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About Barakat...
Subject / Grade 3rd Grade
Room: A6
Phone: (480) 812-6136
Email: Barakat
"Genius without Education is like Silver in the Mine."
-- Benjamin Franklin

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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.
 

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About Braaksma...
Subject / Grade Technology Teacher
Room: M4
Phone: (480) 812-6164
Email: Braaksma
"The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see."
-- Alexandra K. Trenfor

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Welcome!

Welcome to technology class! I am excited to begin this amazing journey with you. I have lived in Arizona most of my life and absolutely love Chandler. When not at school, you will find me enjoying time with my family, singing, baking, or volunteering my time in the community. I am happily married and am privileged to be the mother of two beautiful young ladies. As we embark on this journey together, please remember we are on the same team and have the same goal. Together we make a difference!

My Education and Professional Background

After graduating from ASU in 2001, I began my career as a fourth grade teacher in Gilbert Public Schools. After teaching fourth grade for two years, I transferred to a junior high campus to pursue my passion for Science and Math education. I taught 7th and 8th grade Science and Math, including honors courses, led the National Junior Honor Society Chapter, and coached volleyball. In 2008, I had the unique opportunity of joining an educational consulting company in which I was sent into districts around the country as a master teacher and instructional coach for both Science and Math grades 3-8. As travel became challenging with a young family at home, I decided to return to the classroom. I’ve been with KGA since 2013 and have loved every minute!

My Educational Philosophy

Every teacher has beliefs about learning that influence his/her teaching practices and classroom environment. For me, I believe that every student has a right to learn in a safe and productive environment. An environment that fosters creativity and critical thinking. I believe that it’s my job as an educator to know my students’ strengths and weaknesses, and challenge them exactly where they need to grow without pushing them over the edge. By the end of the school year, it is my goal that students leave feeling accomplished and proud of their experience in my classroom. With a positive attitude and a willing spirit, students can accomplish anything they set their mind to in life.
 

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About Bush...
Subject / Grade 2nd Grade
Room: E6
Phone: (480) 812-6160
Email: Bush
"Nothing is impossible. The word itself says 'I'm Possible'!"
-- Audrey Hepburn

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Welcome!

Welcome to KGA! Second grade is an incredible adventure, filled with wonderful activities and experiences. I look forward to building a strong classroom community full of collaboration and creativity.

My Education and Professional Background

I am an Arizona State University Alumni. I graduated with a Bachelors in Arts and Education in Special Education and Elementary Education. During this time, I student taught in second grade at KGA. After graduating, I went on to receive my Masters in Early Childhood Education in Curriculum and Instruction.

My Educational Philosophy

I believe that relationships are at the center of a classroom. I want my students to love coming to school and inspire each child to love learning. I believe in using whatever creative method to meet each students learning needs. I believe in challenging each student at their own level and encouraging growth in emotional, social and academic areas.
 

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About Cisneros...
Subject / Grade Reggio Preschool
Room: E2
Phone: (480) 812-6156
Email: Cisneros
"We are a box of crayons each of us unique, but when we get together the picture is complete."
-- The Crayon Box that Talked by Zuha Shaikh

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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!
 

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About Coplan...
Subject / Grade 3rd Grade
Room: A3
Phone: (480) 812-6133
Email: Coplan
"The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of a true education"
-- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Welcome!

Welcome to KGA 3rd grade! I am looking forward to a year filled with collaboration, creativity, and growth that will inspire my students to be life-long learners that never stop asking questions!

My Education and Professional Background

I graduated with my Bachelor's degree from Northern Arizona University in 2004. In 2010, I received my Master's degrees from NAU in Elementary Education with a Reading Endorsement. I earned my Gifted Endorsement as of 2015. In 2018, I earned my National Board Certification as an Early Childhood Generalist. This will be my fifteenth year teaching and my sixth year in the Chandler Unified School District.

My Educational Philosophy

I strive to inspire my students to become independent thinkers and doers; people who are unafraid to be themselves and follow their dreams, whatever they may be.
 

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About Davis...
Subject / Grade Kindergarten
Room: G1
Phone: (480) 812-6119
Email: Davis
"The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity."
-- Dorothy Parker

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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.
 

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About DeSantis...
Subject / Grade School Guidance Counselor
Room:
Phone: 480-812-6106
Email: DeSantis
"You've always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself."
-- Glinda from The Wizard of Oz

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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.
 

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About Durham...
Subject / Grade 5th Grade
Room: B6
Phone: (480) 812-6142
Email: Durham
"Students should act as producers of knowledge and art, not just consumers."
-- Davis, Rimm, and Siegle

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Welcome!

Welcome! Thanks for visiting my bio. Please feel free to contact me with any questions, and don't forget to visit our grade level page and social media pages. These areas will be the best resources to really get to know our team of teachers and students.

My Education and Professional Background

I started my professional life as an interior designer in Chicago, Illinois. I was offered an amazing teaching position in Italy after a few years of working in the design field. That first teaching experience in Milan was for a kindergarten thru second grade combo classroom, and I also developed the art program for kindergarten thru sixth grade levels. That opportunity made me realize my passion for teaching, and when I travelled back home, I decided to pursue a Masters Degree in Elementary Education. While working toward my degree, I had many experiences that shaped the teacher I am today. In total, I have worked with kindergarten thru sixth grade levels in suburban, foreign, and Native American school districts. I am so lucky to have found Knox Gifted Academy on this journey.

My Educational Philosophy

My philosophy of education is to empower students with the knowledge to become self-motivated, exemplary citizens, and lifelong learners through a student-centered active learning environment. Teachers challenge students, allow choice, individualize instruction, and encourage student passions. Higher achievement comes when students are intrinsically motivated and excited about learning. This learning happens through experimenting, experiencing, and creating meaning through reflections of their new knowledge. Schools are a place children want to bring their families and communities into to share their ideas and be proud of the problems they have solved with their peers. Just like my students I am also a lifelong learner; my teaching philosophy is always developing and changes through the experiences I have with students. I look forward to taking this journey with your children!
 

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About Griffith...
Subject / Grade Global Studies
Room: M3
Phone: 480-812-6163
Email: Griffith
"One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world."
-- Malala Yousafzai

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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.
 

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About Heitic...
Subject / Grade 2nd Grade
Room: E4
Phone: (480)812-6158
Email: Heitic
"If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don't have to be pushed. The vision pulls you."
-- Steve Jobs

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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!
 

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About Hermsen...
Subject / Grade 1st Grade
Room: C1
Phone: (480) 812-6143
Email: Hermsen
"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you have imagined."
-- Thoreau

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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.
 

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About Holbrook...
Subject / Grade 1st Grade
Room: D5
Phone: (480) 812-6153
Email: Holbrook
""Every child has the ability to learn, just not on the same day or in the same way.""
-- George Evans

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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 spent two years teaching 3rd grade. I’m am excited to continue enriching students’ lives through integrated learning in 1st grade.

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 each and 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.
 

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About Iyer...
Subject / Grade 6th Grade
Room: C5
Phone: (480) 812-6147
Email: Iyer
"The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires."
-- William Arthur Ward

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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.
 

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About Johnson...
Subject / Grade General Music
Room: M2
Phone: (480) 812-6162
Email: Johnson
"If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music."
-- Albert Einstein

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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.
 

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About Kamper...
Subject / Grade 1st Grade
Room: D4
Phone: (480) 812-6152
Email: Kamper
"Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think."
-- Albert Einstein

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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 14 years ago 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 for 13 years, 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.
 

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About Kellis...
Subject / Grade Orchestra
Room: M2
Phone: 480-812-6162
Email: Kellis
"That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do, not that the nature of the thing has changed, but our power to do is increased."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Welcome!

Hello. Thank you for coming to visit my website. I hope you have questions and that you find answers here. If not, please don't hesitate to contact me. Email using the address listed is best since I travel to four schools each school day.

My Education and Professional Background

25 years teaching private Suzuki violin lessons in my home, which includes earning national Suzuki registration; BA degree from Arizona State University in music education; MA degree from Arizona State University in music education

My Educational Philosophy

I love teaching children to play orchestral instruments. I consider my teaching as a partnership with parents as we encourage our students to practice regularly at home and bring their instrument and music to school on the correct days for orchestra class. If my students will try their best to do as I instruct, they will learn to play well. This will bring joy and happiness to themselves and to their family members for their entire life.
 

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About Kilmer...
Subject / Grade 1st Grade
Room: C2
Phone: (480) 812-6144
Email: Kilmer
"Education is not the filling of a pail, but rather the lighting of a fire."
-- William Butler Yeats

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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.
 

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About King...
Subject / Grade Kindergarten
Room: G2
Phone: (480)812-6170
Email: King
"Somewhere inside all of us is the power to change the world."
-- Roald Dahl

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Welcome!

Welcome to Kindergarten! I am elated to be joining the Kindergarten team here at KGA! I am looking forward to working with you this year. Kindergarten is an incredible time of learning and growth. I look forward to being a part of building the foundation of learning and making memories that will last a lifetime. We are going to have an amazing year!

My Education and Professional Background

I can ALMOST say that I have been teaching longer than I haven't! I graduated from Brigham Young University with degrees in both Elementary and Early Childhood Education. I began my career teaching first grade for two years in Utah. Life then took me to Nebraska where I taught Kindergarten for 5 years. I have had the opportunity to write and publish curriculum for Empower Educational Consulting and have trained teachers as a trainer for Houghton Mifflin/Harcourt. I have taught at New Vistas. I have been teaching Pre-K in CUSD for the past 5 years and have been at Knox for the last 3. I am currently finishing my gifted endorsement.

My Educational Philosophy

My philosophy can be summed up in one sentence: Respect begets respect. As a teacher it is my job to provide an environment that will respectfully encourage and guide children in a way that helps them reach their full potential. Appropriate learning tools and activities are a must. Knowing each student is also of utmost importance in the process of directing learning and inspiring curiosity.
 

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About Leahy...
Subject / Grade 6th Grade
Room: C4
Phone: (480) 812-6146
Email: Leahy
"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it."
-- Charles R. Swindoll

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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.
 

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About Lennex...
Subject / Grade Band Teacher
Room: Stage
Phone: (480) 812-6113
Email: Lennex
"I see little of more importance to the future of our country and our civilization than full recognition of the place of the artist."
-- John F. Kennedy

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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.
 

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About McClure...
Subject / Grade K-6 Resource
Room: E3
Phone: (480) 812-6157
Email: McClure
"Remember, you're the one who can fill the world with sunshine."
-- Snow White

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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. This is my first year at Knox and I am so excited to be a Knight!

My Education and Professional Background

I have been in education for 12 years. I have taught special education for 9 years and was an instructional coach for teachers the last 3 years. I am thrilled to be back in the classroom to work with students again. 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.
 

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About Moran...
Subject / Grade Performing Arts
Room: Stage
Phone: (480) 812-6113
Email: Moran
"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up."
-- Pablo Picasso

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Welcome!

I am so excited to be starting another year at KGA as your Performing Arts Teacher. We had some amazing performances and experiences last year and I am looking forward to making this year even better. Please visit my calendar page for upcoming performances and events. 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. 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!
 

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About Notley...
Subject / Grade 5th Grade
Room: B3
Phone: (480) 812-6139
Email: Notley
"It's sort of a mental attitude about critical thinking and curiosity. It's about mindset of looking at the world in a playful and curious and creative way."
-- Adam Savage

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Welcome!

Next year will mark year eight for myself at Knox Gifted Academy, a truly fantastic and innovative educational experience. I have been blessed to have amazing teammates and students throughout my tenure here at this school, and I feel that I have grown immensely because of them.

My Education and Professional Background

Bachelor of Arts in Education with an emphasis in Middle School Math/ MA in Educational Leadership

My Educational Philosophy

KGA Team 5th Grade are guides who assist students in learning through vigorous explorations. We understand that our students are informed, innovative, intense, inquisitive, and inspiring. We strive to establish a global learning community that fosters and celebrates taking academic risks, maintain an environment that provides purposeful access to myriad tools and technologies to explore and expand ideas, and challenge our students to construct, evaluate, and communicate powerful connections.
 

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About Nusbaum...
Subject / Grade Dean of Students
Room:
Phone:
Email: Nusbaum
"Winning is a habit. Watch your thoughts, they become your beliefs. Watch your beliefs, they become your words. Watch your words, they become your actions. Watch your actions, they become your habits. Watch your habits, they become your character."
-- Vince Lombardi

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Welcome!

This year marks my tenth year in the Chandler Unified School District, my twentieth year as a teacher, and my fifth year at Knox Gifted Academy. As both a parent and a professional educator, I feel truly fortunate to be a part of such a supportive and enthusiastic district that provides unmatched opportunities for the academic needs of its gifted learners and their families.

My Education and Professional Background

A proud product of Arizona public schools, I earned a B.A. in Education with a minor in music performance from the University of Arizona, my M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in math and reading for Middle School students from NAU, and Ph.D. coursework in Language, Reading and Culture with the UofA. When not teaching I can usually be found reading, writing, learning, riding, camping, and exploring life's wonders with my husband and our four boys, all of who have flourished in the CUSD community. We are immensely proud of all of our sons' academic, athletic, and musical achievements as well as their constant enthusiasm for learning, exploring, and playing.

My Educational Philosophy

I am an upper elementary teacher of gifted learners by choice and with purpose. I believe our students are informed, energetic, expressive, curious, concerned, creative, hilarious, intense, and truly inspiring. A firm believer in lifelong learning, I constantly seek ways to grow professionally, intellectually, and personally. I strive to instill a love of learning and a sense of purpose and compassion in my students. I appreciate the intensity of my chosen career path and I never dread a Monday. Gifted learners allow, and indeed demand, wonderfully unique pedagogy. We have established a learning community that fosters and celebrates taking academic risks, maintained an environment that provides purposeful access to myriad tools and technologies to explore and expand ideas, construct, and communicate powerful connections between content areas and life.
 

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About Parker...
Subject / Grade 3rd Grade
Room: A4
Phone: (480) 812-6134
Email: Parker
"By doing what you love, you inspire and awaken the hearts of others."
-- Satsuki Shibuya

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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 first 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 am currently working on my MA in curriculum and instruction. This is my 6th year in the classroom and I am looking forward to seeing your child learn, grow and achieve this year.

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.
 

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About Ranson...
Subject / Grade 4th Grade
Room: D1
Phone: (480) 812-6149
Email: Ranson
"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."
-- Mahatma Gandhi

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Welcome!

Welcome to 4th Grade! My name is Crystal Ranson and I'm originally from Mason, Ohio. I am very excited to continue my teaching career at KGA. 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. I have taught for a total of 18 years. I taught 7th and 8th grade ELA for 7 years and Gifted 2nd grade for 8 years while living in Ohio for Goshen Local Schools. In 2016 after moving from Ohio to Arizona, I began teaching at KGA in 1st grade. In 2018, I joined the 4th grade team.

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!
 

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About Roberts...
Subject / Grade 5th Grade
Room: B1
Phone: (480) 812-6137
Email: Roberts
"In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn."
-- Phil Collins

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Welcome!

Hi! My name is Colleen Roberts, I just moved here from Michigan with my dog. This is my first year of teaching and I am so excited to start my teaching career here at KGA.

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.
 

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About Roselius...
Subject / Grade 2nd Grade
Room: E1
Phone: (480) 812-6155
Email: Roselius
"It's sort of a mental attitude about critical thinking and curiosity. It's about mindset of looking at the world in a playful, curious and creative way."
-- Adam Savage

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Welcome!

Welcome to 2nd 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.
 

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About Stack...
Subject / Grade 6th Grade
Room: C6
Phone: (480) 612-6148
Email: Stack
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Welcome!



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.
 

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About Thompson...
Subject / Grade 6th Grade
Room: C3
Phone: (480) 812-6145
Email: Thompson
"What seems impossible now will soon be a warm-up."
-- Anonymous

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Welcome!

I am truly inspired to be apart of the KGA family and 5th grade team! It is a year of exploration as we all become engineers, scientists, tinkers, historians, authors, and so much more. In 5th grade everyday is full of discovery, reflection, and most importantly, growth.

My Education and Professional Background

I received my Bachelor’s of Science in Elementary Education from DePaul University in Chicago, IL, with an endorsement in ELA middle school education. After two years of teaching in the chicagoland suburbs, I started my Arizona career in 2015. I am proud to be a new member of the Chandler School District, and am honored to be teaching with harmonious educators at KGA. I am currently pursuing my Master’s of Education in School Counseling through Ottawa University, and hope to finished soon.

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 questioning. I believe that everyday is chance to grow, not only in content, but also as an individual.
 

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About VanBuskirk...
Subject / Grade Kindergarten
Room: A2
Phone: (480) 812-6132
Email: VanBuskirk
"Do we need to show, or do we need to let them experience first? Let them see and watch, let them touch and feel. Experience is the key to understanding the world. Let them...."
-- Kathy Tegarden

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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 15 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 5 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.
 

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About Vogt...
Subject / Grade 5th Grade
Room: B5
Phone: (480) 812-6141
Email: Vogt
"Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier."
-- Mother Teresa

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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.
 

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About Weed...
Subject / Grade Principal
Room:
Phone: (480) 812-6108
Email: Weed
"Leadership is not so much about technique and methods as it is about opening the heart and inspiring others."
-- Lance Secretan

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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.
 

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About Wilkewitz...
Subject / Grade 4th Grade
Room: D3
Phone: (480) 812-6151
Email: Wilkewitz
"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."
-- William Butler Yeats

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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.
 

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About Yockey...
Subject / Grade 3rd Grade
Room: A5
Phone: (480) 812-6135
Email: Yockey
"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest."
-- Benjamin Franklin

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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, CUSD 2014 - 2019 3rd grade CTA, Carlson Elementary, CUSD 2012 - 2014 2nd grade, Hartford Sylvia Encinas Elementary, CUSD 2006 - 2012 Kindergarten, 1st, & 2nd grade, Erie Elementary, CUSD 2004 - 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.
 

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About Zichichi...
Subject / Grade 2nd Grade
Room: E5
Phone: (480) 812-6159
Email: Zichichi
"If you're not failing every now and again, it's a sign you're not doing anything very innovative."
-- Woody Allen

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Welcome!

Welcome to KGA 2nd 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.
 

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About Zitar...
Subject / Grade 5th Grade
Room: B2
Phone: (480) 812-6138
Email: Zitar
"It's kind of fun to do the impossible."
-- Walt Disney

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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.
 

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