About Weed...
Position: Principal
Room: Front Office
Phone: (480) 812-6108
Email: Weed

Connect With Us

Welcome!

Welcome to Knox Gifted Academy. I am honored and privileged to be the principal of KGA!

My Education and Professional Background

I have had the incredible opportunity to work in education for over twenty years and have served at both the school and district office levels. I have been a principal in the Chandler Unified School District since 2009.

My Educational Philosophy

I believe in leading an environment where children learn and grow to their fullest potential academically, emotionally, and socially. I see my role as an advocate for students and faculty to support the demanding challenges for the future. At KGA, we will strive to provide a unique opportunity within the Chandler Unified School District for gifted students to experience a school-wide culture of community and collaboration. The teachers and faculty are specifically trained to provide problem-based learning with an interdisciplinary approach to best support our learners. A strong focus on 21st Century Skills, technology, and engineering are embedded in all aspects of the accelerated curriculum.
 

 | Email Lynn Weed
About Nusbaum...
Position: Dean of Students
Room: Front Office
Phone: 480-812-6112
Email: Nusbaum

Connect With Us

Welcome!

I have been a teacher since 1998 and part of the Chandler Unified School District family since 2007. As a parent and a professional educator, I feel truly fortunate to be a part of such an innovative, supportive and inclusive district that provides unmatched opportunities for the academic needs of all learners and their families. When not teaching I can be found reading, writing, learning, and exploring life's wonders with my husband and four boys, all of whom have flourished in CUSD schools.

My Education and Professional Background

A proud product of Arizona public schools, I hold a B.A. in Education with a minor in music from the UArizona, M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction and M.A. in Educational Leadership from NAU, and PhD coursework in Language, Reading & Culture through UArizona. A firm believer in lifelong learning, I constantly seek ways to grow and connect professionally, intellectually, and personally.

My Educational Philosophy

I appreciate the intensity of my chosen career path and never dread a Monday. I am a professional educator by choice and with purpose. I believe children come to us energetic, expressive, curious, concerned, creative, intense, and inspiring. I strive to honor students' diverse ways of knowing and aim to provide opportunities for them to love learning and develop a sense of educational purpose.
 

 | Email Jennifer Nusbaum
About Arnpriester...
Position: Psychologist
Room: Front Office
Phone: (480) 812-6109
Email: Arnpriester

Connect With Us

Welcome!

I am fortunate to work with a team of amazing professionals to support our 2e learners at KGA. I also work with all students, teachers, and families to support the overall social emotional well-being on campus by running weekly mindfulness groups and working with student leadership to make positive impacts on the climate of KGA. When I am on campus, my door is always open. Please stop by!

My Education and Professional Background

I graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in Education before moving to the Midwest for graduate school. At the University of Nebraska, I earned a Master’s degree in Developmental Psychology and later taught psychology courses at Iowa Western Community College. Back in Arizona, I put my elementary degree to work teaching in the Tucson area before returning to school to earn a specialist degree in school psychology with a focus in gifted education from the University of Arizona.

My Educational Philosophy

In addition to gifted intellect, gifted children have a unique set of characteristics that may include overexcitability, asynchronous development, heightened emotional sensitivity, and perfectionism. At KGA, by recognizing and focusing on the whole gifted child, we support not only our students’ academic and intellectual development, but also their social and emotional well-being.
 

 | Email Sue Arnpriester

There are no records to display.

About Harris...
Position: Psychologist
Room: Front Office
Phone: (480) 812-6109
Email: Harris

Connect With Us

Welcome!

Thank you for visiting my page. I am only on campus part-time but am excited to be part of the Knox family.

My Education and Professional Background

I earned an Educational Specialist Degree from The University of Arizona and a Doctor of Education Degree from Argosy University.

My Educational Philosophy

I learned many years ago that students will never care about how much I know if I do not care about them as individuals. I take an enthusiastic approach to learning, endeavoring to engage and challenge students to push passed pre-conceived limitations and realize their full potential.
 

 | Email Dayna Harris
About Humbert-Hughes...
Position: Orchestra
Room: M2
Phone: (480)812-6162
Email: Humbert-Hughes

Connect With Us

Welcome!

I'm very happy to be teaching for the Chandler School District. I grew up in Mesa, AZ and have taught strings since 1997 in various parts of the States and overseas. I'm thankful to be back in the Valley of the Sun and to bring my experience as a teacher and professional musician to my students in Chandler.

My Education and Professional Background

My various teaching positions have led me to various parts of the States and overseas. I have had the privilege to serve as the Director for the Suzuki Academy of Columbia in South Carolina and also as an adjunct instructor in String Pedagogy at the University of South Carolina. I played regularly on violin and viola in various churches and in the South Carolina Philharmonic. Prior to living in South Carolina, I was in England where I taught Suzuki students in Cambridge and at the Royal Air Force Mildenhall and performed with the Cambridge Philharmonic. Other places that I have played and taught include Shreveport, LA, Eugene, OR, and Mesa, AZ. I have a Doctorate of Musical Arts and Master of Music Degree in Viola Performance and String Pedagogy from the University of Oregon, a Master in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix, and a Bachelor of Music Education from Arizona State University.

My Educational Philosophy

I believe that all children can learn to play a musical instrument and should for the development of the brain, the body and the soul. Learning to play an instrument is a skill that can last a lifetime and promotes other skills such as coordination, discipline, goal-setting, self-confidence and self-expression.
 

 | Email Samara Humbert-Hughes
About Barakat...
Position: 3rd Grade
Room: A6
Phone: (480) 812-6136
Email: Barakat

Connect With Us

Welcome!

Hello, Knox Knights! My name is Lynn Barakat, and I am originally from Los Angeles, California. I have a wonderful family, and I love spending time with them. I am married, and we have one beautiful daughter named Jordan.

My Education and Professional Background

MA in Elementary Education, Curriculum & Instruction from Arizona State University BA in Political Science from Arizona State University, Gifted Endorsement

My Educational Philosophy

My reason for teaching is simple. I love spending time with children as they learn, grow, question, and discover the amazing world around them. Learning is a passion. I am committed to ensuring each child feels successful, capable, and celebrated while they are in my class. My job as facilitator is to develop enriching, engaging lessons that stretch the thinking of my young students and provide a safe, welcoming, and enthusiastic environment in which to learn the rigor necessary for academic success.
 

 | Email Lynn Barakat
About Beall...
Position: 3rd Grade
Room: A4
Phone: (480) 812-6134
Email: Beall

Connect With Us

Welcome!

Hello, Knox Families! My name is Jillian (Jill) Beall, my family and I moved here in May 2020 from the Windy City, where I was born and raised! We have 3 darling boys that made the trek here with us that will also be attending CUSD80. We are huge hockey fans and can find us wherever the puck drops, whether at the rink or tuning in to cheer on our favorite NHL teams.

My Education and Professional Background

I earned my BS in Elementary Education in 2003 from Southern Illinois University and received a Social Science and Gifted Endorsement years later. I completed a total of 10 years of teaching for Plainfield School District in Illinois, and one year at Hohokam Elementary in Scottsdale during the 2008-2009 school year. I’m looking forward to joining yet another Arizona school district and learning and building relationships with all of our Knox students!

My Educational Philosophy

I believe in teaching the WHOLE child, learning from them, and digging deep into their passions. Building those relationships promotes trust and a sense of safety. I feel a child is most successful when given the space to allow their best inner self to shine through their work. My goal always is to create an engaging learning environment where students can use their strengths with our integrative approach and work to overcome weaknesses. Our job is to support them on their journey of growth as they navigate the world around them!
 

 | Email Jillian (Jill) Beall
About Braaksma...
Position: Dean of Students
Room: Front Office
Phone: (480) 812-6112
Email: Braaksma

Connect With Us

Welcome!

Welcome to Knox Gifted Academy! I am honored to serve our families and staff as the Dean of Students!

My Education and Professional Background

As an educational leader, I have grown tremendously since I began in 2001. My love for educating students continues to flourish and my passion for student success and development drives my every decision. Joining Knox Gifted Academy in 2013 has been a unique opportunity that has continued to inspire me over the years. My unique experiences as a teacher, master teacher, cognitive coach, curriculum developer, technology specialist, and team leader have prepared me well to be a valuable asset at Knox Gifted Academy.

My Educational Philosophy

I am a tenacious leader and professional educator by choice because our students are amazing and deserve nothing less than my best. I believe in cultivating authentic and meaningful relationships with all stakeholders and earnestly seek to provide an equitable environment where all students' needs are met academically, socially, and emotionally.
 

 | Email Kristy Braaksma
About Canfield...
Position: 5th Grade
Room: B1
Phone: (480) 812-6137
Email: Canfield

Connect With Us

Welcome!

I have had a unique experience at KGA as a long-term substitute in 2nd grade, 4th grade, and 5th grade. These opportunities have allowed me to learn from many wonderful and experienced teachers and interact with a variety of students and families. I am excited as my journey takes me back to 5th grade and look forward to an amazing year!

My Education and Professional Background

I received my Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education. I have been teaching since 2001 as a long-term substitute teacher and a classroom lead teacher. This opportunity has allowed me to teach a variety of grade levels. I also taught my own children while we lived abroad for seven years.

My Educational Philosophy

I believe that every child has been gifted with a unique personality and style of learning. I will provide a safe environment where students are invited to share their ideas and take risks. I will assist my students to express themselves and accept themselves for who they are, as well as embrace the differences of others.
 

 | Email Denise Canfield
About Cisneros...
Position: Reggio Preschool
Room: E2
Phone: (480) 812-6156
Email: Cisneros

Connect With Us

Welcome!

Welcome to Reggio Pre-K! I’m so excited to be your teacher this school year! I love Pre-K and I can’t wait to spend this year growing and learning new things. We are going to have a fantastic school year and I can’t wait to get to know everyone!

My Education and Professional Background

I was born in Colorado, grew up in Scottsdale, and attended NAU. I started my career as a Certified Montessori teacher. After 12 years teaching with multiple age groups, I took some time off to be a mom. When my children started school, I was excited to get back into a classroom. This is my second year at Knox and third year in the district.

My Educational Philosophy

I believe every child that walks through my door is unique. As a teacher I will make sure each child is able to be successful in whatever they do and that they have fun while doing so!
 

 | Email Ann Cisneros

There are no records to display.

About Davis...
Position: Kindergarten
Room: G1
Phone: (480) 812-6119
Email: Davis

Connect With Us

Welcome!

Welcome to Kinder CATS! This is my seventh year at KGA. I have taught every grade K-5, except for third grade, during my 19 years of teaching. In March 2014, I was Arizona’s Presidential Awardee for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. I am also a 2018 Arizona Teacher of the Year Ambassador for Excellence. I have presented my ideas about gifted education, math, engineering and technology at many national conferences.

My Education and Professional Background

I have B.A. in elementary education from the University of Iowa and a M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction and an M.Ed. in instructional leadership from Northern Arizona University. I am certified in kindergarten through eighth grade elementary education and am endorsed in early childhood, middle grade mathematics, gifted education and structured English immersion.

My Educational Philosophy

I believe that learning should be fun and relevant to students. “We don’t keep reinventing the wheel because we need a new wheel. We keep reinventing it because we need new inventors.” During your child’s time in Kinder CATS, they will be able to look at a problem and brainstorm many possible solutions. They will be able to design, test and redesign what does not work. I feel that to fail is not a bad thing, so long as you learn from your mistakes and try again.
 

 | Email Allison Davis
About DeSantis...
Position: School Guidance Counselor
Room: Front Office
Phone: 480-812-6106
Email: DeSantis

Connect With Us

Welcome!

Welcome!

My Education and Professional Background

Eight years ago, I received my Master's Degree in Education from Ottawa University with a Counseling Certificate, which allowed me to continue to work to meet the social and emotional needs of my students. Before coming to Chandler, I worked for Apache Junction Unified School District as an elementary Guidance Counselor. There, I honed my student support skills in areas such as self-esteem, social skills, bullying prevention, teamwork and conflict resolution. While at AJUSD, I received training in CHAMPS (classroom management), RTI (Response to Intervention), the Crisis Team, Love and Logic, Why Try, Second Step, and many other programs. Before that I taught in a Behavioral Disorder classroom for Mesa Public Schools. I am excited to be starting a new adventure at Knox Gifted Academy.

My Educational Philosophy

I believe every day is a new day--a day for learning, laughing, creating and growing. We all will make mistakes, but it is how we react that reflects our character. I want students to know that kindness is the easiest way to connect to the community. Further, I believe the only way to foster student success and growth is through true collaboration between students, parents and teachers.
 

 | Email Paula DeSantis

There are no records to display.

About Griffith...
Position: Global Studies
Room: M3
Phone: 480-812-6163
Email: Griffith

Connect With Us

Welcome!

I was born in Arizona, am married, have a son who attends NAU and a daughter who attended Jacobson, and Bogle Jr. High. My daughter is currently attending Hamilton High School. CUSD has given my two children all they need to succeed and I am proud beyond measure to work for the greatest school district in Arizona. My two dogs, Rocky and Daisy spend most of their time sleeping on the couch.

My Education and Professional Background

I have been teaching in the Chandler Unified School District since 2006. I have taught Kindergarten, First, Second and Third Grades during this time. Altogether, I have spent 10 years teaching second grade and I enjoy working with this bright, happy age group. I look forward to working with third graders this school year. I graduated from ASU in 1989 with a B.A. in Elementary Education. In 2010, I received my Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction through NAU, and I am currently working to receive a full gifted endorsement.

My Educational Philosophy

I look forward to challenging each student to try new things, think in new ways and to honor the unique gifts each student brings to our learning space. I am very excited to be a part of the unique and exciting things happening at Knox Gifted Academy this school year.
 

 | Email Carrie Griffith
About Guerrero...
Position: Speech Language Pathology K-6
Room: E3
Phone: (480) 812-6157
Email: Guerrero

Connect With Us

Welcome!

Hello KGA Knights and families! I am so excited to be at Knox this year. I look forward to meeting each of you throughout the year. My given name is Virginia Guerrero but please call me Ginny. I grew up in IN then I joined the Army where I met my husband Carlos. We have 5 beautiful children, 1 gorgeous granddaughter and an awesome dog. Our family activities keep us very busy. I enjoy watching movies, attending my younger kids' sporting events, and hanging out with my family.

My Education and Professional Background

I attended Wichita State University where I earned my Bachelor of Arts degree in Education in 1997 and my Master of Arts degree in Communicative Disorders and Sciences specializing in Speech Language Pathology in 2000. I have enjoyed providing speech and language services to students of all ages in the school settings in KS, CO, and AZ since that time. I currently hold an Arizona Teaching Certificate for Pre-K-12 in Speech Language Pathology, a Certificate of Clinical Competency from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and I am licensed to practice Speech Language Pathology in the state of Arizona.

My Educational Philosophy

I believe all scholars can achieve their goals with practice and hard work.
 

 | Email Ginny Guerrero
About Hansen...
Position: 5th Grade
Room: B3
Phone: (480) 812-6139
Email: Hansen

Connect With Us

Welcome!

I am so excited for the challenges and opportunities this year will bring. My son attended KGA from it's inception, and I am delighted to be teaming with my fellow educators and parents to provide a safe, invigorating, and positive classroom experience for your student.

My Education and Professional Background

BA in Elementary Ed, STEM focus, Environmental Education Certificate Mary Lou Fulton Teacher's College ASU Gifted Endorsed, Highly Qualified in Science, Environmental Education Certificate AAEE, Graduate of Honeywell Educators Space Academy, NBCT Candidate

My Educational Philosophy

I utilize a variety of best teaching practices and methods of classroom management. High expectations, differentiation, student centered teaching, and knowing my student's individual needs form my classroom instruction. My primary goal is to help your student analyze content and to seek solutions to challenges that build resilience, character, and confidence.
 

 | Email Dana Hansen
About Heitic...
Position: 2nd Grade
Room: E4
Phone: (480)812-6158
Email: Heitic

Connect With Us

Welcome!

Hello, my name is Kelly Heitic and I'm very excited to be teaching second grade at Knox Gifted Academy this year!

My Education and Professional Background

I grew up in Ohio where I taught my first year as a first grade teacher. Then I moved to Arizona and joined Chandler Unified School district as a Kindergarten teacher. I moved up and taught second grade for a couple years before I became a Media Specialist. I enjoyed project based learning and teaching research so much that I decided to take the leap to teach gifted! I hold an Early Childhood Certificate with a K-12 Reading Endorsement as well as Media Specialist Endorsement.

My Educational Philosophy

I believe great teachers strive not to give good answers but give great questions. My goal is to plant the seed of curiosity in my students. I love and enjoy learning everyday. I want to share with my students this passion and show how fun and exciting learning truly is!
 

 | Email Kelly Heitic
About Hermsen...
Position: 1st Grade
Room: C1
Phone: (480) 812-6143
Email: Hermsen

Connect With Us

Welcome!

Welcome to First Grade! My name is Mrs. Hermsen and I am thrilled to be working with you and your child at KGA. I am a native of Illinois, but have lived in Arizona since 2000. I am married and have two sons. Being a fulltime teacher and a mom of boys keeps me racing the school year, and I love it.

My Education and Professional Background

I have been teaching in Chandler Unified School District since 2006. I embarked on my educational journey in 2000. I earned my MAEd while still working in my first career, television news. I began teaching in 2003. I have been fortunate enough to teach kindergarten - 6th grade. My heart has been in first grade since 2009.

My Educational Philosophy

I believe every child is unique and brings this uniqueness to the classroom. When we create our classroom community, it is these special characteristics on which we build our foundation. Every child can learn, but that doesn't look the same for every student. We celebrate our differences and I hope to create a community of respect in which we can work together each day to become our best selves.
 

 | Email Alison Hermsen
About Holbrook...
Position: 1st Grade
Room: D5
Phone: (480) 812-6153
Email: Holbrook

Connect With Us

Welcome!

Welcome to first grade! I look forward to a fun and engaging school year with your child! Thank you for being my partner in education.

My Education and Professional Background

My love of teaching began while attending the University of Central Missouri of which I graduated in 2014 with a Bachelors in Elementary Education. My first three years of teaching were spent in my hometown in southwest Missouri, teaching second and fourth grades. I then joined the KGA family and have taught 3rd and 1st grades. I am excited to continue enriching students' lives through integrated learning.

My Educational Philosophy

I am passionate about teaching children the "why's and how's" of the world around them. I work hard to instill a love of learning and questioning in every student. I believe encouraging students to embrace their failures, act on their passions, learn through discovery, and collaborate with one another is crucial to their long-term success.
 

 | Email Caitlin Holbrook
About Iyer...
Position: 6th Grade
Room: C5
Phone: (480) 812-6147
Email: Iyer

Connect With Us

Welcome!

Hello my name is Deepa Iyer. I'm a self- proclaimed science geek. I have a Masters in Natural Science from ASU’s Fulton School of Engineering. My love for teaching began in 2007 when I got my first teaching job as a 4th grade teacher at CTA Independence, where I worked for 6 years before moving to KGA. After job sharing for two years, I moved into a full time teaching position here at KGA. I have a passion for science and I hope to inspire the same in my students.

My Education and Professional Background

I have a Masters in Social Work and a Masters in Natural Science. After the first three years of teaching I developed a keen interest in science instruction and enrolled in a Middle School STEM education program with the ASU School of Engineering. I received my Masters in Natural Science with specific emphasis on teaching middle school science with a STEM focus.

My Educational Philosophy

My belief is that teaching is a passion and not just a profession. All my students learn but not in the same way or on the same day. My personal goal is to help each student find his or her passion and become lifelong learners.
 

 | Email Deepa Iyer
About Johnson...
Position: General Music
Room: M2
Phone: (480) 812-6162
Email: Johnson

Connect With Us

Welcome!

My name is Ms. Jamie Johnson. I love being the General Music teacher at Knox Elementary School! This is my 9th year at Knox and 17th year teaching in the public school setting. My favorite hobby besides music is SCUBA diving! I have been diving in many different locations, played with an octopus, swam with sharks, eels and sea lions, sea tortoises and sea horses, gathered lots of shells on the beach, watched the sun set into the ocean, and slept on the beach as the waves softly sang me to sleep.

My Education and Professional Background

I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education from University of Arizona and a master’s degree from Grand Canyon University in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in technology. I taught for 8 years in Apache Junction before coming to Chandler Unified School District. As director of Academy of Creative Learning, I have directed youth musicals, choreographed and taught dances, coached budding actors and singers, designed and made countless costumes, props and sets, taught classes in guitar and piano, music reading, music theory, playing by ear, jazz and blues techniques to adults and youth for over 20 years.

My Educational Philosophy

At KGA, we have a music program that will help students achieve both an aesthetic and academic understanding of music, as well as practical music skills. The general music curriculum focuses on meeting the Arizona State Arts Standards and the National Arts Core Standards in addition to the National Standards for Music Education. One of my goals in music education at the elementary level is to lay the groundwork for music literacy through a balance of activities in singing, instrument playing, note reading, improvisation, composition, music listening, music history, movement and dance.
 

 | Email Jamie Johnson
About Kamper...
Position: 1st Grade
Room: D4
Phone: (480) 812-6152
Email: Kamper

Connect With Us

Welcome!

Hello and welcome! First Grade CATS at Knox Gifted Academy is dedicated to helping students build a love of learning in a supportive and energetic learning environment. Through opportunities to experiment and problem solve we hope to inspire our students to become life-long learners.

My Education and Professional Background

My journey as an educator began when I graduated from Arizona State University with degrees in Early Childhood Development and Marketing. After several years teaching in the charter school system, I earned a Master's Degree in Elementary Education along with a reading endorsement from Northern Arizona University. After teaching multiage and inclusion classes, I decided to branch out and look for other opportunities to grow as an educator. I happily accepted a position as a first grade teacher at Knox Gifted Academy starting in 2014.

My Educational Philosophy

My educational practices are based in the belief that children learn best through exploration and project based experiences. I believe that learning happens when students are given opportunities to explore materials and concepts while employing questioning strategies. The role of the educator is to guide students as they develop their understanding of the world. When students are given the opportunity to make discoveries, their learning is more meaningful and lasting. Children also need the opportunity to study and work in cooperative learning environments where they can both learn from the strengths of their peers and share their own strengths.
 

 | Email Leah Kamper

There are no records to display.

About Kilmer...
Position: 1st Grade
Room: C2
Phone: (480) 812-6144
Email: Kilmer

Connect With Us

Welcome!

Welcome to first grade! I am happy to be your teammate in the education of your 1st grader!

My Education and Professional Background

I began teaching in 1996 after earning a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education From Prescott College. I have taught in K and 1st grade all the while. In 2011, I earned a Master’s in Education Administration from Ft. Hays State University.

My Educational Philosophy

My philosophy as an educator places great value on helping students grow to be confident, understanding, and able. I believe that students that are confident in themselves and their strengths, whatever they may be, are better prepared to pursue their own unique interests. Understanding how the world around them works as well as the people around them helps students to be able to navigate their lives in a more enlightened manner. By helping students to realize how able they actually are, we allow them to become contributors to the betterment of all reaches of our society.
 

 | Email Jason Kilmer

There are no records to display.

About Leahy...
Position: 6th Grade
Room: C4
Phone: (480) 812-6146
Email: Leahy

Connect With Us

Welcome!

Welcome to 6th Grade at KGA! KGA is an innovative and nurturing school where students are both valued for their talents, and also challenged to grow. Its focus on Project Based Learning is unique and exciting, and I hope that every student who attends feels motivated and valued in our classrooms.

My Education and Professional Background

I've been lucky to have taught for 15 years in a variety of different schools and environments. Growing up in Chicago, I graduated from the University of Illinois in Urbana/ Champaign with a degree in Elementary Education. I then taught 7th and 8th grade Language Arts and Social Studies in Chicago Public Schools for seven years. In 2010, I moved overseas to The Netherlands, where I taught 5th grade Social Studies until 2017 at the American School of The Hague. My family and I moved to Arizona in July of 2017, where I taught a teacher preparation course at ASU before moving into the 6th grade teacher role at KGA. I have a Masters degree as a Reading Specialist, and another in Education Technology. I’m thrilled to be a part of the learning at KGA!

My Educational Philosophy

Education is about so much more than learning skills and building knowledge. It’s about developing a love for learning that can be built upon well beyond the years in school. This is one of my goals for myself as an educator: to help instill this love of learning in my students that they can take with them in any stage of their lives.
 

 | Email Lauren Leahy
About Lennex...
Position: Band Teacher
Room: Stage
Phone: (480) 812-6113
Email: Lennex

Connect With Us

Welcome!

I am excited to be the band teacher at Knox Gifted Academy! I started playing trombone in 5th grade and never stopped. Playing music has taken me all over the country and beyond – I’ve performed in 25 states and 5 other countries. I look forward to sharing my experience and helping the 5th and 6th grade band students begin their own musical adventure.

My Education and Professional Background

  • Bachelor of Music in Music Education, West Virginia University
  • Master of Music in Trombone Performance, University of North Texas
  • Doctor of Musical Arts in Trombone Performance, Arizona State University
I have been teaching music in CUSD since 2006 and became an elementary band director in the fall of 2018. I am also an adjunct music instructor at Chandler-Gilbert Community College and previously taught in the summers at the North Carolina Governor's School. I am active as a professional musician, regularly playing with top classical, jazz, musical theatre, rock, and Latin music groups throughout the valley and the state.


My Educational Philosophy

I want every student to participate in music! Performing not only increases students’ knowledge, appreciation, and interest in music, but also enhances students’ confidence in their abilities to learn and express themselves.
 

 | Email Matt Lennex
About McClure...
Position: K-6 Resource
Room: E3
Phone: (480) 812-6157
Email: McClure

Connect With Us

Welcome!

Hi, my name is Sydnee McClure. I am from Texas but have been in AZ for over 20 years. I love spending time with my family and friends. I enjoy traveling and love all things Dr. Seuss and Disney. I began teaching at Knox in 2019 and I am proud to be a Knight!

My Education and Professional Background

I began my career in education in January 2008. I graduated from Grand Canyon University with my degree in elementary education and special education. I then graduated with my masters from ASU in Special Education. I also hold my Early Childhood Endorsement.

My Educational Philosophy

Being a teacher and having the opportunity to work with students to figure out how they learn best is one of my biggest passions. I believe every student can learn in their own individual way and often the smallest steps are the biggest accomplishments. I strive to create a classroom of acceptance and kindness, as well as challenging students to step out of their comfort zone and discover new capabilities they didn’t know they had.
 

 | Email Sydnee McClure
About Moran...
Position: Drama
Room: Stage
Phone: (480) 812-6113
Email: Moran

Connect With Us

Welcome!

I am so excited to be starting another year at KGA as your Drama Teacher. When I’m not teaching, I enjoy spending time with friends and my daughter, Taylor. I love to sing, play piano and write songs. I also like to stay active – running, biking, and playing tennis.

My Education and Professional Background

I earned a B.A. in Piano Performance from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA and an M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction from NAU. I have completed Levels I and II of Orff Training at ASU and studied Method Acting, Strasberg Sensory and Improv at Arizona Actor's Academy. I have been teaching in Chandler since 1999 and joined the KGA family in 2014.

My Educational Philosophy

I believe we are all artists. The way we choose to treat others, spend our time and express ourselves creates a picture for the world to see. My hope is to give students the freedom to explore and express who they truly are through the beauty of music, movement and drama. We then discover the amazing masterpiece inherent in each child!
 

 | Email Kristin Moran

There are no records to display.

About Nusbaum...
Position: Dean of Students
Room: Front Office
Phone: 480-812-6112
Email: Nusbaum

Connect With Us

Welcome!

I have been a teacher since 1998 and part of the Chandler Unified School District family since 2007. As a parent and a professional educator, I feel truly fortunate to be a part of such an innovative, supportive and inclusive district that provides unmatched opportunities for the academic needs of all learners and their families. When not teaching I can be found reading, writing, learning, and exploring life's wonders with my husband and four boys, all of whom have flourished in CUSD schools.

My Education and Professional Background

A proud product of Arizona public schools, I hold a B.A. in Education with a minor in music from the UArizona, M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction and M.A. in Educational Leadership from NAU, and PhD coursework in Language, Reading & Culture through UArizona. A firm believer in lifelong learning, I constantly seek ways to grow and connect professionally, intellectually, and personally.

My Educational Philosophy

I appreciate the intensity of my chosen career path and never dread a Monday. I am a professional educator by choice and with purpose. I believe children come to us energetic, expressive, curious, concerned, creative, intense, and inspiring. I strive to honor students' diverse ways of knowing and aim to provide opportunities for them to love learning and develop a sense of educational purpose.
 

 | Email Jennifer Nusbaum

There are no records to display.

About Parker...
Position: 3rd Grade
Room: A3
Phone: (480) 812-6133
Email: Parker

Connect With Us

Welcome!

Hello, my name is Brittany Parker. I am an Arizona native. I enjoy spending time with family and friends. I love being outdoors exploring and traveling. This is my second year at Knox and I am thrilled to be a part of the Knox Knights family.

My Education and Professional Background

I graduated from Arizona State University with a BA in education and special education. I also just finished my MA in curriculum and instruction. This is my 7th year in the classroom and I am looking forward to seeing your child’s growth in third grade.

My Educational Philosophy

I believe that all children can learn, grow and achieve in the proper environment. I love being able to provide that safe place for children to be able to take risks and know that the sky is never the limit. I strive to build relationships and make connections to ensure I am allowing children to explore their passions and find their voice.
 

 | Email Brittany Parker
About Ranson...
Position: 4th Grade
Room: D1
Phone: (480) 812-6149
Email: Ranson

Connect With Us

Welcome!

Welcome to 4th Grade! My name is Crystal Ranson and I'm originally from Mason, Ohio. My family and I moved to Chandler in 2016. I look forward to an amazing year of learning with your children.

My Education and Professional Background

I received my Bachelors in Elementary Education in 2001 from Miami University in Oxford, OH. In 2007, I earned my Masters in Elementary Education from MaryGrove College in Detroit, MI. In 2016, I received my Structured English Immersion endorsement. Then in 2018, I earned my K-12 Gifted Endorsement.

My Educational Philosophy

The best part of being an educator is fostering life-long learning in children. There is no better gift than seeing a child succeed as they explore their world and education. KGA allows for children to experience real-world learning through creativity and design and that is simply priceless! I am very fortunate to be apart of such an environment and will work hard to ensure that all of my students are given the opportunity to be the best learners. We will laugh, struggle, and learn so much from each other!
 

 | Email Crystal Ranson
About Roberts...
Position: 5th Grade
Room: B6
Phone: (480) 812-6142
Email: Roberts

Connect With Us

Welcome!

Hello! This will be my second year of teaching and I am so excited to continue my teaching career here at KGA. This will be such a impactful year of growth, collaboration, and learning. I am looking forward to sharing that with all the 5th graders. I have recently moved here from Michigan with my dog, we love to camp and hike as much as we can.

My Education and Professional Background

I went to school at Grand Valley State University where I majored in Elementary Education and Mathematics. I did my student teaching in a 6th grade classroom. I also taught 2nd grade in Tanzania while on a study abroad trip.

My Educational Philosophy

I believe that all students need to be seen as individuals in their learning and in everything that they do. It is my philosophy to ask questions that will push students in think in a deep and curious way. I strive to build a community that is safe, inspiring, creative, and fun, while pushing students to do their personal best.
 

 | Email Colleen Roberts
About Roselius...
Position: 3rd Grade
Room: A5
Phone: (480) 812-6135
Email: Roselius

Connect With Us

Welcome!

Welcome to 3rd Grade at KGA! Let’s make some memories!

My Education and Professional Background

I have been involved in education for over fifteen years in many different roles and capacities. I obtained my degree in Elementary Education from Grand Canyon University. After student teaching in Kindergarten, here at KGA, I taught 5th grade as well. I have a passion for gifted learners and I am excited to join the 2nd grade team this year!

My Educational Philosophy

I am a strong believer that all students are capable of learning and have a desire to do so. I want my students to come to school every day excited and energized, ready to question and explore. I will create an environment for everyone to feel safe, respected and valued as we collaborate, consider, and work together as a community.
 

 | Email Nicole Roselius
About Schuttenberg...
Position: Kindergarten
Room: G2
Phone: (480) 812-6170
Email: Schuttenberg

Connect With Us

Welcome!

Welcome to Kinder CATS! My name is Tiffany Schuttenberg and I am very excited to be teaching at Knox Gifted Academy this year!

My Education and Professional Background

I am an educator who has been with the district since 2006, working with kindergarten and first grade. I have a B.A. in architecture from the University of New Mexico and then attended Ottawa University focused on elementary education. I am certified in kindergarten through eighth grade and I am endorsed in early childhood education and structured English immersion. I have experience teaching Project Lead the Way, a multi-sensory, hands on project based learning program and I have experience teaching Fundations, a multi-sensory language program designed to teach specific phonics rules toward handwriting, phonemic awareness, and phonics.

My Educational Philosophy

I believe students learn through engaging questions and exploration. I work hard with students to create a climate of inclusion. I enable my students to take risks while enriching their learning experiences through problem based learning and class discussions.
 

 | Email Tiffany Schuttenberg
About Stack...
Position: 6th Grade
Room: C6
Phone: (480) 812-6148
Email: Stack

Connect With Us

Welcome!

Hello! I moved to Arizona from Montana in 1999. I graduated high school from CHS and I have worked at three incredible Chandler schools. To stay balanced, my family and I enjoy camping in the mountains as often as we can! I also enjoy reading, live music, Nintendo video games, and spicy vegetarian food. I collect hobbies, with the most recent being novice woodworking. I’m always looking for ways to enhance my craft!

My Education and Professional Background

I began my teaching career with CUSD in 2006 after graduating from ASU with a Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education degree. I have a Masters of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction from NAU, a K-8 Middle Grade Math Endorsement, and experience with Title 1 (K-6th) and gifted education (5th-6th). I am a part of the Arizona Mathematics Partnership and an NCTM member. I am a lifelong learner and continue my professional education every chance I get!

My Educational Philosophy

I believe that everyone can develop a mathematical mindset and that all students have unlimited potential to become innovative thinkers and problem solvers. In our math class, we honor various ways of thinking, celebrate the power of mistakes, and find the beauty, creativity, and connections in the mathematics all around us.
 

 | Email Jamie Stack
About Thompson...
Position: 6th Grade
Room: C3
Phone: (480) 812-6145
Email: Thompson

Connect With Us

Welcome!

I am so excited to be apart of our students capstone year in 6th grade. It is a year of embracing leadership, exploration of curriculum, and self-awareness as a learner. In C-Pod, every 6th grader is an engineer, scientist, historian, author, mathematician, and so much more. Our day is full of discovery, reflection, and most importantly, growth.

My Education and Professional Background

In 2013 I received my Bachelor’s of Science in Elementary Education from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois, with an endorsement in ELA middle school education. After two years of teaching in the Chicagoland suburbs, I started my Arizona career in 2015. In January of 2019 I received my Master's in Education with School Counselor certification.

My Educational Philosophy

While teachers seem to be the keepers-of-all-knowledge and the door to the unknown, we are truly guides to student experiences and connections. It is my philosophy to create a safe environment that is full of curiosity and questioning. Equally as important as academic development, social emotional learning throughout the day is intentional and supported in an effort to cultivate the whole child. I believe that everyday is a chance to grow in our community, in content, and as an individual.
 

 | Email Mary Thompson
About VanBuskirk...
Position: Kindergarten
Room: A2
Phone: (480) 812-6132
Email: VanBuskirk

Connect With Us

Welcome!

Welcome to Kinder CATS! I grew up as a student in CUSD and am now overjoyed to say that I get to continue in CUSD as a teacher. In kindergarten at KGA we are setting a strong foundation for our students to become problem solvers through creativity and engineering. I am excited to begin this new adventure with the Kinder CATS!

My Education and Professional Background

I graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor’s of Elementary Education. I went on to get my Masters in Bilingual and Multicultural Education from Northern Arizona University. I also hold endorsements in English as a Second Language (ESL), Reading and Early Childhood. I am currently working on getting my Gifted Endorsement. I have been working in the district for 16 years. I taught first grade for 7 years and kindergarten for 3 years before moving over to Knox Gifted Academy. I have now taught gifted kindergarten for 6 years here at KGA.

My Educational Philosophy

I understand that a child is more than just what they know academically, and therefore will teach to the whole child (academically, socially and emotionally). My philosophy is one of a growth model. I will continue to push and grow your child as long as they are in my classroom. Learning should be fun and engaging to all students. I also believe that it is my job to help create students who think critically about the world around them and are problem solvers.
 

 | Email Kelly VanBuskirk
About Vogt...
Position: 2nd Grade
Room: E6
Phone: (480) 812-6160
Email: Vogt

Connect With Us

Welcome!

I feel honored to be a member of this amazing KGA team. I have been teaching in the Chandler Unified School District since 2007. Prior to that I worked in the Tempe School District as a sign language interpreter for students in the primary grades as well as junior high. I am proud to now be part of the innovative culture here at Knox Gifted Academy.

My Education and Professional Background

I have B.A. in elementary education from Arizona State University with a minor in American Sign Language and a M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction from Northern Arizona University. I am certified in kindergarten through eighth grade elementary education and am endorsed in early childhood and structured English immersion.

My Educational Philosophy

I want each student to feel a connection to school and a bond with their teacher. I believe that when this connection is strong students will grow to think for themselves, be resilient in life, be a strong member of the community and enjoy a lifetime of learning. It is my goal and honor to foster this connection.
 

 | Email Wildflower Vogt
About Weed...
Position: Principal
Room: Front Office
Phone: (480) 812-6108
Email: Weed

Connect With Us

Welcome!

Welcome to Knox Gifted Academy. I am honored and privileged to be the principal of KGA!

My Education and Professional Background

I have had the incredible opportunity to work in education for over twenty years and have served at both the school and district office levels. I have been a principal in the Chandler Unified School District since 2009.

My Educational Philosophy

I believe in leading an environment where children learn and grow to their fullest potential academically, emotionally, and socially. I see my role as an advocate for students and faculty to support the demanding challenges for the future. At KGA, we will strive to provide a unique opportunity within the Chandler Unified School District for gifted students to experience a school-wide culture of community and collaboration. The teachers and faculty are specifically trained to provide problem-based learning with an interdisciplinary approach to best support our learners. A strong focus on 21st Century Skills, technology, and engineering are embedded in all aspects of the accelerated curriculum.
 

 | Email Lynn Weed
About Wilkewitz...
Position: 4th Grade
Room: D3
Phone: (480) 812-6151
Email: Wilkewitz

Connect With Us

Welcome!

My name is Krista Wilkewitz and I just moved here from Michigan! I am SO excited to be a part of the KGA 4th grade team. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to me.

My Education and Professional Background

I am a recent graduate from Grand Valley State University where I received a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics Education. I have a teaching certificate for elementary education in both Michigan and Arizona, with endorsements in mathematics. I taught in Tanzania, Africa for one month in the summer of 2017.

My Educational Philosophy

As your child’s teacher I will constantly change and evolve and learn. Since society is constantly evolving, so must I. I believe that students should experience different perspectives. I will strive to make the environment of CPod and KGA mirror a community, with students being productive members. I expect students to have self-respect, respect of others, and collaborative skills. I believe that teachers are not only present to help students through the state standards, but also to help them through the challenges of growing up. I believe that personal stories should be valued and students who are making life connections to the lessons taught are a lot more likely to understand and remember the material.
 

 | Email Krista Wilkewitz
About Yockey...
Position: 2nd Grade
Room: E1
Phone: (480) 812-6155
Email: Yockey

Connect With Us

Welcome!

Hello and welcome to 3rd grade at KGA! My name is Laura Yockey and I have been teaching since 2004. I look forward to spending this upcoming year nurturing your child to their fullest potential. When I am not teaching, I enjoy spending time with my husband Nelson, my sons Holden and Griffin, and our dog Hannah. My hobbies include running, yoga, and enjoying all Arizona has to offer with my friends and family. I am so excited to be your child's teacher at KGA this year!

My Education and Professional Background

Professional Background:2019 - Current 3rd grade, Knox Gifted Academy, CUSD2014 - 2019 3rd grade CTA, Carlson Elementary, CUSD2012 - 2014 2nd grade, Hartford Sylvia Encinas Elementary, CUSD2006 - 2012 Kindergarten, 1st, & 2nd grade, Erie Elementary, CUSD2004 - 2006 Kindergarten, Camelview Elementary, Madison School District Education: 2009 - Reading Endorsement, Northern Arizona University, 2008 - Masters of Curriculum and Instruction, Northern Arizona University

My Educational Philosophy

A teacher's job is to prepare a community of life-long learners to be productive and empowered citizens, capable of positively impacting and contributing to society. Teachers do this by providing high quality, engaging instruction in an environment that is challenging, safe, and motivating to students. I hope to inspire my students to change the world for the better by always striving to do their best and be their best.
 

 | Email Laura Yockey
About Zichichi...
Position: 4th Grade
Room: D6
Phone: (480) 812-6154
Email: Zichichi

Connect With Us

Welcome!

Welcome to KGA 4th Grade! Our team teaching model fosters a learning environment that encourages growth while celebrating success and failure. While teaching is one of my true passions, I also enjoy spending time with my family, reading, and cooking.

My Education and Professional Background

I grew up in the Midwest and moved to Arizona to attend ASU. I received my bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and my master’s degree from Northern Arizona University. I am also a National Board Certified Teacher. I am endorsed in Gifted, Early Childhood, and Structured English Immersion. In 2018, I earned my doctorate in Educational Leadership and Innovation through Arizona State University.

My Educational Philosophy

My goals are to help students by establishing efficient working habits, strong reading skills, developing positive attitudes, and accepting responsibilities for all they do. I am really looking forward to watching your child grow and experience new things this year.
 

 | Email Tara Zichichi
About Zitar...
Position: 5th Grade
Room: B2
Phone: (480) 812-6138
Email: Zitar

Connect With Us

Welcome!

Welcome to KGA! I'm excited and looking forward to a year full of exploration, collaboration, creativity and adventure!

My Education and Professional Background

I am an Arizona State University graduate, with a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction. I have endorsements in Gifted Education and Early Childhood Education. All of my teaching experience has been working with gifted students in the Chandler Unified School District.

My Educational Philosophy

I believe that curiosity comes first in the classroom. I want to inspire creativity and innovation in my learners. Every child deserves to own their learning. It is my goal to move beyond providing choices, and, instead focus on inspiring possibilities.
 

 | Email Kerri Zitar