Teachers and Staff

  • Amanda Kennedy

    Mrs. Kennedy is so grateful to be a kindergarten teacher at Community Roots Academy this year. Her priority is to ensure that all kindergarteners develop a love for learning that will then be transferred throughout their whole educational journeys. She believes that strong foundational skills, collaborative skill building, a positive learning environment, and an enthusiastic spirit are ingredients that turn a classroom into a community where students can thrive. She has high expectations for her students and creates opportunities for students to become invested in being a part of their classroom community. Mrs. Kennedy has over five years experience working in an educational setting and has experience with a range of different grade levels. She received a BA degree in Psychology from Cal State University Fullerton and attended UCI for her teaching credential. She strives to create opportunities for high levels of learning where students can build critical thinking and problem solving skills. Mrs. Kennedy values a growth mindset and is strategic in creating a developmentally appropriate learning trajectory to ensure high levels of academic success and development. She is so thankful to be a part of all her students’ first years in elementary school and to be a part of the amazing kindergarten team. When she is not teaching she enjoys swimming, going to the beach, jogging, cooking and spending time with her family.

  • Ann Libo-on

    Miss Ann Libo-on is the 7th and 8th-grade science teacher! Before coming to CRA, she has been an educator for a few years, starting as a certificated teaching resource, camp counselor, and substitute teacher before moving to Irvine and spending a year as a 5th-grade teacher. She received a B.A in Philosophy from the University of California, Irvine, and her teaching credential from California State University, Fullerton where she’s also currently working on her Master’s in educational technology.
    Miss Libo-on believes in using technology as the bridge to making education accessible to all! She’s always looking for ways to enrich her students’ project-based learning experience with all sorts of 21st-century applications. When not thinking like a mad scientist, Miss Libo-on enjoys spending time with her animal assistants, Luca and Elf, in addition to an eclectic variety of activities including, but not limited to,  building computers, playing video games, cooking for her friends, and snorkeling.
  • Bethany Lockhart

    Ms. Lockhart is excited to join Community Roots Academy’s Team Kinder! She recently completed her Multiple Subject Credential and Master’s of Art in Teaching from the University of California, Irvine (zot! zot!). Ms. Lockhart received BA’s in Theatre, Dance, and Ethnic Studies from the University of California, San Diego (go Tritons!).
    Prior to joining the CRA community, Ms. Lockhart taught theatre and dance, and worked in non-profit organizations in San Diego and San Francisco. She believes Kindergarten is a magical place that launches students on a lifelong learning adventure. In addition to being a teacher, Ms. Lockhart is also a proud auntie to her nieces and her nephew. When she is not dreaming up Kindergarten adventures, Ms. Lockhart loves to hang out with her friends and family (including her little dog Taddie), watch baseball games (go Padres!), hike, and visit her local public library.
  • Carin Ong

    Mrs. Ong is excited to join Community Roots Academy as part of the Access Team. Mrs. Ong graduated from University of California, San Diego with a BA in Sociology where she took a course with a practicum in a classroom. This course sparked her interest in becoming a teacher. After taking a few more similar courses, Mrs. Ong realized how much she wanted to be a teacher and enrolled in the teaching credential program at UCSD after graduation. After teaching for a few years, Mrs. Ong returned to school at UCSD for her Masters in Curriculum and Instruction and then went on to get her National Board Certification in Middle Childhood Generalist. She taught third grade in Oceanside, CA for 8 years where she was on the writing task force and the GATE committee, and was trained in Cognitively Guided Instruction.

    When Mrs. Ong moved to Orange County, she spent four years in behavior intervention development for LAUSD. Through this experience, Mrs. Ong appreciated the chance to focus on one student at a time and look at all the aspects needed for the student’s success. Afterwards, she chose to tutor students and focus on increasing confidence to help students apply the skills they were working on in different learning situations. Mrs. Ong is excited to continue supporting students in the classroom and working on skill development and confidence building as part of the Access Team.

    Mrs. Ong loves going on adventures with her family and their new puppy, especially to the beach. She also enjoys reading, playing board games, and playing outside with her kids.

  • Carrie Gallison

    Carrie Gallison is very excited to join the CRA teaching staff.  Carrie previously taught 3rd, 6th and 8th grades in Irvine Unified School District and at a K-8 charter school in Santa Ana, CA.  This year she is thrilled to work with the 5th grade team to teach 5th graders skills and strategies that will prepare them to be successful in middle school and beyond.

    Carrie lives in Laguna Niguel, CA with her husband and two sons.  She is originally from Silver Spring, MD and earned a BA in history from Goucher College in Baltimore, MD.  She earned her teaching credential from CSU Fullerton.  Prior to changing careers to being a teacher, Carrie worked in film production in Hollywood.  She brings her love for film and technology to CRA. She currently oversees the CRA News Show program for the middle school students.

  • Chelsea Ansari

    Miss Ansari is a graduate of University of California, Irvine with a Masters of Arts in Teaching and now the newest Kindergarten teacher here at CRA. Growing up and living in San Clemente, Miss Ansari has always had a passion for the youth and a desire to make the world a better place. Following her most impactful childhood teacher’s footsteps, she’s teaching kids about our amazing world  and instilling a love for learning within each of her students. 

    Miss Ansari is thankful for the opportunity to continue her learning as a teacher and hopes to provide a meaningful classroom environment that allows students to achieve their maximum potential growth as scholars and productive citizens of this world. 

  • Danelle Tickel

    Mrs. Tickel has taught first grade at Community Roots Academy since 2012. Recognizing her passion for teaching early on in life, Mrs. Tickel earned her B.A. in Human Development, her Multiple Subject Credential, and her Masters of Education from the University of CA, San Diego. Mrs. Tickel taught 2nd grade in San Diego and 1st grade at a charter school in Los Angeles before coming to CRA.

    Mrs. Tickel felt like she had found her home when she came to CRA. She is thrilled to be a part of the remarkable community of teachers, families, and students of Community Roots, and feels incredibly proud of the tremendous ways in which our school has grown and flourished. Each day she is inspired by her first graders as they tackle new challenges, collaborate and support each other, bring unique perspectives, achieve great successes, and find joy in everyday things. When she’s not laughing and learning with six-year-olds, Mrs. Tickel is enjoying every joyful moment of being a mommy to her one-year-old and spending time with family and friends.

  • David Szeto

    Mr. Szeto joins the Community Roots family as a Third Grade Teacher. As a firm believer in authentic rich tasks in primary education, he supports the project-based learning that takes place at CRA.

    Mr. Szeto received his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Economics from UC Santa Barbara. Mr. Szeto holds a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and Masters of Arts in Teaching from UC Irvine. He has worked as a classroom teacher with students from kindergarten through sixth grade in substitute and student teaching capacities within Capistrano Unified School District and Irvine Unified School District.  In addition to his experience in primary education, Mr. Szeto was an instructional assistant at the UCSB Children’s Center and a Sunday School Teacher while attending Woodbridge High School.

    Mr. Szeto believes it is the responsibility of the faculty at CRA to teach engaging lessons that support the individual needs of all students. Mr. Szeto sets high expectations for all of his students and celebrates strong work ethic, collaboration, and kindness towards others. He is committed to creating a learning environment where every child receives hands-on activities with real world context. His goal is to inspire students to develop a love for knowledge and to experience true joy when setting foot on the CRA campus.

    Mr. Szeto is a Southern California native and currently resides in Irvine with his wife (Lindsey), Bulldog (Maxi) and Maltese (Pound Cake). In his free time Mr. Szeto plays guitar, DJs, hikes, and relives his glory days out on the soccer field and basketball court.

  • Debbie Kadziauskas

    “I hope to inspire my students to be enthusiastic learners, as I share my passion for learning with them!”

    Ms. Kadziauskas, “Ms. K.”, has a B.A. degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing and a Multiple subject teaching credential. She has been a part of the teaching team at Community Roots Academy since the inception in 2010. She came to CRA with more than 10 years of teaching experience, teaching first through sixth grade in both public and private schools. Although she has spent the last 5 years teaching 2nd grade, she is very excited to be teaching 7th grade this year. Being a parent herself helps her better understand and serve the needs of her students. She is dedicated to creating a positive and collaborative learning environment in which each student feels comfortable to share their own ideas, ask questions, support each other and engage seriously in their own learning. She incorporates community building activities in her classroom every day which help create an environment where students enjoy working together and respect each others strengths and differences. When she’s not teaching, she savors time with her own family as well as the outdoors.

  • Derrick Fleming

    Mr. Fleming is excited to be joining the middle school team as CRA’s 7th and 8th-grade History Teacher and Student Council Advisor. Mr. Fleming received his B.A. in History from Principia College and his M.A. in Education and teaching credentials from the University of California, Irvine. Mr. Fleming has previously assisted in college courses with teaching lessons on Latin American and United States histories and has previously taught 7th-grade world history. What Mr. Fleming values from history is the ability to hear and appreciate multiple perspectives and cultures. Since history is based on one’s interpretation of past events, Mr. Fleming is looking forward to challenging students to source, contextualize, and corroborate with various primary sources and information. These skills will be vital for students to successfully navigate through life beyond middle school. When he is not at school, Mr. Fleming enjoys hiking, traveling, running, and taking trips to Disneyland with his friends and family.

  • Desiree Robles
    STEAM and Outdoor Educator

    I have worked as an Early Educator and Adjunct Faculty for Child Development and Educational Studies Department at Fullerton and Cerritos College. My educational background includes a Master’s in Education from Cal State Fullerton and a Master Teacher Permit. I have a Bachelors in Interpersonal and Organizational Communications and a Minor in Sociology from Cal State Long Beach. In joining with Community Roots Academy I am able to continue my journey as a quality educator while partnering to create and construct innovative thinking.

  • Emily Igarashi

    “Education is improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.” – Marian Wright Edelman

    Mrs. Igarashi is a fifth grade teacher at Community Roots Academy. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Japanese Language and Literature from the University of Colorado, and her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of California, Irvine.

    Mrs. Igarashi has always loved the outdoors, and she enjoys sharing her respect for the natural world with students. Prior to becoming a teacher at CRA, she was the Educational Coordinator for The Reserve at Rancho Mission Viejo and The Donna O’Neill Land Conservancy, where she designed, lead and coordinated wildlife presentations, field trips and nature hikes for children and the general public. Mrs. Igarashi also loves languages and learning more about diverse cultures. She speaks, reads and writes Japanese and also taught English to pre-school and elementary students while living in Japan.

    Mrs. Igarashi is excited to be a part of CRA’s dynamic community of educators and students. She hopes to utilize her unique skills and experiences to become a teacher who can inspire students to enjoy learning, discover their passions and achieve their personal best.

    When she’s not teaching, Mrs. Igarashi enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, camping, swimming or playing volleyball. She lives in Rancho Santa Margarita with her family.

  • Gayle Bentley
    Music Teacher

    Gayle Bentley has been teaching music in the public school system since 1999. She holds a BA in music from the University of Virginia and a masters degree in music education and a teaching credential from the University of Texas at Austin. She was formerly the Music Director at Edison HS in Huntington Beach and later at University HS in Irvine. She also served on the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association board for several terms. She has presented music clinics at the local and state levels in both Texas and California.

    Since 2009, Gayle has taught primary music for Capistrano Unified School District. She is so excited to be teaching the MS Orchestra class at CRA this year! She loves to teach band and orchestra instruments and welcomes the challenge of starting a new program. She has two sons attending CRA and is honored to be working with such high quality staff and teachers.

  • Giovanna Miranda

    I have worked with elementary and middle school students through education courses I completed as part of my specialization at UCI. After obtaining my B.S. in Mathematics with Specialization in Education in 2014, I joined the AVID tutor team at Segerstrom High school where I provided assistance in math and science to students of all grades. I am currently back at UCI where I will be completing my teaching credentials along with a Masters in Education this July. I look forward to learning and growing as a first year teacher, to see more hands on math curriculum through PBL and to be part of the amazing community at CRA.

  • Kimberly Young
    Teacher Aid

    Ms. Young moved to Orange County in 2012 from Northern Virginia. She has always wanted to be a teacher and has been working with children for over ten years now. She began teaching preschool in Alexandria, VA and then moved on to teach music and lower elementary for Fairfax County schools. She also spent some time in Nashville, TN where she created a musical theatre program for preschools. Since moving to California she has been working at the Ocean Institute where she has enjoyed working as an instructor, aquarist, and tall ship cook. She also works with Creative Kids Playhouse directing children’s musicals, running sound and designing costumes. In addition, Ms. Young enjoys volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County. Having been in the program since she was a little herself, she now enjoys getting to be a big and supporting this wonderful nonprofit charity.

    Ms. Young currently resides in Dana Point with her kitty, Orabelle. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with with her mom and friends, watching movies, relaxing at the beach and reading a good book. She is excited to be a part of the Community Roots Academy family and looks forward to many wonderful years with the school.


  • Lisa Cabalda
    Physical Education Teacher

    Mrs. Cabalda is a physical education teacher for Community Roots Academy. She is thrilled to be a part of the Community Roots family, and enjoys the enthusiasm the staff and students provide.

    Mrs. Cabalda was born and raised in Southern California. One of five children, she started playing sports such as softball and tennis at a very young age. She continued competitive tennis into college where she reached an amateur level. She graduated from California State University, Fullerton in 2010 with her Bachelors Degree in Kinesiology with a focus on education. She discovered her passion for teaching when she began coaching tennis while still in high school. Teaching came naturally to her, and brought her a sense of fulfillment knowing she was helping others achieve fitness in an enjoyable way. She believes that health and physical fitness are one of the most important aspects of life, and enjoys teaching and motivating her students by creating a fun, active environment. Through fitness, she believes an individual can gain a tremendous amount of self respect, self motivation, discipline, and can help strengthen overall character.

    Mrs. Cabalda loves to stay active through various sports such as surfing, tennis, hiking, yoga, wake-boarding, and anything else under the sun.

    She views mother nature is her own personal gym, where the sky’s the limit!

  • Lyndsey Rahman
    Access Team

    Mrs Rahman is a Reading Specialist and a member of the CRA Access Team.

    After graduating from the University of Surrey, England, with a degree in History and Multi Subject Elementary Education, she taught in a title 1 school in London for 12 years. During this time, Mrs Rahman gained a breadth of experience with teaching Kindergarten through third grade, holding a management position and running a mentoring program for new teachers. For 2 years she taught children English as an additional language and was fortunate to receive her Reading Recovery Certification after a year of full time training. This specialist area of education has been her passion ever since.

    After arriving in the USA, Mrs Rahman taught Pre K for one year and then, during a 2 year stay in Dubai, was a substitute teacher at the prestigious Universal American IB School.

    Mrs Rahman’s devotion for reading stems from her belief that the ability to read is a powerful tool, although a passion for reading is an even more powerful quality. Reading is the birthright of every child in the world, a pathway to succeed in school and instrumental in realizing a complete life. To be part of a child’s journey to read is both a responsibility and a privilege.

    This is her second year at Community Roots and she is beyond proud to be part of such a committed and enthusiastic school community.

    When she is not teaching she is busy with her husband, 3 children and their dog. Happiness for the Rahman family is time spent outdoors, playing board games and laughing till it hurts.

  • Michelle Voccola

    Mrs. Voccola is pleased to have joined the Middle School Team as a 6th grade Humanities Teacher. As a parent of two Community Roots students and a teacher with CRA since 2013, Mrs. Voccola highly appreciates the community that surrounds our students and the project-based learning that takes place. Mrs. Voccola received her Bachelor’s Degrees in both the study of Psychology and Social Behavior, and Criminology from UC Irvine. While working several years in the sciences, she often reverted to her passion for educating young minds in math, science and literature. After starting a family, Mrs. Voccola decided to fully pursue her love for teaching by obtaining a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from Cal State San Marcos. Since then she has worked as a classroom teacher with students from Kindergarten through Eighth grade as well as began work as a Reading Specialist.

    Mrs. Voccola values the importance of engaging students in the learning process, as well as developing critical thinkers and daily problem solvers. She sets achievable expectations for all her students and applauds hard work ethic and collaboration. Her goal is to inspire a love for knowledge with real world context and application, and to instill the desire to be continuous learners. Mrs. Voccola is a Southern California native and currently resides in Mission Viejo with her husband and two children. Along with teaching she values reading, exercising, local travels, playing games and time spent with her family – which usually consists of many weekend sporting adventures.

  • Rachael Adams

    Miss Adams is very excited to be teaching 1st Grade at Community Roots Academy! She graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential along with a Master of Arts in Teaching. While earning these degrees, she student taught 4th grade in Saddleback USD and 1st grade here at CRA. Before graduate school, she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from the University of Colorado, Boulder. After graduating, she excitedly moved back in sunny southern California!! The snow was too cold!

    Miss Adams has wanted to be a teacher since she was in elementary school, and wants to provide students the same memorable experiences that she had growing up in Thousand Oaks. Along with assisting her mother teaching art for the Conejo Valley Unified School District, she also has experience tutoring children in English language arts and math, ranging from 2nd to 8th grade.

    She and her fiance have now lived in Orange County for 2 years, along with their 2 dogs. In her free time, Miss Adams enjoys visiting family and taking her dogs out on runs. She is very happy to be a part of this community, and looks forward to enriching the lives of the students at CRA.

  • Tamarah Treglia

    Ms. Treglia is excited to be a first grade teacher at Community Roots Academy. She completed her teaching credential and Masters Degree in Education in 2003.   Her experiences include teaching kindergarten through fifth grade as well as a number of years working with at risk students in the areas of reading and math.

    Working with children is Ms. Treglia’s passion.  She believes that providing early elementary students with a firm foundation in literacy opens the door to lifelong learning. She creates a collaborative classroom environment that encourages students’ innate curiosity and creativity while inspiring them to love learning.

    In the words of Rita Pierson, “Every child deserves a champion– an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best they can possibly be.”

    When she’s not teaching, Ms. Treglia enjoys outdoor activities,going to the gym, reading and spending time with family and friends.

  • Vanessa Ohlig

    Miss Ohlig is a graduate of the University of California, Irvine with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Social Behavior, a Multiple Subject Credential, and a Master of Arts in Teaching.  Before earning her credential, she worked at Saddleback College Child Development Center for two years.  In addition, she worked as a recreational leader in an after care program with elementary age students.

    Miss Ohlig grew up in Laguna Hills, California.  At a young age, she decided she wanted to become a teacher and is excited that her dream has become a reality here at CRA.  As a teacher, her goal is to create a positive, respectful and stimulating learning environment where students feel motivated to reach their full potential.  She finds it rewarding to cultivate connections with students, make a difference in their lives and watch them grow.  When she is not teaching, she loves spending time at the beach and with loved ones.  A fun fact about Miss Ohlig is that she is on a quest to visit all of the Major League Baseball Stadiums with her boyfriend.  It is a fun excuse for her to travel to places she might not go otherwise.

  • Heidi Carvalho
    Physical Education Teacher

    Heidi Carvalho is enthusiastic and excited to be a part of Community Roots Academy’s dynamic and inspiring team. She was raised in Southern California and soaks up every bit of the outdoor lifestyle that it provides. As a child she spent endless days  body surfing at the beach, exploring the canyons, and playing soccer. Now living in Aliso Viejo, Mrs. Carvalho feels very blessed to be able to enjoy these same wonderful experiences with her loving husband and three energetic children.
    Mrs. Carvalho is a spirited teacher and colleague with extensive experience in many diverse educational settings. She received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Human Development as well as her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential with an emphasis on Early Childhood Education at Sonoma State University. In every teaching opportunity, she has always shared her joy and passion for project based learning with her students and colleagues. She thrives on creating unique opportunities for students that foster feelings of confidence and ownership. Her passion for teaching and endless energy help foster meaningful relationships with students, parents, and fellow educators that create exciting, innovative, and engaging learning environments. She is committed to excellence and her example inspires the personal best in each and every student. Mrs. Carvalho is always eager to head into a new school year, but returning to teach at Community Roots Academy is the icing on the cake.

  • Heather Johnston

    Ms. Johnston, a fourth grade teacher at Community Roots Academy, is committed to creating a classroom environment where children thrive, by providing a safe place for children to learn. She has taught here at CRA since its inception in 2011. Ms. Johnston received her Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services from California State University at Fullerton, and her Master’s Degree in Psychology from Chapman University. Ms. Johnston has diverse experience working with children and families in both the educational and human services fields. She has worked as a classroom teacher in Capistrano Unified School District, and with children and families in a community clinic setting. Ms. Johnston is a lifelong learner who recently has participated in educator training focused on Cognitively Guided Instruction, through the Orange County Department of Education. In past years, Ms. Johnston has also participated in educator training through the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She is passionate about infusing art into her teaching, and has developed a visual arts program giving students the opportunity to express themselves creatively. Her goal is to inspire children to become critical thinkers and creative problem solvers, while empowering them to take risks in their learning.

    Ms. Johnston grew up in South Orange County, and has strong ties to her community. Along with teaching, Ms. Johnston values family time. She enjoys relaxing on the beach with her son and daughter, in her home town of San Clemente. Her personal passions include traveling, reading, visiting museums, and walking the San Clemente Beach Trail.