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Sonoma Valley Unified welcomes 31 new teachers and counselors

In a big year of hiring, Sonoma Valley Unified School District welcomed 31 new teachers and counselors at the start of the 2020-2021 school year, including seven new school psychologist/counselors.

Other hires included nine new general elementary school teachers, four new middle school teachers and five new teachers at Sonoma Valley High School.

“We are always excited to welcome new and talented individuals to our Sonoma Valley team,” said SVUSD Superintendent Socorro Shiels. “We appreciate these professionals joining SVUSD during such a trying time in our nation and in our line of work. We will continue to support them and all employees as they continue to meet the needs of students and families.”

Meet the new staffers who will be working with your students this year.

Elementary level

Courtney Johnson is a new transitional/kindergarten teacher at Sassarini Elementary. Johnson has a B.S. and a teaching credential from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Johnson previously taught at Yulupa Elementary School in Santa Rosa, where she lives.

Carey Anderson is a new kindergarten teacher at Sassarini Elementary School. Anderson has a B.A. from Humboldt State University and a teaching credential from University of San Francisco. Previously, Anderson taught preschool and worked in a daycare center. She lives in Healdsburg.

Emily Freed is a new special education teacher at Sassarini Elementary School. She has a B.S. and two teaching credentials from Chico State. This is her first year teaching. She lives in San Rafael.

Jessica Claeys is a new third grade teacher at Sassarini Elementary School. Claeys has a B.A. from Cal State Fullerton and a teaching credential from Sonoma State. Previously, she was a teacher’s assistant at Sonoma Charter School and she did her student teaching in SVUSD. She lives in Petaluma.

Juliana Flynn is a new fifth grade teacher at Dunbar Elementary. Flynn has a B.A. and received her teaching credentials from Sonoma State. Previously, she taught fifth grade at Natoma Station Elementary School in Folsom and she taught preschool for three years at Sonoma State Children’s School. She lives in Rohnert Park.

Christina Dieckmann is a new kindergarten teacher at Sassarini Elementary. Dieckmann recevied a B.A. and her teaching credentials from Sonoma State. Previously, she taught at Highland Elementary School in Vallejo. She grew up in Sonoma and attended Sassarini as a child. She lives in Sonoma.

Lauren Stashak is a new intervention teacher at Prestwood Elementary School. Stashak has a B.A. from U.C. Santa Cruz, a M.A. from San Jose State and she received her teaching credentials from CSU Monterey Bay. Previously, she was an intervention specialist in Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz city school. She lives in Santa Rosa.

Rachel Engelskiger is a new third grade teacher at Flowery Elementary School. She has a B.A. from U.C. Santa Barbara and received her teaching credential from U.C. Davis. Previously, she was a student teacher at Ethel Philips Elementary School in Sacramento. She lives in Napa.

Rachel Diaz is a new school psychologist for Dunbar Elementary. She has a B.A. from U.C. Santa Cruz and received both a master’s degree and her counseling credential from Cal State East Bay. Previously, she was a school psychologist for the Vallejo City Unified School District. She lives in Napa.

Other new staff include:

Martine Parsons is a new special education teacher at Dunbar Elementary. Jasmin Ramirez is a new school psychologist at El Verano. Alison Byers and Anahi Partida are new teachers at Flowery Elementary. Naomi Hynan is a new school psychologist at Prestwood and Elena Groen is a new school psychologist at Sassarini.

Middle schools

Angela Laurence has joined Altimira Middle School as a special education teacher. She has a B.A. from Dominican and has worked as a substitute teacher for the district for the past several years. She is currently enrolled as an education specialist intern with the North Coast School of Education. Laurence is known to many local students from her time as a gymnastic instructor at Redwood Empire Gymnastics in Petaluma. She lives in Sonoma.

Elda Guerra is a new special education teacher at Altimira. Guerra has a B.A. from Chapman University and a special education credential from SFUSD. Previously, Guerra was a resource specialist with San Francisco International High School. She lives in Vallejo.

Caitlin Densberger is a new English teacher at Altimira. Denberger has a B.A. from Sonoma State and she received her teaching credential at SSU as well. Last year, she taught at Technology Middle School in Rohnert Park and previously she was a student teacher at Altimira. She lives in Sonoma.

Other new staff: Dave Contreras is a new special education teacher at Adele Harrison Middle School. Brianna Barajas is a new science teacher at Adele Harrison. Luis Ayala is a new math teacher at Altimira and Tracy Giles is a new English teacher at Altimira.

Sonoma Valley High

Clay Jackson is a new geometry teacher and the new football coach at Sonoma Valley High. Jackson has a B.S. from Ashford University and a master’s degree and teaching credential from National University. Previously, he taught at Camille Creek Court Community School in Napa and he has served as a PE teacher, athletic director and football coach. He lives in Sonoma.

Alexis Tamony is a new algebra teacher at Sonoma Valley High. Tamony had a B.S. from U.C. Berkeley and a math credential from St. Mary’s College (as well as a master’s in kinesiology from St. Mary’s). Previously, Tamony was an investment banker with Goldman Sachs and she taught 8th grade math at Willowside Middle School in Santa Rosa. In 2015, Tamony was Educator of the Year for the City of Martinez. She lives in Sonoma.

Brianna Gallardo has joined SVHS as a school psychologist for ninth and 10th graders. Gallardo has a B.S. from U.C. Davis and a master’s degree in education school psychology from Alliant International University. She also interned at the U.C. David MIND Institute. Last year she interned as a school psychologist at Acalanes High School in Lafayette. She lives in Petaluma.

Celeste Cook is a new special education teacher at SVHS. She has a B.A. from University of San Francisco and is currently enrolled in the education specialist credential program at Sonoma State. She lives in Sonoma.

Jeffrey Root is a new 11th grade English teacher and ninth grade Living Skills teacher at SVHS. Root has a B.A. from Utah Valley University and an English teaching credential from Cal State Northridge. He left a banking career at Goldman Sachs to pursue a career in teaching. He lives in Petaluma.

Jessica Hamilton is a new agriculture teacher at SVHS. Hamilton has a B.A. from Cal State Stanislaus and her teaching credentials are from Cal State Fresno. Previously, Hamilton taught agricultural biology and agricultural mechanics at Galt High School. She lives in Sonoma.

Laryssa Baker is a new Spanish and AVID teacher at SVHS. Baker has a B.A. from Sonoma State and she received her teacher credential from SSU as well. Previously, she was a student teacher at Napa High. She lives in Sonoma.

Stacey Brown is a new counselor for SVHS. Brown has a B.S. from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and a master’s degree in counseling and a counseling credential from Sonoma State. Previously, she has interned at Adele Harrison and Petaluma High. She lives in Petaluma.

Heidi Davila has joined the school district as a wellness/family resource coordinator. She has a PhD. in Educational Leadership from University of Southern California, a master’s degree in counseling from Loyola Marymount and a B.A. from UCLA, as well as a counseling credential. Previously, Davila was a high school counselor and a community college counselor. She lives in Fairfield.

Welcome to Sonoma Valley!

Contact Lorna at lorna.sheridan@sonomanews.com.

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