Welcome New Employees!

Welcome back to Poly! Please enjoy updates on our faculty and staff, as well as introductions to our new employees. Welcome, new Panthers!

Moving Around

Joey Bacon will move from teaching first grade to fourth grade come the fall. Joey came to Poly in 2017 as a long-term substitute teacher in kindergarten and first grade before transitioning to become a Lower School Teaching Fellow. Last year, Joey was a first-grade lead teacher and has proven to be a dedicated teacher for our youngest learners. Before joining Poly, Joey worked in both public and private schools in Minnesota and Southern California. We are very excited that Joey will continue his educational journey at Poly in our Lower School.

Jill Bush returns to Poly as our Program Manager, International Schools wherein Jill will work closely with senior administration to determine the feasibility of forming an affiliation with an international school in South Korea. Jill has extensive experience as an educator and school administrator, and is also a Stanford law graduate. Jill will also teach a section of Upper School Science. We are excited to welcome Jill back to Poly!

Steven (Stevie) Clark ’05 will move from First Grade Assistant Teacher to Fourth Grade Teacher in the fall while Anushka Rai is on maternity leave. Since 2011, Stevie has taken on multiple roles such as coaching football and soccer, serving as a PolySummer administrator, and Program Coordinator for Middle School Tutors (a community-engagement program where Poly middle school students tutor at Pasadena Unified School District’s James Madison Elementary School.) We are pleased that Stevie will continue to be part of Poly’s Lower School faculty.

Katrina Damasco-Dicipulo ’02 continues to be part of our Athletics department as Poly’s new Associate Athletic Director - Operations. As a Poly alumna, Katrina started her professional career at Poly in 2015 as the Athletic Coordinator and coached Poly’s Varsity Girls Volleyball team. Katrina is a self-proclaimed Poly “lifer” who was a star athlete and was recruited by Emory University to play volleyball. Katrina is passionate about athletics but is equally passionate about all things Poly. We are very happy that she will continue her athletic career at Poly.

Heidi Strauss will be Poly’s new Chair for the Physical Education department come the start of school. Heidi came to Poly in 2007 as a physical education teacher and was quickly named the Assistant Coach to the Girls Varsity Soccer program. In 2020, Heidi became Pat Gray’s successor and was named Head Coach. Heidi once said she loves coaching kids and loves the way the students “challenge her, frustrate her, make her laugh, and make her proud.”  We are both happy for and proud of Heidi and wish her well in her new role.

Audrey Wu ’16 is Poly’s new Accounts Payable Associate, Administrative Assistant, and Receptionist. Audrey came to Poly in 2021 as our Administrative Assistant, Receptionist and in two short years, has proven herself to be indispensable. Audrey has not only taken on the AP responsibilities but also assists the PolySummer and PEP program by taking the bus attendance each morning and supporting faculty in the afternoon with carpool. Audrey has been exceptionally helpful with our Mandarin-speaking Admission applicants, ensuring that Poly remains a welcoming school to the community at large. We wish Audrey the very best in her new role and are happy she will continue her remarkable journey at Poly.

Moving In

Gayaneh Pezeshkian Avanes joins our Advancement team as Poly’s new Director of Annual Giving. Gayaneh comes to us from Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy (FHSA) in La Cañada where she served as their Director of the Flintridge Fund. In this role, Gayaneh analyzed and strategized for a successful Annual Fund campaign while also developing a stratagem for the alumnae relations program and volunteer coordination. While at FHSA, Gayaneh held many titles/responsibilities that included Director of Flintridge Fund/Alumnae Relations, Interim Chief of Development Officer, and Associate Director of Development. Gayaneh has broad and varied experience in Advancement, encompassing major gifts, annual giving, planned giving, and advancement services. Gayaneh earned her B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles. Please extend a warm welcome to Gayaneh when you see her on campus.

Karen Barton joins our Upper School team as Poly’s new Library Media Specialist. Karen comes to us from Duke University Medical Center Library & Archives in Durham, NC. In this role, Karen provided research consultations, reference services, and other support to biomedical researchers, clinicians, faculty, and students. Additionally, Karen provided instruction in advanced and systematic literature searching and served as a coordinator to manage requests for bibliometric and research impact analyses. Karen provided on-call reference services and created handouts, LibGuides, and other digital materials to educate users on various topics, and participated in library and campus committees to develop goals and special projects. Karen earned her M.S. in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL, and received her B.A. from the University of Houston, TX. Join us to give Karen a warm welcome to Poly!

Scott Bello has been appointed Poly’s new Director of Athletics and The Otis Booth Foundation Athletic Chair. Scott comes to us from Harvard-Westlake School, where he has held various roles including Varsity Defensive Line/JV Defensive Football Coordinator, Assistant Head Football Coach, Middle School Football Coordinator, and Athletic Director. Scott served as athletic compliance administrator for both the Upper and Middle schools and was the representative to the CIF, Mission/Sunshine League/DelRey, and Delphic League. Scott managed all middle school athletic facilities and directly oversaw cross country, softball, track and field, and wrestling programs. Scott was a member of the CIFSS Public/Private Committee and was responsible for educating coaches about all school policies and procedures. Scott earned his Masters of Coaching and Athletic Administration from Concordia University, Irvine, CA, and his B.A. from The Pennsylvania State University, State College. Please give a warm welcome to Scott when you see him on campus.

Julia Bosley joins our Lower School faculty as Poly’s new Lower School Fellow (first grade). Julia comes to us from Warner Avenue Elementary School in Los Angeles, where she taught second grade. In this role, Julia engaged in long-range collaborative planning with daily objective-based instruction and presentation while also developing instructional materials and activities. Julia utilized reading fluency assessment data to guide personalized instruction for at-risk students to bring them to grade-level standards. Prior to joining Warner Avenue Elementary, Julia was a student teacher (second grade) for Haynes Charter for Enriched Studies in West Hills, CA. Julia earned her M.A. from Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA, and her B.A. from Chapman University, Orange, CA. We are pleased to welcome Julia to Poly!

David Cardona joins our community as Poly’s new security guard. David was previously employed by McDonald’s, where he specialized in customer service to ensure a positive guest experience. David took pride in working with a team and completing all task assignments in a timely manner. David maintained high customer service standards during high-volume work shifts and fast-paced operations. Before joining McDonald’s, David worked for Berts Mega Mall as a Delivery Agent, answering customer questions regarding products and resolving issues with order accuracy and quality. David also inspected and monitored delivery vehicles and performed basic maintenance. Please say hello to David when you see him on campus.

Ronald Cardona joins our security team as Poly’s new security guard. Ronald has worked at Poly for over 10 years as a member of Payne’s Janitorial Services and knows our campus and the community very well. Prior to joining Payne’s, Ronald worked at Medina’s Paint Company where he has experience painting houses and conducting various repairs before the painting process began. Ronald also worked as a Sales Floor Associate for the Community Thrift Store and a Restoration Technician for Service Master. Ronald earned his Bachelor’s degree from Rafael Aqueche, Guatemala City, Guatemala. Please join us to give Ronald a warm Poly welcome!

Din Chenh joins our Business Office as Poly’s new Payroll Administrator and Accounting personnel. Din comes to us from Din Tai Fung Restaurant Group in Arcadia, CA where she served as their Payroll Manager. In this role, Din implemented, maintained, and reviewed payroll processing for a company of more than 3,000 employees in California and the Pacific Northwest region. Din also managed, supervised, and evaluated payroll team members. Furthermore, she reviewed federal, state, and international tax returns and facilitated audits by providing records and documentation to auditors. Din earned her B.S. from California State University, Los Angeles, and her Fundamental Payroll Certification from the American Payroll Association. Please give a warm welcome to Din when you see her on campus.

Elsie Dang joins our Upper School English faculty from Alliance Tennenbaum Family Technology High School in Los Angeles, CA, where she served as the Humanities Instructional Lead and Department Chair. In this role, Elsie developed teachers’ instructional practices in planning and executing engaging, inclusive, data-driven lessons and was a member of the Instructional Leadership Team. Elsie is also adept with educational technology, helping her colleagues implement new planning, grading, and instructional programs in their classrooms. Elsie earned her M.A. from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and her B.A. from the University of California, Riverside. We are happy to welcome Elsie to the Poly community.

Manuel Davila joins our Upper School faculty as Poly’s new Mathematics teacher. Manuel comes to us from South Hills Academy in West Covina, CA. While at South Hills, Manuel was the Head of the Mathematics Department and served as both the Middle School and High School instructor. In this role, Manuel coordinated K-12 math curriculum and math club activities. Prior to joining South Hills Academy, Manuel worked at California State University, Los Angeles as a Teaching Assistant where he led Calculus workshop discussions as well as assisted students with homework assignments. Manuel earned his M.S. in Mathematics from the University of Missouri, Mizzou and an additional M.S. in Mathematics from California State University, Los Angeles. We are happy to welcome Manuel to the Poly community.

Melanie Davis joins the Lower School as Poly’s new Third-Grade Teacher. Prior to Poly, Melanie held various positions at The Gooden School including teaching fourth grade and created lesson plans that integrated technology and reflected differentiated instruction. Melanie also served as the Director of Curriculum from 2018-2022, where she researched and evaluated best practices in curricula and assisted the head of school in reviewing academic programming, ensuring alignment with the school’s mission. Melanie also held the position of Lower School Director where she evaluated and refined the lower school curriculum and performed classroom evaluations to assess teacher strategies and effectiveness. Melanie earned her B.S. in Elementary Education from Westfield State University, Westfield, MA, and her B.S. in Social Science, also from Westfield State University. Please say hello to Melanie when you see her on campus.

Therese Davitt will be a long-term substitute in kindergarten while Hallie Rogers is on maternity leave. Therese has been part of the Los Angeles Unified School District since 1980 and has served in multiple elementary and high school positions. Therese has provided instructional support for general and special education teachers to further student goals. Therese also served as a Mainstreaming/Full Inclusion Program Director, providing in-service instruction for teachers/staff and using a multimodal approach with students to maximize pupil progress. She has also had extensive experience as a classroom teacher. Therese earned her MS from the University of California, Los Angeles, and her B.A. from the University of Santa Clara, CA. Please offer a warm welcome to Therese when you see her on campus!

Sarah Dillon joins the Advancement team as Poly’s new Associate, Alumni and Community Relations. Sarah had been working as a Small Business Strategist & Merchandising Consultant, specializing in search engine analytics, client data analysis, trend forecasting, market research, copywriting, graphic and merchandise design, and project planning/management. Sarah also held the position of Manager of Special Projects for Schreck Rose Dapello Adams Berlin and Dunham, LLP in Beverly Hills, CA. Sarah earned her B.A. in Art History and Communication from the University of Southern California. Please give Sarah a warm welcome when you see her on campus.

Lena Etoka joined our Admissions team as Poly’s new Admission Systems and Office Manager.  Lena comes to us from Child Care Alliance of Los Angeles, where she served as a Data Entry Specialist. In this role, Lena conducted research and managed their workforce registry database while ensuring data accuracy. Additionally, Lena provided customer service and technical assistance to a diverse client population. Lena earned her B.A. in Psychology and Sociology from Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA where she was a student-athlete competing in Track and Field. She was also introduced to the world of admissions by helping out in Occidental’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Please join us in extending a warm welcome to Lena!

Meghan Gilbride joins Poly’s Advancement team as the new Donor Relations Officer. Meghan comes to us from the Getty Research Institute (GRI) where she served as their Projects and Initiatives Consultant. In this role, Meghan produced and edited online content for the GRI in adherence to the Getty’s editorial voice, tone, and style guidelines and conducted background research and interviews with the GRI’s Projects & Initiatives stakeholders. While consulting with the GRI, Meghan was a Course Writer for Alpe Audio in Los Angeles where she pitched and produced educational audio courses and wrote/edited content for Alpe’s Book Club series. Meghan earned her Doctor of Philosophy in the History of Art from the University College London, United Kingdom, and her M.A. from the University College London, United Kingdom. Please say hello to Meghan when you see her on campus.

Victoria Gresbach joins our Upper School faculty as Poly’s new Upper School Science Teacher. Victoria comes to us from the University of California, Los Angeles, where she served as both a Graduate Student Researcher and a Teaching Assistant for Stem Cell Biology, Politics and Ethics. Victoria provided individual and group-based instruction for 120 students through weekly discussion sections, office hours, curricular development, and faculty support. She also worked in the Center for Accessible Education to serve students with diverse experiences and needs. Victoria earned her B.A. from Stanford University, CA, and is currently earning her Master of Public Health, Community Health Services from the University of California, Los Angeles, and expects to complete her degree in 2023. Please say hello to Victoria when you see her on campus.

Claudia Jimenez joined our College Counseling team as Poly’s Registrar and AP Coordinator. Prior to Poly, Claudia worked at Maranatha High School in Pasadena as the school’s registrar. In this role, Claudia created, managed, and updated current and historical student records, set up and administered grading systems, and issued school-wide report cards and official & unofficial transcripts. Additionally, Claudia managed and oversaw the master course schedule and assisted the College Counseling Dean with clerical and calendar tasks. Claudia is proficient with various computer software programs, including Blackbaud, Naviance, and Google Suite. Claudia is a graduate of Watterson College, CA. Please say hello to Claudia when you see her on campus.

Harvey Johnson joins our Upper School faculty as Poly’s new Upper School Dean of Faculty.  Harvey comes to us from St. Andrew’s School in Middletown, DE where he served as Dean of Math & Science. In this role, Harvey collaborated with the Dean of Teaching and Learning and designed, implemented, and analyzed course effectiveness measurements across all academic departments. Harvey served on the Academic Committee and managed the recruitment, selection, and orientation of Math & Science faculty to hire candidates that reflect the demographics of a diverse student body. Harvey also served as the Math Department Chair (2018-present) and the Science Department Chair (2017-18). Harvey earned his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. Please give Harvey a warm welcome when you see him on campus.

Jacklyn Lewis joins our Lower School faculty as Poly’s First Grade Teacher. Jacklyn comes to us from the Dallas F. Nicholas Sr. Elementary School in Baltimore, MD where she served as an ELA instructor for second and third graders. In this role, Jacklyn promoted excellent student engagement and implemented culturally relevant instruction aligned with common core standards. Jacklyn implemented student-centered classroom management techniques to foster academic curiosity and assisted students in recognizing and conveying their emotions in a way that was appropriate and clear. Jacklyn describes herself as “a creative, upbeat, and purpose-driven teacher.” Jacklyn earned her B.A. from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro, NC. Please give a warm welcome to Jacklyn when you see her on campus.

Andrew Manansala joins our Admission team as Poly’s new Associate Director of Admission and Outreach. Andrew comes to us from Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco, where he has been serving as the Associate Director of Admissions - Outreach and Engagement. In this role, Andrew managed the campus visit program for over 1,000 prospective students each year, helped coordinate New Family Welcome events, and assisted with the creation of the Resource Guide for New Families. Andrew also managed and executed outreach programs including presentations at school fairs and educational access organization events. Beyond Admissions, Andrew has coached youth basketball for many years at the AAU and high school level. Andrew earned his M.S. in Sports Administration from the University of San Francisco, CA, and his B.S. from DePaul University, Chicago, IL. Please say hello to Andrew when you see him on campus.

Ritz Manlugon-Tigüila. joins our Athletics department as Poly’s new Trainer. Ritz comes to us from West Los Angeles College where she served as a Student Athletic Trainer. In this role, Ritz worked closely with coaches to best support student-athletes by providing medical coverage during sporting events under the supervision of the Head Athletic Trainer. Ritz also created rehabilitation plans and progression for injured athletes and performed orthopedic and general pre-participation exams. Prior to joining West LA College, Ritz worked at the Mountain Dew Tour Pre-Winter Olympics and Paralympics Event - Snowboard and Ski as a Student Athletic Trainer and provided first responder care for athletes and assisted doctors in reducing dislocations and orthopedic evaluations. Ritz earned her B.S. from California State University, Northridge. Please be sure to say hello to Ritz when you see her on campus.

Gerardo Martinez joins our Lower School faculty team as a long-term substitute teacher for second grade while Floriane Siegel is on maternity leave. Gerardo comes to us from KIPP Promesa Prep in Los Angeles where he had been teaching Kindergarten. In this role, Gerardo educated their youngest students in multiple subjects, created lesson plans according to school core standards, and was accountable for evaluating students biweekly. Gerardo collaborated with Kindergarten teachers and created small differentiated groups. Gerardo also temporarily taught second grade at New Horizon School in Pasadena. Gerardo is a dedicated teacher with experience working with K-12 students and is fluent in English and Spanish. Gerardo earned his B.A. from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, Pomona, CA. Please say hello to Gerardo when you see him on campus.

Jason Mitchell joins the Athletic department as Poly’s new Associate Athletic Director - Communications. Jason comes to us from Saint Joseph High School in Lakewood, CA where he served as their Assistant Athletic Director. In this role, Joseph managing the day-to-day operations of the athletic programs for the high school pursuant to Los Angeles Roman Archdiocese and CIF regulations. He was responsible for game day operations and assisted in ensuring proper maintenance of athletic fields, equipment, and facilities. Additionally, Jason assisted in developing and monitoring budgets for athletic programs and managed social media pages for numerous athletic teams. Jason earned his M.S. from Southern New Hampshire University, Hooksett, and his B.A. from the University of San Francisco, CA. When you see Jason on the field, please reach out and say hello.

Nicholas Montecino joins Poly’s Lower School faculty as a Lower School Fellow (Kindergarten). Nicholas comes to us from Scoot Education where he has held positions as a substitute teacher, teacher assistant, and special needs assistant. Nicholas has also incorporated technology into learning instruction and provided academic support to neurodivergent students. Nicholas also served as an after-school program tutor for the Pomona Unified School District and assisted students in homework and planning a curriculum of activities. Nicholas earned his B.S. from the University of La Verne, CA. Please give Nicholas a warm welcome when you see him on campus.

Nora Murphy joins our Upper School faculty as Poly’s new Upper School Librarian. Nora comes to us from Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy in La Canada where she served as the Director of Library and Research Programs. In this role, Nora designed and directed a four-year embedded research curriculum, the FSHA Research Program, which culminated in a year-long capstone project at the junior level focusing on social justice. Nora collaborated and trained more than 40 faculty/staff members to implement the research curriculum and acted as the primary curriculum writer for the Junior and Senior Research Projects. Nora earned her M.Ed. from California State University at Long Beach and her B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Please give a warm welcome to Nora when you see her on campus.

Nallely Oregel joins our Middle School faculty as Poly’s new Spanish teacher. Nallely is a native Spanish speaker and comes to us from Wildwood School in Los Angeles. In her role at Wildwood, Nallely taught Upper School Spanish and Middle School Spanish where she integrated technology into lessons, activities, and projects. Nallely taught IB Spanish at Universal American School of Dubai, and before that, at The American School of Guadalajara for 15 years. Nallely is fully bilingual and bicultural, having lived in Mexico and the U.S. Nallely earned her B.A. from the University of Barcelona, Spain, and her B.A. in International Education from Framingham State College, MA. We are pleased to welcome Nallely to the Poly community.

Cameron Pinckney joined our Advancement team as Poly’s new Director of Individual Giving. Cameron comes to us from Harvard-Westlake School, where he served as the Director of Major and Planned Giving. In this role, Cameron led and developed a comprehensive plan to cultivate and solicit prospects and donors with the ability to make $100,000+ gifts to the school. Cameron conducted portfolio evaluations and prioritization for all frontline fundraisers and guided major and capital gift strategies to fundraise for a third campus dedicated to athletics and community. Additionally, Cameron managed a personal portfolio of 100 alumni, parents, and grandparents and helped develop a campaign pyramid to ensure a pipeline of gift prospects in support of all campaign priorities. Cameron earned his MBA from the University of Redlands, CA, and his B.A. from Claremont McKenna College, CA. Please give Cameron a warm welcome when you see him on campus.

Wenchi Yang Selzer joins the US faculty as our new Mandarin teacher for one year. Wenchi is very familiar with Los Angeles-area independent schools. She was a Mandarin instructor at the Windward School where she taught in the Upper School and hosted the Chinese Club. Wenchi was also an instructor at the Archer School for Girls teaching four levels of Mandarin in grades 6-12. Most recently, Wenchi taught at the Westside Chinese School in Los Angeles. Wenchi also has a significant history of volunteering and was a parent volunteer for Dragon Sprouts where she planned the Lunar New Year celebration and Chinese calligraphy workshops for students. She also served as a parent volunteer for Tip Top Tutors and coordinated a community service project for Venice High School Mandarin Immersion students. Wenchi earned her B.A. from San Francisco State University, CA. Please say hello to Wenchi when you see her on campus.

Maya Seneus joins our Upper School faculty as Poly’s new Upper School Learning Resource Specialist. Maya comes to us from Manhattan Hunter Science High School in New York where she served as their Special Education History Integrated Co-teaching (ICT) Teacher. In this role, Maya collaborated with co-teachers across grade levels and content areas to develop and scaffold curriculum, unit and lesson plans, classwork and homework assignments, assessments, and more. Maya developed Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) using teacher insight, personal knowledge of the student, and assessment data to support the student’s learning and growth. Maya earned her Masters in Secondary Inclusive Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, NY, and her B.S. from the University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL. Please extend a warm welcome to Maya when you see her on campus.

Hernan Serruya joins our Lower School faculty as Poly’s new Spanish teacher. Hernan comes to us from Berkeley Hall School in Los Angeles, where he served as a Spanish instructor for students in Nursery to grade six. Hernan also works concurrently with the John Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth in a virtual role where he engages with students using distance education technologies and provides timely feedback on their coursework and academic progress. Hernan earned his Masters of Education from Universidad Internacional de La Rioja, Spain, and his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Please give Hernan a warm welcome when you see him on campus.