9th Grade Math
Originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Will is excited to be continuing his career in education here at High Tech High Mesa. Majoring in Secondary Mathematics Education with minors in Hispanic Studies and Mathematics at The University of Minnesota-Duluth, Will is happy to be escaping the harsh Minnesota winter here in beautiful San Diego.
Traveling is a major hobby for Will, he has been to nearly 20 countries and 6 of the 7 continents. Sports are a major interest as well, especially basketball and running. If you are looking for Will on a weekend he is most likely camping, hiking, or rock climbing.
Will is passionate about progressive education and excited to be expanding his pedagogy and teaching practices with High Tech High!
9th Grade Humanities
Elyce Jenkins is from San Diego, California. After serving six years in the Marine Corps Reserves, she attained a Bachelor of Arts in English from San Diego State University. She is an impassioned reader and writer and loves introducing her students to the potential that literature has to validate human experience and to inspire us. She spends her free time outside where you will usually find her surfing her favorite breaks or hiking her favorite trails with her husband and their dogs Duke and Dusty.
I grew up on the 34 mile-long island of Guam, my home, where I learned how to be generous, ride a caribou, eat massive amounts of carbohydrates, and how to put family first. I also learned that there is a great inequity in education, one that I want to help eradicate. I love making sure each child feels safe, loved, challenged and supported in our classroom. Hanging out with teenagers gives me hope. They have beautiful ideas and analytical questions and I love using their ideas to create projects that are authentic and purposeful. I have taught high school and middle school Humanities at several of the High Tech High schools since 2008 and am excited to continue my thirteenth year of teaching at High Tech High Mesa. I also served as an Associate Director of Admission at Pepperdine University, where I received my undergraduate degree in English and Writing/Rhetoric. I have also completed coursework toward my Master's in Business Administration at Pepperdine's Graziadio School of Business and will graduate from Harvard University's School Leadership program in 2022, when my son Cayden graduates high school! I love learning and am constantly reading about what we can do to improve our education system so that children are encouraged to love themselves, love others, and love learning.
When I'm not designing projects for High Tech, I am running on the beach, hanging out with Cayden, watching him play sports, reading books because they help me escape, and adding and crossing off items on my bucket list. Travel is my favorite thing to do! I can't wait to get to know you!
David Smith’s images are diverse in character, stemming from his urban upbringing to college life as the University of San Diego and beyond. He instills life lessons and values with each of his works. Painting ekphrastically unlocks the attribute of creating images that speak to the viewer. His ambitions dwell in revealing an interconnection between subjects that do not necessarily mesh. As long as an attempt to marry these subjects progress, his strongest paintings surface. Painting on found, discarded, or appropriated substrates able the material to voice itself.
Ultimately, his intention is to make works that communicate for groups that are so often predetermined and judged. As a young artist, David feels it is his responsibility to be the voice for the certain subjects in his work. Having grown up in Compton, Los Angeles, experiences inform his paintings because they develop a ruggedness which display their imposing presence to the observer which is why he paints on such a large scale.
Maya Lin, Isamu Noguchi, and Christo Javacheff are public artists that stimulate his series of images and installations. Encouraged by their ideology and the procedures of addressing the public, David persists. The work is not geared at the attention of a specific audience or genre; it is constructed for the people rather. Like Christo, some series are about an unveiling of something that is too often overlooked. By bringing the outside in, David Smith’s hope is to give onlookers insight.
10th Grade Education Specialist Apprentice
10th Grade Humanities
My name is Oscar Fabian Carrion and I am a Chula Vista native. After graduating from Coronado High School in 2009 I received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles. I have taught 12th, 9th, and 11th grade humanities (in that order) while earning my teaching credential from the HTH Graduate School of Education.
A few of my academic passions include social justice, philosophy, and creative writing. When I am not at HTH I teach guitar lessons, compose my own music, and play with local bands. Concerts are my jam, I am humbled to have seen personal heroes such as Stevie Wonder, Sonny Rollins, A Tribe Called Quest, Chick Corea, and many more. I am an old soul with a deep love for my friends and family, R&B, hip-hop, jazz, and funk music.
10th Grade Math Teacher
Chris Kramer is excited to continue his career at High Tech High Mesa as a 10th Grade Integrated Math II teacher! Born in Philadelphia, Chris completed his undergraduate study of Mechanical Engineering in Washington, DC, where he fell in love with STEM Education. Wanting to pursue a career in education, Chris thought no better place to continue his education journey than the beautiful west coast! At Loyola Marymount University, Chris completed his graduate degree in Secondary Education while teaching high school math and coaching soccer in Gardena, CA.
In Los Angeles and San Diego, Chris has developed a deep appreciation for getting outside! He loves to backpack, rock climb, kayak and go to the beach. Chris also appreciates some balance in life, so when he isn't seeking adventure or teaching, he enjoys hanging out with his friends, playing board games, watching football and basketball and connecting with his family as much as possible.
Chris is passionate about the mission of High Tech High and is excited to get to know his students, families and community this school year!
10th Grade Education Specialist Apprentice
My name is Felix (he/him/his) I am the education specialist for 10th grade. My path in education started when I graduated from UCSD in 2014, I got hired at Pacific Arts Movement as the coordinator for a summer program that teaches high school students how to create documentary films that get showcased at festivals across the country. That experience taught me how important it is for young people to have the opportunity to express themselves creatively. From there I connected with the instructor of the class and got hired on at High Tech High North County as an academic coach in 2016, where I learned what inclusion meant at a project-based school. I moved down to HTHMesa when it first opened up in 2018, I am part of the founding staff here and have been able to learn so much from that experience. Starting a new school where you are creating the culture and the experience for students each year growing slowly and developing something unique. My goal at Mesa has been to create a space where students are able to advocate for themselves, verbalize their needs, and make sure they are heard. I hope to bring that experience with me as an education specialist, I hope that with this new role I can do more for students and continue to work towards creating a lasting culture of inclusion at Mesa.
10th Grade Theatre
A native of Detroit, MI., Damon started making theatre at a young age. After graduating college, he moved to Japan, where he lived and worked for 9 years. In 2011, Damon moved to San Diego and worked as a teaching artist, teaching theatre in and around San Diego County. Damon is so excited to be joining the High Tech High community and bringing the power of performing arts to Mesa!
10th Grade Humanities
Lexi is going into her fifth year with High Tech High and her third year with HTH Mesa. She graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in Political Science and a Minor in Global Studies and received her Masters in Education from the University of San Diego. Lexi finds value in developing students as strong researchers and writers uses that as an integral part of every project. She believes that every day provides beautiful moments of learning and growth and is excited to foster a love for learning in each of her students.
Outside of HTH, Lexi is a yoga instructor and loves to stay active hiking, paddle boarding, and venturing around San Diego with her dog Piper. She is also a big college football fan and aims to get to a few games each season.
11th Grade Spanish
11th Grade Education Specialist
Hello everyone! I was a founding member of the High Tech High Mesa family and am thrilled at the opportunity to continue my journey here. I have been teaching since 1998 and have worked in almost every grade since then. I love working with students and helping them to see value in what they are learning.
I grew up in Arcadia, which is a city outside of Pasadena, California. I was lucky enough to be a part of cheer and colorguard teams in both high school and college. As part of these teams I was able to perform in the Rose Parade, the Jeep Eagle Aloha Bowl, and NBA and NFL games. I went to college at San Diego State University and moved here permanently after graduating in 1998 with a BA in Psychology.
I continued my education by receiving my M.Ed. in Cross Cultural Teaching in 2003 along with my Teaching Credential in English, Health and Psychology. In 2009, I went back to school and completed my Education Specialist Credential.
I met my husband in college and this year will mark our 18th wedding anniversary. We have two amazing and high energy boys who are going in to 7th and 10th grade. For the last 23 years my husband has been exhibiting at the San Diego Comic Con, and I have joined him the last 17 years. It is always so much fun. For five years I volunteered with Make-A-Wish and planned the meet and greets for the kids attending SDCC. This was such a rewarding experience for me and I love that so many are able to keep in touch after all of these years. In my spare time I do a lot of genealogy work for our family. This has been quite a learning experience but has helped me to connect to so many important events in history and has given me personal insight into the challenges that we face and the power to overcome them.
I look forward to the coming years of working with your families!
11th Grade Humanities
After 10 years in South Carolina and Tennessee, this Phoenix, Arizona native is excited to be settling down in San Diego. With a BA in Humanities (hybrid religion, philosophy, and English degree) and a minor in Creative Writing from Wofford College and an MEd. in Instructional Practice from Lipscomb University, David is excited to return to the classroom for a sixth year to continue breathing life into the mission in which he fervently believes: Literacy is justice.
When he's not at Mesa, David is likely pulling together his favorite things by listening to a podcast or audiobook while on a run. You may also see him flailing around in the waves at some point as he tries desperately to re-learn to surf.
11th Grade Biology
My name is Meghan Paddy and I am honored and blessed to teach biology and environmental science at High Tech High Mesa!
My partner and I live 0.7 miles away and I am excited to teach in our community. I was born and raised in Huntington Beach, California where I fell in love with the ocean. I attended Whitman College where I double majored in biology and geology and had the opportunity to research coral reefs, algae, and bioluminescent proteins. I am a collegiate student athlete and as the team captain, helped my basketball team reach the NCAA championship for the first time.
After college, I joined Teach for America and had the privilege to teach biology at Ace Charter High School for three years. Afterwards we moved closer to my family in San Diego and had the pleasure and privilege to join the High Tech High Chula Vista family and to teach the HTHCV scientists from 2016-2020. In the fall of 2020, I got the opportunity to begin the first year of 11th grade biology and environmental science at High Tech High Mesa. I am so excited to continue be a part of building our culture, internship program, and STEM opportunities for our HTHM scientists.
In my free time, I love to make cooking how-to videos, travel to national parks, take our dog Skye to the dog beach, hike, body surf, watch Grey's Anatomy, This is Us, Ted Lasso, and The Expanse, garden, play any sport especially pickle ball, basketball, beach volleyball, visit my family, and read for my monthly family liberation book club.
Dr. Brett W. Peterson is the Director of High Tech High Mesa. He served as the Director of High Tech High International for two years and The Gary and Jerri-Ann Jacobs High Tech High for nine years. Prior to being a Director, Brett taught at HTH for five years.
He currently serves as a network ambassador and consultant and assists in training teachers, administrators, and superintendents to implement project-based learning in several states, Israel, and the U.K. Brett recently cycled off as a Trustee of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s National Board, where he advised the organization about grass roots impacts of policy, marketing, and strategic vision.
His belief that teaching and learning go hand in hand, guided him as he pursued a Master’s in History from the University of San Diego and a Master’s in Curriculum Design from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). Before coming to San Diego, Brett earned a B.A. in History from the University of Notre Dame (Go, Irish!). His PhD from the Claremont Graduate University and SDSU focused on the history of progressive education San Diego.
He enjoys spending time with his husband, family and friends and traveling this small world of ours.
Dean of Students
Hello! My name is Chamille Dixon and I am very excited to be a part of the High Tech High Mesa team as Dean of Students. I was born and raised in San Diego; I grew up with three brothers and one sister. I earned my B.A. in English Education, and minor in Theater Arts from California State University Long Beach; and my Master’s in School Leadership from California State University Dominguez Hills. I knew from the age of 9 that I wanted to be an educator and help make a difference in other’s lives. I have spent the past ten years going to school and working in Los Angeles. I’ve loved my time as an English teacher and most recently as an Assistant Principal. I love sports and competed in Volleyball, Soccer, and Track and Field growing up. When time allows, I also love to coach. Performing and assisting with theater and musical productions is another passion of mine. I enjoy plays, good food and music, traveling, reading, and spending quality time with friends and family (especially my nephews). I look forward to supporting the students at High Tech High Mesa in their development as they foster their passions and prepare to be citizens that make a difference!
12th Grade Math
11th Grade Humanities
12th Grade Applied Physics & Engineering
Hi there! My name is Chase Buchanan and I am excited to be joining High Tech High Mesa as the 12th grade Applied Physics and Engineering Teacher.
I grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and received my BA in mechanical engineering at UCSB, but my interest in engineering began long before college. Some of my favorite memories from childhood include breaking open toys to harvest their gears and springs in order to build my own contraptions. In high school, I was first exposed to project based learning in the engineering academy at my school. The experience was so positive that I decided to mentor the senior class capstone projects during my final year of college and my first few years as a working professional. Since then, I have worked as an engineer in various industries including for museums (Exploratorium in San Francisco), medical devices, and optic based research and development. Throughout my career I have focused on bringing conceptual ideas into the physical world and helping my colleagues however I can. I am thrilled to join and learn from the HTHM community and share what I know.
Outside of work I have a bunch of interests, but to keep it brief(ish) here are a few of my favorites. I am into all kinds of bike stuff ranging from road to mountain to BMX. I love playing games with friends like Dungeons and Dragons, Magic the Gathering, and video games. And most important of all, spending time with my super cool wife, Bertie, and our two chunky cats Damien and Pig!
Ivan De Santiago
Ivan was born and raised here in San Diego, CA. Ivan is a first generation Mexican-American, born to two Mexican immigrants from Guadalajara (mom) and Zacatecas (dad). Ivan is the third of six children, and the first in his immediate family to graduate from college. Ivan is currently attending SDSU to get his bachelor’s degree in English single-subject so he can begin his teaching career! He began working at High Tech High in February of 2020 as an Academic Coach. This year, he will be continuing his role as an AC and is excited to be welcoming the new 9th grade class this year.
Ivan recently adopted a miniature-schnauzer named Milla (after Milla Jovovich (The Fifth Element, Resident Evil movies)) and has been busy taking care of her during quarantine. Other than that, Ivan’s hobbies include gardening, yoga, tanning, playing video games and spending time with his awesome partner Ty.
9th Grade Teacher
Industrial Arts Teacher
12th Grade English
Cassilyn Peetz is a San Diego native, born and raised in Escondido. After graduating from High Tech High North County, she pursued her degree at Palomar College then University of California San Diego where she graduated with a B.S. degree in Mathematics. While in school, she worked summers at her local YMCA leading summer camp with Escondido youth. She also tutored statistics/math during the school year with the STAR center at Palomar, a support/tutoring program designed for equitable education opportunities at the community college level. These experiences, as well as her 11th grade internship sharing project based learning in England, shaped her view of education, particularly mathematics, profoundly. She has now returned to the High Tech system at Mesa where she hopes to get more experience in the classroom with students while she prepares to begin her teaching credentialing program.
When not solving logic puzzles or helping students with Calculus, you can find her in the online world of Tyria (Guild Wars 2), at a local theme park, or, during the summer, walking around Comic-Con gathering autographs, pictures, and convention exclusives. A geek at heart, Cassilyn is happy to return to a lively environment where she can share her passion for math and pop-culture with students.
10th Grade Chemistry
Fourteen years ago my husband I headed west from New Jersey, where I was born and raised to be closer to our two sons who were living in Los Angeles. How lucky were we to settle in beautiful San Diego! For thirty plus years I have been a Special Education educator to middle and high school students in a small private school setting. Shortly after arriving in San Diego, up until this past June, I taught at a non-public school in beautiful Del Mar. My plan was to retire but I realized very quickly that it wasn’t for me. I still had a strong desire to help and support students so when an opportunity to be an Academic Coach at HTH presented itself, I jumped at the opportunity.......and here I am.
My husband and I live downtown where we can walk to almost everything, which I love. I am a foodie of sorts and having the symphony, theaters, and museums close by make it a fun place to live, not to mention the beautiful bay but the best part of my life are my three beautiful grandchildren.
I am excited about being at High Tech High Mesa in a beautiful new building with a dedicated staff and a large group of students who make every day fulfilling.
Director of College Advising
Chris White began his role as the Director of College Advising at High Tech High in the fall of 2002. He was brought on board in time to work with High Tech High's first graduating class of 50 students which graduated in the spring of 2003. Prior to this, Chris worked as a school counselor at Bainbridge High School outside of Seattle and prior to that he was the senior assistant director of admissions at the University of San Diego for 6 years. He has also been on the external reader committee for the University of California at San Diego admissions office since 2002 and he is a lead instructor for the College Counseling Certificate Program offered through UC Riverside extension. As a "power user" of Naviance (a comprehensive school counseling tool) Chris became a certified trainer in 2009 and supported several schools throughout California as they implemented this innovative resource for students. In 2010 Chris was awarded the Frank Jonasson Award which recognizes one high school counselor in San Diego County each year. He currently is serving (2012-2016) on the Board of Directors for The Common Application which is utilized by over 500 colleges/universities in the country. Additionally in 2014, Chris was appointed to advisory boards for two institutions of higher learning: The Ohio State University and Minerva. Chris is a graduate of the University of San Diego (both undergrad and graduate programs).
My name is Natalie Zanzucchi-Washington and I was born in Flagstaff, Arizona. After graduating from the University of San Diego, I joined Teach For America and taught high school in New Orleans, Louisiana for four years. My time in New Orleans revealed my passion for teaching and peace building through education. I returned to San Diego to pursue a Masters in Peace and Justice and then taught at HTHI and HTHCV before marrying my husband and moving every three years for a new duty station. As an active duty Navy spouse, I have lived and taught all over the country and in many different school systems. I am so happy to be back in San Diego (hopefully this time it sticks!) and very excited to be part of the HTHM family.
I am a mom of three biological and two bonus children, so my free time is spent watching youth sports, playing with my kids at the beach, and sneaking in as much solo time as I can for yoga and literature.