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Meet Our Staff!

Mirabella Boyer, Paraprofessional

Mirabella Boyer

Paraprofessional

Mirabella Boyer was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. In 2016, Ms. Boyer graduated Washington High School. Ms. Boyer is currently attending Phoenix Community College where she is completing her Associates degree in Elementary Education. Following the completion of this degree, Ms. Boyer plans to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. Ms. Boyer enjoys helping others and values education deeply. She is excited to be a part of the CASA team this year!

 

Tacey Clayton, Co-founder and Academic Director

Tacey Clayton

Co-Founder and Co-CEO

Tacey Clayton graduated from Bucknell University with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She went on to serve as a Teach for America corps member in Phoenix, AZ. Following her corps commitment, Ms. Clayton remained in the classroom teaching second and third graders in Phoenix and Glendale. Always eager to improve her practice, Ms. Clayton earned her master’s in Elementary Education and Reading Endorsement at Arizona State University and continued her education by earning a second master’s degree in Administration and School Leadership through a scholarship from Teach for America and the University of Phoenix. Ms. Clayton has served on Teach for America staff as a Literacy Specialist and Academic Dean. Prior to co-founding CASA Academy, Ms. Clayton served as an Aspiring Leaders fellow and Charter Starter fellow through the Arizona Charter Schools Association.

 

Alexandra Cruz, Second Grade Teacher

Alexandra Cruz

Second Grade Teacher

 Alexandra Cruz attended Arizona State University to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science.  During her time at ASU, she became passionate about education and decided to educate and mentor other students, from all grade levels in this community, about the importance of obtaining a college degree and the tools that they needed to be successful.  Struggling herself to get to college, she decided to use her own experience to show that with hard work, dedication, and supportive educators, you can graduate from college and get where you want to be. During college, Alex was selected to intern for Congress in Washington, D.C where she was able to work on education policy directly. Ms. Cruz is passionate about educating students and believes that every student can achieve their dreams.  She has worked at CASA for two years and is excited to continue working with the scholars and their families to help them pursue their dreams, while she pursues her dream, which is to help students be successful.  

 

Amanda Diaz, Kindergarten Teacher

Amanda Diaz

Kindergarten Teacher

Originally from New York City, Amanda Diaz graduated from the State University of New York College at Buffalo in 2014 with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Studies Education; she also holds an associate’s degree in liberal arts from the State University of New York at Delhi. Prior to completing her Bachelor’s degree, Ms. Diaz was a student teacher in Kenmore, New York and Buffalo, New York. Ms. Diaz’s passions lie in teaching and traveling and to date, she has taught in Germany, Brazil and North Carolina. Amanda is excited to join the CASA Academy team!

 

Cielo Dudding, Office Assistant

Cielo Dudding

Office Assistant

Cielo Dudding was born in Sonora, Mexico and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. Ms. Dudding graduated from Washington High School in May of 2017. For as long as she can remember, Ms. Dudding has always dreamed of working with children as a career. She has a passion for teaching as well as learning. Ms. Dudding is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the amazing staff and scholars of CASA Academy!

 

Frania Hernandez, Paraprofessional

Frania Hernandez

Paraprofessional

Frania Hernandez was born in Jalisco, Mexico and is fluent in both Spanish and English. In 2007, Ms. Hernandez received a certificate in nursing from Gateway Community College. From 2013 to 2015, Ms. Hernandez worked as a lead coordinator and sales associate at Macy’s. As an avid volunteer with both the elderly and the homeless, Ms. Hernandez strongly believes that her experience and commitment to society will be beneficial to the scholars at CASA academy!

 

Jenna Leahy, Co-founder and Director of Students and Operations

Jenna Leahy

Co-Founder and Co-CEO

Jenna Leahy, a member of the Forbes 30 Under 30 Class of 2017, graduated from Scripps College in 2010 with a degree in International Relations and French. Ms. Leahy holds a certificate in Elementary and Early Childhood instruction, a Master’s degree in Educational Administration and Supervision and is currently obtaining her Credential of Readiness (CORe certificate) through Harvard Business School’s continuing education program. Ms. Leahy moved to Phoenix with the Teach for America program in 2010, where she taught kindergarten for three years at a Title I school in central Phoenix. There, she was leader of her five-person kindergarten team, where she repeatedly led her team to obtain the highest learning gains in the region. Ms. Leahy’s story has been written about in the New York Times Op-Ed section and in the bestselling book, Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be. In her free time, Ms. Leahy enjoys CrossFit, running half marathons and volunteering with Syrian refugees. Ms. Leahy believes strongly in CASA’s mission and is excited for another successful year at CASA Academy!

 

Ashley Lowry, Founding Kindergarten Teacher

Ashley Lowry

Title I Coordinator

Ashley Lowry graduated from Arizona State University in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in Social Work. The following year she joined Teacher for America and served as a preschool teacher in the Mesa school district. During this time Ms. Lowry obtained a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Arizona State University. Ms. Lowry joined CASA their founding year as a kindergarten teacher, and has recently taken on the role as the Dean of Curriculum and Instruction. She enjoys getting to work with both scholars and teachers in this role, and is looking forward to the upcoming school year.

 

Liliana Martinez, Dean of Students and Operations

Liliana Martinez

Dean of Students and Operations

Liliana Martinez is a founding CASA staff member and began working at CASA in 2014 (CASA’s inaugural school year). Ms. Martinez was born in Mexico and grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. In 2014, Ms. Martinez graduated from Grand Canyon University, where she obtained over $60,000 in academic scholarships and a degree in Healthcare Administration. As a result of her dedication and leadership at CASA Academy, Ms. Martinez was awarded a scholarship worth over $50,000 to obtain her Master’s in Business Administration at the University of Phoenix. Ms. Martinez is deeply connected to CASA’s mission and is excited to work with families in the upcoming school year!

 

Lucero Mojuta, Paraprofessional

Lucero Mojuta

Paraprofessional

Lucero Mojuta graduated from Washington High School in May of 2017. For two years, she was the captain of her high school cheerleading team and enjoyed bolstering her leadership and teamwork skills through this position. Ms. Mojuta is passionate about serving others and in the past, has volunteered with local charitable organizations, including the organization “Feed My Starving Children”. Ms. Mojuta loves to help those around her and is extremely excited to serve the scholars of CASA Academy this year!

 

Kennedy Ravelo, Second Grade Teacher

Kennedy Ravelo

Second Grade Teacher

Kennedy Ravelo graduated from California State University San Marcos in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in Human Development with a concentration in counseling. While completing her degree, Ms. Ravelo also obtained her certification for Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language. In the fall of 2015, Ms. Ravelo interned at the YMCA of São Paulo, Brazil where she taught English. While working with high-risk youth in São Paulo, Ms. Ravelo discovered her passion for serving low-income communities. Ms. Ravelo is motivated to serve others and feels strong alignment with CASA Academy’s vision and mission. This year, Ms. Ravelo is excited to empower CASA’s youth so that they can grow to contribute to society!

 

Chelsea Stinson

Chelsea Stinson

First Grade Teacher

Chelsea Stinson graduated from Anderson University in 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary and Special Education. While attending Anderson University, Ms. Stinson had the opportunity to student teach at a missionary school for children in Ethiopia for three months. After graduation, Ms. Stinson was a private pre-kindergarten teacher for three years. In 2016, she and her husband moved to Phoenix and she accepted a position at CASA Academy. She is eager to teach the scholars and is very grateful to be a part of the CASA team!

 

Karen Thavincher

Karen Thavincher

Kindergarten Teacher

Karen Thavincher was born and raised in Southern California. She graduated with her bachelors in liberal studies with an emphasis on child development from Cal State San Bernardino in 2003. As a child she attended elementary, Jr., and Senior High in the rialto school district. As an adult, Mrs. Thavincher was given the opportunity to teach first grade in the very same district. After almost ten years in the Rialto District she moved to a new adventure teaching kindergarten at VCA, a private school in Moreno Valley, CA. After four years at VCA she has begun a new adventure in Arizona with her new husband and has become the newest member of CASA Academy. No matter where life has taken her one thing has remained, she is passionate about giving her students a love of learning.

 

Daniel Willett, First Grade Teacher

Daniel Willett

First Grade Teacher

Daniel Willett was born and raised on Long Island, New York. Daniel holds an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Suffolk County Community College and has over five years of experience working with preschool students. In 2017, Mr. Willett graduated from St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue, New York with a Bachelor’s degree in Child Studies. During his student teaching program, he taught students in grades one through six, including spending a year with special needs students in highly restrictive environments. Inspired by the teachers he had as a student in elementary school, Mr. Willett’s goal is to make the impact on his students that his teachers had on him. Mr. Willett is extremely happy to join the team at CASA!