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Staff

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Meet Our Staff!


Teachers



Sarah Schalick – Kindergarten Teacher
Sarah Schalick – Kindergarten Teacher

Sarah Schalick graduated in the fall of 2018 from Grand Canyon University where she studied Elementary Education and Theatre. In 2019, Ms. Schalick spent the year touring locally and nationally with Childsplay Theatre, performing over 100 shows as Maddi in the play Maddi’s Frigde. Sarah has been a Summer Academy Teaching Artist at Childsplay Theatre for the last two summers, teaching students in preschool-4th grade. She is passionate about working with children and performing, and has been working in the childcare field for almost 10 years. Sarah hopes to encourage scholars of all ages to “throw kindness around like confetti!”

Emily Moore – First Grade Teacher
Emily Moore – First Grade Teacher

Emily Moore was born and raised in Southern California. She graduated with her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Brandman University, Irvine in 2015 and is currently working on her MFA with Southern New Hampshire University. Ms. Moore has taught and tutored in various locations with a wide range of students. One of her goals is to remind and empower scholars to be all they can be.

Liesl Wise – First Grade Teacher
Liesl Wise – First Grade Teacher

Liesl Wise grew up in several different states such as Idaho, Tennessee, and Connecticut, but claims the east coast as home. She graduated from BYU-Idaho in 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication, with an emphasis in video production. After college, Ms. Wise worked in marketing and advertising, but desired to find more fulfillment in her profession. In 2018, she began working as a reading intervention aide at a charter school, where she fell in love with the field of education. Ms. Wise is so excited to have an opportunity to empower CASA Academy students through literacy and learning.

Pamela Prieto – Second Grade Teacher
Pamela Prieto – Second Grade Teacher

Pamela Prieto was born and raised in Southern California. She graduated from California State University, Dominguez Hills with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Philosophy. She spent two years in Taiwan, teaching kindergarten through middle school. She then moved to China where she taught another five years and helped develop English curriculum. Throughout her experiences abroad Ms. Prieto has learned the value of adaptability, patience, respect, and the power of a smile. Ms. Prieto believes that scholars should be encouraged and empowered to be the best version of themselves. She recently relocated back to the United States with her husband, and is excited to teach in Arizona, her new home. Ms. Prieto is enthused to join CASA Academy and hopes to teach young scholars that “education is the ultimate seed of freedom”.

Ashley Taylor – Second Grade Teacher
Ashley Taylor – Second Grade Teacher

Ashley Taylor was born and raised in Southern Indiana. She graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice/Sociology from the University of Southern Indiana in 2015. After graduating she worked in the social service field mentoring and serving low income families in her community. While working with youth in the school system, she became passionate about education and decided to pursue Elementary Education from Western Governors University. Ms. Taylor is excited to be a part of the CASA team and to continue to empower youth to be the best they can be.

Daniel Willett – Third Grade Teacher
Daniel Willett – Third 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 be part of the team at CASA!

Alexandra Cruz– Third Grade Teacher
Alexandra Cruz – Third 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 his or her dreams. She has worked at CASA since CASA’s founding year 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.

Chelsea Stinson – Curriculum Writer/Grant Writer
Chelsea Stinson – Curriculum Writer/Grant Writer

Chelsea Stinson graduated from Anderson University in 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary and Special Education. While attending Anderson University, Mrs. Stinson had the opportunity to student teach at a missionary school for children in Ethiopia for three months. After graduation, Mrs. 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. After teaching first grade at CASA for three years, Mrs. Stinson moved into a new role where she develops curriculum and writes grants for CASA.


Paraprofessionals


Jennifer Heser – Paraprofessional

Jennifer Heser was born in Henderson, Nevada but grew up in the Hill Country of Texas. She graduated from Tivy High School in Kerrville, Texas in 1991. She moved to the Black Hills of South Dakota in 1992 to be closer to family. Mrs. Heser worked in the financial business for ten years when she decided to go back to college. While attending college she decided to work in the childcare/preschool field where she was a teacher’s aide for 9 years. She was able to graduate with an Associates of Arts degree in 2016. That degree then allowed her to be a paraprofessional for the Newell School District for 4 years. Mrs. Heser is married with two grown young men. She loves to garden and spend time with her family and friends.

Zulema Cruz – Paraprofessional

Zulema O. Cruz was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. She graduated from Phoenix College in 2019 with an Associates Degree of Arts. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and will be graduating next year. She is passionate about working with children and strives to push them to their fullest potential. In her free time, she enjoys reading and spending time with her boyfriend and dogs.


Operations Staff


Marina Iturrios – Office Assistant

Marina Iturrios grew up in Sinaloa, Mexico and moved to Arizona in 2005. She graduated from Central High School, then earned a scholarship and attended Phoenix College. Ms. Iturrios has ten years of experience working as a restaurant manager and waitress and has also has worked in marketing for a local cleaning company. She has a daughter named Mareena who is currently enrolled at CASA. Ms. Iturrios loves going on vacation with her daughter to places like San Diego, Santa Monica, and Newport Beach.

Jesus Picon – Marketing Manager
Jesus Picon – Marketing Manager

Jesus Picon was born in Sonora, Mexico and raised in Avondale, Arizona. He attended Grand Canyon University, and graduated in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and a minor in Digital Design. Mr. Picon has been a volunteer at CASA since 2014 and is a firm believer in CASA’s mission. He hopes to grow with CASA and have a positive impact on each scholar. In his free time, Mr. Picon enjoys playing soccer and one day hopes to manage a soccer academy in Europe.

Sergio Campos – School Operations Associate

Sergio Campos was born in Riverside, California and has lived in Phoenix, Arizona most of his life. He graduated from Carrington College in 2015 and is a certified Physical Therapy Technician. He has played semiprofessional soccer for the Phoenix Falcons for over four years and in his free time coaches the Phoenix Falcons youth Soccer Academy. Mr. Campos plans on going back to college to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Management and hopes to one day work in the sports field. Mr. Campos loves supporting CASA’s scholars every day.


Leadership


Tacey Clayton Cundy – CEO
Tacey Clayton Cundy – CEO

Tacey Clayton Cundy 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. Following her corps commitment, Mrs. Clayton Cundy remained in the classroom teaching Title I second and third graders in Phoenix and Glendale. Always eager to improve her practice, Mrs. Clayton Cundy earned her master’s degree in Elementary Education and Reading Endorsement at Arizona State University and continued her education by earning a second master’s degree in Administration and Supervision through a scholarship from Teach for America and the University of Phoenix. Mrs. Clayton Cundy served multiple summers on Teach for America’s summer institute staff as a Literacy Specialist and Academic Dean. Prior to co-founding CASA Academy, Mrs. Clayton Cundy was an Aspiring Leaders fellow and Charter Starter fellow through the Arizona Charter Schools Association. Outside of work, you can find Mrs. Clayton Cundy teaching Jazzercise fitness classes, hiking in National Parks, and spending time with her husband and daughter.

Ashley Lowry – Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Title I Coordinator
Ashley Lowry – Director of Curriculum and Instruction, 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 Teach 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 was a founding kindergarten teacher at CASA Academy and is now the Director of Curriculum and Instruction. In her free time Ashley enjoys spending time with her son and husband, going to the library, and taking walks around her neighborhood.

Liliana Villasenor – Director of Students and Operations
Liliana Villasenor – Director of Students and Operations

Liliana Villasenor is a founding CASA staff member and began working at CASA in 2014, CASA’s inaugural school year. Mrs. Villasenor was born in Mexico and grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. In 2014, Mrs. Villasenor 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, Mrs. Villasenor was awarded a scholarship worth over $50,000 to obtain her Master’s in Business Administration at the University of Phoenix. Mrs. Villasenor is deeply connected to CASA’s mission and is excited to continue supporting CASA’s scholars and families!

Karen Thavincher – Instructional Coach/Dean of Students
Karen Thavincher – Instructional Coach/Dean of Students

Karen Thavincher was born and raised in Southern California. She graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies with an emphasis on child development from California State University, San Bernardino in 2003. Mrs. Thavincher taught various grades in Rialto, California for ten years and kindergarten at a private school in Moreno Valley, California for four years. In 2016, Mrs. Thavincher moved to Arizona and began teaching at CASA Academy. No matter where life has taken her, one thing has remained: she is passionate about instilling a love for learning in her students.