Meet the GALS Staff
Office & Operations Staff
Roxana Laursen, Office Coordinator • firstname.lastname@example.org
Mayra Olivarez, Office Coordinator & food program • email@example.com
Carter Fonseca, Operations Coordinator & After-School All-Stars Program Coordinator • firstname.lastname@example.org
6th Grade Teachers
Michelle acosta, 6th grade history & math • email@example.com
orlando agraz, 6th grade history & math • firstname.lastname@example.org
Orlando is a GALS LA founding teacher. Currently, Orlando is in his third year of teaching, and he strives to develop innovative strategies for teaching 6th graders. Orlando is a lifelong learner, having completed his Master’s in Education and currently pursuing a Masters in School Psychology. In his spare time, Orlando enjoys spending time with family and his pug.
michelle bell, 6th grade science • email@example.com
Michelle Bell joined the GALS LA team in 2018, her 15th year teaching. She has taught in various elementary grades, was a Parent Educator, and ran a hands-on science lab for 3 years. She is active in her church and loves spending time with her family. They love to travel and go on adventures, including ziplining over Akaka Falls, snorkeling and swimming with dolphins in Hawaii, white water rafting the Clackamas River in Oregon, and kayaking the Colorado River. If she is not cheering her older son on playing Varsity Football or Volleyball, chances are she is at Guitar Center with her younger son. Michelle enjoys reading and always has at least 3 books going at a time. In her free time she likes to knit, bake cookies, go to the beach and binge watch shows on Netflix. Michelle grew up in Anaheim, CA, and attended California State University at Northridge (CSUN).
Kimberly ceron, 6th grade gals 101 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Kimmie first joined GALS LA as the after-school program coordinator during the founding year. She is very passionate about giving back and making a difference in her community. Kimmie was born and raised in Los Angeles and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Sociology from California State University at Northridge. Kimmie previously worked at Miguel Contreras Learning Complex and West Adams Preparatory High school prior to joining the team at GALS. Kimmie has volunteered and interned at the College Center, Counseling Center, Parent Center, and has also been a teachers aide. With her experience working with youth during the school day and after school, Kimmie decided to step into the classroom and bring all of her expertise into the GALS series, teaching young girls the importance of social-emotional learning. Kimmie is also the coach of the GALS LA cheer team!
lauren pinto, 6th grade english language arts • email@example.com
Lauren has been teaching since 2008 and is one of the GALS LA founding teachers. She enjoys visiting new places, and one of the places she wants to visit most is Base Camp at Mt. Everest. She is passionate about all things reading and writing, and loves sharing this with students. Lauren loves that GALS is a place where young women learn to empower themselves and develop their voice. Lauren was born and raised in Los Angeles, and attended California State University at Northridge and Boise State for her degrees. In her free time, she loves to work out, read, and hula hoop!
7th Grade Teachers
Natasha Bloom, 7th grade gals 201 & drama program director • firstname.lastname@example.org
Natasha is originally from Chicago, but has lived in Los Angeles for nearly 20 years. She has a BFA in Film/Theatre, as well as a BS in Business Management from Southern Illinois University. She also holds an MS Certification in Civil Engineering from UCLA. Natasha is a member of Local 800: Art Directors Guild for her 18 years of work in film and television. Natasha has taught a variety of subjects in a variety of settings over the course of the last 18 years, including at Taft High School, SOCES, and Warner Avenue Elementary. This is Natasha’s 2nd year with GALS LA, and she is over the moon to be a part of such a dynamic, emerging charter that embodies much of what she stands for: social-emotional and holistic approach to teaching and interacting, athleticism, leadership, empowerment through many facets, all while nurturing young minds to reach and exceed their potential. Natasha loves all things film and theatre related, dancing and singing, she’s a Red Cross certified lifeguard and swim instructor, loves softball and bowling — pretty much any sport that allows her to work within a team environment — as well as all of the adventures she gets to experience with her incredible husband Jeffrey.
Ginneh Lewis, 7th grade science • email@example.com
Ginneh came to GALS in 2017 as the 6th grade science teacher. She loves everything outdoors, and with the GALS girls created the first GALS Garden. She hopes she can spread her enthusiasm for science, nature, and the beautiful California outdoors to her students and share those experiences with them. Her career started out with a BA in Biology and a minor in Environmental Science and Policy at Hartwick College in New York. Before she began teaching in the classroom, she taught science outdoors in New York State and Big Bear Lake, CA. She lived along the Hudson River Estuary (outside of NYC) and worked for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as a camp counselor, waterfront director, and camp director. She taught 3 years of high school Earth Science, Biology, and Chemistry at GALS Denver and for Alliance College Ready Public Schools for 3 years. So many of her opportunities have been provided to her through her education, so she went into teaching because this is what she wants for others. Oh, and if you don’t know, she is a reptile enthusiast and will be sure to help you fall in love with Maxine, her bearded dragon, while helping spread awareness about respect for all living things! In her free time she enjoys dancing, swimming, biking, and volunteering with shelter animals.
Michelle Otis, 7th grade english language arts • firstname.lastname@example.org
Michelle received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of La Verne and her Master’s Degree in music from Cal State L.A. She will be earning her Master’s in Education from Mount Saint Mary’s University in Spring of 2019. Michelle has been teaching for 18 years, and is enthusiastic about student learning. In her spare time, she co-hosts a podcast, composes music, plays nerdy games, and spends time with her family.
Ceci santana, 7th grade history • email@example.com
Liza yorke, 7th grade math • firstname.lastname@example.org
Liza is in her first year at GALS and has been teaching since 2013. She received a BA in Education for Social Justice from Prescott College. Liza comes to GALS from Hillsboro High School in Nashville, TN, where she taught Algebra 2, Geometry, and a student-led Restorative Practices class. She also sponsored the Student Government Association. Liza is originally from the Jersey shore so she is very eager to find out if the west coast IS the best coast. Liza is passionate about empowering youth to be change agents. In 2018 she chaperoned a group of students to Washington, DC, for the March for our Lives and spoke on a panel at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival with two survivors of school shootings to discuss safety in schools, urban violence, and the need for Restorative Justice.
8th Grade Teachers
cris de leon, 8th grade math • email@example.com
Cris came to GALS LA from teaching high school in Berkeley, Oakland, and Boyle Heights. Previously, he attended UC Berkeley where he studied Math Theory. Cris chose GALS because he was drawn by the prospect of integrating his passion for math and science in innovative ways in the classroom, sharing cool science or math topics with his students. In his free time he enjoys reading, surfing, listening to podcasts, playing poker, and grading and planning.
Taryn Marshall, 8th grade history & gals 301 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Taryn is the founding History teacher at GALS LA and strongly believes in empowering young women through education. She is a product of a women's college where she earned her B.A. in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and went on to work for a feminist organization for high-school women of color in Newark, NJ. She returned to Los Angeles to earn her M.Ed. in Secondary Education at UCLA with a focus in Ethnic Studies Pedagogy. Her praxis consists of engaging students in critical thought, centering their experiences, understanding different perspectives and multiculturalism in history, and encouraging authenticity and diligence. Taryn enjoys spending time with her son Hendrix, exploring community spaces and locally-run businesses, reading, and discussing different ways to improve education.
Alyssa worbetz, 8th grade science & movement coordinator • email@example.com
Alyssa is originally from New Jersey. She was a High School Biology Teacher as well as a Softball and Field Hockey Coach for 8 years before coming to GALS. She has a Master of Science & a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology, and a Master of Arts in Teaching Degree. She attended Clemson University and Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey where she played Division III Field Hockey. Alyssa joined the GALS LA team in 2017 and she loves everything science, coaching softball, and organizing Morning Movement with Ms Kelly S! She believes that movement and brain boosts are imperative on the road to a healthy life. Alyssa enjoys hot yoga, hiking, tap dancing, and spending some free time with her two cats!!
Erica younan, 8th grade english language arts • firstname.lastname@example.org
Ms. Younan has been teaching middle school ELA for a combined 5 years. She spent 1 year teaching in North Dakota while pursuing her Master’s Degree, and spent the past 4 years teaching middle school English in Pacoima. Ms. Younan is thrilled to have joined the GALS LA team in 2018 and is excited to be working with such a lovely group of students and staff. In her free time, Ms. Younan enjoys cooking, reading, traveling and making use of her AMC A-List subscription (RIP MoviePass).
8th grade gals 301
8th grade GALS 301 is co-taught by Founder and Executive Director Carrie Wagner, Founding Principal Vanessa Garza, Operations Manager & Director of Morning Movement Kelly Snyder, and 8th grade History teacher Taryn Marshall, Learn about Carrie, Vanessa, and Kelly here.
Special Education Staff & Specialists
Beth Abronson, Special education coordinator & 6th grade Education Specialist • email@example.com
Beth holds a Bachelor’s of Science Degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and a Masters of Education Degree from Loyola Marymount. She has 11 years of teaching experience at the high school level, and is currently in her third year with GALS LA. Before becoming a teacher, Beth worked for 10 years in the business field as a clothing buyer for major retailers. She joined GALS for the holistic approach to teaching, the opportunity to work out with her students to support them with healthy habits, and the liberty to be creative in the classroom. Beth loves to see her students grow and advocate for themselves as well as continue to become independent thinkers.
edrees akram, 7th grade Education specialist • firstname.lastname@example.org
Edrees was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley in the city of Reseda. He graduated from Reseda High School, then attended Pierce college to obtain his AA in Sociology. He then transferred to Cal State LA, where he obtained a BA in History: Teacher Preparation. He is currently attending California State University at Northridge in the intern credential program to obtain a credential as an Education Specialist. He began teaching at GALS in 2017 as an Education Specialist for the 7th grade. Prior to that, he worked as a paraprofessional for GALS, and was an After-School All-Stars coach during the founding year. Edrees is passionate about the movement-based curriculum and the value of the close-knit school community. He knew GALS was an amazing place to work when he saw how much the administration and teachers cared about the students. Edrees enjoys spending time with his family, girlfriend, and close friends. He enjoys watching sports, and is a huge Lakers and Dodgers fan. In his spare time, Edrees enjoys lifting weights, playing basketball, and boxing.
latrice joyce, 8th grade Educaiton specialist • email@example.com
LaTrice earned her degree in Psychology from California State University at Northridge and is currently working on her Master’s in Education at Loyola Marymount University. As the first person in her family to graduate college, she understands the value of an education. After years of working in Real Estate and as an Executive Assistant, LaTrice decided to pursue her passion of education. While LaTrice is new to teaching full-time, as of joining the team in 2018, she has 4 years of experience working with kids age 5-17 as a tutor. LaTrice is a San Fernando Valley native, born in Lakeview Terrace, CA, and working at GALS has been a great experience as she gets to work in her own community. LaTrice loves GALS’ holistic approach and the focus on social-emotional support, as she believes this is large part of developing a human being — not just educating students’ minds, but taking care of the whole person. In her free time, LaTrice enjoys hiking, travel, reading, trivia, and playing board games.
Ben easton, english language development teacher • firstname.lastname@example.org
Ben joined the GALS LA staff as an ELD teacher in 2018. When Ben is not teaching, he enjoys reading—especially books about history and ideas. When he is not teaching or reading books about history and ideas, he enjoys eating cheese, spotting dogs while driving and walking around Los Angeles, making breakfast that includes some sort of cheese, and just being with his spouse, Misty—who is lovingly-known around the house as “Bean.” (Misty also calls Ben “Bean.” So, things can get a little confusing at times.) Ben holds a bachelor's degree in theology from Azusa Pacific University and a master’s in philosophy from Cal State Los Angeles. Before teaching at GALS, Ben taught philosophy and logic to college students for 7 years. Ben says what drew him to GALS is their commitment to serve their local community and empower female students to make a positive difference in the world in their own unique way.
Ruby molina, paraprofessional • email@example.com
Ruby started at GALS as a coach with the after-school program during the GALS LA founding year, and is now part of our team as an Instructional Aide at GALS. She was born and raised in Los Angeles, California and moved to the valley when she started college at California State University of Northridge. She received her Bachelor’s in Public Health, because giving back and putting others first has always brought her joy. She was also part of the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles Diabetes and Obesity program, where she created and implemented an intervention, Teens N Fitness. It empowers students on ways to live a healthier lifestyle for students in low income areas. She also assisted Teens N Fitness by spreading awareness and recruitment for the program, as well as, helped attain a grant needed for the program. The reason she chose GALS was, because movement is a powerful way to enhance the learning of everyone and GALS always follows that motto. When she is not educating, she loves to dance, loves to try new food, travel, play with her dog (Charlie), go hiking, playing softball, going to Disneyland, and is open to anything fun.
You can email Ms. Ruby at firstname.lastname@example.org