Instructional Team

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Jovan Bennett

Instructional Aide

Mr.  Bennett is excited to join the RVLA family as an Instructional Aide this school year. He has worked in Fayetteville, Arkansas School District for 2 years and hopes to become a certified teacher in the near future. Prior to working for Green Dot, Mr. Bennett worked for one of the top logistics company.. He has an Bachelor Degree in Sales and Marketing from Tuskegee University. While attending Tuskegee University, he played football and participated in Track and Field. He is very passionate about Education and helping underserved inner-city students and can’t wait to be a positive role model for all RVLA students for years to come. During his free time Mr. Bennett enjoys watching football, and cooking luxury dinners.

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Kyle Berry

Orchestra and Digital Music Production Teacher

Mr. Berry is excited to be bringing music to RVLA! Mr. Berry earned his Bachelor of Music in Music Education from the University  of South Carolina and after teaching for a time went on to complete a Master of Music degree in Music Composition at the University of Edinburgh. Mr. Berry spent the last 3 years as the Music Director for Excel Public Charter School in Kent. Students will spend their time with Mr. Berry learning how to produce  electronic music, podcast and foley or learning to play instruments from the orchestras string family. He also has experience leading students in after school radio broadcasting club and Dungeons and Dragons club.

In his spare time Mr. Berry enjoys writing miniatures for chamber ensembles, playing video games and collecting synthesizers and noise makers of all kinds.

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Cecille Bitanga

Special Education Teacher

Cecille Bitanga moved to Seattle last year from the Bay Area but grew up in Montreal, CAN. She attended San Jose State University and graduated with a B.S. in Health Science. She joined AmeriCorps after college and worked as a Volunteer Coordinator for a non-profit organization assisting adults with mental health. This is where she discovered her passion in working with individuals with special needs. After AmeriCorps, she continued to work with adults with mental illnesses as a Recreational Therapist for the City of San Jose. She decided to go back to school and earned her M.S. in Special Education. In California, she taught Computer Science, Math and English Language Arts at the middle school level. She is excited to finally work in Special Education in the great Pacific Northwest! In her free time, she enjoys exploring new places, hiking, baking, and spending time with her cat and dog.

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Quierra Bradford

Student Support Counselor

Prior to working with Seneca and RVLA, I served as an AmeriCorps member in Atlanta Georgia. During my AmeriCorps year I worked in the education department at a Non-Profit organization called Covenant House of Georgia, which is a shelter that serves Youth experiencing homeless. During my AmeriCorps year I had the opportunity to facilitate classes, implemented a new social/emotional learning curriculum and help students with academic needs. Some of my responsibilities included, tutoring, college applications, FASFA/ Financial Aid, college workshops, scholarship workshops and campus tours. As the Education Specialist at Covenant House, I was also exposed to many different training's that allowed me to work effectively with the population that we served. Training's on topics such as, equity and inclusion, behaviors, true colors, sensitivity, trauma informed care, and diversity.

Some of the things I enjoy doing in my free time are spending time with family, playing sports, getting outside, and photography.

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Cole Campion

English Language Arts Teacher

Mr. Campion graduated last winter from Western Washington University with a Bachelor's in English Literature and is working towards getting his Master's at Western Governors University. He has a passion for both music and writing and is very excited to begin his career at Rainier Valley Leadership Academy.

Mr. Campion hopes to bring his love of literature to students everyday, and challenge their ideas of what literature and writing can be. He aims to make connections between the content and the daily lives of students to create a more engaging and rewarding experience throughout the school year. He looks forward to meeting you all and working together to make it the best year it can be for both parents and students.

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Cyndrella D'Cunha

Math Teacher

I graduated from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, India with Bachelors in mathematics and computer programing. Thereon I completed my masters in mathematics from University of Mumbai. I have experience teaching High School as well as undergraduate students.

I enjoy reading and cooking.

 

I am excited to be a part of RVLA team!!

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Melissa Galarneau

6th Grade Teacher

Ms. G previously served as an Instructional Aide at RVLA and is excited to begin her first year of teaching as a Middle School Math Teacher! She was born and raised in Hawaii, earning her BA in Political Science at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and moved to Seattle in 2011. After teaching English as a Second Language to middle schoolers in in Phuket, Thailand, as well as extensive travel throughout Southeast Asia, Ms. G returned to Seattle to pursue an education career in the US.

 

When she has spare time, Ms. G relaxes by playing the piano and watching TV. She also loves exploring new places, learning new things, scuba diving, and enjoying time with her family and friends.

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Olive Garcia

Special Education Teacher

Mr. Garcia is excited to be a Special Education teacher at Rainier Valley Leadership Academy.  He graduated from CSULA with a degree in Economics. Then, he obtained a teaching credential with a focus on strategies to help students with special needs.  He has been a math teacher in Los Angeles, CA and in Kent, WA serving students with diverse cultural backgrounds and academic abilities.

 

Mr. Garcia enjoys hiking in Discovery Park, spending time with his family and cat, and trying a variety of vegetarian foods.  He looks forward to working with wonderful students, staff, and families at RVLA.

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Alexis Hauber

Science Teacher

Ms. Hauber is honored to be joining Rainier Valley Leadership Academy in the 2019 – 2020 school year as the 9th/10th grade physics teacher. She grew up in the Midwest and attended the University of Iowa, earning degrees in biology and psychology. After graduation, Ms. Hauber 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. She then spent two years working in curriculum development and assessment design for middle and high school math, science, and music at the district level in Colorado. Most recently, Ms. Hauber taught all levels of middle school science for three years at Destiny Charter Middle School.

 

Ms. Hauber enjoys singing with the Seattle Choral Company, attending musical performances around Seattle, eating amazing food, and exploring new hiking trails around the state. She looks forward to helping students engage deeply in scientific thinking and engineering design, develop deeper understanding of and appreciation for the world (and universe) around them, and grow as informed and conscientious citizens.

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Chineka Jones

English Teacher

Chineka Jones is from North Carolina and a proud graduate of North Carolina Central University. She received her Masters of Education in 2011 and believes learning should always be the goal, no matter what age. From an early age her parents instilled in her the power and importance of an education. Giving back to others is an important part of Chineka’s life and she contributes to several charity organizations with knitting and crochet. Growing up she learned the value of hard work from her Father, a Marine and she learned the value of kindness from her Mother, an Elementary Teacher. In her free time she loves traveling, attending jazz concerts, playing the clarinet, reading, baking, and cooking.

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Jess Kozik

Student Support Counselor

Miss Kozik is excited to join the RVLA family this year as a Student Support Counselor. Miss Kozik works with Seneca Family of Agencies, a non-profit organization dedicated to unconditional education and care, two values that she holds close to her heart. Hailing originally from Chicago, she moved to Seattle last year. During her first year in Seattle she worked with the AmeriCorps organization City Year, serving at Highland Park Elementary School and working primarily with third graders and in the math intervention classroom. In her free time, Miss Kozik enjoys writing, swimming, watching old horror movies, and bowling.
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Najee Ladd-Ali

P.E. Teacher/Administrative Intern

Mr. Ladd-Ali is a Seattle Native, born and raised in South Seattle, and a Graduate of Washington State University. He is a former college athlete and trainer. This is his fifth year in education. He has worked with Special Education (EBD) students throughout Seattle while coaching high school basketball. He is currently graduating with a Masters in Educational Administration from City University .

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James Mackerras

English Teacher

Mr. Mackerras is proud to be the first eighth grade ELA teacher at Rainier Valley Leadership Academy.  Born and raised in Southern California, he received his BA in English and CA Teacher Credential with an emphasis in ELA instruction from California Polytechnice State University of San Luis Obispo.  After graduating, he spent almost two years teaching English as a second language in Tanzania, both in rural villages near the city of Arusha and on the island of Zanzibar. He continued his ESL practice by spending the next two years teaching students in Shanghi, China.  Upon returning from abroad, he began teaching with Green Dot Public Schools at Alain Leroy Locke College Preparatory Academy in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. In the three years he taught there, his primarily worked with ninth grade students that needed support to catch up to their ygrade level peers in reading and writing.

 

Outside of school, Mr. Mackerras is enjoying exploring Seattle and the surrounding area with his wife and daughter.  He is an avid reader that is always looking for book recommendations for pleasure or to better understand his students and community.  At RVLA he plans to use his experience working with high school students and his knowledge of the skills he wished they had to prepare his students for success in high school and beyond.

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Benjamin Olsen

Spanish Teacher

Ben Olsen is excited to be serving as Spanish Instructor for Rainier Valley Leadership Academy. Originally from Spooner, Wisconsin, Ben attended Martin Luther College in Minnesota, with a B.A. in Education and Spanish Language. He has had the privilege to teach Spanish at all levels in a variety of states and settings including South Dakota, Nebraska, Wisconsin, and now Washington. He also has had wonderful experiences in several Latino countries, traveling and taking classes in countries like Argentina and Mexico. 

 

Mr. Olsen enjoys football season, golfing, and exploring the scenic Washington area with family and friends. He looks forward to working with a dedicated staff, serving at a school where student success is put first.

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Jose Orellana

6th Grade Teacher

Known for his creativity, joyfulness, passion for helping others and love of Tacos, Mr. Orellana brings 8 years of national and international teaching experience to RVLA. A graduate of California State University, Los Angeles and a California native, Mr. Orellana has worked with students from many diverse backgrounds both in the United States and abroad. He has worked closely with middle school students throughout his teaching experience and believes in cultivating students to be the best version of themselves, both in and out of the classroom.

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Desiray Padilla

Instructional Aide

Ms. Padilla is thrilled and honored to join Rainier Valley Leadership Academy as an Instructional Aide. Born here in Washington State, her family soon moved to Southern California where she spent most of her life growing up. She graduated in 2015 from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a B.S. in Biological Sciences and a minor in Education. She then worked as an instructional aide for two years at her local high school before moving up to Seattle last summer. During her first year in Seattle, Ms. Padilla worked as a City Year AmeriCorps Member serving in a 5th grade classroom at Sanislo Elementary School. Over this past summer, she had the chance to run her own classroom as she combined her two passions (science and education) to teach at a science summer camp for elementary students. She hopes to continue following these passions and become a middle school science teacher in the near future.

In her free time Ms. Padilla loves to read, drink coffee, explore Seattle, and take her dog, Ollie, to all the dog parks they can find.

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Amy Razo

High School World History and AP Human Geography Teacher

Ms. Amy Razo joined RVLA last year from Los Angeles, California where she was born, raised, and where she began teaching over 8 years ago. Ms. Razo began her teaching career at Dominguez High School in Compton, California and spent the last three school years teaching for Green Dot Public Schools at Alain LeRoy Locke College Preparatory Academy in Watts. 

Ms. Razo is a proud, two-time graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles. She earned her bachelor’s degree in History in 2010. It was during her undergraduate years that Ms. Razo discovered her passion for learning history that is diverse and representative, as well where she became aware of the ways in which education has left students of color historically underserved. Combining her new passions, Ms. Razo decided to pursue her teaching credential and graduate degree through UCLA’s Teacher Education Program where her training was focused specifically on serving urban communities. She began teaching in 2011 and graduated with her Master’s Degree in Education in 2012. 

Ms. Razo is thrilled to continue teaching history as well as her new AP Human Geography course. She is so excited at the opportunity to work with RVLA staff, students, and families to build a strong school culture that will set students on the path to success!   

In her spare time, Ms. Razo enjoys hiking, rock climbing, skiing, camping, photography, and traveling.

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Andrew Tejero

6th Grade Teacher

Mr. Tejero is excited to be an incoming 6th grade Teacher for Rainier Valley Leadership Academy. He graduated from the University of Washington with a B.A. in Public Health & Global Health. His past experiences through student government have given him the opportunity to work with students, faculty and administrators on campus. He has worked with health departments and law enforcement within the university to champion health & well being and safety. And has facilitated a variety of different workshops to diverse communities across campus. He has taught summer school and continuously seeks to gain knowledge in the intersections of Public Health and Education. With that, he was selected by Teach for America to address educational inequity through the unique lens he brings. 

 

Mr. Tejero enjoys road tripping around the Olympic Mountains, planning hikes around the sound, and spending time with close friends and family. He is a fan of thrift stores and wandering around Seattle. He looks forward to be able to help empower students to realize their potential and share a glimpse of a hopeful future they hold.

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Rainier Valley Leadership Academy

6020 Rainier Ave S,

Seattle, WA 98118

Phone: (206) 659-0956

Fax: (206) 905-6601

info@myrvla.org