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Meet The Faculty

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Directors & Staff

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James McGrath

Founding Director

james.mcgrath@ivahigh.org

Prior to joining  IVA High full-time in August 2015, Mr. McGrath practiced law with a prominent international law firm representing Fortune 100 companies spanning a variety of industries including real estate finance. He was named a Rising Star in Southern California Super Lawyers and Los Angeles Magazine.  For seven years, Mr. McGrath served on the Board of Directors of Bright Star Schools in Los Angeles, a small network of high-performing charter schools serving students who are predominantly low-income and non-white. He was also involved in overseeing Bright Star’s development and launch of 6 new schools during his Board tenure.  He also served on the Board of IVA for about 2 years, serving as Vice-Chair and Chair of the Academic Committee.  

Before law school, Mr. McGrath was an adjunct philosophy professor at Long Beach City College.  He also taught mathematics at Santa Margarita High School in Rancho Santa Margarita, where he coached baseball. Mr. McGrath earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy from U.C. Berkeley, a Master’s in the Philosophy of Education at U.C. Irvine (his master’s thesis pertained to developmental virtue theory), and he earned a J.D. from UCLA School of Law, where he was co-chief managing editor of the Women’s Law Journal and class president.

"When I taught philosophy at Long Beach City College, I wondered why so many students in my classes came without basic thinking skills.  What did that say about our state of education that it spent so much time on things like factoring polynomials, and so little time on developing such things as the curiosity, open-mindedness, and critical thinking skills needed for success in college, careers, and life? So we created a high school (and middle school) in a very small, safe, and caring environment that nurtured students how to think for themselves, not regurgitate what somebody else told them to think."

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Summer Sanders

Director, Head of School

summer.sanders@ivahigh.org

Mrs. Sanders was hired as part of the founding team in September 2015 as the Director of Community Engagement and Admissions. Mrs. Sanders now serves as the Head of School, working collaboratively with all members of our community supporting a comprehensive mission and vision. Before IVA High, Mrs. Sanders served in a similar role for six years at an arts integrated, project-based K-8 school in San Francisco, as a K-8 Counselor and Middle School Administrator. She also has experience as a mental health therapist, college counselor, high school guidance counselor, and intervention specialist. Mrs. Sanders provides ongoing, collaborative professional development to teachers/staff and counseling interns, thoughtfully constructing a responsive and positive staff community. She has developed a comprehensive school counseling program, advisory program, positive school culture and supports an innovative, learner-centered model for teaching and learning for IVA High.

Mrs. Sanders is passionate about advocating for students, giving them a voice, and coaching them on how to actively listen. Her education has focused on Human Services, Child/Adolescent Development, Counseling, Mental Health, Social Justice, and Education. She has a Master's degree in Counseling, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, obtained Credentials in School Counseling/Guidance, Preliminary Administrative Services and is a Certified Parent Educator and Clinical Supervisor. Mrs. Sanders is passionate about equitable learning opportunities, taking a holistic approach to education, and utilizing constructivist inquiry-based pedagogies, with the belief that social relationships are a constructive learning opportunity for both staff and student development. Summer enjoys adventures, walks, and spending as much time with her family on sunny beaches.

"I am inspired to be a part of a group of people who value supporting and challenging students through care, connection, and a growth mindset. Together, we are aware that we are not only educating students in academic subjects, we are also supporting the discovery of who they want to be, what matters most, and inspiring them to make positive contributions to our world now, and in the future. With an open-mind and heart, we learn from our students as much as they learn from us. This school was founded on these beliefs- that is a rare find. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by a community committed to manifesting a cohesive vision."

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Makenna Briceno

School Counselor

makenna.briceno@ivahigh.org

Makenna is passionate about arts integration, empowering youth, and organization. She comes to IVA High with a counseling background from California State University, Fullerton and has a wealth of knowledge in supporting youth. Makenna is actively enhancing our college and career program in order to prepare students for a successful life beyond high school. Makenna’s passion for learning is evident in her constant desire to further her education. She is currently enrolled at Brandman University to complete her Pupil Personnel Services Credential in order to expand her knowledge in school counseling. 

"I chose IVA High because it is a place where I can use my voice and encourage students to use theirs. Our voice is heard and valued here. This is our school and we continue to build it together."
 
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Darlin Ortiz

School Counselor/Office Assistant

darlin.ortiz@ivahigh.org

Darlin graduated from a Long Beach Public High School and received a Bachelors in Human Services at Cal-State Dominguez Hills - Go Toros! She immediately began working as a case manager with domestic violence, substance abuse, and homeless populations. She dedicates herself to serve the underserved. Throughout the years, her dream of working with adolescents persisted; primarily because of her own experiences as a minority student. So, she achieved a Masters of Education in School Counseling at USC! Darlin's goal is to help guide our youth - our future, with characteristics striving for resiliency and healthy coping. 
 
"I chose to work at IVA High after having the privilege and immense opportunity of completing my school counseling internship at their site. IVA High is definitely not a regular school and definitely nothing I ever imagined a high school can be. I was immediately impressed when I first stepped foot and saw the virtues posted on the wall. I was thrilled; intellectual humility, courage, tenacity?! Where was I ?! IVA High transforms an educational journey, bringing me closer to my dreams. I am grateful to be a part of our youth's journey alongside IVA High; implementing project-based learning, dismantling stigma, and promoting social justice. 
I will not only stand alongside our youth, I will dance, laugh, and yes, sometimes cry as they embark this difficult yet extraordinary journey."
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Patricia Franklin

School Coordinator/Office Manager

patricia.franklin@ivahigh.org

Patricia is a Long Beach native who fell in love with education. Growing up in a home with a tenacious mother who wanted to exemplify the importance of education she found it only natural to do the same. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Communications with an emphasis of Journalism from CSU Dominguez Hills and furthered her educational endeavors by receiving her Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership from Brandman University. She has a strong educational management background and has previously worked at a charter school. Her pursuit is to engage, encourage, guide, support, promote and lead students into understanding the statement; “Knowledge IS power, and no one can take that away from you”

“As a native Long Beach Afrolatina,  I felt compelled to work at IVA High because I felt like I could relate to the students and the community. I find the charter school system to be such a unique institution for students who need a second chance or for those who need a “community approach“ to education. IVA High shows that they care about their students, they are empathetic to their needs, and put their ideas first. I am grateful for the opportunity to be apart of such a well-diversified organization and look forward to changing students lives everyday”.

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Myriam Loeschen

Outreach Team

myriam.loeschen@ivahigh.org                

Myriam brings a balanced blend of formal marketing and event planning experience. Her work is centered in creating connection and is rooted in joy. As an Outreach team member, her goals for IVA High include strengthened community engagement, student recruitment and retention and deepening the school's capacity for diversity, equity and justice. In addition to her work for IVA High, Myriam is a facilitator guiding courageous conversations about race and supporting individuals in becoming more fully human. She is a Long Beach resident.

"A passionate learner and storyteller, I am committed to reframing and changing stories about how we learn and to uncover new and empowering narratives. I am excited to be at IVA High where the virtues lead and shape the educational experience and the measures of success are redefined in a vital way."

 

 

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Kerry Loeschen

Campus Faculty Aide

Kerry Loeschen,  a native of Long Beach, joins IVA High School as Campus Faculty Aide. He brings a myriad of skills that will add significant value to our students academic experience. He is a trombonist with a degree in composition from CSULB. For the past 25 years he has performed in distinguished venues across the country and has toured extensively in Asia and Latin America. In addition, he is a competitive athlete and has served as a head soccer coach in the Long Beach Youth Sports Organization for 8 seasons. He is also an accomplished craftsman skilled in conception and fabrication. While on campus, Kerry will support faculty in tutelage, engage students in physical fitness activities, and lead building exercises.
 
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Amanda McMullen

Paraprofessional

amanda.mcmullen@ivahigh.org                

Amanda has a background in Cultural Anthropology and Fine Arts and plans to further her education in Art therapy. At IVA, Amanda loves helping the students get engaged in specialized and unique ways! 
 
"I chose IVA because I loved the schools focus on alternative ways of thinking, living and learning. As someone who celebrates human diversity, I was drawn to IVA's ability to cater to individual student's interests and passions. I saw a place that fosters a positive community that truly allows student to excel both academically and personally! It made me instantly want to be apart of their unique family. "

 

 

Teachers

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Daniel Avery

Math Teacher

daniel.avery@ivahigh.org

Daniel comes to IVA High after spending years in education—first as a private tutor and then as a teacher. He received his undergraduate degree from UCLA and his Master's in Teaching from Point Loma Nazarene University. Daniel has taught math in Orange County and San Diego, working with students from both the middle and high school levels in a wide range of courses, including nearly everything from Integrated Math 7 through AP Calculus.    

"I chose IVA High because its core virtues look at advancing education in innovative ways. My goal is to find and implement new, research-supported methods to teach math, and to help students think critically while integrating technology in ways that extend and support student learning."

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Nicole Bella

History Teacher

nicole.bella@ivahigh.org

Nicole graduated from Cal State University, Fullerton with a B.A. in History. She earned her social science teaching credential at National University. She has been teaching for 8 years, and has taught in Orange County, Los Angeles, and the Bay Area. She has worked with both middle and high school students and has taught classes like Ancient Civilizations, Civics, and AP World History. She is passionate about making real world connections, and teaching critical thinking and problem solving.

“I chose IVA High because I believe in and share the school’s commitment to diversity and equity and its holistic approach to education. Every IVA High student learns more than just a compilation of facts across various subjects. Instead they learn to know themselves and their community. IVA High gives students the tools they need to succeed in their personal lives and as future leaders.”

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Serena Buie

English/RSP Teacher/ELD

serena.buie@ivahigh.org                

Serena received her BA in English from Westmont College and worked at a mental health treatment center for teens and then at IVA Middle School for several years before going to CSULB for her credential. Before joining IVA High, she spent two years teaching English in Pamplona, Spain. Serena is passionate about literacy, English as a Second Language, and fostering students' love of reading. 
 
"I love the educational model at IVA High and I'm so excited to join the wonderful community here! It is a privilege to work in an environment that prioritizes student voice and helps students develop into life-long learners."

 

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Ollie Cigliano

English/RSP Teacher/ELD

 ollie.cigliano@ivahigh.org

Ms. Ollie George Cigliano is a private chef, food educator, fully credentialed Education Specialist Mild to Moderate II, ELL & Autism Authorization, and Owner of Ollie George Cooks Llc, based in Long Beach, California. Ollie George holds a BA in Comparative Literature from The University of California, Berkeley (Spanish & Italian), a Nutrition and Healthy Living Certificate & Medicinal Plants Certificate from eCornell University.  Ms. Cigliano finds joy in tending to her community garden plot at the LBCG (Long Beach Community Gardens), where she grows a plethora of herbs, vegetables and edible flowers.  Born and raised in Long Beach, she loves the seaside amenities offered by this beautiful city - from paddle boarding, to bike trails, and visiting the Aquarium of the Pacific.
 
Ms. Cigliano joins the IVA team as a person of many hats, and you will see her in the office and providing support to teachers and students in the classroom. Through her unique perspective, she aims to enrich the IVA High community with diverse experiences, fostering a love for learning. Ms. Cigliano has also joined our team to help launch our garden and culinary program.  Stay tuned for clubs and lots of learning fun!
 

 

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Marisol Marquez

College and Career Teacher/Outreach Team

marisol.marquez@ivahigh.org  

Marisol graduated with a B.A. in Spanish from California State University, Long Beach, where she also obtained her teaching credential. Before teaching, she worked for three years with students with social-cognitive deficits. She joined the IVA High community to show her students that language learning can be personable, engaging, and culturally relevant to their lives.   

"I am eager to be involved with the school community and grow as an educator at IVA High. I look forward to pursuing a Master's in Education in School Counseling in the future."  

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John Rodriguez, NBCT                    

English Teacher

john.rodriguez@ivahigh.org 

John came to teaching English with a background in advertising, creative writing, musical performance, and parenting. All of those pursuits require creative approaches to solving problems and being able to communicate those ideas.  He joined our English department after 12 years with LAUSD, including teaching Honors, AP, Journalism and Yearbook. He completed a fellowship with Teach Plus, an education reform think tank, and became a National Board Certified Teacher.   

"I firmly believe in the role of character growth on academic achievement. I say things like, "Effort equals results," and "I don't teach English; I teach humans." Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the Intellectual Virtues Academy was completely staffed by like-minded professionals! I chose to work at the IVA High to bring my enthusiasm, creativity and rigor to this community. I also chose to enroll my son at the middle school. I'm all in."    

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Anas Sallam

Science Teacher

anas.sallam@ivahigh.org 

Anas comes to IVA High after spending multiple years in education as a tutor and long term substitute teacher. He received his undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences from UCI and his preliminary teaching credential from CSULB. Anas has taught biology, chemistry, physics, and middle school science all over Orange County as a tutor with Quality Tutoring Services and as a substitute teacher with the Anaheim Union High School District. Anas has experience teaching a wide range of classes including Living Earth Biology to AP Chemistry and even IB Physics as well.  

"I chose IVA High because its intellectual virtues look at promoting education in innovative ways and students are taught to have courage and take risks. As a science educator that to me is something that is extremely beneficial to students. After all, all the greatest scientific discoveries were made after multiple attempts and multiple failures by great thinkers who took risks even though they knew that their odds of success were very low and yet ended up succeeding in the end anyway. 

We promote forward thinking and virtues of autonomy and humility so that our students learn to think for themselves and can admit when they made mistakes. Our students learn to adapt and be better in their thought process in the future. The journey to success in education and in life is filled with obstacles, and here at IVA High we look to help our students push past these obstacles and achieve their dreams as young members of society seeking a great future ahead of them."

 

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Dustin Schmidt 

Associate Director and Humanities Teacher

dustin.schmidt@ivahigh.org  

Throughout his academic career, Dustin has been devoted to engaging K-12 students on a variety of topics in the humanities and philosophy. He is currently a PhD candidate with a focus on environmental ethics, at the University of Washington, Seattle, where he has taught a wide range of courses, including Logic, Introduction to Philosophy, and Environmental Ethics. He has a very comprehensive career teaching students of all ages, including earning a fellowship to teach and develop curriculum for a high school International Baccalaureate course. 

"IVA High offers a rare opportunity for students and teachers to develop habits of mind that support good lives, strong relationships, and inclusive communities. It allows us space to investigate big, philosophical questions, apply our thinking to real, relevant social issues, and reflect on our thinking in a way that fosters critical, engaged, and compassionate citizens. This is, I think, the best we can hope for as we try to build supportive, forward-thinking communities. I am humbled to be part of such a passionate, intentional community of inquiry."