SMUSD Welcomes Many New Faces to the Faculty

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Photo by Staci Moraza / OUTLOOK San Marino Unified School District administrators and principals welcomed the new SMUSD staff at a luncheon last week, including (front row, from left) Kailin Duan, Valentine Principal Colleen Shields, Nickie Oh, Shauna Matsuda, Serafina Palazzolo, Crystal Shin and Assistant Superintendent Linda de la Torre. Second row: Bob Judge, Aileen Hsu, Polly Liu, Kyla Nako, Michelle Harris and new SMHS Principal Issaic Gates. Third row: Stacey Bender, Breanna McGuire, Denny Bui and Jazmin Avedo. Back: Zachary Quiggle, Kris Good, Superintendent Alex Cherniss, HMS Principal Jason Kurtenbach, Carver Principal Michael Lin and Steve Brown. See additional photos, page 12.
Photo by Staci Moraza / OUTLOOK
San Marino Unified School District administrators and principals welcomed the new SMUSD staff at a luncheon last week, including (front row, from left) Kailin Duan, Valentine Principal Colleen Shields, Nickie Oh, Shauna Matsuda, Serafina Palazzolo, Crystal Shin and Assistant Superintendent Linda de la Torre. Second row: Bob Judge, Aileen Hsu, Polly Liu, Kyla Nako, Michelle Harris and new SMHS Principal Issaic Gates. Third row: Stacey Bender, Breanna McGuire, Denny Bui and Jazmin Avedo. Back: Zachary Quiggle, Kris Good, Superintendent Alex Cherniss, HMS Principal Jason Kurtenbach, Carver Principal Michael Lin and Steve Brown. See additional photos, page 12.

San Marino Unified School District began this school year with nearly 20 new or promoted faculty members, including a new principal at San Marino High School.
The new hires include a variety of teachers as well as school psychologists and counselors, a speech pathologist, a district-wide school nurse and a new band director at SMHS.
“This year we had hundreds of applicants vie for a limited number of teaching positions,” Superintendent Alex Cherniss said in a statement. “Thus, SMUSD was able to attract the brightest and most talented teachers from all around the country. Bringing in new teachers contributes to the diversity of our faculty and invigorates all of us. I couldn’t be happier with the incoming class of 2017-18.”
New faculty members fill positions in SMHS, Huntington Middle School, Carver Elementary School and Valentine Elementary School, and SMUSD also began its elementary STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programming with this school year.
New teaching staff for SMUSD includes the following:
Jazmin Avedo
Avedo, now a special education teacher at SMHS, has worked in special education for five years and her experience in this district began as an inclusion aide. Before working for SMUSD, she worked for Arcadia Unified School District. She is currently working toward her master’s degree in special education and hopes to receive additional training in autism, specifically.
Stacey Bender
Bender, a school counselor at Valentine Elementary, began her career in 2009 after earning her master’s degree in education and also her pupil personnel services credential from USC. Before joining SMUSD, she developed a comprehensive elementary counseling program in Monrovia Unified School District. She has also served as adjunct faculty at the University of La Verne.
Steven Brown
Brown, a new special education teacher at SMHS, has more than 14 years’ experience primarily teaching students with special needs. Before joining SMUSD, Brown was dean of discipline and special education at Sylmar High School in Los Angeles Unified School District.
Brown holds a master’s (education specialist) and a master of education from UCLA and certifications in English language development and autism.
Denny Bui
Bui is the new band director at SMHS. He has earned a degree in instrumental music education from Cal State Long Beach at the Bob Cole Conservatory. During his undergraduate career, he performed in various groups at his school, such as Symphonic Band, University Trumpet Ensemble and Lab Jazz Band.
Bui previously worked at Alhambra High School as a music coach and doubles as a visual instructor during the marching band season. In addition, he teaches privately in the Los Angeles area.
Kailin Duan
Duan will be teaching biology at SMHS. She recently earned her teaching credential from Cal State L.A. and taught at Temple City High School before accepting this job.
Before teaching, she earned her master’s degree in biology from UC San Diego for her research in cell signaling and pharmacology. Duan decided to switch to a teaching career in the midst of pursuing a doctorate at MIT. She spent most of her life in San Jose before moving to Arcadia.
Issaic Gates
Gates is the new SMHS principal and joins SMUSD after spending the last five years as the assistant principal at Los Alamitos High School in the Los Alamitos Unified School District. He was responsible for athletics, visual and performing arts, attendance, ASB, campus culture and campus facilities as assistant principal there. His teaching career also includes Orlando, Florida, and Pasadena Unified School District.
Gates, a Panama City, Florida, native, earned his bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from University of Central Florida, where he played football. He would later earn a master’s degree in education administration from Cal State L.A. and doctorate in education from USC.
Kristopher Good
Good, a social studies teacher at HMS, recently moved from Portland, Oregon, where he taught middle school social studies for three years. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history and secondary education along with his master’s degree in neuro-education from the University of Portland. Before his work in education, Good served in the U.S. Navy, where he was stationed in Japan and worked as an aircraft electrician on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier.
Michelle Harris
Harris brings 10 years of experience as a school psychologist to her new job at SMHS. She has worked with students from pre-K through 12th grade in both general and special education settings. Harris earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Virginia Military Institute — where she competed on the varsity rifle team — and her master’s degree in school psychology from Cal State L.A.
Aileen Hsu
Hsu, the elementary music teacher for both Carver and Valentine, graduated from USC with a bachelor’s degree in music industry and a master’s degree in music education, along with a California Music Teacher credential. She has more than eight years of experience teaching music classes in both private and public schools, as well as individual and group lessons at private music centers. Before joining SMUSD, Hsu taught weekly music classes to students in kindergarten through 4th grade at Gabriella Charter School. In addition, Hsu also was a music instructor at San Marino Music Center, primarily giving piano lessons to young beginners.
Robert Judge
Judge has 10 years of experience as a registered nurse and has worked for SMUSD for eight years in the health offices at HMS and SMHS. He is now the school nurse for the entire district.
Judge was born in Fullerton, and graduated from the University of Notre Dame and Loyola Law School. After a 15-year law career in L.A., he started a new career as a registered nurse. He attended Los Angeles County College of Nursing and Allied Health, which is the nursing school affiliated with County/USC Medical Center. He is currently a student in the School Nurse Credential program at Cal State Fullerton.
Polly Liu
Carver Elementary’s newest special education teacher, Liu has eight years of special education experience. Before joining SMUSD, she was a resource specialist teacher in Los Angeles, San Gabriel and Montebello unified school districts. She has also been a behavior interventionist and a social skills teacher at a nonprofit behavior agency for kids with exceptional needs. Her master’s degree focused on urban education and social justice.
Shauna Matsuda
Matsuda, a 3rd-grade teacher at Valentine Elementary, has worked and volunteered with children for more than 10 years. She earned her bachelor’s degree in child and adolescent development from Cal State Fullerton and her master’s degree in teaching from USC. She taught on a military base in Okinawa, Japan, before accepting her job with SMUSD.
Breanna McGuire
McGuire is the new school psychologist at Valentine Elementary. She was born and raised near of Chicago and earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Illinois State University and her master’s degrees in education and education specialist from National Louis University.
Kyla Nako
Nako, a new 3rd-grade teacher at Valentine Elementary, studied integrated educational studies with a minor in STEM and leadership studies at Chapman University and eventually earned her teaching credential and master’s degree in teaching. She previously taught for Santa Ana, Tustin, Orange and Irvine unified school districts.
Nickie Oh
Oh will be Carver Elementary’s STEM coordinator after spending the past four years teaching 1st and 5th grade in Temple City Unified School District. Oh took on a major role in the STEAM programs at TCUSD, including running the Technovation Team for the district, co-founding and co-leading the Google CS First Club and becoming STEAM Coordinator for her school site. During this time, she also earned her second master’s degree from UCLA. Oh also became a Google Certified teacher and was a 2016 Women’s History Month Leadership Award recipient for her work with the Google CS First Club.
Serafina Palazzolo
Palazzolo, originally from the Midwest, has made Southern California her home after living a decade in New York City and will be a speech language pathologist at SMHS.
She earned graduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and the University of Michigan.
Zachary Quiggle
A Mentor, Ohio, native, Quiggle is new in town after having moved recently from Chicago and will teach English at SMHS. After teaching AP English language and literature, composition and journalism in Chicago-area schools, he will bring his expertise in writing — which includes a background in reporting and advertising copywriting — to San Marino students and to explore great works of literature with his new 9th- and 10th-grade English students.
Crystal Shin
Shin, a Downey native, joins Valentine Elementary as a STEM teacher. Before joining SMUSD, Shin was a Local Control Funding Formula aide for three years and then a general education teacher in the Brea Olinda Unified School District, teaching grades 3-6. Shin earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and social behavior, with a minor in education, from UC Irvine. She then earned her multiple subject teaching credential and master’s degree in educational emphasis from the University of La Verne.

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