Staff Directory

9th Grade
  • Samantha Carrick Humanities
    Samantha Carrick

  • Sydney ssilva Spanish
    Sydney ssilva

  • Dan Thoene Math I
    Dan Thoene
    Math I

    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 Physics
    Dawn Wirts

10th Grade
  • Jorge Cabrera Math II
    Jorge Cabrera
    Math II

    Greetings Everyone!

    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 Humanities
    Mike Cho

  • Chris Mutter Multimedia
    Chris Mutter

    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 Chemistry
    Sophia Oller

    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 Modern World History/Eng
    Ross Roemer
    Modern World History/Eng

    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.
11th Grade
  • Nikki Gulck Humanities
    Nikki Gulck

    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 Math III
    Carissa Kiprotich
    Math III

    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 Biology
    Lucas Sexton

    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 History
    Steven Silverstein
    US History

12th Grade
  • Geneva Clark Science
    Geneva Clark

  • Jeremy Farson Career Tech Ed and Art
    Jeremy Farson
    Career Tech Ed and 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 Calculus
    Will Haase

    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 Engineering
    Don Mackay
    12th Grade Engineering

  • Joanne Sith English
    Joanne Sith

    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!
  • Sarah Thaller English
    Sarah Thaller

All School
  • Jade White Director
    Jade White

  • Vangie Akridge School Psychologist
    Vangie Akridge
    School Psychologist

  • Katy Burress IT
    Katy Burress

    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 Director of College Advising
    Erik Castillo
    Director of College Advising

    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 Assistant
    Kim De La Mora
    College Advising Assistant

  • Jesus Mendoza Downey Academic Coach
    Jesus Mendoza Downey
    Academic Coach

  • Michael Fortin Academic Coach
    Michael Fortin
    Academic Coach

  • Francesca Henderson Dean of Students
    Francesca Henderson
    Dean 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 Coordinator
    Sara Kennedy
    ELL Coordinator

  • Chad Kilgore Academic Coach
    Chad Kilgore
    Academic Coach

  • Karen Lowe Site Manager
    Karen Lowe
    Site Manager

  • Samantha Potts Education Specialist
    Samantha Potts
    Education 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.
  • Julie Sulzmaier Education Specialist
    Julie Sulzmaier
    Education 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 Specialist
    James Swiss
    Ed Specialist

  • McKenna Vandewalle Academic Coach
    McKenna Vandewalle
    Academic Coach