Sequoia Pathfinder Academy at Eastmark Teaching Staff
Erin McDonaldKindergarten Teacher | Kindergarten Supply List | Welcome Letter
My name is Erin McDonald and I’m very excited to be a part of the Sequoia Pathfinder Academy at Eastmark learning community. I pursued my life-long love of science while attending Arizona State University where I studied anthropology and geology. I have enjoyed using my background while helping young learners pursue their own scientific and self-discoveries. I have taught preschool for 2 years and this will be my eighth year as a kindergarten teacher. I am so excited to be a part of this STEAM community of learners and I look forward to our upcoming learning adventure!
Nikki NavaKindergarten Teacher | Kindergarten Supply List | Welcome Letter
Hello everyone! My name is Nikki Nava and I am so excited to be a kindergarten teacher at Sequoia Pathfinder Academy at Eastmark. This will be my third year here at Sequoia and I couldn’t be happier! I am married to my wonderful husband Bobby and we are blessed with a set of twins, RJ and Makayla, who are going to be in second grade this year! We were all born and raised in Arizona and LOVE it here. In my spare time, I love to swim, keep active with my family, and watch both RJ and Makayla play many sports including soccer, football, dance, and baseball. I received my Associate’s Degree in Sign Language Interpreting from Phoenix College in 2000. Later, I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Ottawa University in 2003. I am currently in my graduate program at Adams State University based in Colorado. My Masters will be Curriculum Instruction while I am also receiving my STEM Teaching Certificate through NASA. I was Director of Education for five years before joining the team here at Sequoia. I love the school, parents, and students. I am in charge of Student Council and a member of our STEAM committee. I look forward to this year and all the fun and learning we are going to do!
Angel FreilingFirst Grade Teacher | First Grade Supply List | Welcome Letter
I received my Bachelor of Education degree from Arizona State University. I am anticipating another exciting year in first grade! I grew up in Pennsylvania, home of Crayola crayons and the Hershey Chocolate Factory. I’m married. Together we have two beautiful daughters. Outside of teaching, I enjoy crafting, traveling, snapping photos, and participating in local theater performances. As a college student, I grew passionate about teaching math, science, and sustainability; therefore, I’m looking forward to contributing to the growth of our STEAM program. I believe that students learn best when given an opportunity to explore and question the world around them. I look forward to providing a learning environment that will foster curiosity.
Francesca MontoyaFirst Grade Teacher | First Grade Supply List | Welcome Letter
My name is Francesca Montoya and I am thrilled to be teaching first grade at Sequoia Pathfinder Academy at Eastmark. I grew up in a little town in Colorado where I went to Adams State University and got a degree in Accounting and a degree in Elementary Education. I have been teaching for 7 years which consists of Kindergarten and Second grade in Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. I am married to my childhood sweetheart and we have three wonderful children. In my free time I love to craft, scrapbook, read, but most of all I love to spend time with my family.
Melissa SandbergFirst Grade Teacher | First Grade Supply List | Welcome Letter
Hello Everybody! My name is Melissa Sandberg and I am thrilled to begin another year as a first grade teacher at Sequoia Pathfinder Academy at Eastmark. I have lived in Arizona since 2008, and I feel so fortunate to call the “Valley of the Sun” my home! I am originally from Highland Park, Illinois (near Chicago) and though I loved growing up there, I definitely do not miss the cold weather and snowstorms! I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2001 with a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and received my Master’s degree in Education (Reading) from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 2006. I was a public school teacher in Chicago and Wisconsin for several years, and I also taught Kindergarten for three years at a school in East Mesa. I have been married to my wonderful husband Jon since March 2013, and we have an adorable 2-year-old son, Jack. Spending time with my family is my favorite thing to do, but I also enjoy reading, watching movies, and going to garage sales. Working with children has always been a passion of mine, and I love seeing them grow and learn every day. I’m looking forward to another wonderful year at Sequoia Pathfinder Academy at Eastmark!
Janelle ClowerSecond Grade Teacher | Welcome Letter | Second Grade Supply List
Hi! My name is Janelle Clower and I graduated from Ottawa University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education and I also have an endorsement in Early Childhood Education. I taught first grade for two years and I’m excited to be joining the second grade team at Sequoia Pathfinder Academy at Eastmark!
I was born in Southern California and moved to Payson, AZ at the beginning of third grade. I moved to Mesa in 1998 and have lived here ever since! I have been happily married to my husband, Scott, for 15 years and together we have three children, Blake (12), Cadence (11), and Landon (2).
In my spare time I enjoy reading, decorating, photography, spending time exploring outdoors, hiking, fishing, and supporting my children in soccer, baseball, dance, and gymnastics!
I believe that is important that EVERY student has the opportunity to explore, invent, create, inquire, and engage in hands-on learning activities. I’m looking forward to working at SPAE where curiosity and exploration is encouraged and I hope to foster a love of learning in my classroom.
Sherri FullertonSecond Grade Teacher | Welcome Letter | Second Grade Supply List
Hi! My name is Sherri Fullerton, and I am very excited to be joining the second grade team here at SPAE. I have ten years of teaching experience in kindergarten, first, and third grades, and did my student teaching in second. I earned a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from NAU, and have a Reading and Early Childhood Endorsement. My husband Craig and I have two girls we are very proud of. My daughter Sarah is a 6th grade teacher for the Kyrene District, and Brianna just graduated from ASU with a degree in Biology and Animal Physiology. We also have a dog and 2 cats that we rescued. I enjoy traveling, hiking, reading, and learning about health and nutrition.
I am passionate about teaching and learning, and strive to instill that love of learning in each child. I believe students should be actively involved in their learning, and will work on establishing a student-centered classroom where the teacher and students work together as a team to discover and learn new things.
Angela SermenoSecond Grade Teacher | Welcome Letter | Second Grade Supply List
Hi, I’m Angela Sermeño and I am thrilled to be a member of SPAE staff! Originally from Texas, my family moved to Arizona to gain opportunity and adventure. I joined the EdKey Charter School Organization in 2009 and have teaching experience in kindergarten, first and will add second this school year.
I received my Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Arizona State University East. In addition, I earned a Master’s degree in Teaching and Learning from Argosy University, Phoenix College of Education.
I have been together with my high school sweetheart, Eddie, and we have two energetic dogs that we rescued. Personally, I enjoy gardening, traveling, hiking, making natural remedies, and spending quality time with family and friends.
I see each day as an opportunity to learn something new! I hope to empower students and instill the motivation for lifelong learning. As a teacher, I truly believe that every child will be known and will strive to offer positive school experiences so that children continue to have an innate desire to learn and the power to grow. In my classroom, I create a stimulating environment that helps to enable students to reach their fullest potential. I am looking forward to another amazing year at Sequoia Pathfinder Academy at Eastmark!
Christa DandoyThird Grade Teacher | Welcome Letter | Supply List
Christa Dandoy graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education. She is a certified and highly qualified elementary teacher that also holds an Early Childhood Education endorsement. Christa completed her Master’s in Education from Walden University with an emphasis in technology integration in the K-12 classroom. She has taught for seven years and loves it! Besides being the school’s 3rd grade teacher, Christa is currently the school’s testing coordinator. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, listening to music, watching soccer, and traveling to new places. Christa is excited about being a teacher at Sequoia Pathfinder Academy at Eastmark where she believes every child is important.
Jennifer GibsonThird Grade Teacher | Welcome Letter | Supply List
My name is Jenny Gibson and I will be taking over for Mrs. Olivier as your child’s 3rd grade teacher starting in January.
I was born and raised in Michigan where I taught preschool gymnastics for about 10 years. I moved to Arizona where I received my B.S. in Nutrition from ASU, then went back to school to get my M.Ed. in Elementary Education. I have taught grades K-2 and P.E. I love to run, exercise, and spend time with my family. In my spare time I really enjoy learning about health and fitness. I hold a group fitness certification through ACE and have taught many fitness classes throughout the years.
My daughter is a kindergarten student this year at SPAE. I look forward to working in partnership with you throughout the rest of the school year and I am confident that together we can provide the support and encouragement needed to help your child excel.
Sarah BrownFourth Grade Teacher | Supply List | Welcome Letter
Hello. My name is Sarah Brown. I have been fulfilling my life-long dream of learning, teaching and growing with children for over 20 years. I am a native of Arizona and love exploring all it has to offer (except for the extreme heat!) I went to elementary/junior high school in Mesa and graduated from Mountain View. I received my degree in education from Ottawa University.
I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling our great state and the others. I am looking forward to every new school year and the fresh faces that I will see.
Sincerely, Ms. Brown
Lisette NofenFourth Grade Teacher | Supply List | Welcome Letter
Hello! My name is Lisette Nofen and I am excited to be teaching 4th grade this year. I have over 15 years of experience working with children in all age groups. My husband of ten years and I keep busy with our four children and two dogs. We enjoy our time together as a family cheering each other on at the children’s sporting events, walking through museums or parks, going camping catching crawdads or fishing, or simply playing a game of cards. I feel very fortunate to be able to teach where my children attend. I graduated Summa Cum Laude from Arizona State University with my BS in Elementary Education, and directly after taught kindergarten at a private school. I look forward to connecting with my students and helping them to their fullest potential!
Cortney PacatteFifth Grade Teacher | Supply List | Welcome Letter
Hi, My name is Cortney Pacatte and I am so excited to be teaching 5th grade this year. I graduated Summa Cum Laude from Arizona State University in 2006 and have taught both fourth and fifth grade for the Queen Creek School District and Basis Schools. My greatest joys are my two little girls who will be in kindergarten and first grade this year. I am so blessed to have them attending Sequoia Pathfinder Academy at Eastmark with me. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, reading, crossfit, hiking, running, camping, staying active, and DIY crafts. I believe that every child can succeed and it is my hope to instill a love for exploration and learning in each and every one of my students. It is going to be an amazing year!
Teojia WilliamsonJunior High Math & Science | Welcome Letter | Supply List
firstname.lastname@example.org | Teacher Website
My name is Teojia Williamson and I am so excited to teach junior high math and science! I am originally from Northern New Jersey, and I relocated to Arizona in 2013. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 2011 and earned my master’s degree in elementary education in 2014 from Arizona State University. I love to sing and listen to all genres of music. Spending time with my family, shopping, and mini Netflix binges are some of my favorite pastimes. Education is my passion and I can’t wait to see the progress we are able to make this school year!
Christopher LeBelJunior High History & ECAP | Welcome Letter | Supply List
Hello, my name is Christopher LeBel. I am from Downsville, Louisiana. I am the oldest sibling of three sisters. I love to play basketball, baseball, and try new sports. I played one year of college basketball in California, and then moved back to Louisiana to continue my education. I graduated from the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM) and I am currently pursuing a master’s degree in education at Grand Canyon University. I am motivated to teach, because I want to make a positive impact on the lives of our youth, and help them succeed academically.
Tricia PetersonJunior High English Language Arts & Writing | Welcome Letter | Supply List
Hello, my name is Tricia Peterson and I am so excited to teach junior high! During college, I had incredible experiences as a volunteer teacher overseas where I discovered my love for traveling and helping others learn. I graduated Summa Cum Laude from Arizona State University in 1998 and have taught several years at a school in Mesa. My husband and I just celebrated 19 years of marriage! We have three teenagers and one adorable puppy. Our family enjoys watching movies, visiting California, and cheering on ASU. My goal is to encourage students to achieve both academic and personal excellence. We will have a wonderful school year together!
Danielle GauaniArt Teacher
A very warm hello! My name is Danielle Gauani, and this is my first year joining the Sequoia Pathfinder team. Originally from the Netherlands and New York, I made my way to beautiful Arizona to attend Northern Arizona University. My husband and I have three children together.
I have had a lifelong love, devotion, and respect for the Visual & Literary Arts. While volunteering extensively over the past 7 years in preschools and elementary schools, it became clear to me, that my greatest passion is to introduce students to Art from around the world… and to invite them to journey deeper into their own imagination. Inspiring each child to see that, in fact…. they are the Masterpiece!
Sequoia Pathfinder Academy at Eastmark Support Staff
Jocelyn Aley is happy to continue as secretary and registrar for Sequoia Pathfinder Academy at Eastmark for the third year. She keeps busy as a wife to her husband, Jeremy, and as a mom to her children- Milo (4), Katherine (3) and soon-to-be-born daughter (arriving in September). She also has two dogs named Piper and Copper. She graduated summa cum laude from Arizona State University with her Bachelor’s degree in English in 2012. While at ASU, she also worked at the front office of the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College and as a Peer in Education Partner for education students. Additionally, Jocelyn graduated from Sequoia Secondary in Mesa back in 2008. In her spare time, Jocelyn enjoys going to Disneyland, reading new books, swimming, and spending quality time with her family.
Penny BoydLunch Manager | Lunch Application
My name is Penny Boyd and I am excited to be coming back to Sequoia Pathfinder Academy as the Food Coordinating Manager for the third year in a row! These last couple of years, I have been blessed to be apart of the SPAE family and I have the advantage of working in the kitchen and meeting all of our students.
I am a mom of two boys and I’ve been married for fourteen years to my college sweetheart. We are an active family. We love hiking, camping and being outside. I graduated from CAC with my Bachelor’s in Business and Financing and I am a new graduate from GCU receiving my BS in Psychology- majoring in Domestic and Substance abuse along with my Associates in Nutrition Counseling. I look forward to a great 2016-2017 school year!
Lisa BramePBL (Project Based Learning) Coach, Performing Arts, S.P.A.E. Green Team
Mrs. Brame is happy to be at S.P.A.E. for her 3rd year! She graduated from Westwood High School, in Mesa, AZ, with an AIMES Scholarship (Achievement in Mathematics, Engineering, and Science) and received her BIS (Bachelors of Interdisciplinary Sciences) from Arizona State University. Mrs. Brame has graduate level education in Special Education and Performing Arts and has taught Sp.Ed. K-12, Gen.Ed. 5th/6th grade, and Theater K-8th grade. Mrs. Brame is an interdisciplinary thinker and has a joy for integration of technology and the arts in the learning process. Coming from a diverse background rooted in the performing arts, she has also performed internationally as a dancer/choreographer in more than 18 countries on more than 4 continents. Her greatest achievement, however, is being a mother to her son and a guardian to her youngest siblings. “As an educator, I am responsible for creating a learning-friendly community built on leadership, mutual respect and trust in the classroom. I respect my students and believe in their capabilities and capacity for learning, while holding the awareness that each student enters the classroom with different backgrounds and learning styles. I value openness and strive to facilitate a learning-friendly environment that is collaborative, so that students are comfortable questioning each other, themselves and me.”
Janelle DeguzmanSpecial Education Interventionist
My name is Ms. Deguzman and I have been a special education teacher for the last 12 years. I graduated from ASU with my Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education in 2003 and later went to Northern Arizona University (Satellite Campus) and earned my Master’s Degree in Special Education. Over the years, I have worked in many educational settings ranging from K-12.
I grew up in Buffalo, New York (Go Bills!) and moved out to the Valley in 1998. This is my 2nd year teaching at Sequoia and I am excited to be apart of the Special Education Team this year.
Jessika MurilloHealth Assistant
Jessika was born in Puerto Rico and moved to Mesa, Arizona in 1993. As a kid she always knew she wanted to help people. She has worked as a Registered Medical Assistant for 7 years. She graduated from Apollo College in 2007 and is looking forward to returning and continuing her education in the medical field. She hopes to attain her BSN and specialize in holistic and natural medicine. She recently was a Paraprofessional, where she worked in the Special Education Department in the Kindergarten Autism classroom. In her free time, she enjoys her time with her husband of 15 years, 4 amazing children and her dog. Her personal interests include spending time outdoors, reading, and drinking coffee. Jessika is a great believer in the Sequoia Pathfinder Academy at Eastmark Mission and is excited about being part of the SPAE family.
Angelita (Angel) Padilla was born and raised in the small town of Silver City, New Mexico. She moved to southern California to attend the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising where she received a degree in Merchandise Marketing. Angel moved to Arizona with a job promotion and loved the area. She later became a stay at home mom when her son Vincent was born. When Vincent was going to start kindergarten, the family specifically relocated so he could attend Sequoia Pathfinder Academy at Eastmark its inaugural year. Angel found a passion for helping teachers and students starting at a young age. Her mother and grandmother are both retired teachers and Angel was always eager to help in the classroom throughout their many years of service to children. Her volunteerism extended to the SPAE community. Last year, Angel was asked to join the SPAE staff and was thrilled to have that opportunity. Along with her husband John, daughter ,Alisha, who will be in 8th grade, and Vincent, the family enjoys baseball, traveling, helping the homeless, and having family game nights. She is excited to be returning to SPAE for another great year of learning, growing and of course fun!
Lyn WetzelCurriculum Coach
Lyn Wetzel received her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from University of Arizona. She is a certified and highly qualified elementary teacher that also holds an Early Childhood Education endorsement. Lyn has spent the last four years teaching gifted in the Chandler district in a First and Second grade combination classroom. Prior to Chandler, she taught First grade in the Madison School District for 6 years. During her time there, she was an active member of Madison’s gifted committee and participated in curriculum mapping at the district. Lyn began her teaching career in the Scottsdale School District at an Integrated Thematic Instruction school, where she worked with Kindergarten and First grade students for 5 years. She is thrilled to blend her integrated curriculum experience with her gifted training, as Sequoia Pathfinder Academy’s Curriculum Coach. Mrs. Wetzel can’t wait to know you and your child.
Parents that would like information on our teachers’ qualifications can contact our front office
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