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Meet Our Teachers!

Hope Lemond, a teacher at CASA Academy, smiles with 2 students

Hope Lemond – Kindergarten Teacher

Hope Lemond graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in business and a concentration in information security. She was born in Phoenix, Arizona, but grew up in the Pacific Northwest due to military orders in her family. She recently moved back to Arizona with her husband and loving dog, Dexter. Mrs. Lemond looks forward to inspiring, educating, and uplifting every scholar she meets! She enjoys outdoor activities, traveling, trying new foods, and spending time with her family.

CASA Academy teacher, Kara Smith, smiles with 2 students

Kara Smith – First Grade Teacher

Kara Smith is a full-time student at Arizona State University online. She has tutored students in a variety of grade levels, including college-level students, and has worked with students through Teach for America. Ms. Smith enjoys helping others grow their academic knowledge, and plans to pursue her master’s degree soon. She loves spending time with her family and practicing her Spanish.

CASA Academy teacher, Alisha Rivera, smiles with 2 students

Alisha Rivera – First Grade Teacher

Alisha Rivera graduated from Purdue University Northwest with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. She has been working in education for 5 years, and obtained her teaching certification through a Masters in Elementary Education program. Ms. Rivera is from the Midwest-Chicagoland area, a low-income, high-crime city. She believes education can unlock so many doors, no matter where you are from, and considers herself a lifelong learner. Ms. Rivera believes every child is capable of learning and loves seeing her scholars making gains and reaching their goals. She enjoys spending time with her children, visiting new places, and making memories with them.

CASA Academy teacher, Pamela Prieto, smiles with 2 students

Pamela Prieto – Second Grade Teacher

Pamela Prieto 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 an English curriculum. Through her experiences abroad, Ms. Prieto has learned the value of adaptability, patience, respect, and the power of a smile. Ms. Prieto believes 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 young scholars at CASA Academy!

CASA Academy teacher, Robin Miller, smiles with 2 students

Robin Miller – Second Grade Teacher

Robin Miller graduated from Arizona College of the Bible with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She was raised in southwest Colorado but is native to the Valley of the Sun. Mrs. Miller has been a teacher for more than 23 years. She is passionate about educating children and helping them to grow and succeed. In her free time, she enjoys her family, her cats, traveling, walking, and hiking. She also loves spending time with her first grandchild! Mrs. Miller is very excited to be part of the CASA Academy team.


CASA Academy teacher, Amy Curtiss, smiles with 2 students

Amy Curtiss – Third Grade Teacher

Amy Curtiss earned her bachelor’s degree in K-8 Interdisciplinary Studies from Western Governors University, but she first honed her passion for education as a stay-at-home mom of 3 children, including one with high-functioning Aspergers. Ms. Curtiss homeschooled her oldest child and volunteered, substituted, and was a teacher assistant at the nearby elementary school. She loves staying fit, eating healthy, singing, dancing, and spending time with her adult children.

CASA Academy teacher, Loidel Macatabog, smiles with 2 students

Loidel Macatabog – Fifth Grade Teacher

Loidel Macatabog graduated from the University of the Immaculate Conception with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in elementary education. She has taught out-of-school youth and helped them attain a high school diploma so they could attend college or seek a job. She spent several years teaching 4th graders in a rural part of the Philippines. Ms. Macatabog has traveled the world with her passion for teaching and is excited to make a new home at CASA Academy, where her vision as a teacher aligns with the academy’s goals and culture.

CASA Academy teacher, Timothy Solis, smiles with 2 teachers.

Timothy Solis – Fifth Grade Teacher

Timothy Solis graduated from Western Michigan University with a bachelor’s degree in English. He is currently obtaining his teaching certificate in Secondary Education for English from Grand Canyon University. Mr. Solis discovered a passion for helping kids which working as a substitute teacher. Now, as an English teacher, he hopes to foster a generation of readers who engage with books the same way he did. Mr. Solis hopes to one day write a novel, and in the meantime, is honored to have the privilege of teaching scholars at CASA Academy.

CASA Academy teacher Maritza Bermudez smiles with 2 students.

Maritza Bermudez – Reading Interventionist

Maritza Bermudez graduated from Grand Canyon University with a bachelor’s degree in education. Her teaching journey began when she was still in high school, taking classes for future educators. She has taught for the past six years in Phoenix and Tolleson. Mrs. Bermudez believes all children are capable of reaching their dreams with hard work, dedication, and the encouragement of supporters in their corner rooting for them. Ms. Bermudez likes to spend her free time with her two daughters and three brothers. She is very excited to be part of the CASA team!

Support Staff


Mirella Rivera, a CASA Academy teacher, smiles with 2 students.

Mirella Rivera – Paraprofessional

Mirella Rivera graduated from the Bryman School with an associate’s degree in radiology. She started working as a K-3 English and computer teacher and fell in love with teaching. She has been a paraprofessional for 15 years! She is excited to be part of the CASA Academy family and to share her love of reading with CASA scholars!

Rachel Straus, a CASA Academy teacher, reads with 2 students.

Rachel Straus – Paraprofessional

Rachel Straus is currently a teaching student at Grand Canyon University, working toward a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She loves working with children, especially the scholars at CASA Academy. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and her dog Mia.

Jonathan Reynoso, a CASA Academy teacher, smiles with 2 students.

Jonathan Reynoso – Paraprofessional

Jonathan Reynoso was born in Guerrero, Mexico, and moved to Arizona as a child. He has worked in schools as an Athletic Director and a coach. Mr. Reynoso hopes to impact the lives of his scholars. He wants to provide them with the knowledge and tools he wasn’t given to help them pursue their dreams of going to college.

Jennifer Heser, a CASA Academy teacher, smiles with 2 students.

Jennifer Heser – Special Education Paraprofessional

Jennifer Heser holds an associate’s degree from Black Hills State University. After working in the financial business for ten years, she decided to work in early education with preschoolers. She has worked as a teacher’s aide and a paraprofessional. Mrs. Heser is married with two grown sons. She loves to garden and spend time with her family and friends.

Tanya Gomez, a CASA Academy teacher, smiles with 2 students.

Tanya Gomez – Paraprofessional

Tanya Gomez received certification from Texas A&M for medical billing and coding. She volunteered in the children’s program at her church and quickly realized her heart and passion were in working with children. She has also worked as a preschool teaching assistant before joining CASA. Mrs. Gomez is married to her high school sweetheart, and enjoys baking, going on walks in the park, and exploring all that Arizona has to offer with her husband and friends.