Teachers and Staff
Amanda Kennedy (Hohman)
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.
Middle School Math
Ms. Kim is the middle school math teacher at Community Roots Academy. She is a graduate from the University of California, Irvine with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology and minor in Education, a Multiple and Single Subject Credential, and a Masters of Arts in Elementary. Before starting her teaching career, she was an Educational Consultant for four years helping middle school to high school students map out their academics and extracurriculars to help them become ready for their upcoming school years. She then started her teaching career in elementary where she did her student teaching in the Anaheim City School District and Capistrano Unified School District, and then had a long-term placement as a third grade teacher. It was during her teaching experiences that she realized the excitement of mathematics through Cognitively Guided Instruction where students had opportunities to share their learning and had open-ended discussions about the various strategies they used – math was no longer about simply getting the right answer. She then became a part of Community Roots Academy in 2014 as the middle school math teacher where she was able to delve deeper into the concepts of mathematics.
Ms. Kim’s childhood dream was to become a teacher because of her early experiences with helping her peers in their understanding of the content as well as serving as a tutor in her high school years. Her philosophy on education is to support students in their understanding of the content by engaging students in their learning and meeting the needs and interests of the students through different instructional strategies that work for them. She thrives to make learning interesting and relevant for the students to be able to use in their everyday lives. She aims to build a safe environment in the classroom where students are able to work collaboratively together and are not afraid to make mistakes. As her passion for math continues to grow, she believes that her students can become successful in math by becoming mathematical problem solvers.
Kindergarten TeacherMs. 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.
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.
Miss Tsai 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 working at CRA, she worked in summer schools and daycares, tutored, and volunteered in many classrooms.
Miss Tsai has known she wanted to be a teacher since she was six years old and is excited to continue her teaching career here at CRA! She believes every student can be successful while bringing their individuality to the classroom. She hopes to instill a love of learning in her students that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives!
Outside of teaching, Miss Tsai loves to spend time with her loved ones, go hiking, and relax at the beach.
Mrs. Aghaian has been a Spanish instructor for over 25 years. She received her Bachelors of Arts degree in education from The University of Southern California and her Master’s degree in T.E.S.O.L from The United States International University. She has also completed over 76 hours of postgraduate work, specializing in courses designed in teaching methods for foreign language. Prior to her career as a middle and high school Spanish instructor, Christine taught elementary school foreign language for elementary school grades K-6.
Mrs. Aghaian has a passion for teaching Spanish and feels that learning languages makes us more interesting in today’s world. She feels that together with cultural studies, speaking a foreign language provides us with a kind of freedom that being able to communicate with people of different cultures can bring. Communicative lessons within her classroom allow her students to understand the language, learn vocabulary and become more familiar with every day expressions. Students must be engaged in daily lessons in order to be acquiring the language to its fullest.
Mrs. Aghaian resides in Southern California with her husband and three sons. When she is not teaching, she enjoys reading, cooking, going to soccer games, and spending time with friends and family. She is very excited to be joining the wonderful faculty of Community Roots Academy.
2nd Grade Teacher
Miss Cho is a 2nd Grade teacher at Community Roots Academy. She is a graduate from the University of California, Irvine where she received her Multiple Subject Credential and is in the process of obtaining her Masters of Arts in Teaching. She completed her student teaching experiences in Capistrano Unified School District as well as here at Community Roots Academy. Miss Cho loves working with children and teaching has played a large part in her life. Before obtaining her credential, Miss Cho worked as a Program Leader at an after school program with students from grades K-5.
Miss Cho grew up in Northern California in a city known as Pleasanton. Ever since she was a young girl, she has known that she wanted to work with children. As a teacher, she highly values creating a warm community of learners in her classroom. She is excited to provide an opportunity for all of her students to succeed here at Community Roots Academy.
Christina Harris is a graduate from Biola University who has earned her Bachelors of Arts in Liberal Studies and her Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential. She is excited to start her third year teaching kindergarten at CRA with Carol Tsai. After eight years of working with children in summer camps, Vacation Bible Schools, countless observation hours, outreach programs in Mexico, the America Reads tutoring program (Kindergarten), and Student Teaching in 1st and 4th grade classrooms, her long awaited dream of being planted in a real elementary classroom has become a reality. Through being homeschooled all her life, she has experienced first-hand the impact of hands-on learning and thinking outside the box and is eager to add Project-Based Learning to her repertoire of teaching skills. It has always been her dream to generate a safe and welcoming environment for children that inspires a hunger and thirst for personal growth and caters to the diverse and individual learning techniques of each child.
In her free time Miss Harris looks for every opportunity to seek adventure and to bask in the sun in her hometown of San Clemente with some of her favorite outdoor activities which include bike riding, hiking, swimming, and surfing. She enjoys traveling the world, but her heart has especially been captured by Mexico where she spent three years doing missions work in underprivileged communities and learned to speak Spanish.
1st Grade Teacher
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.
3rd Grade Teacher
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.
7th grade Humanities Teacher
“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.
6th grade Humanities Teacher
Mrs. Bachrach is a 6th grade Humanities teacher at Community Roots Academy. Growing up, she was inspired by her mother’s long and happy career as a fourth grade teacher. After obtaining a B.A. in Political Science at The State University of New York at Stony Brook, Mrs. Bachrach went on to get a Masters Degree in Elementary Education at Queens College. A native New Yorker, she spent seventeen years working for the New York City Board of Education as a teacher and staff developer. Ten of those years were spent instructing kindergarten, second and third grade students. In 2003, Mrs. Bachrach was selected to become a literacy staff developer in a grade 3-6 school in Jamaica, Queens. In that role, she helped to create a differentiated curriculum that reflected the new Common Core Standards. She also mentored new teachers and presented professional development to both parents and faculty. During her tenure, she established a teacher resource center where teachers could go to do research, collaborate on projects and provide individualized instruction.
Mrs. Bachrach and her family drove across the country in 2010 to move to Orange County and start a new chapter in their lives. She was very excited to learn about Community Roots Academy and their dedication to project based learning. Mrs. Bachrach is proud to be part of such a committed, enthusiastic school community. Since joining the Community Roots Academy family, she has taught second and third grade. Mrs. Bachrach also spent a year as a reading specialist, working with students who needed individualized attention.
She currently lives in Mission Viejo with her family where they enjoy the beach, beautiful weather and the search for good pizza.
5th Grade Teacher
“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.
Teacher on Assignment
Ms. Beyler is new to the Community Roots family and is very excited to be here! She graduated from California State University, Fullerton with a BA in English. After four years of working with infants at a preschool in Irvine, Ms. Beyler knew that teaching was the career for her. She completed her single subject credential at Concordia University where she is currently working on her Masters in Education. Before working at CRA, Ms. Beyler taught high school English for 11th and 12th grade within the Irvine district. She is hoping to teach at the middle school level here at CRA. She has had the opportunity to make connections with CRA students across campus by subbing in all grade levels and helping out the Access team.
Although she was born on the east coast, Ms. Beyler has spent the majority of her life in southern California soaking up sunshine and avoiding snowy weather as much as possible. She enjoys spending her time off reading, baking, or hanging out with friends. Attending concerts is one of her very favorite activities to do with friends. When she isn’t at a concert or buried in a book, Ms. Beyler spends her time hanging out with her niece and three nephews. They do all kinds of things together including beach and museum trips, and they are always happy to hunt down the newest (or greatest) ice cream spots in town.
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.
5th Grade Teacher / Administrator Assist.
Community Roots Academy has been a perfect fit for Ingrid Beaty, who began at the school in 2011, and is excited to be teaching fifth grade this year. She is passionate about integrating 21st Century Skills and Scholarly Attributes in a project-based learning environment. She dedicates her time to support the development of skills necessary to become successful, self-motivated, and collaborative life- long learners. She strives to recognize and respect individual differences and provide choices that encourage students to discover and develop their talents. Mrs. Beaty appreciates that all students and parents are valued and respected as partners in CRA’s learning community.
Mrs. Beaty has over ten years of experience in the classroom teaching elementary children. She holds a Master’s Degree in Curriculum Instruction through Cal State University of Fullerton. Her teaching credentials include a Multiple Subjects Cleared Credential, as well as, Supplemental Credentials in English and the Social Sciences. Early in her educational career, Mrs. Beaty taught Child Developmental Preschool, Art, and Music and Movement classes in Orange County. She then became an active educator in the Capistrano Unified School District, and served on School Leadership, Community Outreach, and Staff Development planning teams, and has lead professional development trainings on curriculum integration. Mrs. Beaty values high expectations set for teachers and is continually looking for opportunities to improve her teaching and stay current with education pedagogy. She has been fortunate to attend UCI’s Summer Gifted Institute, UCI Writing project, International Society for Technology in Education, and Google Summit. In addition to staying current with teaching, she is very passionate about her family and her animals. When she is not cheering her daughters on at soccer games and choir concerts, Ingrid enjoys going to plays, gardening, reading, playing cards, hanging out at the beach, and hiking in the nearby canyons.
Middle School MathMs. Noh is a graduate of University of California, Irvine with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Economics with a minor in Education, a Single Subject Math Credential, and a Master of Arts in Teaching. Although Ms. Noh is a fairly new teacher, she has been working with K-12 students for the past 9 years in a variety of roles such as camp counselor, musical director, Sunday school teacher, English teacher, and math teacher. Prior to getting her credential, Ms. Noh taught English at a rural middle school in South Korea. During her credential program, she student taught at the Orange County School of the Arts in an integrated mathematics classroom with students ranging from 7th–12th grade. After getting her credential, Ms. Noh taught Algebra 1 and Geometry at her alma mater Rowland High School. In each case, she worked as a member and/or leader of a team of teachers. She is excited to be a part of CRA’s middle school team and is especially excited to be team teaching with her fellow UCI graduate, Ms. Kim.As a child, Ms. Noh struggled with mathematics and it was thanks to several influential and inspiring math teachers that she has learned to love math. She hopes to instill the same passion for mathematics and problem solving in her students. Ms. Noh strives to create a safe learning community where students take active roles in the classroom and feel confident in presenting and defending their mathematical ideas. She practices student-centered teaching through rich mathematical tasks, guided questioning, and the willingness to adapt to students’ needs and abilities. Ms. Noh also firmly believes that teachers are lifelong students. She believes that as a teacher she needs to constantly learn to improve her own practices by working with other teachers, through experience, and through professional development opportunities.“Mathematics is not a careful march down a well-cleared highway, but a journey into a strange wilderness, where the explorers often get lost.” – W.S. Anglin
7th Grade Homeroom, Humanities, and Advisory
Mrs. Mandell has eight years of experience as an elementary, middle, and high school teacher. She is currently teaching 7th grade homeroom, humanities, and advisory for the 2016-2017 school year. After earning her B.A. from the University of Arizona, she came back to California where she attended California State University, Long beach for her teaching credential. Since then, she has been a dedicated educator who has always wanted to make a difference in the lives of her students. Her greatest strengths include promotion of student self-motivation, project-based learning, critical thinking, and problem solving.
Mrs. Mandell firmly believes that every student can be academically, socially, and emotionally successful. As an educator, she strives to know and understand her students as learners and as individuals. She feels that this allows her to have a deeper understanding of the needs of her students. She believes that when her students’ needs are being met, the student is empowered to achieve.
Mrs. Mandell is very excited to be a part of the CRA community of educators and families. She hopes that her love for teaching will inspire a love for learning within her students.
Elementary School Science Teacher
Mrs. Turner has always loved teaching and knew she was meant to be in a classroom. She started off her career early by teaching after school science classes and camps for Science Adventures Inc. while attending Cal State Fullerton’s Liberal Studies program. Mrs. Turner continued on to earn her teaching credential at CSUF and worked as an IBI assistant for Saddleback Valley Unified School District the summer afterwards.
After earning her credential Mrs. Turner was hired at LAUSD’s highly gifted magnet middle school to teach science. Shortly after she became a technology coordinator as well. After a few years Mrs. Turner relocated back to Orange County where she became the director of marketing and education for Mad Science. She created marketing projects and materials, and taught teachers classroom management.
Teaching kindergarten through fifth grade science is a dream come true for Mrs. Turner. She gets to create labs to bring hands on science to life in their very own science lab. The entire Turner family is excited to be a part of the CRA community!
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!
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.
4th Grade Teacher
Ms. Alvarez is a 4th grade teacher at Community Roots Academy. Teaching has been her passion since she was in elementary school herself, so she is thrilled to continue her teaching journey at CRA. She earned her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and a Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of California, Irvine. Before pursuing her credential, she attended the University of California, Riverside and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies. She also served as an AmeriCorps tutor and mentor at a high-needs elementary school in Riverside for four years.
Ms. Alvarez was raised in Rowland Heights before she moved to Riverside. Right now, she currently resides in Irvine. During her free time, she enjoys watching her brother play football as well as spending time with her family and friends. She also likes watching movies, visiting the beach, going to Disneyland, and traveling. Her favorite vacation was a family trip to Spain and France. She looks forward to traveling more in the future.
Student Services Coordinator
Dr. Fisher’s background includes a doctorate in education with a culture and curriculum studies emphasis, masters degrees in Educational Leadership and English with a teaching emphasis, an MFA in creative writing, clear multiple subject and administrative credentials, 15 years of studio arts, two years of studying math and science, 12 years of K-8 teaching in all subjects, and five years in administration. She was junior editor for Issues in Teacher Education Journal 2014-2015, has presented over 20 times at conferences, has been a reviewer for two academic journals, published an article and a book, and is part of several more articles being sent out for publication this year. In addition to her coaching work with Community Roots Academy, she teaches Education courses at Chapman University and English Composition at Saddleback College.
6th Grade Humanities Teacher
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.
1st Grade Teacher
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.
Middle School Science Teacher
Sarah Jaquette is new to CRA this year, and is teaching Middle School Science for 6th-8th grade. She is also assisting Mr. O’Brian with the Technology Elective and participating in BITSA, a mentorship program through UCSD that is partnering with CRA’s new teachers. She is in her 4th year teaching and has previously taught lower elementary, 6th-8th Science, 6th Math, 7th Social Studies, and a STEM elective. She completed her Single-Subject Teaching Credential through BIOLA University in La Mirada, CA. There, she also received her major in Liberal Studies, a minor in Mathematics, and completed half of her Masters in Education. This year she is working on taking the CSET exams for a Single-Subject in Science and is continuing to work on her Masters. She is currently residing in Huntington Beach, and has been working in Orange County schools for 4 years, with experience in Public, Private, and Charter Schools. Having attended a Charter School during her middle-high school education, she has a passion for working with students and parents, to support them in this unique learning environment. Her favorite topics in science consist of living biomes, the human body and brain, electromagnetic waves, arguing scientifically, and questioning the seemingly obvious.
Learning about the natural world of science is not only a passion, but an ongoing interest, as well as her interests in reading, drawing, being outdoors, drinking coffee, watching movies, traveling, playing strategy board games, and eating good food. She is happily married to an amazingly supportive husband, who just celebrated their one year anniversary. She hopes to continue to travel and explore the natural world first hand with her husband, to continue to pursue learning through education and training, and to master the art of meal prepping and frugal living.
2nd Grade Teacher
“Miss Klivans is a 2nd grade teacher at Community Roots Academy. She is a graduate from The University of Arizona with earning her bachelors in Family Studies and Human Development. Miss Klivans went to California State University of Long Beach to earn her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. She has spent this past year teaching in Arizona. Prior to earning her teaching credential, she worked in Child Protective Services and has been actively involved in volunteering within Tustin Unified School District.
Miss Klivans grew up in Tustin, California. Ever since Miss Klivans was a little girl, she was involved in Girl Scouts, sleep away summer camp, and various other youth organizations work – all centered around working with children of various ages. As a teacher, Miss Klivans hopes to inspire her students to be considerate and caring individuals within society. She hopes that her students become confident learners and seize the opportunity to absorb new information! When not teaching, Miss Klivans enjoys spending time with their dog Bentley through experiencing the outdoors and running races throughout Orange County!”
Kindergarten TeacherMiss Tangney is in her forth year of teaching Kindergarten at Community Roots Academy. She graduated from Kutztown University in Pennsylvania in 2010 with a B.S. in Elementary Education and Special Education. Miss Tangney started her career as an Assistant Director at the Child Development Center on Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey, after a year she knew something was missing and that was teaching! She became a Kindergarten teacher on Picatinny Arsenal in the fall of 2011. While visiting family in Orange County she heard about Community Roots Academy. Once she heard it was a Project Based Learning school she was instantly intrigued. Miss Tangney made the move to California from New Jersey and can honestly say making the choice to teach at CRA has been the best decision she has made. This wonderful journey has provided her with many amazing opportunities and life lessons along the way.Miss Tangney is excited for another year of teaching Kindergarten, especially with the Kindergarten team of teachers. As an educator, Miss Tangney realizes how special these early years are and the positive impact we have on their growth. She feels so lucky to work in a nurturing environment where children can learn and experience new challenges that will help them build their confidence. Classrooms are meant to get messy! This year will be filled with exploring, creating, using our imaginations all in a hands on environment to ensure success.
1st Grade Teacher
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.
Mrs. Keene is a Kindergarten teacher at Community Roots Academy. She is a graduate from the University of California Irvine completing her Masters of Arts in Teaching and Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of California Santa Barbara with her Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Sociology.
Mrs. Keene was driven to go into teaching from her personal encounter with education as a young child and the struggles she had when it came to understanding and having success with the content she was being presented with. These challenges pushed her to move forward in her education in the hopes that one day she would have the opportunity to teach and create an educational environment in which all students are excited about learning and gain a sense that through hard work they all can have success. She is excited to be apart of the Community Roots Academy family and looks forward to helping all students accomplish their goals for this upcoming academic year!
2nd Grade Teacher
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.
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.
Sha Li Hsu
5th Grade Teacher
Sha Li Hsu is a fifth grade teacher at Community Roots Academy. Mrs. Hsu has been blessed to be a part of a school that is actively involved in empowering critical thinkers with passion and imagination. Through CRA she has not only formed irreplaceable bonds with her fellow colleagues, but with her students and their families as well. Mrs. Hsu studied child development at the University of Riverside, California where she received her Bachelors of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Philosophy. Prior to choosing her graduate program she began her professional career with two teaching positions that required her to provide intense intervention for students struggling academically while simultaneously challenging high achievers. While she continued her work at both schools she attended and received her Master of Arts in Teaching and Elementary Education Credential from Chapman University. During her masters program, she dedicated her action research to studying methods to increase quality appreciation and enjoyment in reading. In her experience with educating students from diverse social, academic, and emotional backgrounds she realized that all of her students share a need of belongingness and acceptance of their voice. As a teacher she appreciates the daily opportunities she has to advocate, nurture, and guide these voices.
Mrs. Hsu strives toward finding balance in every aspect of her life. She imparts to her students the importance of stability while fostering a strong understanding and appreciation for flexibility. When Mrs. Hsu is not in the classroom, you may find her singing along with her spirited toddler, enjoying a good workout, or meditating on a peaceful afternoon.
Middle School Advisory
Carrie Ferguson has twenty years of experience in education as a teacher, a principal, and an educational consultant. After attending UCLA where she received a B.A. in Psychology and a Masters degree in Education, she was hired at a K-8 project-based school in Santa Monica. Ms. Ferguson taught all subjects in grades three through eight for eight years before she was lured out of the classroom to become the school’s principal where she enjoyed working with all the students, parents, and community members. After five years as principal, she accepted a new challenge to be an educational consultant for Big Picture Learning, a national progressive educators’ organization. This position gave her the opportunity to travel throughout the country to work with schools and help them reflect on their practices and improve the education for the students they served. Although she enjoyed being a principal and educational consultant, her heart has always been in the classroom. She loves that each day presents new opportunities for children and adults to learn and grow. She enjoys working with all ages but is particularly drawn to young adolescents because of their ability to engage in deep, meaningful conversations one moment and go outside to enjoy a game of tag the next.
Ms. Ferguson considers herself fortunate to have always been involved in environments that support innovative teaching, project-and inquiry-based experiential learning, and a focus on the whole child. These experiences have supported her belief that children learn best in an environment that embraces their interests, their diversity, and encourages their inquiry and creativity. She is thrilled to be the 8th grade Humanities teacher this year where she has the opportunity to work with the oldest students in the school and help them develop their understandings of themselves and their roles in the world.
4th Grade Teacher
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.