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Elena Gutierrez
Kindergarten Teacher
¡Hola todos! My name is Elena Gutierrez and I am overjoyed to be a part of the HTeM learning community. I grew up in South Bay San Diego and I identify as a Mexican/Chicanx cisgender woman who understands my social positionality and the work that I must continue doing to dismantle racist, monocultural, monolingual, heteronormative and patriarchal spaces while also amplifying BIPOC voices.

A little bit about my educational background: I am a 1st generation college graduate. I attended San Diego State University where I received both my Bachelors of Arts degree and my bilingual multiple-subject teaching credential. I am currently continuing my studies at SDSU where I am on track to earn my Masters of Arts in Teaching with an emphasis on Language Arts. GO AZTECS!

I’m a dog momma, so in my spare time you can find me walking my 3 year old bulldog while exploring some community events and trying out some delicious new foods.
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Michelina MiedemaDP
Kindergarten Teacher

Michelina is a Clairemont local and a High Tech High Alum! She attended SDSU and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Television, Film and New Media. After graduation, she worked in the film department at SDSU teaching set design to undergrads. This experience led her to pursue her multiple subjects K-8 teaching credential through the HTH Graduate School of Education. She worked at HTeCV teaching 4th grade and Kindergarten, then went on to work as a founding Kindergarten teacher at HTe Mesa. She continued her studies earning her Master's of Education in Teaching and Learning in June, 2020. 

 Michelina is inspired by project-based learning. She feels that it has the power to guide student learning in an organic and meaningful way. Michelina incorporates play into all aspects of learning inside of her classroom. She uses play as a tool to engage students and solidify their learning! She believes that students need to feel happy and safe in order to be successful learners. She strives to create a home-like classroom setting where students feel comfortable taking risks, explore their passions, and grow their minds! She strives to be a culturally-responsive teacher who highlights student's uniqueness. She believes it is important for  students to learn about their communities, families, backgrounds and traditions and celebrate them together!

In her free time, you can find Michelina surfing, roller skating, fishing, or searching for reptiles on a hike! She is a lover of ALL nature, from spiders to leopard sharks. She also loves to cook, explore, and spend time with family, friends, her cat named Cricket, and her snake named Happy.

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Jennifer Price
Kindergarten Teacher
Jen Price is thrilled to be a founding Kindergarten teacher at High Tech Elementary Mesa! Jen has been teaching for 13 years and is proud to be a part of the HTeM community. As part of a military family, Jen had the unique opportunity to spend her childhood in several states here in the US and in Germany. She graduated from Millersville University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor's in Elementary Education, and after college, moved to Baltimore to begin her career as an educator. There, Jen earned her Masters of Education in Leadership in Education with a specialization in Teaching English as a Second Language from Notre Dame of Maryland University. In addition to classroom teaching, Jen has previously worked as a teacher professional development facilitator and literacy curriculum writer, so Jen brings a strong passion for early literacy to the HTeM team. Jen is also passionate about building a strong community with her students and families. She believes that each student brings unique strengths to the class family, and she strives to make her students feel seen, heard and loved. When she's not teaching, Jen loves spending time with loved ones, playing with her two kittens (Charlotte and Wilbur), running, and reading.
1st Grade
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Rhea Manguil
1st Grade Teacher
Rhea absolutely loves teaching High Tech Elementary Mesa. She has been with High Tech since 2007 and continues to thoroughly enjoy growing and learning as a teacher, mother, and human being. She earned her teaching credential at San Diego State and recently earned a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership at the HTH Graduate School of Education. Rhea has taught every grade in the K-5 setting, except for fourth grade.

Rhea and her husband, Brandon, met when they were ten years old. They have been married for nearly twenty-three years and have three children (a sophomore at HTHI, a senior at HTH, and one HTH graduate). In her spare time, she likes to play the ukulele, sew, and take road trips with her family.
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Rizelle Murallon
1st Grade Teacher
Hello families and visitors! My name is Rizelle Murallon, and I am so excited to continue my work with the High Tech High organization, as a first grade teacher! A little bit about myself: I grew up both in the Bay Area and in Sacramento, but always had a love for San Diego's beautiful weather and beaches. School and education have always been my passion, and after helping raise my little brother Liam (who is fourteen years younger than me), I always knew I wanted to work with children and be a part of their development and love for learning.

When the opportunity came for me to pack up and make San Diego home in 2015, I took it! I received a Bachelors of Arts degree in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Elementary Education and Literacy from SDSU. I received my multiple-subject teaching credential and my Masters of Arts in Teaching degree from Point Loma Nazarene University. I have worked with the HTH organization as an academic coach, student teacher, and substitute teacher at the HTePL and HTeCV campuses since 2017. I'm looking forward to continuing to grow and learn with the HTH organization as a founding HTeM teacher.

Outside of the classroom, a few of my favorite things to do are: eating really good food (noodles are my favorite!); planning and doodling in my Passion Planner; and I especially love being outdoors, it means I can spend some quality time in the sun with my husband Jimmy and our Olde English Bulldog Blu(berry) and French Bulldog Potato!

I look forward to spending this year learning and growing with you!
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Maya Perez Gainey
1st Grade Teacher
I am so excited to join the first grade team at High Tech Elementary Mesa, because of my wholehearted passion to help young students learn and grow. After graduating from Wellesley College, I joined Teach For America (TFA) in Houston, Texas where I taught kindergarten at a KIPP charter school. After a few years teaching in Houston, I studied at the University of Texas at Austin in order to develop a better understanding of current and challenging education policy issues affecting students across our country. After my masters program, I worked at TFA as a development officer raising funds for teachers for three years. Last year, I returned to the classroom as a kindergarten academic coach at High Tech Elementary North County. In my classroom, it is my priority to build strong, trusting relationships with each one of my students while guiding them to fulfill their full potential. I look forward to this year at High Tech Elementary Mesa! 
2nd Grade
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Marissa Adams
2nd Grade Teacher
Marissa taught at HTeX (Explorer) from 2010-2020, and is SO excited to be joining the Mesa community this year! She has primarily taught in second and third grade, and has a passion for teaching math. She holds a B.A. in Sociology, a Multiple Subject Credential and Masters of Education with certification in math instruction, from UCSD. 
When she isn't teaching, Marissa loves spending time with her family in the great outdoors. Mt. Laguna, Anza Borrego, and Mission Trails are some of her favorite spots to explore. Marissa also enjoys gardening, reading and playing board games.
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Stephanie Lance
2nd Grade Teacher
Stephanie believes that each student has the potential to grow and thrive emotionally, socially, and intellectually. She is dedicated to learning about her students’ experiences and creating a safe and supportive classroom for her students to develop a sense of communal belonging, challenge themselves, reason, reflect on their learning, and advocate for themselves and others. Stephanie is a passionate teacher who will always strive to bring out the very best in every child while keeping their needs at the heart of her service.
Stephanie is excited to be a part of the HTeM family as a 2nd Grade teacher. She holds a Masters in Education and Elementary Mathematics Certificate from the University of California San Diego and a BA from the University of Colorado in Environmental Studies. Prior to formal teaching, Stephanie worked as a Marine Science Instructor and outdoor educator in San Diego and across the state of California, teaching and learning about the local environment. She grew up in Colorado and loves to be outdoors. When not working, Stephanie likes to spend her time in the ocean, camping, traveling, and backpacking. She also loves to draw, read, and roller skate! She is looking forward to sharing her passions with her students, diving into rigorous and fun classroom projects, and being inspired by her students as they explore together.
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Madeline Roland
2nd Grade Teacher
Madeline is excited to continue teaching at HTeM as a founding staff member! Madeline has a multiple subject teaching credential as well as a special education teaching credential through Point Loma Nazarene University. She graduated with her Master’s of Teaching through PLNU in May 2020. 
Madeline is originally from Columbia, Missouri, and moved to San Diego in 2013 to attend the University of San Diego. There, she earned a Bachelor’s in Business Administration with a minor in Leadership Studies. After graduating, she spent time volunteering at the Monarch School as well as substitute teaching. These experiences grew her passion for teaching and empowering students. 
Outside of the classroom, Madeline enjoys eating and preparing delicious food, tending to her plants, and practicing yoga.
3rd Grade
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Këri Bolding
3rd Grade Teacher
Këri Bolding is an artistlifelong learner, and animal lover, and wants to spend the rest of her life engaging and advancing students of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds.

She knows teachers have a unique power to transform lives, because her third grade teacher changed the course of her life with one sentence, “I think you are a genius.” Although that teacher whispered the same thing to many students, from that day on she worked hard to learn as much as “a genius” could— reading, questioning, experimenting, dreaming, and problem-solving.  As a result, she is a dedicated professional who understands that helping students believe in their ability to achieve is the key  to overcoming obstacles and opening doors to success.

She began her teaching career at the young age of 19, as a graduate of Stanford University determined to make a difference through education. While teaching, she also started a nonprofit community center for arts and technology in 1997 to help her students and others access safe and productive activities afterschool. Years later, Këri took a break from teaching to pursue a career in communications on clean energy issues in local, national and international markets. Her work with climate scientists and energy experts took her to over 27 different countries to build partnerships and dialogue that advance efforts to reduce emissions, save energy, and protect the environment. 

After more than a decade away, she realized that nothing makes her happier than teaching children, and returned to the education field with new skills and excitement. She earned a Masters Degree in Education with a specialization of “U.S. Education in the Global Context.” She joins the HTeM team to utilize her knowledge of diverse education efforts around the world and drive for designing creative and effective lessons aligned with standards for excellence.
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Clare Jones
3rd Grade Teacher
My name is Clare Jones and I was born and raised here, in sunny San Diego.


I am so excited to teach third grade this year, here at HTeM!


Although this is my first year being a classroom teacher, this is not my first year working for HTeM.  Last year, I was a founding staff member as an academic coach and I was able to see the unique community of HTeM form.


The desire to be a teacher has been with me since I stepped foot into my first day of school in Kindergarten. I'll never forget the unique smell of new plastic lunch boxes and freshly-sharpened pencils that permeated my classroom that day.


I received my Bachelor of Arts in Applied Arts and Sciences in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Elementary Education from SDSU in 2017. Shortly after, I received my dual credential in Multiple Subject and mild/mod Special Education, as well as my Master of Arts in Teaching, through Point Loma Nazarene University.


I have worked with children for the past 7 years (as a nanny and as a Respite Care Provider) and I have enjoyed learning about children's unique interests and abilities.


When I am not teaching, I like to be outside, relax with my family, visit with friends, tell puns, and enjoy all things Disney.
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Christine Kuhl
3rd Grade Teacher
I am honored to be a part of the HTeM family as a 3rd-grade teacher and Inclusion Specialist. I’ve been an educator for many, many years. I graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a B.A. in Psychology, earned a multiple subject teaching credential through Cal State San Marcos, and earned a Master’s in Education from Chapman University with an emphasis in reading instruction. 
I started my career in my hometown, San Diego, working in San Diego City Schools as an upper grade teacher and later as a literacy instruction peer coach where I served primarily emergent bilingual and refugee students. Afterwards I worked at an international school in Valencia, Venezuela for two years. It was during my time in Venezuela that I met my future husband, Robert. I made my way back to San Diego with Robert in tow, and luckily found a position working at High Tech High Explorer Elementary as an upper-grade teacher, where I worked for ten years. My family and I moved to Hawaii for the 2017-2018 school year to open up an elementary school at the Asia Pacific International School on North Shore, Oahu. After one enriching year in Hawaii, we made our way back to San Diego. 
My teaching passions are rooted in pedagogy that is culturally responsive, anti-racist, project-based, and service oriented. I believe that developing students to be socially-emotionally skilled is critical to helping students become their best selves and to make a true difference in the world.  My hope is that all my students experience joy and feel a strong sense of belonging within our classroom community. 
Outside of school you will find me outdoors, practicing yoga, hiking, camping, traveling, learning, being a mama to my 5th-grade son and 2nd-grade daughter (HTe students in Point Loma), and spending time with family and friends. Fun fact: I am especially proud and grateful that my grandmother who helped raise me is with us still in San Diego at the very young age of 97!
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Cynthia Aguilar
Aftercare Assistant
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Amany Althalmi
Aftercare Assistant
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Kaylee Jones
Aftercare Assistant
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Diane Lopez Olea
Aftercare Assistant
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Michael Peterson
Aftercare Assistant
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Lisa Quintana
Aftercare Program Director
Lisa was 10 years old when she moved back to the United States after living 9 years overseas in Japan. California became her forever home and she finished her schooling in the South Bay community. Lisa first joined the High Tech team in 2012 as a youth leader for High Tech Elementary in Chula Vista. She worked part time for the after school program until she moved on to become an academic coach. She briefly left High Tech to finish her Liberal Studies Degree at Cal State University, Monterey Bay. There she continued to work with extended services at a number of different schools in Northern California. After receiving her BA she returned to San Diego to once again join the High Tech family. She worked at HTMCV as a program leader, activities coordinator and athletic director until she transferred to HTMMA.

During her free time, you can catch her strolling through the Little Italy’s Mercato or out with her dog. She loves to be active in the Italian community and enjoys spending time with her niece and nephew. She is highly competitive and plays in a number of adult leagues around San Diego with her husband.
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Aileen Rittal
Aftercare Assistant
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Hannah Romo
Aftercare Assistant
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Tiffany Zuniga
Aftercare Assistant
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Gabrielle DuThinh
Art Exploratory Teacher
I was born and raised in the Metropolitan Washington DC area where I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Studio Art at the University of Maryland, College Park. Before moving to San Diego I taught visual arts, ceramics and pottery for three years at a private art school. Upon arriving in San Diego I worked as a Vietnamese interpreter for the EUSD while earning my multiple-subject teaching credential at CSUSM. Shortly after my credentialing program I became one of the founding faculty members of HTeNC. After one year I moved to HTMNC where I taught 6th grade Humanities for four years. I then branched out for a year and taught visual arts at another public charter school in the San Diego area. I returned to High Tech High as a founding teacher of HTeM and am very excited for our 2nd year as a growing school. 
When not at school, I love to be with my family and friends. I love all things active, outdoors, and anything that exercises my imagination and creativity.
Academic Support
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Ryan Barela
Academic Coach
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Alisha Byrd
Academic Coach
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Annie Carter
Inclusion Specialist
As a San Diego native I have always felt a strong sense of responsibility to make my city a great place to learn. I wanted to have the educational environment in our schools mirror the natural beauty that surrounds us. As I completed my Special Education Credential and Masters at The University of San Diego, I knew I wanted to be an Education Specialist in a great school system within San Diego. 

My degree allowed me to focus on the different philosophies within education and the social obligation to defend and protect all of our kids as they grow. I have spent the last 5 years at High Tech Elementary in Point Loma working as an Inclusion Specialist across all K-5 grade levels. My experiences within High Tech have solidified my sense of duty to advocate for kids with special needs. The inclusive foundation of our school system is what drew me to expand my knowledge further with a diverse community. Through High Tech’s PBL model, I am lucky to support students and help foster their own magical curiosity in their learning through hands-on projects. Through team collaboration between students, family and teachers, I ensure that all voices and perspectives are heard, seen and valued. It is High Tech’s inclusive setting that allows me to facilitate an understanding among students that all types of learners are key members of a strong community. I feel passionate that in order to provide equitable learning opportunities it is crucial to assist students in developing relationships with diverse populations, and with that cultivate empathetic hearts. 

 I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to be working and learning at HTeMesa with wonderful staff and I am excited to be the Kindergarten and Third Grade Inclusion Specialist!

Outside of school you'll find me either playing with my dog (Penny),  trampling along a new trail, camping across the country in search for the perfect mountain sunrise, or perfecting my stir-fry recipe!

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Carrie Flowers
Academic Support Teacher
I am thrilled to join the HTeM community! I am a San Diego local, receiving my BA degree from UCLA and my multiple subjects teaching credential from Point Loma Nazarene University. I then started my career as a curriculum designer for an educational software company back in the early 90's; in fact, I worked on the first curriculum that integrated the internet! 
I started my HTH journey as a parent; my three grown children all attended HTH schools starting at the elementary level. When my youngest child started Kindergarten at HTeX, I started working there as a substitute and then as an Academic Resource Teacher. I have done long term sub jobs in all K-5 grade levels, and art (twice)! I love making connections with students and building relationships that last throughout their elementary years. 
When not at work, you'll find me doing home decor projects, reading, or hiking.
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Edlen Hernandez
Academic Coach
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Sarah Kelly
Academic Coach
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Kalani Krause
Academic Coach
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Alexandria Osei-Amoako
Instructional Coach
Alexandria is so grateful to join the team at HTeM. She was an early childhood teacher (pre-K through 2nd grade) for six years before moving on to work as a Director, Programs at Teach For America. There she coached teachers on bringing diversity, equity and inclusion into the classroom using culturally relevant pedagogy.

She has a Masters in Women's History (Sarah Lawrence College) and a Masters of Science in Childhood Education (Progressive Education Institute). She is passionate about helping students feel valued, confident and secure in who they are. She is excited about the journey ahead and hopes to work closely with both parents and teachers in order to create the best outcomes for students.
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Michael Osei-Amoako
Academic Coach
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Mayerling Ovalles
Academic Coach
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Samantha Sevilla
Academic Coach
I am so happy to be part of the HTeM team! Here's a little bit about me:

I am a San Diego native, I grew up in the North Park area but did all of my schooling in Point Loma. I studied Psychology and Child Development at San Diego State where I received my B.A. in 2019. My goals for the future would be to get a Masters in counseling and become an in-school therapist within the next year or two. My dream job has always been working with kids in a school setting, focusing mostly on mental and emotional well-being.

A bit about my background; I began working at 18 with Girl Scout's Outreach program visiting lower-income schools around San Diego, providing a fun and educational experience for girls in K-6th grade. After two wonderful years, I moved onto ABA therapy with Easterseals SoCal working exclusively with children on the Autism Spectrum. I gained a lot of training and hands-on experience that I still implement to this day. These were some of the best work experiences I had while still being a full-time college student!

From there, I began to focus my attention in the elementary school setting becoming a special education/general classroom aide at America's Finest Charter School. It was here that I realized how important it is to support children in their everyday academic setting. I worked with two 3rd grade classes, one 5th grade class, and two 6th grade classes, giving me a new challenge to focus on the different milestones kids face at different ages! Truly an amazing experience.

Now I have been working at HTeM since its opening and couldn't be happier! The values High Tech implements for their students, their families, and their staff is truly remarkable. I am grateful to be able to watch our students grow and prosper through project-based learning with HTeM!

Outside of school, I love taking my two dogs Daisy and Ollie on adventures around San Diego. You can find us at the park, hiking a new trail, or hanging out at the dog beach. I also love to spend time with my friends and family, going on road trips, and exploring new places around SD!
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Bethany Tipton
Inclusion Specialist
Bethany is happy to be with the HTeM team as an Education Specialist supporting the 1st and 2nd teams in her 9th year of teaching. Bethany is excited to continue to develop the culture of inclusion by providing specific structure and supports for learners to thrive in her 6th year within the High Tech High community.

Bethany is one part, local San Diegan, and one part San Franciscan. Prior to joining the HTeM team, Bethany worked in the San Francisco Bay Area as a special education teacher of the upper elementary grades. She received her Masters in Special Education from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and her Bachelors of Science in International Studies from Point Loma Nazarene University. Through her formal education, Bethany has explored the characteristics of a successful school and community garden in San Diego, and San Francisco. She developed the conviction that experiential learning (and sometimes rolling up our sleeves and getting dirty) acts as the best medium for cultivating genuine engagement and intellectual growth when she established a school garden at an elementary school. She is passionate about supporting teachers with the implementation of Universal Design for Learning and is relentless about developing best practices for her field. She is a major proponent for the Zones of Regulation and Social Thinking programs. Bethany believes that fostering student self-advocacy is essential for transformative educational growth.

Outside of HTeM, Bethany is finding the perfect cup of coffee, practicing yoga, playing a card game, and house improvement projects!
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Juan Manuel Velarde
Academic Coach
All School
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Monique Knight
More than anything else, I feel my true calling is in the classroom with teachers and students. And it is this love for classroom teaching and learning that I hope to bring to my leadership role at HTe Mesa. Prior to joining the High Tech High community, I taught primary grades in New York City public schools for seven years and served as a literacy specialist for another ten years at the Columbia Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. In that role, I had the privilege of supporting teachers, coaches and administrators across the United States, and in international cities such as Paris and Shanghai. Wonderful as that work was, I missed being in a school community on a day to day basis––a yearning that led me to forge a role as an academic director and instructional coach at the Harlem Village Academy in Harlem, New York. This was a particularly thrilling role that allowed me to combine these administrative duties with daily teaching in a kindergarten classroom.

I’m thrilled to be joining the Clairemont neighborhood and the greater High Tech High community alongside my husband and four children. We all look forward to making San Diego our new home.
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Paula Camarda
Site Manager
I have been with the High Tech organization for 10 years and currently serve as the Site Manager at HTeM.  For the past 10 years, I have worked at High Tech Elementary Explorer and am very excited to begin a new chapter at HTeM.  What I love most about my job is building relationships with the children, families and staff.  I currently reside in San Diego where I have 2 children, and in my free time I enjoy going for hikes and spending time with my family.
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Tawny Dealva
PD Teacher
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Katherine Hahn
GSE Resident
Katie is excited to be joining the HTe Mesa community as an M.Ed. resident and New School Creation Fellow. She recently relocated to San Diego from New York City, where she worked with the Department of Education’s Office of Community Schools. At the NYC DOE, Katie supported a portfolio of 17 schools to implement holistic student/family supports and school-improvement initiatives in partnership with local nonprofits. Prior to that, Katie was a Community School Director at a public school in Brooklyn. Her passion for education and public service began when she was an undergraduate student working in after school programs. Katie holds an A.B. in Social Studies from Harvard University and an LMSW from NYU’s Silver School of Social Work. Katie is also an avid reader, runner, yoga instructor, and ceramicist. She looks forward to working with HTeM staff, students, and families as she learns about educational leadership and embarks on the project of opening a school.
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Ruth SmithDP
ELPAC Coordinator

Hello families! My name is Ruth Smith and I am so excited to continue my work with the High Tech High organization, as a support for our English Language Learners! A little bit about myself: I came to America when I was four years old and grew up in the Bay Area. I come from a huge and loving family. I knew early on that education was important. I always knew I wanted to work with children and be a part of their development and love for learning.

I received a Bachelors of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of California, San Diego. I then continued on to receive my Multiple-Subject Teaching Credential and Masters in Education with an emphasis in Mathematics from UCSD. I began my educational career as a Guided Reading Teacher and then taught three years in the first grade. I soon joined the High Tech High Organization!I have worked with the HTH organization as a classroom teacher for the past five years, starting at HTeCV. I was thrilled to be a founding second grade teacher at High Tech Elementary Mesa and I'm looking forward to continuing to grow and learn with the HTH organization in this new role.

Outside of the classroom, a few of my favorite things to do are: spending quality time with my husband and our three year old, Maverick; trying out new recipes (please send some my way); singing karaoke; and I especially love being outdoors!

I look forward to spending this year learning and growing with you!