Shandrea Daniel - Principal
Caitlin Cohen - Math Teacher
Caitlin Cohen graduated from Boston University with a double bachelor’s degree (BA in History and BS in Film/Television). She started her career in education as a test prep tutor, focusing mostly on the ACT and SAT, before eventually settling on teaching mathematics in the classroom. She has worked in schools throughout Los Angeles with students in kindergarten up through 12th grade. Her most recent position before FIN Prep was as a high school math and science teacher at a small private school.
Ms. Cohen's goal is to break math down to make it accessible — and fun! — for students. She likes finding the approach that works best for each individual and focuses on getting the students to discover the methods that feel most comfortable to them. She wants math to feel relevant to students, so they understand just how important a tool it is to have in their toolbox.
She is currently attending CSUN to finish her Single Subject Credential in Mathematics and expects to finish in 2021.
Elizabeth Mondok - English Teacher
My experience in education spans across countries and continents, being able to spend a semester abroad in England, becoming a Title One Tutor after that, leading study groups at my university, tutoring homeschool students trying to make ends meet back in 2008, and teaching in South Korea because they could offer me a position with benefits. I was almost recruited to go to Taiwan, but missed home too much to accept the position. After returning home, I worked as a substitute teacher for 6 years, while completing the credential program, teaching all of the grade levels, from PreK-Adult Ed. I guess I’m a glutton for punishment, but I really enjoyed 7th and 8th grade the most, followed by 9th grade. It reminds me of the opening sentence in Charles Dickens’s novel, A Tale of Two Cities,“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” For all of my experience and education, I have learned so many things about educational philosophy, and here is what I learned.
Not one thing works in education. Children, who are the heart of education, are all different. Jessica, sitting in the front of the classroom, 5 minutes before the tardy bell rings, make-up perfect, would never let on that she had to drop off her sisters and brothers at their school, before she arrived. Edwardo, who sits in the back, one seat over, took care of his mom this morning, before coming to school, hopes that she can get herself out of bed, and to her part time job on time, so that he has money to buy food. Edwin, who sits on the far right, in the middle of the classroom, his head against the wall, dreams of the day when he can work in his cousin’s garage, and get out of this stupid school. Melanie, in the middle of the 3rd row from the right, quiet as a mouse, hopes that she passes that exam so that she is able to maintain her 4.5 GPA, so that both of her parents are proud of her. Every student in every classroom has a different dynamic, a different way of learning, a different background, and different dreams that they wish to accomplish in their lifetime. Not one thing works in education. Peter, who is a handful in 4th period, has no home to go to, and wishes that when he grows up he can break free of the chains of poverty but doesn’t know how, so he acts as tough as he can and makes the students laugh. Meanwhile, the teacher, master of his/her subject comes in, eyes down on today’s lesson plan, hoping that the students they teach will learn something. Guadalupe hopes that she won’t get called on today, because she does not understand. The fear is real. Angela loves projects. Michael loves practical application. Steven and Reynaldo love exams, whereas Theresa struggles with the tests, and because of that she’ll never get a 4.0 GPA. Not one thing works in education. I realize that I’ve said that phrase 3 times, but did you know that there was a study done once, that says that if you say something, or in my case state something 3 times, then the person who is taking in the information is more likely to remember it? Let me write it again; not ONE thing works in education. There are a multitude of teaching practices, or pedagogies, because everybody learns differently.
Just as there are many different ways to learn, there are different ways to assess that learning. So, why are we as educators stuck giving tests? Is it because it’s easier to judge how well a student is doing? Is it because that’s the way it’s always been done? How about Wesley, who hates writing, who hates papers? Should we cater to him? I don’t think so, because for everything that happens, there are different ways to explain it, different ways for the students to wrap their heads around a concept, how to use it in the real world. Paul will one day be an excellent speaker, so why not have him talk to the class about it? Why should he be stuck with a, b, c, or d? I feel that we are in a very exciting era, where education is aware of the changes that are coming. I’m excited to be a part of this noble profession that heralds some of the greatest people the world has ever had, like Aristotle, Da Vinci, Anne Sullivan, Maria Montessori, and Jaime Escalante. These masters of education knew that they had different students in their classes, knew that they all had their own end game, and learned how to adapt their lessons to what the students needed. They used their voices, books, drew and wrote in the sand, the blackboard, whatever they were given, and helped the students learn, taking those children from an age of innocence into an age of enlightenment, and on to adulthood where they realized that they could do or become whatever they set out to be, without worrying about the four different types of philosophies. My hope is that I, too, will be able to mold the future in my students, and will make whatever I teach them something that they can grasp onto, remembering that not one thing works in education.
Kristin Ware - Phys Ed Teacher
Hi my name is Kristin Ware and a Physical Education teacher. I have been teaching for 5 years, 4 years at the middle school level and 1 year at the high school level. Besides teaching I also like to coach. I have coached softball, basketball and volleyball. During my time at New Vista Middle School I was involved in Capturing Kids Heart and was a Process Champion. Our school was selected as a Capturing Kids Heart Showcase School while I was there. I have also completed AVID training as well and incorporate strategies from this program into my teaching.
As a Physical Education my goal is to teach my students about life long activities that they can use outside of the school setting. I aim to bring an open mind, a positive attitude, and high expectations to the classroom each day. I believe that I owe it to my students, as well as the community, to bring consistency, diligence, and warmth to my job in the hope that I can ultimately inspire and encourage such traits in the children as well.
Robert Fiero - Science Teacher
I have worked many years as a middle school science (occasionally high school) teacher here in southern California. I have taught a very diverse population of students and clientele. Of course this entails creating a great amount of curriculum and engaging in many collaborative endeavors with my colleagues. I prefer a team oriented approach to tasks in general. I believe science education to be reality based using real science projects (‘science with a goal’) and current science discovery and engineering innovations. I have very student friendly policies such as immediate feedback on progress (formative assessment), effective communication, and the ability to retake tests, and engage their current knowledge and interests to explore the topic and elaborate upon it. I teach that all science principles and fields are connected and require an interdisciplinary dynamic approach to research and problem solving. One of my goals is to inspire students’ curiosity about our universe and ourselves in it.
If I had a personal mission statement it would be to provide my students with high expectations to achieve mastery of science literacy to enable them to ready for the next level of education, promote their personal developmental needs and instill values, and encourage and guide them into creating positive cooperative relationships. I use a holistic or balanced approach to educating young people by balancing the cognitive development and academic skills with character and life skills as well; to inspire and empower young people to become responsible citizens, compassionate leaders, and to live their dreams. It is important to establish and actively nurture relationships to maintain a strong learning community. All students should feel safe, fairly treated (equity), included, and be aware that there are high expectations for their academic achievement and conduct. Building values of character such as kindness, humility, commitment or loyalty to the greater good of the group, mindfulness, self-reliance/discipline, honesty, and learn to give and earn respect is part of any good educational program. We do this by composing and enforcing a social contract. The motto in my class is: “One for All and All for One,” and thus enforce appropriate standards for student behavior consistently and simply to help with their socialization and personal evolution. I try to be, in every moment, a devoted teacher to my students and to science literacy as, I am also a life-long learner and evolving person.
Ruben Rodriguez - Enrichment Teacher
Jewel McKeever - Counselor
Soon after completing my undergraduate studies, I served as a substitute teacher for the Chicago Board of Education for 2 years and then entered a career of advertising. Putting my career on hold for my family, I homeschooled my sons for 6 years. It was my desire to return to education in the classroom, so I began teaching at a private school as a certified substitute teacher. It was then that I decided to continue my education in school counseling and I served as an intern for 2 years in a middle school and high school setting.
It is my sincere belief that everyone is created with gifts and talents. Because of traumatic experiences in life, often, a student’s potential is hidden under layers of difficulty. Every student deserves to be in a state of well-being and to have an opportunity to discover what has been given to them naturally. It is my desire to assist and support students in this endeavor.
In addition to this, each student comes with their own unique life experiences, and I choose to interact with them with this in mind. Adolescents must be treated with compassion and respect. A personal philosophy of mine is, treat others the way you would want to be treated. I apply this in the school setting as well. Also, when receiving my education in school counseling, I got a better understanding of what it means to be an advocate and a broker of opportunity for students. Every student needs someone in their corner to support them.
Bachelor of Science (BS), Public Relations and Advertising – Bradley University
Master of Education (M Ed), School Counseling – University of Southern California
Certified in Nutrition and Healthy Living – Cornell University
Lesia Nwankwo - Office Manager
Julian Lopez - IT Coordinator
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