FACULTY

We would be like any other school without our incredible faculty and staff. We have 1:16 class ratios and 66% of our staff hold either Masters or PhD/DMA degrees. Small class sizes allow our faculty of academic scholars and of performing artists to provide personalized attention to all students. We use a grade-level approach to support students holistically, integrating studies and reinforcing cultural norms to bring out their best. We appreciate our faculty and staff’s everyday efforts, their commitment to excellence and passion for teaching.

Why ASA?
Dubraskha believes in the importance of inclusivity and synergy between the arts and academics, to support the student’s personal growth and integration to society.   She is excited to join the faculty of ASA and share her love and passion for dance and support ASA’s mission. 

Dubraskha Arrivillaga grew up in Caracas, Venezuela, where she received her early ballet training with former Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo dancer, Nina Novak. Mrs. Arrivillaga danced with the National Ballet of Caracas, New World Ballet and Contemporary Ballet of Caracas before moving to the USA to join the Eugene Ballet Company. Upon retiring from her dance career, she became faculty member of the children and upper division of Ballet Idaho/Eugene Ballet and later on, Classical Ballet Theatre, CityDance School and Conservatory, as well as faculty of Alaska Dance Theatre’s professional division. She has coached and prepared students for international and regional ballet competitions throughout the USA and staged classical repertoire as well as contemporary pieces from well-known choreographers such as Toni Pimble, Jessica Lang and Amy Seiwert. Dubraskha is happy to be in the Phoenix Metro area and share her passion for the art form with her students.

Content/Grade Levels:
Ballet Foundations/5th-6th Grade
Intermediate Dance/5th-6th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: None

Total Years at ASA: First Year

Schools taught at: Ballet Idaho/Eugene Ballet, Classical Ballet Theatre, CityDance School and Conservatory, Alaska Dance

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 17

Education and Degrees Earned:
B.A. Business Administration – Central University of Venezuela
American Ballet Theatre, where received her ABT® Teacher, pre-primary to level 7 and partnering certification
Registered Yoga Teacher – Southwest Institute of Healing Arts and Yoga Nidra Meditation Instructor – Integrative Amrit Method with Southwest Institute of Healing Arts

Why ASA?
Math is beautiful. ASA fosters a culture that inherently brings out the intuitive nature of math.  I love being part of a community that values arts and academics cohesively.

Shannon Avey is a fourth generation Phoenician whose family legacy includes Rose Avey, the first female art teacher in Arizona, and George M. Avey, the first Art Editor of Arizona Highways Magazine. Ms. Avey earned her B. A. in K-8 Elementary Education from Ottawa University in 2009. She began her career as a co-owner of Root Phoenix, a small business specializing in Urban Farming Education and an Edible Plants Nursery, while writing the Urban Farming Certificate Program for Southwest Institute of Healing Arts.  Ms. Avey then went on to teach middle school English and Math in the Peoria School District and Madison Traditional Academy, before finding her home at ASA.

Content/Grade Levels:
Math/8th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 11

Total Years at ASA: 1

Schools taught at: Montessori Day School, Southwest Institute of Healing Arts , Brightmont Academy, Apache Elementary PUSD, Madison School District

Other Years of Teaching Experience: None

Education and Degrees Earned:
B.A. Elementary Education – Ottawa University, 2009

Why ASA?
ASA is the school I wish I attended as a child. The drive and passion the students have for academics and the arts motivates me to help them achieve their potential and continue to champion the value of the arts in the community.

Dianna Bellian earned her Bachelor’s degree from the honors program at Barry University in Miami, Florida in 2014. She continued her education and received a Master’s degree in Literature from Eastern Illinois University, where she also worked as a graduate assistant in the school’s Writing Center and taught freshman-level English. Before coming to ASA, Ms. Bellian taught composition and rhetoric at Mesa and Paradise Valley community colleges from 2016-2018. A writer, painter, and former dancer/violinist, Ms. Bellian is excited to continue learning, growing, and prospering with ASA.

Content/Grade Levels:
English/9th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 5

Total Years at ASA: 3

Schools taught at: Mesa Community College, Paradise Valley Community College, and Eastern Illinois University

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 7

Education and Degrees Earned:
B. A. English- Barry University, 2014
M. A. English Literature- Eastern Illinois University, 2016

Why ASA?
Creativity and intelligence abound at ASA, from teachers and students, and surrounding myself with these people is what makes it all fun.

Dana Bender received her Bachelor’s degree in Choral Music Education from Wichita State University in Kansas. After teaching several years, she relocated to attend Arizona State University where she obtained her Master’s degree in Choral Conducting. She has taught choral music in Mesa Public Schools and the Tempe Elementary School District, music theory classes at Phoenix College, and has served as a church musician and children’s choir director for many years. Ms. Bender taught at ASA from 2003-2005 and, after taking time away to pursue a career in Christian education, she returned to ASA full time in 2010. Ms. Bender was a soprano in the Grammy Award-winning Phoenix Chorale from 1995-2014 under the direction of Jon Washburn and Charles Bruffy. The Phoenix Chorale is the only fully-professional choir in Arizona.

Content/Grade Levels:
Choir/5th-12th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 20

Total Years at ASA: 13

Schools taught at: Centre Unified Schools, Wichita Public Schools, Mesa Public Schools, Tempe Elementary District

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 5

Education and Degrees Earned:
B.M. Music Education – Wichita State University, 1989
M.M. Choral Music – Arizona State University, 1995

Why ASA?
I chose to work at ASA because of it’s unparalleled commitment to educating the young people of our community equally in the arts and academic fields.

Dr. Thomas Mark Breadon Jr. is an active educator, bassoonist, and composer living in Phoenix, Arizona. He is currently adjunct faculty at Glendale Community College where he teaches bassoon and composition lessons, chamber music, music theory, and humanities courses. He is also in his first year as Band Director at Arizona School for the Arts and maintains a private bassoon and composition studio in the greater Phoenix area. For the last three summers he has taught bassoon, chamber music, improvisation, and composition at the Mill Ave Chamber Players Summer Chamber Music Camp.

Dr. Breadon performs as a bassoonist with the Mill Ave Chamber Players, The West Valley Symphony Orchestra, and a myriad of ensembles throughout the greater Phoenix metropolitan area. In addition to orchestral and chamber music he performs as an improviser with many varying artists including Provisions DJ Collective and Oh My Ears Black Air.

Dr. Breadon maintains an active career in music composition and arrangement. In the summers of 2017 and 2018 his works Impressions for Wind Quintet and Aesop’s Fables were recorded with the Mill Ave Chamber Players. This coming fall his works Lyddimy for bass clarinet and bassoon and Sonatine for violin and piano are being recorded by faculty members at Grand Canyon University. Most recently, he premiered a new work entitled North American Folktales for woodwind quintet and narrator as a continuation of the Mill Ave Chamber Players educational programming.

Thomas received his Doctorate of Musical Arts from Arizona State University, holds Masters degrees in Bassoon performance and Music Theory from The University of Akron, and received a Bachelors in Music Performance from Morehead State University.

Content/Grade Levels:
Band Director/5th-12th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 7

Total Years at ASA: 2

Schools taught at: Glendale Community College, Cicero Preparatory Academy

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 5

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.M. – Bassoon Performance – Morehead State University, 2010
M.M. – Bassoon Performance – The University of Akron, 2012; M.M. – Music Theory – The University of Akron, 2013
D.M.A. – Bassoon Performance – Arizona State University, 2015

Why ASA?
I love ASA’s balanced focus on academics and arts! I am constantly blown away by the skills and talents of our students and I want to be part of a school community that I believe in.

Cergio Brown received a B.S. in Electronic Systems Technologies from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 2009. While at SIUC, he developed a passion for youth development and considered pursuing a career in education, which he did upon completing his degree. After college, Mr. Brown began working as a Teaching Assistant at a middle school on the west side of Chicago and was quickly promoted to Dean of Students.  Following 4 years in education, Mr. Brown moved to Arizona and decided to reinvigorate his passion for the sciences by pursuing a degree in engineering. He earned a B.S. in Materials Science & Engineering from Arizona State University in 2018. While at ASU, he also started his own laser cutting business, which melds his creativity with his engineering skills. After working as an engineer for two years, Mr. Brown decided to merge all of his passions. He brings his love of science, math, engineering, and creativity to his new role, teaching math to ASA students. He is excited to serve the next generation of leaders. 

Content/Grade Levels:
Math/10th-11th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 4

Total Years at ASA: 1

Schools taught at: Phoenix Collegiate Academy, Plato Learning Academy

Other Years of Teaching Experience: None

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.S. Electronics Systems Technologies – Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, 2009
B.S. Materials Science and Engineering – Arizona State University, 2018

Why ASA?
I love ASA students. I love the synergy between the arts and academics. I love the focus on community.

Kimberly Brown earned a B.A. in History and a B.A. in Political Science from Barrett The Honors College at Arizona State University.  An avid reader and Arizona localist, she spent a year after college working as an assistant manager at her favorite local bookstore, Changing Hands, before moving to Edinburgh, Scotland, to pursue her Master’s degree.  After studying at the University of Edinburgh, she was awarded her M.Sc. in Theology in History. Upon returning to the United States, she joined Teach for America to share with students the joy and importance of studying history. She spent the next four years teaching history and humanities to students in Chicago and Phoenix. In 2015 she joined the nonprofit sector as the AmeriCorps and VISTA program manager at Mesa United Way. Although her work was meaningful, she missed her students and in the summer of 2016 she enthusiastically accepted an opportunity to join the ASA team as the 11th grade social studies teacher.

Content/Grade Levels:
Social Studies/11th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 9

Total Years at ASA: 5

Schools taught at: Plato Learning Academy in Chicago, Phoenix Collegiate Academy, Basis Phoenix Central

Other Years of Teaching Experience: None

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.A. History – Arizona State University, 2008
B.A. Political Science – Arizona State University, 2008
MSc. History of Theology – University of Edinburgh, 2010

Why ASA?
ASA focuses on educating the whole student and engaging all parts of the mind. As a musician and arts teacher, this allows me to develop lifelong music goals with students, which will help them grow into well-rounded adults.

Ashley Burrows received her Bachelors of Music in bassoon performance from California State University Stanislaus in 2013.  She began her career as a professional woodwind specialist in California with The Sound of Music and went on to perform with symphonies and pit orchestras around the state’s Central Valley. Ms. Burrows later decided to pursue her Masters degree in Bassoon Performance at Arizona State University. She won the Herbert Smith Music Fellowship at ASU and completed her Masters of Music in 2017.  Shortly thereafter she began substitute teaching, accepting a long-term position in junior high special education. Ms. Burrows fell in love with the students and helping them transition into young adults. Ms. Burrows is also an active performer in the Phoenix metropolitan area playing woodwind instruments for pit orchestras and jazz bands across the Valley.

Content/Grade Levels:
Band-Woodwinds/5th-12th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 5

Total Years at ASA: 3

Schools taught at: Country Meadows Elementary

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 6

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.M. Bassoon Performance – California State University Stanislaus, 2013
M.M. Bassoon Performance – Arizona State University, 2017

Why ASA?
ASA is a great place to be! I love having the opportunity to teach ALL students how to play the piano – especially those who never even gave the piano a thought before they stepped on campus.

Pianist Dianne Cangelosi began her formative years of music study at Oberlin Conservatory of Music. She has an extensive background in the collaborative arts that encompass a wide range of styles, periods, and genres. She has freelanced at Grand Canyon University and several community colleges including Glendale, Mesa, Paradise Valley and Phoenix College collaborating with both vocalists and instrumentalists. She remains in demand as a collaborative artist for recitals, competitions, opera workshops, theatrical productions, choral festivals and community choirs. She has toured to Canada, Europe and throughout the United States with the Phoenix Girls Chorus and is the collaborative pianist for the choral concerts at ASA.

Content/Grade Levels:
Piano/7th-8th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 16

Total Years at ASA: 16

Schools taught at: ASA

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 13

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.M. Piano Performance – Mason Gross School of the Arts/Rutgers University, 1990
M.M. Collaborative Piano Studies – Arizona State University, 2001

Why ASA?
The combination of strong arts and academic education is very much at the heart of why I teach.  ASA provides that in an environment that is open, warm, and values the individual dreams and voice of each student.

Rob Chambers brings more than 30 years’ experience as an educator, artist, and leader to ASA. He was the founding Theatre Department Head at The Chicago High School for the Arts for eight years. Prior to that, he led the Training and Education Division at The Second City, overseeing programming at six centers in the United States and Canada for the famed comedy and improvisation theatre. He has held leadership positions at Theatre Mir (Artistic Director), League of Chicago Theatres (Marketing Manager), Hartford Stage (Marketing Manager), and Melanie Stewart Dance (Managing Director), and he was awarded an arts management fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. As a director of plays and musicals with an emphasis on original productions, he has worked with Common Ground Stage & Film in New York; The Second City, Silk Road, Circle, Live Bait, City Lit, Bailiwick, Public Trust, Chicago Dramatists, Women’s Theatre Alliance, and Barat College in Chicago; New Britain Repertory and Mark Twain Masquers in Connecticut; and Society Hill Playhouse and PlayWorks Company in Philadelphia.

Content/Grade Levels:
Theatre/6th-12th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 16

Total Years at ASA: 4

Schools taught at: Chicago High School for the Arts, DePaul University, Rowan University, The Second City Training Centers

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 4

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.A. Radio-TV-Film – Temple University, 1982
M.F.A. Directing The Theatre School at DePaul University, 1993

Why ASA?
ASA draws in special people and shapes incredible people – teachers and students alike.

Collin Clark grew up in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and earned his Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and Secondary Education from Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania in 2011.  Even though he moved to Pennsylvania to “get away from the South,” he often now finds himself longing for fried okra, catfish, and some good old-fashioned Tennessee barbeque. Mr. Clark comes to ASA with experience as a private SAT tutor and 9th grade English teacher at Gilbert Classical Academy. He brings with him a strong will to immerse students in an English curriculum that stresses the importance of critical thinking and communication.  Mr. Clark is a passionate swing dancer, an aspiring banjo-picker, a proud nerd, and incredibly happy to have been teaching students at ASA since the 2014-2015 school year.

Content/Grade Levels:
English/10th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 9

Total Years at ASA: 7

Schools taught at: Gilbert Classical Academy

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 1

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.A. Creative Writing and Secondary Education – Susquehanna University, 2011

Why ASA?
I was an ASA parent long before I became an ASA teacher. Seeing first hand the daily mix of academics and arts, the way ASA taught both sides of the brain, made me want to come out of retirement and teach again.

Nicole Coleman earned a B.A. in Elementary Education with a minor in social studies in 1992 from Grand Canyon University.  After completing her undergraduate studies, Mrs. Coleman taught 4th and 5th grade in the Deer Valley and Kyrene school districts in the Valley. Mrs. Coleman is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Counseling from Grand Canyon University.  Mrs. Coleman joined the ASA faculty in January 2016 as the 6th grade social studies teacher.  She became the 5th and 6th grade life skills teacher in August 2016.

Content/Grade Levels:
Life Skills/5th-6th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 17

Total Years at ASA: 6

Schools taught at: Mirage Elementary, Esperanza Elementary, Kyrene de las Lomas, Paradise Valley Christian Prep

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 2

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.S.-Elementary Education (major), Social Science (minor) – Grand Canyon College, 1992

Why ASA?
I love how ASA blends the arts and academics since band and music classes were an important part of my life from middle school through college. I am grateful for all of the support that the ASA faculty offer.

Dylan Cooper attended Arizona State University where he simultaneously worked as an undergraduate researcher in the Hasbrouck Insect Collection. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences. Upon graduation Mr. Cooper gained experience in his field through working for a variety of organizations including Desert Botanical Garden and Butterfly Pavilion. He discovered a passion for inspiring others to learn about the wonders of the natural world and decided to pursue a career in education.

Content/Grade Levels:
Science/6th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 3

Total Years at ASA: 2

Schools taught at: Denver Public Schools

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 2

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.S. Biological Sciences – Arizona State University, 2017

Why ASA?
I share the ASA mission and I feel inspired to work in such a diverse, open-minded and inclusive environment. Furthermore, I believe that music and arts education can transform people’s lives in a positive manner and help to build relationships between people and their communities

Mila Crise Gallardo started her music studies in Ecuador, where she is originally from. In 2012 she was a recipient of the International Viola Scholarship granted by Western Illinois University to study on a full scholarship. Ms. Crise Gallardo later pursued her graduate music degree at Arizona State University holding a Teaching Assistantship (TA) for the full period of her studies. Mila’s teaching philosophy is to motivate her students to create their own paths in the music field. She is very fond of New Music and has worked closely with living composers and songwriters by performing their works at Phoenix Art Museum and ElectroAcoustic Macomb, among others. Mila is a former member of the President’s International String Quartet as part of her scholarship at Western Illinois University (2012-2016). As an established string quartet, they performed across the Midwest and earned an Honorable Mention at the MTNA 2016 competition representing the state of Illinois. She has performed in solo and chamber music recitals as well as orchestra tours in Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil and the United States. Currently Ms. Crise Gallardo lives in Phoenix, Arizona and is always involved with music collaboration, music projects, performances and teaching in her community.

Content/Grade Level:
Teaching Experience:

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 5

Total Years at ASA: First Year

Schools taught at: Phoenix Conservatory of Music, Arizona State University, Youth Orchestra of Ecuador Private Teaching

Other Years of Teaching Experience: None

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.M Viola Performance – Western Illinois University, 2016
M.M Viola Performance – Arizona State University, 2019

Why ASA?
I want to teach new generations of students who will say, “Choir was my favorite subject in school!”

Dr. Josef Curtis is a classically trained tenor from Orem, Utah.  He holds a D.M.A. in Vocal Performance from ASU.  He enjoys performing a wide variety of choral music around the valley with the Trinity Cathedral choir, Helios: a modern renaissance, and the Grammy award winning Phoenix Chorale. He has previously sung with Solis Camerata, True Concord Voices and Orchestra, the Phoenix Symphony, Arizona Musicfest Festival Orchestra, and the Tempe Wind Ensemble.  In addition to his performance schedule and his work at ASA, Josef also teaches music history and voice at Phoenix College and operates a private voice studio in Mesa.

Content/Grade Levels:
Choir/5th-12th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 6

Total Years at ASA: 3

Schools taught at: Phoenix Conservatory of Music, Arizona State University, Youth Orchestra of Ecuador Private Teaching

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 4

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.M. Vocal Performance – Brigham Young University, 2010
M.M. Vocal Performance – Arizona State University, 2012
D.M.A. Vocal Performance – Arizona State University, 2017

Why ASA?
I am a life-long lover of the arts and math. I am thrilled that ASA exists to bring together academics and arts for all learners.

Camille Dominguez earned her B.A. in Mathematics and Chemistry at Mount Holyoke College after growing up in San Antonio, TX.  After college she lived and taught in many places; Massachusetts, Maryland, and New Mexico among them.  She moved to Phoenix after spending ten years in Chicago (where she earned her M.Ed. in Cultural and Educational Policy Studies at Loyola University Chicago and taught all levels of middle school math).  A lover of the outdoors, the mountains of Arizona called her to a life promising year-round hiking and access to wilderness, which she gladly answered. She is thrilled to be joining the ASA community as the 7th grade math teacher.

Content/Grade Level:
Math/ 7th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 18

Total Years at ASA: First Year

Schools taught at: Elizabeth Ann Seton HS, Bernalillo Middle School, Albuquerque Country Day School, St. Pius X HS, Bosque Prep School, Frances Parker, North Shore Country Day School, Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, Pards Jewish Day School

Other Years of Teaching Experience: None

Education/Degrees:
B.A. Mathematics, Mount Holyoke College 2000
Ed, CEPS, Loyola University Chicago 2010

Why ASA?
Because I am passionate about dance and because dance, besides being a form of expression, is a powerful tool to discover the extraordinary in ourselves, allowing us to communicate with ourselves and others.

Originally from Barquisimeto-Venezuela, Mr. Duran is an imaginative choreographer, experienced artist and dynamic collaborator.  He studied at the fundacion Arte Nuevo and danced professionally with the National Ballet of Caracas, Danzahoy, Tulsa Ballet Theatre and eight consecutive seasons with the Eugene Ballet Company. 

His teaching philosophy focuses on developing dancers’ attention to detail, while nurturing artistry and movement quality.  His professional training includes diverse curriculum applications to provide students with the tools needed by most dance makers and ballet professionals today. He is happy to join the  faculty at the School of Ballet Arizona and the Arizona School of the Arts ballet program.

Content/Grade Levels:
Ballet/8th-12th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 11

Total Years at ASA: 2

Schools taught at: School of Ballet Arizona, City Dance School and Conservatory, Classical Ballet Theatre, Evergreen City Ballet

Other Years of Teaching Experience: None

Education and Degrees Earned: 
Fundacion Arte Nuevo, Venezuela – Ballet
B.A. Fine Arts/Studio Saint Mary’s College of California, 2017

Why ASA?
I love the way ASA partners the arts and academics. I have watched students transform into true artists in all areas of their education.

Jessica Elder earned a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Arizona in 2000. Her professional career began on the operatic stage, performing leading roles with reputable opera companies and as a guest soloist with many symphonies and choruses in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has also been a director of youth choirs and musicals, and a teacher of voice lessons, piano lessons and singing classes since 1996.  Her experience as a music educator includes a position as master voice teacher for the San Francisco Girls Chorus, and she has served as a guest technician for several community and symphony choruses. Mrs. Elder moved from the Bay Area to Phoenix in 2011, and became a member of ASA’s choral faculty in 2013.

Content/Grade Levels:
Choir/5th-11th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 8

Total Years at ASA: 8

Schools taught at: ASA

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 23

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.M. Vocal Performance – University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music, 2000
M.M. Vocal Performance – University of Arizona, 2002

Why ASA?
Because the culture, mission, and core values of ASA are what make this school an outstanding place to work and thrive in!

Gia Firicano received her formal ballet training at the Boston School of Ballet under a full scholarship. She began her professional career in 1984 with the Tennessee Festival Ballet, under the directorship of Anne-Marie Holmes. She went on to become a principal dancer with The Berkshire Ballet, the Southwest Ballet, and Ballet Arizona. Her repertoire includes the leading roles of Giselle, Juliet, Cinderella, Swanhilda, and the Sugar Plum Fairy. In addition, her repertoire includes a wide range of contemporary and Balanchine pieces. Ms. Firicano retired in 2003 after 13 years of performing with Ballet Arizona. She has been an instructor with The School of Ballet Arizona, Phoenix Dance Academy, and The Plumb Performing Arts Academy. In 2004, she joined the arts faculty at ASA and is currently the Artistic Coordinator of the school’s ballet program. She is also on the faculty at The School of Ballet Arizona.

Content/Grade Levels:
Ballet/5th-12th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 15

Total Years at ASA: 15

Schools taught at: School of Ballet Arizona

Other Years of Teaching Experience: None

Education and Degrees Earned: 
Boston School of Ballet

Why ASA?
People are always amazed that I have taught at ASA for so long. My answer is always, “Where else would I be able to teach percussion where the whole community (students, teachers, parents) is so supportive and dedicated to the arts and education?” ASA is an amazing place that turns students into artist scholars. I wish I had gone to ASA when I was in high school!

Liz Guzman received her degree in percussion from Arizona State University in 2004 under the direction of Dr. Douglas Nottingham, Dr. JB Smith, Dr. Mark Sunkett and Bill Wanser. (Phoenix Symphony, retired). In 2005, she joined the ASA faculty as the percussion specialist and currently serves as the 504 Liaison for the Exceptional Student Services Department. In addition to ASA, Ms. Guzman maintains a busy private studio where her students have performed and earned honors at the AMEA Solo & Ensemble, Arizona Regional & All State Band and Orchestra, Curry Summer Music Camp, Berklee Percussion Camp, the AzPAS Solo & Ensemble Festival, Phoenix Youth Symphony, and the Academy Drum & Bugle Corp. In 2011 she was named a Surdna Arts Fellow, which granted her the opportunity to study with world-renowned marimbist Naoko Takada. Ms. Guzman regularly performs with various groups around the Valley, including the Rosewood Rascals Marimba Band and Salt River Brass. She is a member of the Arizona Music Educators Association and National Association of Music Education, and serves as president of the Arizona Chapter of the Percussive Arts Society.

Content/Grade Levels:
Band-Percussion/5th-12th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 17

Total Years at ASA: 15

Schools taught at: School of Ballet Arizona

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 2

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.A. Music – Arizona State University, 2004

Why ASA?
Arizona School for the Arts is an institution that values the cognitive benefits of practicing the arts. Working at ASA provides an immense opportunity to guide students in building foundational skills, to think critically and practically, and to peak curiosity about mathematics.

In high demand as a educator and musician throughout the Arizona, Dr. Charles Hopkins brings his passion for the Arts and Mathematics to his sixth-grade classroom. His experience as a music educator guides his approach to the mathematics classroom, including goal-oriented instruction, pedagogy that develops the whole student, lessons tailored to individual needs, and creativity as a guide to problem-solving. 

At Great Hearts, Archway Cicero, in addition to his duties as the 4th/5th grade music teacher, Dr. Hopkins taught math lessons and tutored students for four years as a 3rd/5th grade teaching assistant. It was this role that allowed Dr. Hopkins to share his love of the beauty and symmetry in mathematical operations. Trombonists rarely count past seven (trombone humor!), and after a few sleepless nights of trying to swing it (more trombone humor!), he passed the Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessment in Math and is excited and proud to teach the young aspiring artists of Arizona School for the Arts. 

Outside of ASA Dr. Hopkins is the Lecturer of Trombone at Grand Canyon University, and Jazz Ensemble Director at Chandler-Gilbert Community College. He regularly performs with The Phoenix Symphony, the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, and the Arizona Opera Orchestra, is a former member of Jaleo Salsa, and appeared on season 11 of America’s Got Talent with Cinematic Pop

Content/Grade Levels:
Math/6th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 4

Total Years at ASA: First Year

Schools taught at: Great Hearts, Archway Cicero

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 15

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.M. Trombone Performance – University of Hawai’i, 2002
M.M. Trombone Performance – Arizona State University, 2005
D.M.A. Trombone Performance – Arizona State University, 2011

Why ASA?
ASA has a great combination of arts and academics, which makes this school unique and attractive.

Dr. John Hwang, a Korean-American pianist, enjoys performing and teaching in Arizona. Dr. Hwang made his performance debut at Lincoln Center in New York in 2016 and also performed at the Amalfi Coast Festival in Italy. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Hansei University in Seoul, South Korea, and moved to Phoenix in 2005 to pursue a Master of Music degree from Arizona State University. Continuing his educational journey, he then went on to receive his Doctor of Musical Arts at ASU in 2015 under the guidance of Baruch Meir. Dr. Hwang served as a faculty associate teaching classes at ASU. He has been working actively as a professional musician as conductor, accompanist, organist, and lecturer. He regularly gives a presentation for the Arizona State Music Teachers Association and is currently serving as organist/pianist at Epiphany Lutheran Church in Chandler.

Content/Grade Levels:
Piano/5th-6th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 7

Total Years at ASA: 4

Schools taught at: Arizona State University

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 18

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.A. Piano Performance – Hansei University, 2005
M.M. Piano Performance – Arizona State University, 2009
D.M.A. Piano Performance – Arizona State University, 2015

Why ASA?
I love ASA’s focus on their students; it’s like none that I’ve ever seen.

Erin Simon earned her B.A. in English Creative Writing from Arizona State University and continued on to earn her Post-Baccalaureate in Secondary English Education from Rio Salado College. She spent the next six years teaching high school to students in both Tempe and Phoenix.  In the summer of 2019 she happily accepted a position at ASA as the 7th grade English teacher.


Content/Grade Levels:

English/8th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 8

Total Years at ASA: 2

Schools taught at: South Mountain High School, Mountain Pointe High School

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 9

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.A. English- Arizona State University, 2010
Post-Bacc Secondary English Education- Rio Salado College, 2012

Why ASA?
I have been so honored to be a part of the expansion of our campus. I choose to teach at ASA because our students are uniquely dedicated to their arts and academic endeavors.

Ann Kaufman earned a B.A. in Political Science in 1999 from the University of Cincinnati. After completing her undergraduate studies, she began a career in sales in Cincinnati. In 2005, she left her midwestern roots to move to Phoenix to become an academic counselor for the University of Phoenix. While working for UOP, Ms. Kaufman fulfilled her lifelong dream to earn her M.Ed./TED-S (Master of Arts in Education/Secondary Teacher Education) and become a teacher.  After completing her degree, she student taught 11th and 12th grade at Arcadia High School. Then she began her career teaching 8th and 9th grade English at ASA.

Content/Grade Levels:
Social Studies/8th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 13

Total Years at ASA: 13

Schools taught at: ASA

Other Years of Teaching Experience: None

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.A. Political Science-University of Cincinnati, 2000
M.A. Secondary Ed. University of Phoenix, 2007

Why ASA?
I love to work at ASA because I can express my passion for the French language in creative and authentic ways. The students want to be here and are talented. I love hearing the music in the hallways. I appreciate the several hours of curriculum development and planning time that we have each day. The administration is supportive and understanding to each individual’s needs. I like the quality, rigor and creativity that my students and colleagues bring to their classes. It is a very positive, lively, and invigorating place to be!

While Rebecca Kendall is native to western Canada, she thrives in the heat of the desert. Learning French at an early age motivated her to appreciate, study and learn world languages. She received her B.A. in French Secondary Education, with minors in Spanish and business, from the University of Arizona. She has studied in Grenoble and Vichy, France, as well as in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. She has worked for 10-plus years as a French tutor and teacher, and in the meantime has done much training and practice to refine her teaching methods. She is trained in teaching French at the International Baccalaureate level and is the recipient of a scholarship to study French pedagogy from the French government and the AATF. She is state certified to teach French in both California and Arizona. Ms. Kendall is passionate about teaching, traveling, and language, and looks forward to another great year of being in the classroom!

Content/Grade Levels:
French/9th-12th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 12

Total Years at ASA: 8

Schools taught at: McKinleyville High School

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 4

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.A. French Secondary Education – University of Arizona, 2004
Université Stendhal, Grenoble, France
CAVILAM Institute, Vichy, France

Why ASA?
ASA’s passion for the arts and dedication to high-quality academics speaks to both my love for the theatre and my commitment to truly prepare students for college.

Born in London, England, David Kenton has lived in Arizona since 1999. After graduating from Chaparral High School, he continued his education at Arizona State University while also starting up his own private tutoring company. A tutor for the past seven years, Mr. Kenton has worked with students throughout the Valley on their math skills in a variety of high school math classes. He has also taught test prep courses for the SAT, PSAT, and AIMS. He has a passion for the arts, especially theatre, and feels fortunate to have started his teaching career here at ASA.

Content/Grade Levels:
Math/9th-11th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 9

Total Years at ASA: 9

Schools taught at: ASA

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 5

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.A. Theatre – Arizona State University, 2010

Why ASA?
I was most excited to join the ASA family because of the equal value they place on arts and academics. I believe the arts provide an incredible foundation for students as they prepare for college and beyond. I am excited to be surrounded by students, staff and families that value the arts as highly as I do!

I grew up in sunny Phoenix and have been involved in dance, choir and theatre since the age of 11. After completing a degree in Theatre at Arizona State University, I landed my dream job as a Character and Parade Performer at Walt Disney World in Florida. Working at Disney connected me with families from around the globe; the joy of being around children everyday brought me back to ASU to seek a Master’s in Special and Elementary Education. From there, I landed yet another dream job: teaching middle school theatre. I taught theatre full time, directed school plays and hosted a theatre club. I soon realized my love for leadership and recently completed a third degree at ASU, this time in Educational Leadership: Principalship. With my deep love for storytelling and character analysis and the 5 years of experience teaching middle school, I believe I am in the perfect position as a 7th grade ELA teacher.

Content/Grade Levels:
English/7th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 5

Total Years at ASA: First Year

Schools taught at: Kyrene Centennial Middle School

Other Years of Teaching Experience: None

Education and Degrees Earned: 
Bachelor of Theatre- Arizona State University- 2013
Master’s in Special and Elementary Education- Arizona State University- 2015
Master of Educational Leadership- Arizona State University- 2021

Why ASA?
Nice students and good arts opportunities!

Dr. Craig Kosnik graduated with his Ph.D. in Theatre For Youth from Arizona State University in 2014 after successfully defending his dissertation entitled “The Adolescent’s Voice: How Theatre Participation Impacts High Schoolers and College Students.” Two of Mr. Kosnik’s highlights from ASU include: directing the premiere staged reading of professional playwright Joanna H. Kraus’s “Christabel and the Amazing Pedal Power Challenge,” and co-creating with colleague Anne Negri a two-person non-verbal show called BOXES performed exclusively for preschoolers on campus. Before this, Mr. Kosnik earned his B.A. in Theatre from Gannon University in 2002 and his M.A. in Theatre Education from Emerson College in 2005. Through educational, professional, and community experiences, he has been fortunate enough to perform almost all duties of the theatre, including: teacher, director, actor, stage manager, house manager, designer, playwright, light and sound board operator, dramaturg, archivist, puppeteer, and mime. Mr. Kosnik is primarily a director/teacher and loves working with young people. In addition to ASA, Mr. Kosnik also teaches at Paradise Valley Community College.

Content/Grade Levels:
Theatre/5th-12th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 17

Total Years at ASA: 4

Schools taught at: New School For the Arts and Academics, Arizona State University, Grand Canyon University, Paradise Valley Community College, South Mountain Community College, Mercyhurst University

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 10

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.A. Theatre – Gannon University, 2002
M.A. Theatre Education – Emerson College, 2005
Ph.D. Theatre (Theatre for Youth) – Arizona State University, 2014

Why ASA?
As part of the full-time faculty of The School of Ballet Arizona, we are contracted to teach at ASA. That’s how I started at ASA. I stay because of the senior administrative staff and their unwavering devotion to their teaching philosophies and to the students.

David Krensing has been teaching at ASA since 2013. He is a former principal dancer with Pennsylvania Ballet in Philadelphia, where he performed numerous leading classical and contemporary roles by such renowned choreographers as Sir Fredrick Ashton, George Balanchine, John Butler, John Cranko, William Forsythe, Lar Lubovitch, Peter Martins, Jerome Robbins, Ben Stevenson, Paul Taylor, Twyla Tharp, Hans Van Manen. Additional performance credits include world premieres by Ib Andersen, Jorma Elo, Val Caniparoli, Trey McIntyre, Kevin O’ Day, David Parsons, Antony Rizzi, Dwight Rhoden and Christopher Wheeldon. Mr. Krensing has toured the United States and Europe both with Pennsylvania Ballet and as an independent artist and has been featured domestically and internationally in both company produced and independent productions with artists from New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theater, San Francisco Ballet, Frankfort Ballet, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Dance Theater of Harlem, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, and Martha Graham Dance Company, among others. He has taught for professional dance companies, colleges and universities, including: University of Arizona, The University of the Arts, Stephens College, Washington Ballet, Ballet British Columbia, BalletX, Ballet Idaho, and The Trey McIntyre Project.

Content/Grade Levels:
Ballet/8th-12th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 11

Total Years at ASA: 8

Schools taught at: School of Ballet Arizona, University of Arizona

Other Years of Teaching Experience: None

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.F.A. – Stephens College, 1985
M.F.A. – University of Arizona, 2012

Why ASA?
I get to work with great colleagues and create music everyday.

Elise Kurbat is originally from Cleveland Ohio. She attended Kent State University and Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music for degrees in criminology and music. She was a full-time piano accompanist, children’s choir director, music director, and a private piano/voice teacher before moving to Arizona. Mrs. Kurbat has more than 20 years of teaching experience.  As an accomplished pianist, Mrs. Kurbat was the assistant pianist for Mansfield Symphony in Ohio.  In addition, Mrs. Kurbat has music directed and played for such shows as “The Sound of Music,” “Cabaret,” “Cinderella,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Pippin,” “Oliver,” “Kiss Me Kate,” “Seussical Jr.,” “Gretel and Hansel,” “Urinetown,” “Little Shop of Horrors,” and “Spring Awakening.”

Content/Grade Levels:
Theatre/5th-12th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 16

Total Years at ASA: 16

Schools taught at: North Royalton High School

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 25

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.A. Criminology – Kent State University, 1992
B.A. Music (double emphasis on piano and voice) – Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music, 2005

Why ASA?
Teaching literature is the best job on earth, and ASA offers students the chance to discuss really great texts in an open-minded way.

Chad Kurzawski began teaching in 2000 as a Teach for America corps member and has been working in education ever since. He earned a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from the University of New Mexico in 2005. Mr. Kurzawski was appointed to the Arizona State Standards Review Subcommittee for English Language Arts in 2015, serving as the 6th grade team lead. He generally spends his summers in a leadership role with Teach for America’s Phoenix Institute, a program that provides training and support to hundreds of new teachers. Mr. Kurzawski feels blessed to have the opportunity to spend his time guiding students as they read and analyze literature.

Content/Grade Levels:
English/11th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 16

Total Years at ASA: 8

Schools taught at: Gateway Elementary School, Larry C. Kennedy School, University of New Mexico, Jackson Middle School

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 1

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.A. English and Communication — Albion College, 2000
M.A. English — University of New Mexico, 2005

Why ASA?
I believe in art. Children should be exposed to the arts everyday, and ASA supports that. ASA allows me to share my passion for Flamenco. “Ole con Ole.”

Yumi La Rosa has studied in Spain with renowned Flamenco artists including Rafaela Carrasco, Juana Amaya, Belen Maya, Leonor Leal, Isabel Bayón, and “La Truco.” Upon returning to Phoenix, Ms. La Rosa joined Viva Flamenco directed by Lydia Torea as a company dancer and later became a soloist with Mosaico Flamenco at Hyatt Scottsdale Resort.  Ms. La Rosa was also selected as a soloist with the prestigious touring group, Calo Flamenco, directed by Martin Gaxiola. She was later invited to Mexico, India, and Singapore to teach Flamenco workshops and to perform. Currently, she is performing at Tapas Papa Frita Spanish restaurant in Scottsdale as the featured dancer. She also organizes an annual theater production to give the public an appreciation of other cultures in general and of the richness of Spanish culture in particular.
Ms. La Rosa has been a flamenco instructor for all ages throughout the Valley, including The School of Ballet Arizona, Yen-Li Chen Ballet School, and Arizona School of Classical Ballet.

Content/Grade Levels:
Flamenco Dance /5th-8th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 4

Total Years at ASA: 4

Schools taught at: Arizona School of Classical Ballet, Yen Li Chen Ballet, School of Ballet Arizona

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 15

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.S. Accountancy (minor in dance) – Arizona State University, 2006

Why ASA?
I love ASA’s strong sense of community as well as its dual focus on academics and the arts.

Teresa Layden earned a B.A. in sociology with a minor in psychology from George Washington University.  She then received an academic scholarship to Georgetown University where she completed an M.A. in English while working as a teacher at a nearby elementary school.  She was then awarded a university fellowship and returned to George Washington University where she completed a second masters in American literature. Confident that she wanted to continue to work with children, she taught middle school English on the east coast for a number of years.  As her own daughters entered middle school, however, she opted to teach pre-k as it allowed her to have a more flexible schedule. During the last few years, she updated her credentials and became certified to teach 5th-12th grade English language arts and K-12th grade reading. For the last two years, she worked at a small, private school in Seattle’s international district teaching both English and reading.  When the opportunity arose to teach at ASA, she eagerly accepted. Teresa brings with her a wealth of experience and a deep understanding not only of her content area but also of the developmental domains from pre-k through adult.

Content/Grade Levels:
English/12th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 29

Total Years at ASA: 2

Schools taught at: Waters Academy, John Hay Elementary School, First Place School, Long Ridge School, St. Cecilia Elementary School, St. Thomas the Apostle School, St. John the Beloved School, St. Ann’s Academy, Holy Trinity Elementary School

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 35

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.A. Sociology (major), Psychology (minor) – George Washington University, 1982
M.A. English – Georgetown University, 1986 and M.A. American Literature – George Washington University, 1995
Transition to Secondary Teaching Certificate Program – American College of Education, 2017 and Reading Endorsement Certificate Program – Muskingum University, 2018

Why ASA?
I love ASA because of how it treats its students, staff, and community members.

Eden Lewkowitz grew up in Phoenix, where he attended Brophy College Preparatory.  He then attended Northern Arizona University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree with an extended major in history.  Mr. Lewkowitz then was recruited to teach English in Incheon, South Korea.  In 2010, he began teaching at Magnet Traditional School in Phoenix. While at Magnet Traditional, he served the education community as vice president of the Phoenix Elementary School District Classroom Teachers Association and as the founding chairman of the Arizona Education Association’s eSWAG committee. He has been teaching at ASA since 2015. Mr. Lewkowitz is very excited to be teaching at ASA where he can bring his innovative approach and love of history to his students.

Content/Grade Levels:
Social Studies/10th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 9

Total Years at ASA: 6

Schools taught at: Magnet Traditional School

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 11

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.A.-Extended History-Northern Arizona University, 2009

Why ASA?
The students of ASA are a dynamic group of individuals who bring their best selves on a daily basis. Their passion to learn inspires and pushes me to bring my best.

Richard Livoni has been a resident of the Valley for his entire life, growing up in Mesa and earning undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science from Arizona State University. After graduate school, Mr Livoni moved east to New York City where he taught social studies at the middle and high school level. In 2009, Mr. Livoni returned from New York to become a founding teacher at Phoenix Collegiate Academy in South Phoenix. Finally, in 2012 Mr. Livoni came to ASA.

Content/Grade Levels:
Social Studies/12th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 15

Total Years at ASA: 9

Schools taught at: MS 399, Mott Hall Bronx High School, Phoenix Collegiate Academy

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 3

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.A. Political Science – Arizona State University, 2003
M.A. Political Science – Arizona State University, 2006

Why ASA?
ASA has a specific success formula merging Academics and Art. I consider teaching in ASA and being a part of their creative team a privilege.

Arman Markosyan grew up in Armenia, he earned his B.S. and M.S.degree in Armenian State University of Economics in 2006 with a minor in International Economic Relations. After graduation, he tutored high school students helping them to achieve passing scores in Math to enter different Universities. He immigrated to Phoenix in 2014. Being a rated Chess Expert he started teaching/coaching chess. His competitive students won various tournaments and were consistently placed in top 10 in Phoenix City and  AZ State scholastic championships during 2014-2019 period. He re-added Math to his teaching repertoire in 2018. He started with ASA in 2019 summer and is looking forward to contributing to ASA mission and core values.

Content/Grade Levels:

Math/9th-10th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 2

Total Years at ASA: 2

Schools taught at: ASA

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 14

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.S Economics – Armenian State University, 2006
M.S. Economics – Armenian State University, 2006

Why ASA?
I am thrilled to teach here because of the school’s focus on both academics and the arts! As a former ASA student, I knew this was the environment I wanted to return to and teach what I am most passionate about.

Carly McClain earned a B.A. in Elementary Education with an endorsement in English as a Second Language in May 2021 from the University of Arizona. During her senior year, she student taught in a 5th grade classroom with the Tucson Unified School District. She grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, participating in local theater while attending ASA. She feels incredibly fortunate to officially begin her teaching career here.

Content/Grade Levels:
Math/5th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: None

Total Years at ASA: First Year

Schools taught at: ASA

Other Years of Teaching Experience: None

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.A. Elementary Education- University of Arizona, 2021

Why ASA?
I am excited to be joining an amazing school where students are free to express themselves artistically and academically. My forte
(point fort) is teaching students to speak foreign languages. 

Mr. Miles became interested in learning French during high school. From there, he continued studying the language by getting his Bachelor’s degree in French from California State University Northridge. During the summers of 1999 and 2000, Mr. Miles attended Université de la Sorbonne in Paris.  He is also credentialed to Spanish beginning classes too. Mr. Miles is entering his 32nd year of teaching. He has taught at the following high schools in California: Lynwood, Hollywood, and Cabrillo. He received his Master’s Degree in School Administration from California State University Dominguez Hills.  

Content/Grade Levels:
French/Spanish/9th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 32

Total Years at ASA: First Year

Schools taught at: Cabrillo High School, Lynwood High School, Hollywood High School

Other Years of Teaching Experience: None

Education and Degrees Earned:
B.A. French – California State University Dominguez Hills
Teacher’s Credential: French with supplemental for Spanish. CSUDH
M. Ed. California State University Dominguez Hills

Why ASA?
Love the kids at school because they are so cool and they want to change the world, making it a better place for us.

Oscar Miranda grew up in Bogota, Colombia in South America. He taught from 2008 to 2011 in Bogota after earning his Bachelor’s degree in Sociology at Universidad Nacional. After volunteering in England in 2006 with at-risk youth, he completed a teaching Spanish program through Universidad of Barcelona. After moving to the United States, Mr. Miranda completed an educators program at University of Nebraska – Kearney. While there, he taught Spanish and geography for both middle and high school students in Nebraska from 2012 to 2014. Since relocating to Arizona in 2014, Mr. Miranda has enjoyed sharing his experience and passion of the Spanish language with his students at ASA.

Content/Grade Levels:
Spanish/10th-11th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 11

Total Years at ASA: 7

Schools taught at: Aliance Public Schools

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 13

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.A. Sociology – Universidad Nacional de Colombia, 2005
Transitional Teaching – University of Nebraska – Kearney, 2014

Why ASA?
Because ASA is home!

Ramon Miranda began his teaching career in 1990 at Universal, Centro de Lengua y Comunicación Social in his hometown, Cuernavaca, México. He has been teaching at ASA since 2002. He has served as the Foreign Language Department Chair, and the Student Government Advisor. He also coordinates trips abroad. Mr. Miranda really enjoys teaching, reading, listening to music, playing and watching sports, and traveling.

Content/Grade Levels:
Spanish/11th-12th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 27

Total Years at ASA: 20

Schools taught at: Arizona State University, Maricopa Community College, Universal School in Mexico

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 5

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.A. Spanish Arizona State University, 1997
M.A. Latin American Literature, Arizona State University, 2005

Why ASA?
I am tremendously excited to be teaching music at a school that is wholeheartedly dedicated to the arts.

Jon Murray returned to the Phoenix area last year with his family after 19 years teaching and performing music in Southern California.  Mr. Murray has held several teaching positions, most recently as orchestra and jazz director at Flintridge Prep School in the Los Angeles area. He previously held teaching positions at Arizona State University, Grand Canyon University, California State University Northridge, the Master’s College, and the Colburn School of Performing Arts. Mr. Murray received both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Arizona State University in Jazz Performance and Theory/Composition, respectively. He performs regularly as a bassist in various jazz ensembles and orchestras in the Phoenix and Los Angeles music communities. Mr. Murray continues a busy touring and recording schedule with smooth jazz vocalist Bobby Caldwell.

Content/Grade Levels:
Strings and Jazz Band/7th-12th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 27

Total Years at ASA: 3

Schools taught at: Grand Canyon University, The Masters College, The Colburn School of Performing Arts, Arizona State University Arizona, Christian University, Flintridge Prep School, Ambassador Christian Academy, Moorpark Community College, Hull Middle School

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 3

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.M. Jazz Performance – Arizona State University, 1993
M.M. Theory/Composition – Arizona State University, 1996

Why ASA?
I am excited to join the ASA community to teach middle school and to engage the students in the exploration of science. 

Connie Padian is a native Phoenician and received a Bachelor of Architecture and a Master of Administration from Arizona State University. After working for several local architectural firms, Connie found her calling as an urban planner for the city of Scottsdale. She worked in the Planning and Transportation Department and ultimately was the Administrator of the department. During her tenure at the city, she facilitated an annual planning activity for kids using Legos, which sparked her interest in working with the youth and pursuing a new career in education. Following over 26 years of public service, Connie retired from the city and earned her teaching credentials at Scottsdale Community College. She has taught middle school for 6 years with a focus on science. Her hobbies include hiking, reading, and traveling, especially going to Denver to visit her son.  

Content/Grade level:
Science/7th grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 6

Total Years at ASA: First Year

Schools taught at: Brunson Lee Elementary School, Tillman Middle School. Maryland Elementary School

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 3

Education and Degrees Earned:
Bachelor of Architecture – Arizona State University, 1981
Master of Public Administration – Arizona State University 1995
Post Baccalaureate in Elementary Education – Scottsdale Community College, 2013

Why ASA?
ASA’s wonderful balance between academic disciplines and the arts was very appealing, offering me the opportunity to further my teaching career in AZ while still allowing time for my extensive performing career.

Hailed for his “rhythmic integrity, singing tone quality, and refinement” (Clavier), Swedish-American pianist Dr. Elias-Axel Pettersson has established himself as a formidable soloist, chamber musician, and pedagogue. A Mason & Hamlin Concert Artist, he has garnered prizes on the national and international level. In 2008, Pettersson formed Duo Giocoso with French violinist Roland Arnassalon; in 2017, he formed Æterna Sirius with pianist Jessica Yam. Pettersson champions contemporary composers, premiering Michael Mauldin’s Petroglyph for Piano (2011), among other works. Pettersson has three albums on the Axel Records label and has cultivated a loyal online following through his website and YouTube channel. He has been a jury member for numerous regional and national competitions.

Pettersson is a frequent performer, lecturer, and masterclass teacher throughout the USA, Canada, and Sweden. He is known as a 
conscientious, patient, and motivational guide, combining his extensive music theory and history background with Alexander Technique in creating a methodical, yet holistic and creative approach. In 2015, Pettersson founded Southwest Piano Festival; in 2018, he became Director of Program Development for Arizona Piano Institute, where he has lectured, taught masterclasses, and performed alongside faculty artists including Nelita True, Elisabeth and Eugene Pridonoff, Pavlina Dokovska, Yuri Kot, and Eckart Sellheim and Dian Baker. In 2019, Pettersson joined the faculty at Adamant Music School and Arizona School for the Arts.

Pettersson studied with Paul Stewart, Sergei Babayan, Larissa Dedova, Douglas Humpherys, and Maribeth Gunning; he also played for André Watts, Jean-Bernard Pommier, Arnaldo Cohen, Pavel Nersessian, Dina Joffe, Merling Trio, and the Guarneri String Quartet. Pettersson holds a doctorate from l’Université de Montréal.

Content/Grade Levels:
Piano/9th-12th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 2

Total Years at ASA: 2

Schools taught at: Rosie’s House, Université de Montréal, University of Maryland

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 23

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.A. Music – University of Rochester/Eastman School of Music, 2003
M.M. Piano Performance – University of Maryland, College Park, 2005
D.Mus. Piano Performance – Université de Montréal, 2011

Why ASA?
Because ASA allows me to most effectively put my skill set to work.

Joshua Pierce holds both a B.M. and M.M in Classical Guitar Performance from Arizona State University, where he studied with Professor Frank Koonce. During his time at ASU, he was the recipient of the Richard and Babette Burns Classical Guitar Scholarship, the Northern Trust/Virginia G. Piper Enrichment Award and was a two-time finalist in the ASU Concert of Soloists Concerto Competition. Mr. Pierce has studied with Chuck Hulihan at Glendale Community College, where he participated in premier performances of compositions written expressly for the GCC Guitar Orchestra and Octet. He has also performed in master classes with world-renowned guitarists, including Pepe Romero, David Russell, and Scott Tennant, and studied at the International Guitar Symposium in Iserlohn, Germany in 2007. As a teacher, Mr. Pierce has been active in the Phoenix area since 2006, working with several studios and organizations, as well as serving as a teaching assistant at GCC and co-director of guitar ensembles at ASU. Mr. Pierce serves on the board of three organizations: Phoenix Early Music Society (vice president), Phoenix Guitar Society (secretary) and Grand Canyon Guitar Society (board member).

Content/Grade Levels:
Guitar/5th-12th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 5

Total Years at ASA: 5

Schools taught at: ASA

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 13

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.M. Classical Guitar Performance – Arizona State University, 2013
M.M. Classical Guitar Performance – Arizona State University, 2016

Why ASA?
Because arts make the world go round!

Lizzie Pompa joined ASA in the spring of 2015, starting her journey in the theater department and leading her to the life skills department full time teaching both 7th and 8th grade life skills. As a native Phoenician, all of her schooling can be found on the corner of 32nd Street and Shea Boulevard in Phoenix – Mercury Mine Elementary School, Shea Middle School and Shadow Mountain High School. Ms. Baggleman graduated from Arizona State University with a B.A. in Theatre in 2013. She enjoys being onstage as well as involved in the production team offstage. Favorite credits as an actress include “Tarzan” (Mother/Arizona Broadway Theatre), “Unstoppable Me” (Becca/ PT’s Cookie Company), “Hairspray” (Tracy Turnblad/ DST), “Urinetown” (Little Becky Two Shoes/ PVCC), and “The Wedding Singer” (Julia/ DST). Some of her other passions include Disney, road trips, and sweets.

Content/Grade Levels:
Life Skills/7th-8th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 6

Total Years at ASA: 6

Schools taught at: ASA

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 7

Education and Degrees Earned:
B.A. Theater- Arizona State University, 2013

Why ASA?
I have come back to ASA to be a part of the same team that dedicated their careers to teaching me. As an alumna I hope to encourage my students to achieve their dreams, just as past ASA teachers encouraged me to reach out for my dreams. ASA provided me with my first teaching opportunity as a teaching assistant in the strings department and I take those lessons with me every day. ASA is an important part of our community, creating dedicated, lifelong learners. I strive every day to be an ounce as influential as my past educators here at ASA.

Emma Popish was born in Luton, England but grew up in downtown Phoenix. She earned her Associate of Arts in Elementary Education with Highest Distinction at Phoenix College in May 2013. She then went on to earn her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education, Magna Cum Laude at the University of Arizona in May 2015. As an ASA alumnus, Ms. Popish was thrilled to return to her roots in 2015.

Content/Grade Levels:
Social Studies/9th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 6

Total Years at ASA: 6

Schools taught at: ASA

Other Years of Teaching Experience: None

Education and Degrees Earned: 
A.A Elementary Education – Phoenix College, 2013
B.A. Elementary Education – University of Arizona, 2015

Why ASA?
ASA gives me the opportunity to teach piano. It also provides the space for students and faculty to be themselves and to learn from their successes and failures. It is an environment of academic education as well as lifelong lessons about cooperation, community, communication, ethics, respect and self expression.

Angelica Prado-Stern, raised in Miami, Florida, began her piano studies at the age of seven. In 1990, she was awarded an accompanying scholarship to Northern Arizona University, where she earned a Bachelor in Piano Performance and gained teaching experience through the Preparatory School of Music. Upon her graduation, she moved to Phoenix and joined the faculty at Music Works Academy, where she worked for 10 years. In 2005, Ms. Prado-Stern received her Masters in Educational Psychology from Arizona State University, and in 2008 earned her Nationally Certified Teacher of Music credential from the Music Teachers National Association. She opened her private piano studio in Avondale in 2005. She is currently a member of the Phoenix Music Teachers Association, where she was involved in the Ensemble Committee as stage director for 20 years and served for one year as the chairperson for the national certification program. Ms. Prado-Stern’s teaching goals are based on the concept of communicating creatively through respect and honesty. She believes in providing a positive professional attitude, and a nurturing, supportive environment suitable for learning and the enjoyment of music.

Content/Grade Levels:
Piano/5th-6th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 9

Total Years at ASA: 9

Schools taught at: Music Works Academy

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 27

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.A. Music: Piano Performance-Northern Arizona University,1999
M.Ed. Educational Psychology-Arizona State University, 2005

Why ASA?
When you are an arts teacher, is there really a choice?  The demands that ASA places on students’ musical abilities without detracting from their academic successes is second to none.  The students simply want to be musical in everything they do.

Jason Raetz is an educator and vocalist who was born and raised here in the Valley of the Sun.  He graduated with a B.M. in Music Education/Choral Emphasis from Western Michigan University and received a M.M. in Choral Conducting from Northern Arizona University. Previous employment includes choir director at La Joya Community High School, music director at Living Christ Lutheran Church in Flagstaff, music teacher at Painted Rock Academy and cadet choir/masters choir director for the Phoenix Boys Choir.  Mr. Raetz has also served on the American Choral Directors Association’s board as the western division boychoir repertoire and resource chair. Mr. Raetz is currently singing as the baritone in Helios, a professional early music vocal ensemble based in Phoenix. Another recent performance includes Purcell’s “Come Ye Sons of Art Away,” as the counter tenor and baritone, with the Flagstaff Master Chorale under the direction of Dr. Edith Copley. He also sang counter tenor exclusively with Western Michigan University’s Musicum Practicum, Early Music Michigan, and Grace Church on the Hill in Toronto, Canada focusing mainly on pre-Baroque material.

Content/Grade Levels:
Choir/5th-12th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 9

Total Years at ASA: 4

Schools taught at: Painted Rock Academy, La Joya Community High School, Northern Arizona University

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 2

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.M.E. Music Education/Choral – Western Michigan University, 2008
M.M. Choral Conducting- Northern Arizona University, 2016

Why ASA?
All of the right things in the universe came together at the right time, and the opportunity to join ASA appeared in front of me – I always go with my gut!

Melissa S. Rex-Flint is an interdisciplinary artist, designer, producer, technician, performer, and educator. Each area of her work continuously informs the other, and you can often witness various forms of her work simultaneously in a single production. Aptly called the “one-woman show,” she is the artistic director of her pick-up company REXDANCE and produces and designs for local and international artists and companies of various disciplines. Her creative work in performance, lighting design, costume design, and general production has been presented and premiered in various forms throughout North America and in Poland. An essential part of Ms. Rex’s vitality in the arts is her training, studies, and performance in Afro-Brazilian martial arts, folkloric dance forms, and music.  For Axé Capoeira AZ, she is the director of the Capoeira program for kids, co-artistic director, choreographer, and designer. Ms. Rex was an inaugural recipient of the city of Tempe’s Vibrant City Grant, which enabled her to produce a new work titled “LIBERDADE – A Freedom Project.” Ms. Rex served as the technical director at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts and a clinical professor at Arizona State University in the School of Film, Dance, and Theatre before joining ASA.

Content/Grade Levels:
Theatre/9th-12th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 20

Total Years at ASA: 4

Schools taught at: Arizona State University

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 26

Education and Degrees Earned:
B.F.A. – Dance – Esther Boyer College of Music and Dance, Temple University, 1999
M.F.A. – Dance with Emphasis in Technical Theater, Herberger College of Fine Arts (then) Arizona State University, 2002

Why ASA?
I have always been an artista and a dancer. I learned about ASA through a fellow educator, and was excited to learn about the Humanities program. Once I met the team, I couldn’t wait to start my journey here. 

Felina Rodriguez earned a B.A. in Political Science and a B.A. in Spanish Literature  & Culture from the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University. A first generation graduate from Tucson, Arizona, Felina became a Teach for America corps member and began teaching as a middle school English Language Arts teacher. During that time, she received her Master’s degree in Secondary Education at Arizona State University. She has conducted a variety of research around Culturally Responsive Pedagogy, the indigenous history of the Southwest and teaching practices in Arizona. Felina has also created various lessons and curriculums on Chican@ history and the southwest, inspired from various workshops led by the Xicanx Institute for Teaching and Organizing (XITO) and the Acosta Educational Partnership.During the Covid-19 Pandemic, she worked as Education Coordinator for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale before returning to the classroom, teaching seventh and eighth grade Language Arts virtually. She is excited to join the 6th grade ASA humanities team to foster the next generation of critical thinkers.

Content/Grade Level:
Social Studies/6th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 4

Total Years at ASA: First Year

Schools taught at: Garfield Elementary, Isaac Middle School, Pueblo del Sol Elementary

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 26

Education and Degrees Earned:
B.A. Political Science and B.A. Spanish Literature and Culture— Arizona State University, 2017
Certificate Business Data Analytics — Arizona State University, 2017
M.A. Secondary Education — Arizona State University, 2019

Why ASA: 
I appreciate ASA’s approach to teaching the whole student, and I feel like every person benefits from having the arts in their life.

Kaitlyn Rose earned a B.S. in Chemistry in 2016 from Arizona State University.  While working on her undergraduate degree she also worked as a tutor, chemistry department TA, and an education ambassador for the Arizona Science Center.  While working for ACS, Ms. Rose would run after school education programs, school science assemblies, and summer camp programs.  After graduating she went to work for BASIS Schools, both Scottsdale and Chandler, for 4 years.  This is Ms. Rose’s first year with ASA.

Content/Grade Levels:
Science/10th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 5

Total Years at ASA: 1

Schools taught at: BASIS Scottsdale, BASIS Chandler

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 2

Education and Degrees Earned:
B.S. Chemistry – Arizona State University, 2016

Why ASA?
Undoubtedly the only reason I live in Arizona. It is by far the best educational choice for not only my children, but for my career. There is no other place that I can see myself.

Ginette Maria Rossi has been teaching multiple grade levels since 2000, when she graduated from Seton Hall University with a double Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts, Education, Special Education and a minor in music. Originally from Nutley, New Jersey, Ginette was the language and reading keynote speaker for Orton-Gillingham at the New Jersey Reading Conference as well as a Mason Scholar. She spent 10 years teaching in north Phoenix in grades 6, 1, and as a K-8 music teacher. Mrs. Rossi teaches private vocal lessons and tutors students in English. In the words of Plato, “I would teach children physics and philosophy – but most importantly music…for the patterns of music and all the arts are the keys of learning.”

Content/Grade Levels:
English/6th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 17

Total Years at ASA: 7

Schools taught at: Ridgeline Academy, Gavilan Peak Elementary, The Cape School, MTA, Central School, Assumption School

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 21

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.A .Education, Minor in Music, Special Education Seton Hall University, 2000
M.A. English, Arizona State University, 2019

Why ASA?
ASA is an incredible place to teach and inspire learners. As a musician, ASA is also very supportive of my outside-of-school professional life. This allows me to always bring in new ideas to the classroom.

A graduate of the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, Derek Sanchez is currently starting his fifth year here at ASA. Outside of ASA, he is a very active freelance musician. He is currently the principal solo cornetist, as well as personnel manager, with the Salt River Brass Band. He is also the principal trumpet in the MusicaNova Orchestra based here in Phoenix. Since arriving to Phoenix, Mr. Sanchez has performed with the Phoenix Symphony, West Valley Symphony, Phoenix Opera, Scottsdale Arts Orchestra, and Arizona Repertory Orchestra. He performs regularly for local theatre companies, Phoenix Theatre, The Palms Dinner Theatre as well as various community college productions. Prior to moving to Arizona, Mr. Sanchez was the assistant principal and 3rd trumpet of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra from 2007-2010.

Content/Grade Levels:
Band-Brass/5th-12th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 12

Total Years at ASA: 11

Schools taught at: ASA

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 5

Education and Degrees Earned: 
BM – Music Performance – University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, 2007

Why ASA?
I wish I could have gone to this school!

Cellist Maria Simiz founded the Strings Department at ASA when it opened in 1995. A former student of the late Gabor Rejto, her experience as a musician is very diverse. Mrs. Simiz is currently the principal cellist with Musica Nova Orchestra. She is an active freelance cellist, and a section cellist at the Music in the Mountains summer festival in Durango, Colorado. Mrs. Simiz has also performed with the Phoenix Symphony, the Arizona Opera, the Amabile String Quartet, and with her husband, Phoenix Symphony Associate Principal Cellist, Jan Simiz. Awarded the SURDNA Arts Teacher Fellowship Grant in 2010, Mrs. Simiz studied chamber music at the St. Lawrence String Quartet Chamber Music Seminar at Stanford University. As part of the fellowship, she augmented ASA’s chamber music library and brought in guest artists to perform for our students.

Content/Grade Levels:
Strings-Low Strings/5th-12th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 26

Total Years at ASA: 26

Schools taught at: ASA

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 35

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.M. Cello Performance – University of Southern California, 1985
M.M. Cello Performance – California State University at Long Beach, 1987

Why ASA?
Because ASA is an art school and accepts all people.

Kleiton Sistelos was born in Recife, Brazil.  He studied classical dance in the royal method and graduated in 2006. He studied the Techinique Cubana from 2005 to 2007.  He has trained in Brazil, the United States, and at the Teatro Carcano in Milan, Italy. Mr. Sistelos has studied jazz and modern, specializing in the Horton Technique in Brazil and at Alvin Ailey in New York City. He has danced in festivals throughout Brazil and Europe, including the Latin American Tour in Milan, the Dell’Art Festival in Genova, the Nice Festival in France, and the Festival of Valencia in Spain. He has performed in major productions on the stage and on television in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Content/Grade Levels:
Horton Dance/8th-12th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 7

Total Years at ASA: 7

Schools taught at: School of Ballet Arizona , Soleil D’or Dance School , Terpsichore Dance Studio, Studio 21, Ballet Etudes School Of Dance

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 16

Education and Degrees Earned: 
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre (Teacher certification 2008) (NYC)

Why ASA?
ASA is devoted to a comprehensive college preparatory education in academics and the performing arts. This school shares a passion for the arts that encourages a positive, supportive, professional, and enthusiastic learning environment that inspires, motivates, and empowers students to engage in and enrich the community.

A native of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, guitarist Erik Sloyka holds a B.M. in Guitar Performance from the Eastman School of Music, and M.M. and D.M.A. in Guitar Performance from the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts—School of Music at Arizona State University. His principle professors include Frank Koonce, Nicholas Goluses, and Paul Grove. Dr. Sloyka has been a graduate guitar teaching assistant for Professor Koonce at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts—School of Music, where he taught undergraduate private guitar lessons and guitar methods courses. In addition, he has taught at the Ahwatukee Music Studio, Foothills Music School, Destiny Community School, and Youth Development Institute. In addition to winning numerous prizes and competitions, Dr. Sloyka has extensive performance experience including radio broadcasts and appearing as a guest soloist with the Spokane Symphony Orchestra.  He is also a faculty guitar instructor at Phoenix College and Kirk’s Music Studio, and teaches private lessons in the Phoenix area.

Content/Grade Levels:
Guitar/5th-12th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 14

Total Years at ASA: 8

Schools taught at: Phoenix College

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 14

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.M. Classical Guitar Performance – Eastman School of Music, 2006
M.M. Classical Guitar Performance – Arizona State University, 2008
D.M.A Classical Guitar Performance – Arizona State University, 2014

Why ASA?
I love teaching 5th grade at ASA because I get to introduce this wonderful place to a whole new group of students every year!

Mary Snider received her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire with a minor in general science. After graduating, Mrs. Snider moved to Arizona to teach 4th grade with Mesa Public Schools. After two years, she relocated to Dallas, where her husband had been offered a job, and taught 4th grade in a Catholic school for one year and 5th grade in the Grapevine/Colleyville School District for one year. Upon returning to Arizona, Mrs. Snider taught 5th grade with Mesa Public Schools for six more years. She also completed a Master’s degree in Elementary Education from Northern Arizona University. Mrs. Snider joined ASA in 2009, when the school opened the first fifth grade. She is the mother of two ASA alums and one current ASA student.

Content/Grade Levels:
Science/5th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 23

Total Years at ASA: 12

Schools taught at: Madison Rose Lane, Hermosa Vista Elementary, O.C. Taylor Elementary, Good Shepherd Catholic School, Lowell Elementary

Other Years of Teaching Experience: None

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.S. Elementary Education – University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, 1987
M.Ed. Elementary Education – Northern Arizona University, 1996

Why ASA?
ASA is the perfect combination of academic rigor and artistic expression that truly changes the lives of the students (and teachers) who are lucky enough to enjoy this environment.

Lisa Speck received her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Arizona in 1986, then moved to California to complete a two-year post-baccalaureate Elementary Education Certification/Degree from San Diego State University. She then taught 7th and 8th grade math in middle school. Following this, she spent three years teaching a “sheltered” English classroom in San Diego in which she had students from 20 different countries in her 3rd and 4th grade class. In 1990 Mrs. Speck was a teacher and later program director at the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, where she secured funding from government and private sources, supervised a faculty of 30 teachers, and administered a federal grant program directed with “gang proofing young children.” Upon returning to Arizona, Mrs. Speck taught at Pardes Jewish Day School. At ASA, Mrs. Speck has been teaching 5th grade social studies since 2009. Mrs. Speck is certified to teach kindergarten through 8th grade in California, Massachusetts, and Arizona.

Content/Grade Levels:
Social Studies/5th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 16

Total Years at ASA: 12

Schools taught at: Marshall , Mann Middle School, Quincy School, Pardes

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 8

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.A. Journalism – University of Arizona, 1986
Teaching Certification – San Diego State University, 1988

Why ASA?
Originally, because I wanted my son to attend this school (he graduated in 2015). But I found ASA students to be the most interesting, talented, and engaged young people that I have met in the 30-plus years I have been teaching.

Jeffrey Steinert grew up outside Portland, Oregon, went to college in Baltimore, and graduate school in Berkeley. He has taught physics, chemistry, and mathematics since 1985 in California, Massachusetts, Maine, and Arizona. Mr. Steinert has used modeling instruction in his classes since 1998 and has led numerous physics modeling workshops for high school and college instructors in Maine, Florida, and Arizona. He came to ASA in 2006, moving his family from Maine for the opportunity to teach and send his son to school here. Three times Mr. Steinert has been a finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching, most recently in 2005. His classroom research has produced studies linking student gains in understanding physics to their cognitive and scientific reasoning skills, with published papers appearing in The Physics Teacher, Physical Review Special Topics – PER, and the AAPT PERC Proceedings.

Content/Grade Levels:
Science/11th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 36

Total Years at ASA: 15

Schools taught at: Edward Little HS, Mt. Ararat HS, Rockport HS, Berkeley HS, Immaculate Conception Academy

Other Years of Teaching Experience: None

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.E.S. Biomedical Engineering – Johns Hopkins University, 1981
M.S. Mechanical Engineering – University of California, Berkeley, 1984

Why ASA? 
I love the creative abundance of ideas among students and teachers at ASA. Being surrounded and inspired by such artistic spirit makes teaching here an experience of a lifetime.

The Polish born violinist, Dagmara “Daga” Suchon, began her violin studies with her father, Stanislaw Suchon, the concertmaster of Poznan Philharmonic. Under the guidance of Prof. Michal Grabarczyk, she graduated cum laude from the Ignacy Jan Paderewski Music Academy in Poznan, Poland. Upon graduation, Daga lived in Germany, where as a pop musician she joined her sister Joanna in an electric violin duo “Space Violins”. Coming from a family of musicians with extensive musical traditions, from the early age, she performed in a wide range of productions, from early music to symphony orchestras, film music recordings, jazz groups, flamenco guitarists and live circus shows in many European countries. After moving to the United States, she continued her musical career in Los Angeles and then Phoenix where she settled with her family and founded “Lady Daga’s Violin Studio”.

Her orchestral engagements include Poznan Philharmonic Orchestra, Goran Bregovic Orchestra, Tiroler Festspiele Erl, The American Youth Symphony, Redlands Symphony, Riverside County Philharmonic, San Bernardino Symphony, The Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra, Phoenix Opera, Arizona ProArte Orchestra, Musica Nova Orchestra, Arizona Musicfest Orchestra and The Phoenix Symphony. As a chamber musician she performs regularly with Celebration Strings and Duo Polonaise.

Content/Grade Levels:
Strings-Violin/5th-12th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 5

Total Years at ASA: 1

Schools taught at: Great Heart Academies

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 23

Education and Degrees Earned: 
M.M. – Violin Performance – I.J.Paderewski Music Academy, 2003

Why ASA?
I love the commitment to both arts and education. Participation in the arts as a student was critical to my personal academic success.
Faith Taylor graduated cum laude with a B.S. in Forest Resources and Conservation from the University of Florida. Go Gators! She spent a few years after graduation working with the Student Conservation Association and in outdoor education jobs across the country. Mrs. Taylor has taught nine years of science in the classroom in various courses from grades 7-12. She teaches different movement practices (yoga, barre, HIIT) and loves to participate in and facilitate sound baths.  Mrs. Taylor believes that every day is an opportunity to share our innate gifts with the world. Be ready to see a smile and also be encouraged to do your best.

Content/Grade Levels:

Science/12th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 12

Total Years at ASA: 2

Schools taught at: Caurus Academy, Arizona Conservatory for Arts and Academics, Legacy/East Valley High

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 21

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.S. Forest Resources and Conservation at University of Florida, 2007

Why ASA?
I love the culture, respect and communication between faculty and administration, and of course the students. What a great place to teach.

Robert Tolar earned a B.A. in Mathematics from Arizona State University in 2006 and an M.S. in Mathematics Education from Northern Arizona University in 2016. After finishing his Bachelor’s degree, he began his career teaching high school mathematics in January 2007. He has taught all levels of high school mathematics and has been certified in both Arizona and California. Mr. Tolar took over as Mathematics Department Chair at ASA in 2015 and currently teaches both junior and senior level mathematics.

Content/Grade Levels:
Math/10th-12th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 14

Total Years at ASA: 9

Schools taught at: Mountain Pointe High School, KIPP King Collegiate

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 16

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.A. Mathematics – Arizona State University, 2006
M.S. Secondary Mathematics Education – Northern Arizona University 2015

Why ASA?
ASA has consistently provided an excellent education for scores of children. I am eager to play a role in ASA’s mission of providing academics as well as arts education.

Joan Welty joins ASA after years as a professional social worker as the Digital Learning Lab Instructor. Joan has worked in numerous settings, including family medicine, hospice, transplant, veteran care, and mental health.  Having raised two children, and active as a volunteer in the local school system during their school-age years, Joan missed the daily interaction with students and looks forward to working in the classroom setting.  

Content/Grade Levels:
Digital Learning Lab Instructor

Total Years of Teaching Experience: First Year

Total Years at ASA: First Year

Schools taught at: None

Other Years of Teaching Experience: First Year

Education and Degrees Earned: 

B.A. Political Science – Loyola Marymount University, 1985
J.D. Law – Georgetown University Law Center, 1989
M.S.W. Social Work – Arizona State University, 1997

Why ASA?
I believe a country’s influence is a result of the degree its citizens pursue academic excellence and artistic endeavors.

Mr. Wilkins began his career in education with the Peace Corps where he worked as a volunteer in Kyrgyzstan.  He went to graduate school at Johns Hopkins University and received an M.A. in International Relations. He also attended graduate school at George Mason University’s College of Education and Human Development, where he received a postgraduate professional teaching license from the state of Virginia with endorsements in Social Studies, English as a Second Language, Russian as a Foreign Language, and Middle School Mathematics. His hobbies include learning Russian and playing basketball.  He grew up as a military BRAT in West Germany, Korea, Louisiana, Virginia, and the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. He also worked as an educator in America, Kyrgyzstan, and Taiwan. 

Content/Grade Levels:
Social Studies/7th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 12

Total Years at ASA: 1

Schools taught at: Peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan, Alexandria City Public Schools, Hsinchu County American School, Academy of Math and Sciences

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 1

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.A. Government and International Politics – George Mason University, 2000
M.A. International Relations- Johns Hopkins University, 2005

Why ASA?
The community at ASA is so loving and supportive, while creating an environment where outstanding performing arts meets stellar academics. I am excited to be a part of this community!

Emma Wisehart is a native Phoenician who attended Arizona State University and earned a B.S. in Astrobiology and Biogeosciences. Before discovering her passion for science, Ms. Wisehart graduated from North High School where she was an active member of the theatre program and was inducted into the International Thespian Society. She is excited to foster curiosity and appreciation for science in all students, and demonstrate that a love for science can coexist and thrive with a love for the performing arts.

Content/Grade Levels:
Science/9th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 2

Total Years at ASA: 2

Schools taught at: ASA

Other Years of Teaching Experience: None

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.S. Astrobiology/Biogeosciences – Arizona State University, 2018
B.A. French – Arizona State University, 2018

Why ASA?
I love the ASA community!  I enjoy integrating arts into the English curriculum and challenging students to use their interests and talents in their academic classes.

Diane Wolin studied journalism at Arizona State University and spent five years working as a Public Information Officer, first for the State of Arizona Energy Office and then for The City of Chandler.  She earned a graduate K-8 Teaching Credential at California State University Long Beach and began her teaching career at a Title One middle school in Santa Ana, CA.  She has also taught 6th, 7th and 1st grades in Scottsdale and Phoenix.  Diane loves to read, journal, hike, and spend time with her two sons who are attending ASU.

Content/Grade Levels:
English/5th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 5

Total Years at ASA: 1

Schools taught at: Desert Canyon Middle School, Sierra Intermediate School, Academy of Math and Science Flower

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 1

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.S. Journalism – Arizona State University, 1987
K-8 Teaching Credential – California State University Long Beach, 1986

Why ASA?
ASA is a terrific place to work because it doesn’t feel like work. ASA has a culture of acceptance and belonging, and it is a joy to come to my class every day. Interacting with students and faculty increases my enthusiasm for learning, science, and being an educator.

Ms. Wootten is a native of Arizona, graduating from McClintock High School and Arizona State University. She began her career in Tampa, Florida teaching physical science. She then spent three years as the 7th grade earth science teacher in England and visiting much of Europe. Since returning to Arizona, she has taught in the Chandler school district and for an online school. Ms. Wootten enjoys traveling, reads mysteries, and loves meeting people. She has two cats and a Basset Hound, Molly, and is looking forward to an exciting year of science at ASA.

Content/Grade Levels:
Science/8th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 20

Total Years at ASA: 7

Schools taught at: Webb Junior High, American Community School, Hamilton High School, Basha High School

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 5

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.S. Interior Design – Arizona State University, 1988
M.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction – Northern Arizona University, 2005

Why ASA?
ASA is my dream school! I wish that I could have gone to ASA as a kid. Fortunately, I get to teach my craft to some of the most open-minded, intelligent and compassionate young people ever.

As an active violist, chamber musician, and teacher in the greater Phoenix area, Allyson Wuenschel has relished in the patchwork existence of a career musician since her arrival to the Valley in 2007. Receiving her B.M. in Viola Performance from Boise State University in her hometown of Boise, Idaho in 2005, she went on to earn a M.M. in Viola Performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 2007. During her doctoral studies, Ms. Wuenschel began teaching at ASA in 2011. She may be spotted performing in various ensembles and frequenting local coffee shops in Phoenix.

Content/Grade Levels:
Strings-Viola/5th-12th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 10

Total Years at ASA: 10

Schools taught at: ASA

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 18

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.A. Viola Performance – Boise State University, 2005
M.M. Viola Performance – San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 2007
D.M.A. Viola Performance – Arizona State University, 2017

Why ASA?
I look forward to coming to work at ASA every day because I get to watch my students grow, not only in their piano skills, but also in analyzing information and being articulate and thoughtful about their perspective on the world. I enjoy collaborating with colleagues who share a mutual passion for teaching young people.

Aiko Yamada Mancini is a native of Northern California, where she worked for many years as a piano teacher and accompanist before moving to Arizona to pursue graduate studies in musicology. Prior to working at ASA, she taught piano classes and private piano lessons for Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts as well as working as a lead piano instructor for HIDA’s summer arts camp for children. In addition to teaching 7th and 8th grade piano at ASA, Mrs. Mancini is also the music director and pianist/organist at University Lutheran Church in Tempe. She has been teaching at ASA since 2009.

Content/Grade Levels:
Piano/7th-8th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 12

Total Years at ASA: 12

Schools taught at: ASA

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 5

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B. A. Piano Performance – Simpson University, 2005

STUDENT SERVICES

Student Support Team

Why ASA?
ASA offers such a unique school environment!  It merges stellar academics and college preparation with a wide range of performing arts offerings making it a well-rounded experience where each student can feel they have a special talent to offer the world.

Francesca Bianco has 15 years of experience in the behavioral health and social work fields and has worked in a variety of settings with individuals of all ages and diverse backgrounds.  While not a native to Arizona, she enjoys living in the desert and exploring nature and all things the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer.  Francesca earned her Master’s Degree in Social Work with a specialization in child and adolescent mental health in 2002.  In her early career she worked as a psychotherapist with children and their families and later went on to work in the hospital setting with both children and adults as a clinical social worker.  In recent years, Francesca has provided psychotherapy to seniors, individuals in long-term care facilities, and veterans.  Her career has come full circle as she joins the ASA team to once again provide social, emotional, and behavioral health support to youth and their families. 

On campus:
School Social Worker

Education:
B.S. Psychology – Vanderbilt University, 1995
M.S.W. – Case Western Reserve University, 2002

Why ASA?
ASA is such a positive, vibrant environment where creativity and individuality are encouraged. I love the way in which students are pushed to sharpen their skills and reach their full potential with the support of the teachers and staff here who believe in them.

Amy Smith came to Phoenix after growing up in a variety of locations including New Hampshire, New York, Missouri, and Indiana. Before moving to Arizona, she spent a year in Chile teaching English in an elementary school and working in an after-school program for children who weren’t receiving help or care at home. Amy has always had a passion for people, specifically youth and those with special needs. For the past four summers, she has spent some time volunteering at a camp for children with special needs. It is the highlight of her year, as nothing makes her happier than making sure all people feel seen and loved. After her year in Chile, she attended Grand Canyon University to pursue her Bachelors of Science in Psychology. Shortly after graduating from GCU, she read about the Student Support Specialist position at ASA and knew it would be the perfect job for her. She has been in the position since January 2020, and is loving the opportunity to listen to and get to know all of the unique students at ASA.

On campus:
Student Support Specialist

Education:
B.S. Psychology – Grand Canyon University, 2019

Why ASA?
ASA is my family, my community.  I love to empower students to discover their strengths and vision for their lives.

Having joined ASA in 2002, Liz Wakeford is a lifelong educator and college counselor with a passion for helping young people discover their college/career pathway by understanding their values, interests, and skills. The process for college and career exploration begins in 8th grade, where students learn about their strengths and how to discover the types of careers and colleges in which they would thrive. Mrs. Wakeford regularly meets with college admission officers from around the country and offers informational seminars for parents and students. She is ever expanding the college program and is in the process of developing a robust College Compass program that will focus on college preparation for students in grades 5-12. A graduate of Meredith College in Raleigh, NC, Mrs. Wakeford received a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education K-12. She is a professional member of Rocky Mountain Association of College Admissions Counselors and the National Association of College Admissions Counselors.

Content/Grade Levels:
College Counselor/8th-12th Grade

Teaching Experience:
TOTAL 21 years: Kent Island Elementary School (Kent Island, MD) 2 years; ASA 19 years

Total Years at ASA: 19

Education and Degrees Earned:
B.M. Music Education (K-12) – Meredith College, 1990

Why ASA?
As an Alumni and long time community member, I was so excited for the opportunity to join the ASA Faculty! ASA is such a close-knit community full of creative and compassionate individuals. I feel very fortunate to work somewhere that feels like home.

Jessica Wooley began as a student at ASA shortly after moving to Arizona from Long Beach, California. After graduating from ASA, Jessica attended Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. During her time at ASU Jessica took a special interest in Women & Gender Studies and discovered her passion for body positivity after joining The Body Project, a group dedicated to improving self-worth and body image. Mrs. Wooley worked in the front office at ASA from 2018-2021, during which she started the ASA Body Project Program and Club. Mrs. Wooley is excited to bring her passion for working with the ASA community and her field of study to her new position as Student Support Specialist.

Content/Grade Levels:
Social Emotional Learning 7th/8th

Total Years at ASA: 4

Education and Degrees Earned:
B.S. Psychology and Minor in Women & Gender Studies – Arizona State University, 2017

STUDENT SERVICES

Exceptional Student Services

Why ASA?
I wanted to be a part of a community that works together as a whole to create a kind, innovative, and productive environment for students to learn and explore their interests. 

Alexandra Higgins earned both a B.A. in modern languages with an emphasis in German and a B.S. in political science at Northern Arizona University in 2016. During that time she spent a year studying abroad at Universität Trier in Trier, Germany. She then obtained an M.Ed in special education at Arizona State University in 2017. In her spare time she volunteers with the humane society and enjoys long distance running, biking, and traveling. 

Content/Grade Levels:
Exceptional Student Services/ 5th-12th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 4

Total Years at ASA: First Year

Schools taught at: Herrera School for the Arts and Dual Language, John Jacobs Elementary School

Other Years of Teaching Experience: None

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.A. Modern Languages with an emphasis in German – Northern Arizona University, 2016
B.S. Political Science – Northern Arizona University, 2016
M.Ed– Special Education – Arizona State University, 2017

Why ASA?
“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” I found ASA because our son found ASA.  After researching the school, taking tours, and attending open houses, our son opened our eyes to the powerful and positive vibe of ASA. This is what he wanted life to be about, and we are so grateful for his teaching. Although I have loved my work as a Researcher Professor for the University of Kansas and collaborator with Arizona Department of Education/Exceptional Student Services supporting interdisciplinary school teams as they learn about and provide students’ practice with feedback on social and emotional evidence-based instructional practices (i.e., self-regulation, self-efficacy, assertiveness), I have missed the relationships of my own school community; a community like ASA.  For me, there is nothing better than making a connection with students, teaching them how to increase their belief that they can learn, and then supporting them in their learning.  So, here I am!  And, here is what I really want to share.  I am so excited to be in a place where I can work for you, your children, and my colleagues.  I will come to school each day with an open heart and evolving ideas to provide Individualized Education Program progress and social and emotional development as well as access to the general education curriculum.  I am grateful, truly grateful, for this chance to be a member of the ASA community and most importantly a teacher again.

Content/Grade Levels:
Exceptional Student Services/ 5th-12th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 4

Total Years at ASA: 1

Schools taught at:University of Kansas, Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools, Transition and Self-Determination Project at the University of Kansas, Weslaco, Texas Independent School District

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 21

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.A. American Studies – Hillsdale College, 1993
M.Ed. Special Education, Low Incidence Disabilities – University of Kansas, 1999
Ph.D., Special Education, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, 2004

Why ASA?
Valuing the importance of arts in education is paramount. I am thrilled to be working in a culture and environment that supports creativity in all of us.

Jennifer recently moved from Rochester, NY and has a background in education, non-profit management and media.  She completed her undergraduate degree in music merchandising with saxophone as her major instrument and went on to get her Master’s degree in Communications.  She loves music and has been a DJ since high school. She is passionate about working with students to create a safe environment for learning by enabling them to see the best in themselves to thrive and contribute to the community at large.

Content/Grade Levels:
Exceptional Student Services/ 5th-12th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 10

Total Years at ASA: 2

Schools taught at: Monroe # 1 B.O.C.E.S, Finger Lakes Community College, St. John Fisher College, Monroe #1 B.O.C.E.S.

Other Years of Teaching Experience: 1

Education and Degrees Earned: 
B.A. Music Merchandising – Mansfield University, Mansfield PA. 1990
M.A. Communications – State University of New York at Brockport, NY , 2008

Why ASA?
I am challenged personally and professionally.

In 2016 Mark Vite joined ASA to serve our diverse student population and collaborate with staff as Special Education Director. Mr.Vite, a private consultant since 2003 and an educator since 1979, has taught kindergarten and 2nd – 12th grades. He currently serves on two local charter school boards. His business knowledge and passion for children and education shine through in his interactions and instruction with staff, parents, and students. He currently serves as adjunct faculty for Northern Arizona University at extended campuses here in the Valley. Mr. Vite has served as a classroom teacher, principal, and director of student services. He has provided educational services to children in traditional public schools, charter schools, private day and boarding schools, and laboratory schools in grades K – 12. Mr. Vite has a Master’s degree in Education from the University of Phoenix and a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Miami University.

Content/Grade Levels:
Exceptional Student Services/ 5th-12th Grade

Total Years of Teaching Experience: 41

Total Years at ASA: 5

Schools taught at: Kachina School, Ridgeline Academy, Freedom Academy, Casa Academy, Challenger Basic School, Judson, Camelback Desert, Mary Beck, Eaton School, Country Gardens, TLI Scottsdale, Northern Arizona University

Other Years of Teaching Experience: None

Education and Degrees Earned: 

B.S. Elementary Education/Early Childhood/Art Therapy – Miami University, 1978
M.A.Ed. Special Education/Diverse Learner Nuero-Linguistics -University of Hawaii 1990
Master’s of Arts in Education-University of Phoenix 1999

STAFF