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HTEM Staff Directory

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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.

1st Grade
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Elena Gutierrez
1st Grade 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 amplifying all student 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 also just recently received my Masters of Arts in Teaching with an emphasis on Language Arts from SDSU. 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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Rizelle Murallon
1st Grade Teacher
Hello families and visitors! My name is Rizelle Murallon (preferred pronouns: she/her/hers), 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!
2nd Grade
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Maya Perez Gainey
2nd Grade Teacher
I am so excited to be part of the second grade team at High Tech Elementary Mesa! This will be my fourth year in the High Tech High community, and my third year as a founding teacher at High Tech Elementary Mesa. I am originally from Texas, but I am happy to be a Californian now! 

As an elementary school educator, I believe that a classroom should be a stimulating project-based learning environment where children feel welcomed and safe. It is my priority to build strong, trusting relationships with my students while guiding them to fulfill their full potential. I encourage the use of evidence-based teaching strategies to encompass all learning styles and abilities to ensure the development of lifelong learning skills. 
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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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Marissa Adams
3rd Grade Teacher
Marissa taught at HTeX (Explorer) from 2010-2020, and has loved becoming part of the Mesa community! 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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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! This will be my second year having my own classroom of students!

I am fortunate to have been a founding staff member here at HTeM!

Since this is my third year working for this wonderful school, I have been able to see the unique community of HTeM form and develop.

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 7 years prior (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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Rachel Taylor
3rd Grade Teacher

My name is Rachel Taylor (Ms. Taylor), and I am overjoyed to be welcoming your scholar into our classroom after a mostly virtual school year! This will be my fifth year teaching overall and my fourth year teaching third grade. I previously taught in Washington, D.C. and I am so excited to be a part of the San Diego community! I studied English and Media Studies at the University of Virginia and received my Masters of Education with a concentration in Special Education from Johns Hopkins University. Third grade is my FAVORITE grade because we are introduced to so many new reading and math skills! When I am not in the classroom, I love spending time reading, hiking, surfing, and playing with animals. I can’t wait to explore learning with you this school year!

4th Grade
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Paige Kennick
4th Grade Teacher
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Amany Althalmi
Aftercare Assistant
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Diane Lopez Olea
Academic Coach
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Lisa Quintana
Activities 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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Hannah Romo
Aftercare Assistant
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Tiffany Zuniga
Academic Coach
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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 transitioned 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 3rd 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.
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Stephanie Lance
Exploratory 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 the S.T.E.A.M. exploratory 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.
Academic Support
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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 be a part of  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 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 Support 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 school years.

This year, I am excited to add Social Emotional Learning Teacher to my resume! We will focus on life skills such as listening, asking for help, empathy, emotion management, and problem solving.

When not at school, you'll find me doing home decor projects, reading, or hiking.

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Kalani Krause
Academic Coach
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Ashley Leon
Aftercare Assistant
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Sharon Mayer
Substitute Teacher
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Lauren Quidgeon
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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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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Erica Arevalo
EL Coordinator
Erica is passionate and committed to instilling a sense of self-confidence among all students and teachers while cultivating learning spaces that are supportive and meet diverse needs.

Erica will be joining the High Tech Mesa organization as the English Learner Coordinator.

She was born and raised in Texas and is a recent transplant. Erica has been in education for over 20 years. Before joining the High Tech Team, she taught multiple grade levels from early childhood to adult learners. Some of her most memorable work has been working on diverse campuses with students and families at a Migrant School, Gifted and Talented school and as a founding member of an International Baccalaureate PYP during candidacy and authorization. She has served various educational roles: Teacher, Job Embedded Trainer, District Math Coach, District Instructional Coach, and Independent Educational Consultant.

Erica holds a Master’s degree in Math Curriculum and Instruction, a Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, an Associate’s degree in Spanish and is Texas and California Multi Subject and ESL credentialed. Erica is Concept Based Curriculum and Instruction Certified, and a Professional Development and Instructional Coaching Specialist. She has served on impactful committees including TEKS Revisions for Elementary Math with the Texas Education Agency. Erica is an active presenter for educational conferences and agencies such as Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) Conference for the Advancement of Math Teachers (CAMT), Texas Association of Gifted and Talented (TAGT) and National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).

Erica enjoys mentoring, movies, shopping, cooking, dancing, and all things music. Her greatest joy is spending time with family, friends and her dog LuLu.