Faculty & Staff
Ben joined High Tech High to teach physics as a founding faculty member in fall 2000. He has been a school director, chief operating officer, and chief academic officer for High Tech High and is now the provost of the Graduate School of Education. As a student at Haverford College, Ben majored in physics and was credentialed in secondary physics and math, student teaching at Lower Merion High School outside Philadelphia. After graduation, he traveled to the Philippines and taught science and math at an international school in Manila. Upon his return to the U.S., he taught physics and AP physics at the Madeira School, a girls’ boarding school in suburban Washington, D.C. He then moved to California to coach basketball and to teach physics at Pomona and Pitzer Colleges. He earned an M.A. in Science Education at the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership at the University of California, San Diego.
Ben’s research is focused on continuous improvement in schools, which is an effort to spread good practices in education using a broad range of both outcome and process data. He completed a dissertation on increasing college access for traditionally underserved students using these methods (excerpt: bit.ly/hthcalgrant). Ben has also led work in conjunction with the Hewlett Foundation around spreading deeper learning practices and principles. Follow him on twitter @bendaley.
Stacey CaillierDirector, Center for Research on Equity and Innovation
Michelle PledgerProject Co-Director, Deeper Learning Hub
Michelle Pledger is the Project Co-director of the Deeper Learning Hub, a national practitioner hub whose mission is to spread deeper learning practices and ensure that more students across the country are achieving deeper learning outcomes. She is co-leading the Share Your Learning Campaign which aims to spread student-centered practices (exhibitions, student led conferences, and presentations of learning) to 5 million students by 2020. She also works for the Center for Research on Equity and Innovation at High Tech High’s Graduate School of Education as Coordinator of High Tech High submissions to Education Week’s Learning Deeply blog, and as a co-planner and facilitator of the annual Equity Deep Dive.
Michelle earned her Master’s in Pacific International Affairs, with a career concentration in International Development and a regional specialization in Latin America at the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, University of California, San Diego. Prior to entering graduate school, Michelle lived in Bisai, Japan for two years, teaching English and American culture at public junior high schools while engaging in performance dance and theater. Michelle earned her undergraduate degree at the University of California, Irvine, with a major in International Studies and a minor in Clinical Psychology. During this time she also attended La Universidad Católica Pontificia in Santiago, Chile for one semester. Proficient in Spanish and conversational Japanese, Michelle enjoys international travel and leaves the country at least twice a year. While working at High Tech, Michelle has taken students to Washington D.C., the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, the U.K., France, Panama, and Costa Rica.
Michelle earned her Certification in Dance at Palomar College and was awarded 2013 Dancer of the Year. A winner of numerous accolades for competitive public speaking through Toastmasters International, her most notable speaking engagements include the 2014 USC Shoah Foundation Gala when Steven Spielberg honored President Barack Obama with the Ambassador for Humanity Award, TEDx Hollywood, and the Past is Present 70th commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz. She is currently earning her doctorate in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in social justice at the University of California, San Diego and California State University, San Marcos. With a dual passion for education and dance, Michelle embraces an energetic teaching and coaching style.
Anna ChampionStudent Accounts & Financial Coordinator
Anna recently moved to California in January of 2017. Prior to that she lived in Mississippi for 19 years. During her professional career in Mississippi, she served in many diverse roles. She began as a staff accountant. From there, she worked in administration at a finance department, with a NASA contractor at Stennis Space Center. One of her favorite places of employment was at the University of Southern Mississippi in Long Beach. There, she held the position of a Business Operations Manager. She loved the scenic view on the Gulf Coast campus, the culture of the organization, and people that she worked with. Anna is happy to be working in the educational industry again and excited to be joining the team at High Tech High. Anna graduated from William Carey University with a B.S. in Business Administration, major in Accounting.
Sarah FineProgram Director, GSE Teaching Apprenticeship
Sarah Fine recently earned her doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she collaborated with Associate Professor Jal Mehta on a long-term ethnographic study of secondary schools that are striving to enact deeper learning for all of their students. Prior to starting her doctoral studies, she worked as a teacher, department chair, and instructional coach at an urban charter high school in the District of Columbia, and as a freelance education journalist. Her work has appeared in a diverse array of publications, including the Washington Post, Education Week, and academic journals such as the Harvard Educational Review. Her co-authored book, In Search of Deeper Learning: Inside the Effort to Remake the American High School is forthcoming from Harvard University Press in 2018.
Ryan GallagherEducation Research Specialist
Ryan Gallagher is an Educational research specialist within the Center for Research on Equity & Innovation at the High Tech High Graduate School of Education. He coaches improvement science projects within HTH K-12 schools, co-facilitates a networked improvement community focused on college, career and civic readiness, and directs the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Early Implementation Initiative at High Tech High. Ryan has taught middle and high school within the HTH system since 2004, and co-designed and facilitated HTH’s first MOOC on Deeper Learning. Ryan holds undergraduate degrees in Biology and Philosophy from UC San Diego and was a member of the first graduating cohort of students in the HTH GSE where he is now a faculty member. He is a proud Ryan member of the Distinguished Educators Panel at the Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center and is featured in Kathleen Cushman’s recent book The Motivation Equation!
Erica GearyData Analyst
Maria HerediaChief Operations Officer and General Counsel
Maria Heredia’s work focuses on supporting innovative and effective educational opportunities for students and teachers. She has been actively involved with charter schools and education nonprofits in California for twenty years. She works with High Tech High in the dual role of Chief Operations Officer and General Counsel focusing on school operations and policy. Previously Maria served as Senior Vice President of Legal Advocacy and General Counsel to the California Charter Schools Association. At CCSA, Maria worked to expand advocacy efforts on behalf of California charter schools, while leading an action that significantly increased the facilities available to children attending charter schools in Los Angeles. Prior to that she worked in private practice. Maria has enjoyed teaching graduate level classes in education law and policy and volunteering with local nonprofits. She is a graduate of Stanford Law School where she focused on the Lawyering for Social Change curriculum, and Harvard University where she earned an A.B. in American History and Literature.
Mari JonesProject Co-director of the Deeper Learning Hub
Mari Jones is the Project Co-director of the Deeper Learning Hub, a national practitioner hub whose mission is to spread deeper learning practices and ensure that more students across the country are achieving deeper learning outcomes. She is co-leading the Share Your Learning Campaign which aims to focus on spreading a small set of practices (exhibition, student-led conferences, and presentations of learning), to 5 million students by 2020. She is also an Improvement Facilitator for the Center for Research on Equity and Innovation at High Tech High Graduate School of Education.
Mari has always felt that education is a form of activism, and she is passionate about promoting social change and equity by empowering youth. As an elementary educator for 14 years, she spent half of her career in National City, working primarily with English Learners and the other half working at High Tech Elementary Explorer, which nurtured her passion for social emotional learning and crafting opportunities for meaningful learning experiences. She spent the past 2 years in the M.Ed. Educational Leadership program at HTH Graduate School of Education where her work largely focused on the intersection of project based learning and social emotional learning as important pathways that lead to the development of deeper learning competencies, and on professional development to support new teachers. Her work with the GSE enabled her to work in educational outreach, facilitating professional development for teachers outside of High Tech High, as well as through the mentorship program at the PBL Career Pathways Leadership Academy, a partnership between HTH and the California Department of Education. She holds a B.A. in Communication, a Multiple-Subject Bilingual, Cross-cultural, Language and Academic Development Credential, and an M.Ed. in Research, Equity, and Technology from UCSD.
Stacey LopazNew School Creation Fellowship, Director of Innovation & Pedagogy
Stacey’s passion for progressive education came from her time spent as an elementary school teacher in New Orleans, as part of her work with Teach for America from 2002 to 2004. Since then, Stacey has been constantly engaged in the study and practice of project-based learning as a vehicle for equity, across all grades. Stacey has been the founding teacher and director at two different HTH schools, K-8.
Hayley MurugesanDirector, Student Affairs
As the Director of Student Affairs at the High Tech High Graduate School of Education, Hayley Murugesan leads institutional development efforts and serves as the Registrar, Financial Aid Director, and Accreditation Liaison Officer. Hayley’s career in K-12 education spans charter and district schools from San Francisco to Boston before joining the HTH team in 2009. Hayley graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of San Francisco with a B.A. in History and M.A. in Teaching where she was a finalist for the Dean’s Medal for Excellence.
Carmen RamirezAdministrative Assistant
Carmen recently joined the High Tech High community. Prior to working at HTH, Carmen worked at the University of California San Diego, and for UCSD Health Systems. She worked closely with physicians, researchers, and faculty providing executive and programmatic support in various departments such as, Anesthesiology, and Family & Preventive Medicine (Sports Medicine Division). She will be assisting with the Career Pathways PBL Leadership Academy, and is excited to be part of the team. She’s currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology.
Rob RiordanPresident Emeritus
Rob Riordan, Ed.D., is a co-founder of High Tech High and President Emeritus of the HTH Graduate School of Education. A teacher, trainer, and program developer for over 40 years, he has worked with teams to develop 14 new schools (11 at High Tech High) spanning the K-12 years. As a long-time teacher in the Cambridge (MA) Rindge and Latin School, Rob developed an award-winning writing center and two pioneering school-to-work transition programs: the Cambridge-Polaroid Technical Internship Program and the Cambridge-Lesley Careers in Education Program. For several years during this time, as a faculty member of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, he led the practicum seminar for Harvard’s student teachers. Later, under the auspices of the Office of Vocational and Adult Education in the U.S. Department of Education, he directed the New Urban High School project that led to the development of High Tech High. Rob holds a B.A. from Haverford College and an M.A.T. and Ed.D. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where his doctoral dissertation was a five-year case history of the evolution of goals and practices in a public alternative high school. He is co-author, with Adria Steinberg and Kathleen Cushman, of Schooling for the Real World: The Essential Guide to Rigorous and Relevant Learning.
Larry Rosenstock, J.D., M.Ed, L.H.D, is President of the HTH GSE as well as a core faculty member. He is also CEO and founding principal of High Tech High, a network of twelve K-12 public charter schools in California. Larry taught carpentry in urban high schools in Boston and Cambridge and was principal of the Rindge School of Technical Arts, and of the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. A member of the Massachusetts and U.S. Supreme Court Bars, he served as an attorney at the Harvard Center for Law and Education, and served as lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Visiting Professor at UC Berkeley School of Education. He directed the federal New Urban High School Project, and was president of the Price Charitable Fund. He is a winner of the Ford Foundation Innovations in State and Local Government Award, an Ashoka Fellow, and recipient of the McGraw Prize in Education.
Ben SanoffDirector, Data and Analytics
Ben Sanoff is the director of data and analytics for the sixteen High Tech High schools and the Graduate School of Education. Inspired to become an educator as a result of his educational experiences growing up in Cambridge Massachusetts, Ben attended Colby College, received a Master’s of Education from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and was awarded a Master’s of Education in School Leadership from the High Tech High Graduate School of Education. He was a high school teacher and school leader for nine years, primarily at Berkeley High School, where he served as a social studies teacher, technology coordinator, and teacher leader.
Since starting at High Tech High in 2016, he has been focused on using educational data to support continuous improvement projects. Ben has learned that effectively using educational data for improvement entails a shift in educators mindset where data becomes a tool for learning about specific initiatives rather than a judgement or accountability tool. To build the right data infrastructure organizations should attend to reliably collecting the right data, analyzing and visualizing that data, and sharing timely data with stakeholders.
Randy SchererProject Director, HTH PBL Leadership Academy.
Randy Scherer directs the California Career Pathways PBL Leadership Academy, a new professional development program developed in conjunction with the California Department of Education.
For the past ten years, Randy taught humanities at High Tech High Media Arts, where we was a founding member of the faculty. Prior to joining the HTH Village of schools, Randy was the Production Manager for three national magazines in New York City. Throughout his teaching career, Randy has remained active in print media and has published four nonfiction books. At HTH, Randy was a founding member and editor of UnBoxed: The Journal of Adult Learning in Schools. He has developed and presented workshops centered on project based learning and school reform for educators and policy makers in the US and abroad.
Randy received his B.A. in Political Science and English from Binghamton University, his teaching credential from the University of San Diego and his M.Ed. in Teacher Leadership from the High Tech High Graduate School of Education.
Tina SchusterProfessional Learning Coordinator
Daisy SharrockProject Director - Mathematical Agency Improvement Community
Daisy Sharrock leads the Mathematical Agency Improvement Community (MAIC), a network of 18 southern California schools working to abolish the phrase “I am not a math person.” The network of teachers and administrators uses improvement tools and methodologies to identify, test, and scale classroom practices that increase students’ mathematical agency and success across diverse contexts. Daisy also teaches in the High Tech High Graduate School of Education, conducts improvement science professional development across the High Tech High K-12 schools, and assists in the development and convening of an improvement network drawn from California schools, districts and CMOs within the Deeper Learning network to tackle the persistent problem of college, career and civic readiness for all students.
Kelly Wilson is the Dean for the High Tech High Graduate School of Education. She helped develop and open East Palo Alto High School as a founding faculty member, as well as the second HTH high school, HTH International, as the founding director. In K-12 schools, Kelly has taught math, physics, and robotics, and in higher education courses ranging from facilitating adult learning and leading innovative schools to new school creation. In either setting, Kelly’s passion is to shape learning environments that are personalized, authentic and transformative. Kelly holds a B.S. in Biology from UC San Diego, M.A. in Education from Stanford University and is currently a doctoral student in the Ed.D. in Organizational Change and Leadership program at USC.
Kaleb RashadDirector of Creative Leadership
Kaleb Rashad is the Director of Creative Leadership at the High Tech High Graduate School of Education. Over the past 10 years, Kaleb has worked with diverse communities to co-create equity-driven, liberatory school cultures–characterized by student-centered pedagogy, trust-rich relationships, and creative leadership practices. Kaleb has served as the director (of doing badass work) at the Gary and Jerri-Ann Jacobs High Tech High. Before High Tech High, Kaleb taught middle school math and science and he served as the site administrator in two middle schools and two elementary schools.
Prior to education, he served in the US Marines at Camp Pendleton (CA). He holds a BA in Human Development, two Master’s Degrees, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership focusing on relational trust and organizational change. Kaleb currently supports individual schools, districts and networks nationally and internationally experimenting at the intersection of leadership, equity and design. He also works alongside the disruptors of inequity at Stanford’s K12 Lab, IDEO’s Teacher’s Guild, School Retool, & Leadership + Design.
Katie WeisbergM.Ed. Program Director
Katie began working at HTH in 2005, initially for the central office, and later teaching reading, writing, social science, and special education. After serving as Academic Dean at High Tech Middle Media Arts, Katie moved into the role of Director of Special Education for the HTH schools, while earning her M.Ed through the HTH GSE. Katie is returning to HTH after working for the Institute for Entrepreneurship in Education, a nonprofit institute at the University of San Diego, where she engaged leaders and teachers in professional learning on topics including instructional leadership, project-based learning, and equity. Katie is passionate about creating inclusive, asset-based, transformative learning environments for students. Katie is a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, she holds her B.A. in English and Spanish Literature from UCSD, and her M.Ed in School Leadership from the HTH GSE.
Natasha AndersonStrategic Communications & Events Manager
Natasha is a leader in brand strategy and marketing, having led various campaigns for Fortune 500 Companies and various nonprofit organizations. As the Strategic Communications and Events Manager, she develops and manages the communications and marketing strategies across High Tech High’s Graduate School of Education’s programs, professional education offerings, and research center networks.
The News Editorial Journalism major received her B.A. in Liberal Arts from Northwestern State University of Louisiana, and was recognized for her contribution to the San Diego LGBT Center’s Young Professional’s Council with awards from President Pro Tempore of the California State Senate, Toni Atkins, and San Diego’s former interim mayor and current Assemblymember Todd Gloria.
Natasha is passionate about art advocacy, cultural equity and tech development in underserved communities. The Brooklyn, New York native loves calling San Diego home and utilizes every opportunity to submerge in the local art culture.
Ady KayrouzProgram Coordinator
Ady Kayrouz is the HTH Graduate School of Education Program Coordinator, for the GSE M.Ed. in Educational Leadership, M.Ed. in Teaching and Learning, and New School Creation programs. Previously, she was Dean of Students at High Tech High Media Arts where she focused on creating human centric programs and designing systems to cultivate a culture of equity, inclusion, multiculturalism and access. Prior, Ady was the GSE Professional Development Coordinator, where she designed adult learning residencies, facilitated workshops and led trainings for thousands of educators from across the world. Ady first came to HTH as a Humanities teacher after having worked as an educator, administrator, designer and consultant with school districts in national and international networks. Ady obtained her BA in English and MA in Literature and she speaks English, French, Arabic and Spanish. Ady’s commitment to education and humanity is rooted in dismantling ineffective structures to create responsive systems that address and transform systemic inequities and lead to change and sustainable impact.
Kali FrederickProfessional Learning Coordinator
Kali is a Professional Learning Coordinator for HTH’s Chula Vista campus. She collaborates with the PD team to create events and workshops for visiting educators. She believes in the power of finding one’s voice and works to amplify student voice and bring student leadership to the forefront of the work schools and teachers are doing.
Kali taught for five years in NYC at a large comprehensive public high school and has taught middle and high school at High Tech High for 10 years. Kali holds an AA from New York University, BA in Political Science from the University of Minnesota, MST from Pace University, and an MEd from High Tech High Graduate School of Education.
Julia JacobsenProfessional Learning Coordinator
Julia Jacobsen is a Professional Learning Coordinator at the High Tech High Graduate School of Education and Instructional Coach at High Tech Middle North County. Julia’s love for teaching began in college when she spent the winter teaching in the Marshall Islands. After earning her credential and BA from Dartmouth College, she worked as an AmeriCorps teacher in Beaverton, Oregon where she developed an after school engineering program. The power of innovative hands-on projects to engage students led her to pursue a master’s degree in Technology, Innovation, and Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Julia first joined High Tech High as a founding 4th-grade teacher at High Tech Elementary Chula Vista. She earned a masters in Educational Leadership from the High Tech High Graduate School of Education, where her research focused on equitable group work. Most recently, Julia was the Engineering Scholar in Residence at High Tech Elementary, where she collaborated on a year-long research project about equitable engineering instruction.
Alec PattonEditor of "Unboxed Learning"
Alec is the editor of High Tech High Unboxed, which is the place where High Tech High shares what it knows, thinks and dreams of. Specifically, it’s an online collection of podcasts, videos, and articles, and a semi-annual hard-copy journal.
Alec taught humanities for five years, first at High Tech High North County, then at High Tech High Chula Vista. As part of the projects Alec has designed, his students have produced podcasts about California’s state Propositions and plays about wrongfully convicted inmates. One year, students designed and ran a simulation in which audience members took on the roles of Syrian citizens forced to leave and seek refuge in another country. In partnership with biology teacher Matt Leader, Alec led 45 11th graders who became the first large group ever to walk the entire San Dieguito Coast-to-Crest trail, a total of 72 miles.
You can learn more about Alec’s projects on his Digital Portfolio, here. Prior to joining High Tech High, Alec worked at the Innovation Unit in London, England, where he wrote Work that Matters: The Teacher’s Guide to Project-based Learning. Alec first became interested in project-based learning when he was doing his Ph.D. at the University of Sheffield, and designed a program that trained undergraduates to record and transcribe oral history interviews for the British Library’s Theatre Archive Project.
Nuvia RulandProfessional Learning Coordinator
Nuvia Crisol Ruland is a scientist and artist passionate about developing and facilitating curriculum based on the creative process at High Tech High Chula Vista. Her middle name, Crisol, Spanish for crucible or melting pot, holds the key to her passion for scientific research and art-making. She’s been following these interests since she graduated from UC San Diego with a B.S. in biochemistry/cell biology and a minor in studio art.
Prior to teaching, she worked for nearly 10 years at Arena Pharmaceuticals as a member of the Drug Discovery team. Nuvia was part of a team whose efforts in cardiovascular research led to the development of complex pharmaceuticals that were published in scientific journals. As a visual artist, she documented her bicultural experience of growing up in Los Angeles while frequenting Baja California, Mexico to visit her family. Her artwork has been displayed on both coasts and on both sides of the border and can be viewed at www.artecrisol.com.
Since arriving at High Tech High she has made a leap in her journey as a lifelong learner by earning a Masters degree in Teacher Leadership through HTH’s Graduate School of Education program and completing a year-long Fellowship with the National Equity Project. This August she joined the GSE team as a Professional Learning Coordinator and is thrilled to work closely with educators visiting the High Tech schools. She can’t wait to facilitate experiences that will make others passionate about project-based and social-emotional learning.
This year Nuvia celebrates 12 years of marriage with her favorite artistic collaborator, Jim Ruland. They are actively involved in San Diego’s arts and literary community by creating and supporting events that contribute to the city’s cultural fabric.
Brent SpirnakMultimedia Ethnographer
Brent is the Multimedia Ethnographer for the High Tech High Media Team. He began at HTH after graduating from San Diego State as a video ethnographer in 2008. After two years, he transitioned to the classroom and was a founding staff member at High Tech Middle North County while obtaining his art credential through the HTH Intern program. Brent taught Digital Arts at the middle school level for 9 years before joining the GSE staff.
Rodrigo ArancibiaProject Co-Director, CARPE
Rodrigo Arancibia is a native of San Diego and triple alumnus from San Diego State University where he earned his BS in Kinesiology, Single Subject Teaching Credential and MS in Educational Leadership with an administrative credential. He has spent the last decade working in education as an after-school program leader, teacher, and district coordinator.
In his previous role at Sweetwater Union High School District, California’s second-largest secondary school district, Rodrigo helped manage and oversee all the ASES and ASSETs grants and worked to improve school climate and culture within the District through student leadership.
In his current role at the High Tech High Graduate School of Education, Rodrigo Co-Directs the CARPE College Access Network whose mission is the help high schools in southern California support traditionally marginalized students get into, and through, college. Rodrigo believes in the power of relationships as a keystone to successful schools and school districts, it’s through these relationships that communities, as a whole, can thrive.
Yekaterina MilvidskaiaImprovement Coach
Yekaterina Milvidskaia is a Math specialist and improvement coach working within the Center for Research on Equity & Innovation. She coaches teachers that are part of the Mathematical Agency Improvement Community (MAIC), a network of 18 southern California schools working to abolish the phrase “I am not a math person.” Prior to joining High Tech High, she taught middle school math with the goal of helping her students develop their mathematical identities. Yekaterina has facilitated professional development for various San Diego districts, teacher education programs, and has co-written curriculum.
Edgar MontesProject Co-Director, CARPE
Edgar Montes currently serves as the Project Co-Director of the CARPE College Access & Success Network within the Center for Research on Equity & Innovation at the High Tech High Graduate School of Education. He works with a passionate group of college access and improvement science professionals to advance the college and career readiness and success of students in schools and districts throughout southern California.
Previously, Edgar served as the executive director of a California statewide initiative to scale up a multi-tiered system of support focused on advancing the academic,
social-emotional, and behavioral development of the whole child through the Orange County Department of Education. Edgar also served as director of state and district partnerships for the College Board’s western regional office, director of college counseling at High Tech High Media Arts, and admission counselor at the University of San Diego.
Edgar earned his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Arts in School Counseling from the University of San Diego. He is currently completing a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership at the University of Southern California.
Sofia TannenhausImprovement Coach
Dr. Sofía Tannenhaus is an Improvement Coach with High Tech High’s Center for Research on Equity & Innovation and a High Tech High Graduate School of Education Faculty Member. Motivated by her background, nearly all of Dr. Tannenhaus’ research has sought to improve educational outcomes for low-income Latino students. She has immersed herself in work with various organizations and institutions to provide better opportunities for students who grew up similar to her.
While attending K-12 Title I public schools in South San Diego County, Sofía witnessed many of her peers crossing the border each day from Tijuana into the U.S. Despite student, teacher, and administrator awareness of this common practice, this student subpopulation acted as a sleeping giant within the education system due to the sensitive nature of their transnational residency. For her dissertation, Sofía returned to her hometown to conduct a year-long qualitative study of cross-border students.
Although her research projects have been meaningful, Dr. Tannenhaus sought to better understand the world of practice by becoming an educator. As a teacher, she spent over three years designing meaningful learning experiences for students in their Spanish class at High Tech High. Education can be transformative for students when service-learning is combined with high expectations and a rigorous curriculum – when it engages “the heart, the hands, and the mind,” as we say at High Tech High. This is what Sofía considers the purpose of education to be – that which challenges and inspires us while making our community a better place.
Dr. Tannenhaus holds a clear single subject teaching credential in Spanish. She earned her Ph.D. and M.A. in Education from UC Berkeley and her B.A. in Sociology from UC San Diego.
Eric ChagalaPrincipal VIDA
Dr. Chagala graduated from UCLA with a degree in International Relations and received his Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University. He serves as the Founding Principal of Vista Innovation & Design Academy and has been with the Vista Unified School District for 15 years. In 2013, Dr. Chagala was awarded as “Vista Unified School District Administrator of the Year.” Dr. Chagala is part of the HTH GSE practitioner faculty and is in his third year of teaching the HTH 230: Leading Innovative Schools course.
Melissa DanielsDirector, High Tech Middle Chula Vista
Melissa began her teaching career at international schools in both Cairo, Egypt and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After teaching internationally for seven years, Melissa joined High Tech High as a 6th grade humanities teacher. In 2011, she became the founding director of High Tech Middle Chula Vista.
While teaching overseas, Melissa developed an interest in multicultural education and teaching English learners, in which she earned an M.Ed from George Mason University. She earned her second M.Ed as a founding member of High Tech High’s School Leadership graduate program. She is currently an adjunct faculty member in the HTH GSE, teaching courses in progressive school leadership and fostering adult learning.
Juliet MohnkernDirector, High Tech Middle North County
Juliet Mohnkern is the Director of High Tech Middle North County and currently teaches the course Equity, Diversity and Design Principles at the High Tech High Graduate School of Education. In 2015, she completed an M.Ed in Educational Leadership at the High Tech High Graduate School of Education which included a residency at High Tech Middle Chula Vista. Previously, she was the Director of Public Policy and Curriculum Innovation at Chavez Schools in Washington, DC where she also taught Senior Public Policy Thesis and coached the debate team. With colleagues from Chavez, she founded Education to Save the World, an organization that brought together educators passionate about empowering students to create a more just, healthy, and sustainable world. In 2013, she was recognized by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development as an Emerging Leader. She has presented on pedagogy and assessment at the Foundation for Critical Thinking Annual Conference, DC’s Young Education Professionals Policy to Practice Conference, National Association for Public Charter Schools Annual Conference, and National Association for Public Charter Schools Annual Conference. Before moving to DC, Juliet worked at Match Public Charter School in Boston. She has a Master’s in Ethics, Peace Studies and Global Affairs from American University and a bachelor’s degree in Classics from Boston College.
Diana Cornejo-SanchezDirector, High Tech High Teacher Center
Diana Cornejo-Sanchez has over 12 years of experience as a teacher and mentor to teachers. Diana was a founding teacher at High Tech High Media Arts when it first opened in 2005, where she worked for over ten years and honed her expertise in project-based learning. Prior to joining the Urban Discovery Academy community, Diana worked as the Assistant Director of the Leadership and Professional Learning Team for the Jacob’s Institute of Innovations in Learning at the University of San Diego. Diana received her Bachelor’s degrees in English and Spanish from the University of San Diego (USD) in 2004. She also completed her Single Subject Credentials in English and Spanish during this time and added a Social Science credential in 2014. She graduated with her Master’s in Education with a specialization in Language, Literacy, and Culture in 2006 from USD. She completed her Administrative Credential in 2014 through USD’s Educational Leadership Development Academy.
Dr. Dominique SmithVice Principal/Director of Student Support, Health Sciences High & Middle College
Dominique holds a master’s degree from USC (University of Southern California), USA, in Social Work, and a doctorate from San Diego State University. He is the Vice Principal of Health Sciences High and Middle College, San Diego, California, and works as an instructor for the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP). He is the author of Better than Carrots or Sticks with Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey. He is the winner of the National Safety Award from the School Safety Advocacy Council.
Patrick YurickLead MOOC Instructor
Patrick has been working as an art educator in southern California for the last six years. His passions are for telling stories and designing ways for people to learn. He also has been on the ground floor of the MOOC movement as the lead MOOC instructor & developer at the High Tech High Graduate School Of Education as well as at Making Comics Worldwide, a nonprofit in which he founded.
Kristen Komatsubara7th Grade Math/Science Teacher, High Tech Middle
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 director for High Tech Middle North County and director of HTeNC. She is excited to be back in the classroom and supporting new teachers at High Tech High’s Graduate School. 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.
Marisol Franco10th Grade Spanish, High Tech High Chula Vista
Marisol Franco-Flores has taught Spanish at High Tech High Chula Vista since 2008, teaching grade levels 9-12 in all-inclusive language learning environments. While at HTHCV, Marisol has been able to develop her skills as a language teacher in a PBL environment, implementing projects that have given students the opportunity to develop their own language skills with purpose as active members of our community. At HTHCV, Marisol also serves as EL coordinator and Summer Bridge coordinator. Before joining the HTH family, Marisol taught at La Quinta High School in Westminster, CA after completing her graduate work at UC Irvine.
Marisol now shares her experiences as an educator with teacher interns and apprentices through her language development courses at the HTH GSE and Teacher Center.
Sarah BarnesEd. Specialist Program Manager
As Ed Specialist Program Manager for High Tech High Charter Schools Sarah supports Inclusion and Special Education programs across the sixteen High Tech High schools and works with the High Tech High Teacher Center to implement professional development, coursework, and mentorship for new Ed Specialist teachers. Sarah joined High Tech High in 2007 and has enjoyed working as both a classroom humanities teacher and an Ed Specialist at the K–12 level. Sarah has spent her career looking at school cultural practices that create opportunities for diverse learners to engage in classrooms together. She is particularly interested in recent disability rights movements that herald Neurodiversity and enjoys unpacking this passion with graduate students in the courses she teaches for new ed specialist and classroom teachers. Sarah’s work has been informed by the Fulbright–Hays grant she was awarded to study diversity in education in Brazil; specifically the inequitable systems that historically have marginalized indigenous and afro-brazilian communities as well as the semester she spent in Northern Uganda where she participated in a teacher exchange program while supporting educational practices that integrated students who had experienced trauma and disability into the classroom and community. Sarah maintains a multiple subject teaching credential, a single subject English credential, as well as her special education (ed specialist) credential with Autism authorization. She holds a Masters of Arts in Special Education.
Francesca HendersonSchool Law Instructor
Francesca Henderson is a career educator who joined our faculty in January 2019. She has a Bachelor’s in Mathematics from San Diego State University, Master’s in Education from High Tech High Graduate School of Education (HTHGSE), and is currently working toward her Ph.D. in Mathematics Education. She has served in education in several different capacities: Researcher, Teacher, School Leader, Curriculum Designer, and Consultant. She has published two papers and has been cited numerous times for her contributions to symbol sense and algebraic reasoning in college-level mathematics (Henderson et al, 2010). During her tenure as a School Leader for the HTH organization, an interest in education law was birthed from auditing the School Law course offered by our program. Thus, she was equally as enthused to join our team as the School Law instructor.
Katie MartinVP of Professional Learning, AltSchool
Dr. Katie Martin is the author of Learner-Centered Innovation and VP of Professional Learning at Altitude Learning. She has worked in diverse contexts to learn, research, and support deeper learning for all students. She has served as middle school English language arts teacher, instructional coach, and led the district new teacher mentoring program. Katie has a Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree in middle school education and her Ph.D and in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on the support that impacts teacher efficacy and retention.
Yoli SolerInternship Coordinator & ASES Grant Manager HTHCV
Yoli grew up in the San Joaquin Valley surrounded by vineyards, cherry orchards, tons of cows, and of course her familia. She attended UC Davis and earned a degree in Sociology and Spanish with a minor in Chican@ Studies. Yoli launched her teaching career in Sacramento. She moved down to sunny SoCal in 2008, and this is her 11th year with HTHCV. Yoli and her husband welcomed a baby boy named Dante in May of 2017. They stay busy watching him grow and explore. He is right in the middle of the infamous terrible twos. So, if you have any advice on how to avoid tantrums, please feel free to share. Yoli this year celebrated her Quinceanera (15 years teaching Spanish). It’s been an amazing journey. However, this year Yoli will be leaving the classroom and will be helping out with the junior internship program, and the after school program. She is excited about this new role and is eager to see how she can continue to learn, grow and serve her community.
Kimberly CawkwellContinuation Schools Coach, New Tech Network
Kim began her journey with the HTH community in 2011 as a founding staff member of High Tech Elementary Chula Vista. In 2012, she began facilitating on and off-site professional learning. In 2015, she co-facilitated the Designing for Deeper Learning course through the High Tech High Graduate School and began consulting for the University of San Diego’s Institute for Entrepreneurship in Education, where she engaged leaders and teachers in professional learning and collaborated with districts to create systematic change. Currently, she works for New Tech Network; coaching leaders and teachers in public schools and designing resources for schools within the network. Kim holds her a B.A. in Liberal Studies: Sociology, from the University of California, Riverside and an M.Ed and Multiple Subject Credential from the University of California – San Diego.
Curtis Taylor6th Grade Math/Science Teacher, HTMM
Curtis Taylor is originally from Greenville, South Carolina. He has earned his B.A degree in Elementary Education from Clemson University (Go Tigers!) and his M.Ed. in STEAM Education from the University of San Diego. Currently, he is in the final stages of completing his Doctorate of Education through the University of California, San Diego and California State University San Marcos. Curtis will also be teaching his first graduate course for the 2nd year M.Ed. students at High Tech High’s Graduate School of Education. Lastly, he is a graduate of the Call Me MISTER program, which is a growing program to raise the number of males teaching in the classroom. Curtis is very thrilled about entering his 10th year of teaching! He was privileged to teach 3rd and 5th grade in Greenville County Schools and worked with the University of South Carolina, Lancaster teaching math to aspiring first-generation college students. He has been with High Tech since the Fall of 2013 and is excited to continue the work with such amazing students! His hobbies include singing, dancing, working out, and just spending time with his family and friends.
Ruth Smith2nd Grade, HTEM
Hello there! My name is Ruth Smith and I am a 2nd-grade teacher. After graduating in June of 2008 from the University of California, San Diego, I took some time to travel and reflect on my next steps… After a year of traveling and volunteering for March of Dimes, I went back to UCSD in which I received my Masters in Education and a Teaching Credential with an Elementary Mathematics Emphasis Certification. I began my career in August of 2011 as a Guided Reading Specialist and after a year I transitioned into my own classroom as a 1st-grade teacher for the next 3 years. Just as soon as I was feeling all comfy and cozy, I decided it was time for a change, SO I transferred to a school that is located in an amazing community, and that’s where you’ll find me today! I have taught 2nd grade 3 of the past 4 years and it has been one of the most incredible experiences of my career. The 2019-2020 school year will mark my 9th year as a teacher! This is such an amazing community and school and I am extremely excited to work here. I look forward to meeting all of you. Thank you and I look forward to a productive year!