Faculty and Staff

We feel fortunate to have been able to attract such a high quality of administration, faculty, and support staff members to Country Place Elementary. Our teachers hail from Seattle to Syracuse, Charleston to Chicago, and we’ve even imported from Hawaii. When we mix this new blood with our homegrown talent, we can offer you a rich foundation on which to base your children’s learning experiences.


Administration


Administration

Principal Dr. Michael Cagle
Dr. Michael Cagle
Principal
Home Town:
Fort Worth, Texas

Favorite Subject in School:
History

Where I Started to Teach:

Hobbies:
Rooting for the University of Arizona, NASCAR, reading, learning and teaching about leadership and the 7 Habits, positive psychology, Dallas Cowboys, basketball, watching the Walking Dead, everything Star Wars, playing games with my boys, and country music

Message:

My mission is to develop leadership in myself and others in all aspects of my life. I believe that we control our own happiness and that each individual has immense power over his or her own life. Many people give this power away. Through my example, actions, and words, I want to help empower people to take charge of their lives and capture their power. I believe that we have immense power to make the world a better place—one interaction at a time. When we are kind to others and recognize the worth of each other, it makes our community a better place. Say a kind word or share a smile—change the world.

“Leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they come to see it in themselves.” - Dr. Stephen Covey

Assistant Principal Jazmin Pacheco
Jazmin Pacheco
Assistant Principal
Home Town:
Somerton, Arizona

Favorite Subject in School:
Reading

Where I Started to Teach:
Murphy School District at Sullivan Elementary School

Hobbies:
I like to do projects in our yard. I like to do various crafts, and I am now working on making birdhouses and decorating them for our yard.

Message:

"Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny." – Samuel Smiles

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Dean of Students Tony Balsama
Tony Balsama
Dean of Students
Home Town:
Hammonton, New Jersey

Favorite Subject in School:
U.S. History

Where I Started to Teach:
Gilbert, Arizona

Hobbies:
Web design, fitness, sports

Message:

Peace through strong leadership; discipline through positive values.

Support Staff


Office & Staff

 Yeceli Heras</br>                                                                 
Administrative Secretary

Yeceli Heras
Administrative Secretary
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 Monique Dunlap</br>                                                                 
Librarian

Monique Dunlap
Librarian
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 Ruby Espana</br>                                                                 
Support Specialist, Sr.

Ruby Espana
Support Specialist, Sr.
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 Kayla Hyduke</br>                                                                 
Nurse

Kayla Hyduke
Nurse
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teachers


Student Achievement Coach

 Brittany Jimenez
Brittany Jimenez
Home Town:
Glendale, AZ

Favorite Subject in School:
Math

Where I Started to Teach:
Challenger Middle School

Hobbies:
Photography

Message:

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 Kathy Larm
Kathy Larm
Home Town:
Duluth, GA

Favorite Subject in School:
Math

Where I Started to Teach:
I started to teach at Rainbow Valley Elementary School

Hobbies:
Reading, hiking, decorating, and spending time with my family

Message:

I am so excited to be a part of the Country Place team! It's going to be a great year!

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Kindergarten

 Jacqueline Davis
Jacqueline Davis
Home Town:
Novi, Michigan

Favorite Subject in School:
Writing

Where I Started to Teach:
I began working in education in Novi, Michigan as a resource assistance in special education. I continued at Pendergast School District then Avondale. I have been in the Littleton School District since 2006.

Hobbies:
Golfing with family

Message:

An education is the most important gift we can give a child.

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SEI Anastasia Hanns
Anastasia Hanns
SEI
Home Town:
Cashion, Arizona

Favorite Subject in School:
Reading

Where I Started to Teach:
I began teaching when I worked at the Brighter Angels Learning Center while I was attending college to earn my bachelor's in education. I then got my first job in the Creighton School District teaching first grade at Larry C. Kennedy School. I taught four years in this school and then moved here to Country Place where I plan on staying for a very long time.

Hobbies:
Softball, hiking

Message:

"Be the best that you can be!"

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 Karina Hernandez
Karina Hernandez
Home Town:
Arcadia, California

Favorite Subject in School:
I love reading and writing.

Where I Started to Teach:
Country Place Elementary

Hobbies:
I love spending time with my husband and family. I also love playing soccer and doing things that keep me active.

Message:

Never give up on your dreams no matter how long it takes to reach them. 

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SEI Karen Hook
Karen Hook
SEI
Home Town:
Burbank, California

Favorite Subject in School:
Math

Where I Started to Teach:
I started my teaching career in Phoenix as a director of a public daycare. I student taught in the Pendergast district and have been teaching at Country Place Elementary since 2005.

Hobbies:
Being with family and friends and anything outdoors

Message:

I teach because I love being around the kids. I have three granddaughters, one grandson, and five children and love every minute I spend with them. Kids are just "cool!"

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First Grade

 Catherine Grimmer
Catherine Grimmer
Home Town:
Peoria, Arizona

Favorite Subject in School:
Biology

Where I Started to Teach:
Country Place! 2013

Hobbies:
Playing games, Crafting, Swimming, and Playing Frisbee with my dog

Message:

So proud to be a part of the CPLA community! I love working every day in partnership with families, students, and colleagues toward mutual success! “Seeds today & gardens tomorrow!”

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ELD Kristina Palacios
Kristina Palacios
ELD
Home Town:
Chandler, Arizona

Favorite Subject in School:
Science

Where I Started to Teach:
I began assisting at Country Place in 2011. I was a paraprofessional and then a long term substitute. This is my third official year as a teacher!

Hobbies:
Hiking, baking, sewing, reading

Message:

"Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you." - Dr. Seuss

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 Jessica York
Jessica York
Home Town:
Kingman, Arizona

Favorite Subject in School:
Math

Where I Started to Teach:
I started teaching at Hualapai Elementary School in Kingman, Az. I have been at Country Place since 2013!

Hobbies:
Cake decorating, sports

Message:

Every child deserves a chance to learn. I am here to provide a safe and fun learning environment that will benefit all students.

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Second Grade

 Elizabeth Acosta
Elizabeth Acosta
Home Town:
Lynwood, CA

Favorite Subject in School:
Math

Where I Started to Teach:

Hobbies:
Reading, crocheting, fitness, baking and traveling

Message:

The struggle you're in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow. So don't give up!- Anonymous

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 Tami Hopper
Tami Hopper
Home Town:
Imlay City, MI

Favorite Subject in School:
Mathematics

Where I Started to Teach:
Bullhead City, AZ

Hobbies:
Painting, sports, and being a mom

Message:

If your career is what you love, you will love waking up to do it every day! Find your passion!

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 Caroline Nicholson
Caroline Nicholson
Home Town:
Portland, Oregon

Favorite Subject in School:
Sociology

Where I Started to Teach:
I started teaching here at Country Place.

Hobbies:
Playing outside, relaxing, watching, comedies

Message:

I'm very excited to work with all of you this year! We're going to learn a lot and have fun!

 Pamela Sanchez
Pamela Sanchez
Home Town:
Tolleson, AZ

Favorite Subject in School:
English

Where I Started to Teach:

Hobbies:
In my free time I like to spend time with my family, explore Arizona, and nap.

Message:

I want my students to believe in themselves as much as I believe in them. 

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Third Grade

 Valerie Cowan
Valerie Cowan
Home Town:
Kansas City. MO

Favorite Subject in School:
Social Studies

Where I Started to Teach:

Hobbies:
Interior design; photography and gardening. Hiking, biking and spending time with family. Watching baseball and attending Spring Training games.

Message:

Hello! After 8 years in private education, I'm thrilled to be joining Country Place Elementary and returning to public school. Education is my passion and I'm excited to be teaching 3rd grade 

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 Lynette Hill
Lynette Hill
Home Town:
Goodyear, Arizona

Favorite Subject in School:
Reading

Where I Started to Teach:
Country Place Elementary in 2010

Hobbies:
Reading, wakeboarding

Message:

Welcome to a new and exciting year! I am very happy to play a role in your child's education. As a parent of two students here at Country Place, I know how important it is to know what your child is learning in school. I have an open door policy so please feel free to stop in and see for yourself.

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ELD Maria Meza
Maria Meza
ELD
Home Town:
Yuma, Arizona

Favorite Subject in School:
Math

Where I Started to Teach:
I student taught at Country Place for the 2012-2013 school year, and I have been teaching here since.

Hobbies:
Photography and baking

Message:

Hello! I can't wait to meet you and work with you. It's going to be an exciting year.

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 Maria Serrano
Maria Serrano
Home Town:
Duarte, California

Favorite Subject in School:
Reading

Where I Started to Teach:
I started in the education field in 2000 in the Cartwright District as a kinder paraprofessional. Then in 2005, I moved to the Littleton District at Country Place where I began working as a kinder paraprofessional and a sped paraprofessional. Then I moved to my own classroom in 2014 to teach third grade at CPLA and counting.

Hobbies:
Spending time with family and crafting

Message:

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose." - Dr. Seuss

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Fourth Grade

 Roberta Garcia
Roberta Garcia
Home Town:
Cashion, AZ

Favorite Subject in School:
Reading

Where I Started to Teach:
Quentin Elementary School

Hobbies:
Anything sporty

Message:

Si Se Puede!

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ELD Astrid Garcia
Astrid Garcia
ELD
Home Town:
El Paso, TX

Favorite Subject in School:
Math

Where I Started to Teach:
Texas

Hobbies:
Reading, watching movies, and puzzles

Message:

Great minds don’t always think alike.

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 Rocio Suarez-Ruiz
Rocio Suarez-Ruiz
Home Town:
San Luis, Arizona

Favorite Subject in School:
Social Studies

Where I Started to Teach:
I started teaching in 2007 for the Gadsden Elementary School District in San Luis, AZ. I taught first, second, and third grade there.

Hobbies:
Camping, off roading, listening to music

Message:

We will work together to make sure our children succeed.

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 Melissa Torres
Melissa Torres
Home Town:
Lubbock, Texas

Favorite Subject in School:
Math

Where I Started to Teach:
Country Place Leadership Academy

Hobbies:
Scrapbooking, baking, and going to the movies

Message:

Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!

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Fifth Grade

 Cody Cherland
Cody Cherland
Home Town:
Yuma, AZ

Favorite Subject in School:
Reading

Where I Started to Teach:
San Luis, AZ

Hobbies:
Building projects in my shop, yardwork, and hanging out with Mrs. Cherland

Message:

“The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Work is the key to success, and with hard work you can accomplish anything.” - Vince Lombardi 

Go, Mustangs!

 

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Math Michelle Finn
Michelle Finn
Math
Home Town:
Surprise, Arizona

Favorite Subject in School:
Reading

Where I Started to Teach:

Hobbies:
Reading

Message:

I am looking forward to working with you and your child! It will be a fantastic year in the fourth grade!

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ELA Serena Garcia
Serena Garcia
ELA
Home Town:
Roswell, New Mexico

Favorite Subject in School:
Math

Where I Started to Teach:
Country Place Elementary School in 2012

Hobbies:
Tennis, playing board games, spending time with my family/friends, traveling, going to concerts!

Message:

"Teamwork makes the dream work!"

#MustangPride

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Language Arts Carrie Rodriguez
Carrie Rodriguez
Language Arts
Home Town:
Glendale, Arizona

Favorite Subject in School:
Math

Where I Started to Teach:
I started teaching right here at Country Place!

Hobbies:
Reading, watching movies, shopping!

Message:

Welcome to 5th grade! We will have an exciting year full of fun and learning.

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Sixth Grade

Math/Science Stephanie Budzban
Stephanie Budzban
Math/Science
Home Town:
Spearfish, SD

Favorite Subject in School:
Math

Where I Started to Teach:
Rainbow Valley Elementary in Buckeye, AZ

Hobbies:
Reading, Rubik’s cubing, and playing with my cats

Message:

I am looking forward to an outstanding year at Country Place Leadership Academy! It is a joy to work at a school with such a dedicated staff and enthusiastic students.

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ELA/Social Studies Julia Fach
Julia Fach
ELA/Social Studies
Home Town:
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Favorite Subject in School:
Writing

Where I Started to Teach:
Littleton School

Hobbies:
Reading and gardening

Message:

Choose to be happy and you will be.

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ELA Ashley Farrell
Ashley Farrell
ELA
Home Town:
Port Byron, IL

Favorite Subject in School:
ELA

Where I Started to Teach:
Raul H. Castro Middle School in Phoenix, AZ

Hobbies:
Reading, dancing, playing with my puppies, and spending time with family and friends.

Message:

I am looking forward to some amazing things happening this year!

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 Alexandra Gerber
Alexandra Gerber
Home Town:
Glendale, AZ

Favorite Subject in School:
Math & Language Arts

Where I Started to Teach:

Hobbies:
I play 4 different instruments. I love to paint and read books. I absolutely love snowboarding and getting active

Message:

I am so excited to be a teacher with Country Place Leadership Academy this year! I student taught last year in this same exact position and can't wait to get to meet all my new students. I believe each student has their own strengths and I love getting to know each and every one of them! 

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Seventh Grade

Math Tatum Green
Tatum Green
Math
Home Town:
Alamogordo, NM

Favorite Subject in School:
Math and PE

Where I Started to Teach:
Country Place Leadership Academy

Hobbies:
Sports, reading, playing with my puppies, and volunteering

Message:

I am so excited to be a part of the Country Place staff and community this year! Lets make it an amazing year!

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ELA/Social Studies Mariza Lopez
Mariza Lopez
ELA/Social Studies
Home Town:
Avondale, Arizona

Favorite Subject in School:
Reading

Where I Started to Teach:
I started my career right here at CPLA. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be here for five years!

Hobbies:
I love yoga, reading, dancing, and spending time with my pups and family!

Message:

I believe that every child has a gift, and it’s my mission to help them believe in it and explore the countless opportunities that are available to them! Wahoo! 

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Math/Science Erika Poblete
Erika Poblete
Math/Science
Home Town:
Corona, California

Favorite Subject in School:
Math

Where I Started to Teach:
Here at Country Place! (After student teaching in Altoona, PA and Thatcham, England!)

Hobbies:
Soccer, baking, karaoke, reading

Message:

This year is going to be aaamazing!

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 Shelby Van Damme
Shelby Van Damme
Home Town:
Chandler, AZ

Favorite Subject in School:
Genetics

Where I Started to Teach:

Hobbies:
Hiking, reading, swimming and sketching

Message:

Ad astra per aspera- Through hardship the stars.  I am excited to work with students and parents to develop a love of learning and science! I am honored to work with this community to ensure our students receive the best education.

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Eighth Grade

Social Studies Paul Budge
Paul Budge
Social Studies
Home Town:
Rainier, Oregon

Favorite Subject in School:
Woodshop or any shop class

Where I Started to Teach:
Estrella Mountain Elementary School in Goodyear, Arizona

Hobbies:
Building things from scrap wood such as pallets and hunting and fishing.

Message:

I believe that all children can learn, and each child possesses a unique individual learning style. Students come to us with diverse backgrounds, abilities, and levels of prior knowledge. I believe that it is important to know how each individual student learns best.

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Language Arts Teresita Esquibel
Teresita Esquibel
Language Arts
Home Town:
Bacobampo, Sonora, Mexico

Favorite Subject in School:
Language

Where I Started to Teach:
Escuela Primaria Revolucion in Providencia, Sonora, Mexico - 1985

Hobbies:
Knitting

Message:

Always do your best. Always have a goal. Strive for excellence!

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Math/Science Aileen Mancillas
Aileen Mancillas
Math/Science
Home Town:
East Los Angeles, California

Favorite Subject in School:
Math and English

Where I Started to Teach:
Arizona

Hobbies:
Reading, shopping for school supplies, and listening to music.

Message:

I love our school, our parents, and our children. Country Place Leadership Academy is a place where I feel that all of us can grow together. Every year I look forward to working with our staff and families. I learn from our students sometimes more than what they learn from me. I love seeing their happy faces every morning. They brighten my day with their warmth, love, and positive attitudes, and I hope I brighten theirs. 

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Science Ruth Miller
Ruth Miller
Science
Home Town:
Glendale, Arizona

Favorite Subject in School:
Science and Math

Where I Started to Teach:
I began teaching at Glendale Community College as a math and science tutor while I attended GCC. I then attended NAU and continued to work in the science and math community. After a few years of traveling and establishing a family, I decided to teach elementary school. Later, I was drawn to my first love “teaching math,” so I decided to move to junior high in the Prendergast District for a few years. Finally, I left Prendergast to join the Littleton District where I taught 7th grade math for one year and have been teaching science for the last three years. I came to Country Place Leadership Academy in 2013 because I saw a school where students were focused on learning and parents synergize the education process.

Hobbies:
Traveling

Message:

My goal is to seek out life-long learners dedicated to honesty, scientific discovery, and leadership within the community.

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Special Area

Music Derek Bates
Derek Bates
Music
Home Town:
Canton, Ohio

Favorite Subject in School:
English and Choir

Where I Started to Teach:
Being the music teacher at Country Place Leadership Academy has been my first-ever teaching job. I have been here for two years, and I am loving every minute of it.

Hobbies:
When I am not at school or playing the piano I am hiking, camping, or reading.

Message:

“This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” - Leonard Bernstein

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Gifted Ginny Biddle
Ginny Biddle
Gifted
Home Town:
Aurora, Illinois

Favorite Subject in School:
Math and Social Studies

Where I Started to Teach:
Crockett Elementary, Phoenix

Hobbies:
Flying, working with animals, golf, reading, traveling

Message:

My goal is to help every student strive to reach his or her full potential.

Band Gloria Chadwick
Gloria Chadwick
Band
Home Town:
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Favorite Subject in School:
Music and M

Where I Started to Teach:
Pendergast Elementary School District

Hobbies:
Exercising, marine aquatics, and traveling

Message:

"I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of a man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor." - Henry David Thoreau

 

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Art Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis
Art
Home Town:
Toledo, Ohio

Favorite Subject in School:
Art

Where I Started to Teach:
I first started teaching at Jangok Elementary School in Jung-ri, South Korea

Hobbies:
Travel, camping, and photography

Message:

Looking forward to another amazing year at Country Place!

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Reading Specialist Margie Hourihan
Margie Hourihan
Reading Specialist
Home Town:
Glendale, AZ

Favorite Subject in School:
Music

Where I Started to Teach:
I began teaching in Phoenix in the Cartwright district as a music teacher. I taught guitar at Glendale High School and general music in the Glendale Elementary School district where I attended as a child. When I realized that I enjoyed helping children learn to read through music, I became a third grade teacher and then a reading teacher. I have been teaching reading for 25 years. I came to Country Place in 2011 because I saw a school where children love to learn and parents value education.

Hobbies:
Guitar, motorcycles, gardening

Message:

My goal is to help every child become a competent reader so that they can be successful in school and life. My dream is that every child will love reading and see the value in reading every day.

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 Anitra Morin
Anitra Morin
Home Town:
Joplin, Missouri

Favorite Subject in School:
Math

Where I Started to Teach:
Estrella Mountain Elementary

Hobbies:
I enjoy spending time with family, reading, and running.

Message:

My mission is all about love. Love yourself. Love others. Love learning. Approach anything and everything with a happy heart and helping hand. Love is all you need; it conquers all!

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PE Sophia Nells
Sophia Nells
PE
Home Town:
Ramah, NM

Favorite Subject in School:
PE/Math

Where I Started to Teach:

Hobbies:
Indoor/Outdoor Activities, shopping, watching favorite shows and spending time with family.

Message:

I am excited to get to know my students this school year and encourage healthy life-long learning

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SPED

 Enrique Cardon
Enrique Cardon
Home Town:
Glendale, Arizona

Favorite Subject in School:
Spelling

Where I Started to Teach:
I started to teach back in college. As students, we would have to go and intern in classrooms in order to start getting familiar with the classroom. I lucked out that I always had teachers who wanted me to get into the thick of it immediately. I would usually get one day to get used to the classroom and then the next I would be knee deep in teacher mode. Because of this, I have been teaching since the tender age of 17. I started teaching full time as a profession at 21 and am currently in my seventh year of teaching. In that time I have had the pleasure of working with students from all different types of backgrounds across all grade levels.

Hobbies:
Reading, watching movies, and hiking

Message:

I would like to thank all the parents and guardians for allowing me the opportunity to work with their children. I look forward to a fun filled year of learning!

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Resource 4-6 Rachel Volpe
Rachel Volpe
Resource 4-6
Home Town:
Landstuhl, Germany

Favorite Subject in School:
History

Where I Started to Teach:
I started my career in education as an elementary school counselor in Tipp City, OH

Hobbies:
Reading, spending time with family

Message:

We are going to have an amazing year!

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