Share

NapaLearns Fellows Directory

Touro University NapaLearns Fellows Program

Sorry, NapaLearns Fellows couldn't find any Fellows with those filters.

Samara Abrams
Harvest Middle
Teacher

This project tries to answer the question: Does the use of the Khan Academy, an Open Educational Resource, Result in an Increase in Basic Skill Development in a Middle School Special Day Math Class?

Capstone Project

Jeffrey Albertazzi
Silverado Middle
Teacher

My name is Jeff Albertazzi and if you would have told my young self that I was going on my 18th year of teaching I would have laughed. School was always a “have to” for me growing up. I got good enough grades to stay on sports teams and Lacrosse is what eventually got me into college. It was there that I become a learner and not a student. Sure, I had to take classes to fulfill obligations but I saw Environmental Science as a way to make a difference and impact in the world. And I got to be outside. The learning process for me transformed because I was engaged and had purpose and our professor let me pursue that passion. That’s what I want to bring to my middle school students.

I stumbled upon the teaching profession by accident. When I graduated college my sister, a current NVUSD teacher, mentioned they needed someone to go teach science on Mondays to fourth and fifth graders at Napa Junction. I quickly fell in love with teaching science to kids and proceeded to get my teaching credential. Soon I found my home teaching Middle school science and math and haven’t looked back since.

Now as a father, I feel obligated to better the world for my daughter and teaching provides this opportunity.  Recently, I have had the mind shift from teaching kids science to make a difference in the world to teaching them how to be critical thinkers and problem solvers through scientific thinking so the can have a positive effect on society.

Two years ago I was sitting in a professional development given by Michael McDowell and something it really struck me was when he presented Hattie’s effect size on student clarity. This is also about the same time I had been trying to implement digital platforms for students to communicate. This led me to ask “how do we get the students to communicate that they are clear on their learning outcomes, success criteria and how they are monitoring their progress toward these goals.”

For this I am grateful for The Innovative Learning Masters program and NapaLearns giving me the opportunity to continue my education and mastering the craft of teaching, so the next generation of learners will be critical thinking, problem solvers.

Capstone Website

Rebecca Albertazzi
Canyon Oaks Elementary
Academic Specialist

2017 marked my 21st year of teaching. My husband, Jeff, is also a teacher at Silverado Middle school. We have an amazing 7-year-old daughter, Stella, who is full of curiosity, creativity and a bit of drama. My biggest challenge this year has been juggling my passions.  I love my family, my job, my Touro masters…it is hard to fit it all in. I have wanted to be a teacher since I first stepped into kindergarten. I attended a K-8th-grade school in Humboldt county in which there was only one of each class. I loved learning. I loved reading. I loved school. I think of a better place to spend my days, than in a school surrounded by kids, books and the love of learning.

I graduated from HSU and got my first teaching job at the ripe old age of 21. Since then, I have taught 4th grade, 5th grade, 2nd grade and reading intervention. I quickly learn that I get bored easily. I like change. In fact, I love it. I understood that if I felt bored, I couldn’t sell the excitement and enthusiasm to my students. I was always looking for ways to improve and challenge myself. All students can learn, grow and improve.

Three years ago Napa Unified School District created Academic Specialist positions at each school. This was my new challenge. How to help teachers learn, grow their skills and improve. It allowed me to see the bigger educational structure. As an Academic Specialist, I have taught lessons in classrooms, worked on setting school goals, provided professional development to the staff, coaching teachers, analyzed a lot of data, coordinated assessments…I could go on. Like the classroom, each day is filled with new exciting challenges. I have really enjoyed trying to make teaching easier and better for the teachers at my site.

Touro’s Innovative Teaching and Learning master’s program seemed like a perfect way to continue learning and challenging myself. In my role as an academic specialist, I saw how technology was becoming increasingly more important. I also noticed a great divide developing between the teachers that were not tech savvy and those that were. Touro’s Innovative Teaching & Learning program has given me a lot of tools to help teachers understand and incorporate technology into their best practices.

Capstone Website

Michael Alger
Vintage High
Teacher

Suzeth Baker
Napa Valley Language Academy
Teacher

I am the mother of a college student, a sister, aunt, and a teacher. I was born and raised in Guatemala. I had the opportunity to come to U.S. as an exchange student when I was 18. It was a life changing experience for me that it set the course for my future.

As soon as I came in I was immersed in the English Language. I met many wonderful teachers and saw the challenges that California Schools face. I wanted to be part of that world and became passionate about being involved in education.

Based on my personal experience, I knew that immersion was the fastest way a person can learn a second or third language. I became a bilingual teacher and began teaching at a Spanish-English Dual Immersion school in California 15 years ago.

As  educators, we know that teaching is a very rewarding career, but it can be exhausting and frustrating if students aren’t achieving as expected regardless of countless hours of work and preparation. That is the reason I decided to come to the Innovative Learning Program. I needed to be more prepared to 21st century skills. Through this program I learned that technology is key in order to prepare students for this century.

Capstone Website

Mike Bass
Pueblo Vista Elementary
Teacher

Laura Bell
American Canyon High
Teacher

This project created a website for teachers that has a variety of lessons and tools that help teachers gain access to build relationships with the student, as well as help the student take control of their education.

Capstone Project

Andrew Biggs
Napa High
Teacher

After graduating from (Napa) New Technology High School in 2006, then obtaining my dream job teaching social studies there in 2014, I am a self-described New Tech and PBL poster child. I credit New Tech High and PBL for helping me see the purpose of education as a teen, and as a result I have become an advocate for pragmatism and authenticity in the classroom.

At this time, I teach 12th grade students almost exclusively, and therefore consider Agency skills to be the most important thing I can help my students learn. I love my content, but if my students don’t know how to solve problems without others guiding them in their lives after graduation, what good would it be for them to know it?

Capstone Website

Karin Blackwood
Napa High
Teacher

This projects explores the use of clickers in the classroom to better assess the needs of students.

Capstone Project

Julia Blanton
River Charter
Teacher

Lauren Bledsoe
Howell Mountain Elementary
Teacher

English language learners are the fastest growing population in today’s public schools. Technology has shown to be beneficial for these ELL students.

Capstone Project

Elaine Boloyan
American Canyon High
Teacher

After a career in corporate Human Resources, it was time for a change. I was drawn to pursue teaching, where I now put my years of experience and knowledge with training and development into practice in a high school classroom.

I hold credentials in both Social Studies and English, and currently teach English at American Canyon High School in the Napa Valley Unified School District. ACHS is a comprehensive high school with a focus on inquiry-based instruction and project-based learning.

Capstone Website

Jessica Brecheisen
Vintage High
Teacher

The goal of this project was to create a website to help support seven teachers at varying levels of teacher development in a world language department with the process of becoming PBL and one-to-one computing proficient.

Capstone Project 

Shannon Brown
Redwood Middle
Teacher

Meaghan Brownell
American Canyon Middle
Teacher

My name is Meaghan Brownell. Yes, that is me taped to the wall.

I am an avid bookworm and am passionate about helping students learn and grow.

I received my BA in English and my Single Subject Teaching Credential from Sonoma State, and I am currently getting my MA in Innovative Learning from Touro University.

I am going into my second year of teaching at American Canyon Middle School. I have been teaching Scholastic’s Read 180 reading intervention program to 6-8 graders, which is where my research takes place. I focused on the importance of how we teach vocabulary to students, because of its relation to reading comprehension.

My Teaching Philosophy

As a new teacher, there are still many things I want to learn, and will learn about both teaching and being a teacher. For now, there are a few things I already know. First, my students are people. They are not just numbers or grades. They aren’t just someone who sits in my class, does the work, and leaves. All of my students have stories, and lives outside of school. I believe it is important to show our students that we know they aren’t just students. I have built relationships with my students, who know my classroom is a safe environment for learning and growing, and who know I support them both inside and outside of the classroom.

Next, in line with the first, respect is mutual and earned. There are horror stories of teachers who demand the respect of their students, but do not give it to them in return. This is not the way to go about being a teacher. When my students first come in my class, I let them know how I feel about respect. I inform them that I will respect them, and I expect them to respect me, and each other, in return. And we talk about what that looks like. Listening when someone is talking, not making bad comments, being supportive and collaborative. All of this helps to build the respectful environment in my classroom.

Finally, every student can learn and grow. In my intervention classes, I have a lot of lower level students, and students with special accommodations. Nothing can stop these students from learning. I do everything in my power to provide what my students need to be able to learn. But more importantly, I never give up on them, and I always help them believe they can keep growing.

Capstone Website

Kayla Bryant
Northwood Elementary
Teacher

Welcome to my little corner of the internet! My name is Kayla Bryant, and I am a third grade teacher in Napa, California. I have been teaching for 5 years, and my favorite thing about teaching is helping my students meet their goals- academic, behavioral, or otherwise. Because of this, I have spent the last 3 years implementing goal setting strategies with my students. By setting goals in the classroom, I hope to instill in my students the lifelong skills of responsibility, and ownership of their learning and actions. I want my students to know and feel that they are in control of the learning they do, the things they accomplish, the way they behave, and their future. I want to teach students how to meet their goals, so that they can feel proud of their work and we can celebrate their learning together.

This year and throughout the program, I have been on a journey to try to simplify the goal setting process with my students, and to make it more engaging. One way I have been able to do this is with the inclusion of tech tools in the classroom. I hope that this website contains all of the tools and resources you need to implement goal setting strategies in your own classroom, however if you’d like to read more about my journey throughout my master’s program with Touro, please check out my blog at kbryanttuc.weebly.com.

Capstone Website

Megan Burton
River Middle
Teacher

My journey and passion for education have developed over 22 years of teaching within Napa Valley Unified School District. I began my teaching career at Redwood Middle School – when State and National Content Standards were a new thing for teachers to work with. Fresh from college, I struggled to understand why it was so challenging for teachers to change their teaching practices.

I later took an opportunity to help open a new school in the district, Harvest Middle School. Of the many programs I explored here, few would remain in the district, making it easier for me to to understand why it was so hard for teachers to continually adjust to change. However, I continued to eagerly ask questions and learn practices that could adapt more readily to the needs of students over time.

Twelve years ago, I made the biggest decision of my career to teach at River Middle School, a dependent charter school within Napa Valley Unified. I had no idea how much this would change me as an educator and even as a mother. Even though River School is no longer a charter school, we focus on the “whole child,” particularly on students’ own sense of self and sense of belonging. I have appreciated this approach enough to bring my own children to River School, from another school district miles away.

Over time, I have learned that trusting the students, trusting the process, and trusting ourselves brings a greater depth and empowerment to our daily interactions with students. As we listen, learn, and seek to grow, we are individually and collectively able to innovate and lead within our educational landscape.

Capstone Project

Evrim Cakir
Valley Oak High
Teacher

I was 4 years old, not yet in kindergarten. Sharing a room with my 5 year old brother, we sat on the floor building Legos. Building classrooms, —a teacher sitting on her desk and her students on their own desks, was my favorite make-believe game. As a teacher, I loved all my little Lego students unconditionally. In this fantasy world, I talked to my students and made the rules. I showed kindness and cared for all of them. All my students had hidden treasures. They shared their histories and life experiences with me. I had learned much from them. Time and again, I built new classrooms, with different students who were very amusing and made me imagine new possibilities within each Lego person.

In many years later, while I was a sophomore, working as a part-time teacher aid for an elementary school, I recognized that all my Lego students were preparing and inspiring me for my future profession.

Capstone Project

Debra Carnes
Robert Lewis Stevenson Middle
Teacher

In order to meet the demands of the new Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM) as well as prepare students for college and career, it is necessary to radically change the way teachers teach and students learn. A new workflow is proposed for how to transform the environment in math class in order to aid students in becoming self-directed, mastery-driven, and collaborative learners.

Capstone Project

John (JP) Castillo
Vintage High
Digital Media Teacher

My full name is John Paul Martinez Castillo, pronounced “KA-STEEL-YO” – you will also come to know me as JP. So I come to my classroom with 6 plus years working in the video game industry as a environment artist. What that means is that I have worked with art directors, other artists and game designers to create the worlds and levels the player interacts with. Video games are the result of countless hours of feedback and iteration. Nothing is ever right the first time.

Capstone Website

Jose Cerda
Napa Valley Language Academy
Teacher

I teach 4th grade at a Dual Immersion school in Napa and have been able to experience many different needs among my students throughout the years. I am able to observe and address many of these challenges, but unfortunately class size makes this a difficult task when it comes to engaging students. Engaging students in learning is what motivated me to develop my driving question. I wondered how I could use technology to engage my students. This continues to be a learning process, but I have found that the proper use of technology in the classroom can have a positive impact in student engagement.

Capstone Website

Brenda Collins
Silverado Middle
Teacher

The purpose of this project is to provide a web-based resource to support teachers in the implementation of PBL for middle school teacher sof math and science.

Capstone Project

Dana Cope
District Office
Teacher

When you find your passion and share it with others, you make the world a better place.

I am so honored to be a part of a team of educators that is able to facilitate and support learning each and every day! I currently coordinate Napa Valley Unified’s Advanced Learner Programs and Services and support new and experienced teachers district-wide. With many years of experience working with all types of learners, my biggest strength is in identifying and creating resources for busy teachers, making connections, uniting teams, and listening and layering communication to support and set everyone up for success.

Capstone Website

Kevin Cope
Silverado Middle
Teacher

I have been in the teaching profession for fifteen years. Teaching has been a rewarding experience and has allowed me the autonomy to be innovative in my workplace.

Capstone Website

Brenna Curtis
Salvador Elementary
Academic Specialist

Hello, my name is Brenna Curtis and welcome to my Capstone Site. I am addicted…to the AH-Ha’s of life! I am a native Napan, loving my community and love to travel the world. Recently, I have spent time in South Africa which has been life changing. Reading the words of Nelson Mandela on the walls of schools and township halls, I had excited chills constantly riveting my attention to our true intimacy as a big human family. “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” —Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela. Travel and languages are passions of mine that go well with the deepest conviction that if we can inspire wonder then we, our students, our teachers, humanity can change the world!

I am currently the Magnet Lead Teacher and Academic Specialist at Salvador Elementary in Napa, California.  We are an Arts Integration Magnet using an integrated Arts-Based Teaching program reform model called Artful Learning.  For the last 20 years I have taught in NVUSD, grade levels ranging from 2nd to 6th, most of my years in 4th and 5th.  I worked for 16 of those years at Napa Valley Language Academy, a duel immersion charter school, which helped me develop as a specialist in language acquisition and overall best practices in teaching, unit design and planning. I am a National Trainer for GLAD – Guided Language Acquisition Design and have trained teachers and administration from around the world. Leadership and program design have always been a part of my professional background and am so excited to be living on the cutting edge of space age education at Salvador where we explore how to use the arts as a foundation to leap into innovative learning and global connections.

Capstone Website

Scott Dardenelle
Vintage High
Teacher

This is my first full year teaching and I teach social sciences at Vintage High School in Napa. Currently I’m teaching government/economics and geography, and I am constantly looking to enhance my teaching methods to have a lasting impact on my students.

Capstone Website

Kirstin De La Cruz
Calistoga Junior-Senior High
Teacher

I received both my Bachelor of Arts degree (2000)  and Single Subject credential in English (2002) from California State University, Chico. Upon completing the credential program in 2002, I moved to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where for the next seven years I taught 7th-11th grade English at a private school. During this time, I immersed myself in the Mexican culture and became bilingual in Spanish. In 2010, I began teaching English at Calistoga Junior/Senior High School in the Napa Valley.

In addition to wanting my students to become proficient in reading and writing, I also seek to instill qualities and skills that will enable them to become positive, independent, and successful contributors to their communities after high school. I recognize that literacy takes many forms in the 21st century, and my goal is to adapt my teaching to promote technical literacy while fostering creativity in an engaging and rigorous academic environment.

Capstone Website

Ann Dearborn
Napa Valley Language Academy
Academic Specialist

Not many people at age 9 can say they know what they want to be when they grow up and mean it, but I did! Thanks to a fantastic 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Kasje, I knew I wanted to teach, just like her. I wanted to help students grow and discover, make learning fun, and love them. My love for travel and languages started early on for me because growing up, we always had exchange students living with us. Later on I had the opportunity of going on exchange to Spain.

I have been teaching in the Napa Valley Unified School District for 25 years. I have happily been at the same school site that entire time, Napa Valley Language Academy (formerly known as Westwood Elementary). I love my job! I am experienced in grades Kindergarten and 5th grade and am currently in a coaching position as our Academic Specialist. I have been GLAD (Guided Language Acquisition Design) trained and AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) trained.

My passion is dual language immersion. I helped to write the first grant to bring our Two-way Immersion program to our school and was the first kindergarten teacher in the program. I have two children, now ages 20 and 17, both went through our dual language school and are bilingual and bi-literate. I think exposing children to other cultures and languages is vital to developing compassionate citizens.

Capstone Website

Brandon DeJesus
Vintage High
AVID Teacher

Hello all! My name is Brandon DeJesus and I am a math teacher at Vintage High school in Napa, California. Being born and raised in an economically disadvantaged area like Vallejo, California, education was a pathway to a more financially secure future. From counting goldfish with Mrs. Brown in kindergarten to tackling AP Calculus with Mrs. Duncan as a senior, school was my refuge, a place where I was nurtured and challenged. Naturally, educators were my heroes.

Capstone Website

John DiCosmo
American Canyon Middle
Teacher

Profile coming soon!

Student engagement is the primary factor in student learning. 21st century educators should consistently utilizing [sic] technology tools in meaningful ways to engage a diverse group of learners.

Capstone Project

Genevieve (Rosales) DiGuilio
NVUSD
Coordinator (Out of District)

Sometimes the answer is right there; you just need to have the right perspective. I took this picture in 2009 and and, have since, lost my perspective.  Where IS that seahorse?

I started teaching fifteen years ago, at a mere twenty-three years old. My perspective has changed quite a bit. Our students’ academic needs, in some areas, are quite different than they have been. As educators, it’s imperative that we don’t lose our perspective and maintain our views of students and what will serve them best.

Integrating skills related to technological acuity is my current goal.

Capstone Website

Victoria DiVincenzi
Vintage High
Teacher

Maria Dowling
Napa Valley Language Academy
Teacher

I knew from a very young age that I wanted to work with children. After high school I began volunteering in classrooms and working in recreational summer camp programs. I enjoyed being in the classroom and loved helping students. Soon after I knew I wanted to be a teacher; a bilingual teacher. I received my BCLAD multiple subject teaching credential from California State University, Hayward (now renamed California State University, East Bay) in the spring of 2000. I began teaching in Hayward, California in a third grade bilingual classroom the following fall. After four years of teaching in Hayward, I moved to Sacramento, California and began teaching third grade in a two-way Spanish immersion school. At this school I was trained in using the GLAD strategies to help English language learners as well as Spanish language learners achieve academic success. After seven years of teaching in Sacramento, my family and I moved to Napa, California and I now have the privilege of teaching at Napa Valley Language Academy (NVLA). I have been teaching at this two-way Spanish immersion school since the fall of 2011. 

I am a proud mother of two boys (14 and 10 years old). They both attended NVLA and will continue their path toward bilingualism in middle and high school. I believe in the importance and value of speaking more than one language. It helps bring different cultures together and helps students gain an appreciation for diversity.  As the NVLA motto states, we are truly “Two languages, one heart.”

I had been contemplating the idea of pursuing a Master’s degree for some time.  In my mind it was not the right time, but it was actually my fear of going back to school. Many of my colleagues at NVLA had already gone through the program and helped convince me to join the program, and I am very glad that I did. I was pushed out of my comfort zone, but at the same time it helped me grow as an educator and as a person. Thanks to NapaLearns and the support of all of the Touro staff, I was able to accomplish my goal.

Capstone Website

Kristin Drew
Napa High
Teacher

I love to learn!  I love to learn and share ideas with others.  Math is one of my favorite subjects, and I like to share the history of math stories to anyone who will listen.

My children, and students, have endured the stories of Hypatia, Sophie Germain, Carl Friedrich Gauss, Srinivasa Ramanujan, Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing, and others from history to help personalize the math that they are learning.

I hope to teach the skills, as well as the growth mindset, to students so that they can take what they learn in my class and build upon it in the future.

I am mostly a visual learner, as is 65% of the population.  I want to help as many students as possible to not only learn math but to love math.

Capstone Website

 

Laura Edenborough-Lewis
Harvest Middle
Teacher

People learn best by doing and engaging in meaningful projects. PBL affords students the opportunity to learn while going through a complex set of tasks. In addition, they must use collaboration, communication, creativity and problem-solving to create a final product. The purpose of this project is to create a web-based resource to simplify steps to PBL.

Capstone Project

Ron Eick
American Canyon High
Teacher

I don’t consider teaching to be a 9 to 5 job where you put in your time and head for the road. Teaching requires commitment, passion, patience, love, flexibility, understanding, collaboration, and a great deal of planning. My curriculum is carefully laid out to ensure the highest level of engagement and rigor. To me, rigor is what my students are doing with the material presented to them each day. They should be making connections by speaking, writing, analyzing, and reviewing the material on a regular basis. However, teaching is more than just delivering content. There are real people in front of me each day with their own stories and lives. I am sure you have heard it before, but I truly believe that students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. I always take the time to get to know my students and listen.

As an experienced educator, I contribute a great deal to the teaching profession. I bring positivity, passion, and professionalism. Collaboration is crucial to teaching, and it has helped me grow tremendously. As a PLC leader, I work as a liaison between administration and my team. I also work with other departments to create joint curriculum. For example, I have worked with both the AP Stats and Humanities teacher to create a project exploring the increasing cost of higher education. I have also been on the AVID site team for 2 years. We work towards closing the opportunity gap and ensuring that all students are college and career ready. Parents and families are welcomed to school during AVID family night. If they decide their child is going to enroll in the AVID elective course, I assist the AVID team by conducting interviews to determine students’ agency and determination. I have also been the advisor for the LGBTQ club, a BTSA coach, and a BTSA trainer.

I am proud to say that in May of 2018, I was selected as the Napa County Teacher of the Year. And I am extremely proud of the work I’ve done in creating a Mu Alpha Theta Math Honors Society chapter. Before students can become a member, they must be officially inducted by earning points and proving their commitment. Points can be earned via tutoring, participating in community events, fundraisers, math competitions, or attending club meetings. The induction ceremony is a big deal and the entire community is invited to attend. This year we started a $500 scholarship that will be awarded to an outstanding senior. We also had a group of students win first place in a math video competition, and one of my students was awarded a $4000 scholarship. Our tutoring program has logged over 300 hours of tutoring and has helped tremendously with providing interventions to our struggling students. Last year during the Atlas Peak fires, my students volunteered their time setting up shelters, accepting donations, and writing cards to first responders. We have made a positive impact in both our community and on our campus. Last year, we sent 30 students to the Berkeley Math Tournament. Although we didn’t win any awards, the students had an amazing experience. With 70 members in total, we are proving that math can be fun and enjoyable. You may visit our website for more information: https://goo.gl/KHY6.

Since my participation in the program, I have not been afraid to experiment in the classroom. I have also been more open with using technology appropriately. Technology in the classroom is not just having students make pretty power point presentations. To me, it is more important to consider how the technology will increase engagement and overall understanding of the lesson objectives. For example, in my AP Calculus class, students created videos to explain Related Rates problems. Also, in Math 2, students created artistic flags while learning the content standards. Here are a few examples of websites I created that display this student work with the world: https://goo.gl/JDaqyr and https://goo.gl/PFD8ww.

In summary, I am an extremely positive individual and bring this energy each day into the classroom. I truly believe that effective teaching starts first and foremost with the proper mindset. Each and every day is a brand new slate with an opportunity to learn something new and grow. I think it’s extremely important for people to remember that there is no such thing as a “math person,” contrary to popular beliefs. I would like to thank NapaLearns for offering me the opportunity to expand my skills. I hope that many other educators in Napa will continue to do the same.

Capstone Project

Jennifer Ellison
Phillips Elementary
Teacher

A willingness to be open to change has led to teaching experiences in all grade levels Kindergarten through 12th. This exposure to students of all ages has solidified my firm conviction that everyone has a right to a quality education that will empower them to share their voice, thoughts and innovations. I’ve spent the last four years immersed in technology education, and believe that for many students from many backgrounds technology is empowered self-expression. Learning higher maths skills, and computer script languages, as well as coding has taught me the infinite possibilities of embracing growth mindset. I am now determined to encourage my students to develop their digital skills, embrace a growth mindset and empower their own future.

Joining the Innovative Learning Program has strengthened my desire to not only pursue innovations, but to find strength, encouragement and support among like-minded educators. There is great power in listening as thoughtful, innovative educators discuss ways to improve and enhance their educational strategies through innovation and technology. I am grateful to be among such deep thinking teachers, and feel very fortunate to have been able to join the program as it has pushed me to improve my technique.

Capstone Website

Heather Feinberg
Yountville Elementary
Academic Specialist

My journey into an educational career began in my childhood garage, when I was young child pretending to be a teacher, as I playfully taught all the neighborhood children. Needless to say, my own personal struggles as a student influenced how I teach today. My focus as a teacher has been to make sure that I reach all of my students by providing them with a variety of instructional methods, strategies, and technological tools in order to engage them into taking ownership of their learning.

I believe that when students are empowered in the process of their own learning, then desired learning outcomes can be achieved.  This is why I decided to go back to graduate school and earn my master’s degree in Education with a focus on innovative learning. My master’s program has allowed me to be able to collaborate with colleagues to share ideas on instruction and student engagement in the classroom utilizing educational tools to support and enhance student learning.

I started my teaching career with the Whisman Elementary School District as a fourth grade teacher in Mountain View, California.  In my third year of teaching, I switched to teaching fifth grade. Then, my family and I moved to American Canyon, CA, where I started working for the Napa Valley Unified District as a fifth grade teacher, and stayed in that grade level for over 15 years!  I have spent the last two years serving Yountville Elementary school as its Academic Specialist and will be returning to the classroom (budget cuts) this coming school year as a third and fourth grade combination teacher.

Capstone Website

Bradford Fisher
Napa High
Teacher

This project investigated, compared and reviewed electronic tools for formative assessment in American public secondary schools.

Capstone Project

 

Karen Fleming
Harvest Middle
Teacher

Kim Floyd
Yountville Elementary
Teacher

Kirsten Fouquet
Canyon Oaks Elementary
Teacher

I grew up on a private boarding school campus in La Selva Beach, California. In college, I found my love for weightlifting and now I have fully incorporated that into my lifestyle. I am married to my high school sweetheart, Andrew. We have been married for two years now and have our baby girl, Harper. 

I began teaching in 2016 and I have been teaching for four years. I have taught first, second, and third grade at Canyon Oaks Elementary. Throughout these four years my teaching practices have morphed dramatically into what it is today. I believe in teaching the whole child and keeping in mind the importance of students’ mental health. I believe that all students have the ability to succeed as long as they are given the opportunity and strategies to succeed. My classroom is a safe place for students to grow and make mistakes along their academic journey.

I was contacted by NapaLearns through the many recruitment emails that crossed my computer screen in 2019. I went to a Q&A recruitment session and after talking with the men there, I decided it was time to get my masters and further my education. I have always believed that if used right, technology can be a great tool to engage students and promote academic growth. However, prior to Touro’s innovative learning program I had a hard time implementing technology in a way that students could personally interact with it, and it not just be me with a smart board in front of the classroom. I was nervous even though I knew my students were capable of using technology successfully if given the right boundaries and management.

After Touro’s innovative learning program, I will never be hesitant to allow my students to use technology in the classroom no matter the age group that I teach. Through this program I have learned that technology heightens engagement and promotes academic growth. I am excited to take the different skills, strategies, and tools with me and implement them as necessary throughout the rest of my career and at my new school next year teaching first grade.

Capstone Project

Caren Friedman
Harvest Middle
Teacher

Rafael Garcia Avila
Valley Oak High
Teacher

My name is Rafael Garcia Avila, and I am a mathematics teacher at Valley Oak High School in the Napa Valley Unified School District.

I graduated from UC Santa Cruz with Bachelor’s in Mathematics in June 1999. Subsequently, I started teaching at Napa High School with an emergency credential as I attended Sonoma State University’s teaching credential program. Sixteen years later, I transferred to Valley Oak High School which I consider the best hidden secret in the district.

After 20 years of receiving my Bachelors, realizing that I needed to change the way I taught and with the advice of one of my colleague and also a member in this Master’s program Julie Lovie, I decided to get my Master’s of Education in Innovative Learning with the support of Napa Learns at Touro University of California.

Capstone Website

Kate Gauger
Napa High
Principal

This project examines recalibrating instructional practices using MOVE (Motivation, Engagement and Technology) in the classroom.

Capstone Project

Kirsten Gerhardt
Phillips Elementary
Assistant Principal

I am a mom, teacher coach, assistant principal, and a continuous learner trying to improve my practice and share my knowledge and skills with others.

I have just finished co-leading the implementation of a federal magnet school grant for a MAST (Math, Art, Science, Technology) school. We were on the forefront in our district with implementing Project Based Learning, the 4C’s, technology, and inquiry based teaching, among other initiatives.

I have had multiple opportunities to visit schools across the country and in our own district to see best teaching practices incorporating 21st century teaching and learning. Through my experience with the magnet school transformation and the amazing school visits, I realized that all students in all schools should have access to the high quality teaching strategies and experiences that I have been a part of. My goal is to use technology to share these practices so that we can begin to equip all students with the skills they need to navigate their future successfully, whatever that may be.

Capstone Website

Teresa Giner
Shearer Elementary
Reading Specialist

Some people may say that it seems highly ironic that I became an elementary school teacher after my stint at Cedar Grove Elementary, but it’s not. My love for writing began at a very young age. I was blessed with a family that encouraged me to write down every silly adventure that popped into my head. Every time I visited my Uncle Willie, he’d ask me to tell him one of my stories. I have a strong feeling that there are many more children like me out there wanting a mentor, or even an audience, for their writing. I’m that person.

Capstone Project

Brian Ginnever
American Canyon High
Teacher

Profile coming soon!

Rose Girguis
American Canyon Middle
Teacher

Having spent two decades in middle and high school classrooms teaching 7th-grade math and Algebra 2, Rose Girguis is excited to see her students every day, and enjoys watching them make progress. She currently teaches at a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) technology middle school, and loves using technology to increase student learning.

Mrs. Girguis’ students are representative of diverse school demographics. The ethnic breakdown is currently 30% Asian, 37% Hispanic, 10% Black, 15% White, and 8% Other. Students who are eligible for free or reduced lunches make up 33% of the school population.

Rose gives her students a voice and choice in their projects and encourages them to express their own creativity and interests, thereby allowing them to develop their own motivations. She provides personalized learning experiences via differentiated instruction and innovative teaching strategies, which are made possible with the growing educational technology that is available.

Rose is using the flip-class model (once called the inverted model) and takes advantage of the class time freed up by this model for Inquiry/Discovery work, and projects which provide her students with opportunities for deeper learning and problem-solving.

My Teaching Philosophy

My philosophy of teaching has evolved from two decades of teaching experience. As I reflect on my beliefs regarding teaching and learning I find what works for me is connecting with my students:

– to promote a positive learning community and culture in my classroom (social justice/diversity,empathy)

– to spark learner enthusiasm and creativity for learning and innovation (growth mindset/personalized learning)

– to provide a strong foundation for lifelong learning and positive self-expressions (social/cognitive).

– share my passion for mathematics in the world as a universal language and the language of our universe.(Inquiry and PBL)

To accomplish this, I enjoy applying a wide variety of research-based pedagogies for best-practices and implementing technology to transform the the learning experiences of my students.

Capstone Website

 

Abigail Gongora
Browns Valley Elementary
Academic Specialist

I am the energetic mother of 3 beautiful children. We work hard and play harder. Being a mom is my greatest joy.

When I’m not out playing with my kids, I am the Academic Specialist at Browns Valley Elementary School in Napa, CA. A 17 year veteran teacher, I am now a resource for my teachers in the areas of curriculum, instructional practices, and technology. My background in teaching foundational literacy skills prepared me for the job I have today. All teachers need a strong foundation in technology in order to integrate technology into classroom lessons. From logging in to the school’s Google site to developing technology based assessments, I help teachers find their way to deepening their own understanding while engaging students. Feel free to contact me and learn more about my work and what we’re doing at BV.

Capstone Website

Alma Gonzalez
American Canyon High
Teacher

Teresa Gonzalez Delgado
Shearer Elementary
Teacher

I will never forget my 6th grade parent-teacher conference in which my teacher, Mrs. Methven, asked me in front of my mother what I wanted to be when I grew up?  I remember telling her I wanted to be a karate teacher. My mother rolled her eyes and looked dessolutioned. While my teacher, on the other hand, smiled and looked me straight in the eyes and said,  “I think you will be a great one”.

I think back to this moment and I realize how much impact a simple comment and teacher can have in the life of their students. Everyday I feel a great responsibility to offer my students the best education I can give them because they all deserve the best. The best education is one that gives them the opportunities to grow in the 6 C’s and gives them the necessary tools they will need to explore and conquer the ever-changing world we live in today. My name is Teresa Gonzalez Delgado and although I didn’t become a karate teacher, I did become a school teacher and I have been teaching for 14 years at that same school where Mr’s Methven asked me the question that would become a reality.  

I have always believed that opportunities come for all of us, but sometimes we don’t take them because we are afraid of failure. The first time I heard about Touro University and the Masters program I let that uncertainty take over me and let the opportunity go. Not everybody gets a second chance, so I was fortunate to hear that Napa Learns and Touro University were working together in an effort to empower teachers offering the Masters program again. With no doubt in my mind this time, I stepped out of my comfort zone and jumped on the wagon to better myself and grow with my experience. Thanks to the program, I was able to innovate and update my pedagogical practices, become current and knowledgable with technology tools, and discover efficient ways to educate, equip and engage my diversified population of students. My responsibility to deliver state of the art education has gone beyond the 4 walls of my classroom. I feel the need to collaborate and share my new knowledge with my colleagues. Teaching is an endeavor, and I will never stop exploring for deeper and richer knowledge.

Capstone Website

Lisa Gottfried
New Tech High
Teacher

I have been wanting to be a part of the Innovative Learning program with Touro from the moment I first heard about it through Napa Learns. I knew that, not only did I want to deepen my teaching practice, but I wanted to spend time with other people who were like-minded. I work at one of the most innovative schools in the country, New Technology High School and was attracted to teaching because of New Tech’s stance in the world of education. You could say that innovative learning is in my blood.

When my kids were in elementary school, it became clear that traditional school was just not going to work for my oldest child, so I took the leap into the field of education, first as a homeschooler. When my middle child got old enough to go to school, we were having such a blast learning at home, that he, too, was homeschooled. It was not until 7 years later, that my oldest entered the public school system as a freshman in High School and all three of my kids were enrolled in public school.

I have to laugh now, in the year 2016, that the trend is headed toward personalization in the classroom, a concept that most homeschoolers are deeply intimate with.

It was not until 2012 that I was invited to become a part of the New Tech staff as a teacher of Digital Media. I was very happy running my own video production company and went to the interview, only because a friend asked me. I was fully prepared to turn down any job offer, should I get one. That job interview changed my life and set me on a course toward becoming a professional educator. It went so well, that I did feel a “calling” and decided to resolve the business and forge ahead into the teaching profession.  It’s been four years and I have never looked back.

Every day I find something new and wonderful to learn. I love my students. I love my classroom. I love the content I teach.

Capstone Website

Jane Gould
Harvest Middle
Teacher

I was taught from an early age the importance of being kind and fair, and that as well as making money, the purpose of working is to make the world a better place. How is this relevant? It is relevant when you learn about the school I work in and the final project I worked on for my Masters.

Harvest Middle School, Napa is 75% Latino and generally low-income. This website is about how to make sure technology is available to every child. This may sound simple on the surface, but is a lot more complex when you dig deeper.

My journey on this Masters program began with me being a beginner with technology. I learned how to type fast when I was in high school, and enjoy Facebook, but apart from using the computer for basic word processing, wasn’t very computer savvy. But, as the mother of two teenagers who are constantly online and with teaching at a school steeped in 21st century learning, I knew that I needed to step-up and get with it, hence doing this Masters.

The initial focus for my Masters was researching how giving student’s choice effects grit and engagement for ELLs. However, while doing this research, I discovered that without having the relevant tools, such as access to a device, there is no point in giving students choice of what to do… So, I changed the focus of my study to looking at the effectiveness of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program at Harvest Middle School, to ensure that every student had a device in the first place. On paper, BYOD is a fine system. But, what I quickly discovered is that the system has problems and there are details that need to be addressed in order for the system to truly bring equitable learning. Moving forward, my hope is to create a comprehensive system in which every child has access to the technology he or she requires in order to be successful.

Capstone Website

Jason Hagan
Napa High
Teacher

Teachers are being asked to teach classes that are growing in size, diversity and gaps in student abilities. Intelligent Tutoring systems have the potential to greatly affect education by providing differentiated instruction to each individual user.

Capstone Project

Joseph Hall
Napa Valley Language Academy
Teacher

I was born into education.  From the time I was six months old until I was 7, I attended my parent’s private/alternative school called Silver Pony.  Silver Pony was a large, red, one room house with surrounding property near what is now Carneros Inn/Boon Fly Cafe.  It was there that I made life long friends, fell in love with learning, and experienced the joy of creativity.

When I was 7, Silver Pony closed and the spirit of the school stayed lit in the hearts of those that taught and attended there.

I am now a 2nd grade public educator in the same town where I was born and raised.  My educational upbringing, bilingual, multicultural and personal experiences have made me realize that there is not a one education model for all.  Education is deeply rooted and biased in the experiences of each educator.  The choice of education for children is deeply rooted in the experiences of each parent.

There is a common ground for all educational models, which is the importance of proven pedagogy, infusion of technology, and content based off common standards to ensure students are prepared for college, workforce, and citizenship.  I am proud to be part of the educational team that is preparing 21st century students, such as my 20 month year old daughter Emelia and 5 month year old son Ezra.

Capstone Website

Dana Hand
Northwood Elementary
Teacher

In my 14 years of teaching experience in the beautiful Napa Valley, I have taught a range of age levels including a 4th/5th/6th bilingual classroom teacher, Intervention teacher and Academic Specialist. While working with the diversity of learners found in every classroom in California, I found myself drawn to supporting students with special needs. Our neighborhood Northwood Elementary School consists of approximately 41% Hispanic, 51% White, 19% English Learners and 41% Socio-Economically Disadvantaged students so we definitely have a diverse population.

When Northwood began implementing a new reading intervention program called “Read 180” in 2009, I knew I had found my true calling. My class is unique because it consists entirely of upper elementary age students who are at least 2 years below grade level in reading. This amazing program combines my passion for reading, helping students clarify and attain their goals while helping them realize their full potential. Now 8 years later, I realized that students in intensive reading intervention programs for more than 2 years can become very frustrated with their lack of progress and ability to “catch up” to their peers. I desperately wanted to find a better way to help them become self motivated readers. This ultimately led me to my driving question of how to use their own personal reading scores, presented in a kid friendly easy to view format, to help provide more effective feedback.

Capstone Website

Andrea Harris
American Canyon Middle
Teacher

Welcome!  I am Andrea Harris. I live with my husband, two high school daughters and son who attends elementary school. I teach middle school math, science and physical education. We love to run 5Ks together.

My students drove me to pursue my action research. Some of my students performed well out on the courts and fields of PE; however, they were not as successful in the classroom. A group of students seemed disengaged so I was determined to help underrepresented students make the long lasting connections in math, science and technology and wondered how inquiry-based learning would impact student engagement.

I envision a world where all students have a passion for learning. When dedicated, caring, creative educators and mentors incorporate innovative ideas, tools and strategies we can achieve this goal. Let us capture, embrace and mold the magnificent minds of these remarkable students.

Capstone Website

Karin Hatton
Napa High
Teacher

This project addresses how to restructure professional development opportunities for teachers in order to provide support for learning how to infuse technology into their classroom practice.

Capstone Project

Ita Hernandez
Napa Valley Language Academy
Teacher

Having two younger brothers to whom I loved reading to and often helped with homework assignments made me realize how much I enjoyed helping and teaching kids. So at a very young age, I knew that I someday I wanted to become a teacher. However, that journey to become a teacher was not an easy one.  My family moved to Napa when I was ten years old. I remember being in my fifth grade classroom feeling lost and alone since I did not speak english.  What helped me get through the first couple of years and learn english was through reading.  I especially loved and looked forward to SSR time, which was my favorite part of the day. I ended up finishing 6th grade at Shearer School, moved on to Redwood Middle School and graduated from Vintage High School. I am a product of NVUSD’s schools.

I attended Sonoma State University where I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Chicano and Latino Studies along with a concentration in Math. I then enrolled in the Teaching Credential Program where I obtained my BCLAD teaching credential.

I have been a teacher at Napa Valley Language Academy in Napa, CA since 2006. I have taught 4th and 5th grade. I have also worked at Harvest Middle School teaching ELD in the Newcomer Program.

Capstone Website

Shawna Hoxsie
Harvest Middle
Teacher

I began my teaching career four years ago and will soon be entering my 5th year in education. When I started down my educational path, I never thought I would end up in a middle school math classroom being trained in elementary. In fact, I had actively avoided middle school positions for over a year. In my search for a teaching position, I interviewed for, and accepted, a position as a math teacher at a middle school in the Napa Valley. Never in my wildest dreams did I believe I would fall so in love with both my subject and the age I was assigned to teach; 7th grade. 

I met this new challenge head-on and dove deep into pedagogy, standards, and devoured every bit of knowledge I could find about how to teach this subject that seemed so daunting. My school was also an International Baccalaureate (IB) school and had a multitude of its own standards and grading methods that I suddenly needed to become an expert on. I credit the IB requirements for sculpting my entire view on good teaching practices, especially when it comes to teaching math. Any other school and I likely would have ended up going page by page through a textbook in hopes of just surviving my first year. 

Through learning and implementing the IB requirements, my pedagogy was heavily influenced. I came to believe deeply in hands-on mathematics that both explored the application and the calculation aspects of the subject. I have a very deep-rooted belief that every student is capable of being successful in mathematics, even though it might take some students a little bit longer. All students have that potential and will absolutely rise up to your expectations when they are clear and scaffolded and given the support that they need to succeed. I believe in a mix of different types of assessments with projects and alternative methods of showing growth and knowledge at the end of a unit. 

It wasn’t until my third year that I really started finding ways of teaching and exploring math that seemed to be working. In my fourth year, I entered the Innovative Learning master’s program and decided to put to test some of the methods I had felt had made a difference in the short time I had been teaching. I decided to completely change everything I had been teaching to really test out some of the theories I had surrounding math education and the focus on technology was a contributing factor to my choice in this program. 

Capstone Project

Kimberley Hughes
St. Helena High
Teacher

My name is Kim Hughes and I have been teaching Spanish at the high school level for the past four years. After studying abroad in Costa Rica for a year during college, and traveling to various Spanish speaking countries around the world, I decided to change my English Education major to Spanish. I graduated from California State University, Chico with a Bachelors degree in Spanish and currently hold a Single-Subject credential in Spanish and English.

I spent my first two years of teaching at a high school in the East Bay however I always had the desire to move back to my hometown, Napa. When a teaching position opened up at St. Helena High School I felt like there was no place I would rather be. I was beyond blessed to be offered the position, and am now beginning my second year as a Saint!

Although I was at a new school with new students, new colleagues and a new curriculum the thing that stood out to me the most was how much technology was available on campus! I could not believe a school existed where all students had their own laptops, free wi-fi around campus and a full time tech team on campus.  It was any teachers dream come true! However, I quickly realized that I had no idea how to incorporate all these great tools into my classroom.  Being a TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling) spanish teacher, much of the curriculum revolved around “traditional” teaching methods, like speaking, reading and writing. I had no clue where to begin, but knew that not many teachers around the country had the resources I did, and that I needed to learn how to bring technology into my foreign language classroom.

I took the leap to join the online Innovative Learning program through Touro University. I acknowledged that just because I was a teacher, definitely didn’t mean I “knew it all” and that I needed to put myself back into the students’ seat. During this journey, became increasingly more interested in digital collaborative tools and how technology could be used for formative assessments. Language is all about communication and seeing how language is used, so I decided to focus on how I could bring tools in that could help students not only get language input but also help them produce it.

Capstone Website

Samantha Hull
American Canyon High
Teacher

Welcome to my website! I am Samantha Hull but my friends know me as Sam while my students call me Ms. Hull. I am originally from Long Beach, California. I graduated in 2011 from California State University of Long Beach with my BA in Art Education, my minor in Classical Studies and my teaching credential. While in school I worked at the University Art Museum alongside the education curator and gained a new perspective on art education. My first year of teaching was at a small charter school in Long Beach where I had to build the program as I was the first art teacher. Sadly the school had to close due to the economy and I ventured out, 400 miles north approximately, to teach in Woodland for 2 years before arriving at my current campus American Canyon High. I have wanted to be a teacher since 9th grade and I am living the dream. I could not imagine doing anything else.

I have always loved school and learning new things. I am currently working on completing my masters in education at Touro University. After teaching for five years I decided to go back to school to further develop my teaching practices. This fall I plan on continuing my education by enrolling in an MFA program with an emphasis in drawing and painting. I enjoy almost every media but I am rather fond of watercolor and ink and I could not possibly choose just one art style. Art history is another of my passions and something I try to incorporate in all my classes. While I enjoy my summer I am excited to take what I have learned with Touro and apply it in my classes. This year I  will be teaching Art 1, Ceramics 1 and for the first time at my school site a section of AP Art History.

When I am not in school (as a teacher or student) I enjoy the simple things in life like good food, wine, books, action movies, and art. Most of my friends and family live in Southern California so road trips are a must but then I also get a ton of house guests. When I don’t have visitors Duke, my miniature poodle, keeps me company.

Capstone Website

Nancy Jaminet
Snow Elementary
Teacher

Home has been many places: Michigan, Vermont, Kentucky, Ohio, Austria, and California. My parents and six siblings are scattered across the United States. I am daughter, sister, aunt, friend, girlfriend, roommate, and hospitality server. I am a constant reader, a brisk walker, a practical cook, a reluctant gardener, a guilty tv watcher, and an occasional thrilling adventure seeker.

But best of all, I am a teacher. ​

Capstone Website 

Pedro Jimenez
Harvest Middle
Teacher

Pedro Jiménez is a Spanish teacher in Northern California. He has been teaching for four years at a middle school. He is a passionate and dedicated educator that strives to equip his students in order for them to reach their full potential. Mr. Jimenez creates a fun, engaging, and risk-free learning environment that fosters positive interactions.

Pedro is always trying to find the best teaching methodologies and learning strategies to support all students. With today’s world demand in implementing technology in the classroom, there is a need for a progressive teaching. This will prepare students for real world application. The driving question answers the following question: What is the best way to teach world languages? The true of the matter is that, students now have access to a lot of learning through the use of technology, but in creating a specific learning method that channels student engagement that will fulfill all students needs accordingly is what drives this action research. ​

Capstone Website

Matthew Kelly
Silverado Middle
Teacher

I think I kind of always knew that I wanted to be a teacher. When I first obtained my degree from Sonoma  State, I figured that I would jump right into a credential program in the fall. Like many things in life, my plan didn’t go the way that I thought it would. I went to work for a contractor for the summer to make some extra money, and before I knew it I had been working for 5 years as a carpenter. Things were going fine until the economic downturn occurred. Prior to that, there was more than enough work to keep me busy full time. After the downturn, I was lucky if I was working 20 hours a week. At the time it was tough, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. While I appreciate and value the skills I learned those 5 years, the situation created an opportunity for a career change. ​Within a few months of moving on from being a carpenter, I was in a credential program. A few weeks later, I was teaching Physical Science to middle school students. It was a pretty dramatic transition…but I was ready for it.

Capstone Project

Sherrill Kelly
Robert Lewis Stevenson Middle
Teacher

This project developed a framework for Digital Multi-Media Project Based Learning instructional design, integrating best practices for adolescent English language learners, grounded in theory and pedagogical literature.

Capstone Project

Sandra Killian
American Canyon High
Teacher

Jennifer Knox
Northwood Elementary
Teacher

Welcome! I’m glad you found your way to my little space. I hope you will find some valuable ideas, resources, tools and inspiration that will be motivating to both you and your students.

I am a full time 5th grade teacher for Napa Valley Unified School district with nearly 24 years of teaching experience. I am passionate about children’s literature and exposing students to the joys of reading, especially the amazing connections and rich discussions which occur during and after shared reading experiences. I’m also very passionate about using technology as a means of connecting with others and sharing thoughts through writing, pictures and other forms of expression. I feel like I hit the jackpot when I introduced blogging to my students as a way to reflect on their reading while writing and sharing their thoughts with an authentic audience.

On a more personal note, I’m a wife and a busy mom with an amazing daughter along with two big dogs, a guinea pig and a couple of fish. During my spare time, I am most often found either on the pool deck supporting my daughter’s interest in competitive swimming or outside walking, exploring, or drawing inspiration and taking photos of the beautiful world around us.

Capstone Website

Sarah Knox
Northwood Elementary
Principal

Sarah Knox has been with the Napa Valley Unified School District for thirteen years, serving in various capacities as English teacher and literacy coach at Napa High School, district instructional coach for intensive reading interventions (READ 180 and System 44), assistant principal at both non-Title I (Canyon Oaks) and Title I (McPherson) elementary schools, and most recently, as part of the district Instructional Division team in the role of Supervisor, Interventions. She has served on the Napa Valley Educator’s executive board and as a site representative and currently site on the Association of Napa County Administrators leadership board. Sarah has also facilitated a wide range of professional development on behalf of the NVUSD and NCOE as a BTSA trainer, for BEST/PBIS, English 3D and the Teach Like a Champion series.

Sarah was thrilled to join the second cohort of the Touro University Innovative Learning Masters Program and immerse herself in the latest cutting edge research and practices related to 21st century teaching and learning. As a member of the NVUSD, a close partner with NapaLearns and a leader of new technologies for learning, she felt compelled to learn all that she could in order to best support her teachers and students who are paving the way for career and college-readiness in the 21st century.

Capstone Website

Joel Kriner
Calistoga Elementary
Teacher

My educational philosophy was impacted dramatically early in my teaching career while working on the Big Island at Hawaii’s first Public-Charter school. My school was outdoors (virtually on the beach) and had no physical classroom, yet our students had some of the highest test scores in the state. It was at this time that I learned that student achievement was not based on funding or infrastructure. Student achievement was a result of passion, the passion of the teachers and administration and the passion of the students. Over the years, this passion has led my curriculum decisions and helped me increase my knowledge in pertinent educational topics and teaching methods.

I have since taken my educational philosophy to the mainland where I am finishing up my third year at a wonderful elementary school in Napa County.

Capstone Project

James Landis
American Canyon Middle
Teacher

My name is James Landis, and I am the 7th grade Accelerated English Language Arts teacher at American Canyon Middle School. I am currently in my fourth year of teaching (2017-2018).

I enrolled in the Innovative Learning Master’s program because I love what I do and I want to do it well. The Innovative Learning program was designed by Touro to help teachers reimagine the concept of school and learning from considering open and collaborative approaches to learning, to exploring entirely new models of performance.

Our school is becoming increasingly digital. We encourage our students to bring their own digital devices, as well as loan students with year long access to Chromebooks. Our students utilize Echo (our school website) on a daily basis. Many of our assignments are created and completed vial digital resources. This means that our students spend the majority of their day on a device. The Innovative Learning program provided me the means and the opportunity to truly research an inquiry which I was passionate about. How can I best leverage all these digital tools to best support student team work in order to develop critical thinking skills?

Capstone Website

Tammy Lee
American Canyon Middle
Teacher

Rian Lindley
American Canyon Middle
Teacher

I began my teaching career long ago, when technology was a burgeoning thing. Email was the slick, shiny new toy to be rolled out by the district. I can clearly remember teachers across campus squealing with joy, that they could now collaborate in seconds rather than waiting for potentially hours. A lot has changed since then, as have I. Technology and the way we, as educators, approach teaching has changed since I began 16 years ago.

I began the journey in education as a third- grade teacher. It became apparent that I needed, nay,  thrived on older students and their “snark”. I needed to be with students who groan and laugh politely at my jokes. I moved to fifth grade the next year. It was so nice that I taught elementary for a total of 14 years, before I made the move to middle school. While I loved having the same students for the entire day; all of the wonder and inquiry we accomplished day in and day out, it became apparent that I needed to move on.

Middle school is a special place. I can say that we do more than teach curriculum and content to this unique age group- we teach them how to interact in part of a larger community. Our jobs, of course, is to teach the standards, but it goes deeper than that. I have the opportunity to help these students on their path to becoming young adults, in person and with technology. This generation of students have the unique advantage to hone their skills through a variety of mediums.

Which brings me to my journey through Touro. I do not consider myself tech-savvy and was a little hesitant that I would not be able to keep up with my peers in this cohort. More importantly, my lack of skills were keeping me from being the best teacher I can be. Through the generosity of NapaLearns, I have had the ability to learn new technology and practices that I could never have dreamed of! I am excited to implement these new tools in the classroom to deepen the learning of my students and their 21st century skills, as well as helping all students achieve their learning goals.

Capstone Website

Krista Loper
Harvest Middle
Teacher

My name is Krista Loper and I am a middle school science teacher in Napa, CA. I have been a teacher for 4 years and I have taught all levels of middle school science. I believe that building relationships with students is the key to creating good classroom culture.

I have lived in Napa my entire life and love the community here. I never thought I would end up being a teacher when I was graduating Vintage High School back in 2008, but I am so glad I decided to become one. I know the impact I can make on a student’s life and ultimately I know I have decided upon the right career.

Captone Project

Julie Lovie
Valley Oak High
Teacher

Hi I am Julie Lovie the proud mother of three beautiful daughters. My husband and I have know each other since preschool and have been happily married for 30 years. I have lived in Napa my whole life and I am the proud to have attended k-12 here at NVUSD and a graduate of Vintage High School.

Capstone Project

John Lowell
Calistoga Junior-Senior High
Teacher

John Lowell is a junior high school social studies teacher at Calistoga Junior/Senior High School.

Capstone Website

Ian MacMillan
St. Helena High
Teacher

The purpose of this project is to provide students, faculty, and parents with a current informational website that would deliver engaging micro-lessons and relevant online mathematical resources to a broad range of students including advanced and below proficient levels.

Capstone Project

Joe Madigan
Napa High
Teacher

I started in 1999 at Shearer Elementary teaching 4th, 5th and then 6th grade. In 2003 Napa Valley Unified School District moved all 6th graders to middle schools, and opened a new middle school called Harvest Middle School. I taught 6th, 7th, and 8th grade math, leadership, and coached soccer there for 9 years before transferring to Napa High School.

I’m in the middle of my 5th year at Napa and I’ve taught Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Math I, Math II, coached swimming, and been a PLC lead. Next year Napa will be starting a new Math 1 Robotics class, and I will be teaching it. Go innovation!!

My family consists of my wife, Carrie and my three boys. Carrie works at her family’s winery in Napa called Robinson Family Vineyards. My oldest son Sean is a junior at Napa High and plays football and baseball. My second son, Jacks, is a freshman at Napa High and runs cross country and plays baseball. My youngest son Trace is in 4th grade and also plays football and baseball. All three boys raise pigs for 4H as well. Keeps us pretty busy!!

I love swimming, mountain biking, backpacking, coaching baseball, staying in our family cabin at Tahoe, visiting family in Nevada City, Truckee, and Boise, watching the San Francisco Giants, 49ers and the Golden State Warriors. I also love playing card games with my boys.  Kings Corners, Cribbage, and Speed are our favorites.

Capstone Website

Patrick Maleret
American Canyon Middle
Teacher

It has been my pleasure have served as a classroom teacher for the last four years. I teach seventh grade math and math intervention courses and have a passion for inspiring students. One of my core beliefs as an educator is in the potential of a person and working against negative beliefs students hold about themselves (academic or otherwise) is part of my purpose in the classroom. I value agency and a growth mindset in all my students. I want what my students learn in my class, mathematics or otherwise, to serve them well for years to come.

I received my single subject credential from Sonoma State University and the blog you are reading this on exists because of my current work in Touro University of California’s Master of Education program. The program focuses on Innovative Learning and, through a partnership with NapaLearns, equips teachers to make transformational change in classrooms and schools to better prepare students for the 21st Century.

The world of education is rapidly changing to meet the demands of the constantly evolving 21st Century society and workplace. It is our job as educators to evolve with it, to improve our educational practices, and instill lifelong learning in our students.

Capstone Website

Gary Markovich
Silverado Middle
Teacher

Hello. It’s me. I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet.

I’m Gary Markovich. For the last 26 years, I have been teaching at Silverado Middle School in Napa, California. I’ve taught a little bit of seventh grade World History, a smattering of eighth grade Language Arts, some “Skills For Adolescence,” a soupçon of video production, but probably ninety-five per cent of my time has been teaching seventh grade Language Arts. In my introductory video, I make reference to a number of teaching methods and educational strategies  that I have seen been introduced during my career.

For more than a decade or so, our Language Arts (and Math) departments have focused on targeting the standards. That focus and drive to cover “essential” standards increased with the implementation of NCLB, and the ensuing continual pressure to improve our school’s standardized test scores. That, then, was the “driving question” of the time.

In 2010, California adopted Common Core Standards.

A short time after, our District Administration chose to transform the schools of our district to PBL schools (unless they chose to become International Baccalaureate schools). Folks from the District offices who were tasked with the facilitation of this ceased making any reference to “covering the language arts standards.” I was puzzled. An expectation was placed on us that we would no longer approach teaching through “Explicit Direct Instruction”–another of those methods and strategies from PD days.

Yet, those standardized tests return in the spring, just like Capistrano’s swallows. And those test scores for language arts and math return to the front pages of the newspaper like an algal bloom. I confessed to my vice-principal that I felt like I was serving two masters: I was expected to create back-to-back PBL projects (or “just one” or “three per year” depending if the answer came from the Director of Secondary Ed, or the Project Manager, or the District Instructional Coach), but I also had to make sure our students were ready for the CASSPP tests.

District coaches provided “exemplar projects” to the sixth and seventh grade Language Arts teachers. After a year, the term was changed to “anchor projects.” This change perhaps due to a closer reading of the definition of “exemplar.” Reports of “good seventh grade  PBL projects for language arts” are not uncommon, yet my experience leads me to describe them as apocryphal.

Unicorn-like.

The resolution to this conundrum–using technology-infused instruction in an inquiry-based structure to cover skills-based standards motivates my work at Touro.

Capstone Website

Scott Marsden
American Canyon High
Teacher

Martha Martin
Harvest Middle
Instructional Coach (Out of District)

As a young, little girl, I remember wanting to play and asking my siblings  in my broken, new language, “Eschool.”  Pronounced phonetically as es-cool. I would always want to play the coveted role of the teacher.  Sometimes I’d win, and I learned the taste early on of wanting to be a caring,  patient teacher  with my students. Even though they were my sisters, brother and neighborhood kids sitting in the bedroom with chubby crayons writing on the brown, paper thin paper we would get from school. I loved pretending and emulating my mom’s kind and compassionate ways of teaching us, and also because I  had come from a long line of teachers.  My mom’s younger sisters were able to proceed with their schooling in Mexico, while my mom was forced to stop her schooling in sixth grade, to fulfill traditional roles and values that stifled her dream to go to college.  Because she was the oldest girl of eight children, it was her role to take care of her siblings and housework.  My mother selflessly worked to provide support to her sisters.

After meeting my father, they decided to move to El Norte, the North as the US was referred to, to a small, rural town in the Napa Valley.  Mind you that my father had travelled to the US as a Bracero in the 1960s, working in the vineyards and tree orchards, toiling the land.  Prior to their move, he was a successful student, a semi pro boxer in his native town in Mexico, where the language and values of the times benefitted him. He was literate in Spanish writing, reading, a natural mathematician, eloquent, witty and charming person.  It was the strong bond he had with his brothers that justified their move to the Napa Valley, that facilitated the decision to bring his beautiful bride to a new land where she and he didn’t have the “Language” of the new US land. The strange new patterns that their mouths had to learn, with the placement of the tongue, the teeth, the lips.  The different sounds that they both sought and struggled to learn.  After years of living in the US, and having my 3 sisters and brother on Californian land, they continued to only speak Spanish to us at home.

We were students in the Head Start program and I vividly recall my teachers, my classmates, the food, the smells, my cubby and my name written on a sentence strip that had been cut to fit my name.  “Martha” was written in the neatest, thick, black handwriting. Laminated, so as to protect it and to give it longer endurance.  From there, I became a Spanish speaker that learned to listen, speak, read and to write in English in Kindergarten. I began my journey with acquiring a new language,  alongside learning new set of  values, traditions, experiences of being a first generation US born, struggling at times to find my identity, keep my first language, and continue my hunger for more languages, for more knowledge, for helping others. It is my passion and inspiration.

Fast forward to 2015, and I am still so grateful to have the opportunity to play the coveted role of teacher. Considering the amount of  hours that I have spent inside a classroom, in different capacities, with different purposes, one might agree that I have a lifetime of classroom experiences. Thirty five years of experience,  as a Head Start Preschool  student, elementary through high school student,  Instructional Aide working with students with special needs, college student, and dual immersion elementary school teacher. Yet, always a continuing learner with my proverbial shovel of digging deeper, to  gain deeper knowledge. Deeper understanding of how to reach all students, but how to effectively serve the needs of English learners.

After fourteen years at the Napa Valley Language Academy, a dual immersion Charter school, teaching third and fourth grade to over 400 students in the Napa Valley Unified School District, living through the struggles of fighting against  district members, that at times, saw no benefit in Bilingual Education, of being resilient when the community at times were vicious with their words, with their racist views and spiteful tactics, our fearless leaders and colleagues were able to see  the integrity of the research based program through fruition.  It was a struggle on all aspects, but I would never trade those experiences in.  They built up my confidence, my advocacy, victories  for our English Learners, for our English Learners’  parents and for our community.

Capstone Website

Katherine Martin
Harvest Middle
Teacher

When I began my teaching career 14 years ago I was young and eager to do my best always.  I wanted to enlighten and encourage each of my students to be there best and to never give up.  Over the years my teaching has changed, my skills have been worked on and honed in, but my desire to provide the best for my students has never left.  I worked in elementary schools for the first 12 years of my teaching career.  During this time I worked for 6 years at schools with a large percentage of English Language Learners, 4 of those years focused on teaching fifth grade math. Then I moved up to middle school to work at a school with a high number of English Language Learners.  There I taught Math, Science, and AVID.  I fell in love with teaching math, and spent much of my time trying to find strategies that helped increase the math proficiency of my English Language Learner students.  It was rewarding and exciting for my students to see in themselves that they too can do well in Math.

Since I left the classroom and moved into a more supportive role, I want to know more about what education CAN be and how educators can utilize all the amazing resources and teaching strategies that are out there, but are currently not part of the day to day practice.  The Innovative Learning masters provides me with the opportunity to explore, learn about, practice, implement, and share what I have learned with other teachers.  This will be the greatest gift that this masters program has provided me, the gift of information, knowledge, and growth.

I chose to focus on teaching English Language Learners math because I focused on teaching math for the last 6 years in the classroom.  I understood the challenges and saw a need for leadership and knowledge in the math department at one of the middle schools that I was working at.  I knew I wanted to support the teachers at the school to help their English Language Learners in math.

Capstone Project

Carla Massie
Canyon Oaks Elementary
Teacher

Teaching has always been my passion. I knew that I wanted to teach since I was in the 5th grade. I had some pretty influential teachers during those early years who left their teaching imprint upon me.

My family supported me as I attended The Ohio State University to pursue my teaching career at eighteen. I was fortunate to enroll in an innovative teaching program that had just begun at the University which put me in the classroom in the first week of my freshman year. I loved it! That program had excellent mentor teachers from a local school that encouraged me to work to my full potential.

When I graduated, I moved to California and began teaching in a private school. I was able to gain experience in curriculum design. Three years later, I began my public school career in the Sacramento Unified School District. Fueled with my knowledge of curriculum design, I was an eager 25 year old ready to shape the minds of the youth of the 20th century.

After 9 years of teaching and with the support of my husband, Kevin, I took time off to raise our 3 children, Jessica, Kevin II, and Jennifer. By far, I had some of my greatest and most satisfying teaching moments over the 8 years with my children.

In 2005, I returned to full time teaching in the Napa Valley Unified School District at Canyon Oaks Elementary School. Over the last twelve years, I have found a teaching home and shaped the minds of many of the 21st century youth. Canyon Oaks has provided me with many opportunities to expand my professional development.

In 2015, I was honored to be chosen as the Napa County Teacher of the Year.

Capstone Website

Martha McCoy
Calistoga Elementary
Teacher

I have had the honor of teaching in Elementary School since 1996. I received my BA from The Evergreen State College, a Master’s in Health Sciences from Duke University and my teaching credential, and BCLAD from Dominican University, California. I completed second Master’s in Education – Innovative Learning from Touro University in January 2013 and have joined the adjunct faculty at Tuoro University – Graduate School of Education.  I bring my background in science and health into the classroom and am excited about using Project Based Learning, science, the arts, and technology to develop lifelong learning skills in our young students.  I believe that education is the key to happiness and ultimately saving the world! We must empower our students and the community to follow their dreams by helping them access the resources and tools needed to accomplish this.

About My Classroom:
I believe the best learning happens when students are joyfully engaged in meaningful inquiries and projects.  In my Kindergarten classroom we are focusing on learning about the environment and habitats of our Napa River. Through exciting projects we are building the foundational skills for reading, writing, math and learning how to work together. We learn about our own growth and how we learn as we develop the lifelong skills of communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity – innovation, and ethics.

Capstone Website

Maureen McCullough
Donaldson Way Elementary
Teacher

What about me? I liked school, most of the time, but as the years passed I often got into trouble. Reflecting on this, I believe it was because I was impatient with the speed of the classroom.

As an educator I reflect on my experiences as a learner to help guide my teaching.

Some of my deepest learning has come, not from teachers themselves, but from the experience of how the learning was structured. How the environment was managed and how the teacher felt about their subject.

With these thoughts in mind, I have always tried to engage myself first and my students as a result in the learning process.

I went into education at age 40, after spending 20 or so years working in the food and wine industry and raising my children. During these years I was always learning something new: botany for my garden, horticulture because I live in Napa, cooking because I wanted to stay close to my father, etc.etc.etc. As an educator I have continually taken classes and read to improve my subject knowledge: Core Math, Teaching American History, Read to Learn, etc.

And still I felt I was growing stale, falling behind.

Over the fourteen years I have been in the classroom, I have watched the students and education evolve. My learning was designed to help me keep up with the evolution. The piece I was not embracing was technology. I had a basic knowledge, and in fact pushed my site to rethink the use of technology and was instrumental in many of the changes at our site, but personally I was a little bit stuck and afraid, reluctant to put in the time.

With my sites move towards being a model of the modern classroom I knew it was time for me to face my fears and move forward on a new frontier.

I have started the process.

Capstone Website

Jacqueline Ray McDill
Harvest Middle
Teacher

The purpose of this study was to determine whether the implementation of a social networking-based digital homework program would lead to an increase in homework completion.

Capstone Project

Jennifer Meno
Yountville Elementary
Teacher

Teresa Messmer
Robert Lewis Stevenson Middle
Teacher

The way I would describe myself would be to say that I am a high energy, enthusiastic, optimist. I always have been. I came into education naturally. I love the interactions with my students and colleagues. I love the energy of collaboration and creation of amazing curriculum.

I am a life-long learner. I thrive on challenges and big picture adventures. It is a gift to me that I am teaching during this critical time in education. I look at this era as a time of enlightenment. The idea of creating projects that will open my students’ love of learning truly excites me. When I struggle with lack of engagement on my students’ part I feel motivated to find out why and how I can be an agent of transformation for them.

I am fortunate to be a part of the St. Helena Unified School District. I have been with the district for 20 years and have enjoyed tremendous support and encouragement in my quest for relevant and authentic education for all students in the district.

I have two wonderful daughters and am proud of their contributions to their communities.  They have each pursued innovative professions. One is a marketing and branding specialist in Oakland and the other is a Spiritual Psychologist and Life Coach in Napa.

Capstone Website

Julie Meyer-Houston
Canyon Oaks Elementary
Teacher

“Everyone Does Better When Everyone Does Better” is my worldview motto, and it has been shared with my students since 2003 when I first became a public school substitute teacher and has continued to be shared with every colleague, parent, and cohort of 4th-graders since 2005 when Canyon Oaks Elementary School opened. That motto encompasses the moral imperative for all interactions (personal and professional) to be based on helping each other maximize their potential, like another important aphorism, “A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats.”

The modalities of Inquiry-based Learning vis-a-vis Project-based Learning and Explicit Direction Instruction are utilized in our classroom so students can meet their goals of becoming self-directed, self-motivated learners, and peer-tutors equipped with the 21st century skills of collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, communication, character, citizenship (locally and globally), and agency for college and career readiness.  I encourage our students to see every moment as an opportunity to learn, so they, too, can be lifelong learners!

My success with students centers around teaching them to LEARN to LOVE to LEARN and building these essential mindsets for growth:
1) Persevere; see mistakes as opportunities for discovery
2) Learn to know what to do; anticipate unknowns and recognize patterns
3) Concentrate; develop focus
4) Know when to take a break (e.g. move/rest for re-energizing)
5) Practice deliberately
6) Reflect on what works and needs revision
7) Celebrate successes
8) Appreciate everyone and everything around us!

Serving ALL students through the spectrum of varying needs is my joy. In addition to being a general education multi-subject educator, I am the site lead for supporting our ALPS-identified students (advanced learners); and, I am the intervention teacher for 4th-grade students who need targeted intensive reading support through the System 44 and Read 180 curricula. Also, because I was born into a home where multiple Pilipino dialects were spoken, I was a former English language learner (ELL), which is a motivating factor for my passion to meet the needs of my ELL students. Hence, these are the reasons for my TPACK-based project design to meet the needs of ELL (and ALL) students.

In addition to being an enthusiastic 4th-grade teacher, my responsibilities include serving on our site Leadership Team as the Grade Level Lead; Super Saturday Academy Site Administrator & Lead; Safety Patrol Coordinator; GATE/ALPS Lead and Project Zone Manager; and, PLC member of the Superintendent Staff Advisory Committee and on the Fullan System-wide Transformational Leadership team. I have a Tier 1 Administrative Services Credential, and I was named Teacher of the Year by the Napa Valley Education Foundation in 2012. During the time that I have been in this Innovative Learning Program, our site received an award for Best Napa Valley Unified School District Super Saturday Academy Team and Attendance at the elementary school level from Ed Link and AARC (Academic Attendance Recovery Coordinated Program).

Capstone Website

Melinda Miller
Napa High
Teacher

I have 4 BA degrees in Art and 1 BA degree in Business: Photograph, Drawing & Painting, Printmaking and Sculpture. ​I have taught Advanced levels of 4 out of the 5 subject areas, but not Printmaking, hopefully in the future. I love making art and sharing my artwork with my students and patron​s.

My journey through Touro University Master Program in Innovative Learning has opened my eyes to new ways of reaching my students and aiding them for the future with technology. My research was oriented around teaching students to become stronger problem solving, critical thinking, and cognitive minded young adults. The critique form I have developed will be used to critique each other’s artwork and artists of importance. Finding new tools for educating in the study arts classroom was fruitful.  Eportfolios, Paperless documents and critique forms are a few of the tools developed during this program of learning. I’ve shown some samples in this website and I use them my classroom.

I’ve always been a 21st Century teacher embracing the new technology as it becomes apart of our lives. I’m embracing my new found tools that will aid me to teach creativity.

I’m still working to build a better mouse trap to say about critique forms using electronic media.

Capstone Website

Kelley Miller
Silverado Middle
Academic Specialist

Kelley is an academic coach, English teacher, and educational consultant.

She first entered the Napa Fellows program on a quest to improve the project based learning in her classroom: the projects were fun and student interest was high, but students weren’t engaging with academic content in a way that matched the rigor of common core. Since that initial inquiry, Kelley has become an ardent practitioner and trainer for Rigorous PBL.

Kelley also has an interest in building collective efficacy with teachers: identifying, celebrating, and improving our impacts as a system of educators. In that capacity, her work as an academic coach has involved leading professional learning in PLCs, leadership teams, and local and international professional development.

Kelley lives with her husband and two children in Napa, California. She speaks English and Spanish, and middle school. (She also gets really geeky about spreadsheets.)

Capstone Website

Karly Miller
NVUSD
Teacher on Special Assignment

Reading, writing, listening and speaking.  My passion lies in teaching elementary students how to build these fundamental skills, and more importantly supporting ALL students to be college and career ready.

​I have been teaching and learning with children in the Northern California for 11 years.  I work in Napa Valley Unified school district and am currently supporting teachers as a District Academic Specialist focused on ELA/ELD.  I am the mother of two girls, Mary (8) and Ellie (6) who inspire me daily to grow and learn.

Capstone Website

Todd Mills
Robert Louis Stevenson
Teacher

I am a teacher. After over twenty years in the classroom, I am still excited about how I can better help my students learn.

My wife and I are the parents of two preadolescences. Through parenting, I am learning even more about child development and learning.

Significantly, because of this,  today I am compelled to help my students become masters of their own learning. ​

After all these years, I feel that I have mastered the content that I teach. I also think that my pedagogy is very strong. I love teaching and know that personal consistency and change will keep me going strong.

My students show both a continuity and change as well. They show continuity in that they are still middle school students with all their constituent joys, foibles, challenges, humor, points of insight, and struggles in understanding; in other words, they are adolescents. They show change in that the children are exposed to more ever-changing technology at an earlier age. This is affecting how they learn.

Capstone Website

Caitlin Mitchell
Shearer Elementary
Teacher

Hi! I’m Caitlin Mitchell. I am currently a 1st grade teacher at Shearer Elementary school. I was hired there 8 years ago and after a wonderful journey I will be moving up to 5th grade. I remember when I hung up the phone after scheduling an interview to teach at Shearer my husband said to me, “ You do know that that will be one of the most challenging places to work here in Napa don’t you?” At the time I felt scared and unsure. I knew I would have many students that did not speak English, many students who were suffering from some kind of trauma, or students who lived a impoverished life. I could not and would not chose to change these circumstances today even if you asked me to move to a new place. These challenges that riddle my work day have become cornerstone to what motivates me to do better and try harder.

Capstone Project

Brady Mitchell
Vintage High
Teacher

A website project is developed for the flipped classroom and blended learning with features and functionality integrating mastery learning and inductive learning strategies.

Capstone Project

Wendy Momsen
Harvest Middle
Teacher

Kathleen Moorehead
Howell Mountain Elementary
Teacher

Hi, I’m Kathy Moorehead. I was born in Menlo Park, CA and went to high school at Notre Dame in Belmont. Then I got my undergraduate in English and American History at the University of California in Santa Barbara. After that, I worked as a corporate paralegal at Ware and Freidenrich in Palo Alto while I raised my first child, Matthew, with my husband Mike Moorehead. In 1989, My husband’s job as an electrical engineer at Hewlett Packard moved us up to Sonoma County where I had my second child, Michelle, and also where I got my single subject in English and my Multiple Subject Teaching Credential at Sonoma State University. After subbing for many years while raising my children, I went back to work at first part-time and then full time in Sonoma and then Napa County. I have been teaching full-time for eight years now and have been teaching using the project-based learning method since 2009. I went back to school in 2009 to get my GATE credential from San Bernardino State University, and then again in 2013 to get my Masters of Education in Technology and Innovative Learning from Touro University, CA.

Currently, I am a kindergarten teacher working in the Napa Valley at a small K-8 school, Howell Mountain Elementary School. I have taught almost all the grades now: TK, K, 1, 5, 6, 7 and 8. I also teach an after school class which began as a film class but has now morphed to include stop motion, animation, and web 2.0 presentation tools of all kinds. We love to green screen and make iMovies and create digital portfolios to house our creations.

We introduced iPads to our kindergarten room in 2012, and we have used them daily as an integral part of our literacy centers program and also at math time to differentiate instruction and extend our learning. I’m a big believer in working with math manipulatives in lower and even upper elementary to help build solid foundations in all of the math strands, so our tables and floors are usually strewn with blocks, links, cubes, Cuisenaire rods, clocks, bears, foam shapes, shape templates, and too much more to mention! I believe that a child’s work is to play, and we are doing the hard work each day to build those core educational concepts as we play. We also work each day to build the social emotional development of each child that is so critical to their success as a student and in life. The afternoon is all hands-on with PBL activities in our science and social studies units. It is a fun day here in the kindergarten room, and I feel blessed to have such an important place in the educational life of each child. Each one of them has a special place in my heart.

Capstone Website

Tracy Moskowite
River Middle
Teacher

I have worked hard and earned all that I have. I, Tracy Moskowite, am a first generation college grad. I put myself through college after graduating from New Technology High School in Napa. School and learning has never come easy to me. I learned how to learn and I became a teacher to help kids at an early age figure it out for themselves.

I am a math teacher at River Middle School. My focus is teaching students how to teach themselves. Since starting the masters program at Touro University for Innovative Learning and Technology, thanks to Napa Learns, there is now validation and research behind how I like to teach. The focus on trans-literacy as well as sense-making has given validation that teaching students different tools and focusing on labeling learning techniques is what brings clarity to learning and applying learning.

As a struggling learner myself it was hard to explain what I didn’t know or how I didn’t understand. As a teacher and as a student in the innovative learning program, I have learned that it is important to know which technique you are using. This inspired my research was knowing the method to understand the content. I have the ability to put myself back into the shoes of a first time learner which helps me to reach my students in a unique and individualized ways. I noticed my students were unaware of the titles for teaching strategies.

Capstone Project

Mary Myers
Redwood Middle
Teacher

Kathy Newman
River Charter
Teacher

Teacher of 6, 7, and 8th Grade Physical Education

“Intelligence and skill can only function at the peak of their capacity when the body is healthy and strong.” John F. Kennedy

Physical Education, Health, and Math have been my teaching passions for the past thirty years, a career that has taken me from Illinois, Tanzania, Oregon and finally to California. I love movement and play and the happiness that it brings to children and adults alike.

I have also enjoyed the unique perspective of experiencing the Internet evolve from it’s birth to its astounding and relevant status. So much inspiring and rich information can be gained and shared with this medium. My educational adventure has been amazing and possible thanks to my husband, my son, my students, my colleagues and, now, completing a Masters degree in Innovative Teaching and Learning from Touro University. I am inspired to continue studying and providing challenging learning experiences for all of my students.

Capstone Website

Melissa Newman
Browns Valley Elementary
Teacher

I have always known that I’ve wanted to become a teacher. I can remember some of my teachers from early elementary grades, and absolutely loving them and their connections they were able to make with me. Throughout Middle and High school, I continued to have teachers who not only taught the subject matter, but who also made sure to foster relationships with their students. Since I had such positive experiences in my schooling, my mind was set to become a teacher.

In my classroom, I know that at the end of the school year my students need to be at a specific level for Math and Language Arts. They also need to have an understanding of Science, and Social Studies. I try to find ways to incorporate different activities to keep my students interested.

The use of technology has been a great way to change up my classroom environment. I use Prodigy for Math concepts, and practice. My students love listening to the Podcast, 6 minutes. I try to have students type stories, as well perform research. I have students present projects as well. I really try to bring a fair combination of learning tools to my students.

Capstone Project

Heather O'Neill
Napa High
Teacher

This project created a website for math teachers with access to technology implementation ideas, web 2.0 tools, content standards, Common Core State Standard lessons, and performance tasks.

Capstone Project

Marisabel Olguin
Napa Valley Language Academy
Teacher

Thank you for visiting my website. You’ll see here that my mission is to incorporate technology in the classroom in a meaningful way. My driving question is: How will students engage with an online platform for independent reading?

​I recently have been working on getting my master’s in innovative learning but my journey has been a long time coming. Sixteen years ago I discovered my love for teaching, nurturing and helping others. As a happily married mother with a few college credits to my name, in 2001 I was given the opportunity to work for the Napa Valley Unified School District in a dual immersion school. I jumped at the opportunity and climbed my way to the top. After eight years as a Instructional Assistant I was given the opportunity to teach Pre Kindergarten. While teaching Pre Kinder I began my quest towards earning my teaching credential. Now a mother of three I decided to take it one step at a time.

I am currently in my second year of teaching fourth grade and loving every minute of it. I am still at the same dual immersion school and I look forward to using all I have learned in this Master’s of Innovative Learning Program to incorporating technology in the classroom in a meaningful way to enhance both my and my students 21st century educational experience.

Capstone Project

Diana Olguin
Vintage High
Teacher

I grew up either taking care or nurturing my siblings while my parents were away at work. It all changed once I had my son, my care taking practices transferred to him. At 22 years of age and without a college or trade school degree, I embarked on the path of becoming a certified nurse assistant as suggested by my mother.  Soon after, in 1999, I was working at the Sonoma Developmental Center for adults. My first assignment was to substitute for a teacher who was out on vacation. Needless to say, she never returned. I had no previous experience working with highly disabled patients nor the first inkling for teaching vocational skills. After many months, a credentialed teacher took over the position, by then I was already intrigued in the process  of becoming a teacher.

By 2001, I transferred to Napa State Hospital as a psychiatric technician assistant. I quickly discovered a dislike for being mandated to work overtime, without  prior notice. It meant working double shifts (back to back) depending on the shortage of staff on a regular basis. This lack of planning propelled me to go back to Napa Valley College to finish up classes before transferring to Sonoma State University in 2002. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Chicano Latino Studies in 2005.

In 2007, I was hired at Napa State Hospital to do an internship with supervision from a credentialed teacher on site. I could teach with the intent of completing my Education Specialist Instruction Credential from Sonoma State University the following year. I would remain in this teaching position until 2016. Due to high security restrictions, students were not permitted to have access to the internet. With this in mind, I spent very little time in furthering my technology skills.

I applied for a Special Day Class teaching position through Napa Valley Unified School District and was hired in 2016-17. I knew coming into this position my lack of comfort in the world of technology. Hence, when the Innovative Learning program was presented at the school district, I did not hesitate and jumped on board.

Thank you to NapaLearns and Touro University California for creating this program to facilitate teachers’ learning and teaching while modeling  21st century learning skills for our students.

Capstone Website

 

Amanda Olson
Salvador Elementary
Teacher

Do you know any kids asking for attendance, and plan books for holidays? The likelihood of this is slim to none, but if you knew me then at least you knew one. From my very first day of school, I fell in love with learning, and I immediately adored and admired the nurturing, supportive, and inspirational nature of all of my educators. I always remember having a very clear awareness of the influential powers my elementary school teachers withheld and I was truly in awe of the role they played in the lives of all of their students. This awareness ignited within me an innate drive to become a teacher in order to make long lasting differences in the lives of my students. Teaching has not become what I do, but it is truly who I am.

After graduating from Sonoma State University’s Multiple-Subject Credential Program, I taught in the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District for three years. The Napa Valley Unified School District provided me endless opportunities to not only identify my dreams, but foster them, and achieve them as well, and it was always an aspiration of mine to be able to give back to the district that has given me so much. In 2015, I had the opportunity to work not only in the NVUSD, but at the elementary school I attended as a child. Teaching Kindergarten in the Kindergarten classroom I was apart of as a child as my Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Verkus, walked through the door to reminisce with me was a full circle type of experience that I will surely never forget. Being a Kindergarten teacher was a complete and utter game-changer for me. From the very moment I heard one of my students read a word/page/story for the first time, I knew how I could make the most everlasting positive impact on the lives of my students. Teaching early literacy skills to primary students was my driving force from that moment on.

With the ever increasing amount of technological, and pedagogical resources available, accompanied by my eagerness to guarantee all of my students a strong literacy foundation, I became driven by a hope for innovation in the typically mundane process of teaching phonics. The potential for improvement through professional development led me to seek out opportunities for an evolution in my teaching practice. When I learned about the Innovative Learning program through Touro from a coworker, I knew it could help guide my thirst for growth, and fuel my desire to fulfill my promise for literacy to all of my students through innovative implementations.

I am forever grateful for this program, my cohort members, and the abundance of generosity NapaLearns has displayed for helping the completion of this program become a reality for me. I have become so much more able to meet the needs of all of my pre-readers because of this program, and therefore have been able to impact the futures of not only my current students, but my future students as well. In addition, this program has allowed my audience to expand upon and far surpass the walls of my classroom, thereby withholding the potential to grant an innumerable amount of students with the early literacy skills that will lay the foundation for endless opportunities.

Capstone Website

Angela Oster
Browns Valley Elementary
Teacher

Students in third grade continue to score below proficient on standardized tests after instruction and intervention. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the use of a video camera as a self-assessment tool with a group of struggling third grade readers would increase reading comprehension scores.

Capstone Project

Kendra Parsons
New Tech High
Teacher

As a little girl I would line up my stuffed animals and play “school.” I was the teacher and my mom tells me that I had high standards of my “class.” Fast forward a few years and I was graduating from Cal Poly Pomona with my degree in math and my teaching credential.

​I taught math at the high school level in Torrance, CA for eight years. During my time in Torrance our district partnered with Loyola Marymount University where we were changing the way we taught math. I went through an intense process of training and support. Eventually my classroom became a demonstration classroom and I began supporting other teachers as they went through the same process. I grew as an individual and as an educator.

Capstone Project

Jennifer Perkins
West Park Elementary
Teacher

Hello! My name is Jennifer Perkins, and I am in my dream profession right now as an upper elementary school teacher in the Napa Valley. Both of my parents were dynamic educators who devoted their professional lives to impacting their students in a motivational, and innovative way. I grew up in a home where education was not only valued, but where it was a career choice that led to fulfillment, joy, and impact. There was never a time I doubted that I wanted to be a teacher.

Capstone Project

Julie Picard
American Canyon Middle
Teacher

This project sought to provide a simple, user-friendly website for teachers using the New Tech Network Echo system.

Capstone Project

Kristin Pruitt
Canyon Oaks Elementary
Teacher

I grew up in a small Northern California town, and for as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. After graduating with a BA in Psychology from Sonoma State University, I received my Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from Dominican University.

I started my teaching career at McKinley Elementary in Petaluma, CA teaching the sixth grade. After 10 years there, I moved to the Napa Valley Unified School District. I have now been teaching for almost 23 years. I am currently teaching fifth grade at Canyon Oaks Elementary, but I’ve spent the last 12 years teaching first grade.

I love teaching! I love getting to know my students and being a part of their lives. I love the excitement in their eyes when they’re exploring something new, or when they’ve just made a connection. I have always strived to create a safe learning community within my classroom.

Capstone Website

Cheryl Rainville
Bel Aire Park Elementary
Teacher

The outcome of this project was to create a website to be a resource for teaching children between the ages of 8 and 11 to use the Internet for research efficiently and effectively.

Project Poster

Jessica Rennie
Canyon Oaks Elementary
Teacher

After 18 years of teaching Kindergarten through 5th Grade, including Art, Reading, and Math Intervention Instruction, hugs, high fives, and fist bumps are still my favorite way to interact!

Capstone Project

 

Ronnie Riddell
Harvest Middle
Teacher

The purpose of this project was to examine the best opportunities to help students master common core standards (CCS) in a way that is both academically sound and engaging.

Capstone Project

Paige Rios
St. Helena High
AVID Dept Chair

Since the August 1993, I have been a teacher at St Helena High School in St Helena, CA. I hold credentials in mathematics and social science. Over the my teaching career, I have taught the span of math classes from Pre-Algebra to Pre-Calculus as well as World History, US History and ELL “sheltered” courses. It was in the Fall of 2001 that I was given the opportunity to implement and teach our AVID program (the first in Napa County).

Within the context of AVID teaching, I found my true passion in education: to raise the bar for all students who were willing to take the challenge. The longer I taught AVID, the more I realized the need to offer academically rigorous upper-level courses that would give students the preparation needed for college success. The most pressing need was for a math course beyond Algebra II apart from the calculus track: enter Statistics. This eventually led to an AP Statistics offering and now our school offers both college prep and AP Statistics.

Two years ago, I proposed implementing AP Psychology at our school; the 2013-2014 school year marked its beginning. I am proud that, through the development of both programs, we have successfully mirrored our school’s ethnic and socio-economic diversity, while at the same time maintained Advanced Placement pass rates well above the national average. I hope in the future to share my work with other Advanced Placement teachers to demonstrate that, with proper support, ALL students with the willingness to work can be successful in challenging and rigorous courses.

Capstone Website

Charity Romstad
Valley Oak High
Technology Integration Specialist

I received my BA in English from Pacific Union College and have taught Secondary English for over 12 years.

My classrooms have always been filled with students from a diverse range of backgrounds, academic ability and interest pursuits. Whether moving from one classroom to another on the same campus, in another district, or on another continent, I have found that a change of environment opens new understandings and opportunities to grow as an educator.

After embarking on the journey of my Master’s in Education through Touro’s Innovative Learning program, I opened up my local education environment in ways that will allow me to access new experiences and connect with the global learning community no matter where I am teaching in the world. After completing my M.Ed. in August 2013, I will be moving to Rabat, Morocco, but expect to stay connected with the California education community via digital clouds.

Capstone Website

Brad Rowell
American Canyon High
Teacher

This project identifies beneficial physical education apps for students.

Capstone Project

Pam Rubel
Calistoga Elementary
Teacher

I had been working with iPads for 2 years in my Kindergarten classroom when I began my master’s program in innovative learning. Choosing a topic for my capstone project was agonizing. I doubted whether I could really transform my practice through one project. Maybe I’m not a wholly new teacher, but I have changed. My thinking changed.

I used to think that my project would be a complete package with all the components inventoried and organized. The project would exist here in the Learnovation Lab and that would be that. After watching Chris Anderson’s video I realized that my project was actually an organic entity. Much like my classroom these days, it is fluid and changing with my evolution as a teacher integrating technology with new common core state standards and project based learning.

Capstone Website

Bobby Ruth
American Canyon Middle
Teacher

This handbook addresses the issue of lower test scores due to heightened anxiety and aims to increase them through the normalization of assessment situations.

Capstone Project

Nai Saelee
American Canyon Middle
Teacher

I am an 8th grade math teacher at American Canyon Middle School and the 2017-2018 academic year will be my fourth year of full-time teaching. My motivation for joining the Innovative Learning program was simply because I wanted to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to better prepare my students for the demands of the 21st century by helping them develop necessary skills (6 C’s) for college and careers. Particularly, I wanted to affect change within the lives of ALL of my students, particularly my at risk students because I believe that all children deserve equitable access to education and opportunities no matter their background. My passion for social justice stems from personal experience with poverty and adversity. For that reason, I feel a personal connection with my students and I feel deeply invested in helping my students reach their goals and become happy successful global citizens.

To elaborate on my personal experience with poverty and adversity, I attended a very poor and rough high school. My high school was a place that was filled with gang violence where many of the students felt confused, frustrated, and truly believed that effort was meaningless. I like many of my peers, had immigrant parents who spoke little to no English and could not help us navigate the educational system nor advocate for us. Our lack of knowledge prevented us from accessing resources and opportunities. Although that was my reality, I am determined to make sure that it is not the reality for my students. We may not all begin at the same starting line in the race, but with effort, it is possible to arrive at the finishing line with those ahead of us. With the aid of the Innovative Learning program, I hope to narrow the achievement and opportunity gap that exist.

Within my own classroom, there is so much diversity–in race, culture, and abilities. Necessary differentiation is embedded in my teaching practice but does not begin to address the needs of all of my students. Moreover, significant one-on-one student-teacher time is impossible because of the limited amount of time we can allot to each student in the day. Because everyone is at different starting points in abilities and backgrounds, this presents equity issues. Many students are left behind because they cannot keep up or do not have access to a device or the internet. I also noticed that students who learned a skill or concept would quickly forget it and could not apply that knowledge to different contexts signifying that students were not gaining mastery of the content. What is the point in gaining knowledge that cannot be used? Hence, I embarked on this journey in the Innovative Learning program to find out how I can infuse technology and other innovative teaching techniques as a way to not only engage students but to also help deepen their understanding so that they can achieve content mastery and transfer of learning and develop essential critical thinking skills to prepare them for the 21st century.

Capstone Website

Jona Sandau
Donaldson Way Elementary
Academic Specialist

I can remember being in high school, up late one night doing homework and sarcastically crying out, “I’ll never be done with homework! I’ll probably become a teacher and have homework for the rest of my life!” I laugh now, knowing that I had no intention of that statement ever coming true when I said it.

Out of college, I spent a few years as a research assistant and literacy volunteer for the California Youth Authority, followed by six years as a health educator for low-income pregnant women and teens. I began to realize that I’d been circling education and helping children indirectly long enough, and finally became a teacher.

As a teacher, I treasure the opportunity to have a lasting positive impact on my students. I love teaching them to persevere, and that without struggle, there is no growth.

Capstone Project

Alexander Saslow
Napa High
Teacher

Alexander McClarin Saslow is the son of a teacher, and of a musician turned programmer. Being raised by a doctorate in chemistry exposed him early to the wonders of science and education. Being raised by a musician taught him the beauty of music and the arts. To be fair, both parents were excellent at instilling both sets of beliefs as both had background in both science and music.

From this background Alex decided early on that he wanted to be a teacher to help students in learning about the world around them through science. He wanted to be there for his students in a way that only a few teachers were ever there for him.

He graduated from Humboldt State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Oceanography, and a minor in Geology. Alex chose this major because it let him learn the most amount of math and science he could get his hands on, and let him hang out at the ocean. He also sang in their jazz choir group, Mad River Transit Singers, for four years. For a brief stint he even played electric bass in the Marching Lumberjacks, the marching band.

From there he jumped directly into the classroom, and instantly loved it.

The image to the right is a sketch two students made of Alex in his first year as a teacher. It captures not only his amazing dress sense (yay, colorful shirts!), but also one of his biggest goals as an educator: to show students the MAGIC that is science.

Alex Saslow’s educational theory can be summed up in the following statement: We learn best when we struggle.

Ending up at Napa High School, Alex heard about NapaLearns and the Touro University California Master’s Program. With his unquenchable passion to learn more and how to incorporate technology and educational research into his practice, he entered the Innovative Learning Master’s degree program.

Capstone Website

Kristine Schaffer
Calistoga Elementary
Teacher

I am a teacher with a love of the natural world and a passion for moving students beyond learning to read to loving to read.

I started out at the University of Wyoming with a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Conservation and Management then, while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nicaragua, became interested in education. I came to California after the Peace Corps and began teaching 6th grade in the Bay Area at an English/Spanish dual-immersion elementary school eventually moving to Northern California where I taught Adult Ed English, ELD (English Language Development), Kindergarten, and 2nd grade. Recently, I jumped down the rabbit hole of technology in a Master’s Program in Innovative Learning and am exploring the use of e-readers to motivate struggling and reluctant readers.

I currently teach 2nd grade at Calistoga Elementary School where I proudly aided the school in achieving National Blue Ribbon status and becoming a California Distinguished School.

Capstone Website

Joseph Schmitz
Vintage High
Teacher

Sandrine Schocher
Napa High
Teacher

This project created a French and PBL website.

Capstone Project

Ben Scinto
Saint Helena High
Principal

I came to the Innovative Learning program out of an acknowledgement of both my ignorance and curiosity. Having spent the last 14 years as an administrator, I have been less of a practitioner than I feel is essential to be a true instructional and transformational leader. That said, I have always had the mindset that it is within my purview and skillset to do something about it, thus I am here. Also, recent learnings, e.g., Jo Boaler’s Growth Mindset conference at Stanford, have peaked my interest and led me down a path of wanting to know and do more relative to my role as administrator and subsequently, my driving question. In terms of the interplay with the aforementioned and my overall educational philosophy, that is a challenge to detail given the extent to which my beliefs have been uniquely shaped by my experiences, both personal and professional, consciously and subconsciously. If asked to distill my philosophy down to its most rudimentary level, I would say I continually and strategically work to improve the student academic and social situation; that teachers are the ones who have the greatest impact and that we must afford them the time and space to make learning happen.

How does this and everything else swirling around in my head influence my TPACK journey? Luckily, or humbly speaking, my content knowledge is grossly limited, rendering the effect minimal in that domain. That said, I have worked to grow my technological knowledge within this program while maintaining a relatively strong background in instructional practices. This program has been the proverbial shot-in-the-arm in terms of what I needed most.

Capstone Website

Amye Scott
West Park Elementary
Principal

Amye Billings Scott has been teaching and learning with children in the North Bay are for 14 years. She has specialized in working with English Learners and in supporting other teachers as BTSA Trainer and Support Provider as well as an Instructional Coach. She is also the mother of two boys, Micah (10) and Liam (8) who challenge her daily to always strive to do better.

Capstone Website

Kendal Shomura
Formerly with NVUSD
Ed Tech Coordinator

Meaningful professional development is dependent on inclusion and participation of those presented to. A website was developed to encourage teacher collaboration and participation in the learning environment.

Capstone Project

Karling Skoglund
Redwood Middle
Teacher

I grew up in a house with a computer.  In fact I was the first of my school friends to get one.  I spent countless hours on the program Kid Pix on an Apple Macintosh with a floppy disk drive.  This was lucky for me growing up in Humboldt County in the rain soaked winters and soggy summers.  I would not describe myself as an indoor child, I spent dry and even wet days playing in acres of pastures with more horse manure to shovel than is plausible to even remember.  I literally moved mountains of it. But those hours spent playing on the screen, troubleshooting, adding and deleting and making mistakes that the open ended program of Kid Pix allowed, gave me a foundation that I realize now has influenced my attitude toward technology and even my sense of confidence with it today.

My name is Karling Skoglund and I am a teacher at Redwood Middle School in Napa CA.  Throughout my 12 year career as a teacher, I have seen the evolution of technology in classrooms and see the need for integration and innovation with one to one devices that capture the attention and give dimension and depth to my students’ experience.  I teach 6th grade math and science and I am passionate about pushing students to be their best selves while being the support to develop and inspire students to have a love of learning.

I started the innovative learning program with a little experience teaching in classrooms with one to one devices.  This limited experience, I realize now, was spent directing my students to use technology as a substitute for traditional learning strategies.  My students were ready with Chromebooks in hand, but I was not even scratching the surface of the capabilities these technology tools had to offer.  I needed direction, time to explore the possibilities and a helping hand to give advice and guidance.

My new assignment as a middle school math and science teacher in the fall of 2018 thrust me into a subject area with supportive colleagues and administration but with a gaping hole in my ability and expertise with innovation and integration of technology into my lessons.  Throughout my journey in the innovative learning program I have discovered new theories, techniques, and ways to capture engagement and foster creativity that was unfamiliar to me before. I realize now that my journey as an educator has a before and after, and I am excited to begin my “after I got my masters” phase so I can truly challenge, prepare, and engage my students so they can embrace a love for learning.

Capstone Website

Lisa Marie Smith
St. Helena High
Teacher

I began my journey to becoming a teacher right after graduating high school. However, I was redirected to the medical field and became a Medical Laboratory Technician and Phlebotomist. After my two children started elementary school, I returned to school with plans to complete coursework in forensic science. However, my son began to struggle with reading and writing, and I quickly found myself reconsidering my major and changed to elementary and special education, with a minor in History. My first two years as a special education teacher was teaching Deaf and Hard of Hearing and students with Pervasive Developmental Disabilities in Washington state. In 2009 I relocated back to the Napa Valley, where I grew up.  I have been working as a Special Education Specialist and Transition teacher for students with moderate to severe disabilities since 2009.

My hobbies include sewing, crafting, woodworking, cooking, baking, and traveling in my motorhome. I also dabble in the art of clowning, magic, face painting, balloon twisting, and making others laugh with corny jokes. How does this apply to my teaching practice one might ask. I utilize these skills in my teaching practice to connect with students and give them skills to share with others. Often, individuals with disabilities are teased, and others laugh at them. Humor and other clowning allow me to give others a reason to laugh “at me” without my limitation being the center of that laughter. Additionally, these skills will enable me to make learning fun and engaging in and out of the classroom.

I have learned over the last decade that traditional inside the box teaching practices and methodologies are not practical nor productive with students with special needs, especially students with moderate to severe disabilities. Additionally, students that are identified as non-verbal and non or low readers who struggle with writing were getting lost in their inclusive learning environments with traditional textbooks and grade-level instruction and materials.

Since completed my teacher preparation program, I have completed graduate coursework in Special Education and Educational Leadership. However, I quickly realized that innovation and innovative learning was an essential missing component to my teaching practice and “tool kit.” While I am skillful in teaching “outside the box” to meet the learning and instruction needs of my students, I lacked teaching with 21st-century skills and including the 4C’s (critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity) within my daily instruction delivery.  Even though, my classroom is equipped with one-to-one laptops, iPads, document camera, projector, desk top computers, flat screen television and a interactive touch screen.

​I was motivated to return to Touro University to complete the Master’s program in Innovative Learning. I am excited and thrilled with the positive impact that the program and my participation have had on the learning of the students in my classroom. Students are engaged, motivated, and improving their reading comprehension, and parents are increasing their involvement with their student’s homework and learning.

Being a mother and grandmother of an individual with special needs and my own experience as an adult with disabilities allows me to connect with my students, parents, and community members. Furthermore, I can share with others positively, that gives them positive experiences when interacting with their students who have disabilities.

I believe I am leading by example for my students in being a life-long learner that can problem-solve, think critically, communicate, collaborate, and bring creativity into my teaching practices. Lastly, ensuring that my students learning environment is one that is culturally sensitive, mindful, open-minded, safe, respect and demonstrates being responsible is one that allows students to be independent and successful as they transition from school to college and/or career.

Capstone Website

Jeremy Smith
Calistoga Elementary
Teacher

Hello! My name is Jeremy Smith. My decision to be an educator happened after spending my senior year of high school studying abroad in Spain. I wanted to use my newly acquired language skills to help empower students and share the wonderful skill of bilingualism.

I attended Santa Rosa Junior College for two years and then transferred to U.C. Santa Cruz to study Spanish and Latin American Literature. During this time I also studied abroad for one year at the University of San José in Costa Rica. I then received my bilingual teaching credential from Sonoma State in 1999.

I taught in a Dual Immersion school in Santa Rosa for two years until the “English in Public Schools” Proposition 227 initiative passed in California, which prohibited bilingual education. So I joined the Peace Corps and spent six years in Paraguay as an Education Sector Volunteer, Volunteer Coordinator, and Program Manager. My focus in Paraguay was on supporting teachers in Spanish-Guaraní Dual Immersion schools. Upon returning to the United States, I taught in Dual Immersion Schools in New Mexico for several years, and have now returned home to teach third grade in Calistoga Elementary School.

Because this is not a Dual Immersion school, I have looked for different ways to empower my students, and discovered that helping kids become literate in technology is another excellent way to do so. The school’s recent integration of individual laptops and iPads has allowed for students to practice transliteracy, or, the ability to read, write, and interact across a range of platforms, tools, and media. Knowing 21st Century skills, I have come to realize, can be as empowering if not more so, than being bilingual and bi-literate. But to teach these skills, I need to develop them myself.  The Touro University/NapaLearns Innovative Learning Program has proven to be an excellent way for me to do this.

Capstone Project

Paula Sotiras
Phillips Elementary
Teacher

I am a teacher, wife, daughter, sister, proud aunt, and a fur baby mama. I have been teaching in elementary school for 15 years primarily in grades 4-6. I really love teaching and being around children for the majority of my day. I know that this profession will be my only until one day I retire with a home near the ocean on some Grecian island. Then I can rest my mind from multitasking, and my only concern will be enjoying the view and maybe a glass of wine.

Capstone Project

Debra St Clair
Harvest Middle
Librarian

Alexis Stepney
Donaldson Way Elementary
Teacher

I decided my junior year in high school that I wanted to be a teacher. I had always enjoyed babysitting opportunities, working at after school programs and summer camps, playing with my friends younger siblings and teaching smaller kids how to do new things, so I knew teaching was the perfect profession for me.

I received my Teaching Credential from Chico State University in 2008. I then gave birth to my son and spent a few years substitute teaching to focus on my family. I finally got my first full time teaching position teaching 4th grade for Vallejo Unified School District in 2010.

​My home is now and has been for the past 6 years as a 1st grade teacher at Donaldson Way Elementary School in American Canyon.

​Donaldson Way has allowed me to come into my own and develop teaching practices that support the classroom community and its dynamic influence on my students respecting their own and their classmates learning environment.

Currently, my family of six keeps me very busy and I am embarking on a new adventure of teaching a 1st/2nd grade combination class this school year.

Capstone Website

Ryan David Strole
Valley Oak High
Teacher

Though I’ve been a high school English teacher for years, I’m a camp counselor at heart. I love kids, and have always gravitated towards young people. I love fresh ideas, curiosity, and the creativity that comes from being totally immersed in learning.

I’m married to an amazing partner and wicked Chef, Liz and together we have a 4 year old daughter, Lily, who is a total goofball and my inspiration to rediscover the world.

Touro’s Innovative Learning Program has been a great place to learn about the emerging technologies that are transforming the classroom. The program teaches “action research” in a way that transforms how you think about teaching, and indeed, knowledge building. ​I can’t recommend this program enough, especially to Napa teaching professionals who can benefit from the NapaLearns grant!

Capstone Project

Carla Surber
Calistoga Junior-Senior High
College & Career Counselor

Having completed my bachelor’s degree in English (1999) and single subject teaching credential (2000) at Sonoma State University, I began my teaching career in 2000 at a large comprehensive high school in Vallejo, CA. After eight wonderful years I moved to Calistoga where I’ve been teaching for the past five years. I love my students and their families in Calistoga, and not a day goes by that I don’t miss my students and their families from Vallejo. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to work in two such incredible places.

Paulo Freire, in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, asserts that “Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity, or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.” Freire’s words inspired me as a new teacher and continue to fuel my ongoing journey to be the best teacher I can be. I have worked hard to create in my classroom the kind of learning community that would inspire and prepare students to participate “in the transformation of their world.” When I learned of an opportunity to further my own education through Touro University California’s online Innovative Learning program, I jumped at the chance. The timing was perfect in that I felt “at home” in Calistoga, and ready to try new things for me and my students.

Capstone Website

Sarah Tinloy Saunders
Valley Oak High
Teacher

I have always love helping and inspiring others to achieve their goals. I have always been interested in the fitness world. Together those interests have created a passion for providing opportunity to others to maintain a healthy and fit lifestyle by giving my students access to information that will help them be successful in all aspects of their lives. I love working with our youth, especially at-risk youth. I love watching the light of understanding shine in their eyes aka “the light bulb effect.”

Capstone Project

 

An Truong
American Canyon Middle
Teacher

After majoring in Kinesiology at San Jose State University, I wanted to become a personal trainer. Working at a commercial gym was very fast paced, entertaining, and very long evenings. I enjoyed helping my clients reach their fitness goals and feel healthier. One day, my client referred me to a charter high school in San Jose for the 9th grade physical education position. Not sure what I was getting myself, I decided to go through the interview process and to my surprise was offered the job.

On the first day of school, the supervisor lead me into the miniature basketball gym and told me this was my classroom. I had no idea what materials I needed or what was a lesson plan. During my first year of teaching, I started to connect with my students and began to realize  teachers make a huge impact on students. I wanted to be a part of that.

I worked four years at Downtown College Prep, then I moved on to ACE Charter School, a middle school also in San Jose. Next, I landed at another charter school called Magnolia Science Academy in Santa Clara. At Magnolia, I witness a lot of technology lessons in classroom and see how students implement and collaborate with peers. Moving back home to Vallejo, I worked at Benicia Middle School and had the opportunity to work with colleagues that incorporate technology tools into their lesson plans. I was amazed on learning how to use Google forms and Kahoot with my students.

Capstone Website

Samuel Urena
Napa High
Teacher

​I believe that I have always wanted to be in a career that involved working with the youth in my community. But honestly, never did I think that I would be teaching, and even less teaching math.

As a student, I was once labeled an English Language Learner. Going into kindergarten I didn’t know any English. I struggled but Mr. Morales supported me through kindergarten and first grade. He cared for his students and that is something that I never forgot and what motivated me to become a teacher. That is where my passion for teaching came up as I volunteered as a tutor at high school programs and did private tutoring as well. Now that I am in my third year teaching, I have been lucky to land my dream job of working with youth that are part of the same community that I grew up in.

Capstone Project

Karla Vale
Napa Valley Language Academy
Teacher

I was born and raised in San Francisco, CA. As far back as I can remember my parents instilled in me the message of ‘with hard work anything and everything is possible’. I knew I wanted to be a teacher from a very young age. I believed in the message my parents gave me and was the first person in my family to graduate college. I received an Associates of Arts Degree from Diablo Community College, and a Bachelors of Arts Degree from Cal State East Bay along with my teaching credential.

After nine years of teaching, I was starting to feel like I was out of touch with what was new and happening in education. I decided the solution was going back to school and began my journey in receiving a Master’s Degree in Education through Touro University.

I am currently a third grade teacher in a dual-immersion school where I share my love of the Spanish language to third grade students, and ensures that all of her students feel loved and appreciated!

Capstone Webite

Cassandra Van Dyne
Calistoga Junior-Senior High
Teacher

I’ve always considered myself a student and wanted to continue past my BA, get my Master’s (so close) and then get whatever else was next after that.

As a first year teacher, I spend most of my time trying new things, reflecting, and altering my actions to cater to my students. I currently teach in Oakland, CA at Skyline High School. We use a district-made curriculum that is engaging to many types of learners and offers a variety of different activities- but it is paper-heavy. I am constantly exploring new tools and ways to engage my learners. I have a background in After Class Enrichment programming and strive to connect what students learn to the always changing world around them.

I found Touro’s Innovative Learning Program prior to becoming a teacher in hopes of getting ahead and adding some tech tools to my toolbox. I have been introduced to so many amazing resources and applications! I have also had a great group of supportive cohort members, instructors, and advisers helping out along the way.

Capstone Website

Maria Vega
Napa High
Teacher

Profile coming soon! This study examined whether Project-based Learning infused with technology would be effective in a Spanish Heritage Speakers class.

Capstone Project

 

Jennifer Wade
Shearer Elementary
Teacher

This school picture is from 20 years ago, when I first started teaching in Seaside, California at a bi-lingual school. At the time I did not speak a word of Spanish, so I spent most of the day reading aloud to my kinder students, trying to make sense of what I was reading. Looking back, I am certain that they taught me more than I taught them. In the following years, I would travel to many places and have many educational experiences. All of which has kept me on the teacher path and for some reason, always back to kindergarten.

​A majority of my career has been as a public school kindergarten teacher in the Napa Valley, but I have also taught English at the Napa Adult School, was the Lead Teacher for the Migrant Education Summer Outreach Program,  taught parenting classes for summer school sessions, and was a 3rd-6th grade science teacher as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nicaragua from 2010 to 2012. My Spanish is much improved, but by no means fluent.

​My passion for teaching lies mainly in language development, early literacy, parent communication, and now innovation. It is an honor and a challenge to work with my kinder students at Shearer Elementary. I am working diligently to improve my instruction and remain current in my pedagogy.

Capstone Website

Angelene Warnock
New Tech High
Teacher

Angelene Warnock graduated from UC Davis with a B.S. in Natural Sciences/Chemistry and is completing her Master’s degree in Innovative Learning at Touro University. She is starting her 4th year at New Technology High School in Napa, CA, where she teaches Chemistry and Computer Science. In May 2015, Angelene was honored to receive the Napa Valley Office of Education and Rotary Teacher of the Year Award. She is passionate about 21st century learning and teaching.

Capstone Website

Lori Welty
District Office
Magnet Project Coordinator

My passion is facilitating school reform in an effort to prepare our students for the 21st century while closing the achievement gap. Having a background in Business, I can identify with the need to prepare our students for the 21st century. The ability to communicate, collaborate, create, think critically and interact socially will be necessary to support our students in this global economy.

I have been teaching students from kindergarten to 11th grade for the past 25 years. Throughout my tenure, I have been involved with school reform on multiple levels. At the school site, I would identify problems and work to solve them. In the early 90’s, I assumed the role of technology mentor and wrote K-6 articulated technology curriculum that enhanced the integration and instruction of the state standards. My role was to support teachers that had never touched or turned on a computer and encourage them to begin infusing technology into their classroom instruction.

Other reform projects included working in an administrative capacity during the inaugural year of New Technology High School. Several systems needed to be developed and set into motion.

The past few years have been spent implementing a Federal Magnet Grant with the goal of implementing school reform while closing the achievement gap. As I am transitioning from this project, I have created a website that provides teachers with the support needed to maintain and enhance the arts integration program at Salvador Elementary School. I am currently pursuing a Magnet Coordinate Position for a newly funded grant in an effort to support continued school reform in 21st century instruction with the goal of closing the achievement gap.

Capstone Website

Diane Williams
Shearer Elementary
Teacher

First and most importantly I am a mother of two wonderful children. My two sons are my inspiration. I am a single parent and I will do whatever it takes to give my children the best life possible teaching them how important it is to work hard and be successful citizens in their community.  I believe the best way to teach them is through my example of perseverance in everything I do. As a Christian, I also believe in God and know He helps me and my family each and every day.  I love children and have always enjoyed the thought of being a teacher. Prior to teaching, and even before my sons were born, I would volunteer my time and teach in the children’s department at my church.

I have been a teacher for the past 10 years. My experience has been Kindergarten through second grade. As far as I can remember I have always wanted to teach.  I went to Napa Valley College and completed early childhood classes along with my Associates Degree in Social and Behavioral Science before I decided on majoring in Elementary Education.

I had the opportunity to try other career paths. I enjoyed working with the real estate industry as a Broker’s assistant.  I also worked in the food industry while I went to school in the evenings. My mind was always focused in education and I knew that it was what I always wanted to do so I stuck with it.

After I completed my studies at Napa Valley College, I transferred and relocated to Dixie State University of Utah where I completed my Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education with an ELL authorization. I lived and worked in St. George Utah area for 9 years before returning back to Northern California to family and friends and where I am from.

Over the years, I have taught in many different types of school settings. I’ve taught in private/parochial, charter, and public. Within these settings there have been many different economic classes and populations. I have enjoyed the rich experience of serving the children and their families in these different population groups from high performing and gifted to low performing intensive.  I have learned so much about children and how they learn as well as the challenges of  teaching at risk students, students with special needs, low socioeconomic students, and high populations of (ELL) English Language Learners.

For many years one of my long term goals was to work on my Masters. I am excited to finally be achieving this goal I’ve had for so long. It took me awhile to decide the best focus for my Masters. I decided to get my Masters Degree in Innovative Learning so I can be an innovative teacher and help all students. I want to learn the skills to help them succeed, enjoy their educational journey and obtain 21st century skills. I am continuing to pursue a second Masters program  in Educational Leadership. My hopes are to implement the strategies that I learn and are most useful with  differentiating instruction using technology to help all students improve and be successful. I think that TPACK would be great to implement and training for all teachers would be ideal. I am hoping to be a part of some important future changes in education in the next few years. Our future depends on the success of our children who are the next generation.

Capstone Website

Golden Williams
Napa Valley Language Academy
Teacher (Out of District)

My name is Golden Demetrius Williams. I was born and raised in Santa Rosa, California by my parents Dennis and Jackie Williams, who are super athletic which has rubbed off on me. I am currently a Physical Educator at Roseland Accelerated Middle School. Sports are my passion and I enjoy sharing my passions with all the youth that I cross paths with. I try to coach any sport that my Athletic Director will let me do. I am half African American and half Swiss. This has made me a very culturally diverse person and affects my outlook on life. I have worked at a summer camp in Switzerland for the last 7 years so I have had a chance to work with students and teachers from all around the world.

My goal as a teacher is to make physical education fun while my students gain the building blocks to become healthy human beings. I shoot to be a role model for my students so they can see that it’s okay to get sweaty and be out of your comfort zone while being physically active.  With my global connections, I hope to give my students a chance to interact with other students and teachers from around the globe. I am currently using the TPACK model to increase the amount of knowledge my students are receiving​.

​There are many reasons why I selected this Innovative Learning Program. First, I want to become the best teacher I can be, and getting my Masters will get me in the right direction. Secondly, as a Physical Educator, I wanted to start to bring technology into my class so I can help my students become 21st Century learners and better prepared for the future.

Capstone Website

Jennifer Wodlinger
Calistoga Elementary
Librarian

As a child, I could never sit still — and I was fascinated with fire. Throwing combustibles into the family trash burner was my idea of fun. I ran or skipped, but never walked. I found humor in things that were not funny to others, like people falling asleep at funerals. I was the girl who wore pants on picture day and cut my own bangs. My teachers told my mother I was bright but that I did not apply myself. I was in trouble – a lot, because I found out that I could get attention, good or bad, if I talked – and talk I did. Unbeknownst to my teachers, I was actually listening as I multi-tasked my way through school. When I became older and attended my high school reunion, my classmates were astounded (probably horrified) to find out that I was a teacher and then a librarian. In my dysfunctional, tactile, kinesthetic, attention-deficit-kind-of way, I managed to read pretty much every book I could get my hands on, and computers were fascinating to me because they gave me something to do with my hands and my ever-wandering brain.

Over the years I have become acquainted with a lot of kids who have similar stories to mine. My journey through my teaching career has always been about being different, because I was different. My passion is about finding ways to help kids who are tactile, kinesthetic learners like me, and the availability of innovative technology tools provides the perfect avenue. Personalized and Project-based learning fits in nicely with my teaching style and I’ve  been teaching my own version of hands-on learning for a long time.

Calistoga Joint Unified Schools hired me as a teacher librarian in 2013 when my husband and I relocated to Santa Rosa from Colorado.  The opportunity provided to me has been a challenging, yet rewarding experience as I continue to hone my teaching strategies from ten years as a teacher librarian through Colorado’s Power Library Program, and what I have learned through the Innovative Learning program at Touro University. Most importantly, I’m excited to learn and grow from new relationships and friendships with my new colleagues at Calistoga, Napa County Unified, and NapaLearns.

Patricia Wyman
Silverado Middle
Teacher

Born and raised in Napa, CA. I lived across the street from Food City on So. Hartson St. It felt like my house was the hub of activity for the neighborhood because of its location. I attended Shearer and Snow Elementary, Ridgeview Jr. High and Napa High. In high school, I was a cheerleader, held several ASB and class political offices, a homecoming candidate, VFW Student of the Year, was a member of French Club, Block N, Interact Club, Environmental Club and volunteered for Juvenile Diabetes March of Dimes Walk-a-thon for three years.

I went to the University of Redlands in Southern California and graduated with a degree in European Studies, minoring in French and Business. I was a member and officer of Alpha Theta Phi sorority and was the Pledge Mom. I studied my Junior Year Abroad at Haus Wartenberg in Salzburg, Austria. While at the U of R, I met and fell madly in love with my husband, John Wyman. We married in 1984.

After Redlands, I joined the management training program at Mervyn’s and worked as a manager for several departments in Napa, Vallejo, Santa Rosa, Fairfield and Sparks and Reno, Nevada. After leaving Mervyn’s I managed three small boutiques in Napa, Yountville, and Petaluma.  When I knew that retail was not my calling, I went to work in hospitality at several Napa Valley wineries, starting with Napa Cellars, moving to Inglenook and finally to Trefethen Vineyards while working to get a second major in History at Sonoma State University and my California Teaching Credential. I also worked with my father in our family business as landlords for commercial and residential properties in Napa. (Today, I continue to manage this business with my daughter, Madeline.)

I had my first adorable baby girl, Samantha in 1987 and my second beautiful daughter, Madeline in 1989. I began as a substitute for my mother’s history classes at Silverado and in 1990, we decided to split the year and share the job. (She had been a teacher, Librarian, and Vice Principal at SMS over 20 years.) When she retired in 1991, I became a full-time teacher at Silverado. I’ve taught 8th Grade U.S. History but most of my career I’ve been teaching 7th Grade Medieval World History. In 2000 I really felt the need to work with students that were having a rough time in school. I felt that I could encourage them. I spearheaded what was originally called Bridges and is now the NCOE Creekside Middle School. I returned to Silverado after two years. Since 2007, I’ve been teaching a variety of Leadership classes. I have been on the Site Leadership Team for 25 years. I was Grade Level Leader for 23 years. I have been the Social Studies Content Chair for the last seven years. I really enjoy working on the site Sunshine Committee to improve our collegial relationships. It was such a privilege to take fourteen students to our former sister school in Kyoto Japan as an exchange program and to travel with students to New England and Washington D.C. once and six times to Broadway in New York, New York for Spring Break.

I received my Masters in Educational Technology in 2015 from Touro University. My thesis was “Music and Memory in the Classroom.” I am well known at Silverado creating and singing songs for my 7th Grade standards to popular music. I love music and most of my students respond well and remember the songs and standards for years and years. (I actually had a 26 year-old former student sing the entire “Three Men of China” song to me at Peet’s! It was awesome!) I use music cues and prompts in the classroom also. It makes the class more entertaining, and in this world of constant stimuli, it helps me to compete for attention.

I’ve been lucky to participate in the Napa Learns Externship Program. During the summer of 2018, I spent three days visiting and learning the workings of hotels in the Napa Valley. Last summer was equally as valuable, learning the ins and outs of wineries in the valley. I enjoy sharing this information with my students and we are currently in the process of creating a career speaker series at Silverado.

I have been a very active member of the Napa Valley Educators Association for over twenty years. For many years, I was on the District Negotiating Council. I have been the NVEA Vice President, Chief Negotiator, Grievance Chair, State Council Rep and a member of the Executive Council and a Site Representative for many years.

I was also a trainer for the NVUSD/NVEA Interest-Based Problem-Solving discipline methodology for many years and the NVUSD “Verbal Judo” discipline technique trainer. I have served twice on the district 7-11 Committee as well as the Superintendent’s Committee.

In 2007, I saw the documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” with my daughter, Samantha. When the film was over, she asked me, “Mom, what are we going to do?” I told her that I didn’t know what yet but it would be something! That was the beginning of an awesome journey. I have always been an environmentalist and was the advisor for the Ecology Club at SMS for many years. I looked at the website for the documentary and they said that they were looking for speakers. I felt like that was the least I could do! After a lengthy application process, I was chosen for the first class of Climate Reality speakers with Al Gore. I was trained directly by Vice President Gore twice in Nashville and have given speeches throughout the Napa Valley. I have presented at three middle school conferences as well as CTA conferences. In my Leadership class, we have always had an emphasis on environmentalism, but for the last three years, I was lucky enough to have one leadership class with a major focus on environmentalism. We won four times and placed second twice in the Bay Area Energize Schools Energy Conservation Contest and led all the NVUSD elementary schools to save an average of 20% in energy costs for our district by encouraging staff and students to turn off the lights and power down. I am currently working to create a youth curriculum for the Climate Reality Project.

I was Rotary Teacher of the Year in 2008. In 2019, I was honored to be chosen as a WE Ambassador by the WE Charity. This is the 13th year my students have been working with this youth-driven charity. WE is an international charity that partners with communities through a holistic, sustainable development model that equips families in underdeveloped nations with the tools and skills they need to lift themselves out of poverty. I was surprised to be recognized last year at WE Day in Los Angeles at a breakfast celebration. SMS Leadership students have consistently been the number one fundraiser for all WE clubs and classes in North America and the UK for the last twelve years. We have raised the money for over ten schools in Ecuador, as well as water projects, and sustainability projects for women. I was so grateful to become the “WE Face of Education” for all California Walgreens last year. I was also so thankful to be chosen with eleven other educators from the United States and Canada to go to the Napo Region of Ecuador. We had an amazing experience visiting one of the schools my students funded along the Napo River and worked to build a Women’s Health Center at the school site. It was a life-changing experience. Although I’d been teaching my students about the area and people they were helping, it made such a huge impact to see it in person! I am currently being interviewed to be featured as a WE Storyteller.

I plan to retire in 2021. I know that I will miss my students but I hope to stay connected to them through social media. I will be busy! I am planning to make a movie about my experiences with my Leadership students and WE called “Two Schools.” I also hope to create an app, HappyCohab, to create peaceful cohabitation through non-verbal communication. Both works in progress! Stay tuned!

Capstone Project

Laura Zinser
West Park Elementary
Teacher

Marie Zorn
Harvest Middle
Teacher

I am an enthusiastic educator who has a passion for Language and Literature and technology. I educate young minds at Harvest Middle School in Napa and have many hats I wear during the day. I teach Language and Literature, AVID and Leadership as well as being the ALP’s Liaison for the school. I am very student centered and I strive to make my classroom a strong 21st century learning environment so that students can have the skills necessary for their future careers. My TPACK journey began when I realized that teachers at my school, including myself, might not be using technology in the most meaningful way in and outside of classrooms.

Through learning about Innovative Technology in my Master’s Program, I am dedicated to bringing relevant technology to my school and classroom. I want to use technology in order to fix the engagement, equality and equity issue. Harvest Middle School is a BYOD school that embodies the IB curriculum, AVID as well as the 4 C’s and I am trying to figure out how that looks with technology to help teachers, students and parents make sense of this change. I am currently working on making a website for all three of these groups to go to for help as well as figuring out how to have students make websites to portray work for next year!

Capstone Website