The Carlthorp School classroom teachers strike an important balance between emphasizing academic rigor, while retaining a nurturing learning environment. Our faculty is committed to providing a safe place for our students where they are encouraged to take risks while striving for excellence. 


MEET THE CLASSROOM TEACHERS

Kindergarten Team

List of 4 items.

  • Rebecca Lepore

    Rebecca is originally from Simi Valley, California, where she grew up helping in her mom’s 2nd grade classroom. From a young age she has been passionate about education and that passion has never waivered. Rebecca received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies from Loyola Marymount University after which she went on to teach 3rd grade at Playa Vista Elementary School. Rebecca then moved to Dublin, Ireland, where she worked in the Foster Care Unit at Child Protective Services helping families in need. Specifically, she was the instructor for the children in temporary foster care. Rebecca also served as the academic liaison when the children were relocated to a more permanent home and academic setting. When she moved back to California, Rebecca taught a Kindergarten class at Short Avenue Elementary School. Outside of school Rebecca enjoys crafting, hiking, and stargazing. However, her greatest hobby is traveling. So far she has been to 40 states and 24 countries!
  • Adrienne Rizk

    Born and raised on the Central Coast,Adrienne moved to Los Angeles where she received her degree in English from California State University Los Angeles. She went on to earn her Master of Arts degree in Literacy and Language Arts as well as her teaching credential from Loyola Marymount University. Before arriving at Carlthorp, Adrienne taught Kindergarten and filled the role of Literacy Lead for Kindergarten through 2nd Grade at Chadwick School in Palos Verdes. More locally, she also taught at Mayfield Junior School in Pasadena and at the UCLA Lab School in Westwood. Less locally, she spent time working with students in Ghana, West Africa, where she continues to serve as a board member for a community primary school. Adrienne spends her time outside of school exploring Los Angeles with her husband and two children. At home she indulges in her passion for literature and reading.   
  • Caitlin Schriefer

    Caitlin graduated from Villanova University with her Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education. After teaching 1st Grade in the Philadelphia suburbs, Caitlin relocated to New York City where she continued her education at Fordham University, earning a Master of Arts degree in Education with a focus in Literacy. She quickly found a school in Manhattan to call home for eight years, St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s, where she enjoyed developing and implementing new curriculum while teaching Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten and 2nd Grade classes. During her time at SHSH, Caitlin had the opportunity to travel to Chengalpattu, India, to teach English to children in grades K-6. A firm believer in professional development and continuing education, she was also able to organize and facilitate teaching workshops for the school’s faculty. Caitlin is thrilled to be living near her family in sunny Santa Monica without a hint of winters in sight! In her free time, she enjoys cooking, cheering on her Villanova Wildcats and taking her chocolate lab to the beach!
  • Elizabeth Zapler

    Ms. Elizabeth Zapler (“Ms. Zap”) is thrilled to be teaching kindergarten once again after three fulfilling years as Carlthorp’s science teacher. She is very much looking forward to bringing to the kindergarten classroom the same level of experience, creativity, energy, and love for children that she brought to her science room.
     
    A Chicago native who spent her teenage years working at Wrigley Field, Elizabeth received her B.A. in English from Pomona College, an M.A. in Religious Studies from the University of Chicago, and an M.A. in Teaching from Colorado College. As a Rotary International Scholar she spent a year studying in Jerusalem and traveling throughout the Middle East - she was dazzled by seeing ancient Egyptian tombs and pyramids in person. As an Earthwatch Fellow, Elizabeth joined researchers in an Ecuadorian cloud forest to investigate caterpillars and climate change. 

    Elizabeth previously taught kindergarten at Sinai Akiba Academy in Los Angeles. She also had the uniquely rewarding experience of teaching kindergarten at an international school in Guangzhou, China! No matter where her students have lived, the constant is that kindergarten is a magical age of discovery and exploration. Elizabeth loves the opportunity to encourage a lifetime of learning, creating a space where each child feels cherished and respected, experiences the joys and surprises of learning, and knows they are free and safe to learn about themselves and others. In her spare time, Elizabeth travels with her three teenage daughters, solves crossword puzzles, plays tennis, and is an avid reader.


     

1st Grade Team

List of 4 items.

  • Keara Devitt

    Ms. Keara Devitt is eager to begin her fourth year teaching at Carlthorp School. Originally from Long Island, New York, she is the youngest of seven children. Her mother is a professor and her father is a high school teacher. In 2010, she decided to travel to California for college to pursue her teaching degree and professional career. She attended the University of San Francisco and was accepted into the five-year Dual Degree in the Teacher Preparation Program. She earned a B.A. in Psychology and a Masters in Elementary Education.  Upon graduation, she worked as the 1st Grade lead teacher at Saint Martin of Tours School in Brentwood for three years. While teaching at Saint Martin of Tours, she attended Mount Saint Mary’s University and completed the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Program. When not at school, Keara loves being outdoors and enjoys running, hiking, and hot yoga. 
  • Jenny Morgan

    Jenny is a proud Southern California native from Palos Verdes. She graduated from Pepperdine University with a Bachelor of Arts in Theater and Television. Shortly thereafter, Jenny felt the call to work with young people, which led her to USC’s Rossier School of Education, where she graduated with a Master of Arts in Education. While completing her M.A., Jenny taught a summer Kindergarten readiness program, and also began teaching a 6th and 7th Grade study skills course at Rolling Hills Country Day School, which she continued to do for three years. Just prior to joining the Carlthorp School team, Jenny taught 11th and 12th Grade English Language Arts at YES Prep East End in Houston, Texas, an urban charter school that serves mostly underprivileged students. 

    This is Jenny’s 7th year at Carlthorp School, where she has taught 1st, Kindergarten and 4th grades. She is now thrilled to return to the 1st grade team. In her free time, Jenny enjoys being with family and friends, riding her beach cruiser on the strand and appreciating the California sunshine!
  • Tiffany Neilson

    Ms. Tiffany Neilson is eager to join Ms. Julie Paiva this year in 1st grade. During the last five years teaching at Kenter Canyon Elementary School for advanced studies, Tiffany was involved in many extracurricular committees including the instructional leadership team, student leadership council, social committee, and governance. She is very excited to join the Carlthorp School community and to continue inspiring children to learn and reach their highest potential. Tiffany was born and raised in Valencia, California, and attended Concordia University in Irvine, where she received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. While attending CUI, she played intercollegiate volleyball. Her experience as a student-athlete fostered perseverance, commitment, teamwork, and leadership. Following college, Tiffany spent a year abroad in Rome, living with an Italian family and working as an au pair. During this time, she immersed herself in the culture and discovered a passion for traveling. When she isn’t teaching, you can probably find her at the beach playing volleyball, reading, listening to music, cooking, or traveling. She enjoys attending live theater, learning about nutrition, visiting art museums, and spending time with her two nieces. 
  • Julie Paiva

    Julie is excited to return to teaching 1st Grade at Carlthorp School for the second year. Prior to Carlthorp, she spent 16 years teaching at the elementary level in Brentwood’s Kenter Canyon School of Advanced Studies. She has a passion for inspiring students to become life-long learners and compassionate members of the community. Julie graduated from UC Davis with her bachelor’s degree in Rhetoric and Communications, and a minor in Theater. She went on to receive her Masters in Teaching and a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from Chapman University. In 2009, Julie was awarded the Lori Petrick Award for Excellence in Education from the Palisades Charter Schools Foundation. When she is not in the classroom, she enjoys writing, performing, being outdoors, and traveling to new places.

2nd Grade Team

List of 4 items.

  • Kate Cushman

    Born in Michigan, Kate graduated from Hope College with a B.A. in Psychology and Sociology, followed by her Master’s in Education at Pepperdine University.  She has taught for sixteen years, twelve of them at Carlthorp School. Yoga, running, hiking, biking, traveling, cooking and learning are Kate’s favorite pastimes.  She loves spending time with friends and family and is madly in love with her apricot poodle, Scully.  
     
  • Jessica Garrabrant

    Jessica is a native of Morris County, New Jersey, who was a three-­sport student athlete at Morris Knolls High School. She went on to play college basketball at Montclair State University, where she received her B.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics. She then attended Caldwell College. There, Jessica earned her teaching credential in elementary education. Prior to Carlthorp School, Jessica taught 4th-­8th Grades at Lacordaire Academy in Montclair, New Jersey, where she coached soccer and basketball for the upper school, and was in charge of the middle school running club. An avid marathon runner, Jessica also enjoys hiking, bike riding, hot yoga, the beach and, of course, spending time with friends and family.
     
  • Kristen Gregory

    Ms. Kristen Gregory is entering her second year as a 2nd grade teacher at Carlthorp School. She grew up in a suburb outside of Boston, where her whole family still lives. Even as a child she had a deep love for making art and playing sports. Kristen majored in Art Education at the University of Vermont where she studied studio art, art history, and education. While at UVM, she spent her extra time competing on the school’s Women’s Club Lacrosse team. Her experience in Vermont caused her to fall in love with teaching. When she moved back to Boston, Kristen had the unique opportunity to teach in a Special Education program at the middle school that she attended and to coach Junior Varsity Girls Lacrosse at her high school. After a year at home and itching for a change, Ms. Morrissey decided to move to New York City, where she spent the past three years teaching at Success Academy Prospect Heights, a public elementary charter school in Brooklyn. While there, she taught 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, and art. During this time, she was also an important member of her school’s community by leading community circle and dressing as the school’s mascot (a panther!). At Success Academy, Kristen loved leading art club, reading her favorite chapter books, and exploring math with her students. When not teaching, she is likely painting, reading on the beach, enjoying live theater, or playing with her nieces! 
  • Brittney Johnson

    Brittney was born and raised in Southern California. She ran Track and Field for and graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a degree in Political Science and Social Linguistics. She continued her education at the University of Southern California where she received her teaching credential and Masters in Education. Currently, Brittney is attending Pepperdine University and working toward getting her Doctorate in Educational Leadership, Administration and Policy. 


    Brittney has a love for teaching and policy work, which she discovered after teaching Special Education classes. Additionally, she works closely with international education organizations and began her own pen pal program between her students and students in the South African village of Ingwavuma. Before coming to Carlthorp, she spent the past year working at a juvenile justice non-profit conducting research and mentoring youth. She believes that education is critical to expanding people’s perspectives and wants to use tools from her classroom to help build pathways towards a better learning environment for all students. 

    Outside of school and work Brittney enjoys traveling the world  (hoping to visit her 17th country this winter), spending time at the beach, reading, running and baking along to the Great British Bake-Off. 

3rd Grade Team

List of 4 items.

  • Jacqueline Corsini

    Jacqueline graduated from Boston College with dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in Elementary Education and English Literature in 2008. She began her career as an English Language Learner specialist in the Boston Public Schools, working with students from a variety of native languages across the elementary grade levels. She then lived in London for six years, during which time she obtained her Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and School Improvement at Cambridge University, and taught 4th Grade at TASIS England. This fall will be her eleventh year in the classroom, and her fifth at Carlthorp School. In her free time, Jacqueline enjoys chasing after her two children, and eating chocolate chip cookies.
  • Lisa George

    Lisa graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a double major in Liberal Studies and Dance. She was on both the swimming and the water polo teams there. Lisa has a Master’s in Educational Psychology from California State University Northridge. She began her teaching career in the 2nd Grade classroom at Pinecrest, Chatsworth, where she had also attended middle school.  Lisa joined the Carlthorp School faculty in 1998. Since then she has taught 1st and 2nd Grades, as well as reading to 4th, 5th, and 6th Grades. Currently she enjoys playing tennis, running, reading, volunteering, raising her two children and caring for numerous pets.
  • Alexandra "Allie" Melendez

    Allie Melendez is very excited to begin her second year teaching at Carlthorp. Allie is a West LA native and has taught in both public and independent schools. Allie is an avid reader who loves instilling a love of reading in her students. When she is not teaching, Allie enjoys running and playing with her dog, Guillermo del Perro.
  • Elizabeth Worrell

    Elizabeth grew up in Wisconsin and attended Concordia University in Chicago, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education.  She continued at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where she completed a Master of Science degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on Literary Studies. Throughout her graduate program, she focused mainly on identifying and overcoming the social constructs that may cause boys to develop early and negative attitudes towards reading. Elizabeth has acquired a broad range of teaching experience in both elementary and middle schools. Her first assignment was in suburban Chicago teaching 2nd Grade.  After moving to California, she spent eight years teaching 7th Grade and 8th Grade students at Venice Lutheran, an independent school just down the road from Carlthorp. While there, Elizabeth started an astronomy partnership with a local university, helped rethink the school’s reading curriculum, directed and co-directed numerous theatrical productions and incorporated many forms of educational technology into her classroom. In her free time Elizabeth is an avid reader who is always on the lookout for high interest books to add to the 3rd grade library.

4th Grade Team

List of 4 items.

  • Laurie Anderson

    Laurie attended the Malibu campus of Pepperdine University where she earned her bachelor’s degree. For her post-graduate work, however, she went to the Vermont Avenue campus where she earned a Masters in Reading and in School Management and Administration.  She has been at Carlthorp School, either full-time or as a “resident sub” since 1975. Currently she teaches 4th Grade. Mrs. Anderson enjoys making quilts, riding her bicycle, boogie-boarding, doing crossword puzzles, riding horses, reading, traveling up and down California and spending time with her family.
  • Ron Burwick

    Ron graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, with a major in Communications.  He also attended the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. Before starting to teach at Carlthorp, Mr. Burwick spent nine years in the Los Angeles Unified School District, where he taught in the GATE program, as well as in a regular classroom.  Outside of school, he enjoys scuba diving, completing the New York Times crossword puzzles, and anything related to the New England Patriots or the Boston Red Sox.
  • Elaine Hobert

    Elaine Hobert is thrilled to return to the classroom, this time as a 4th grade teacher. After teaching 2nd grade at Carlthorp for seven years, Elaine took a three-year hiatus to work part-time in Admissions and spend time with her boys, Wes (4) and Merrin (2). Before joining Carlthorp, Elaine spent many years teaching grades 1-4 in LAUSD. She double-majored at USC, earning her Bachelor's degrees in Piano Performance and Humanities, and later, her Master's degree in Education. Elaine is from Chicago and spent her formative years playing piano. At age 11 she performed Rachmaninoff's 1st Piano Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and in 1996 she had the distinction of being the only US representative selected to compete in the Chopin International Piano Competition for Young Artists in Moscow. Elaine enjoys teaching piano to kids and in her spare time she loves being with her family, hiking, and beating her husband at card games.



  • Lauren Schwartz

    Lauren Schwartz grew up in Laguna Beach. She graduated from Texas Christian University with a degree in Business and subsequently decided to pursue her dream of teaching. Lauren has taught second, sixth, and most recently three years of third grade at Stratford School in San Francisco. She is excited to return home to Southern California and join the Carlthorp community. In her spare time, you may find Lauren testing out new recipes in her kitchen, exploring LA’s restaurants, hiking, learning to play tennis, or enjoying a book at the beach. Lauren is a cat lover. She rescued her cat, Spectre, 6 years ago after finding him on a walk. Lauren is looking forward to a fun-filled year with all of her wonderful fourth graders!

5th Grade Team

List of 4 items.

  • Bryn McCarthy

    Bryn graduated from Connecticut College, where she studied Human Development and Elementary Education. She continued her education at Bank Street College of Education in New York, where she earned her M.S. in Childhood Special and General Education. Bryn started her career in teaching at Marymount School of New York, where she taught kindergarten and second-grade. For the past three years, Bryn taught third-grade at Saint David’s School on the Upper East Side. After living in New York for ten years, she is thrilled to join the Carlthorp family and to return home to Los Angeles, where she was born and raised. Outside of school, Bryn enjoys hiking, volunteering, and cooking.
  • Julia Ho

    Ms. Ho graduated from Hamilton College in New York, where she studied sociology and studio art, ran varsity track, and captained the women’s rugby team. After that, she was accepted into the New York City Teaching Fellows program, which allowed her to earn a M.Ed. from Mercy College. She has diverse teaching experiences across the globe including The Lamplighter School (Dallas, Texas), a village in rural Namibia (Africa), and most recently, The Horace Mann School (New York). Her hobbies include petting cheetahs and diving with sharks, but on a more regular basis, Miss Ho prefers riding her bike and eating cupcakes—separately, of course.
  • Regina "Gigi" Niekrash

    Gigi is a University of Maine graduate with a B.A. in History and a minor in Elementary Education. She continued her education at Southern Connecticut State University, where she earned her teaching credential and master’s degree in History. Gigi started her career at Carlthorp as the library assistant and has since taught 4th and 5th Grades at the school. She took a one-­year hiatus during which she taught 5th Grade at Achievement First Charter School in Bridgeport, CT. She is currently in her 8th year at Carlthorp School and teaching 5th Grade. Outside of school, Gigi enjoys reading, cooking and watching football, especially the Patriots.
  • Janeth Zavaleta

    Janeth started working at Carlthorp School in 1999. Her first duties involved helping out in a number of classrooms. Thanks to those experiences she realized she had a passion for teaching. She then went on to receive both her B.A. in Liberal Studies and her multiple subject California Teaching Credential (K – 6) at California State University, Northridge. Later, she earned her M.Ed. from Indiana Wesleyan University. Janeth has been an integral part of the 5th Grade teaching team for many years. In her spare timeshe loves to travel. Her favorite activities include playing with her dog, Gordo, biking and camping.

6th Grade Team

List of 5 items.

  • Sachi Hillson

    Sachi completed undergraduate studies at the University of Oregon and subsequently earned her Teaching Credential and Master’s in Education from Loyola Marymount University. She joined the Carlthorp School faculty in 2000 and spent a number of years teaching 1st Grade, 2nd Grade and then 5th Grade before becoming Head Librarian in 2009 with a Library Media Teacher Services Credential from California State University, Long Beach. Sachi is a proud member of the selection committee for the Judy Lopez Memorial Award for Children’s Literature. In 2015 she returned to the 5th Grade classroom and then moved to her current position in 6th Grade . In her free time Sachi enjoys going to concerts and exploring Los Angeles with her husband Michael and son Trent.
     
  • Ausra Venckus

    Ausra Venckus is a graduate of UCLA with Bachelor of Arts degrees in International Development Studies and in History, in part studying at the American University of Paris. Ausra began her education career in Seoul, South Korea, as a K-8 English instructor.  She later pursued advanced degrees at Columbia University Teachers College in the City of New York, where she earned her Master’s degree in Curriculum & Teaching of Elementary Inclusive Education along with her multiple subject teaching credential. Sunny California lured Ausra back home to teach middle school math at St. Martin of Tours School in Brentwood, where she served as the Math Department Chair for several years.  Ausra has been a sixth grade teacher at Carlthorp School since 2015.  

    A fun fact about Ausra is that she is a dual Lithuanian-American citizen.   She has an overwhelming TASCHEN art book collection (she worked in the Beverly Hills TASCHEN gallery for a few years). When she isn't surrounded by books, Ausra enjoys surrounding herself with mountains.
  • Brent Vernon

    Brent was born and raised in Harrah, Oklahoma, a small suburb of Oklahoma City. He graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma with a major in Theatre Education. After that, he moved to Toronto, Canada, to work for a leading international children’s education NGO called WE as a lead program facilitator and motivational speaker. Following two years in Toronto he moved to Santa Monica. Mr. Vernon has been a teacher at Carlthorp School since 2008 with experience in Kindergarten, 3rd Grade, 6th Grade and lower grade drama classes. In his spare time, he enjoys writing and directing children’s plays, reading, watching documentaries (Won’t You Be My Neighbor? being his favorite), and journaling while viewing the sunset at Palisades Park.
     
  • Polly Weller

    Polly started at Carlthorp School in 2017.  She was born in Hong Kong and raised in Princeton, New Jersey. She attended Colgate University in upstate New York, where she majored in Latin. Polly then moved to London, where, after completing her teacher training, she taught the equivalent of 1st Grade for three years. After a total of six years in the U.K., Polly moved to Los Angeles and earned a Master of Education in Teaching from Pepperdine University. At CS, Polly has taught 5th grade and 6th grade. Polly spends her free time with her family, including her two sons, Freddie and Hugo.
     
  • Derrick Williamson

    Derrick was born and raised in the Detroit metropolitan area before repairing to Washington, D.C., as a matriculate of Howard University. At Howard, he earned his undergraduate degree in Business Administration. After graduating, he moved to Los Angeles and earned his master’s degree in African-American Studies at UCLA. He’s the proud father of a Carthorp School student and a Carlthorp School graduate. Derrick’s career in education began eight years ago as an assistant in a 1st Grade classroom at Lou Dantzler Elementary, a charter school in the ICEF network. Soon after, he earned his multiple-subject teaching credential and began as an Intervention Teacher at KIPP LA (Knowledge Is Power Program). Following that, Derrick taught in a Kindergarten classroom at KIPP Empower Academy, after which he moved to 1st Grade for three years and finally to 4th Grade for two years. Derrick will continue to teach 6th Grade at Carlthorp School while assisting with admissions.