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Meet Sonoma’s new classroom teachers

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Sonoma Valley Unified School District welcomed 19 new teachers this week, almost twice as many as last year (10). The new staff includes 11 elementary school teachers, four high school teachers and three middle school teachers.

Elementary level

Regina Mellinger is a new third grade teacher at Prestwood Elementary. Mellinger was born and raised in Sonoma and both her parents are teachers. Her mother, Mary, also teaches at Prestwood. She graduated from SVHS in 2013 and has a B.A. and a teaching credential from St. Mary’s College. Previously, Mellinger was on campus at Prestwood as a Walk to Learn program teacher and at Adele Harrison Middle School as a writing center instructor. She lives in Sonoma.

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Shannon Buller is a new kindergarten teacher at El Verano Elementary School. She graduated from Sonoma State University with both a bachelor’s degree and a teaching credential. She lives in Napa.

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Lara Shumer is a new fifth grade teacher at Flowery Elementary School. Previously, she taught a second grade bilingual class at Pueblo Vista in Napa and spent 10 years prior to that teaching in San Diego. Shumer has a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree in education curriculum and a teaching credential from U.C. San Diego. She lives in Napa.

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Savannah Whitely is a new fifth grade teacher at El Verano Elementary School. Previously, Whitley was a kindergarten aide in San Rafael and a SVUSD substitute teacher. She has a B.S. from Roger Williams University and a teaching credential from Sonoma State. She lives in Napa.

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Thien Ly Maria Phan is a new fourth grade teacher at Sassarini Elementary. She was previously a third grade teacher at Witter Ranch Elementary in Sacramento. Phan is a graduate from San Francisco State University and has both a teaching credential and master’s degree in education from U.C Davis. She lives in Glen Ellen with her husband, Kieran Toovey, a 2006 SVHS graduate.

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Tiffany McSweeney is a new second grade teacher at Prestwood Elementary. Previously, she taught summer school in Petaluma and was a student teacher in Novato. She also worked in a Montessori preschool class for eight years. McSweeny has a bachelor’s degree and a teaching credential from Dominican University. She lives in Petaluma.

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Renee Vences-Marson is a new kindergarten teacher at Flowery Elementary School. Previously, she taught kindergarten and third grade at the dual-immersion Loma Vista Academy. She has a bachelor’s degree from San Francisco State University and a teaching credential from Sonoma State. She lives in Sebastopol.

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Sharai Moreno-Hernandez is a new fifth grade teacher at Prestwood Elementary School. Previously, she was a long-term substitute teacher at an elementary school in Chico. She was also a preschool summer school aide. She has a bachelor’s degree and a teaching credential from Chico State. She lives in Santa Rosa.

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Janeen Lima is a new interventions/English literacy development teacher at Dunbar Elementary School. Previously, she was a student teacher in Rohnert Park. She has a bachelor’s degree and a teaching credential from Sonoma State. She lives in Santa Rosa.

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Aja Nicole Roberts is a new fourth grade teacher at Prestwood Elementary. Previously, she was a third grade teacher in El Segundo. She has a bachelor’s degree from U.C.L.A. and a master’s degree in education curriculum and instruction from Concordia University and a teaching credential from Cal State Long Beach. This is her 17th year of teaching. She lives in Santa Rosa.

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Chandra Colley is a new special education teacher at Prestwood Elementary School. Previously, she taught for a year at Anova and for two years at a charter school in Santa Rosa. She has a bachelor’s degree from Humboldt State and a special education credential from North Coast School of Education. She lives in Santa Rosa.

Middle school

Michael Solis is a new seventh and eighth grade special education math teacher at Altimira Middle School. This is his first year teaching. He has a bachelor’s degree from San Francisco State University and a teaching credential from Alliant International University, he is currently working toward a master’s degree from Alliant as well. He lives in Petaluma.

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Jamie Laster is a new eighth grade special education teacher at Adele Harrison Middle School. Previously, Laster was a librarian at Sonoma Valley High for almost a decade. She has a bachelor’s degree from Chico State and is currently working on a special education teaching credential from North Coast School of Education. Her children attended Sonoma Valley schools and she lives in the Springs.

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Rob Barde is a new physical education teacher at Adele Harrison Middle School. Previously he taught high school PE in Larkspur and middle school PE in Fairfax. He was previously a boys varsity basketball coach in Novato. He has a degree in kinesiology and a teaching credential from Chico State and he is working toward a master’s degree in kinesiology from Sonoma State. He lives in San Anselmo.

High school

Shayna Weiner is a new biology teacher at Sonoma Valley High School. Previously she taught high school biology and chemistry in Rancho Cordova. She graduated with a B.S. in biology and a science teaching credential from U.C. Davis. She lives in Rohnert Park.

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Madeline Panacci is a new English teacher at Sonoma Valley High School. Previously, she taught English in Elk Grove and she has worked at several Sonoma Valley schools as a teacher’s aide. She has a bachelor’s degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and a teaching credential and a master’s in education (expected 2020) from U.C. Davis. She lives in Petaluma.

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Adolfo Saldana (no photo) is a new teacher at Sonoma Valley High School. He grew up in Sonoma and graduated from SVHS in 1998. He has a bachelor’s degree from Chico State and a master’s degree from the University of Reno. Most recently he taught Spanish at the University of Reno. He lives in Sonoma.

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Abigail Jennings is a new English teacher at Sonoma Valley High School. Jennings grew up in Sonoma and was a former intern at the Sonoma Index-Tribune. Previously, she was a full-time student teacher at SVHS and a part-time student teacher at Adele Harrison Middle School. She has a bachelor’s degree from U.C. Santa Cruz and a teaching credential from Sonoma State. She lives in Sonoma.

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Jacqueline D’Adamo (no photo) is a new special education teacher at Altimira Middle School. Most recently, she was a high school resource specialist in Calistoga. She has a bachelor’s degree from U.C. Davis. She lives in Napa.

Email Lorna at lorna.sheridan@sonomanews.com.

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