Leadership Team


Kristina Howard


Ms. Howard comes to Excel Public Charter School as an experienced school leader with a strong record of results. She is an instructional leader that values collaboration, hard work, and has an unwavering belief that ALL students can succeed. Ms. Howard was the first to graduate from college in her family and understands the importance of education both to and through college. Ms. Howard graduated from Oakland University with a degree in Mathematics and joined TNTP’s Texas Teaching Fellows in Austin, Texas. While in Austin, she taught high school Mathematics to struggling students and brought math to life by creating engaging, inquiry based, and real-world lessons. In Ms. Howard’s class, ALL students were held to high expectations and she worked with both students and families to ensure student achievement. Early in her teaching career, Ms. Howard realized that she wanted to enter school leadership so that she could impact more students through coaching teachers. After graduating in 2012 with her Master’s in Education Administration from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, Ms. Howard started her career in school leadership. Ms. Howard was a high school Administrator in Dallas Independent School District from 2013-15 where she achieved significant gains in student achievement in the areas of Mathematics, Social Studies, ELA, and SPED. During the 2015-16 school year, Ms. Howard was a middle school Administrator at an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School in Round Rock Independent School District where she focused on coaching Teacher Teams (PLCs) within all core content areas. In her personal time, she enjoys spending time with her fiance, traveling and exploring new places, and trying new things.


Karina Vanderbilt

Assistant Principal

Originally from Bellingham, Washington, Karina Vanderbilt received her B.A. in History and Spanish from Occidental College and Master’s in School Administration from Columbia University. Ms. Vanderbilt began her career teaching Social Studies on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico, where she served as literacy goal team leader. Fascinated by education policy, Ms. Vanderbilt worked for three years as a Policy Program Manager for the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED), where she led the implementation of the Common Core State Standards in New Mexico. Returning to the classroom, Ms. Vanderbilt taught middle and high school English and History in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Most recently, she served as the Assistant Principal at Mandela International Magnet School, the first public International Baccalaureate school in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is a 2016 Grosvenor Teacher Fellow with National Geographic, in recognition of outstanding commitment to promoting geographic literacy.

Ms. Vanderbilt is thrilled to join the Excel team and provide an outstanding education to all students in her home state. In her free time, Ms. Vanderbilt enjoys mountaineering and running ultramarathons.


Denise Frias

Director of School Operations

Ms. Frias is a Filipina native who grew up in the foothills of Western Canada. Upon graduating from Trinity Western University with a B.A. in Sociology and a specialization in Human Services, she pursued a career in the non-profit sector. This brought her to Southeast Asia working with schools, orphanages and community centers to provide educational camp programs for local youth and children. What followed was a journey of diverse experiences in non-profit: logistics and operations with Invisible Children; volunteer coordination with United Way of Calgary & Area; teaching English at community centers in Miyagi, Japan.
Most recently, Ms. Frias was the Operations Manager for pre-pave, the pre-kindergarten program at PAVE Academy Charter School. She enjoyed working in Red Hook, an under-served neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York, because of the partnership that developed between the school and the community. As the founding Operations Manager at Excel, Ms. Frias has loved seeing a similar collaboration develop between the school, Excel families, and the surrounding Kent community.

When she’s not at work, Ms. Frias loves exploring the PNW mountains and lakes, the diverse eats in and around Kent, and enjoying downtime with her husband and their fur baby (a goldendoodle named Queso!)


Emily Feldtmose

Dean of Students

Ms. F is so excited to start the year at Excel! She grew up near Philadelphia and received her B.S./B.A. in Psychology and Student Art from Ursinus College. After spending a year as an artist in residency at Millersville University, she was accepted into a teaching program in Washington, DC called Urban Teachers. For the last five years, Ms. F has been teaching 6-8th grade math at Center City Public Charter School, Petworth campus. She is looking forward to working with the Excel team!

Follow us:

Excel Public Charter School

19300 108th Avenue Southeast,

Kent, WA 98031

Phone: (253) 487-7530