Dr. Anderson is thrilled and excited to join the Rainier Valley Leadership team as a founding English language arts teacher. A native of Maine, her first trip to the west coast happened when she moved to sunny California as an eighteen year old. She graduated from Pomona College with a B.A. in French and Spanish literatures, and earned a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Dr. A earned her teaching credential through Loyola Marymount University when she joined the Teach for America corps in San Francisco. She taught first, second and third grade at The Mission Preparatory School, a charter school in The Excelsior in San Francisco. For the past two years, Dr. Anderson has been a transdisciplinary teacher at Bellevue Children’s Academy, where she worked as the International Baccalaureate lead teacher for the fourth grade team. She has taught languages and literature to a wide range of students, from first grade to university level.
When she is not reading new books to explore with her students, Dr. Anderson spends most of her time on the ocean in West Seattle with her husband and infant daughter, Ruby. The family loves searching for seals and starfish, and stopping for the occasional donut at Top Pot on the way home.
English/Language Arts Teacher
Ms. Diaz is grateful and ecstatic to join the Green Dot team as a founding English Language Arts teacher. She graduated in 2012 from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.S. in Advertising and a minor in both Business and Spanish. After two years of employment as an ad campaign Copywriter, she discovered her true passion working with a non-profit organization that focused on students of families in disadvantaged communities. Ms. Diaz taught at KIPP Austin Public School District for the past three years as a Spanish Lead First Grade Teacher. She also contributed her talents, as the Culture Chair, to ensure the school’s culture was positive for students, families, teachers and staff. Her optimistic outlook and joyful attitude are infectious!
As an innovative educator, she finds it important to stay abreast of current literature and educational philosophy to promote her professional growth and guarantee her student’s success. Ms. Diaz consistently strives for excellence and encourages all of her students to imagine, believe and achieve their aspirations, big or small! In her spare time, she enjoys camping, painting whales, running half marathons or taking her spunky dog on fun adventures. She can’t wait to attend her first Seahawks game in the fall!
Mr. Earl is humbled and excited to be the founding 6th grade math teacher at Rainier Valley Leadership Academy! He graduated from Eastern Illinois University with a B.S. in Kinesiology and Sports Studies with a minor in Business Administration. He is currently finishing his Master's degree in Secondary Education from Johns Hopkins University and is set to complete the degree in May 2017. Prior to joining the Rainier Valley Leadership Academy team, he got his start in education as a 2010 Teach for America Corps Member in Dallas, Texas where he taught 8th grade math at KIPP: TRUTH Academy for two years. In August 2012, he moved to New York City to accept the 8th grade math position at Democracy Prep Charter Middle School in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan and has taught there for the last five years.
When not thinking about math, Mr. Earl is an avid soccer fan and massive supporter of Newcastle United in England! He played four years of college soccer at Eastern Illinois University and is thrilled at the prospect of being able to experience watching the Seattle Sounders with their incredible fans!
Mr. Lasso is excited to join the Rainier Valley Leadership Academy team as the founding science teacher! Originally from Washington, D.C., he came to the Pacific Northwest to attend the University of Washington, Seattle. After graduating with a B.S. in Biology in 2011, Mr. Lasso went back to D.C. to teach in his local community. After spending the last five years as an 8th grade science educator at Paul Public Charter School, Mr. Lasso has returned to the Northwest to continue his work: making science fun!
Outside of the classroom, Mr. Lasso enjoys a range of activities, including yoga, martial arts, running, biking. He is also eager to explore the diverse ecosystems that can be found in Washington!
Social Studies Teacher
Ms. Rosario is thrilled to start her public school teaching career as Rainier Valley Leadership Academy's founding 6th grade Social Studies teacher. She is a 2017 Teach For America Corps Member who graduated from Dartmouth College in 2015 where she received a B.A. in History modified with African & American Studies. Ms. Rosario recently moved to Seattle after working for a year as a 10th grade History teacher at Liceo Cientifico, a public school in a small rural town in the Dominican Republic. She most recently taught a Human Rights Through Research course at a summer program for the TEAK Fellowship, a program in NYC that helps low-income families get access and preparation for high school and college (of which she was once a student). Ms. Rosario currently works as an AmeriCorps Academic Success Coach at Seattle Education Access where she provides one-on-one tutoring and lads College Readiness workshops. Ms. Rosario is very passionate about history and spends her free time reading books that deepen her historical knowledge and nourish her commitment to helping build a more just society - starting in her classroom! She also enjoys music and dancing and is constantly working toward being a more disciplined writer.
Visual Arts Teacher
Mr. Shields was born and raised in rural Kentucky spending most of his early years working on a farm. He attended the University of Kentucky as a Kentucky Governor’s Scholar, earning his Bachelor's degree in Philosophy. After spending several years traveling, Mr. Shields found himself in Tucson, AZ where he began his career in education and continued his academic pursuits, earning his Master’s of Education in Educational Leadership. After moving to Tacoma in 2016 to help continue the great work happening at Destiny Middle School, he is excited to be a founding member of the Rainier Valley Leadership Academy where he will be teaching his first passion in life: art.
Ms. Ward is excited and honored to join Rainier Valley Leadership Academy as a founding 6th grade math teacher. She earned her B.S. in Math, Art and Secondary Education at Elmhurst College, located right outside Chicago, IL. She is set to graduate in May 2017 and loved her experience student teaching 6th grade math at Blackhawk Middle School in Bensenville, IL. While earning her degree, Ms. Ward kept busy working at Mathnasium, teaching art for Young Rembrandts and working as a freelance illustrator. She just completed illustrating her first children’s book and is excited to see it published!
Outside of discovering new math puzzles and drawing, Ms. Ward enjoys exploring museums, reading a good book (usually Harry Potter), and rooting on the Cubs. She’s thrilled that they won the World Series in time for her big move to Seattle, and is looking forward to catching a Mariners game (even though her heart will always belong to the Cubbies)! She is also always open to suggestions for fun places to visit in Seattle as she explores her new home!
Lead Special Education Teacher
Ms. Finders is honored and thrilled to be the Rainier Valley Leadership Academy Founding Lead Special Education Teacher. After earning her B.A. in Communication from University of Southern California, Claire moved to New York planning to start a career in marketing. She very quickly realized her passion for education, joined the New York City Teaching Fellows and began her graduate coursework. While teaching a 6th grade special education class in an NYC public school, Claire simultaneously earned her M.S. in Teaching Students with Disabilities (Middle School emphasis) from Pace University. After 3 years in the classroom, Claire and her husband moved to Dallas, TX, where she began teaching enrichment classes with Mind Lab. Claire’s experience in marketing and PR helped launch Nexplore, a national educational enrichment company that offers various after school, in-school and summer programs. As the Chief Business Development Officer at Nexplore, Claire was responsible for Nexplore’s sales, market expansion, program/curriculum development and management of instructors/programs.
Claire recently moved to Seattle and is ecstatic to return to a school setting to support RVLA students as they prepare for college and grow academically, socially and emotionally. When not developing new ways to engage and inspire students, Claire enjoys travelling, cooking, graphic design, yoga, trying new restaurants and exploring Seattle’s unique and beautiful offerings.
Special Education Teacher
Ms. Cleveland is thrilled to join the Rainier Valley Leadership Academy Staff as a special education teacher. She is a University of Texas graduate of social work and has over ten years of experience working with students of all ages in various settings. She began her teaching career with Teach for America in San Antonio, TX five years ago, and has been working in public and charter schools ever since.
Ms. Cleveland is extremely passionate about educational equity and firmly believes that every student deserves a college-ready education. When she is not teaching, Ms. Cleveland enjoys backpacking, snowshoeing, cooking, making music, and petting every dog she sees.
Ms. Rashid is honored and excited to be a founding Instructional Aide at Rainier Valley Leadership Academy. She has managed underserved students for 2 years as a K-5 program manager at East African Community Services. She also has experience working with all age groups and families in various roles, including as a summer coordinator, team leader, and a teaching assistant. Ms. Rashid is very passionate about helping underserved students because she can personally relate to their stories. She holds an AA from South Seattle College, Early Childhood Education certification from Highline College and hope to soon become a certificated teacher. Ms. Rashid looks forward to working with the founding middle school class. During her free time, she loves to read, write and explore Seattle with her children.