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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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James Luttrell
9th Grade Physics Student Teacher
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Dan ThoeneDP
9th 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 22 years to his wife Kira. Their 16 year old daughter Courtney is an 11th grader at HTHI and their 13 year old son Cooper is a 7th grader at HTM.
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Dawn WirtsDP
9th Grade Math/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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Ross Roemer
10th 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.
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Sabrina Salvatierra
10th Grade Math
11th Grade
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Milena Kufa
11th Grade Humanities Student Teacher
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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, 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 9 years (still 8 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.

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 Humanities
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 Vaughn
11th Grade Math
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Dane Wirtzfeld
11th Grade Maker

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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Esteban Guzman Jaimes
Student Teacher 12th Grade Math
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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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Sarah Thaller
12th 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 seven year-old daughter who is obsessed with animals/reading/drawing, a three year-old daughter who is busy causing chaos and being unbelievably cute, and an almost-two-year-old daughter with red hair who is always very busy plotting to overthrow the patriarchy. She also has two rescued dogs, Walter and Lulu, and a rescued cat named Amelia.


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
Academic Coach
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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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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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Nikki GulckDP
English 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.  
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Kelsi Harron
SPED Practicum Student
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Allison Hostetter
Long Term Substitute
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Elena Jurado
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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. I'm excited to learn and grow as part of the HTH family!
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Chad Kilgore
Academic Coach
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David Landerman
Academic Coach
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Charmaine Lising
Academic Coach
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Sabelle O'Connell
Academic Coach
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Eleazor Orozco
SPED Practicum Student
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Samantha Potts
Inclusion 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, Nora, and swimming in the ocean. Her goal is to combine those two pastimes and teach Nora 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.
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Sarah Ruiz
SPED Practicum Student
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James Swiss
Ed Specialist
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McKenna Vandewalle
Inclusion 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 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.