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Staff Directory

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Kindergarten
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Lisa Gore
Kindergarten Teacher
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Vanesa Murrieta
Kindergarten Teacher
I was born and raised in San Diego, more specifically in the Southeast area of San Diego. I went to San Diego State University where I got my Bachelors degree in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Elementary Education.

My parents are both from Guadalajara. My two siblings and I grew up speaking Spanish and embracing our culture by connecting with family and keeping our traditions alive.

This will be my 4th year at HTeX and my 2nd year teaching kindergarten. I’m a BIG family person so in my spare time I love spending time at home with my husband and our 1 year old son Jorge-Carlos. Pre-quarantine, we enjoy getting together with my parents and my in-laws (who only live minutes away from us) for weekly family dinners. I also enjoy getting outside and being active. My husband and I host Softball Sundays with our friends and family every month. When the winter season comes, we make our annual trip to Big Bear and spend our day snowboarding. Lastly, I am a huge Disney fan! It’s a love that my husband and son quickly (and involuntarily) grew to love as well :)
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Adylan RigdonDP
Kindergarten Teacher
I was born and raised in North Carolina and am from a big family of five kids! I went to college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I studied Spanish, psychology, and neuroscience. Before becoming a teacher, I also worked as a summer camp director, nanny, tutor and researcher.  All of these jobs helped me realize my passion for connecting with families and helping students learn and grow. I was so excited about project-based learning and the wonder of early childhood that I moved all the way to San Diego to become a teacher. 

This is my fourth year working in the classroom, and my second year teaching kindergarten. Last year, I earned my Masters of Education in Teaching & Learning through High Tech High's Graduate School of Education. For more information about me and my beliefs about teaching children, please check out my digital portfolio.

When I am not at school, I enjoy all things involving the great outdoors! I am a gardener, hiker, swimmer, and avid frolicker. Being in nature makes me feel energized and happy. I also love weightlifting, laughing, solving tricky math problems, and snuggling with my dog (Murphey).
1st Grade
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Dana GaertnerDP
1st Grade Teacher

Hello! My name is Ms. Dana, and I’m excited for another fun year of teaching and learning together. I earned my Bachelor's degree in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Wisconsin Stout. From there, I gradually made my way west, teaching and learning in large urban school districts in both Minnesota and Colorado.


I began my career in education as a Kindergarten and First Grade teacher under The New Teacher Project, and then worked on a team of instructional superintendents as a School Improvement Partner for several years in Denver Public Schools. While doing this work, I also attended graduate school for Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, focused on turnaround schools, at the University of Denver.


During that time, I came to visit the HTH system with my leadership cohort, and was immediately drawn to the joy, engagement, and rigor of Project-Based-Learning. After graduating, I moved to San Diego to work as a 3rd and 4th grade mentor teacher. It was there that I developed a love of engineering, and creating interdisciplinary projects for my students.


I currently live on a micro farm in Escondido, where we grow food for San Diego Co-Harvest, an organization that supports people who struggle with food insecurity. When I’m not working in the garden or taking care of our chickens, I love to design, create, and cook! I also enjoy snowboarding, traveling, and spending time at the beach.

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Patricia LimDP
1st Grade Teacher
Patricia Lim loves teaching at Explorer! She is passionate about teaching and learning with her students and encouraging creativity and deep thinking. Prior to teaching at Explorer, Patricia taught for three years at a charter school in the Chula Vista Elementary School District. She holds a B.A. in Psychology, a Multiple Subject teaching credential, and a Master of Education degree from UCSD. Aside from teaching, Patricia enjoys traveling, painting, making jewelry, and spending time with her son who is a graduate of Explorer.
2nd Grade
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Meg Hassey
2nd Grade Teacher
Meg graduated with her Bachelor's degree in Anthropology and Education from Colby College, in Maine. After college, she moved to Boston, where she completed her Master's in Effective Teaching. She spent two years teaching second grade at a Boston charter school before returning to sunny California! Meg began at Explorer in 2018, and has taught both third and fourth grade at the school.

When not at school, you can find Meg doing something active outside (hiking, biking, running, playing soccer, or swimming at the beach), reading, traveling, or spending time with her family and friends.
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Danielle Phillips
2nd Grade Teacher
3rd Grade
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Mara Gonzales
3rd Grade Teacher
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Anna Tom
3rd Grade Teacher
Hello all. My name is Anna. I was born in San Francisco with my twin sister, but I spend my first five years in Guangzhou, China. At age 6, I moved back to California where we were raised in Los Angeles. I  decided to move to San Diego to earn my B.A in Sociology at University of California, San Diego. After receiving my B.A  I brought my passion for teaching to the rural parts of South Korea to serve English language learners from K-6th grade. When I  finished teaching in South Korea, I decided to go back to UCSD to earn my Multiple Subjects Credential and Masters in Education Studies. During that time, I learned a great deal about bilingual education, so once I finished my Masters program I went abroad and taught 1st and 3rd grade in an International School in China. There I continued to work with English language learners and learn more about the Chinese language and culture. Although I love to travel, I am California girl at heart. After teaching in China, I moved to Berkeley, California, where I taught Kindergarten for the last two years.

In my spare time I like to spend time with my sisters and drink boba milk tea. I also likes outdoor activities such as hiking, running, and cycling. I  identify herself as a lifelong learner and enjoys taking professional development and binge on TED Talk videos. ​
4th Grade
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Shira Feifer
4th Grade Teacher
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Jessica Lewis
4th Grade teacher
Jessica moved to San Diego 6 years ago from Northern California to attend SDSU. She received a degree in  Education. with an emphasis in Elementary Literacy and Performing Arts. During her time at SDSU, she had the opportunity to study abroad and realized her passion for traveling and global education. She received her teaching credential and Master's from the University of San Diego last year. During this time she student taught at High Tech Explorer and was ecstatic to stay on board for the 2017-2018 school year.

When Jessica isn't at school she loves cooking, traveling, reading, and yoga.
5th Grade
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Kalin Cameron
5th Grade Teacher
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Carrie GeremiaDP
5th Grade Teacher
Carrie Geremia earned her BA in History at UCSD. She spent over 15 years with SDSU and UCSD, conducting public health research focused on livable, walkable, healthy communities before beginning her career in early education. She is a graduate of the Teaching Apprenticeship Program (TAP) at High Tech High's Graduate School of Education, where she earned a multiple subjects teaching credential and worked as an embedded co-teacher at High Tech Elementary. She is thrilled to join the Explorer community.

In her free time, Carrie loves to hike, garden, and craft with her husband and two kids (both at HTEx).
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Paige Kennick
5th Grade Teacher
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Rebecca Frost
5th Grade Teacher
Becky Frost earned her B.A. in Diversified Liberal Arts at the University of San Diego. She has been at Explorer since 2004 and prior to that taught 5th grade in San Francisco for five years. During those years she led a Technology Leadership Academy and led teacher workshops in the use of technology to support classroom curriculum.
Education Specialists
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Bren Jacobsen
Education Specialist
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Heather Love
Education Specialist
Heather Love is a native of San Diego and a graduate of PLNU. She studied abroad on Semester at Sea, visiting 11 countries while earning a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Studio Art. She is dual credentialed in both Elementary Education and  Special Education. Heather's love for travel began at an early age. She experienced her first study abroad experience by living with a family in Japan for the summer after 6th grade.

In her free time, Heather enjoys reading, photography, Disneyland, and going on adventures around San Diego with her sons (One a 5th grade student at HTe and the other a 7th grader at HTMMA). She was a founding faculty member at HTe Point Loma in 2015 and has now been a part of the fantastic HTeX community since 2017.
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Taryn Serna
Education Specialist
Taryn has spent the last five years working as a Resource Specialist, most recently at High Tech Middle North County. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from UC Santa Barbara and an Education Specialist Credential and M.Ed. in Special Education from the University of San Diego. Aside from teaching, Taryn enjoys gardening, hiking, and taking road trips with her husband. She is thrilled to be joining the staff of Explorer Elementary!
Exploratory Teachers
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Rebecca MaldonadoDP
Science Teacher
Rebecca Maldonado is excited to be returning to Explorer as the exploratory science teacher this year. She is from New York City, where she began her teaching adventure back in 2006. She designed and taught a K-6 science program for a nonprofit community center in lower Manhattan. Her passion for this work grew to free community science events and science party planning. Rebecca cares about student voice in her work and uses student passions to guide shared experiences. Rebecca believes that the practices and skills developed through science can empower students to approach the future with questions and a hunger to find meaningful connections everywhere. 

Rebecca moved to San Diego with her partner Chris five years ago. She taught at a preschool in Poway before discovering High Tech High and connecting with the philosophy. Rebecca was able to learn deeply about PBL and inclusion as an academic coach, substitute and student teacher at High Tech Elementary. 

Rebecca earned her M.Ed. in Teaching & Learning from the HTH Graduate School of Education. She holds a B.A. in English from The City College of the City University of New York and a California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. 

Outside of school, Rebecca enjoys crafting, tinkering, playing board games, reading, exploring San Diego, and spending time with family and friends.
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Tasia Paulson
Art Teacher
Tasia received her B.A. in Visual Arts from UCSD. She loves teaching children art as a process in creating memorable experiences. Before coming to Explorer, Tasia developed an Elementary art program for a K-12 school that focused on group projects and exhibitions. Her projects have been exhibited in various galleries. Tasia enjoys spending time with her family, making and building things out of objects found around their neighborhood.
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Shayna Cribbs
Active Education Teacher
Shayna Cribbs is proud to be one of Explorer's founding teachers. Shayna received her credential in elementary education at UCSD, where she also completed her undergraduate degree. Shayna studied modern dance and hip hop, performing with groups such as Eveoke Dance Theatre, Culture Shock, and Impulse Danza Y Arte.
School Wide Support
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Briony Chown
Director
Briony is thrilled to be going into her sixth year as Director of High Tech Elementary Explorer and her ninth year with the Explorer team.

After beginning her teaching career in her native London, England,  Briony sought out High Tech High after researching schools around the world where students were engaged, empowered and able to create work that mattered to them and their communities. In her work in High Tech Elementary Explorer, Briony has seen the transformative potential of project-based learning and social and emotional practices. As a teacher Briony specialized in projects that empowered students as artists and writers, taking her class camping and partnering with local bookstores and organizations which support military families. She has worked with teachers across the United States and in Hong Kong on developing projects that engage students and empower teachers.

Outside of school, Briony enjoys hiking, camping, reading, theater and traveling with her husband and twin three year olds.
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Kamilah Abdul-Alim
Dean
Kamilah Abdul-Alim is an experienced educator, mentor and teacher leader. Kamilah joined the HTH community in 2017 as a 4th grade teacher at HTeX.  As a classroom teacher for more than 20 years, she has an extensive background in Readers, Writers and Math Workshop models as well as, social emotional learning. Kamilah feels strongly that teaching students about the impact of their emotions and effective ways to address adversity is essential to their social-emotional well-being and academic success.  One of her core beliefs is that in a PBL environment, projects must be transformative.  In her words, "Projects should have a lasting impact on yourself, your community or the world." 

Kamilah grew up three hours north of San Diego in Oxnard, California. She attended UC Santa Barbara and double majored in Political Science (emphasis Public Service) and African/African-American Studies.  She has a Masters degree in Teaching and Curriculum from the University of Rochester as well as a Masters degree in Educational Leadership from High Tech High's Graduate School of Education.

As Dean, Kamilah uses her knowledge and experiences to create positive learning opportunities for all students and educators.  When away from school, Kamilah enjoys walking on the beach, reading, watching movies, traveling, swimming and spending time with the men in her life (husband & three sons).

 

 
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Maggie Fragoso
Site Manager
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Tatiana Steward
Aftercare Manager
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Brad Bookser
IT Director
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Anais Ovanessoff
Aftercare Assistant
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Tony Thomas
IT Systems Manager
Hailed from the Keystone State, Pennsylvania, where I grew until my early twenties. Then started my journey west to start college, at the University of Montana, in Missoula. Earned a Bachelors of Science in Nursing, from Montana State University, in Bozeman. Along the way I studied ceramics in Missoula as well. That is where I realized my interest  in the arts. Over the years since I have occasionally joined a studio to throw pots. More recently I have been in a Ceramics Career Tech Education class at Coronado Adult Education. Joined HTH from Mater Dei Catholic High School. Where I worked as a IT Systems Administrator for 8 years. I love being a part of the education system. When away from school I enjoy anything outdoors and active. I love the mountains and the ocean.