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.

  • Kathryn "Kat" Aguilo

    Kathryn “Kat” Aguilo is thrilled to join the Kindergarten Team at Carlthorp School. She is from Long Island, NY, but has always aspired to move to California to be reunited with her brother and nephews. During her high school and college years Kat discovered her love of teaching young people and watching them grow and learn in her job as a swim instructor for children ages 3-14 years. Upon graduating from college, she spent two years as a flight attendant for United Airlines. However, she retained her love of teaching. During her free time, she continued to teach swimming and helped her students reach their highest potential in the water. After working in the sky, Kat determined she wanted to be in the classroom instead. Kat comes to Carlthorp School from teaching 2nd grade at Success Academy Prospect Heights, a public elementary charter school in Brooklyn. In addition to her classroom responsibilities, she was very active in the school community, serving as a liaison for parents. In addition, she participated in community circles, spearheaded after-school tutoring for students who needed extra help, and, of course, encouraged her own students to love reading! When she’s not teaching, Kat loves to be outside as much as possible. You can find her reading on the beach, riding her bike, playing with dogs, traveling or camping. Moving across the country is an exciting change and she is thrilled about her new opportunities and the students that she will impact in positive ways! 
  • 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!

1st Grade Team

List of 4 items.

  • Keara Devitt

    Ms. Keara Devitt is eager to begin her second 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, so teaching is in her blood. In 2010, she decided to take a risk and 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. During her time at USF, Keara was selected to volunteer as a student teacher in a 1st grade classroom at the Sacred Heart Primary School in Belize. This immersion program promotes and exposes openness and attentiveness to the realities of cultural diversity, tradition, along with the challenges of education, health, and governance in Dangrigra. Her experience in Belize was life-changing and reaffirmed her passion for teaching as well. Upon graduation, she worked as the 1st Grade lead teacher at Saint Martin of Tours School in Brentwood. While there, she completely immersed herself in the school community. She enjoyed building professional relationships with the faculty, her students, and their families. In addition to teaching, Keara was the Director of the Morning Program, which provided a well-supervised, respectful, and warm atmosphere for students in TK-8th prior to the start of the school day. She also coached track for students in grades 3-8. 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. Family and friends are very important to her, so she cherishes spending as much time as she can with them. Most recently, she traveled to London, Paris, and Athens. It was the first time she had been to Europe and she feels grateful to have had the opportunity to delve into the culture, language, and history of these places. 
  • Tanya Friedman

    Tanya, a New Jersey native, moved to New York City to begin her teaching career after having earned her degree in the SUNY system.  In fifteen years as a teacher in the New York City Public School System, Tanya taught each of the grades from Pre-Kindergarten through 5th.  She also spent time as a Teacher/Coach for the Department of Education in New York City.
     
    Tanya received her undergraduate degree from SUNY New Paltz and two master’s degrees from CUNY at City College, one in Elementary Education and the other in Building Leadership.  She participated in a think tank for implementing the Common Core Curriculum in NYC schools, where she led a team of teachers in developing curriculum and rubrics. In addition to her degrees, Tanya has facilitated workshops at New York University and Fordham University on best collaborative practices for future teachers. Outside of the classroom, Tanya enjoys playing sports, spending time with her family and heading to the beach on weekends.  She is excited to be teaching at Carlthorp School!
     
  • 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! 
  • Leslie Keper

    Leslie was born and raised in the northern Chicago suburbs and attended the University of Iowa for her bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Upon graduation, she moved back to Chicago and lived in downtown Lakeview for ten years. Leslie began her teaching career not too far from where she had grown up in Mt. Prospect, Illinois. She was fortunate enough to be a part of a wonderful neighborhood school and spent the first ten years of her career there. During those ten years Leslie taught Kindergarten, 3rd and 4th grades, each one for three years. She also spent one year teaching 5th grade. Leslie earned her reading specialist master’s degree at Olivet Nazarene University and then continued her education by taking several additional classes to broaden and deepen her knowledge as an educator. In her free time she enjoys being outdoors exercising, traveling to see friends and family, reading, and taking her dog, Barkley, outside to play!

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 tenth year in the classroom, and her fourth 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.
  • Russel Tilly

    Mr. Russel Tilly is excited to be joining the 3rd grade team at Carlthorp School. Originally from Buckinghamshire, England, he studied art and design for two years before discovering his passion for teaching. At the University of Hertforshire, he earned a Bachelor in Education with an emphasis in both Art and Design and English Literature. Among his previous positions, Russel taught students in kindergarten through 5th grade in culturally diverse communities in and around London. Pursuing his love of different cultures, he also held teaching positions in Shanghai and Bangkok. In Manhattan, Russel taught 4th grade at a Montessori-inspired school. His love of challenges inspired him to try great white shark cage diving and bungee jumping. However, these days he loves to spend time with his energetic three-year-old son, Beckett. In addition, Russel enjoys photography, drawing, painting, reading novels, visiting art galleries, playing tennis, listening to live music, and hiking.
  • 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 5 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.
  • Ashley Greenberg

    Originally from Rhode Island, Ashley taught 2nd Grade in Hawaii before moving to Santa Monica. She is excited to be teaching 4th Grade at Carlthorp.  Ashley received her Master of Science degree in Elementary Education from Johns Hopkins University after studying psychology at Georgetown University. Prior to becoming a full-time teacher, Ashley discovered her love for working with young people by volunteering her time both with an after-school reading program for elementary school students and with an after-school cooking program for high school students.  In addition, she taught summer school to incoming 4th and 5th Graders when she was in college. When she’s not teaching, Ashley loves hiking, camping, and card and board games.
  • Daisha Johnson

    Ms. Daisha Johnson will be co-teaching 4th grade with Ms. Morgan and could not be more thrilled about joining the Carlthorp School family. Daisha watched her mother in the classroom for as long as she can remember and always wanted to follow in her footsteps. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, she attended Loyola Marymount University, graduating with her Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Special Education. Two months after graduation, Daisha began teaching 4th grade at Butterfield Elementary School in Maricopa, AZ. Joining a team of five other 4th grade teachers, including her mom, she quickly immersed herself in the school community. After a selection process that included input from the principal, academic counselor, and a math specialist, Daisha was chosen to be a math coach for 3rd-5th grades. She also spearheaded a Girls’ Club for 4th and 5th graders. In this group, she discussed etiquette, social media, friendship, and other topics that were of interest and concern to the girls. Daisha’s hobbies include reading crime novels, hiking Runyon Canyon, trying new restaurants and watching movies. She cannot wait to join Ms. Morgan in creating a memorable learning experience for her new 4th graders.
  • Jenny Morgan

    Jenny, a proud Southern California native, was born and raised in Palos Verdes, who 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. In her free time, Jenny enjoys being with family and friends, riding her beach cruiser on the strand and appreciating the California sunshine!

5th Grade Team

List of 4 items.

  • Stephanie Costa

    Stephanie attended the University of Delaware where she majored in Human Services and minored in Educational Studies. She began teaching the year she graduated. She then moved to New York City and began her year of service with City Year New York, which is an educational nonprofit organization dedicated to helping students and schools succeed. 
    During City Year, she realized the importance of all children receiving a quality education regardless of their zip code, and that awareness made her want to work in a school serving high needs students in a low-income area. It was the following year that she began working at Success Academies in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, where in a culturally diverse K-4 elementary school she honed her craft and refined her teaching knowledge. There Stephanie was a kindergarten associate teacher, a first-grade lead teacher, a fourth-grade lead integrated co-teacher, and as a second- grade integrated co-teacher. While there, she also earned a Master of Science degree in Childhood Education and Special Education. 
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  • 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. During her time as Librarian, Sachi was a member of the selection committee for the Judy Lopez Memorial Award for Children’s Literature. In 2015 she returned to the 5th Grade classroom in her current position. 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

    This is Polly’s third year teaching at Carlthorp School. 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. In her free time Polly loves to read, spend time on the beach and go on hikes.
     
  • 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 two Carthorp School students. Derrick’s career in education began seven 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.