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9th Grade
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Samantha Carrick
9th 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.

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Jacob Erickson
9th Grade Humanities Student Teacher
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Suzanne Erlagen
9th 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. Then I taught Spanish II in Brooklyn, New York at Uncommon Charter High School for four years. 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 for a second year.  I look forward to exploring and serving our community together!

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Sofia Sanchez
9th Grade Math Student Teacher
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Dawn WirtsDP
9th Grade Physics
10th Grade
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Michael Cho
10th Grade Humanities
"When you're exhausted, weak, and tired and everyone around you looks just as bad as you or even worse - that's the perfect time for you to make a statement. You let everyone around you know that when their life ends, that's when yours begins."

-David Goggins
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Chris MutterDP
10th 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.
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Sophia OllerDP
10th Grade Chemistry
Sophie is a chemistry teacher at High Tech High International. She graduated 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. Sophie's love of exploration has taken her to all 7 continents and over 50 countries and she is a National Geographic Certified Educator.
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Sabrina Salvatierra
10th Grade Math
11th Grade
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Stephen Logan
11th Grade US History
I'm a lot of "things:" father, musician, artist, disc golfer, yogi, writer, son, brother, military veteran, baker, 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 11 years (still 6 shy of the 17 required years that my friends tell me it takes to become a local).  I use US History as a way to help students gain a better understanding of themselves and how they fit into the story of America.  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.

The particulars:

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.
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Rachel NicholsDP
11th Grade English
Rachel Nichols is from Bloomington, Indiana.  Like most Hoosiers, she loves to watch and play basketball.  If given the opportunity, she will try to convince you that basketball is the greatest game ever invented . Ms. Nichols moved to San Diego in the fall of 2008.  

Ms. Nichols did her undergraduate work at Indiana University and earned her MS in Curriculum and Instruction from Indiana University's School of Education.  She has had the pleasure of teaching for twenty years in Indiana, New York, and California.

When she is not teaching, Ms. Nichols loves to be involved in athletics, both as a coach and as a participant.  She has coached one Olympian, a few teams of Special Olympians, and many other athletes. Ms. Nichols loves to read, travel, watch films, and play all types of games.  When school is not in session, you will find Ms. Nichols spending time with her wife and daughter.
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Lucas SextonDP
11th Grade Biology

This year will be my 10th year as a teacher and first as a father.  I am so proud to introduce my new daughter, Maylee Rose, to the HTHI community, and hope that she will get included in some of the class projects this year, haha! 10 years... where has the time gone!  During this time I have organized projects on forensic biology, biomimicry, animal enrichment, and more. I am very excited to be working with my new HTHI students this year, and helping them explore the world of biology through new projects and engaging labs.

More about me: I am native to California, born and raised on the central coast.  I received my bachelor’s degree at Azusa Pacific University, but did not start pursuing my passion for teaching science until after college.  Outside of school, I love to spend time with my family, play games/sports, take photographs, and use Bitmojis.  I also love to travel and experience the wide variety of human cultures and biodiversity our planet has to offer.

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Kyler VaughnDP
11th Grade Math
Kyler was born and raised in a small town in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Northern California and moved to San Diego to attend college and pursue a career as an educator. As is natural for someone who grew up in a rural area, he loves to be outside (camping, hiking, and climbing). In his down time, Kyler likes to cook, walk his dog, and play games with friends. He is an avid podcast listener—his favorite topics include news/politics, education, business, and economics—and also enjoys reading books on these topics. Throughout high school and college, Kyler played lacrosse and was heavily involved in student government/leadership.

Kyler is passionate about the applied nature of mathematics and how the discipline can be used as a framework for understanding our world. He leverages his own love of learning and an interest in technology and current events to foster growth mindsets with respect to mathematics, engage students in a dynamic classroom environment, and prepare them to participate in a rapidly changing world.

Kyler began teaching at High Tech High International during the unforgettable 2020-21 school year.
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Dane Wirtzfeld
HTHIPL - 11th Grade Visual Technology

Dane’s infant-pod-spaceship crash landed somewhere in middle America–a land known as Nebraska. Being just shy of two years old, he was forced to migrate West with his parents and two brothers to Colorado. 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 its 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 1.5 decades. In this time here he has used his vast knowledge and quick wits mastering the fields of web & graphic design, web development, photography and various new emerging medias like virtual reality.

Dane enjoys running, playing with his son, woodworking, and writing on one of his 7 novels which are each between 45-78% complete.


12th Grade
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Geneva Clark
12th 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 obtain a master’s degree in the art of teaching that focuses on biological sciences through the Advanced Inquiry Program with Project Dragonfly accredited through Miami University with San Diego Zoo Global as my Master Institution.  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!

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Jeremy FarsonDP
12th 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.
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Will HaaseDP
12th 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.
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Madelynn Hoard
12th Grade English
All School
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Jade WhiteDP
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.


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Enrique Lugo
Dean of Students
Enrique is the proud son of Mexican Immigrants, a visual artist and San Diego native dedicated to progressive education, entrepreneurship, and community activism that disrupts the status quo! Enrique started his career in education as an Academic Coach at HTHMA, and then served as an Art teacher at HTHCV for 7 years before transitioning to Dean of Culture at HTHI.
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Karen Lowe
Site 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.
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Mohd Abeid
Academic Coach
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Katy Burress
IT 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.
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Jesus Carrillo
10th Grade Humanities
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Erik Castillo
College 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.
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Janelle DeBilzan
9th Grade Spanish
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Ashley Duchene
SPED Practicum Student
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Kristin Elia
School Psychologist

I'm a relatively new transplant from Hilo, Hawaii. My psychology history began as a senior in high school, where I became so interested in learning about "why people do what they do," I took Psych in the fall and AP Psych in the spring, and knew it would become my future. I received my undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. Before applying to graduate school, I worked as a researcher at the Kamehameha Schools in Honolulu, HI. My project focused on the effects of culture-based education on student academics and well-being. I then headed back to the northwest to receive my Education Specialist degree in School Psychology from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR. I returned home where I was a school psychologist for nine years. I then took up the exciting opportunity to relocate to San Diego and High Tech High (Elementary and International) with my family. I love this profession as a combination of edu cation and psychology, and have special interests in executive functioning, cultural/ethnic identity, mindfulness, and resiliency. 

As a self-identified "nerd" and "lifelong learner," I am always looking for opportunities to learn more about myself, others, and helping others learn more about themselves. I identify with traits such as "introvert, "empath," and "Highly Sensitive Person," and believe that these qualities allow me the compassion, care, strength, and drive to help others define and develop themselves to succeed (their definition of the word). When not doing this, I am exploring San Diego with my little family.

Some of my favorite things include: nature, the ocean (it's cold here!), traveling, Harry Potter (Hufflepuff represent!), sea otters, baking, learning and experiencing other cultures, spa activities, my family, and animal encounters.
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Raffelina Grano
9th Grade Humanities
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Nikki GulckDP
Instructional Coach
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.  
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Kelsi Harron
SPED Practicum Student
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Elena Jurado
HTHIPL - 12th Grade Government and Civics
Elena is a born and raised San Diego native. Growing up in the South Bay, she fell in love with the community so much so that she decided to stay in San Diego for college. After graduating from San Diego State University with a B.A. in Sociology, Elena enrolled in Point Loma Nazarene University's Graduate School of Education where she received her teaching credential in social science. She is currently in the Master of Arts in Teaching program at PLNU.

In her formative years, Elena began running cross country which sparked a love for long distance running and connecting with others through fitness. Throughout her college years, she coached high school cross country & long distance track at schools in the Chula Vista area which became a passion of hers that she hopes to continue in the future. In her spare time, Elena enjoys reading, hiking, going camping, spending time with her awesome fiancé and family, and being outdoors as much as possible!

Elena is thrilled to be joining the HTHI faculty for the 2021 school year.
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Miriam Kae
Speech Language Pathologist
Miriam Kae has lived her whole life in Southern California and has no plans to move anywhere else! She received her BA in Linguistics at Pomona College and her MA in Speech-Language Pathology at San Diego State. Miriam believes that all students have the right to be able to communicate effectively and efficiently, and her goal is to empower young people to advocate for themselves in and out of the classroom.

Even when she is not working with students on their speech and language skills, she still chooses to spend most of her free time reading, writing or doing crossword puzzles. She can't get enough of language! She also loves improving her gardening skills and going on exploratory walks around her neighborhood.
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Sara KennedyDP
ELL 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. After graduating from Eastern Michigan University (with a B.A. in Spanish Education and a M.A. in 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 another project based school here in San Diego.

My other hobbies and passions include reading, photography, social justice, activism, travel, art, music, zines, and more. I love project based learning because it allows students and teachers to connect (and discover) their passions through projects.

As English Language Learner coordinator here at HTHI, I'm passionate about making education accessible for all students and families. I'm also part of the CARPE network working with educators across the state to increase college access, and I'm always looking for more ways to empower our students to flex the superpower of being multilingual!
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Chad Kilgore
Academic Coach
I am so stoked to be a part of the High Tech family. I am a father to three High Tech students as well as the girls varsity soccer coach. I feel honored to have the opportunity to help our students become confident life long learners as an academic coach. I am a San Diego native with a passion for life. I love movies, music, theater and surfing. I had a wonderful 15 year career as a professional chef and I now bring my passion for hospitality to serving our community. I am a man who has worn many hats in my life but none have been as rewarding as working with our youth. I like to bring my life experience into the classroom and provide practical applications to education. I have found that Project Based Learning is the perfect environment for learning outside the box, where I can provide a safe space for students to explore new ideas, collaborate with peers and to create deeper learning experiences.
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Charmaine Lising
Academic Coach
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Kelley Swaine
Ed Specialist 11th Grade
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James Swiss
Ed Specialist
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McKenna Vandewalle
Ed Specialist
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 two years ago 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, rock climbing, playing ultimate frisbee, or researching and planning international travel adventures.
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Greta Watson
Ed Specialist