Meet Our Staff
Rhea Brown, Co-Principal
Hello, my name is Rhea Brown, and I am proud to support the wonderful teachers, students, and families at SDCCS – Mountain View as the Co-Principal. I love being part of the SDCCS-MV community of changemakers! It is a privilege to be part of a school that truly honors the growth and development of each individual child and partners with families to provide a nurturing, supportive learning environment.
I attended Wellesley College in Massachusetts, where I combined my love of astronomy with my passion for children and social justice to earn my science teaching credential. I’ve taught math, social studies, engineering, and science in classrooms ranging from elementary school through high school. Before I moved to San Diego, I taught middle school science and led a school-wide project-based learning initiative. After arriving in San Diego, I completed a master’s program in school leadership at High Tech High, where I focused on restorative practices. I’ve always been passionate about innovative teaching practices, social justice, and social/emotional learning, so I was thrilled to find a school like SDCCS-MV.
As a school leader at SDCCS-MV, it is an honor to support the talented, dedicated teachers and staff in providing a constructivist, child-centered education. I am proud to be part of this community, and look forward to continuing to learn and grow alongside the wonderful students, families, and staff at SDCCS-MV.
Catie Griffith, Collaborative Principal/Education Specialist
My name is Catie Griffith and I am thrilled to be joining the SDCCS-Mountain View team in the roles of Collaborative Principal and Education Specialist. SDCCS-MV is an inspiring educational setting where I look forward to working with an invested team of faculty, families, community members, and most importantly, students!
I completed my B.S /M.Ed. in Special Education at The University of Maryland College Park and have worked in the education field for over 15 years throughout the country. I have been a credentialed teacher in Maryland, Florida and now, California. I have also worked in child outreach, assessment, and itinerant special education in Rhode Island. My experiences range from working in special education research to being a lead classroom teacher and case manager. Most recently, I have worked as the special education ombudsperson for San Diego Unified School District. I have also had the privilege of volunteering in a variety of capacities, including collaborating in the development of a cooperative playschool group.
Throughout my years in the education field, I have found that building strong relationships through open communication with students and families is integral in student engagement and achievement. As a parent and educator, I see the value of constructivism and a cooperative environment, which is why my children currently attend SDCCS-MV. I look forward to building strong connections with families while ensuring that all students are able to access and benefit from their education in a developmentally informed manner.
When I am not at school, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, baking allergy friendly treats, and going on adventures both locally and afar. You are likely to spot our family on tandem bike rides through Normal Heights on the weekends!
Marissa Thompson, Collaborative Principal
I am honored to be joining the San Diego Cooperative Charter Schools as a Collaborative Principal at the Mountain View Campus! I feel energized and inspired by this powerhouse of thoughtful, progressive educators. I so look forward to spending this year serving SDCCS students and families.
I am trained as a school psychologist and have spent the last 7 years working at the High Tech High Schools in Chula Vista. While at HTH, I had the privilege of developing comprehensive programs for special education and social-emotional learning. Although I grew up in San Diego, I also spent 8 years living as an east-coaster in Boston. I initially fell in love with education at the preschool level, after serving as a Headstart Literacy Specialist through Americorps. I ultimately attended graduate school at Tufts University and served in several roles in different nonprofit organizations and Boston Public Schools. Since entering the field, my love for student support and improving equity in education have driven my practice. My heart sings when I am afforded opportunities to design service delivery systems that encourage educational equity, emotional health, and physical wellbeing for students from diverse backgrounds. In an effort to grow professionally, I am currently serving as a RISE Urban Principal Preparation (RISE UPP) fellow. Through a partnership between RISE San Diego and the Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education at the University of San Diego, I will be learning about practices that promote equity and school-wide growth from other school leaders in our community. I am so looking forward to bringing this work back to the children, teachers, and families at the Co-op.
When I’m not at school, I live in the Normal Heights neighborhood with my husband who is also a charter school leader. I love to spend time gardening, cooking vegetarian meals, reading about progressive education, and watching offbeat documentaries.
Sonia Bouchard, TK – Kindergarten Teacher
Hello, I am Sonia and I am thrilled to be working at SDCCS – Mountain View. Though 2014-2015 is my first year as a classroom teacher, I am not new to educating young children. Prior to teaching TK/K, I taught for six years in the VAPA (Visual & Performing Arts) Department as a Dance & Theater Teaching Specialist with the San Diego Unified School District. Working primarily with students in grades K-2 and their teachers, I modeled teaching strategies that used dance and theater to support academic learning. My work with the district inspired me to seek a credential at PLNU and through my own research as a parent I knew SDCCS was a good fit for my teaching style. To deepen my knowledge of constructivist practice I requested placement at SDCCS Linda Vista for my student teaching study. There I witnessed first hand the way a constructivist, multiage classroom supports individualized learning, and how social and emotional development is integral to academic achievement. I appreciate the opportunity to spend each new day with these beautiful children helping them to discover the amazing world around them and their own powers of love and creativity.
Katy Lavine, TK – Kindergarten Teacher
Hi, my name is Katy Lavine. I was born and raised in San Diego and am very happy to be living here again! I recently moved from the Bay Area, where I started my teaching career. I spent the last three years teaching kindergarten, and am excited to continue learning from kindergarteners here at San Diego Cooperative Charter School 2. When looking for a new school, it was incredibly important to me to find a place where I could help create a student-centered classroom where children are encouraged to explore, be curious, take risks and have fun while learning. I am so happy to have landed here at SDCCS – Mountain View and I find such joy in watching my students get excited about what they are learning.
I received my Bachelor’s degree in English at the University of San Diego, and returned a year later to work towards a teaching credential and Masters in Education. When I am not at school, I love to spend time with family, be outdoors, cook, and read.
Erica Diamond, Primary Multiage Teacher
Hi, my name is Erica Diamond. I am a native San Diegan residing in Normal Heights with my husband, son, two dogs, and three chickens. I love spending time in nature, walking around the neighborhood, hiking, swimming in the ocean, gardening, doing yoga, and playing with my family.As an educator, I believe teaching and educating is about empowering students as active agents in this world who have important contributions to make to our society. I aim to create an inviting, nurturing, and engaging learning environment for all students to thrive in. It is important to me to honor the different ways children learn based on their developmental stages of learning, what experiences they encounter, and what they already know about these experiences. I believe that children are changemakers in this world and that developing emotional competence is the way to fuel children’s motivation and imagination so that they can learn to solve problems and drive positive change. I strive to create an environment where every student is respected and acknowledged for their contributions to the learning community and our society as a whole. I believe that a hands-on, minds-on, constructivist approach to education will provide students with the necessary experiences to develop a love of learning that will last throughout their lifetimes. I absolutely love our amazing school and can’t imagine teaching or learning anywhere else!
Gina Mirtallo, Primary Multiage Teacher
Hello, I’m Miss Gina! For the last ten years, I have been an educator in early childhood and elementary school settings. I graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in Recreation Administration, hold an Early Childhood Site Supervisor Permit, completed a graduate certificate program to become an Early Childhood Socio-Emotional Behavior Regulation Intervention Specialist, and most recently completed the multiple subject credential program at Cal State Teach. I have worked for the Coronado Unified School District in their after care program, and as a teacher at Crown Preschool. I have also created and led camps for the City of Coronado and the New Children’s Museum. All of the programs I have worked in are fully inclusive, welcoming all children with open arms. Last year I joined the SDCCS2 community as a TK/Kinder teacher and fell in love with this school! I am excited to take what I have learned about elementary education and our unique community on my journey into Primary Multiage this year.
My favorite activity to explore with children is art and I look forward to integrating art into many of our activities. I strive to provide a supportive environment where children feel safe and are encouraged to try new things, gain independence, and make lasting friendships. Social and emotional learning are a major focus of my teaching, which helps to create a strong sense of community within the group. I am truly a kid at heart and provide children with ample opportunities to have fun, collaborate with one another, and learn through play.
When I am not in the classroom, I can most likely be found outdoors on an adventure with friends. I feel at home in nature and love to travel as much as possible to experience new people, places, and things. I also love living in San Diego, so exploring locally is on the agenda as well!
Jacqueline Venegas, Primary Multiage Teacher
Hello to our wonderful SDCCS Mountain View community! My name is Jackie Venegas and I am beyond excited to be joining this amazing staff and more specifically, the Primary Multiage Team. I am a native San Diegan and grew up just minutes away in National City. I am a proud product of public schools and graduated from Hilltop High School.
After 6 long years, I am so relieved to be back in San Diego! I attended UC Berkeley where I received my BA in Sociology. With the powerful history of the Bay Area, Berkeley’s education ignited a passion for social justice, political activism, and a quest for bringing these concepts into our schools. I then went on to receive my teaching credential and M.Ed from UCLA’S Teacher Education Program, having recently finished in January 2017. My thesis explored culturally responsive classroom management, personal responsibility, and the importance of student-teacher collaboration in creating a positive learning environment.
My teaching philosophy is well-aligned with SDCCS. I believe in the autonomy of children, empowering students to understand their independence and decision-making abilities, and providing students with a caring and nurturing environment. I also maintain the highest expectations from my students, and work to provide them with learning opportunities that are culturally responsive and validating for all families and our communities. In our classroom, we work hard and play hard! When I’m not in the classroom, you can find me knitting away on a new project, trying to brush up on my calligraphy skills, or in a nearby taco shop. I’m ecstatic at the prospect of a new year and can’t wait to meet everyone!
Anissa Ruiz, Elementary Multiage
Hi there, I’m Anissa! I am super excited about continuing my journey here at SDCCS Mountain View as a teacher this year! I was an Instructional Assistant here at MV for a year and a half and I am looking forward to take this new step.
The flaws in the educational system that I have experienced first hand have fueled my love and passion for providing equitable education for all children. I am so grateful to be working with a team that believes in the power of change through reflection and collaboration for the betterment of children. As a teacher I like to create a space for children to thrive in a safe learning environment. I believe that in order to successfully teach a child you must get to know their emotional, social and educational strengths and needs. Working with kids makes my heart smile and I am so excited to have the opportunity to teach your children!
When I am not at school you can find me in my front porch spending time with my family eating pizza, grilling, baking and cooking good food!
Catalina Trejo-Bloom, Elementary Multiage Teacher
Hola! My name is Catalina Trejo-Bloom and I will be one of the Elementary Multiage teachers this coming year. I am excited to join the SDCCS-Mountain View family!
I have worked with youth for 11 years, first as a youth programs coordinator for a non-profit in a San Ysidro and then as a classroom teacher in Qatar and New York City. I earned my Masters of Education at USD and then began my teaching career by teaching internationally in Doha, Qatar before returning to the United States to teach in the South Bronx.
As a teacher and mentor, I have come to believe that education is meant to inspire lifelong learning and curiosity. I believe we can learn best through our interactions with others and in an environment where they feel safe and cared for.
I was born in Tijuana and raised in both Tijuana and Chula Vista. I speak Spanish and love learning new languages. When I’m not teaching, I love to travel and experience new cultures, especially through cooking classes! This year I will also be showing my husband around San Diego as he becomes familiar with my hometown and state.
Griselda Garcia, Elementary Multiage Teacher
Marcus Van, Bridging/Middle Humanities Teacher
“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt.
My grandparents moved to California from Texas and Arkansas in the 1950s and had 8 kids whom they groomed to be efficient and hard workers. Therefore, it makes sense that I have the southern hospitality and work ethic that’s been passed down from generation to generation. I am a believer that it is only through hard work and hands on experiences that goals can be met and dreams can be achieved.
I started my teaching career in 2004 on the shores of Taiwan, the computer micro-chip processing capitol of the world. I spent seven years teaching English to children from pre-K-12. My experience ranges from basic alphabet instruction to Advanced English Grammar and SAT vocabulary preparation. Having experience teaching the full spectrum of ages allows me to draw from an abundant toolbox of instructional strategies to suit each individual learning. I hold a BA in Communications from SFSU and an MA in TESOL and Certificate of Peacebuilding from the School of International Training in Brattleboro, VT.
When I’m not at work, you can find me taking narrow and often unbeaten hiking trails or riding my bike near the ocean. You will also find me traveling. I enjoyed exploring the lush, densely populated island of Taiwan and other locations in that travel-rich region. High on my list of favorite destinations are: Guam, the Philippines, and of course, the azure water and white sand beaches of the Thailand.
I’m an educator because the future doctors, presidents, teachers, police officers, healers, and writers are being born daily. It is not just a catchy Whitney Houston song: the children are the future and I am honored to be a part of creating autonomous, empathetic, and well-rounded human beings. I’m looking forward to being a part of SDCCS and your child’s future.
Jay Tran, Bridging Math/Science Teacher
Hello there! My name is Jay and I am excited to join the SDCCS-MV family. As an educator, I prioritize students as individuals, believe in learning through playing, and focus on developing empathy and self-awareness. I’m here to create lifelong learners who are compassionate and curious about the world around them.
I have a background in biology (with a focus on zoology and ecology) from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and my teaching credential from the California State University at Long Beach (CSULB). I volunteered as a zoo educator with the El Paso zoo and facilitated programs within the Student Engagement and Leadership Center at UTEP which champions the rights of women and children and the LGBTQ community on and off campus.
I was born and raised in Los Angeles and currently reside on the edge of Mission Hills in San Diego. Outside of school, I love to explore natural history museums, ride bikes with friends, visit my family, and pick up various hobbies such as calligraphy and leather working.
Crystal Lopez, Middle Math/Science Teache
Ted Sciolla, Middle Humanities Teacher
I am a young educator passionate about serving San Diego’s youth and sharing interests in the humanities. I earned a degree in American Studies from Stanford University in 2013 and decided to pursue a career in education, at first working as an after-school teacher/coach with K-5 students. In 2017 after finishing a teacher preparation program at UCSD, I achieved my goal of becoming an English language arts teacher when I began classroom teaching as a 10th and 11th grade high school English teacher.
This year, I am so humbled and energized to join the family of SDCC2 and contribute to its progressive educational mission. Teaching and learning with young people is an extraordinary experience everyday. We will launch on projects together to ask questions, express ourselves, and get to know our world. We will build caring relationships and honor each other’s identities and backgrounds. And we will have fun being cooperative and creative.
Outside of school, I enjoy traveling, hiking outdoors, and speaking new languages. I like to play guitar and listen to rock, jazz, and folk music. I avidly play games like chess with my twin brother and close friends. In the future, I hope to go to Istanbul, Turkey to visit my girlfriend’s family and home.
Jocelyn Calica, Physical Education Teacher
Hello, I am Jocelyn! I am thrilled to be the K-8 Physical Education Teacher at San Diego CoOperative Charter School, Mountain View. Being raised in a Navy household, I found myself moving to the next city every few years. My teachers were my strongest supporters and I knew my path was in education. I received my teaching degree and credential at California State University San Marcos, with an emphasis on Art in Education. I learned about SDCCS in 2012, starting as a Substitute Teacher on the Linda Vista campus. After teaching at the CoOp, I realized I wanted to be part of this amazing community. I am proud to be working along staff and teachers who genuinely love our students and believe in supporting growth of the whole child through collaboration, relationships, and social emotional teachings. I am committed to helping children find enjoyment in becoming physically active in a safe environment and guiding them to a healthy lifestyle. I look forward to getting to know all students and parents to help make P.E. and learning a positive experience.
When I am not working, I love traveling and submerging myself into different cultures. In the past few summers, I have been lucky enough to visit Asia, South Africa, and Indonesia. I am newly engaged and am now enjoying life in the beach area with my fiancé, Aaron. We have a beta, Ziggy (one year old), and a sulcate tortoise, Elvis (14 years old). I also enjoy listening to live music, hiking, biking, painting, and cooking.
Fin Turner, Enrichment – Art and Maker Lab
Hi kids! My name’s Fin, and I’ll be leading Art and Maker Lab this year!
I’m originally from the Philadelphia area, and we’ve lived in England too, but now my kid, our cat Rothko, and I have lived in San Diego for six years! We love it here, and I’m thrilled it gives me the opportunity to work with all of you!
When I’m not at school, I’m still doing all of the stuff that I do here with you – I work on collaborative art build projects, I participate in prop creation for performance art, and I craft! Mostly I make flower crowns with horns, or crochet and sew for my personal crafting. I also do watercoloring painting a lot.
I like to look at all manner of art-making as a way to play, and to learn things about myself and the world around me through that play. I’m really excited to see the sorts of things we’ll be able to learn about and create together this year!
Kelley Herring, School Counselor
As a counselor, I seek multi-faceted opportunities to support kids by encouraging peer relationships, teaching communication and social skills, and by helping to develop self-awareness and build self-esteem. I feel so fortunate to be part of a team that approaches education from a whole-child perspective; where social, emotional and academic development are inextricably linked. I love being surrounded by people who work together to encourage every student’s individuality, creativity, and freedom of expression. As Mountain View celebrates the beginning of our third year, I am starting my third year with the Co-Op schools. I hold a Master of Science in School Counseling and a California Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) Credential in School Counseling.
Although I have lived the past 9 years in San Diego, I am a Colorado native with a lifelong love of playing in the cold & snow- including skiing, snowshoeing & ice skating. Outside of school, I enjoy most any activity that I can do alongside my family, which includes two (very different) 7 year-old twins, Josh & Alex, my partner Amy, and our dog Indie. Together we love to hike, ride bicycles, scooter, play board games, plan surprises for each other, wrestle, read new books, travel, and go swimming.
Larissa Campos, School Counselor
Hello, I am Larissa! I am the new School Counselor at SDCCS-MV, and I am thrilled to be a part of this wonderful team!
My journey in Education started a long time ago in my home country (Brazil). I started as a teacher assistant in a preschool and eventually became a lead teacher. I wanted to become an elementary teacher so I completed my first Bachelor’s degree in Education. Immediately after I decided to move to the US for a year, but life took many turns and the US became my permanent home! I lived 10 years in Arizona where I completed my second Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Arizona State University. In 2016 I moved to San Diego to attend the University of San Diego, and in May of 2018, I completed my Masters in Counseling (emphasis in School Counseling) with a California PPS Credential in School Counseling.
As a graduate student, I spent the last two years visiting and observing many schools in San Diego area (as well as some international schools in Europe and South America) as a researcher for the Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education at the University of San Diego. Through this experience, I learned a lot about the many flaws in the educational system. After I graduated I began my search for a school that truly valued diversity, relationships, families, children’s individuality and a holistic approach to education. I was lucky to find Mountain View and am honored to be a part of this incredible team of talented, knowledgeable and caring educators! My goal is to help children improve their social and emotional skills, and become empathetic, kind and responsible citizens – without ever compromising their individuality!
Outside of work I love playing beach volleyball, go hiking, camping, traveling, learning new languages, trying new foods, dancing and spending time with friends!
Beth Brown (Inclusion Specialist)
Hi, my name is Beth Brown. I grew up in rural Wisconsin and moved to Cambridge, MA where I
completed a counseling program at Lesley University. While in college I selected internships
focusing on mental health, homelessness and inclusive programs for children. I deeply valued
my time working in environments that provide equal access and opportunities for all, which led
me to our school. I began working at SDCCS Mountain View as an art enrichment teacher and
instructional assistant. Getting to know our amazing students and staff led me to learning a lot
about myself and how my growing skills could further impact students. Building relationships
with students and working collaboratively with students and teachers is the most important part
of my job.
When I’m not at school, I love hanging out with my two cats, Penelope and Beatrice in the tiny
house on wheels I built. I also love cooking, hiking, my vegetable garden, and finding new
Holly Hellerstedt (Lead Instructional Assistant)
Hello, my name is Holly! I have been working at SDCCS since the 2015-2016 school year, and I am very excited to step into my new role as Lead IA this year and further support our students!
I grew up in a family that loved and valued education. In fact, both my mother and father worked in schools for many years! My educational philosophy is centered around inclusion, social justice, and activism. Having previously worked with youth through a LGBT rights non-profit, I came to this school ready to have hard yet important conversations with students about identity, self-awareness, and self-advocacy. I am avidly opposed to the school-to-prison pipeline and actively approach student conflict through the perspective of restorative justice and mediation–one of the many reasons I feel so grateful to be a part of this school community! I believe that all of the parts of someone’s life and identity combine to create their lived experience, and that we must embrace each student’s full self to support them in their academic and social/emotional development. I know that children are wise beyond their years and have the ability to change the world–they just need the tools and support to do so!
I love working at SDCCS because I am surrounded by amazing staff and students, and am actively empowered to encourage our students to think critically, to appreciate the difference in others around them, and to take mindful action about the issues they see in their world. Although working in the classroom can definitely be challenging, being able to build relationships that support breakthroughs in children’s lives is the best reward I could ever ask for.
Outside of my time at work, I love exploring nature, meeting cute animals, watching cartoons, organizing around social justice issues and sharing yummy food with others. Thank you for reading and I look forward to building with you and your family!
Cassidy Bull, Speech Language Pathologist
Amanda Jordan, English Learner Support Coordinator
Hello all! Saludos! My name is Amanda, and I am excited to serve our English Language Learners again this year. I graduated from UC San Diego in International Studies-Poli Sci and from SIT Graduate Institute in Social Justice. I am currently working on my Single Subject teaching credential in English at San Diego State. My husband, Tony, and I live in Southeast San Diego and recently welcomed our baby, Tahsev! We have a pitbull named Leonidas and two fiesty hens. My philosophy for teaching includes starting with the knowledge and interests the youth bring to the table. I have tutored and taught English to adult ELs for many years, and I enjoy the ages from kinder to 8th at SDCCS and the different ways they learn and use English!
Melissa Scott, Adapted Physical Education Teacher
I have been providing support to students at Mountain View and Linda Vista campuses since 2012, but first joined the SDCCS family in 2007 as a parent.. Teaching APE is my third career after great experiences in Natural Resource Management/Environmental Education and as an Personal trainer specializing in clients with specific needs. I see it as a culmination of the skills I have developed throughout my professional life and love working with students at SDCCS. I am passionate about helping children learn, play, enjoy the outdoors and to feel at home in their bodies through both spontaneous and intentional types of movement.
I earned a B.S. in Natural Resource Planning and Interpretation from Humboldt State and a certificate in Exercise Science from UCSD. I also hold both Multiple Subject and Adapted Physical Education teaching credentials along with Personal Training and Medical Exercise Specialist Certifications. Basically, I like to learn stuff and am fortunate to work with a bunch of curious kids and adults who teach me every day!
Outside of work I love to play outside with my husband and sons, work in the dirt, be in trees as much as possible and label and laminate everything humanly possible.