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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 Raquel Marez</br>                                                                 
Support Specialist, Sr.

Raquel Marez
Support Specialist, Sr.
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 Monique Dunlap</br>                                                                 
Librarian

Monique Dunlap
Librarian
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 Dolly Blanton</br>                                                                 
Nurse

Dolly Blanton
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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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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 Karina Serrano
Karina Serrano
Home Town:
Arcadia, California

Favorite Subject in School:
Reading

Where I Started to Teach:
I started to teach at Country Place Elementary in January 2016.

Hobbies:
Spending time with my family and outdoor activities

Message:

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

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First Grade

 Kathy Bigar
Kathy Bigar
Home Town:
Phoenix, Arizona

Favorite Subject in School:
Social Studies

Where I Started to Teach:
Country Place Elementary School

Hobbies:
Spending time with family, playing with my grandchildren, decorating, and being outdoors

Message:

I am looking forward to getting to know my students and their families and having a fun, exciting, and productive year of learning. "Develop a passion for learning . If you do, you will never cease to grow." - Anon

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 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

 Valerie Davis
Valerie Davis
Home Town:
Porterville, California

Favorite Subject in School:
Reading

Where I Started to Teach:
California

Hobbies:
Collecting things

Message:

Welcome! I am so happy to be back at Country Place Elementary. I am looking forward to a terrific year. It is an excellent school with excellent teachers. I believe reading is the foundation for all other learning in life. Please read with your child on a daily basis.                  

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 Samantha Hopkinson
Samantha Hopkinson
Home Town:
Fillmore, CA

Favorite Subject in School:
Social Studies

Where I Started to Teach:

Hobbies:
Shopping, visiting the zoo, spending time with family

Message:

Welcome to second grade! I am excited to meet all of you.

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 Tami Hopper
Tami Hopper
Home Town:
Imlay City, MI

Favorite Subject in School:
Math and History

Where I Started to Teach:
I began teaching in 2007 at Bullhead City Junior High

Hobbies:
Sports, TPT, quilting

Message:

"The future belongs to those who believe in the power of their dreams." - Anonymous

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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!

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Third Grade

 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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 Mary Newman
Mary Newman
Home Town:
Oregon, Illinois

Favorite Subject in School:
English

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

Hobbies:
Reading, Music

Message:

I am excited to spend the year learning together and having fun!

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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, Arizona

Favorite Subject in School:
ELA

Where I Started to Teach:
Quentin Elementary School

Hobbies:
Watching and playing sports

Message:

Sí Se Puede!

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

Favorite Subject in School:
Mathematics

Where I Started to Teach:
El Paso, TX

Hobbies:
Reading, dancing, and watching sports.

Message:

Without action there is no happiness.

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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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 Manuel Torres
Manuel Torres
Home Town:
Phoenix, AZ

Favorite Subject in School:
PE

Where I Started to Teach:
I started to teach in the Dysart School District as an instructional assistant.

Hobbies:
Watching movies, camping, and fishing

Message:

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

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Fifth Grade

 Cody Cherland
Cody Cherland
Home Town:
Yuma, Arizona

Favorite Subject in School:
Language Arts

Where I Started to Teach:
I spent three years teaching at Desert View Elementary School, in San Luis, AZ, as a part of the Gadsden Elementary School District #32.

Hobbies:
Building projects and being outside

Message:

The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work, work is key to success, and hard work can help you accomplish anything.

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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:
New Mexico

Favorite Subject in School:
Math

Where I Started to Teach:
Country Place

Hobbies:
Spending quality time with family and friends, enjoying a funny movie, and traveling when I have the opportunity.

Message:

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world!” – Nelson Mandela

#MustangPride #5thGradeRocks 

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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, Buckeye, Arizona

Hobbies:
Knitting, solving the Rubik's cube, playing with my cats

Message:

I am excited for the opportunity to join the staff at Country Place this year! I look to meeting my new school family and sharing my love of math and science.

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

Favorite Subject in School:
Math

Where I Started to Teach:
Littleton Elementary

Hobbies:
Reading, Gardening, and Watching home improvement shows

Message:

I am honored to be a partner in creating successful, happy children. I believe every child can succeed, no exceptions.

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

Favorite Subject in School:
Reading

Where I Started to Teach:
I student taught in Chicago and had my first teaching job at Raul H. Castro Middle School in Phoenix, Arizona.

Hobbies:
Spending time with family and friends, playing with my puppy, and trying new things.

Message:

I am truly thrilled to become part of the family at Country Place. I'm looking forward to a wonderful year of reading, learning, and leading. I am here for you! 

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

Favorite Subject in School:
Reading, Writing, Math

Where I Started to Teach:
Quentin Elementary School

Hobbies:
Reading, spending time with family and friends, volunteering my time

Message:

As my math teacher, Jaime Escalante, would say all you need is “ganas” (desire). All our children are capable of success with the right motivation, desire, guidance, and words of encouragement. Sometimes all our children need is for one adult to believe, one adult to listen, one adult to care at the right place and at the right time. I hope that I am that adult for your children. Each child has a different journey, and I am proud to be part of it because I learn so much more from them than they can learn from me. We tend to forget how powerfully simplistic the view of the world is from their eyes. Your children help keep me growing as a human being, and I appreciate you putting your trust in me.

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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:

Hobbies:
Dance, reading, and playing with my puppies

Message:

Country Place welcomed me with open arms during my student teaching. I am excited to continue my journey with all of you and I am confident we will have a great year!

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Science Kristine Perria
Kristine Perria
Science
Home Town:
Traverse City, Michigan

Favorite Subject in School:
Chemistry

Where I Started to Teach:
I started teaching 6th grade with the non-profit, Citizen Schools in New York City in 2011.

Hobbies:
Rock climbing, biking

Message:

Our class motto is "Science for Life." Science helps us learn about the world, solve problems, and gain skills for the future job market.

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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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Eighth Grade

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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Social Studies Robert Lubick
Robert Lubick
Social Studies
Home Town:
Butte, MT

Favorite Subject in School:
History

Where I Started to Teach:
My first experience teaching was as a junior in high school in Flagstaff, AZ. My teacher offered me an opportunity to teach a section on World War II, and I jumped at it. My father is a professor of history, and my mother and uncle were teachers as well. I guess teaching runs in the family. Since then I have been a substitute teacher, tutor for children and adults, and am now enjoying my second year at CPLA!

Hobbies:
Hiking, camping

Message:

Education is the key to opportunity. Make the most of your opportunities!

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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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Math Shonda Roer
Shonda Roer
Math
Home Town:
Buckeye, Arizona

Favorite Subject in School:
Math

Where I Started to Teach:
I started teaching ten years ago at Freedom Elementary School in the Liberty District.

Hobbies:
Volleyball and reading books

Message:

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” - Benjamin Franklin

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Special Area

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

Favorite Subject in School:
Choir

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

Hobbies:
In my free time I love to swim. I also listen to a lot of different kinds of music and read.

Message:

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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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Psychologist Ashley Ehrenstrom
Ashley Ehrenstrom
Psychologist
Home Town:
Smithton, Illinois

Favorite Subject in School:
Spelling and Algebra

Where I Started to Teach:
Surprise Elementary in Dysart USD

Hobbies:
Spending time with family, Taking walks, Home decor and design, and being an amateur foodie

Message:

I'm looking forward to another year at Country Place in my role of guiding teachers, students, and their families.

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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PE Vanessa Lovro
Vanessa Lovro
PE
Home Town:
Cottage Grove, Minnesota

Favorite Subject in School:
PE

Where I Started to Teach:
Country Place Elementary

Hobbies:
Hiking, playing volleyball and ultimate frisbee

Message:

I am very excited to show your children new sports and activities for the upcoming school year!

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 Anitra Morin
Anitra Morin
Home Town:
Kansas City, Missouri

Favorite Subject in School:
Math

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

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

Message:

“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them to become what they are capable of being.” - Goethe 

I am super excited to work at Country Place teaching technology!

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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 Jennifer Gereshenski
Jennifer Gereshenski
Home Town:
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Favorite Subject in School:
I love them all!

Where I Started to Teach:
Country Place Leadership Academy

Hobbies:
Crafting, swimming, watching sports, and watching movies

Message:

"You're off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So... get on your way!" -Dr. Seuss 

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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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