Engineering is more than creating objects that work. To engineer is to solve problems for people. Every engineering endeavor begins with empathy, by understanding another person’s needs and developing ways to address them. Tomorrow’s problem solvers must be equipped with both technical and human skills.
A North County native, Mike Amarillas studied physics at Stanford University but couldn’t handle summer cooped up in a laboratory. He applied his varied skill set (Intramural Dodgeball Champion 2006) working as a YMCA camp counselor and became convinced his future was in teaching. After receiving his B.S. in physics he entered the Stanford Teacher Education Program to obtain a teaching credential and M.Ed. At the end of the program, he was pleased to accept a position at the same diverse public high school where he had been training. He spent the next six years teaching physics there, specializing in a version for English learners. Students in his classes built Rube Goldberg machines, launched projectiles, and contemplated our place in the universe. Mike returned to San Diego county in 2015 and began work at High Tech High North County, where his senior students converted two classrooms into a school makerspace. Recently his work has focused on helping HTHNC's freshman to master all the makerspace resources available to them. This fall will be his fourth year teaching engineering and coordinating the makerspace at HTHNC.
When not tinkering at HTHNC, Mike is most often found swimming with his son, dancing with his daughter, or watching Netflix with his wife.
My name is Carol Cabrera and I am a maker, teacher, and learner. You can view some of the artwork that I create at www.CarolCabrera.com, alongside a link to my DP, and some of the work I did during my two graduate programs. I absolutely love school and it's hard for me to stay away from it! My BA is from the University of California, San Diego with a double major in Literature/Writing and Theatre. My first MA is from the High Tech High Graduate School of Education and is in Education with an emphasis on Teacher Leadership. My second MA is from New York University and is in Art, Education, & Community Practice.
I have a million hobbies and I will try everything once! I love to travel and see the world--ask me about some of my favorite places! Just this past summer, I visited Vienna, Austria; Budapest, Hungary; Prague, Czech Republic; and Munich, Germany. I play music and dabble in many instruments. I play keyboard and sing for a local 60s/70s cover band. I am also a performer and act in many local productions. On the side, I work and act for the Murder Mystery Company as part of their improv troupe! I love all sorts of adventures and I can't wait to create and experience them with each of my students.
9th Grade Art
Marissa Fernandez is a San Diego Native and local artist. She acquired her bachelor’s degree and teaching credentials in art education at San Diego State University. Marissa became a teacher to give back to the arts community that has deeply influenced her. Art has been a driving force in Marissa life and she wants to share that passion with others. To do this, she cultivates a safe environment within the classroom for students to express themselves. It is deeply rewarding for her to see students grow as artists and members of the community. She is excited to help your child succeed!
Jennifer knew she wanted to be a teacher at a very young age. She would spend hours lining up her stuffed animals for school in her bedroom. In high school she fell in love with the stories of history and knew that she wanted to inspire other students and share those same stories. Teaching in both Orange County and Los Angeles Jennifer found her way to HTHNC and is proud to say that this is her 14th year at HTHNC and her 27th year as a teacher!! She graduated from Cal State Fullerton with a BA in History, then attended Loyola Marymount for her teaching credential, finally earning her MA in American Studies at Pepperdine University. Born and raised in Orange County, Jennifer and her husband moved to San Diego many years ago to explore new adventures and loves living in North County. Passions include traveling all over the world; highlights have included traveling through Scandinavia and Russia, attending the Olympics in London, riding a camel to the pyramids in Egypt, climbing the Great Wall of China and a glacier in Iceland, attending Oktoberfest in Germany and recently, bungee swinging in New Zealand. The sights, sounds and smells of Bangkok and Singapore are new memories from her travels this summer. Her inspiration for her projects come from her passion Shakespeare and things British. Attending the theater, hosting parties and decorating for holidays, and watching movies/TV are a few of her favorite things, along with spending time with her family and friends. Jennifer looks forward to an amazing year, and getting to know each and every one of her students.
I was born and raised in Texas, where I met my wife working part time during high school. We raised three exceptional, successful children. I made a career in the international arena of commercial and industrial building products where I was in charge of six branches in the U.S. and Mexico.
After our children finished their educations, I decided to follow the mantra of Monty Pythons Flying Circus: "And now for something completely different" and become a high school science and math teacher. This is my tenth year working and teaching physics/math at HTHNC.
This will be my sixth year leading a team of future engineers into designing, developing and racing a solar boat in the Metropolitan Water District annual Solar Cup Race against 40 other high school teams. This will be the my fifth year championing the school's Science Olympiad teams.
I have a passion for all my subjects and believe that learning is a life long endeavor. My hope is to instill this passion for science, math and learning to all the students I work with.
Don't ask Tiffany where she's from unless you have time to chat! She grew up an Air Force "brat", moving every 3-4 years. Tiffany spent the majority of her formative years overseas (Bonn, Germany & Brunssum, Netherlands).
Tiffany graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1993 and spent 12 years active duty, first as a Surface Warfare Officer then as a Naval Aviator flying the C-2 Greyhound. She left active duty in 2005 and began life as a civilian where she worked in Interior Design after having received her degree from the Design Institute of San Diego. Interior design morphed into graphic design when she started a small graphic design business creating custom invitations and logos.
Tiffany enjoyed the creative aspect of her work but that desire to get up every day and make a difference was missing. She found that passion and desire when she began coaching high school volleyball and working with students. In June of 2015, Tiffany received her teaching credential from California State University, San Marcos and began her teaching career at Oceanside High School where she taught 9th grade math for four years and coached JV volleyball. Tiffany joined HTHNC in 2019 as the 10th grade math teacher.
When Tiffany isn't at school she can be found with her family lounging on the beach or watching her son play golf.
10th Grade Spanish
Johnnie Lyman is a third generation Alaskan who has found herself in sunny San Diego! She went to college in a small town in New Mexico, where she earned a BS in Geology. After a year working for the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources mapping the beautiful rocks near Taos, she began grad school at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. There she earned her MS in Oceanography, and she has almost completed a PhD, with her research in the past climate of the earth. She uses biogeochemistry as a tool to study the world around her, and very much hopes to bring this interconnected view of science to her students.
Johnnie is currently a 10th grade chemistry teacher, computer science elective teacher, robotics advisor, cross country assistant coach, track and field distance coach, and environmental health and safety coordinator for our North County campus.
In her spare time, Johnnie can often be found outdoors, either running a very long way or rock climbing. She is generally not sitting still, always pushing her own limits, and smiling while doing it!
Ross attended college at the University of California, Santa Barbara, leaving with majors in English, Spanish, and a last in Comparative Literature. The following year, he continued there to complete his teaching credential and M.Ed.
Working first at High Tech High in San Diego, he then opened up High Tech High International as one of the founding teachers there. A few years later, as his family moved to North County, he finds himself at his third High Tech High high school: HTHNC.
When Ross is not teaching, he finds time to read, run, and surf poorly.
Hi! I am from Little Rock, Arkansas and graduated from Yale University in 2018 with a degree in Religious Studies and a concentration in American Literature. Though I majored in Religious Studies, I took classes on everything from fractal geometry to building musical instruments, and have always loved learning about a wide range of topics. That variety of interests is what drew me to High Tech High and interdisciplinary project-based learning.
At various points in my life, I’ve declared that I would be everything from an architect to an EMT to a poet to a summer camp director. In college, however, I decided that I wanted to do as many of those things as possible all at once—so when I finished in New Haven, I came to San Diego and joined the High Tech High Graduate School of Education’s Teacher Apprenticeship Program!
Last year, I began teaching 10th grade Humanities full-time at HTHNC and finished my Masters of Education with the GSE. Working in camp settings ignited my passion for creating programs that form communities and set the stage for transformative experiences. I'm incredibly excited for my second year of teaching and am grateful for the opportunity to continue to foster those experiences in a classroom where literature, history, chemistry, Spanish, math, and much more are woven together!
This will be my eleventh year teaching. Teaching at HTHNC has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Students and Staff are awesome!
During the rise of grunge and Pearl Jam, I attended Mercer University Macon obtaining a BA in Chemistry. A life long passion for the Georgia Institute of Technology (Go Jackets!) brought me to Atlanta where I earned BS in Polymer and Textile Chemistry and MS in Fiber Chemistry. I am a big fan of southern cooking and music (New Order, REM, The B-52s, Natalie Merchant, etc).
After a lifetime in Georgia, I made my way to San Diego via Boston where I spent eight years in the printer industry as a chemist and engineer with Kodak Inc and various smaller companies. During my free time, I picked up an MBA at University of San Diego. Having spent so many of my secondary years behind the desk, I am now excited about giving back some of my educational and life experiences.
My free time is spent with my family and friends conversing and laughing over good food. My passion in life is learning and connecting to people. I am a big fan of the The Yellow Jackets and Atlanta Braves.
Hi! My name is Matthew Leader and this is my 17th year at High Tech High. I am a native of San Diego and received a Bachelor of Science at the University of California at San Diego in General Biology and Teaching Credentials at San Diego State University. I am an Americorps alumni, Socrates fellow alumni and completed a Masters in Education in Teacher Leadership at the HTH Graduate School of Education. I have traveled and taught in Central and South America and worked in physical sciences and microbiology labs at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the J. Craig Venter Institute. I am newly back to teaching 11th grade Biology at High Tech High North County after spending the recent years in Math/Science at HTMNC, working as a reader with UCSD admissions and working with the HTH Graduate School of Education in various roles. In addition to teaching, I enjoy surfing, scuba diving, fishing, and exploring science by getting back to nature with my wife, son and daughter.
Kelsey was born and raised in sunny San Diego, where she lived for twenty-two years before moving further north to Orange County, California. Here, she spent the next five years working as a professional writer and editor for a publishing company where she helped her clients’ books reach the top of Amazon. In 2015, after working as a writing teacher for English Language Learners, Kelsey made the decision to move back to San Diego with her husband and to pursue her love for helping students tell their own stories. Since then, Kelsey has spent time at High Tech High Chula Vista before moving to the North County family in January 2017. Kelsey is excited to begin her fifth year with High Tech High, and fourth with North County—Go Raptors!
Kelsey received her B.A. in English Literature from San Diego State University (Go Aztecs!), her Masters in Fine Arts from the University of Southern California (Fight On!), and her Single Subject Teaching Credential from the University of San Diego (Go Toreros!).
When Kelsey is not spending time in the classroom as either a teacher or student she can be found waiting on her letter to Hogwarts, reading, writing, hiking, and spending time with her husband-Dr. O, dog-Cyrus, and Siamese cat-Nova (Lovegood).
11th Grade Humanities
My name is Chaz Parker-Alofs. I grew up in Long Beach, California and attended Poly High School. I was then fortunate enough to be able to attended the University of San Francisco (GO DONS). While in college I studied abroad in the Philippines and received my Bachelors in Environmental Studies. Immediately after graduating I began a two year service in the Peace Corps, where I lived in rural Zambia and taught farmers about fish farming and sustainable agriculture. Upon finishing my experience in Zambia, I taught English and AP World History in Indianapolis for three years, during which I received my Masters in Teaching from Marian University. Some of my favorite hobbies include hiking, traveling, swimming at the beach, reading, watching horror movies, and eating delicious food with my girlfriend and two dogs!
Debora Peresenda De Rios
11th Grade Spanish
My name is Débora Rios. I was born and raised in Argentina, more specifically in a little beach city called Puerto Madryn. I grew up surrounded by untouched beaches and all kinds of fauna. I’m the youngest of five siblings and a member of a large extended family in Argentina. I moved to San Diego only four years ago. I taught English as a second language in my country, and since I moved to California, I have been teaching Spanish. I’m a firm believer that language is what connects us all and binds our communities together. As a language learner myself, I can testify to it. I love teaching because I get to share culture with the students and the learning experience never ends.
A hobby of mine is baking with my children; I love making desserts. I also enjoy singing and taking voice lessons. I’m beyond thrilled to be a part of HTHNC. I can not wait to work and learn together.
Mi nombre es Débora Rios. Nací y crecí en Argentina, más específicamente en una pequeña ciudad costera llamada Puerto Madryn. Crecí rodeada de playas vírgenes y todo tipo de fauna. Soy la menor de cinco hermanos y miembro de una familia muy numerosa en Argentina. Me mudé a San Diego hace solo cuatro años. Enseñé inglés como segundo idioma en mi país y, desde que me mudé a California, he estado enseñando español. Creo firmemente que el lenguaje es lo que nos conecta a todos y une a nuestras comunidades. Yo misma, como estudiante de idiomas, puedo dar testimonio de ello. Me encanta enseñar porque puedo compartir la cultura con los estudiantes y la experiencia de aprendizaje nunca termina.
Un pasatiempo mío es cocinar con mis hijos; me encanta hacer postres. También disfruto de cantar y tomar lecciones de canto. Estoy más que emocionada de ser parte de HTHNC. No puedo esperar a trabajar y aprender juntos.
11th Grade History
I am a born and raised San Diegan. I lived most of my life in La Mesa where I graduated from Helix Charter High School. Afterwards, I attended UCSD and pursued degrees in History (War, Revolution and Social Change) and Economics. My thirst for adventure and travel eventually took me out to Brooklyn, New York where I jumped back into school and received a M.A. in Latin American & Caribbean Studies from NYU.
I alway had big dreams of being a high school history teacher, but landed my first job in education at a nonpublic school in the Bay Area providing mental health interventions. I quickly developed a passion for Special Education. Soon after I received my credential and M.A. in Urban Education: Policy and Administration.
Most of my work has been grounded in trauma informed education, social emotional learning, and behavioral intervention. I have had the privilege to work with schools in the Bay Area, Seattle/Tacoma, Los Angeles, and San Diego. I am excited to support schoolwide social/emotional learning within our HTHNC community.
12th Grade Civics
12th Grade Multi-Media 3: Video Production & Art
Charley Jacob is native to Southern California and continually has had paint or ink on his hands since the mid 90s. He has several pairs of Vans shoes from an ever growing collection that nearly predates his students. He has been on a quest to understand why California burritos have french fries since moving to San Diego. He brings his passion for designing and building things to his classroom and loves seeing his students develop their ideas into beautiful work.
He joined the High Tech faculty in Fall 2014, teaching at HTMNC for 5 years and creating their maker space and later joining the HTHNC team. Before this role, Charley worked with students and young educators as a director of After School Programs in San Diego. In addition to his experience in education, he was a small business owner, designing and screen printing shirts, and painting surfboards for LA based manufacturer. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Arts with a Studio emphasis from UCSD (selected partly because of its proximity to Black's) and teaching credential from CSUSM. Charley earned a Master in Educational Leadership at HTH Graduate School of Education. He enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife, and their two children especially floating in the ocean, cooking, and making things.
Due to rather inconveniently timed repair work on the streets of San Diego, Ms. M. was born at home in a cozy condominium amidst the beautiful chaos of a frantic Iranian family. After a sunny youth, Ms. M. embarked on her academic career, attending UC Irvine and receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English and Educational Studies. Shortly thereafter, Ms. M. transitioned to a big city girl, living the life of a New Yorker while receiving her Master of Arts in the Teaching of English at Teachers College, Columbia University. Finally making her way back home to the west coast (the best coast), Ms. M. found her place in the educational sanctuaries of High Tech High North County.
In her twelfth year at High Tech High North County, Ms. M. continues to be wholeheartedly dedicated to finding meaning in her experiences as a teacher and furthermore, guiding her students to finding and understanding the value of meaning in their individual lives. Ms. M. knows that the Humanities can be a gateway to this pursuit. With that in mind, Ms. M. will work to empower herself and her students with the humanistic knowledge, tools, and language to believe in the magnitude of finding fulfillment in a meaningful life.
When not teaching or thinking about teaching, Ms. M. enjoys reading, spending time with her family and friends, navigating life with her wonderful husband, beautiful little girl and darling baby boy, traveling as much as possible, perfecting her cooking, shopping until she almost drops, and attempting to control her inexplicable love for cleaning and organizing.
I grew up in Huntington Beach California. I was always interested in film and spent a lot of time making short videos in high school. This passion later translated into a career in the film/video field. My journey in multimedia began at UCSD where I received a BA in visual media. I spent 4 years working at Sony Playstation as a video editor and producer. I loved working in production, particularly filming and editing. Before working at Sony, I traveled the world and produced several surf videos. It was not the most lucrative of businesses, but it was nice to travel, surf and explore the world. This is my tenth year of teaching. One of my favorite things about teaching is seeing all the amazing, creative work students create in class.
I grew up in Central Ohio, where I spent my school years playing music in the band and orchestra, singing and dancing in the show choir and musicals, and running long distances in track and cross country. After high school I headed to Cambridge, MA to attend MIT for my undergraduate degree. While at MIT I studied chemistry and aero-astro engineering. I also had the great privilege to work in a MIT organic chemistry research lab and research labs at the MIT Media Lab. At the MIT Media Lab I worked on development and deployment of Fab Labs, digital fabrication based maker spaces.
After Cambridge I moved to Baltimore to go to graduate school at Johns Hopkins University where I studied Materials Science and Engineering. There I did research on ultrafast lasers, terahertz radiation, and laser ultrasound. While in graduate school I began to work with teachers in Baltimore City and the National Federation of the Blind under an NSF grant and fell in love with STEM education. My love of STEM education lead me to work at the Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM (TIES) where, in partnership with the Fab Foundation and MIT, I had the opportunity to work with schools and programs all over the world on the integration of digital fabrication with education.
While in Baltimore I met my husband. We live in Baltimore until 2014 when his job moved our children and us to Southern California. I now live in Vista with my husband and 3 boys. I spend most of my free time with my family exploring southern California and traveling. We love hiking and camping, but also enjoy the zoo, Legoland, and the museums in Balboa Park. I also love to cook and bake for friends and family, something I hope to bring into my work at High Tech High North County.
Here's what I love:
– Traveling (international travel rocks!)
– Not traveling (e.g., laying on a beach)
– Teaching (it's my second career)
– Working out (so I have the energy to travel and teach)
– New technology (I'm an almost-rehabilitated-gadget-freak)
Here are a few (possibly little-known) facts about me:
– I have four passports (American, Canadian, British and Irish)
– I was born in Derry, Northern Ireland
– The "Dr."in "Dr. Drew" is for real (a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering)
– I can cook
– I meditate
– I really do like Math!
Hello! First, let me say that I am thrilled to be learning and supporting your child's academic and career target goals while attending HTHNC! Here are a few little bits you might want to know about me:
Professionally, I have 20 years of experience working in San Diego county schools supporting student success from grade 6 through age 22+. My area of focus is Special Education, supporting student access to academic instruction and facilitating their transition from high school to independence, college and careers.
Personally, I am curious by nature and find myself endlessly seeking to learn about anything and everything. With a personal goal for constant improvement, I want to have a better understanding and appreciation of our world, so it makes sense that my personal, academic interests are in history, sciences and psychology. I could be happy spending my days reading research studies and imagining up new ones.
Lately, I have been learning about permaculture gardening, and I can proudly say that I am also a practicing, novice gardener! (Ask me about my hugelkultur garden experiments.)
The most important thing I want you to know about me is that I am dedicated to honoring the individual human experience of others and I strive to model respect and consideration in all aspects of my life. I'll be honored to meet you!
Here is to another year of growth with High Tech High!
Susana De La Pena
My name is Susana, I grew up both in Mexico and San Diego. I am new to HTHNC this year. I worked at HTHCV and HTECV, 5 years ago for the after school program, and now I am part of the teaching credential program at the High Tech High learning academy. I graduated from SDSU with a BA in linguistics and minor in French. I have always been intrigued by languages and culture, I discovered my passion for language when I was in high school and decided to learn French, it was like discovering a new world! My passion for French led me to study in Paris, France where I met some of the best people who are now good friends of mine. Living in France opened my mind so much, I decided to move abroad after college, I taught English in Shanghai, China and Taipei, Taiwan. I had the best time of my life =)
I like to encourage my students to expand their horizons and discover as much as they can. My biggest influence in my educational career was my French teacher in high school, who really believed in me and encouraged me to be the best person I could be. I want to have an influence on my students the same way she did, shout out to Madame Gillingham at Bonita Vista High!
On my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my big Mexican family and all my friends.
Dr. Colleen Green has been with the HTH organization for going on 16 years and is in her second year as an Education Specialist at HTHNC. Dr. Green (you can call her Colleen or Dr. Green - she's not picky!) is originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan. She received her B.A. from Grand Valley State University, her M.A. from Bowling Green State University, and her Ph.D. in 19th Century Literature, Women's Studies, and Literary Theory from Purdue University. She has been an adjunct faculty member at USD and also for HTHs Graduate School of Education. She also has been teaching online Composition and Literature courses for Central Texas College for the last decade. Dr. Green lives in the north county of San Diego with her husband, who is in the US Navy, and their daughter, who attends the elementary school at HTeNC.
RaShad was raised in Winston- Salem , North Carolina, then moved to Chicago in 5th grade. He attended high school in a suburb called Naperville, then attended the University of Iowa, majoring in Art History. After graduation RaShad then began teaching in special education classrooms and discovered his passion for working with students with special needs. He worked for a private therapeutic day school in Chicago offering acute group psychiatric therapy and educational services to special education students. After having his son in 2011 with his wife Martha, they decided to leave the cold Chicago winters and move to San Diego in 2013. RaShad was an Educational Specialist intern at Albert Einstein Middle school for 2 years, then recently completed two years at NewBridge school in Poway, teaching students with dyslexia using the Orton-Gilliangham teaching method. RaShad has recently obtained his Mild/Mod Special Education degree and Multiple Subject Certification from Western Governors University in January of 2021. RaShad is an avid martial artist. He has a 2nd degree black belt in Hapkido and has competed professionally in combat sports since 2005. Currently, he teaches boxing, kickboxing, and Mixed Martial Arts at a gym in North Park. A huge football fan (Go Bears!) RaShad, coaches his son Trent's flag football team . When he is not working, RaShad enjoys listening to reggae, cooking North Carolina style barbeque, traveling with his family, saltwater fishing, and laying in his hammock.
My name is Freddy Miranda. I grew up right here in San Marcos, California so I’ve always felt a connection to the community here in North County. I only moved away to Orange County for four years while I attended UC Irvine (ZOT! ZOT! ZOT!). I got my bachelor of arts degree in Political Science with a Minor in Chicano/a & Latino/a Studies. After graduation, I moved back home and started as an academic coach at High Tech Middle North County (Thanks to my brother, Mr. Oscar over at HTeNC who told me they were hiring!). The connections I made with students during my first year as an academic coach solidified my passion for teaching. After four years in the academic coaching role, I joined the district internship program to obtain my teaching credential in mild/moderate special education.
This will be my second year in the program, and my second year as an education specialist intern. In all of my years as part of the High Tech High community, I have always valued how much I am able to learn about education from both colleagues and students. Now that I have made the switch over to the high school, I hope this expansion of knowledge continues. Coming over to the high school this year also presents a special opportunity to see so many familiar faces, as I’ve gotten to work in some capacity with every high school student that went through our middle school (I started as a coach when the upcoming Senior class was in 7th grade). Likewise, I am very excited to meet all the new faces I have yet to meet at the high school!
In my free time, I like to lift weights, go for a jog, and play soccer when possible. Movie nights with family are very common in my household. I like going to the beach and going out for food and milk tea with friends. My favorite plates to eat include ramen, Korean BBQ, and Pad Thai.
I am a first-generation Mexican college student and the first in my family to receive a college degree. I received my bachelor of arts (B.A.) in philosophy at the University of California, Riverside and I received my master of arts (M.A.) in philosophy from San Diego State University. While most of my research has been centered on Mexican/Latinx identity and feminist de-colonial thought, I have deep interests in logic and semantics.
When I was a kid, I dreamt of being a chef. I swore that I would go to culinary school, but my plans quickly changed when I attended a university. I still bake religiously and I have a small baking business that is currently on hiatus. I took on the role of an academic coach at High Tech High North County and I am hoping to obtain my teaching credential! I am passionate about working with kids and ensuring that they can all be on equal footing when it comes to big life decisions (i.e., college, jobs, etc).
When I am not doing research or working, I do enjoy reading, watching anime, and baking. I also have two cool kids that play soccer, so I spend most weekends at the park.
Renee is a San Diego native, growing up in Poway, CA she graduated from CSUSM with a BA in Literature & Writing in 2014. As soon as she turned in her final paper, she embarked on the Pacific Crest Trail, PCT, a trail stretching from Mexico to Canada that is over 2,600 miles.
A love of long distance backpacking soon enveloped her and once she completed the PCT, she returned home to save up to hike the Appalachian Trail, AT. In April of 2015 Renee began the 2200 mile hike from Georgia to Maine and finished her hike in October atop Katahdin in a blizzard. Renee plans to hike the Continental Divide Trail, stretching from New Mexico to Montana at just over 3,000 miles to become a "Triple Crowner".
Since her time hiking Renee has worked at a ski lodge in Alta, UT, been a live-in nanny in San Francisco, studied Ayurveda in Nevada City, CA, and now spends her weekends working at a vineyard in Ramona, CA.
It has been Renee's life long dream to become a teacher and this is her second year with High Tech High. She is currently working on her Masters and teaching credential and is thrilled to have the opportunity to provide students with the space and tools to fall in love with writing.
I am fortunate to call High Tech High North County home. My time here began in August 2011 when I was warmly welcomed to complete my student teaching. Becoming an integral part of this community happened faster than I imagined and I was able to continue my work as an Academic Coach for three semesters after my student teaching was completed. I stepped away in April of 2013 when my daughter, Sammie Bee, was born. In August of that year the opportunity came for me to be a full-time Spanish teacher, and I have loved this chapter of my professional life for the last five years. In October of 2013 my husband James and I welcomed our son, Owen, to our family.
There are people who believe in the work I do for our students, their families, and our community, and that is what brought me to my newest role at HTHNC, Dean of Students.
I was raised -- and raised a family -- in North San Diego County; but I've been able to broaden my horizons in the big world beyond. My personal and professional adventures have included gorilla trekking in Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, standing in a swirling cloud of monarch butterflies in south-central Mexico, and accepting a marriage proposal in the restaurant of the Eiffel Tower. I worked 18 years for the Zoological Society of San Diego, most of those in the Education Department of the San Diego Zoo's Safari Park. There I learned the critical role that support staff play in helping teachers and administrators deliver lessons to their students.
I believe that experiences are more valuable than "things;" and, as one who sent her own children through charter schools, I know the value of High Tech High's unique project-based learning, and the opportunity we give parents to "experience" their students' educational journey.
In my free time, I like to visit new places, work in the garden, and dote on my curious and creative grand-daughters!
HTHNC IT Director
Speech Language Pathologist
Sam was born and raised in Southern California and grew up with sunny days on the beach and family trips to the mountains--neither of which were too far away from home. She stayed local during college as she attended UCLA and earned her B.A. in Psychology while doing research in cognitive neuroscience. Following graduation, Sam shifted her focus to the field of Speech Language Pathology and earned her B.S. in Communication Disorders & Sciences from Utah State University. The next stop was graduate school. Sam relocated to the Pacific Northwest and attended the University of Oregon, where she earned her M.S. in Communication Disorders & Sciences.
Sam was drawn back to Southern California after graduate school. Her heart was drawn to San Diego and she quickly knew she could call it home. Sam began her career as a Speech Language Pathologist in private practice, working primarily with the pediatric population. Seeking a change to support students with communication challenges in their everyday lives, she discovered HTH and has found a deep passion for her work in special education. She has supported middle and high school students at the North County campus since 2016.
Sam lives with her husband and fur baby. She loves spending time with family and friends, is a self-proclaimed foodie and enjoys finding new local spots to eat, loves a good TV series to watch and relax, and has recently found a new passion for cooking.
Over the past 15 years, Joseph has been passionately devoted to serving and leading students, families, and educators. His experience as a leader and lifelong learner has been collected from his service at Washington State University as an Assistant Director of Enrollment, University of San Diego as an Assistant Director of Multicultural Recruitment, The Ohio State University and University of the Pacific as a Senior Assistant Director, and High Tech High Media Arts as Director of College Advising. Originally from Seattle, WA, Joseph earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Washington State University before moving to the San Diego area where earned a Masters in Educational Leadership from the HTH Graduate School of Education. Joseph is extremely excited to be returning to the High Tech High organization and the opportunity to serve, support, and collaborate with the High Tech High North County school community.
As a school leader, Joseph strongly believes every student, every day should have access to a safe, equitable, inclusive, and student-centered learning environment where truly meaningful learning experiences take place. Joseph also strongly believes that leading is learning and he is committed to providing ongoing, collaborative teacher support.
When Joseph is not engaged in the work he is so passionate about, he loves spending time with his wife and daughter, traveling, enjoying live music, creative writing, and enjoying this beautiful city we call home.
Going into his 3rd year as Athletic Director at HTHNC and HTMNC, Bret Faber, originally from Detroit, Michigan, is bringing with him 62 years of sporting experience. How so many? He likes sports that much. Bret was voted 'Most Valuable Player' on his wife's work's Co-ed softball team, as well as 'Most Likely to Make Up An Award on His School Bio Page'.
In his free time, he can be found watching any Michigan football game, Detroit Lions football game, Detroit Red Wings hockey game, Detroit Tigers baseball game, and Curling on ESPN 8, The Ocho! Bret also has a kid and a wife. He thinks they are pretty neat!
Community Outreach Coordinator
Jocelyn was born and raised in Mexico City. She came to the United States 25 years ago and has lived in North County since. She first came about High Tech High when she was looking for an innovative teaching style for her younger brother and sister to prosper from. 7 years later both of her younger siblings have graduated and are continuing with higher education. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from the Universidad Autonoma de México, a certification from the San Diego State University, and is a Certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator. Jocelyn has extensive experience in community leadership, communications, and parent engagement, serving in various volunteer roles at the Consulate of Mexico, San Diego Department of Education and Migrant Education. She has been with High Tech High since 2011 serving as the outreach coordinator. The main focus of her work involves assisting Spanish speaking families by guiding them through the educational system and by sharing the unique teaching styles of HTH with the community. She advocates for diversity, primarily within the school, as it helps students create a valuable connection with their identity and surrounding communities. She is passionate about the work she does and finds it rewarding to see that her help has made a difference in the lives of the individuals whom she has helped. When not at work she enjoys spending the day with her family at Disneyland or enjoys being part of the audience for Mexican Folkloric dancer, gymnast, cheerleader ten-year-old daughter, and 16-month baby girl!
Karissa Pierini Fryant was born and raised in Sacramento, California as a second generation Italian-American. Even though Italy has always been close to her heart, she has always had a deep connection with Latin America and its cultures, especially with Mexico. Karissa went to an orphanage in Tijuana at the age of eight years old, and this experience forever changed her life. Not only did she want to learn Spanish, but she also wanted to travel as much as possible in Latin America.
Years later, Karissa attended UC San Diego, receiving her BA in Spanish Literature and Sociology. After graduating from college, her wanderlust was even more in full force, helping pave the way for her Peace Corps service where she worked and lived for over two years in Paraguay, South America. This helped her to learn her fourth language - Guarani. After returning from the Peace Corps, she decided that she wanted to become a high school Spanish teacher, earning her credential at Cal State San Marcos. Karissa taught Spanish for close to a decade before becoming a stay at home mom. Three of those teaching years were at High Tech High, North County.
During her years at home, she and her family lived near Rosarito, in Baja, Mexico for close to two years. From this experience, an idea sparked for her and she created a business that sold handmade Mexican clothing and products, where she donated ten percent of the profit to Corazon de Vida, a non-profit that fully funds over ten orphanages in Northern Baja, Mexico. This non-profit played a huge role in the curriculum that she developed while teaching at HTHNC.
I guess we can say that Karissa is moving on to a new chapter in life, one where her heart has always been. She is extremely excited to return to the educational realm, yet in a new light, and is beyond grateful to be returning to a place where she feels like it is her second home, HTHNC.
College & Internship Support
People ask me why I choose to teach. I tell them that somewhere in the concrete communities of southeast L.A., in the fearful face of a new immigrant on adult school’s opening night, and in the triumphs of a high school senior’s college acceptance letter, teaching chose me. In the challenge of leading fifty upper-division college seniors through an exploration of the geographies of inequity, teaching chose me. And, in the wonders of leading middle school students through the twilight of night snorkeling in the kelp forest, teaching has continued to choose me.
Throughout my years in education, my career has taken me from teaching swimming to coaching volleyball, from kindergarten through university, from public schools to private, from special education to advanced placement, in English and in Spanish, in the United States and abroad. And as a founding teacher of HTHNC, I am honored to to work with such a diverse, dynamic, and dedicated team.
I am a native Southern Californian who grew up loving being outside playing soccer, volleyball, water polo, surfing, biking, hiking, and creating. I studied at the University of San Diego to complete my degree in International Relations, and at the Fundación Ortega y Gasset in Toledo, Spain to complete my degree in Spanish Language and Culture. After graduation, I went to work in International Business doing Import-Export sales and then went back to graduate school at the University of Southern California to complete my Master's Degree in Geography. This work inspired me to do my Master's Thesis field work at the University of Santiago in Chile where I traveled throughout Chile, Peru, and Bolivia to research how ecotourism can be harnessed as a tool for sustainable development.
When not teaching, you can find me hanging out with my wife and two daughters, playing volleyball, surfing, watching USC football, or walking my dogs, Maggie and Lotus. I love to paint, write, and play music and hope you can catch me and my band, The Wheelhouse, when we play in North County.
I'm so excited to support our students as HTHNC's Internship Coordinator, and can't wait to help connect our kids with wonderful people in our San Diego Community and beyond as they explore their passions and share their gifts.