- Mike Amarillas 9th Grade EngineeringX9th Grade Engineering
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.
- Carol Cabrera 9th Grade HumanitiesX9th Grade Humanities
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.
- Alicyn Henkhaus 9th Grade Math/PhysicsXAlicyn Henkhaus9th Grade Math/Physics
“Engineering is like dancing; you don’t learn it in a darkened lecture hall watching slides; you learn it by getting out on the dance floor and having your toes stepped on.”
--- Jack Alford (1920 - 2006), Harvey Mudd College professor and co-founder of the Engineering Clinic
I’m so excited to be at High Tech High North County because I’ve experienced the benefits of project-based learning in my own academic career. I studied Engineering at Harvey Mudd College and Building Science at USC. The projects I’ve worked on span a wide range of engineering disciplines (including design and testing of building modeling software, solar photovoltaic installation and economic analysis, and residential lighting). Educating others has been a passion for me since I was in high school, when I both volunteered at my school’s peer-to-peer tutoring program and worked at an afterschool homework center for elementary and middle school students.
This is my third year at HTHNC, and my second as a math and physics teacher. I started my High Tech High career working with Mike Amarillas in the Maker Space and the 9th grade engineering classes. I hope to help students find problems that they are curious about in math and physics and foster an enthusiasm for problem solving.
As a Southern California native (until a few years ago when I moved down to San Diego I had spent my entire life in Los Angeles County) I love exploring our beautiful state, and I may have a small obsession with chaparral and desert wildflowers.
- Jennifer Howard 9th Grade HumanitiesX9th Grade Humanities
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 11th year at HTHNC and her 24th 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. 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.
- Kurt Schwartz 9th Grade PhysicsX9th Grade Physics
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.
- Carly Shields 9th Grade Education SpecialistXCarly Shields9th Grade Education Specialist
Carly has just moved to San Diego from Brooklyn, New York, where she had been living the last three and a half years as a public school teacher and a girls basketball coach. Carly moved around a lot as a child and spent a portion of her life in Columbus, Ohio and Wilton, Connecticut. Carly went back to Ohio for college, where she attended Ohio Wesleyan University for a double major in Environmental Studies and Journalism, while playing both basketball and field hockey in college. She studied abroad her junior year in Tanzania and traveled the coast of East Africa to nearby countries like Kenya when studying at the University of Dar es Salaam. Carly also took two biology trips to Ecuador and Bolivia and Peru to study water issues and climate change during her time in college.
After college Carly ended up as an Art and Entertainment Journalist for the International Business Times in NYC before applying for the NYC Teaching Fellows program and beginning her teaching career in Brooklyn, while going to Hunter College at night to get her masters in Special Education.
Carly is passionate about helping students find their reason and purpose within their life while providing a fair and equal education for all. Carly is also passionate about sharing her life while also continuing to learn from her students to create a rounded experience for all learners in the classroom. Carly is excited to be continuing her educational career at High Tech High in sunny California and is eager to continue to grow as an educator and a learner herself through the ways of HTH.
When Carly is not teaching you can find her either enjoying the beach, where she's hoping to learn how to surf now that she lives in San Diego, cooking delicious food, relaxing through runs or yoga, watching football or simply spending time with friends and family. Carly also loves to travel and learn about new cultures and try new foods. She is determined to beat her father's number of countries he's traveled to around the world, reaching a total of 46 countries. She's only traveled to 18 but is eager to keep traveling and exploring new places. She lives her life by the Coast Rican motto, "pura vida!"
- Tom Gaines 10th Grade SpanishX10th Grade Spanish
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 joys 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 humbled and honored to return this year 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 dog, Maggie. I love to paint, write, and play music and hope you can catch me and my band sometime when we play in North County.
Welcome to the amazing world of Spanish Language and Culture...I'm so excited to work with you, to see you enjoy your Spanish, and to see you create your finest work ever!
- Matthew Haupert 10th Grade HumanitiesX10th Grade Humanities
Before moving to sunny California, I spent the first 22 years of my life in the midwest, growing up in La Crosse, WI and then attending college at Drake University in Des Moines, IA, where I earned a B.A. in English and a B.F.A. in Acting. After graduation, I packed up everything I owned and moved to Los Angeles, where I began my career in teaching and earned an M.A. in Urban Education from Loyola Marymount University.
The 2017-2018 school year marks my second at High Tech High North County, and my first teaching 10th grade! I previously taught 9th grade English at Community Charter Early College High School in Los Angeles and Envision Academy in Oakland.
Things I love (outside of teaching): baseball (Go Cubs!), singing, recording and producing music, performing in plays and musicals, improv comedy, hanging out with my wife and two cats (George and Hamlet), and doing just about anything creative.
- Samantha Heller 10th Grade HumanitiesX10th Grade Humanities
Samantha Heller is a Southern California native and grew up in Orange County. She attended San Francisco State University where she completed a B.A. in English Education and earned her teaching credential. Back in SoCal, Samantha now lives in Irvine where her wife is attending law school at UCI.
Samantha believes that learning about literature and history can help us all to tell our own stories, and to hear stories of those around us, with a deeper understanding and sense of empathy. This year, she looks forward to imparting a knowledge of and appreciation for these subjects with her students. She also firmly believes that you can relate most anything back to Shakespeare, Harry Potter, or both, and that all it takes to instill a love of reading is finding the right book.
Samantha loves: cooking and baking, travel, cats, books, swimming in the ocean, seeing plays, spending time with family and friends, yoga, hikes, Harry Potter, crocheting, knitting, and dark chocolate.
- Johnnie Lyman 10th Grade ChemistryX10th Grade Chemistry
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, engineering club advisor, robotics advisor, track and field distance coach, and environmental health and safety coordinator.
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!
- Tom Schwartz 10th Grade Education SpecialistXTom Schwartz10th Grade Education Specialist
Immigrant from the great white north, rabid Liverpool FC fan, reader of comic books, want-to-be professional video gamer, rock climber, lover of all things French Bulldog (ask him about Charles!!), and WWE aficionado, Tom Schwartz has been at High Tech High for 7 years. After spending 6 of those years working at High Tech Middle North County as an Education Specialist, Tom finally made it to High School, and is in his 2nd year at HTHNC.
After moving to the United States, Tom attended school locally in Encinitas, and got a Bachelors of Arts in History from University California, Riverside and then received a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from California State University, San Marcos in 2011. Later he got his Mild/Moderate Credential from the High Tech High Graduate School of Education.
- Kevin Stovall 10th Grade MathX10th Grade Math
I am a Southern California native, grew up in Canyon Lake (which is 15 minutes past Temecula), and moved down to San Diego to attend college at Point Loma Nazarene University. I developed my passion for surfing and outdoor activities, and in 2009 I received my Masters in Mathematics with an emphasis on teaching from San Diego State University. I have taught various levels of mathematics at several colleges, and I was drawn to High Tech High’s student centered learning through amazing and creative projects. Every time I step into a High Tech High school or classroom, I am inspired.
My wife and I got married in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, and we now have two beautiful daughters who are 2 and 4 at this moment in time. They are both full of energy and teach me something knew every day. I enjoy turning what is ordinary into extraordinary, and creating unforgettable memories with those around me.
- David Corner 11th Grade MathX11th Grade Math
This will be my tenth 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.
- Andrea Frias 11th Grade SpanishX11th Grade Spanish
This will be Andrea Frias’ eleventh year at one of the HTH schools. Across HTH campuses, she has taught 9th grade Math/Physics, 10th and 11th grade Spanish, kindergarten, and served as Dean of Students. Andrea grew up in the San Diego area and graduated from Chula Vista High School: School of the Creative and Performing Arts with a major in Dance. She then left San Diego to study across the country. Andrea received her Bachelor’s in Hispanic Studies with a focus in Literature and Culture from Brown University. She continued her graduate studies at Brown receiving a Master of Arts in Elementary Education. Most recently, Andrea graduated from the School Leadership program at the High Tech High Graduate School. Andrea loves to help students develop mindsets that will help them always try their best and feel empowered as life-long learners. She feels very fortunate to be able to support students as they harness the power of wonder and collaboration. Puppetry, song, dance, tinkering, loose parts play, prototyping, engineering, data collection, building, and exploring all have a place in the daily life of a HTH student. Andrea is the mother of an elementary-age explorer and spends a lot of time taking nature walks, attending tea parties, and helping a future chemist-ballerina-engineer seek answers to her many wonderings. In any spare moments, you can find her practicing her dance moves or enjoying the outdoors.
- Courtney King 11th Grade BiologyXCourtney King11th Grade Biology
Courtney King is a native San Diegan and grew up in Carlsbad. After graduating from UC Davis with a bachelor's degree in marine biology, she worked as a sea turtle biologist in Costa Rica and St. Croix, USVI. She has also spent time studying in Africa, Belize, Panama, Paraguay and Nicaragua. She has been working at the Safari Park as well as completing her masters in conservation biology at Miami University since returning to San Diego. While she loved working with the animals, she found her passion in education. She is looking forward to sharing her excitement towards the study of life with her biology students this year.
Courtney enjoys spending time outdoors and loves tide pooling. She spends her free time horseback riding, traveling and playing with her 2 year old rescue dog named Pepper Lou.
- Teodora Nikolova 11th Grade HumanitiesX11th Grade Humanities
"We wish for Teodora to become a teacher" was all my mom and grandmother decided to write about me in an album dedicated to my childhood. They must have tapped into some cosmic clairvoyant powers since some of my earliest memories are of torturing my younger brother into endless role playing games of teacher-and-student, stubbornly attempting to explain to a three year-old the intricacies of reading and telling the time.
A decade later, my high school English teacher surprised me with the "Most Likely To Become An English Teacher" award; I wish I could have coffee with him now and commend him for an instinctual talent similar to that of my closest relatives.
But it took me another decade to get real serious about teaching as a career; after living in Ukraine and teaching English to adults for a few years, I returned to the States and suffered through two cold Ithaca winters to earn an M.A. in Education because (to this day) teaching is the only job that makes me feel truly fulfilled, excited, and inspired about the world.
Before deciding to settle down (for a bit) in the paradise that is California, I spent a year teaching in Poland and another in Bahrain.
This will be my second year at HTH and I cannot wait to get started on some awesome work, especially involving the building of a school library!
- Kelsey Ochaba 11th Grade HumanitiesX11th Grade Humanities
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 third year with High Tech High, and second with North County—Go Raptors!
Kelsey received her B.A. in English Literature from San Diego State University (Go Aztecs!), her Masters in Professional Writing 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-Gizmo, and Siamese cat-Luna Lovegood.
- Cruz Zoeller InclusionXCruz ZoellerInclusion
Yes, another transplant from NY! But this one is here for good. "(Go West) Life is peaceful there", sang The Village People. It is indeed. It's also an honor to work with your students and to begin year two at HTHNC!
I recently moved downtown and am enjoying all the city has to offer, especially the music scene and watching the planes take off and land from the rooftop of my building.
Oysters are my world! I feel in sync when running on the beach and to and from the airport, cycling, swimming, and listening to music - most notably disco, soul, and funk! Yoga, meditation, and best of all, spending time with my sons' Pat (23) and Pete (19) makes everything right!
Cheers to a year of growth!!!
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu (Jivamukti Yoga) - “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”
- Melissa Cochran InternshipXInternship
Melissa Cochran has spent the past 12 years working in education as a teacher, researcher, and teacher educator. After graduating from the University of Notre Dame in 2002, she moved to San Diego to pursue a career in teaching and earned a Masters of Arts in Teaching at USD. She joined the High Tech High community in January 2003 after learning about the organization’s innovative approach to teaching and learning.
After spending nearly three years in the classroom, she was inspired to learn more about education reform and moved to Washington DC to earn her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Maryland. While in the DC area, Melissa worked as a teacher educator and education researcher, but she missed working directly with students. She returned to High Tech High in 2010 and has spent the past 5 years teaching at HTHNC. Additionally, she has worked as adjunct faculty at USD and as an external reader for admissions at UCSD. When not at work, Melissa enjoys spending her time with her husband and their two amazing children.
- Henry Cohn-Geltner InclusionXInclusion
This will be my 6th year at High Tech High. From 2013-2015, I was a Multimedia teacher and since 2015 have been an Education Specialist. My life is all about telling and hearing stories, and this informs my teaching and education, in helping students take ownership of their educational story. I'm excited to work with you this year!
- Asal Meyer 12th Grade EnglishX12th Grade English
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 tenth 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, navigating life with her wonderful husband and beautiful little girl, spending time with her family and friends, perfecting her cooking, feigning fitness, and attempting to control her inexplicable love for cleaning and organizing.
- Anna Petrick 12th Grade MultimediaX12th Grade Multimedia
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.
- Caroline Sailor 12th Grade PhysicsXCaroline Sailor12th Grade Physics
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 Middle Media Arts.
- Andrew Vernon 12th Grade MathX12th Grade Math
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!
- Jamie West 12th Grade Academic CoachXJamie West12th Grade Academic Coach
- Shani Leader DirectorXShani LeaderDirector
Shani grew up in Northampton, a college town in Western, Massachusetts. Throughout her life, Shani aspired to find a career where she could be creative and work with kids. Shani loves traveling and learning from other cultures. She studied abroad at The University of Legon in Accra, Ghana during her junior year in college. In 2001, she earned her B.A. in Child Development and Studio Art from Tufts University in Medford, MA. Shani realized that her love of art and children combined well and she went on to get her Masters in Art Education from Tufts and The Museum School of Fine Arts in Boston. Needing to get away from the New England cold, Shani moved to San Diego in 2003. She was a founding teacher at the original High Tech Middle that same year and continued teaching there for three years. Teaching middle school was an amazing experience which showed her that she had a natural ability to inspire young artists. Shani taught Art at High Tech High Media Arts during the 2006-2007 school year and was continuously amazed by the work her high school students created. Knowing that high school students could be so creative when given the opportunity, she jumped at the chance to open another High Tech High in North County San Diego. Shani also saw this as a chance to challenge herself by helping start a new school and learn by working with an energizing leader and innovative staff.
Shani is a founding teacher at High Tech High North County. In opening the north county campus, Shani has had the opportunity to take on various leadership roles by being the Community Connections Coordinator, Dean of Students and Director. In addition to being an educator, she loves surfing, yoga, painting, traveling, and being around wonderful people.
- Aleida Rivera Gorgol Dean Of StudentsXDean Of Students
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.
- Sheila Van Metre Site ManagerXSheila Van MetreSite Manager
I was raised -- and raised a family -- in North San Diego County; but I have sought to broaden our horizons through travel. My personal and professional adventures have taken me to such places as Costa Rica, France, Madagascar, Italy, and the monarch butterfly over-wintering habitat in south-central Mexico.
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 believe that High Tech High offers unique project-based learning for the students, as well as opportunity for 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 grand-daughters!
- Tricia Abdullah College AdvisorXTricia AbdullahCollege Advisor
Tricia was born and raised in Providence, RI. The University of Rhode was where she earned a B.A. in Spanish and a M.S. in Human Development and Family Studies with a concentration in College Student Personnel. In 1996, she began her career in Admissions as a "Rhode Runner" for the University of Rhode Island. She served as an Admissions Officer for two recruiting cycles. After finishing her graduate studies she moved to Lubbock, TX to work at Texas Tech University as an Academic Counselor for Student Athletes. After leaving Red Raider land she had the opportunity to work with the Scarlet Knights at Rutgers University. In 2003, she returned to her alma mater to work as an Admission Advisor. After spending many winters in New England, she decided to relocate to a warmer climate. Prior to joining High Tech High North County, she spent three years working in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at UC San Diego as an Admissions Officer. She is entering her tenth year as the College Advisor.
She has a fifth and eleventh grader who keep her very busy. When she is not here at HTHNC, you can catch her on the soccer field and basketball court watching her boys play sports. She loves traveling and tries to visit her home town at least once a year.
- Kisha Baker Academic CoachXKisha BakerAcademic Coach
Hello, my name is Kisha Baker, and I am an Inclusion Specialist here at High Tech High, North County. I am originally from Michigan, and moved here to California when my father was in the Navy. I attended California State University, San Marcos and obtained a Bachelors Degree in Communication. Before, I decided to work in Education, I worked in the Fashion Industry in Los Angeles.
- Donna Bargman Admin AssistantXDonna BargmanAdmin Assistant
- Gustavo Bautista HTHNC IT DirectorXGustavo BautistaHTHNC IT Director
- Samantha Cervantes Speech Language PathologistXSamantha CervantesSpeech Language Pathologist
- Justin Dove School PsychologistXJustin DoveSchool Psychologist
Justin is a native of Cleveland Heights, Ohio and proud alumnus of The Ohio State University. He has served as a school psychologist in Ohio (Columbus City Schools) and Georgia (Muscogee County School District & Atlanta Public Schools). This will be his second year with HTH and ninth year in the field. Justin's professional interests include special education advocacy, culturally sensitive assessment, cognitive behavioral therapeutic approaches, and school-based problem-solving. Justin appreciates culture in all its forms. His personal interests include social justice, travel, sports (Buckeyes-Browns-Cavs), the arts, gastronomy, and long walks with his eleven-year-old Shiba Inu, Foxy. His most memorable travel destinations have been Seoul, Honolulu, Toronto, New Orleans, and Savannah. Justin is excited to continue supporting the North County community for the 2018/19 school year.
- Bret Faber Athletic DirectorXBret FaberAthletic Director
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!
- Jocelyn Flores Community Outreach CoordinatorXJocelyn FloresCommunity Outreach Coordinator
Jocelyn was born and raised in Mexico City. She came to the United States 20 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 degree from the Universidad Autonoma de México and a certification from the University of San Diego. 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 but 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 the 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 nine month old baby girl!
- Meredith Frederick Art TeacherXMeredith FrederickArt Teacher
Hello! I started teaching at HTHNC 9 years ago where I taught Spanish and Humanities. In 2011 I became part of the founding staff at High Tech Middle Chula Vista as the art teacher up until January, 2018. I took last Spring semester off for an Artist in Residence opportunity in the Maldives and I am super excited to be back at HTHNC where my journey as a teacher began! When I am not at school you can find me at the beach, out in nature, traveling the world, or making art!
- Jessica Garcia Academic CoachXJessica GarciaAcademic Coach
- Jesse Grajeda Academic CoachXJesse GrajedaAcademic Coach
My name is Jesse Grajeda (or Mr. Jesse) and I am from San Jose, CA. One of my favorite things to do is be outdoors, enjoy nature, sports, music, and food. Some of my favorite foods are Thai, Mexican, and American food, but I am a fan of anything that is tasty and spicy!
I completed my undergraduate degree at California State University San Marcos and I double-majored in Geography & Sustainable Development and History. During my undergraduate career, I spent some time at Sweden’s Uppsala University to focus on sustainable design.
I believe that any student is capable of achieving educational growth through consistent commitment and effort everyday. I hope to encourage growth and learning in our students to be as successful as they can be.
I look forward to meeting you and your students soon!
- Erika Noll 12th Grade Academic CoachXErika Noll12th Grade Academic Coach
- Izumi Yamashita Academic CoachXIzumi YamashitaAcademic Coach