Instructional Team

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Chay Dixon, English Language Arts Teacher

Second-Year Knight


Ms. Dixon is from Florida and previously taught 5th grade in Florida. Before becoming a teacher, she attended Florida State University and majored in English for Editing, Writing, and Media. Ms. Dixon is an avid writer. She also enjoys reading, hiking, camping, and exploring the Pacific Northwest.

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Jaime Morin, Math Teacher

Second-Year Knight

Ms. Morin is excited to continue her second year of teaching at Destiny Middle School. Her love for travel and adventure began when her parents moved her family to the Middle East after seven years in Canada. While abroad, her family explored Europe, Africa, and Indonesia before settling in North Carolina. Ms. Morin graduated from Elon University in Elon, North Carolina with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and Education. Before graduating, she studied abroad in London, England and Southern India. In her free time, she loves to read books at tiny coffee shops, watch The Office, and cook for her friends and family.

Kayla Vickaryous

Kayla Vickaryous, English Language Arts Teacher

Second-Year Knight

Ms. Vickaryous is a returning Literacy Enrichment teacher from Destiny's founding team. Originally from a small town in southwest Washington, she attended Concordia University in Portland, OR before moving to Oklahoma City to teach 6th grade English language arts and social studies. Kayla is honored to return to her home state to join the movement for educational reform in Washington and work alongside the amazing students and families that make up the vibrant community of Tacoma. Outside of the classroom, she has a love for athletics, walking around Tacoma, and brunch.

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Andrew Crook, Social Studies Teacher

First-Year Knight

Mr. Crook grew up in Evanston, Illinois and Davis, California. He is recently from Los Angeles, where he attended UCLA for graduate school and taught 8th grade social studies at another school in the Green Dot network. He decided to become a teacher after studying abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he had an internship with an education non-profit. For fun, he enjoys spending time outdoors, attending concerts, reading, and running. One of Mr. Crook’s lifetime goals is to go on a backpacking trip on every continent.

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Alexis Hauber, Science Teacher

First-Year Knight

Ms. Hauber grew up in the Midwest and attended the University of Iowa, earning degrees in biology and psychology. After graduation, Alexis spent eight years teaching middle and high school science in Los Angeles, where she also earned a master's degree in secondary education from Loyola Marymount University. Most recently, she spent two years working in curriculum and assessment design at the district level in Colorado. Outside of teaching, Alexis enjoys music (both listening to and performing it) and a number of outdoor and indoor fitness activities.

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Italiana Hughes, Social Studies Teacher

First-Year Knight

Ms. Hughes is from South Seattle and attended the University of Washington where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Communication. She started her teaching career in Baltimore and most recently, she was teaching in Seattle. Currently, she lives with her roommate and best friend in Des Moines and she loves to spend time with her mom, sister, aunt, cousins, grandmother, and great grandmother. For fun she likes to see movies in theaters and visit new restaurants!

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Savanah Jordan, English Language Arts Teacher

First-Year Knight

Ms. Jordan was born and raised in Puyallup, Washington. After completing her Bachelor's of Arts in Creative Writing and Spanish at Western Washington University, she co-founded the Bellingham Poem Store, a pop-up sidewalk store using old typewriters to sell on-the-spot poetry to passers-by. After graduating, Ms. Jordan moved to the big island of Hawai'i to teach high school and middle school English Language Arts at Ke Kula o Ehunukaimalino and Konawaena Middle School. She recently graduated with her Masters of Science in Education from Johns Hopkins University, and is thrilled to be returning to her home state to teach Creative Writing at Destiny Middle School. She loves bookstores, day hikes, and farmer's markets.

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Holly Knowles, Math Teacher

First-Year Knight

Ms. Knowles is originally from Issaquah, Washington and attended the University of Washington for her undergraduate studies, where she studied speech and hearing sciences and disability studies. After graduating, she moved to Rhode Island where she taught middle school math and obtained her Master's in Urban Education Policy from Brown University. Ms. Knowles is so excited to be returning to her home state, and looks forward to attending lots of Husky games and spending time with her German Shepard, Aga.

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Bryston Nham, Science Teacher

First-Year Knight

Mr. Nham was born and raised in Honolulu, HI and graduated from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA with a degree in Molecular and Cell Biology and a minor degree in Economics. Throughout college, Mr. Nham conducted cancer biology research. Growing up, he played soccer and frequently went to the beach. He has one brother who is currently in college and plays soccer for Lake Forest College.

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Dani Rice, English Language Arts Teacher

First-Year Knight

Ms. Rice is from Vancouver, WA and graduated Eastern Washington University (go Eags!). She has been blessed with opportunity to teach all over the country in amazing cities such as New Orleans, San Diego, and New York City over the past six years. Ms. Rice is so excited to finally be back in the Northwest and closer to her friends, family, and cat, Jax. She enjoys sports (both playing and watching), traveling, and dancing!

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Brandon Shields, Math/Technology Teacher

First-Year Knight

Mr. Shields grew up in rural Kentucky, a town of approximately 250 people, raising cattle and tobacco. This experience made for a great childhood in nature, but also taught him the value of handwork and determination. Mr. Shields recently graduated from Northern Arizona University with his master's degree in Educational Leadership. In his free time, Mr. Shields is an artist and a musician. When he is not creating, he enjoys traveling and exploring on his bicycle.

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Sunny Sinco, Social Studies Teacher

First-Year Knight

After graduating from UCLA (go Bruins!), Ms. Sinco joined Teach for America and returned home to Washington to teach 7th grade Language Arts/Social Studies and 8th grade Language Arts in the Renton School District. In her four years there, she had many opportunities to grow in her practice and to contribute to the school community as a participant on district curriculum committees, head of the Family Engagement Committee, mentor to new teachers at her school, and assistant track coach. Sunny enjoys cooking (pumpkin chocolate chip muffins are her specialty, and a student favorite every year), reading, playing board games, and adventuring with her husband.

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Moriah Van Cleef, Math Teacher

First-Year Knight

Ms. Van Cleef is originally from Colorado and moved to Tacoma last year. She graduated from Bard College in Upstate New York where she spent most of her time organizing student run theater and competing with the swim team. Ms. Van Cleef completed the U-ACT program at the University of Washington and is continuing to pursue her master’s degree there. In her spare time she likes to hike, swim, run, cook, play with her dog, and explore new places.

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David McCardell, Special Education Facilitator

First-Year Knight

Mr. McCardell grew up in Tacoma and graduated from University of Washington with a B.A. in philosophy and psychology. He attended graduate school then taught in Tacoma for two years. He's spent the last two years teaching elementary and coaching basketball, soccer, and track at an international school in South Korea. He's excited to be returning to Tacoma with his wife and two daughters. For fun, he likes to spend time with his family and play basketball.

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Jen Nelson, Special Education Facilitator

Second-Year Knight

Ms. Nelson graduated from the University of Hawai'i with a bachelor’s degree in Marine Science, and is currently attending an Education Graduate Program at Seattle Pacific University. For the last 4 years, she worked at Waiakea High School in Hilo, Hawai'i as a Paraeducator. She has also taught science for Upward Bound at the University of Hawai'i, and worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as a Marine Science Educator at Mokupapapa Discovery Center. She is fascinated by the ocean, enjoys exploring the outdoors, and loves hanging out with her little dog, Mr. Poppers.

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Kara Hayes, Instructional Aide

First-Year Knight

Ms. Hayes is a true GRIT (Girl Raised In The South). She is a transplant resident via the US Army and decided to remain in Tacoma after her service because she loves the Pacific Northwest. Ms. Hayes holds a B.A. from The Evergreen State College in Psychology and Business. She has one child that is her cooking buddy and her other hobbies include winning at Checkers and Pictionary.

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Nachelle McLaws, Instructional Aide

First-Year Knight

Ms. McLaws will miss working in the After School Program but is excited to be transitioning to an Instructional Aide role! Ms. McLaws and her husband moved from Utah to Washington last year, and they love living in Tacoma. Her favorite thing to do in Washington is to go exploring with her dog Annie.

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Hiram Moran, Instructional Aide

Second-Year Knight

Mr. Moran was born in Mexico and raised in the United States. He has lived in Tacoma for most of his life, graduated from Henry Foss High School, and received his Bachelor's degree in Biology from Whitman College. He values family most of all and has three sisters, one brother, and four nieces and nephews. He enjoys watching Star Trek, playing the trombone, and thinking about his future as a teacher. He has four dogs, a cat, and loves to grow vegetables wherever there is space and soil.

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Tyler Schlatter, Americorps Member

First-Year Knight

Mr. Schlatter was born and raised locally in Tacoma, Washington. He recently finished a B.S. in Biochemistry from Gonzaga University. He loves the outdoors and a good book!

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Destiny Middle School

1301 E 34th St
Tacoma, WA 98404

Phone: (253) 722-5883
Fax: (253) 382-2402

wa.greendot.org