Staff Directory

6th Grade
  • Christopher Barrera Humanities
    Christopher Barrera

    All humans are social scientists. Our whole lives are spent observing the world, making hypotheses from our observations, and conducting ourselves socially based on the conclusions of our research. This holds especially true for young adults in the adolescent process of learning identity and ideology in a constantly evolving social world. As with any scientist, her or his research is only as good as the training, tools, and tenacity behind it. This is where I come in.

    My humanities class is a laboratory dedicated to providing the most comprehensive training, sharpest tools, and strongest encouragement for our young social scientists at HTM. My goal is for students to develop a passion for thinking critically about the world in which they live and their place in it. I want to inspire students to connect personally with the studies of literature, philosophy, music, visual art, language, technology, and every other cultural aspect that shapes the conditions and events of human life.

    A bit about me:
    I was educated at UCSD where I studied cultural, political, and legal theory in the Department of Communication and graduated Honors with Distinction. My thesis work was a study of visual culture, law, and displays of violence in the digital era. This research afforded me the rare opportunity to speak at domestic and international universities and work with scholars from all over the world.

    At HTM, I started in early 2014 working in inclusion as an academic coach. The 2016-2017 year will be my second as a classroom teacher and I’m extremely fortunate to be working with such wonderful colleagues and students as part of the 8th grade team.
    I have a passion for academic study and research as much as practical applications and making sure that education is always firmly grounded in personal investment and joy.
    In my free time, I love reading, playing tennis, doing yoga, watching good dramas or documentaries, and spending an inordinate amount of time reading random Wikipedia articles.
  • Kristin Komatsubara Math/Science
    Kristin Komatsubara

    Kristin Komatsubara is a teacher and life-long learner -- earning her B.S. in Education from USC, M.A. in Curriculum Design from UCSD, and currently pursuing her doctoral degree in educational leadership. Kristin began teaching with the High Tech organization in 2007 with the original High Tech MIddle in Point Loma. She was a founding staff member, mentor, and interim director for High Tech Middle North County and director of HTeNC. She is excited to return to the classroom to be teaching math and science. Originally from sunny Honolulu, Hawaii, Kristin feels right at home on the San Diego beaches. She loves to travel and has spent summers teaching in South Africa, China, and Hawaii.
  • Carrie Lawrence Math/Science
    Carrie Lawrence

    Carrie Lawrence grew up in San Diego, California. She attended San Diego State University for one year before moving to Alaska. She received her B.A in Education from Alaska Pacific University and taught all over the state for sixteen years. She moved to Austin, Texas in before returning to San Diego to work at High Tech Middle. She is a mother to three teenage boys and enjoys backpacking, kayaking and taking road trips.
  • Ryan Luz Humanities
    Ryan Luz

    2015 will be my second year working at High Tech Middle. Last year, I taught 8th grade humanities and this coming year I will be teaching 7th grade humanities. Previously, I student taught in both a middle school and a high school in Jurupa Valley while pursuing my teaching credential at UC Riverside. I received a Masters in Fine Arts for Creative Writing from UC San Diego in 2012, and received my B.A. from the University of San Diego in 2008. I love San Diego and am fiercely loyal to both the Chargers and Padres. In my free time I enjoy playing basketball and soccer, practicing photography, reading and writing, going to the beach, but loves nothing more than spending time with my girlfriend, Anabel, and dog, Petula.
  • Cree Ray Academic Coach
    Cree Ray
    Academic Coach

  • Claudia Tejada Academic Coach
    Claudia Tejada
    Academic Coach

7th Grade
  • Sydney Aldridge Academic Coach
    Sydney Aldridge
    Academic Coach

  • Joshua Brower Math/Science
    Joshua Brower

    Playing in the ocean was a favorite activity for Joshua during his childhood on the east coast of Florida. His experience exploring the natural world inspired him to pursue a career in science. His passion for science and the environment brought him to Florida State University where he earned a B.S. in Biological Sciences with a certificate in Living Marine Resource Ecology. He got his first taste of running a classroom his senior year when he served as a Laboratory instructor for the Biology for non-majors class. During that time Joshua also introduced middle and high school students to the natural history of plants and animals in the Northern Gulf of Mexico through the Saturday-at-the-sea program. Joshua brought his dual passions for both science and education to his pursuit of a M.S. in Biology at San Diego State University. At SDSU Joshua taught laboratory courses, conducted original ecology research, managed the Coastal and Marine Institute Laboratory, and brought science to the community through the Marine Ecology and Biology Student Association.

    Joshua was very excited to join the High Tech High North County team teaching Environmental Science for the 2014-2015 school year. During his first year at HTHNC students in Joshua’s class used an interdisciplinary approach to explore the impacts of human society on the environment. Among many other things, Joshua hopes students leave his class with improved research skills, a better understanding of data interpretation, and the skills necessary to formulate specific research questions.

    Outside of teaching, Joshua enjoys time outdoors spent surfing, fishing, cycling, and climbing, as well as artistic pursuits including photography, music, and wood-working.
  • Keli Gagen Humanities
    Keli Gagen

  • Ben Krueger Math/Science
    Ben Krueger

    Originally from San Diego, Ben received his bachelor's degree from San Diego State University in business and marketing.  After graduating, he packed up and moved to Chicago to work in broadcast media.  While there he started performing stand-up comedy and studied comedic writing at Second City Theater.  After realizing that he was missing the human interaction and growth that he wanted from his career choice, he switched paths and moved back to California to pursue teaching.  He attended San Francisco State's teacher credentialing program and subsequently taught 6th and 7th grade math and science in San Francisco city schools.  There he was introduced to the challenges of teaching and the rewards of working to build a strong classroom community.  Most recently Ben had the opportunity to move back to San Diego to work in a teacher credentialing program while pursuing his Masters in Education.  While not teaching Ben loves playing guitar in bands, reading about science, playing soccer, and riding his bike.  He hopes to help instill in his students a love of learning as well as a connection with all living things around them.
  • Katie Sewell Humanities
    Katie Sewell

  • Brooke Young Humanities
    Brooke Young

    Brooke Young was born and raised in Southern California. After high school, she headed up to Santa Cruz. While attending UCSC, she earned her bachelor’s degree in Film and Digital Media. Brooke wanted to use all of the interesting things she learned while earning her degree to inspire kids to tell stories and document important ideas. That’s when she ended up at High Tech Middle first working as an Academic Coach. This year Brooke is teaching seventh grade humanities. She is absolutely thrilled that she has been given the opportunity to work with all the amazing students at High Tech Middle.

    In her free time, Brooke loves to travel, hike, and spend time with her family. She has had the opportunity to visit many amazing places like Budapest and Japan. On the weekends you’ll probably find her hiking with her dog, Tessie, or playing with her nieces.
8th Grade
  • Ben Chen Math/Science
    Ben Chen

    This is Ben's first year at HTM and he couldn't be more excited!

    Ben began teaching in 2011 and has been teaching middle school math & science since 2013. He is particularly excited to dive into the world of project-based learning at High Tech Middle after successfully mentoring three years of students on their award winning science fair entries in New Jersey. Ben cares deeply about student learning and believes all students can achieve their best when they are given the tools they need to succeed. His desire to teach physics and mathematics is informed by his interests in science fiction novels, strategic card games, and technology such as building computers and flying quadcopters.

    In his former career, Ben was professionally trained to balance T charts and calculate income taxes. When he’s not working at school, Ben can be found curled up with a good book or playing doubles beach volleyball at OB or MB.
  • Christine Hatch Academic Coach and Student Support Team Coordinator
    Christine Hatch
    Academic Coach and Student Support Team Coordinator

    I am the Academic Coach for the Shulman/Barrera/Linnik team. After 8 years working as an academic coach at HTMMA, this will be my first year at HTM.
    High Tech High is a big part of my family! Aside from my connection, my three children have graduated from High Tech Middle and my husband, Blair, taught Multimedia at HTH for 12 years.
    When I am not at school, I love working out at the Y, being outdoors, and spending time with my family and friends.
  • Michelle Laxton Humanities
    Michelle Laxton

    Originally from New Jersey, Michelle earned a B.A. in Communication Studies from the College of New Jersey and an M.A. in Latin American Studies from UCSD. Inspired by a passion for wellness, she also earned an A.S. in Nutrition Studies and taught yoga for several years. Michelle previously worked in international development and later in small business marketing and communications. Having spent several years fully engaged with raising her two spirited young daughters, Michelle is now thrilled to begin her career in education and share her love of reading great books, trying new things, learning from one another, and contributing something positive to our shared community.

  • Katie Pond Math/Science
    Katie Pond

    Originally from Colorado, Katie moved to Washington, DC to earn her Masters in Public Policy from Georgetown University and then worked in education policy there, before joining DC Teaching Fellows to become a classroom teacher in 2012.

    In 2014, Katie, her husband, and her cat Simba boarded a plane to America's Finest City and never looked back.  Joining the High Tech Middle community has been a huge privilege, and she loves being creative and bringing math and science alive through projects.

    In her spare time she loves to read, follow and discuss politics, and go for runs in her neighborhood.
  • Uriel Ruano-Gallardo Academic Coach
    Uriel Ruano-Gallardo
    Academic Coach

  • Mary Williams Humanities
    Mary Williams

    Mary is looking forward to her fifth year at HTM.

    She has a Masters degree in Secondary English Education from the University of Florida, and has taught middle school for about twelve years. Her previous teaching position was at The American School of the Hague in The Netherlands, where she developed a fondness for stroopwaffles and a love/hate relationship with bicycling in the rain. She then spent about five months living in Lagos, Nigeria -- an experience that changed her forever -- before returning to the states and moving to California.

    After moving to San Diego four years ago, she loves hanging at the beach and enjoying all things outdoors with her husband, daughter, and dogs...
All School
  • Nikki Hinostro Director
    Nikki Hinostro

     Nikki Hinostro is a native to San Diego and grew up in Encinitas. At the University of Notre Dame she double majored in Psychology and Computers while playing on the women’s soccer team. Upon graduating in 1998, she worked in East Los Angeles as a 5th grade teacher and soccer coach through a two year teaching service program called ResponseAbility. During her time in Los Angeles she also attended Loyola Marymount University where she received her Masters of Education.
    After two years in Los Angeles she moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts and began teaching 5th and 6th grade at Benjamin Banneker Charter School where students were offered a rigorous education with a focus on math, science and technology. She also began coaching the Girls’ Varsity Soccer Team at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School at that time. In 2002 she transitioned into the Cambridge Public School District and worked as a middle school math teacher for Fletcher-Maynard Academy. There she also worked as co-leader of the middle school and facilitated team building and middle school reform.

    In 2004 Nikki returned to San Diego and began working for High Tech High first teaching at High Tech Middle in the 7th grade utilizing project based learning to integrate math and science. In 2005 Nikki became the Director of High Tech Middle Media Arts, and worked with a dynamic staff to build a positive and engaging culture for this school's opening. Then, in the Fall of 2007, Nikki and a group of innovative and energized educators opened High Tech High North County. HTHNC is one of the first State Wide Benefit Charter Schools in California. As the Director of HTHNC Nikki worked to lay a solid foundation for HTHNC in the North County with a very inspirational founding group of staff and students.  In 2011, Nikki transferred to High Tech High International where she worked in roles as a director and a dean until 2014. She is currently the director at High Tech Middle.
  • Mirla Almada Academic Coach
    Mirla Almada
    Academic Coach

  • Alicia Briscoe Academic Coach
    Alicia Briscoe
    Academic Coach

  • Deanna Driscoll Drama
    Deanna Driscoll

    DeAnna Driscoll is honored to have been running the drama department at HTM since the school opened in 2003. Ms. DeAnna grew up in Colorado's Aspen Valley and went on to New York City where she graduated with honors from the National Shakespeare Conservatory. After acting in professional productions around the country she eventually ended up in San Diego. DeAnna is a proud member of both the Screen Actors Guild and Actors Equity Association. She enjoys working on stage and in film and television when she is not enjoying her time with her students at HTM. She loves live music, museums, cooking, hiking and most of all spending time with her 16 year old daughter.
  • Amie Flores Ed Specialist
    Amie Flores
    Ed Specialist

  • Sara Gallagher Speech and Language Pathologist
    Sara Gallagher
    Speech and Language Pathologist

    Sara is a New Jersey native who moved to San Diego to attend UC San Diego. After earning an undergraduate degree in Cognitive Science, she stayed on in San Diego to attend San Diego State University’s Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences program. Sara has worked in pre-K through high school school settings, private practice, and as the speech-language pathology liason for San Diego Regional Center. She later returned to SDSU as an adjunct, teaching the clinical practicum for early intervention diagnostics to graduate students.

    Outside of work, Sara spends her time with her two young children and husband. She takes advantage of any opportunity to travel back east, but never tires of all that San Diego has to offer.
  • Eduardo Gallardo IT
    Eduardo Gallardo

    Mr. Eduardo as the students call him, is the IT Systems Coordinator for High Tech Middle and High Tech Middle Media Arts. He is an alumni from High Tech High Class of 2006.He enjoys working in the IT department helping out students and staff with their technology needs. During his free time he enjoys watching soccer Real Madrid and Mexico National Team. As well exploring new places in San Diego and outside San Diego.
  • Asa Hunter Extended Services
    Asa Hunter
    Extended Services

  • Lea Johnson Athletic Coordinator
    Lea Johnson
    Athletic Coordinator

  • Charlie Linnik Art/Studio M
    Charlie Linnik
    Art/Studio M

    Charlie Linnik grew up in San Diego, California. She went to U.C.S.D. where she received her B.A. in Visual Arts and M.Ed. in Education Studies. She also graduated from our very own High Tech High Graduate School of Education. She is an avid surfer, and has been surfing for over 10 years. When she is not in the water she can be found painting, or reading graphic novels. Charlie is a lover of books, movies and any type of sour candy.
  • Cathryn Magielnicki School Psychologist
    Cathryn Magielnicki
    School Psychologist

  • Lisa Ruiz Site Manager
    Lisa Ruiz
    Site Manager

    Lisa brings many years of experience from a variety of Education related positions to her HTM Site Manager position. Before joining the High Tech family, she worked for the San Diego Unified School District for 18 years in various Administrative support positions including Human Resources.

    Lisa was born and raised in San Diego, attended San Diego City Schools and graduated from Madison High. She went on to San Diego State University to pursue a degree in Liberal Studies, with a focus on Elementary education.  In her spare time she enjoys reading, gardening, swimming, traveling and cheering on her college football team - GO AZTECS !! Most importantly, spending time with family and friends keeps her busy and smiling !
  • Monique Sias Extended Services Director
    Monique Sias
    Extended Services Director

    HTM is my favorite place in the world because I get the opportunity to cultivate relationships and learn alongside our amazing students.
  • Mike Vasquez Plugged Unplugged
    Mike Vasquez
    Plugged Unplugged

    Mike Vasquez escaped the climate extremes of his hometown desert, California City, in order to follow his love of running and biology in San Diego. It was at the University of California San Diego where he earned his bachelors of science degree in Biology: Ecology, Behavior and Evolution and where he developed a greater appreciation for nature while leading kayaking courses in Baja California, Mexico and backpacking courses in the Sierra Nevada.

    He realized that he would find fulfillment by working with people and sharing the lessons of nature and so he followed his calling to become a science teacher where he could inspire people of all ages - and what better place to inspire than at HTM through project based learning.

    The five years he spent teaching math and science at High Tech Middle passed quickly and when the opportunity to bring the digital arts and multimedia design back to HTM presented itself, he jumped at the chance to try something new. And for the next 5 years, he pushed students to create amazing photos, videos, and other graphic design projects.

    Despite all of the technical skills his students were attaining, he started to worry that the amount of time his students spent in front of screens each day might be setting them up for difficulty in their futures.  Plugged Unplugged seeks to address this issue by providing students a space to develop technical skills around computing while they are "plugged in," as well as cultivate an appreciation for growing their mind, body, and spirit during the "unplugged" portion of our class.