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6th Grade
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Hayden GoreDP
6th Grade Humanities
After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with a BA in Government in 2000, Hayden served two years in the Peace Corps with his wife Lisa, where they both led health education programs in rural primary schools of San Jose Poaquil and Santa Apolonia, Guatemala. Upon returning to the United States, Hayden worked as a bilingual teacher in Fort Worth, Texas before following his passion for human rights and enrolling in the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, where he would eventually earn his MA in International Human Rights.

In 2009, he began working with the Peruvian Forensic Anthropology Team in Lima, Peru, where he led their international training programs in Nepal and the Democratic Republic of Congo. When he finished his projects with the forensic team, Hayden was lucky enough to join the faculty at the American School of Lima as a Design Technology teacher. At the American School, he got his first introduction to project-based learning and witnessed the powerful change that happens in a classroom when students use their learning to address real world problems.

When Hayden is not in the classroom, he loves to spend time at the beach with Lisa and his two boys, James and Jude. He is a passionate surfer, reader and inquirer who is constantly inspired by his students’ thoughts and ideas.
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Ann McAfee
6th Grade Math/Science
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Lauren ReateDP
6th Grade Humanities
Lauren is proud to be a San Diego native, born and raised; while she loves traveling abroad she couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. She attended San Diego State University for her B.A. in Deaf Education and American Sign Language with a minor in Classics. In 2015 she received her M.A.Ed in Learning and Curriculum design from the University of San Diego.

This is Lauren's sixth year teaching with HTMCV and loves working with sixth grade because it is their introduction to middle school. She loves teaching about ancient civilizations, particularly ancient Greece and can't wait to nerd out about Greek mythology with a new crew of sixth graders each year.

Lauren's absolute favorite activity outside of school is traveling - she whole-heartedly believes one of the best ways to continue learning about our world is to go out and explore it. When she's not out exploring the physical world, she likes to jump into fictional ones while cozying up with a great book; her hope is that her "to read" pile never runs out.
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Ivan RecendezDP
6th Grade Math/Science
Ivan is in his 9th year of his teaching career, and he can’t wait to continue an incredible journey at High Tech Middle Chula Vista. Ivan was part of the first graduating class at one of our very own schools, High Tech High. That’s right, he loved it so much he came back to us!

Before working at HTMCV, Ivan took part in leading training sessions on working with youth, risk management, and program development. He also led youth workshops and camping retreat weekends for the Los Angeles Unified School District while working as a youth leadership counselor at various school sites throughout San Diego. After working at High Tech Middle Media Arts as an Instructional Assistant, he realized that his true passion was in education. He attended San Diego State University where he earned a BS in Mathematics and earned his teaching credential from HTH.

When Ivan is not in the classroom, he enjoys watching his beloved San Diego Padres, solving math riddles, traveling, EATING, and spending time with his friends, and family. As we all know, this year will be the 9th year of HTMCV, and he can’t wait to continue to work with such supportive and inspirational staff!
7th Grade
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Jean Catubay
7th Grade Humanities
As an educator, Jean's core teaching values are centered around building authentic, meaningful relationships—to ourselves, one another, and the communities we are a part of. In a constantly evolving cultural landscape, she believes that education can be used as a vehicle for empowerment and activism. In the classroom, Jean enjoys learning with students and focuses on building a culture that celebrates diversity as well as critical analysis and reflection.

Originally from the Bay Area, Jean earned her B.A. in English Education from San Francisco State University. She is currently studying at the High Tech High Graduate School of Education to earn her M.Ed. in Teaching and Learning. Outside of academics, she has a deep appreciation for all things culture and art. Jean loves spending quality time with her loved ones, eating delicious food, and listening to music that moves you!

Ten books Ms. Jean loves (in no particular order): 1) Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, 2) The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho, 3) Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, 4) In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, 5) Outliers by Malcom Gladwell, 6) The Tao of Wu by The RZA, 7) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, 8) The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, 9) Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz, 10) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
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Adam KoDP
7th Grade Math/Science
I love God.  I love my wife, Jasmine, and we have been married for ten years and I simply adore her. We have two kids, Lily Faith and Audrey Grace, and they are our biggest joys in life.

My path to teaching began in the Boy Scouts. Being in scouting for 10 years ignited my passion for learning and adventure. Whether it was backpacking, whitewater rafting or rock climbing there was always something to learn and sharing that knowledge was vital to high adventure scouting.

From there I attended the University of California, San Diego and graduated with a B.S. in Psychology and B.A. in International Studies with an emphasis in Economics. I also attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia as part of an exchange program.

After college I joined the Peace Corps in Jordan as a Youth Development volunteer. Spending two years there I learned to appreciate the often misunderstood Middle East and Islamic faith, while learning Arabic.

Upon completion of my service I attended San Diego State University to get my credential in the Social Sciences. Afterwards, I joined the beloved King Chavez Charter School Organization and taught World History for one year before switching to my other passion, Math, which I taught for five years.

I completed a Masters in Education in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math at the University of San Diego.

It is my fifth year with the High Tech High organization and I cherish this great opportunity to learn and be inspired by my colleagues and students.

When I'm not at school, I enjoy doing activities with my girls, training for my next triathlon race and cooking all types of foods. #blessed
8th Grade
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Marco AquindeDP
8th Grade Math/Science
Raised in San Diego, Marco is so grateful to be returning to the High Tech Middle Chula Vista campus as an 8th-grade Math/ Science teacher. He attended the University of California, Los Angeles, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics. While at UCLA, Marco served as a Resident Mentor in the first annual My Journey to College 9th Grade Summer Scholars Program (MyJTC), a summer college-preparation program that introduces rising 9th graders to college eligibility requirements. This experience and Marco's previous experience as an Academic Coach at HTMCV have shaped his passion for equitable and meaningful education. He recently earned an M.Ed. in Teaching and Learning from the High Tech High Graduate School of Education.

When not in the classroom, Marco enjoys singing a cappella music with his friends. Music and performance are huge parts of his life. He also enjoys exercising while listening to music/ podcasts/ audiobooks, serving at his church, watching musicals and movies, spending time with his family, and traveling the world.

Aside from science, Marco has a growing appreciation for literature and reading. Some of his favorite books include Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay,  I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong, A List of Cages by Robin Roe, and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.
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Elyse Farwell
8th Grade Humanities
Although originally born here, Elyse has never lived in San Diego until her return to the United States this summer after teaching abroad in Quito, Ecuador where she lived and worked on her Spanish for the last three years. Before that, she received a B.A. in English Literature and her Secondary English teaching credential from Gonzaga University (go Zags!), followed by a M.A.Ed. in Reading Instruction at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

Elyse has a passion for traveling. She loves to experience other cultures and enjoys opening up that world to her students through literature and writing. In her free time, she can be found curled up with a good book, hiking, dancing, or spending quality time with her family and friends. She feels incredibly lucky to have joined the amazing HTH community this year, and looks forward to getting to know her students and watching them become readers and writers.
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James HolmesDP
8th Grade Math/Science

Five years ago, Jamie came to the High Tech campus and saw students and teachers connecting with each other through projects.  Instantly, he knew that he wanted to be a part of this innovative educational experience where students learn through doing and experiencing.  Originally from Texas, he started teaching and working in education in the private school sector as Athletic Director, math teacher, coach, and most memorably, running a comprehensive Outdoor Education program.  Working with kids in the outdoors taught him many lessons including the powerful impact of community, integrated learning and interacting directly with the environment and lessons of the backcountry.  Compelled to further my education and shape his teaching philosophy, he and his wife moved to New York City where he earned a Master's in Education at Teacher's College.  After graduate school, he moved back to Texas and worked as an Upper School Dean of Students and math teacher for three years before making the move to High Tech Middle Media Arts.

However, missing the classroom and the personal connections he could make with students, he discovered High Tech and made the move to San Diego with his family in tow and helped opened High Tech Middle Media Arts in the Fall of 2005.

Now, in California, James has taken to the ocean learning to surf among all the other outdoor pursuits that bring him great joy- golf, hiking, fly fishing, camping and most of all hanging out with my family.  James and his amazing wife Julie of 13 years have two beautiful children, the oldest, Gavin and youngest Bella Grace. The energy of the project-based classroom and the adventure of working with the middle school child is what makes his work as a teacher so much fun.  Learning experientially and a love of making learning FUN is the hallmark of his teaching philosophy and is inherent in the project-based approach to learning.

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Michelle Nho
8th Grade Humanities
Michelle comes to HTMCV after serving as an educator in Chicago, where she taught 6th, 7th, and 8th grade language arts and then was the assistant principal for a preschool through 8th grade school. She received her bachelor's degree in psychology and education from Duke University and her master's in education through Northwestern University.

As an educator, Michelle is most passionate about helping middle school students grow as readers, writers, and lovers of literature. She also has an interest in all things related to government and politics and is excited to work with students as they develop their political views and voices.

When she's not at HTMCV, Michelle loves going on walks and hanging out on the couch with her husband, Chris, and her dog, Laila. She's an avid reader; some of her favorite books include A People's History of the United States, Americanah, and the Divergent trilogy. She also loves to run and is learning how to garden.
All School
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Rod Buenviaje
Rod is a proud member of the High Tech High learning community and is currently the director of High Tech Middle Chula Vista.  He is one of the founding staff of the original High Tech High in Pt. Loma, where he taught mathematics for 7 years.  In 2007, he was thrilled to help start High Tech High Chula Vista, and bring his passion for math and projects to a community that he loves.  While teaching at HTHCV, he also served as Assistant Dean of Students, and a mentor to new teachers.  He earned a B.S. in mathematics from National University and a teaching credential through the HTH District intern program. He has participated in the Virtual Trade Mission Foundation’s global classroom in Singapore and Brunei and has been awarded the Christa Mcauliffe Award by the NEA Foundation. Rod is passionate about education and is excited to be a part of an innovative teaching community. Rod and his wife Jen spend most of their free time in awe of their beautiful children, Joshua and Katelyn.

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Tiffany Estevez
Dean of Students
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Andrea Gutierrez
Site Manager
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Angel Beckwith-Malone
Long Term Substitute
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Gabrielle BerensDP
Art Teacher
My love of creating and experimenting with various art forms and my passion for art history and design have led me to my dream career as a visual arts educator.  I have a BFA in Studio Art Practices from Southern Methodist University, where I studied primarily drawing, painting, and printmaking, but also worked in ceramics, sculpture, digital media, and fiber arts.  After graduation, I spent several years learning and experimenting with new art mediums and traveling the world looking for artistic inspiration and experiencing diverse global cultures.  The majority of my teaching experience lies in middle school, but I have also worked at the high school and elementary school level, and most recently with adults with developmental disabilities.  As an educator, I believe the visual arts offers ALL students an opportunity to experiment, problem solve, and express themselves.  As an artist, I believe that visual art is a global language that has the power to connect us all!
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Alex Espiritu
Afterschool Program Director
I would like to take a moment to introduce myself, my name is Alex Espiritu and I’m the K8 Afterschool Director at HTeCV/ HTMCV. I grew up in Chula Vista and attended Hilltop Elementary, Hilltop Junior and Hilltop High School. I graduated from SDSU with a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology. While attending SDSU I began my journey working for the YMCA.

Over the past 18 years, I have gained experience in different management roles within the YMCA of San Diego County. My leadership style is very hands-on and I enjoy working as a team.

I am so excited to have another opportunity to be at HTeCV/ HTMCV this year and meeting all of the students and families.

In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my son, family, drinking a fine cup of coffee, traveling, camping, eating, playing soccer and tennis, watching live music, art and movies.
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Wendy MaplesDP
Theatre Teacher
Originally from New York, Miss Wendy holds a B.F.A. in Theatre Education from Arizona State University and a M.A. in Theatre from San Diego State University. Throughout her studies, she had the opportunity to direct a variety of student work, one-act and full-length plays. In 2005 she was nominated for a BRICK Award, honoring pioneers in youth service. A member of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, she has presented her work Nationally in Chicago, Washington D.C., Vancouver, Canada, and Atlanta, Georgia. She currently serves AATE as the Youth Network Chair, highlighting exciting theatre created for and by young artists throughout The United States!

In 2006, Ms. Maples founded Step UP Theatre, continuing her commitment to provide children with an early exposure to the performing arts. In 2009, Step UP Theatre became a 501(c)3 Non-Profit Organization, where she serves as Artistic Director. That same year, she was one of thirty directors selected nationally to attend the Directors Lab West in Pasadena, California. On stage, she has appeared in 'Dog Sees God', 'Fair Use' and 'Pippin' at the Diversionary Theatre.

When she’s not directing or performing around San Diego, Wendy is usually on a plane visiting family members in every corner of the globe! She is thrilled and honored to be teaching theatre at HTMCV! 
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Karla Morfin
Academic Coach-Lead
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Natalie Padilla
Inclusion Specialist
Natalie graduated from Cal State Los Angeles with a Bachelors in Liberal Studies. She was excited to joined HTMCV in 2015 as an Academic Coach. She loves engaging with students one on one and seeing there growth academically. In her spare time she enjoys cooking,hiking, exploring new places and spending time with her family.
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Peter Pelham
Academic Coach
Peter joined the HTMCV family two years ago and has enjoyed working with students in the 7th and 8th grades. This year, he looks forward to being part of the energy and excitement that 6th graders bring to their classroom.

Originally from the east coast, Peter grew up in a family of educators. He earned a Masters in Literature from the American University in Washington, D.C. and spent numerous years working in schools and at the National Association of Independent Schools. When not at HTMCV, Peter can be found in the ocean surfing, in the mountains camping and climbing, or traveling the California coastline with friends and family.
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Raineir Pesebre
Academic Coach
Raineir Pesebre graduated in 2012 from San Diego State University with a double major in Sociology and Philosophy. He worked in the San Diego Unified School District as a Visiting Teacher for five years from 2014 to early 2019 until his involvement with High Tech as a long term substitute at Hight Tech High Chula Vista for 11th grade. Raineir is now working with middle school students at High Tech Middle Chula Vista and it's been a wonderful journey thus far! Raineir hopes to instill in students a sense of independent self-discipline and a consistent curiosity as the foundation for a lifetime of learning through action. The importance of assertive compassion, a healthy sense of humor, and learning from mistakes is at the basis of his day to day interaction with students.

Raineir was born and raised in San Diego and spent the first eight years of childhood living in the Paradise Hills community of Southeast San Diego. Being in a military family, he spent two and a half years living on Yokosuka Naval Base in Yokosuka, Japan. Moving back to San Diego, specifically Chula Vista in 2000, he began playing music and became involved in the local music and arts scene in San Diego in which he is still a part of, as facilitator and founder of LUX ET VITAE, an independent record label comprised of a collection of multifaceted artists known in the community as THE LIBRARY. Raineir is the advisor for LIGHT & SOUND, a club at HTHCV run as a student collective which aims at connecting students to the many facets of local music and arts through direct and intentional involvement.

In his free time, Raineir enjoys listening to Wu Tang Clan while folding and ironing his clothes, drawing doodles of animals saying funny things, snapping photos of office supplies, playing shows with friends, writing and recording music at his studio, eating Japanese food in Kearny Mesa, and walking in places with more trees than people.
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Vincent Phathanak
IT Director
When Vince started his tech journey, his dad would bring home computer towers for them both to build. That was about all it took for him to explore the realms of tech from computers to video games to even robotics and photography.  When the time came for Vince to choose a high school it was natural that he chose a school that involved all these things,  low and behold,  High Tech High. Vince continued his mission with learning all different technology applications by becoming an IT Intern at High Tech High as a Freshman to his Senior year in 2007. He continued on this exploration well into college at UC Irvine exploring Computer Information Systems.

He is excited to be back in the High Tech High community in Chula Vista to help keep things working and innovate new ideas in classrooms with the teaching staff! In his spare time he is a professional freelance videographer documenting music events for local tv show NBC SoundDiego as well as working for his own wedding videography company.
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Samantha Polak
Occupational Therapist II
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Ramiro Ramirez
Academic Coach
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Philip Rowland
Engineering Teacher
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Brittany RysmanDP
School Psychologist
Ms. Brittany Rysman earned her Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Psychology with a secondary concentration in Gender Studies from the University of Southern Indiana in 2009. She then attended San Francisco State University for graduate school and earned her Master of Science (MS) degree in School Psychology in 2011. Brittany also earned her Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) Credentials in School Psychology and School Counseling. Brittany went on to work as a school psychologist in San Rafael City Schools for six years, serving multiple elementary schools and one middle school.

After dreaming of living in Southern California for many years, she finally moved to San Diego and began working for the HTH Chula Vista campus in the fall of 2018. Brittany is very passionate about equity and equality, teaching to all learners, and protecting the culture and community of HTH. She is excited to begin her ninth year as a school psychologist and third year in Chula Vista, serving the middle and elementary schools.

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Carly Sumrow
Inclusion Specialist
I always wanted to be a professional student. As a child, I devoured books in my free time, carried the dictionary with me everywhere I went, and practically had to be torn out of the classroom when the bell rang each day at 2:30. That insatiable love of learning only grew as I progressed through the grades. I discovered more complex concepts to explore and more invaluable teachers and mentors to challenge me. One day while pondering what I wanted to do with my life I mused to my mom, “I wish I could just get paid to go to school and be a student forever.” In all her infinite wisdom my mom replied back with another question. “What’s stopping you?” It is that question that led me to the classroom.
While working towards my Bachelor’s Degree in English at San Diego State University I worked as an AVID tutor at Steele Canyon High School, which further solidified my passion to teach and continually grow as a learner myself. After an amazing, humbling, and unforgettable year of student teaching some of the brightest and most resilient 11th graders I have ever had the privilege of working with, I received my Single Subject credential in English. I feel so fortunate that all my experiences have led me to the High Tech High family, first as an Academic Coach and this year as an Ed Specialist Intern. I can’t wait to embark on the journey towards my Ed Specialist Credential and Masters in Teacher Leadership this year at HTH and am so looking forward to building a community that is dedicated to inspiring in children the same passion for learning I have.
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Sarah Valdivia
Academic Coach
This is my first year at High Tech Middle, and I'm very excited to be part of this community. Before HTMCV, I worked as a home-school teacher and Math Tutor.I grew up in Chula Vista, but was born in Los Angeles. Earned my degree in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Mathematics from San Diego State University. I love to  spend my free time reading books, going to the movie theater, or kayaking.