Sequoia Pathfinder Academy at Eastmark Teaching Staff
Jennifer BornKindergarten Teacher | Welcome Letter | Kindergarten Grade Supply List
Hello, I am Jennifer Born. I am excited to be teaching kindergarten and joining the STEAM Team at SPAE. I was born in Colorado and moved to Arizona when I was 12 years old. I live in Gilbert with my fiancé Steve and our two daughters Sophia who is 2 and Olivia who is 11 months old. We have two dogs and two parrots. I graduated from Dobson High School in Mesa. I earned my BA in Early Childhood Education from Ottawa University in 2008. I have been working with children for over ten years in various pre-kindergarten programs including Head Start. Some of my hobbies are collecting Beauty and the Beast collectibles, reading, traveling, and spending time with my girls and family. I’m excited to be working with your child this year and look forward to helping each of them grow academically and socially. It’s going to be a fun year of learning for all of us.
Erin McDonaldKindergarten Teacher | Welcome Letter | Kindergarten Grade Supply List
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 ninth year as a kindergarten teacher. I am very excited to be at a school that embraces a project approach to learning. Be prepared for your child to take charge of their own learning as they learn reading, writing and math skills through exploring topics that interest them!
Nikki NavaKindergarten Teacher | Welcome Letter | Kindergarten Grade Supply List
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 fourth 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 third 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.
Francesca MontoyaFirst Grade Teacher | Welcome Letter | First Grade Supply List
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 | Welcome Letter | First Grade Supply List
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!
Angel FreilingSecond Grade Teacher | Welcome Letter | Second Grade Supply List
I received my Bachelor of Education degree from Arizona State University. I am excited to move to second grade this year! 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.
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!
Loralee PanagakisSecond Grade Teacher | Welcome Letter | Second Grade Supply List
Hello, my name is Mrs. Panagakis and it is a pleasure to be your child’s teacher this year! This will be my 1st year teaching with Sequoia Pathfinder Academy at Eastmark, but my 5th year of teaching at the elementary level. I am excited to welcome your child’s new ideas to the classroom, as well as mine to learn and grow from. It has been a great learning experience to work in previous schools with integrative global and cultural perspectives, and I’m excited to learn more about the culture here in Arizona, my new home. I received my BA degree in Elementary Ed. from University of North Carolina, and my Masters in Ed. -Program Reading Specialist from Liberty University. Although I was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I have lived in different places while my husband served and recently retired from the U.S. Navy. I was fortunate enough to begin my teaching career 18 years ago as a Pre-K teacher in San Clemente, California, and since then, teaching has been a part of my journey.
My husband of 21 years, and our two children have recently moved here to Arizona from coastal North Carolina. My daughter will be a junior in college and my son is an 8th grader at Highland Junior High. I enjoy the beach, traveling, running, reading, painting and spending time with my family. Some of my favorite things are: coffee, Chicago Cubs, Skittles, and the color blue.
I truly wish that students will enjoy school and learning as much as I do!
Christa DandoyThird Grade Teacher | Welcome Letter | Third Grade Supply List
Hello, my name is Christa Dandoy. I am originally from Utah, but have lived in Arizona so long I consider it home. I graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education. I am a certified and highly qualified teacher that also holds an Early Childhood Education endorsement. I completed my Master’s in Education from Walden University with an emphasis in technology integration in the K-12 classroom. I have taught for eight years and love it! Besides being one of the school’s 3rd grade teachers, I am currently the school’s testing coordinator. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, listening to music, watching soccer, and spoiling my cat Claudio. I also love traveling to new places and sharing my experiences with my students. I have been at this school from the start and have loved seeing our school grow. I am so excited for this year and helping every child realize their full potential!
Lisette NofenThird Grade Teacher | Welcome Letter | Third Grade Supply List
Hello! My name is Lisette Nofen and I am excited to be teaching 3rd 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 just finished teaching fourth grade last year at SPAE and I’m excited to teach third this year. I look forward to connecting with my students and helping them to their fullest potential!
Sarah BrownFourth Grade Teacher | Welcome Letter | Fourth Grade Supply List
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
Alicia BurrowsFourth Grade Teacher | Welcome Letter | Fourth Grade Supply List
My name is Alicia Burrows, and I am excited to be teaching fourth grade this year at Sequoia Pathfinder Academy at Eastmark. I grew up in Orange County, California where I got my bachelors and credential at California State University, Fullerton and enjoyed the ocean and mountains that California provides. I have taught small groups of students from second grade through fifth grade for five years. Last year, I had the opportunity to move to Arizona and teach third grade. Some of my hobbies include cooking as well as oil and watercolor painting. I look forward to meeting my new students this year and seeing them grow.
Sincerely, Ms. Brown
Kelli TeskeyFifth Grade Teacher | Welcome Letter | Fifth Grade Supply List
Hello! My name is Kelli Teskey and I am so excited to be teaching fifth and sixth grade this year. I was born and raised in Indianapolis, IN and moved to Yuma last year to teach 5th grade at a local charter school. In my spare time I enjoy hiking, reading, and playing with my dog Koda. Arizona is a beautiful state and I can’t wait to explore it more!
I received my Bachelors of Science from Purdue University and plan to go back to school to complete my Master’s soon. I have a strong passion for animals and science and can’t wait to explore these areas with my students. I am looking forward to participating in the STEM/STEAM program here at SPAE. My goal is to inspire students through hands-on experiences in science and math and show them that they are subjects that can be fun and exciting!
Tricia PetersonSixth Grade Teacher | Welcome Letter | Sixth Grade Supply List
Hello, my name is Tricia Peterson and I am so excited to teach sixth grade this year. 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 20 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!
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 fourth year. She keeps busy as a wife to her husband, Jeremy, and as a mom to her children- Milo (5), Katherine (4) and Eleanor (almost 1). Additionally, Milo is beginning kindergarten at SPAE this year. Jocelyn 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 majors. Additionally, Jocelyn graduated from Sequoia Secondary in Mesa back in 2008. In her spare time, Jocelyn enjoys going to Disneyland, redecorating her home, 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 lunch manager and paraprofessional. These last couple of years, I have been blessed to be a part 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 fifteen 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 2017-2018 school year!
Janelle DeguzmanSpecial Education Teacher
My name is Ms. Deguzman and I have been a special education teacher for the last 13 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 3rd year teaching at Sequoia and I am excited to be a part of the Special Education Team this year.
Danielle GauaniArt Teacher
A very warm hello! My name is Danielle Gauani, and this is my second year teaching art at Sequoia Pathfinder Academy at Eastmark. 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!
Lola HuntTheater Teacher | Props and Costume List
Hello! I’m a graduate from Arizona State University with a degree in Theatre and History. I’ve worked for professional theatre companies and in local community theatre; including Mesa Little Theatre, Southwest Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare Sedona, Gilbert Community Players, Queen Creek Community Theatre. I have taught theatre at the junior high and high school level and am excited to build an elementary level program. My favorite hobbies are crafting, sewing, furniture refinishing and I suffer from a CrossFit addiction. My husband and I have four children, we enjoy the outdoors and traveling together.
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!
Tammy ShawPE Teacher
Hello, my name is Tammy Shaw and I’m an enthusiastic and energetic teacher with a passion for health and fitness who strives to make a positive change in the lives of my students.
I have over 15 years of teaching experience throughout all grade levels from pre-school through adult learners. I have a history of successful coaching in several sports including tennis, cheerleading, and gymnastics, where I’ve coached several state, regional, and national competitors.
My family and I love to travel and explore new places. Being outside and especially in or by the water is my “HAPPY” place. After spending the first half of my life on the east coast of the United States (Florida and the Carolinas) my family decided to take a leap and move to the desert. I have been here almost 3 years and although there is no beach, there is endless beauty and new places to explore.
I’m excited to be joining the SPAE staff and am super excited to meet all of my new students and join my children as a GRIFFIN!!
Lyn WetzelCurriculum Specialist
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.
Leesa WilliamsMusic Teacher
I grew up in a very creative, artsy family and started singing, dancing, and playing the piano and violin by the age of 3. In high school, I sang and competed with the honors choirs and received many awards, both personally and as a group. I worked my way through college at Southern Utah University teaching dance as the head teacher at Dance Magic, a highly awarded dance studio my sister owned at just 19 years of age. I met my sweetheart at college and we were married 4 years later. I then went on to home school my own kiddos for almost 12 years and enjoyed teaching dance, music theory and chorale, and beginning piano out of my home for much of that time. We just moved to Arizona from Texas where we left part of our hearts, but we are all excited to start going to charter schools this year and look forward to what the year will bring!
As the music teacher, I plan on instilling an appreciation of music to my students and making music fun and enjoyable for them! I will use games, music demonstrations, and lesson plans that will focus on movement, rhythm, beat, dynamics, vocabulary, pitch, form, theory, tempo, and singing. I also hope to pull out the good old recorders with the older students.
I look forward to getting to know each of your children and hope I can make a positive difference in their lives.
Parents that would like information on our teachers’ qualifications can contact our front office
or use the Contact Us link in the navigation bar.