to clear my mind and restore balance so I try to carve out time for yoga, surfing, and going on runs and hikes as much as possible.  My shiba inu, Ruby, loves to go on long walks with me in Balboa Park.  I also like to doodle, read, and take care of my plants.  Traveling with my friends and my fiancé Nicholas is also very important to me and we hope to spend our 30s visiting more countries together.

It is my goal that every student feels belonging and ownership in our classroom.  I look forward to meeting you soon!
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Tiffany Romer
4th Grade Teacher
Welcome to 4th Grade!!!

This is my second year at HTeCV and I'm very excited for the upcoming school year! I am originally from Columbus, Ohio and received my Bachelors degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Cincinnati. From there I studied at Mount St. Joseph University, also located in Cincinnati, where I earned a Master of Arts degree with a concentration on Reading Science. As a teacher, I am always wanting to learn more, just like my students!

Over the years I have taught a few different grade levels. While living in Cincinnati I taught 3rd grade mathematics and science. I then moved to Medford, Oregon with my husband for his career and taught 1st and 4th grade. Last year was my first year at HTeCV and I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to teach 4th grade again this year, which is by far my favorite grade! I'm excited to continue to gain new knowledge and to grow my craft as an educator throughout this school year. 

I believe that educators are truly one of the many pillars that help shape children's minds and how they think of the world around them. I have a passion for helping students be the best version of themselves. I want my future students to know that mistakes are 'OKAY' and they are going to happen. That's the fun in learning! I'm also really looking forward to seeing students express their creativity through their projects this school year. 

Outside of school I love to cook. My husband and I are always trying new recipes. I also love to go to the beach, camping, travel to new places, stay active (ice hockey, softball, volleyball, hike, etc.), spend time with my dog (Stella!), try new restaurants, and go shopping! 

I look forward to connecting with you this school year, it's going to be fantastic!
5th Grade
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Avery Barnes
5th Grade Teacher
Avery is going on her third year teaching at High Tech Elementary Chula Vista and her seventh year teaching fifth grade.


Before coming to HTeCV, Avery taught fifth grade at private schools in New York City. Her time at LREI (Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School), a progressive, activism-driven school, and Avenues: The World School, a language immersion school, only furthered her passion for teaching in student-centered environments. Avery is keenly interested in project-based learning that pushes students to learn through exploration. She works to foster a positive community in her classroom that is conducive to risk-taking.


Before discovering her love for working with fifth graders, Avery was a high school English Literature teacher at Bronx High School of Science in New York City.


Outside of the classroom, Avery spends a lot of time with her baby daughter and family. Doodling, having long meals, time at the beach, and going to Target are a few of her favorite activities. She’s a fan of Haruki Murakami and reads surrealism any chance she gets.


Avery has a B.A. in English from the University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley, CA) and an M.A. in English Education from Teachers College, Columbia University (New York, NY) and is a native Spanish speaker.
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Dalton Hudson
5th Grade Teacher
Hello HTeCV families! My name is Dalton Hudson and I am excited to be returning  this year as a 5th grade teacher. A little bit about me. I was born in Kingston, Jamaica and came to America in 2000. I have since lived in Hackensack, NJ, Costa Mesa, CA and Rochester, NY (where I have lived for the past 13 years). I have my masters degree in Childhood and Special education and I have been teaching for 6 years now. I prefer to spend my free time outside, whether it is hiking, fishing or camping.

When it comes to the classroom environment, I believe in setting high expectations for students, but also creating a loving environment where students know that it is a safe place to learn, make mistakes, and express themselves.

I am looking forward to meeting you all and having a wonderful adventurous year!
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Miguel Preciado
5th Grade Teacher
Exploratory Team
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Sharlene GarciaDP
Engineering Teacher
Hello! I am Ms. Shar. I grew up in Tijuana, Mexico with an animal loving family always surrounded by nature. After finishing middle school, I started volunteering for a non-profit organization painting with children of all ages. There I knew I wanted to spend as much time as possible working with children to give them the opportunities and tools for self-expression and discovery. Since then, I’ve always tried to find ways to get involved in workshops, orphanages and underserved communities with the mission of giving children access to the joys of Art.

 

After graduating from UCSD with a B.A. in Visual Arts I began working at HTeCV’s after school program right when the school first opened.  After a couple of years as an after school instructor I had the awesome opportunity to support students in first grade as an Academic Coach. From there I began working towards earning my Multiple Subject Teaching Credential at High Tech High’s Graduate School of Education. From 2015-18 In HTeCV I’ve worked as an intern for kindergarten, as a long-term substitute teacher for second grade and as an art teacher in the exploratory block. It has been an amazing journey in which I’ve been able to work and collaborate with a community that has given me the chance to support and encourage our students to be the best they can be.

 

I am super excited for my second year as HTeCV's STEAM teacher.One of my goals is to raise environmental awareness and get students to fall in love with nature. Every Wednesday I help students run a gardening club after-school in which students work really hard to beautify and maintain both the vegetable and the butterfly garden. I feel passionate about creating a safe and rich environment where the learning is visible and where it is safe for students to take risks, innovate, feel that their contributions matter and get them excited to be life-long learners and world explorers!
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Amber GeorgeDP
Fine Arts Teacher
I am so excited to begin my tenth year of teaching art at HTeCV! I love our community and consider it an honor to watch your children grow up over the years in my classroom. I enjoy watching their creativity blossom as I design projects and art experiences for them that develop critical thinking skills, growth mindset, and grit.

 
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Latanya Lockett
Performing Arts Teacher
Latanya has been teaching dance, choir, and musical theatre for most of her life. She comes from a strong musical background; performing and touring both locally and internationally. When she was not on tour or performing locally, you would find her teaching performing arts all over San Diego. Throughout her professional career she has taught many forms of dance, show choir, and voice to children from Kindergarten through 12th grade.

As a founding faculty member, Latanya is really big on building community and feels that the arts are a huge community building tool! When school is out you can find her performing, producing, coaching and being a fellow High Tech Village mom to her daughter Mia.
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Meagan Makapugay
Long Term Sub
Hello! My name is Meagan Makapugay & this is my second school year working here at High Tech Elementary in Chula Vista. I am excited for what this year has to offer! Being a part of the Inclusion Team has not only allowed me to work one-on-one with students, but to work closely amongst all students and staff with their needs.

Here's a little bit about myself...

I was born and raised in Palm Springs, CA. In 2011, I moved to San Diego when I attended college at San Diego State University. In 2015, I received my BS in Child and Family Development & I am currently working towards my Mild/Moderate Credentials and MS in Special Education. I have had 5 years of experience working as an early childhood teacher before working in the elementary setting. Currently, I am an Academic Coach & a Behavioral Interventionist. I have had such wonderful opportunities to provide ABA therapy to my kiddos & watch each unique individual improve in their overall developmental skills. My ability to work with students with special needs is so rewarding!

Some fun facts would be that I love singing, playing the piano, and dancing. I am a very family oriented person, and with that being said, I love to spend most of my free time with family & friends.
Academic Support
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Michelle Alcoba
Academic Coach
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Judy Asiong
Inclusion Specialist
The path that led me to Education came in a very roundabout way. As a little girl, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. By the time I finished high school, I decided to take a completely different route and after many grueling years of studying numbers, codes and formulas, I graduated with my  BSEE in Computer Engineering  from San Diego State University.

For seven years, I programmed hardware and absolutely loved it! Then, after having 2 kids, experiencing being a SAHM (code for stay-at-home-mom), and having my own wedding biz, I finally decided that I wanted to pursue what I knew was always in my heart... working with children and adding my third "little" to make our family of 5.

My journey into education started when I had the honor and privilege to become part of HTe/HTMCV's  staff shortly after the school started it's 2011-2012 school year. I completed the HTH Credentialing Program as an Education Specialist and have since continued to support our students academically, socially, and behaviorally. I've developed a true passion for our "littles" and am extremely excited to be part of HTeCV as an Education Specialist, supporting our kinder and 1st grade teams for the 2020-2021 school year!
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Maritza Betancourt
Literacy Interventionist
Maritza Betancourt has a passion for helping children reach their full potential and build confidence.She believes that every child is capable of reaching any goal that they set their mind to. She is from San Diego, but her past experiences working in education has taken her to exciting places. Before joining High Tech Elementary Chula Vista team as an Academic Coach for 2nd grade, Maritza worked for Selma Unified School District at Fresno County. She was a Bilingual Instructional Aide for Kindergarten for five years and later she had the opportunity to work for the Hawaii Department of Education in the Island of Oahu for almost 5 years as a Special Education Instructional Aide. This was a great experience for her! Not only did she enjoyed the beauty of the Island but also their culture and customs.

Since life is really a journey, nine years after residing in Hawaii, she went back to San Diego. It was not an easy transition. She had mixed emotions since she had left people that she had bonded with, especially children that she watched grow, physically and academically, in those nine years. Now after four years of being part of the HTeCV family, Maritza realized that when you are passionate about something in life, it doesn't matter where you share your passion, at the end, the reward is the same. She is happy to serve as a student interventionist and looking foward to serve many more years at HTeCV.

On her free time, Maritza enjoys dancing, cake decorating, home interior decorating and most of all, spending time with her two sons and husband.
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Kiaonno BradleyDP
Inclusion Specialist
Kiaonno is a San Diego native  but spent most of her adult years living in Northern California. She attended all women’s college in the Bay Area, where she majored in Pre-Law. After graduating college in 2013, she joined Teach for America in Sacramento, California where she taught high school. Kiaonno received her credential and Masters in Special Education from Loyola Marymount University in 2015 and has been at HTeCV since the 2016-2017 school year. Kiaonno grew up having siblings in special education and this became her why. She believes behind families she is her students biggest advocate.

Kiaonno is passionate about showing all students the joy of literacy and has a reading specialist added authorization credential. She looks forward to helping students learn what type of readers they are, what types of things they enjoy reading about as well as how they can challenge themselves to become even stronger readers. She looks forward to continuing to support literacy & EL work at HTeCV this year.

Outside of HTeCV Kiaonno enjoys listening to audiobooks, podcast, finding good books to read, practicing Spanish and exploring San Diego with her toddler.
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Brian Burr
Inclusion Specialist
Brian Burr believes that education is an opportunity for growth and development. He creates an environment that supports children as they explore and “fail forward”- those moments where learning happens, just not on the first try. Brian believes that success in learning happens through multiple attempts and structured guided experiences.
Brian has worked in the High Tech system for the last six years. He started off his career path at High Tech in inclusion as an academic coach. Brian has also taught fifth and third grade during those six years. In this role, Brian has continued to focus on students that needed extra supports.
This year, after completing his special education credential, he will take on a new role as an inclusion specialist. After teaching for the last few years, he is excited to get back to his inclusion roots. He loves supporting students as they guide their ways through their educational paths.
Originally from Connecticut, Brian has called San Diego home for the last 20 years. He enjoys the outdoors and spending time with his wife, his young child, and his puppy. He also enjoys traveling and learning about other cultures.
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Alex Espiritu
Afterschool Program Director
I would like to take a moment to introduce myself, my name is Alex Espiritu and I’m the K8 Afterschool Director at HTeCV/ HTMCV. I grew up in Chula Vista and attended Hilltop Elementary, Hilltop Junior and Hilltop High School. I graduated from SDSU with a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology. While attending SDSU I began my journey working for the YMCA.

Over the past 18 years, I have gained experience in different management roles within the YMCA of San Diego County. My leadership style is very hands-on and I enjoy working as a team.

I am so excited to have another opportunity to be at HTeCV/ HTMCV this year and meeting all of the students and families.

In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my son, family, drinking a fine cup of coffee, traveling, camping, eating, playing soccer and tennis, watching live music, art and movies.
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Christopher Felix
Academic Coach
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Tatsiana Gregory
Academic Coach
Hello Everyone! My name is Tia Gregory and I'm entering my second year working as an Academic Coach at HTeCV. I'm thrilled to be a part of the wonderful 1st grade team! I have several years of experience working in the education field including being lower elementary Montessori certified and truly consider working with children a passion of mine!

A little about me . . .  I am the proud daughter of an Army veteran who has moved over 5 times and lived in many different states. I'm a huge animal lover in general but specially dogs when it comes to domesticated animals. In my spare time you'll usually find me crafting, walking on the beach, or spending time with friends ands family.
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Catherine Griffith
Inclusion Specialist
Catie is passionate about innovative education that is developmentally aligned. She believes in an individualized approach that supports authentic, inclusive practices. Education has always been at the core of her heart and she is excited to be able to grow as an educator while supporting student learning at HTeCV as an Education Specialist.

Originally from a Maryland suburb of Washington, DC, she and her family have lived throughout the country over the last 10 years. She has been able to gain valuable insight and experience while working in Maryland, Florida, Rhode Island, and California. She and her family found San Diego to be the place they feel most connected to, so when the opportunity to return to this sunny city presenting itself in 2017, they took it and settled in Normal Heights.

She completed her B.S /M.Ed. in Special Education at The University of Maryland College Park in 2009 and has worked and volunteered in the field of education ever since. She has experience in special education research and assessment, as a classroom teacher and case manager, an administrator, and has navigated communication and compliance as a special education liaison. She values building strong relationships and having open communication with students and families. As a parent, she has seen the benefits of inclusive, cooperative, and project based learning which is why her children will be joining HTeCV as students.

Her hope is to make strong connections with families while ensuring all students have the services and supports they need to access and benefit from their education.

When she is not at school, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, baking allergy friendly treats, soaking in the sun, and going on adventures both locally and afar.
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Kelley Herring
School Counselor

Hello HTeCV Community!

My name is Kelley Herring, my pronouns are she/her/hers, and I am pleased to continue serving the HTeCV community in 2020-2021.

A bit about me:
I was born and raised in Littleton, CO where I lived for 26 years.  After moving to San Diego, I worked for seven years in a residential treatment center for substance abuse, trauma, chronic pain, and eating disorders.  It was this work, with the children of adults in treatment, that helped to shape my decision to become a school counselor.  This will be my 8th year as a counselor in K-8, full inclusion schools.   I hold a Master of Science in School Counseling and a California Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) K-12 Credential in School Counseling.

As a counselor, I seek multi-faceted opportunities to support kids by encouraging peer relationships, teaching communication and social skills, and by helping to develop awareness and build self-esteem.  I feel so fortunate to be part of a team that approaches education from a whole-child perspective; where social, emotional, and academic development are inextricably linked.  I love being surrounded by people who work together to encourage every student’s individuality, creativity, identities, and freedom of expression.

Despite having lived in San Diego for 14 years, I am a Colorado native at heart, with a lifelong love of the cold & snow.  Outside of school, I enjoy spending time & planning adventures with my partner and our 12-year old twins. Together we love to travel, ski, hike, snorkel, swim, ride bikes, watch movies, and play with our pets.

Thank you for the opportunity to work with your children!

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Toi Littlejon
Academic Coach
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Brittany Rysman
School Psychologist
Ms. Brittany Rysman earned her Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Psychology with a secondary concentration in Gender Studies from the University of Southern Indiana in 2009. She then attended San Francisco State University for graduate school and earned her Master of Science (MS) degree in School Psychology in 2011. Brittany also earned her Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) Credentials in School Psychology and School Counseling. Brittany went on to work as a school psychologist in San Rafael City Schools for six years, serving multiple elementary schools and one middle school.

After dreaming of living in Southern California for many years, she finally moved to San Diego and began working for the HTH Chula Vista campus in the fall of 2018. Brittany is very passionate about equity and equality, teaching to all learners, and protecting the culture and community of HTH. She is excited to begin her ninth year as a school psychologist and third year in Chula Vista, serving the middle and elementary schools.

#BLACKLIVESMATTER
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Ana Berumen Sandez
Academic Coach
Hi my name is Analy Berumen Sandez and this is my second year at HTeCV.

I worked for the Southbay School District for 15 years in K - 6th grade and as a bilingual mentor in a reading program. I also supervised an after school program for the San Ysidro school district.

 
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Elaine Shieh
Academic Coach
Hello! My name is Elaine and I am so excited to be going into my second year at HTeCV as part of the Academic Support team.

To start off, I would like to tell you a little bit about myself. I am originally from San Francisco, where my family currently still lives. I moved to San Diego 6 years ago to complete my Bachelors at San Diego State University in Multiple-Subject Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Literacy and Linguistics. I completed my study abroad teaching English in Indonesia, and found a real passion for English Second Language education. After graduating, I went on to teach a semester of English in Thailand. I developed an appreciation for early childhood education, culturally responsive teaching, and play-based/project-based learning during my time abroad. Upon moving back to San Diego, I found that High Tech exemplified all of my passions beautifully. I am so grateful to be a part of this school community, and I cannot wait to continue my journey here!

Outside of teaching, I enjoy anything nature related like hiking, camping, and going to the beach, cooking new recipes, traveling, fostering kittens, and listening to live music. See you around!
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Trevor Vanorden
Academic Coach
Hello!

My name is Trevor Van Orden and this will be my 3rd chool year at High Tech Elementary Chula Vista! This will also be my second school year working as an Academic Coach for Exploratory. It brings me great joy to make long lasting connections and work with students from every grade in our community.

A few fun facts about me:

I am originally from Upstate New York  and moved to San Diego 4 years ago. In New York I recieved my BA in Dance and have been a professional dancer and dance educator for a little over 10 years. I also started in afterschool programs for the YMCA where I'm currently a Youth and Inclusion Leader.

 

 

 
Administration
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Marquita Griffith
Director
Marquita believes that all students, no matter their background or circumstance should be given access to high-quality education that prepares them for the world outside our classroom doors. When students are prepared academically, socially and emotionally to be active members of their community, we help to dismantle systemic educational inequities.

Marquita was born in Detroit, Michigan and completed her degree in Elementary Education at Michigan State University. As an educator, she has 12 years of teaching experience in grades K-4 as well as experience as a literacy coach, mentor teacher, and classroom management coach. She has been with HTeCV for the last three years teaching 1st grade and kindergarten.

As director Marquita is looking forward to using all that shes learned from her experience and training to help facilitate learning opportunities for teachers and students this school year. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to music and dancing with her family and friends.
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Chelsea Benson
Dean of Student Affairs
Hello HTeCV Families!

My name is Chelsea Benson and I am a Cajun-girl from Southwest Louisiana-Laissez les bons temps rouler or Let the good times roll! In Louisiana we are all about food and family. I cook and love all Louisiana cuisine with Gumbo being my favorite!

I fell in love with education during my three years teaching  in Tacna, Perú--a city in the Atacama desert bordering Chile. When I reflect on my time there I am reminded that true learning happens when we work with children and families. As Dean of Students, I am committed to working with students to build and repair relationships.

I received a Bachelor of Arts from Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL and hold 3 teaching credentials: a Multiple Subject and BCLAD from SDSU and a Special Education teaching credential from HTH. I am also a certified Translator/Interpreter.

This year, I will continue learning in the HTH Graduate School Program where I will pursue a Master's in Educational Leadership.

In my free time I enjoy blasting Cumbia in my kitchen (Sonora Dinamita) and spending time with my husband and two babies, Amélie and Liam. This will be my twelfth year in education and my eighth year at HTeCV. I look forward to collaborating this year!

 
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Dulce Encinas
Site Manager
Dulce Encinas graciously meets the needs of the High Tech Elementary Chula Vista students and parents. On any given day she may she may be called to take care of a scraped knee or just provide a loving hug. She has over five years experience with elementary-aged children and is the mother of a five year old daughter. Dulce loves to cook delicious dishes and enjoys spending time with her family. She also loves the having the opportunity to interact with the High Tech Elementary Chula Vista family.
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Sherrie Cabarles
Assistant Site Manager
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Samantha Polak
Occupational Therapist II
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Priscilla Ramos
Academic Coach
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Shannon Von Guenthner
Professional Expert
Shannon is joining HTeCV as a professional expert in fitness and physical education. She has been a certified fitness instructor since 2001 working in YMCAs in Southern California and is currently an adjunct instructor in the Wellness, Exercise Science & Athletics Department at Southwestern College in Chula Vista. She has a Masters degree in Sport Psychology/Physical Education.

Shannon is also a parent of three kids attending High Tech schools and has been a parent volunteer passionate about student fitness and wellness.

Shannon enjoys adventure activities and being outdoors. Her family is often hiking, mountain biking, windsurfing and camping!

 
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Vincent Phathanak
IT Director
When Vince started his tech journey, his dad would bring home computer towers for them both to build. That was about all it took for him to explore the realms of tech from computers to video games to even robotics and photography.  When the time came for Vince to choose a high school it was natural that he chose a school that involved all these things,  low and behold,  High Tech High. Vince continued his mission with learning all different technology applications by becoming an IT Intern at High Tech High as a Freshman to his Senior year in 2007. He continued on this exploration well into college at UC Irvine exploring Computer Information Systems.

He is excited to be back in the High Tech High community in Chula Vista to help keep things working and innovate new ideas in classrooms with the teaching staff! In his spare time he is a professional freelance videographer documenting music events for local tv show NBC SoundDiego as well as working for his own wedding videography company.