Meet the Team

Our collaborative professional community supports CWC’s teachers with ample planning time, training, resources and autonomy. Teachers are able to continually develop their skills, collaborate with one another, and create, evaluate and refine curriculum that best fits their students utilizing a variety of ongoing assessments to track students’ progress.

Meet our team

School Leadership

Our teaching staff have an average of 10 years of teaching experience and are fully credentialed, which is a requirement for teachers who deliver core content at Citizens of the World Charter Schools. Our founding staff, including our office administrators, is a diverse group with extensive experience across various elements of our model and a team that is deeply committed to our core values and the creation of an exceptional learning community.

CWC East Valley is committed to ensuring that our students, staff, and families are validated and affirmed for who they are and what they bring to our community, creating an environment in which we learn from and with one another. Staff and teachers will take the time to get to know each student, so teaching approaches and curriculum can be relevant to students’ unique backgrounds, experiences, and interests.

CWC East Valley is part of a network of high-performing public charter schools across Los Angeles operated by Citizens of the World Charter Schools LA (CWC LA). All of CWC LA’s charter schools are tuition-free, non-religious public schools committed to socio-economic, cultural and racial diversity. We are preparing our students to emerge as a new generation of leaders – as trailblazers who are ready to tackle the future challenges in our world and surpass the conceived limitations of what students, communities, parents, and schools can achieve in the world. In this spirit, we work conscientiously to build strong communities both within and outside the classroom.

Hye-Won Gehring


Patrick Colley

Director of Social and Emotional Learning and School Culture

Michelle Blas-Hernandez

School Operations Manager

Kristin Nicole Rivera

Instructional Coach

Operations + Office

Rick Garcia Guevara

Data Coordinator

Diana Sanchez

Lunch Server

Heidi Orozco

Office Associate

Roxana Reyes

Community Coordinator

Teaching Teams

Transitional Kinder (TK) Lead Teachers

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After a successful 35-year career as a sound editor for television and film, Cathy became eligible for early retirement and sensed a more meaningful calling to make a positive impact on the lives of young children. She bolted into her new career, earning her 2018 Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from Cal State Northridge in just two semesters, and has since taught TK, kindergarten and 1st grade. The first in her family to attend college, Cathy has always been an eager student. She also possesses a BA and MA in Communication Arts from Loyola Marymount University, an MS in Library Science from Clarion University, a Transitional Kindergarten Certificate of Achievement from Santa Monica College, and has participated in hundreds of additional hours of professional development in education.

Since CWC’s inception in 2010, Cathy has actively been following its growth, and feels extremely proud and privileged to become a part of its team. She was drawn to their emphasis on joyful learning, commitment to diversity and inclusion, and strong community/parent partnerships.  

Cathy was inspired to transition into teaching through her journey of raising her own three children (two who have already left the nest), hosting playdates with their friends, and interacting with the wonderful teachers that guided them all. During school breaks, you’ll find Cathy, her husband Tom, and their 16-year old son Jake camping, hiking, or backpacking. In her free time, she enjoys reading, walking her two dogs, learning new things (especially how to become a better educator), and spending time with friends and her large extended family. Cathy looks forward to many more years of guiding CWC EV TK students in cultivating their curiosity, inspiring a love of learning, and teaching them the social and emotional tools needed to help them both academically, as well as in the world.

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Carl came to Los Angeles in 2005 lured by promises of the ocean, delicious Asian Cuisine, and a career in the music industry. While the last one didn’t work out as planned, Carl is grateful for the experiences that he had during this time and for the skills and knowledge that he acquired.

Following his exit from the music business, Carl entered a period of just living, working, and moving around the country. After stops in Austin, TX and Denver, CO he eventually decided it was time to return to Los Angeles. By this point Carl had already decided that he wanted to become a teacher. He liked the idea of helping people and thought his broad range of experiences would help him connect with students.

What followed was a long 8 years of working during the daytime and attending school part-time in the evening – first at LACC and then at Cal-State LA. During this time he got his first education job at a private preschool in Culver City, and later, his second as an assistant at a Kindergarten in Pacoima. After completing his methods course he finished his student teaching in a 5th grade classroom at Edison elementary in Glendale. In 2020, amidst the pandemic, Carl finally managed to graduate and earn his CA Teaching Credential. He started his teaching career at a middle school in Van Nuys, and now he’s here! Carl has really enjoyed all of his past jobs in education and he is excited to return to his early childhood roots as a TK teacher.

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Lindsay has been at CWC East Valley since 2022. As someone who grew up in the California public education system, serving students from diverse multicultural backgrounds is a high priority of hers. 

A Southern California native, Lindsay was raised in the Inland Empire in Rancho Cucamonga. She received her Bachelor’s in Communications from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and her credential from Alliant University. Lindsay loves teaching transitional kindergarten students because of their enthusiasm for learning. She feels it is an immense honor and also a great responsibility to help shape these young student’s first impressions of school. She is also a big believer in play-based learning. Her goal in the end is to model students into kind, compassionate, curious individuals.

Besides teaching, Lindsay loves to watch movies and  hang out with her Husband Nick + their two cats Junie and Greta at their home in nearby Van Nuys.


Kindergarten Lead Teachers

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This is Sarah Willis’ second year at CWC East Valley, she comes to us from an independent elementary school in Los Angeles where she taught kindergarten for nine years and second grade for one year. 

She became enamored with CWC ten years ago when she first heard of its existence. She is very excited to be a part of the CWC East Valley team, especially after being able to see the CWC philosophy firsthand through her daughter’s experience at CWC Hollywood for TK. 

Sarah’s teaching philosophy is one where individuals are celebrated for who they are, multiple perspectives are valued, and mistakes are celebrated as opportunities for growth and understanding. She believes individuals learn best when they feel seen, heard, and respected and strives to create an environment that places as much importance on the social emotional wellbeing of her students as academic rigor. 

Sarah’s favorite thing to do in her free time is hang out with her daughter and husband doing silly things like impromptu dance parties, mud kitchen buffets, and beach day antics. Some fun facts about Sarah include that she has run a marathon, hiked the Great Wall of China, and swam with sharks!

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Lucie has been in the profession of education for over 15 years, including internships, outdoor education, and in-person/virtual learning. She earned a Master’s of Education from National University, where she immersed herself in the study of Teaching and Learning, emphasizing 21st Century Learning. Through this course of study, she explored pedagogy development, educational inclusivity, and experiential learning. 

Her experiences as a student of Literature, Communications, and Media at American Jewish University, have prepared her to communicate creatively and effectively and collaborate with students, teachers, parents, and administrators to achieve common goals.

She is committed to working with students and colleagues to create the best environment for learning and growth and has had multiple opportunities to explore this commitment. She finds herself working closely with colleagues to create and implement hands-on lesson plans, as well as promoting the welfare of all students’ physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. She is excited to start at Citizens of the World East Valley, teaching Kindergarten. 

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Elif Yeliz Williams feels so fortunate to be part of this great community of students, families and school staff. A little about her; she grew up in Istanbul, Turkiye and lived in Chicago for over twenty years. She attended college at DePaul University, where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education with an endorsement in Special Education. She has been working with a diverse community of students and families over the past 12 years and is passionate about teaching second language learners. Therefore she obtained her English as a Second Language Endorsement to better support students who are not native english speakers. She has taught in Chicago Public Schools since 2010 and this is her first year at CWC East Valley. 

Yeliz and her husband moved to LA at the beginning of August, so she is very new to this city. When I’m not at school, Yeliz is planning to explore the city, go on hikes and visit the beaches! House music is a big part of her life and you can also find her at festivals dancing.

She loves doing yoga, spending time with her friends, eating vegetables and enjoying life with her husband Matt and her cat Miercoles. She is looking forward to learning and growing with you during this school year!

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Jaclyn Heid is so excited to be joining CWC East Valley this fall. She grew up in the San Fernando Valley and moved back to LA this summer after 15 years away. Jaclyn is a passionate teacher with many years of experience. 

Jaclyn began her teaching career in South Korea where she taught Elementary English for two years before moving to the Bay Area for graduate school. She earned her teaching credential and Master’s in Education from Mills College in Oakland, through a program that emphasized teaching for social justice and educating through an anti-racist framework. Her master’s thesis was on the development of growth mindset in math with primary aged students. 

After graduate school, Jaclyn taught in the Bay Area public school system for eight years in both Kindergarten and First Grade. She taught in both Title I and magnet schools, and built strong classroom communities wherever she went. It’s hard for her to choose a favorite topic to teach – but finds watching children learn how to read to be particularly magical. However, Math, Writing, Arts Integration and Social-emotional learning are pretty great too. 

Outside of the classroom, Jaclyn enjoys going on hiking adventures and spending time with her husband and son Noah. She looks forward to meeting you all in the fall!


1st Grade Lead Teachers

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Stringer (they/them) is very excited to be joining the CWC East Valley team as a First Grade Teacher this year. They just finished their fourth year of teaching first grade at an independent charter school in South Central LA, where they loved getting to know the kids and families and working very collaboratively with their colleagues. Stringer received their teaching credential and Master’s of Education from the social justice-centered UCLA Teacher Education Program. They feel very aligned with CWC’s values and are really looking forward to continuing to grow and learn as a social justice educator within the CWC community.

Stringer’s work as an educator is rooted in relationship-building. In the classroom, they help students build loving and supportive relationships that strengthen their community and foster the socioemotional safety and joy that students need in order to learn. Their approach enables students to grow and discover through art, play, love and awe of the natural world, and critical thinking in order to dream up and build a better world together.

Before deciding to become a teacher, Stringer worked as a bookseller and illustrator in the Bay Area. They went to UC Berkeley, where they majored in English and Geography and started a literary magazine with their best friend that they ran for 10 years. For better or worse, they bring their big-time book nerdiness into the classroom and hope to pass it on to the kids (it usually works !). Stringer still tries to keep up a creative practice — they make comics and are about to illustrate their first children’s book! In their downtime, Stringer also loves to swim anywhere, spend time with their very loud cat Moomin, help out at their partner’s urban farm, and eat delicious foods that their friends cook. They can’t wait to meet everyone in August!

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This will be Anne Youngs’ eighth year as a teacher and her second year teaching at CWC East Valley. Her family (husband and two daughters) moved from Indianapolis to the San Fernando Valley last year, with her dogs and cat. Anne received her Bachelor’s Degree in Art from Ball State University and her Masters in Education from Marian University. Anne enjoys teaching young children because of their playful nature, eagerness to learn, and the amount of growth they show within those first years of school. She enjoys inquiry-based learning and allows her students to explore topics that interest them. One of the reasons Anne was drawn to CWC East Valley is the organization’s reputation for using restorative practices, social-emotional learning and having a strong emphasis on diversity and inclusion. Anne believes strongly in creating a classroom of culture and respect. She ensures that every student feels welcome the moment they step into the classroom. Respect for all living creatures, kindness, and humility are traits she seeks to instill in her students. 

Anne has spent many years volunteering her time at numerous animal shelters, the New York International Children’s Film Festival, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, and food pantries in New York City and Indianapolis. She believes in giving back to the community and sees volunteering as an important way of doing so. Her whole family loves animals – at one point they had three dogs, two cats, a guinea pig, a mouse, and several fish! Anne has spent time working at a low-cost spay clinic and is also a professional dog trainer. In addition to spending time with her family and pets, Anne loves to read, watch ghost hunter shows, go hiking, do anything outdoorsy, and practice yoga. She can’t wait to meet everyone!

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Holly Hall is from a small town in Ohio called South Point. She obtained her  Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education from Ohio University, and after teaching first grade for a year in Ohio, she was eager to branch out. She taught Transitional Kindergarten for 3 years at Temple Israel of Hollywood, and was a founding TK teacher at CWC East Valley where she now teaches first grade.  

Holly was motivated to become a teacher by the dearth of positive role-models in poverty stricken Appalachia, where she grew up. Teaching at a Title 1 school taught her the importance of equitable education, and she believes it’s just as important to shape students’ hearts as their minds. She believes that the classroom should be a place where every child has the space, opportunity and fuel to flourish–and that teachers can be vital sources of support in children’s social-emotional growth. CWC’s commitment to diversity and emphasis on social-emotional learning are a few of the many reasons she feels connected to the CWC community.

Holly has four sisters and two brothers, and five sweet nieces and nephews! Even though she now lives across the country from her family, she’s still extremely close to them. Some of her simple pleasures include reading on the beach, a fresh manicure, and finding cute little coffee shops in LA on Saturday mornings. But her secret passion is ice cream. She was actually interviewed in a West Virginia magazine for the “99 Days of Sweet Treats” campaign she launched with a friend in college—which was really just an excuse to sample all the local treats!

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Kaitlin Cook is thrilled to join the CWC community this year as a first grade teacher. She moved to Los Angeles about two years ago from a quaint New England town in Massachusetts – Falmouth. Kaitlin graduated from Bridgewater State University, MA with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education with a focus in Biology. During her undergrad, Kaitlin researched and implemented hands-on, research-based life science lessons in elementary classrooms. Kaitlin is passionate about bringing inquiry-based education into her classroom to build confidence, enjoyment, and independence. 

Recognizing the long-term impact teachers have on their students, Kaitlin pursued a career in education to foster children to reach their fullest potential. Kaitlin takes pride in establishing strong relationships with each individual student. One reason Kaitlin is excited to join the CWC community is their focus on diversity and inclusion in the classroom. It is important for Kaitlin that every student feels safe and welcome in her room. Kaitlin believes that education should prepare students to become active citizens in the world around them. The CWC community focus on diversity, inclusion, and equity as well as academics and social-emotional learning aligns beautifully with Kaitlin’s teaching philosophy. 

In her freetime, Kaitlin enjoys expressing herself through many different artistic mediums. Her current passions include sewing, crocheting, and painting. Kaitlin also enjoys incorporating music into her life whenever possible through singing and playing various instruments like French horn and piano. When Kaitlin isn’t crafting or playing music, she can be found snuggling her adorable elderly cat Bunny and exploring West Coast nature. She looks forward to meeting everyone soon!

2nd Grade Lead Teachers

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Leador Eisenoff is a mother to two boys. She was originally pre-law at UCLA, but after working as an event coordinator for a non-profit organization, she decided to go to culinary school. She attended Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena and later went off to work at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena and the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills.

After getting married and having her first child, Leador fell in love with teaching.

Watching her son learn everything for the first time inspired her to go back to school to earn her teaching credential from CSUN. Leador feels that every child deserves the best education possible. Growing up, she never had a teacher that stood out, that inspired her, that was there for her. This was another reason why she wanted to become a teacher. Her love of teaching stems from her own children and from being a mother. In her free time, Leador loves to spend time with her family outdoors. She loves to travel, exploring new cultures and cuisines. Leador also still loves to cook and entertain. 

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Melissa Crandle is very excited to join CWC East Valley this year. Although this is her first year at CWC, Melissa has been teaching for 8 years in public education. Her experience has taken her to work with at-risk youth in a Los Angeles nonprofit, work with first-generation college students, and ultimately settled in early childhood education over the past 7 years. Her previous experience allowed her to be part of the construction of the curriculum of a TK-2nd grade multiage program, which consisted of a classroom of 60 students. In this, she valued social-emotional learning, academic responses to student interest, and a constructivist approach to learning. Her most recent endeavors took her to strengthen her developmental observations and research in a Montessori preschool program. Melissa was very curious to see how children develop physically, emotionally/socially, and how they acquire language. Through this program, she witnesses the amazing capabilities of children 4 months through 20 months.

Furthermore, Melissa earned her bachelor’s degree in Child Development and Psychology from CSUN and her master’s in Early Childhood Education and Special Education from Grand Canyon University. She was also awarded her teaching credential. Melissa is very passionate about teaching – not only because she enjoys watching the intellectual abilities and growth of the students – but because of the impact she knows is made in the classroom. She believes students need a place to grow that allows them to explore their interests, practice kindness, and flourish academically.

Outside of the classroom, Melissa spends most of her time with her husband, her 2-year-old son, and her 4-year-old daughter. They love taking long road trips, visiting museums, and are completely in love with all things DISNEY! Her two children have made an incredible impact on the way she approaches teaching. She understands students not only need safety, kindness, and predictability; they also need their families to be part of their learning. Melissa values her student’s first teachers (family). Although the year has already started, she hopes to build strong relationships with the students and their families.

Teaching Associates

Chelsea Bush

Sherry Green-Milligan

Katherine Olivares

Fatima Santamaria

Riley Campbell

Ashly Gutierrez

Sofia Garcia

Citlalli Castellanos

Cindy Garcia

Cornell Rogers

Adilene Rivera

Lana Chung

Azzizi Gray

Wayneisha Abrams

Enrichment Team

Lauren McMilleon

Music/Art Teacher

Aaron Martin

PE Teacher

Student Support

Marie Ross

RSP Teacher

Graciela Diaz


Samuel Hernandez


Frank Juste


Anne Marie Aberion

Occupational Therapist

Elizabeth Gutierrez-Rodriguez

School Counselor

Detlev Wolff

Speech Pathologist

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