- Samantha Carrick 9th Grade HumanitiesXSamantha Carrick9th Grade Humanities
Sam is an educator, scholar, writer, and semi-proud Inland Empire dirt person.
She loves learning about native plants, meeting new animal friends, and crafting— though her handiwork wouldn’t win any awards. Talk to her about old movies, celebrity gossip, and weird trivia, and you’ll be friends for life.
She has her BA in English from Reed College in Portland, OR, and her PhD. in English from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. She loves her wife and their two pets together: Jasper the dog and Frida the cat.
- Stephen Logan 9th Grade HumanitiesXStephen Logan9th Grade Humanities
I'm a lot of "things:" father, musician, artist, disc golfer, yogi, writer, son, brother, military veteran, and teacher. All these things add to the experience and dedication I bring to the craft of teaching. I seek to be open minded to new information, input from colleagues, and feedback from students. I originally grew up on the east coast, outside of Philadelphia; I've been in San Diego for 8 years (still 9 shy of the 17 required years that my friends tell me it takes to become a local). I use the humanities as a way to help students gain a better understanding of themselves and how they fit into the tapestry of life across time and space. Students in my class seek to find connections to each other and the past. I student taught at HTHI in 2016-2017, and after one year teaching in the Vista Unified School District, I am happy to be home where I started my journey.
Robert E. Cook Honors College at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Bachelor of Arts, Summa Cum Laude, 2008.
San Diego State University, Teacher Credential Program, 2017.
- Suzanne Silva 9th Grade SpanishXSuzanne Silva9th Grade Spanish
I am so thrilled to be teaching Spanish at HTHI! I hope to inspire students to travel the world, to be confident communicators and to engage them in learning about the world's great many diverse cultures. I grew up in Lake Havasu City, AZ, and my heritage is Argentinean. Although I am Latina, I did not become fluent until I lived in Cordoba, Argentina for a year after high school - an experience that gave me valuable insight into the world around me and instilled in me a love of language learning. After Argentina, I double majored in Spanish and Religious Studies at the University of Redlands. Redlands was where my love of CA really began. After college, I was accepted to Teach for America, where I taught Spanish for three years in the Mississippi Delta. Over the past four years, I taught Spanish II in Brooklyn, New York at Uncommon Charter High School. I've loved all my schools, communities, and students as they have taught me the importance of equity in our nation and the constant need for the prioritization of education in our society. I am incredibly excited to be living in San Diego and to be teaching at HTHI. I look forward to exploring and serving our community together!
- Dan Thoene 9th Grade MathX9th Grade Math
Dan Thoene has been part of the High Tech High Village since 2003 when he helped open up HTM. After working there for 12 years, he made the switch to HTMMA for a year. Now he's moved up to the high school ranks at HTHI. He graduated from UCSB with a major in Communications and a minor in Mathematics. Dan actually started his professional career in broadcasting, working as a sportscaster for 11 years where he won an Emmy Award as best sports reporter for ABC in Connecticut.But his dream was always to teach. So after retiring from sportscasting Dan went back to school, getting his Single Subject Credential in Mathematics along with a Multiple Subject Credential at San Diego State.An avid sports fan, when he's not watching the Padres or Chargers, Dan likes to fit in a round of golf in between grading papers. He's been married for 19 years to his wife Kira. Their 13 year old daughter Courtney is an 8th grader at HTM and their 10 year old son Cooper is a 4th grader at Explorer.
- Dawn Wirts 9th Grade Math/Physics
- Jorge Cabrera 10th Grade MathXJorge Cabrera10th Grade Math
I was born in Florida and raised in Rosarito, Mexico till the age of thirteen. It was then when I moved to the US that learned to read and write in English. I knew early on that I wanted to teach. I had great mentors growing up who helped shape and guide me through my high school and my college days. I wanted to make sure I returned the favor to teenagers like myself. I attended Mira Mesa High School where I played football and wrestled for all four years (GO MARAUDERS). After Mira Mesa I attended Long Beach State University where I earned my bachelors is Math Education. While in college I was part of the Rugby team there for four years and it is a sport I still play and coach. I have a very strong passion for teaching and coaching and HTHI has given me the opportunity to do both. I could not be more excited about the opportunity this school as given me. This is my second year here and I will be teaching 9th grade math and physics. I am ready for the fall and ready for the students! =)
- Mike Cho 10th Grade HumanitiesXMike Cho10th Grade Humanities
My name's Eun-Sang, but people usually call me Mike. I'm a 29-year-old, Korean-American, 10th-grade Humanities Teacher at High Tech High International with a Master's degree in Education, Curriculum & Instruction, from the University of San Diego, as well as a teaching credential in both English Language Arts and Social Science.
- was born in Oxnard, California. (age 0-9)
- grew up in La Crescenta, California. (age 9-18)
- graduated from the University of California, Riverside with a bachelor's in Music. (age 18-24)
- worked as an English Second Language teacher in the heart of South Korea, Daeso-myeon. (age 25-26)
- worked as an administrative assistant at Colorado Medical Pharmacy in Los Angeles, CA (age 26-27)
- currently live in San Diego, California (age 27-present)
- love jiu-jitsu with all my heart and soul #10thplanetfreaks #10thplanetsandiego.
- have dreams of surfing giants in the winter of 2018 and forevermore.
Above all else, I am incredibly thrilled at the opportunity to teach 10th-grade Humanities at High Tech High International in the fall. I look forward to emphasizing the need to implement extraordinary instruction that produces genuine, authentic learning experiences, as well as providing students with an exceptionally differentiated education that allows for limitless, persistent learning.
- Chris Mutter 10th Grade MulitimediaX10th Grade Mulitimedia
Before moving to San Diego in 1998, to attend Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU), Chris grew up in the Los Angeles suburb of San Dimas. It was during his time at PLNU when Chris harnessed his inner media-nerdist -- working on a variety of Multimedia projects. After graduation Chris was employed as a graphic artist and web designer, and also dabbled in music videos, TV shows and short films. After volunteering to establish a morning news broadcast at Coronado Middle School (2003-04), Chris discovered his passion to work with students, and decided to pursue a career in education. Now in his ninth year of teaching, his third with High Tech High International, Chris spends his free time with his wife Angee, son Jackson and pug Hazel; he also attempts to find time to surf, play video games and improve his horrific golf game.
- Sophia Oller 10th Grade ChemistryX10th Grade Chemistry
Sophie is a chemistry teacher at HTHMA. She grauded from UCSD with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry as well as minors in French, Theatre, and Education. She's taught in the San Diego area since 2011 and received her teaching credential and Master of Education from UCSD.
- Ross Roemer 10th Grade HumanitiesXRoss Roemer10th Grade Humanities
Ross was born near the central coast of California in a quaint town called Pismo Beach. As he grew older, he attended his local high school in Arroyo Grande, which happened to be five miles south of Pismo. As the years progressed, Ross seemed unable to resist the Southern California pull and eventually entered into college at the University of Santa Barbara, another one hundred miles south. After four years, Ross came out of the university with three majors, one in English, one in Spanish and a last in Comparative Literature. Yet Ross returned to his school the next fall, this time as a graduate. One year later he left Santa Barbara for good after receiving his Masters in Education and his teaching credential.
Clearly, at this point in Ross' life, he saw that the farther south one travels, the better. Which is why, without surprise, his next journey led him to High Tech High in San Diego, another few hundred miles south. While he is sure that he can bring students many creative and fresh approaches to real world applications through his teaching, he worries about one thing: graphs have been drawn up plotting Ross' southern migration and extensive research shows that with his current rate of travel, he will end up in Mazatlan, Mexico within sixteen years. But until then, Ross plans to inspire and encourage students by personalizing his curriculum around not only their life, but by matching the curriculum up with the world of today and the skills needed to compete in it.
Yet when Ross isn't busy enlightening young minds, he finds time to play piano, read books, and surf badly. He also claims to have invented the "U-Turn" blinker, but as of yet, cannot find a buyer. He believes reading is cool...really.
- Nikki Gulck English 3XEnglish 3
Nikki grew up in Southern California, eating egg salad sandwiches on the beach and standing in center field waiting for the ball to come her way. She graduated from UCLA with a double major in Critical Gender Studies and Sociology and a minor in LGBTQ studies. After college, Nikki spent time exploring the west coast (and herself) by living in Portland, Oregon and Mendocino, California. Due to the strong gravitational forces of close family and beautiful weather, Nikki returned south, where she earned her English credential from SDSU and connected with her dream school—HTHI. Nikki is continually inspired by the marvelous young adults and colleagues that surround her every day. In her free time, Nikki enjoys hiking up the steepest mountain she can find, building things, riding her bike to the farmer’s market, dancing, singing, and spending time with her other half, Jenny.
- Carissa Kiprotich 11th Grade MathX11th Grade Math
Carissa has a passion for mathematics, education and the outdoors. When she’s not doing math, she spends her time hiking with her husband and kids. She began in the High Tech High community six years ago as an academic coach at HTHCV, took a mommy-break and is back as our 11th grade math teacher. Carissa graduated from San Diego State University and holds a degree in Applied Mathematics. Her belief is that math is best taught in a step-by-step, hands-on way and encourages her students to apply what they learn in the classroom to “real life”. Her goal is to prepare her juniors for their academic life after high school, build their confidence and math mindset, and inspire them through mathematics.
- Lucas Sexton 11th Grade BiologyX11th Grade Biology
New to the High Tech High community, Lucas brings with him three years of Biology teaching experience. During this time he has directed science fairs, engineering design challenges, and numerous field trip opportunities for his students. He is very excited to be working with his new HTH students this year, and helping them explore the world of biology through their projects and engaging labs.Lucas is native to California, born and raised in the central coast. He received his bachelor’s degree at Azusa Pacific University, but did not start pursuing his passion for the sciences until after college. Outside of school, Lucas loves to motorcycle ride, play games/sports, and take photographs. He also loves to travel and experience the wide variety of human cultures and biodiversity our planet has to offer.
- Steven Silverstein US HistoryXUS History
PLEASE SEE MY WEBSITE FOR DAILY LESSON PLANS/CLASS INFO:
Long ago in a galaxy far far away I was a spacey little kid who didn't care much for school. I would squirm in my seat and do anything to pass the time in class; that is how I approached class time and that is how I began to approach my life- just trying to get it over with. That all changed when I walked into my high school humanities classroom. My high school teachers showed me the passion and fulfillment of a life that has been enriched by education. They opened me up to the beauty and potential that exists by being alive at this moment in history, how my every action can send ripples crashing into the future, and how my life is too precious of a thing to waste on mediocrity. As my learning expanded and my skills developed I became part of a community of academics that transcends time and space and felt like I truly belonged. I became enlightened, in love with life, and motivated to change the world by my high school teachers-- I seek to do the same for the next generation.
I graduated from Pitzer College in 2014 and received my teaching credential from California State University Northridge.Here at High Tech High International I'm part of a dedicated team of educators that are committed towards inspiring the next generation and encouraging our students to create the change they wish to see in the world. I'm a new transplant from Los Angeles and I am learning my way around San Diego. I play saxophone and flute as a part-time musician on the weekends to help me relieve stress from my weekly routine. I love rock-climbing so you can usually find me in climbing gyms or on random mountain walls around San Diego.
- Dane Wirtzfeld 11th Grade MakerXDane Wirtzfeld11th Grade Maker
Dane’s infant-pod-spaceship crash landed somewhere in middle America. It was here that he was forced to migrate West with his parents and two brothers. Since he was just shy of two years old–and had yet to master driving–he came to terms with his lack of control and settled in Colorado with his genetically ascendant biological entities. The next few years were spent dreaming of what lay on the other side of the Rocky Mountains. Soon, he and his family drove Wester over the mountains, ending up in California, his new home. He was warmly welcomed by the sunny state with it’s hip vibes and fresh threads.
Through a quick warp of space-time, our story–and Dane–moves forward as he attended the University of California, Riverside where he studied Biology. While working as a designer at the regional newspaper he soon realized that science was just his hobby, and he moved even more West to attend the California State Polytechnic University of Pomona where he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. From there it was South, past the Salmon of Capistrano, to San Diego where he has lived for 1.4 decades. In this time here he has used his vast knowledge and quick wits mastering fields of web & graphic design, web development, photography and various new emerging medias like virtual reality.
Dane enjoys running, woodworking, and working on one of his 7 novels which are each between 45-78% complete. He has recently secured a U.S. patent, #20090261547, for a car u-turn signal indicator and is enjoying the accompanying fame and recognition for his product that pretty much sells itself.
- Hannah Youngwirth 11th Grade Biology Student TeacherXHannah Youngwirth11th Grade Biology Student Teacher
Hannah can be found sharing a classroom with Lucas Sexton, where she is completing her student teaching requirement before she gets a Biology credential -and a classroom- to call her own. She is also currently working on a Masters of Education degree at USD, having already completed her Bachelors of Science in Biology at UCSD.
While not a San Diego native, Hannah grew up not too far away-in the wine country of Temecula. Here she would conduct ecological surveys and science experiments as a child, working her way up and perfecting her tools until she was able to move to Costa Rica to conduct research on sloths. She has also had the chance to work with many other species of animals: mountain lions, sea lions, sea birds, coyotes, skunks, birds of prey, to name a few. In addition to her year of experience in Costa Rica, she has also spent time in Italy where she worked as an Au Pair.
She loves exploring and is excited to share her experiences and passion for science with her students.
- Michael Chin 12th Grade Academic CoachXMichael Chin12th Grade Academic Coach
- Geneva Clark 12th Grade ScienceXGeneva Clark12th Grade Science
My name is Geneva Clark and I am the Environmental Science teacher at High Tech High International. I am currently teaching at the 12th grade level, and words cannot even describe how blessed I feel to be here as a blessing unto others. From the students and parents to my fellow staff members, I know that I have finally found my special place in this Universe. Everyone is family to me, and day by day it feels like we are all arriving from a journey together. Each positive and teachable moment is a reminder of why I am here, and how I am creating a brighter future for myself and others. Because of my family situation I grew up moving around a lot, but ultimately I found my way to San Diego State University where I got my Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Science. Having a background in multidisciplinary science gave me a planetary perspective on how everything is connected to a greater whole, and it also elevated my awareness on how human activities are also changing the Earth as we know it. My passion for scientific knowledge, higher truth, and human connection aligned my path into becoming a teacher and lifelong learner. As a result, I returned to San Diego State University to pursue their teaching credential program within secondary math and science. I graduated from the School of Teacher Education holding a dual credential in Earth/Space Science and Biology with a CLAD Authorization. My next steps are to either obtain a master’s degree in the art of teaching that focuses on math and science education, or a master’s degree in educational leadership. With that being said, I am an Aztec for Life! I want to thank all of the educators who have impacted my life: my teachers growing up, my professors/mentors at SDSU, my guide teachers within my credential program, and all of the educators I have gotten to know within the HTH community. All of you represent the heart of what I do. Most of all I want to thank my parents and relatives for continuously supporting my dreams through their love and guiding light. Dedicating my life to others has given me the opportunity to reach my highest potential. I hope to bring out the highest potential in all people. Lastly I will share my greatest mantra: the more I can learn, the more I can teach- change yourself and you’ve changed the world!
- Jeremy Farson 12th Grade ArtX12th Grade Art
Jeremy began his life in Los Angeles. He spent his formative years in two coastal towns, La Jolla, California and Bolinas, a small town just north of San Francisco. Upon graduating from La Jolla High he moved back north to attend UC Santa Cruz.
With his mind set on studying fine art he chose to transfer to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in his junior year. Deciding that winters in Santa Cruz were friendlier and that being in a school full of pretentious artists added to an already chilly winter, he transferred back to UCSC to complete his senior year and graduate with a BA in Fine Art. A couple years later he went to grad school in Oakland, CA and received an MFA from the California College of Art.
Jeremy moved to the Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco and found a job in a mural painting studio. He worked full-time for a couple of years painting large scale murals, mostly for hotels and casino’s such as; Caesar’s Palace, the MGM Grand, Harrah’s, and Disney to name a few. He then left San Francisco to pursue an independent art career in San Diego. He found reasonable success, exhibiting in galleries and selling paintings to residences and corporate businesses such as; Nokia, Merck Pharmaceuticals, the Bellagio and Fairmont Hotels, City National Bank…the list goes on.
In 2003 he joined forces with a few friends to open the Cassius King Gallery in the Gaslamp District, downtown, San Diego. This hip, underground venue lasted nearly two years and showed great up and coming artists and bands from around the nation. Since then Jeremy has found comfort teaching with the wonderful people of HTHI. All the while he continues to paint, play music, travel and surf.
- Will Haase 12th Grade MathX12th Grade Math
Will is a native New Yorker, who spent his adolescent years running around Albany trying to survive 13 years of Military school. After high school, Will split town and went to Virginia to study Philosophy and East Asian culture deep in the Shenandoah Valley at Washington and Lee University. After college Will wandered around New York, Colorado, and spent several years in New Mexico contemplating the meaning of life and the implications of all his philosophical studies. While living in Santa Fe Will got a job teaching Anatomy and Physiology to adults at a school and was quickly hooked on teaching. Will then moved to San Diego to pursue a degree in Biology and a teaching credential. While studying for his Master's degree in education Will became very interested in methodologies that not only support learning but also help students develop thinking skills. Will finished his Master's degree in 2004 after writing his final thesis on Inquiry learning in education. After this, Will got jobs teaching Biology and physical science and enjoyed the experiences well enough, but was not really satisfied with the work. So Will decided to go back to school, this time to pursue a Math degree, and as luck would have it he ran into a High Tech High teacher who encouraged him to apply and he got a job teaching math at High Tech High International. Will now teaches 12th grade Math at High Tech International and is currently having an exceptional amount of fun exploring the joys of math with his wonderful if sometimes reluctant students. Will is also passionate about sharing the HTH vision with the world and can often be found talking with visitors and sharing his excitement around a new vision for education. When Will is not teaching or researching education he enjoys walking the beaches, contemplating existence, doing math proofs, playing guitar, playing Ultimate Frisbee, and hanging out with friends, his wife, and his two dogs.
- Don Mackay 12th Grade EngineeringX12th Grade Engineering
I love learning by doing. I love physics, chemistry and biology because they help me understand how the world works. I love engineering because it helps me use science to change the world. I love teaching because it helps me extend myself into a future I will never see.
I grew up in Canada, Arizona and California. I started college at BYU, continued at Arizona State (BA in chemistry), and finished with a MS and Ph. D. in physical chemistry at UCSD. Since then, I helped start companies both to design drugs (www.accelrys.com) and to teach science (www.sciencemedia.com). I decided to enter the classroom in 2007 partly so I could squeeze in another year at college (ok, maybe not). I hope that my experience will help high school students experience the joy of inquiry and discovery that is science and inspire them to change the world for the better.
When I'm not designing projects, I'll probably be playing tennis, golfing, scuba diving, or snowboarding (depending on the season). When it’s too dark to play, I’ll curl up with a good science book. My favorite books while growing up were science fiction, especially Asimov.
- Sarah Thaller 12th Grade EnglishXSarah Thaller12th Grade English
Sarah started this life in south San Diego, but an irrational love of rain pulled her up the Pacific Northwest coast. After a decade in the forest (she most recently lived in Seattle), she is back in her old stomping grounds and adjusting very slowly to all of the sunshine. Having access to the best Mexican food makes this process much less painful.
She received her BA in English from UC Davis, her MA in English (contemporary American literature) from San Diego State University, and her PhD in literature (children's and YA literature, comics, mental illness and disability studies, gender and race, and the history of mental health care).
When not teaching or wandering the halls of High Tech High International hoping someone will guide her to whatever meeting she is supposed to be attending, Sarah can be found reading, watching RuPaul's Drag Race or far too many Bravo shows than she would like to admit, eating ALL OF THE FOOD, and spending too much money in order to try out a new craft.
She has a husband with a very nice beard and many tattoos, a five year old daughter who is obsessed with unicorns, a 1.5 year old daughter who is busy causing chaos and being unbelievably cute, and another little lady on the way who enjoys acrobatics and kung fu. She also has two rescued dogs, Fernando and Lulu, and a rescued cat named Amelia.
- Jade White DirectorXJade WhiteDirector
Jade has been a member of the HTH community since 2004. She taught math and physics at HTH for 13 years before transitioning to the roll of Director at HTHI. As an educator, Jade believes in creating an equitable and collaborative experience where students explore the world around them via hands-on projects and inquiry.
- Vangie Akridge School PsychologistXVangie AkridgeSchool Psychologist
- Katy Burress IT DirectorXKaty BurressIT Director
When I was younger, I was always taking things apart. It made my mother rather nervous, but she was regularly pleased when I could successfully put them back together. I don’t think I realized then that I was training for my future career. I have had many jobs in my life and have studied some incredibly interesting topics in school like criminology, geology and physical geography. While living in New York, I taught formerly incarcerated men re-entering society, basic computer skills, resume writing and interview techniques. I was a bicycle messenger in Portland, Oregon and a floral designer in Oakland, California, but I found my passion and home at HTHI. IT blends together solving puzzles, helping people and perseverance; all things I love and value. I’m definitely a life long learner who never tires of a good challenge that allows for inventive problem solving. My mantra? Raise the bar.
- Erik Castillo College AdvisorXErik CastilloCollege Advisor
As a native of San Diego, Erik has developed extensive roots in the education community as a graduate of San Diego State University and the University of San Diego. During his time at San Diego State University and the University of San Diego, he has over 7 years of college admissions experience. In addition, Erik completed his M.A. degree at the University of San Diego in School Counseling. Most recently, Erik served on the external reader committee for the University of California, San Diego.
On Erik's spare time, he enjoys spending time with his wife and two children. An added bonus would include spending time with extended family, enjoying the outdoors, and riding his mountain bike.
- Kim De La Mora College Advising AssistantXKim De La MoraCollege Advising Assistant
Kim was a student here at HTHI from 2009-2013. She has since then graduated from Cal State San Marcos in 2017 and studied Human Development. Kim is proud to be the first in her family to attend and graduate college. She is now working in the college advising office and is excited to get to know the HTHI family.
Kim enjoys giving back to her community and looks for any opportunity to help her former middle school and high school. She is working towards her masters in school counseling and hopes to start a program in the Fall of 2019.
Kim enjoys spending time with loved ones and taking her pug to the dog beach!
- Jesús Mendoza Downey Academic CoachXJesús Mendoza DowneyAcademic Coach
I'm 24 years old, born in Chula Vista, raised in Tijuana, La Mesa, San Ysidro, and Alpine. I graduated from Granite Hills High School in 2012, left for colder winters to the University of Notre Dame, got my BA in English, and now work with the wonderful students, staff, and faculty here at HTHI as I consider a career in education. I played tennis and the trombone in a previous life, but good luck getting me to prove either one.
- Francesca Henderson Dean of StudentsXFrancesca HendersonDean of Students
Greetings Everyone from your handy dandy Dean of Students!
Some fun facts about Fran:
(1) I can lift 350 pounds
(2) I love math so much that I take classes online just for fun
(3) Escape room games are a hobby of mine, if you haven't tried them you should
(4) There is no place I would rather be than at HTHI
- Sara Kennedy ELL CoordinatorXELL Coordinator
I am from a very big family in a very small town in Michigan. I had a non-traditional education since I was homeschooled K-12. I graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a B.A. in Spanish Education and a M.A. in TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language.) I've worked with students of all ages from kindergarten through college: tutoring undergrad students and training other tutors, teaching K-8 Spanish in Detroit, teaching English in Spain through a Fulbright grant, and teaching elementary and middle school Spanish at a project based school here in San Diego.
My other hobbies and passions include reading, photography, social justice, activism, travel, art, music, zines, and more. These tend to find their way into my teaching, which is something I love about project based learning.
After 10 years in the classroom, I'm taking on a new role as English Language Learner coordinator here at HTHI. I'm passionate about making education accessible for all students and families, and I'm excited to learn and grow as part of the HTH family!
- Chad Kilgore Academic CoachXChad KilgoreAcademic Coach
- Karen Lowe Site ManagerXKaren LoweSite Manager
Karen grew up on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. She spent winters skiing everyday and summers hanging out at the lake or hiking in the mountains. At 22, Karen decided that it was time to find a real career so she enlisted in the Navy as an Electronics Technician. The Navy brought her to San Diego where she fell in love with the warm weather and the beaches. After 10 years in the Navy, Karen continued her career in electronics for another 8 years at Qualcomm and Kyocera Wireless.
In 2009, Karen joined the HTHI community as Site Manager. She loves spending her day with high schoolers. She would say that where teachers have their students for one semester, she is in the unique position to get know and support students and their families for the whole four years of high school.
Karen has 3 daughters that have grown up in the HTH system. In her spare time she enjoys going to Disneyland and Comic Con with her daughter along with bowling and just hanging out.
- Samantha Potts Inclusion SpecialistXSamantha PottsInclusion Specialist
Growing up in Northern Utah, Sam’s family spent their weekends skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer. These activities helped to foster her desire to explore, and experience new places, which lead her to California, for the first time, to attend Santa Clara University, in northern California. While earning a B.S. in Psychology, Sam discovered that the coursework and its volunteer component helped solidify her desire to work in the educational setting with children and young people.
Combining her dual passions in exploration and education Sam moved to Copenhagen, Denmark, for a year, post college to work as an intern in the Child Development & Diversity program at the same school Sam studied abroad with in college.
Upon returning to the United States, Sam moved back to her native Utah and spent the following decade working in both private therapeutic and public school education in the realm of special education and support services. Although Sam enjoys working with all students with unique learning profiles and needs, she has especially enjoyed working with ASD students.
The next adventure in Sam’s life brings her to California for the second time, where she is excited to join the Inclusion Department at HTHI and work at school dedicated to a PBL learning method.
In her spare time Sam enjoys spending time with her dog, Bella, and swimming in the ocean. Her goal is to combine those two pastimes and teach Bella to go Stand Up Paddle boarding with her. Otherwise Sam can be seen pursuing her hobbies of hiking and biking around San Diego, and reading and perfecting the perfect gourmet grilled cheese sandwich.
- Joanne Sith Associate Director of AcademicsXAssociate Director of Academics
Here are just some tidbits about who I am and what I have done. I completed my undergrad education right here in San Diego at the University of California where I received a BA in History. During my undergrad studies I also taught SAT prep classes at Elite. Following UCSD, I continued on at the University of San Diego where I was awarded a Masters in Education. And it was during my masters program that I was lucky enough to student teach at HTHI. It was then that I began my continuous growth as a High Tech High teacher. The teaching philosophies that exist at this school parallels mine, which as a teacher is extremely essential to a positive and conducive learning environment.
On a more personal level, some of my favorite things to do when I have free time include reading historical and dystopian novels, watching way too many episodes of House and CSI ( Las Vegas and New York only!!), and playing with my dog, Taz - a Shepard Hound mix.
P.S. Yes, my last name is Sith but unfortunately I have no association to the dark lord from Star Wars!
- Julie Sulzmaier Inclusion SpecialistXJulie SulzmaierInclusion Specialist
Born and raised in beautiful Hawaii, I decided that I was ready for a change and moved across the country to blistering cold Boston to attend Boston University. At Boston University, I graduated with a degree in Psychology and French Language and Literature and fulfilled a dream of spending a year studying abroad in Grenoble and Paris, France. Upon returning to Boston and the worst winter in ten years, I decided that I had enough of the cold and moved back to Hawaii.
In Hawaii, I worked in the public schools supporting students with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Pervasive Developmental Disorders. It was through the Hawaii Branch of the International Dyslexia Association's Odyssey Project, that I re-discovered a passion for education. Through this program, I was able to provide individuals with access to specialized tutoring methodologies. This experience eventually led me to serve as the K-8 Assistant Principal of Assets School, which supports gifted and/or Dyslexic children, in Honolulu, Hawaii. Prior to this, I taught and counseled students in grades 2 through 8 at Assets School and fell in love working with students who learn differently. While working at Assets School, I received an MS in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in School Counseling from Chaminade University in Honolulu, Hawaii.
In 2013, we packed it up and moved to San Diego for my husband’s job opportunity at UCSD. And we’ve been on this adventure ever since. In my free time, I enjoy the great outdoors, whether it’s a walk in the neighborhood, hiking San Diego’s trails or dipping my feet in the Pacific Ocean (it’s too cold on this side of the Pacific to swim!) You are equally likely to find me practicing yoga or curled up on my couch with a book and my cat; and in the summers, lounging on a Hawaiian beach or hiking the German alps while visiting family and friends.
I am passionate about continuing to support the social, emotional and academic growth of individuals with diverse learning profiles at High Tech High and through outreach as a board member with the San Diego Branch of the International Dyslexia Association. I completed HTH’s Education Specialist Credential program and am looking forward to continuing with the High Tech High International community this year!
- James Swiss Ed SpecialistXJames SwissEd Specialist
- McKenna Vandewalle Inclusion InternXMcKenna VandewalleInclusion Intern
I grew up in the small town of Julian where I hiked, ran cross-country, and never went indoors (except when it snowed!) A love for science and the outdoors led me to pursue a joint-degree in both Biology and Chemistry at Point Loma Nazarene University.
I was extremely involved while I was at PLNU. I worked in my school's study abroad office, volunteered for Ministry with Mexico, played both intramural and club soccer, was a TA for the biology department, was a spiritual mentor for sophomore girls, ran a discipleship group and ran half-and full marathons.
I started at High Tech High International as an academic coach last year and absolutely fell in love with project-based learning and working with the creative, compassionate students. When I'm not at work, I can be found reading a book, surfing, playing ultimate frisbee, or researching and planning international travel adventures.