The Educational Coordinators and Support Staff
of Pivot Riverside
Educational Coordinators and Education Specialists
Pivot Charter School provides instruction to students through a robust standards-based online curriculum supported by class offerings at our resource center, tutoring, strong oversight and academic support. The school is a “blend” of online curriculum with resource center support.
The role of the teacher at Pivot Charter School is to monitor student progress online daily, provide feedback, encouragement, and support to students. They provide academic support in their areas of expertise for students needing help and produce accurate, timely and compliant documentation of independent study attendance. Teachers do not necessarily provide direct instruction to a “class” of students on a daily basis but are at our resource centers every day. Teachers, also known as Educational Coordinators, counsel, mentor, provide oversight, direction and whatever support it takes to help students succeed in their academic endeavors.
Education Specialists play a crucial role in the education of Pivot’s students with Individualized Education Plans. Each student with an IEP will have an Education Specialist who will help them achieve their goals through regular support.
Brandon is very excited to be involved with, and contribute to, the unique format and opportunity that Pivot offers its students. He has been with Pivot since the 2015-2016 school year. Brandon grew up in Irvine, CA, where he played baseball from the time he was 5 years old until 20. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from California State University, Fullerton in Business Administration, with a concentration in finance. He then acquired his teaching credential in Foundational Mathematics through California State University, Long Beach. Brandon also coached baseball at his Alma mater, Northwood High School, for 14 years. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling, water skiing, and riding his bike with his two sons Noah (2019) and Colin (2021).
Katie Miller is a lifelong South Orange County resident and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Education from California State University San Marcos’s Integrated Credential program in December of 2019. Katie completed her teaching credentials in May of 2020. Since then, she has worked in North County San Diego. Outside of the classroom, Katie loves to spend time with friends and family. Her favorite place to be is at the beach—whether it is just relaxing or going on runs.
Aaron Newman is a passionate teacher of mathematics. He has earned his Bachelor’s degree from Cal State University, San Bernardino and his Master’s degree from the University of Redlands. He has worked in the field of education for the past 5 years. He enjoys helping students connect to math by applying math to real-world concepts and strives to make math relevant to student’s lives. Outside the bounds of his educational background, Aaron is an accomplished Ragtime Pianist and performs seasonally for Knott’s Berry Farm.
Mackenzie Jessip graduated in 2020 with her teaching credential in mathematics and a Master’s in Educational Technology. She also has a second credential in industrial and technology education and has started her doctorate program. She loves education, learning and growing her skills. She is excited to be at Pivot practicing everything she has learned and looks forward to helping students reach their educational goals and growing their confidence in math. She loves working with students, loves to tell jokes, play and watch sports, loves cars, movies and comic books.
Gus is passionate about teaching and helping kids. He worked as a special education and substitute teacher in Orange County, while also working as a Juvenile Correctional Officer for the Orange County Probation Department. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from California State University, Fullerton in Human Services and his teaching credential and Masters of Education from the University of Phoenix. Gus enjoys finding new and innovative ways to teach/motivate his students and loves working for Pivot Charter School. In his free time, Gus enjoys camping, kayaking, Angels baseball and spending time with his wife, kids and grandsons.
Brooke Van Arsdale
Director of Special Education
Brooke Van Arsdale
Brooke grew up in Western North Carolina and attended University in Tennessee, where she majored in English Literature and Secondary Education and minored in Mathematics. After graduating with her Bachelors of Arts in 2012, Brooke spent a year teaching 9th grade Algebra. Afterward, she obtained a Masters of Education in Special Education and worked as an Inclusion Teacher for two years. After moving to California, she worked at a Non-Public School for two years, serving students with higher levels of need. Brooke began working at Pivot in 2017. She loves working with students with a variety of backgrounds and needs. She works to create a collaborative and supportive environment for her students at Pivot. When not working, Brooke enjoys spending time with her family and exploring national parks.
Chris was born, raised, and spent most of his life residing in Chico, Ca. He has spent a significant amount of time playing competitive and recreational sports in the community, has a love of the outdoors, enjoys snowboarding in the winter, and plays guitar and bass in various local bands. Chris graduated from California State University, Chico where he received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and eventually earned Education Specialist and Social Science teaching credentials. Chris has spent seven years working in education as a Paraprofessional working one-to-one with a talented young man diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy. This will be Chris’ second full year as a full-time Education Specialist, and he is excited to continue the work with the awesome students and dedicated Pivot staff. His goal is to help young people find a passion in life, develop it as well as evolve and create meaning in their lives.
Alex grew up in San Diego and earned his bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Philosophy from UC Santa Barbara in 2010. After many rewarding years as a counselor for adults with developmental disabilities, Alex decided to pursue a Teaching Credential in Social Science from CSU Long Beach, which he completed in January 2020. While Alex is excited to teach history, his main goal is supporting students as they develop the skills to think critically and creatively as well as the courage to explore their passions wholeheartedly. He is thrilled to join the Pivot team as their individualized program allows him to build meaningful relationships with students and provide more options and opportunities than a traditional school. When he’s not reading up on history, Alex enjoys playing bass guitar, listening to podcasts, and going on hiking adventures with his wife and two dogs.
Derek Heejun Yip
Derek Heejun Yip
Derek is excited to be welcomed into the Pivot Charter School family where he hopes to help his students succeed academically and professionally. He has been an educator and school counselor for more than 17 years in areas that include teaching social science and taking part as a child welfare and attendance counselor. He comes to Pivot Charter School as an education specialist seeking to see that all his students’ goals are achieved on both academic and social levels. Above all, he wants everyone to know that he is there for you!
John was born and raised in Fullerton, California. He graduated from U.C. Berkeley and spent one year as a visiting scholar at Harvard University. He is the author of “High School Dropout to Harvard” and featured in the PBS film about dyslexia, “Being You.
John holds a Master’s Degree in learning disabilities and has worked as a special education teacher for the past fourteen years. He is dedicated to improving the quality of instruction for students with learning disabilities and advancing a strength based narrative. John believes the future of learning for students with disabilities is through coding, robotics and technology and he is helping to create a pipeline for kids with disabilities to become tech leaders. Outside of teaching, John enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters: hiking, traveling, and cheering for the Dodgers.
Born and raised in San Diego, Danica received her B.S. in Mathematics (Specializing in Education) from UC Irvine and her Education Specialist Credential and M.A. in Education from CSU San Marcos. One thing about Pivot that inspires her is how incredibly student-centered Pivot is as a learning institution. All staff and faculty ensure that the instruction and curriculum is tailored to each individual, ensuring the success of all students. Previously, Danica taught Math at the middle school and high school levels. When she isn’t teaching, she enjoys spending time with her dog and crocheting for family and friends.
As the Resource Center Coordinator for Pivot Charter School, Riverside, Bill enjoys all aspects of assisting with student enrollment, maintaining student records and overseeing resource center logistics. Originally from Sonoma, CA Bill is a sports enthusiast and has coached youth baseball, softball, boxing, and basketball. Bill enjoys working with charities, and founded The Chilly Willie Foundation in 1999, raising much-needed funds for special needs classrooms throughout the Sonoma Valley. In 2014, he moved to Corona from Sonoma to help open the Pivot Riverside resource center.
Theresa has a life-long passion for teaching and learning. She worked in the software development industry as a professional trainer, documentation writer, and support analyst for many years prior to transitioning to a career in education. Her broad teaching experience spans Kindergarten through adult learners in computer applications, middle school math, and accounting. She received her master’s degree in Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning at Sonoma State University and her doctorate degree in Learning Technologies at Pepperdine University. Theresa brings to Pivot Charter Schools over 15 years of experience working at the district and county office of education levels supporting a broad portfolio of projects focused on curriculum, assessment, and teacher professional development. She loves the intersection of these interconnected facets of education.
Theresa thoroughly enjoys working with the highly collaborative Pivot team of professionals and the unique educational setting it offers. She was deeply moved after attending her first Pivot graduation and witnessed the transformational impact of personalized learning on student growth and success. Theresa is excited about her role at Pivot and expanding the learning opportunities for our students.
She loves spending time with family and friends, often hiking, being at the coast, or exploring a different park trail. Theresa recently caught the Pickleball craze and is often hitting the courts after work. She still becomes flabbergasted at the Pickleball-sized hole that mysteriously appears in her racquet on occasion.
Special Education Administrative Assistant
Barbara was born and raised in New York and New Jersey and relocated to California to be near family. She earned a special education teaching credential and M.A. at Fresno State and taught special education for 18 years at Fresno Unified School District. Barbara was an adjunct professor at Fresno State University in the special education department for 8 years, preparing teaching candidates. She moved to Sonoma County to be near her two grandsons and joined the Pivot Team in the role of special education administrative assistant in November 2016.
Shayna Calkins is from Kauai, Hawaii and received a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Language Arts/Secondary Education from Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. She loves learning about new cultures and has taught in The United States, South Korea, Albania, and Taiwan. She also has previous experience working for Upward Bound, Project Mentor, and the Des Moines Public Library. Shayna enjoys reading, writing, volunteering, gardening, swimming, hiking, and spending time with her husband and their new baby girl. She also holds a Master’s in Secondary Education and plans to continue her goal of being a life-long learner.
Kristen is a Northern California native, growing up and going to school in the East Bay area. Kristen began talking about being a teacher “when she grew up” from as young as four years old. In college, she studied creative writing (her other passion) and earned her BA in English/Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. After some time spent traveling in Europe and living in Scandanavia, Kristen returned to earn her Single Subject Teaching Credential in English at Cal State University Sacramento where a strong emphasis was placed on social justice and equity in education. She worked as an English and reading intervention teacher for two years at Armijo High School in Fairfield, before leaving to pursue a career in alternative education. She is so happy to have found a home at Pivot where a holistic approach to education leads every student on their unique path to success! When she isn’t teaching, she loves writing, playing and listening to music, hiking, catching up on her favorite shows on Netflix and spending time with her family and friends.
Alex Braden was born and raised in Santa Rosa. He has dabbled in a little bit of everything, from Engineering and Chemistry to Game Design and Writing. He strives to learn something new every day and feels that the only thing needed to be exceptional in a field or topic is the right teacher.
Grader (Physical Education & Art)
Shawn has a degree in Art and Art History and a multiple subject teaching credential from SSU. One of the most rewarding teaching moments for her is when she gets to observe how students express themselves creatively through art when words can’t describe how they feel. Shawn looks forward to centering the needs of students at Pivot and contributing to an environment of mindfulness and reciprocity. During her own time, she does something that makes her happy every day. Whether it’s playing with her two kids, hiking, riding bikes, or helping her husband with garden projects – they are her favorite parts of the day.
Tiago lives in Shasta County, CA and started his career as a California credentialed teacher in 2017 at a local personalized learning school such as Pivot and later at a large high school. He has three single subject credentials for Information and Communication Technologies, Business and Finance and Marketing, Sales and Services. He has supported a Tehama county school district as a Technology Support Specialist, Shasta County Office of Education as a Information Technology Analyst and the Office of State Publishing Department at the Capitol building in Sacramento as a technology consultant. Besides his love for technology, Tiago is also a language consultant for different government organizations and technology companies such as The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, Google, Sony and many others. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with family and friends, working as a volunteer and traveling around the world.
Shahram holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in chemistry and organic chemistry and loves all things science. He enjoys helping students realize science is fascinating and not a subject to be feared. He is married with two young adult children and in his free time loves gardening and bicycling.
Julianne is a San Diego native and math nerd. She has taught math for 11 years, in 6 different schools, on 2 coasts. She holds degrees in Mathematics and Secondary Education and Curriculum and Instruction. When she isn’t busy obsessing over numbers, she enjoys time with her husband and two boys, going to the beach, watching movies, campaigning for the clean beauty movement, baking, and exercising.
Born in Wisconsin, Erin went on to receive her B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Psychology from the University of Minnesota where she also participated in Track and Field as a collegiate athlete. After working with individuals of varying abilities and in the field of corrections, Erin attended San Diego State University where she received her M.S., P.P.S. in Counseling with a focus on Equity and Social Justice. As a School Counselor, Erin strives to create a supportive environment in which every student feels safe and connected at Pivot. In addition to supporting students and families, Erin enjoys running, baking, camping, and anything outdoors, especially with her family and friends.
Joanna has happily been a part of Pivot’s English Department team since 2015. She has been teaching middle school and high school English and history since 2003 throughout California before joining Pivot. She holds a Master’s degree from California State University, Fresno. She loves working at Pivot and helping all of our incredible students achieve their goals and become stronger writers. In her spare time, Joanna enjoys quality time with her family, music, road trips, reading, and the beach.
Jenny was born and raised in Huntington Beach, CA where she spent most of her childhood in and out of the ocean or pool. She received her B.A. in English and a minor in Health Science, and later her M.A in Literacy Instruction, from Michigan State University. Jenny has lived in the midwest and the southwest of the United States, but has called Chico home for several years. When working with students, she strives to create meaningful relationships that are grounded in promoting a love for learning. Jenny has taught in grades 7 through 12 but finds working at Pivot Charter School refreshing and meaningful as it gives her the ability to work one on one with students in a unique and dynamic setting. When not working with students, she enjoys spending time with her husband and teenage daughters; as a family, they love traveling, cooking, reading, crafting, and cheering for the Michigan State Spartans.
Jayna Gaskell has worked in education for more than 30 years. Gaskell holds a Masters degree in secondary education from Emory University. After teaching grades 4-12 in Florida and Georgia, Gaskell moved to California in 1993 to serve as Director of Admissions and Academics of a small boarding and day school for four years. In 1998 Gaskell co-founded and directed a California charter school for five years. Gaskell has presented multiple statewide workshops on Independent Study, Governance, Renewal, Special Education and Strategic Planning with the Charter Schools Development Center, CANEC and other educational agencies throughout California. Ms. Gaskell also established a highly successful charter school consulting business assisting schools by drafting and reviewing charter petitions, writing grants, creating charter renewals, developing staffing plans, WASC Self Study documents, educational plans and school wide improvement plans, and conducting governance trainings, compliance reviews and strategic planning projects. She served a two year term on the State Superintendent’s Advisory Commission on Charter Schools, and has participated in the US Department of Education and the Office of Civil Rights Summit on Charter Schools and Special Education for four years. In addition to serving many CA charter schools, Gaskell has worked with charter schools in Fl, TN, OR and AZ. She has worked with over 200 schools in the last 10 years. She served as a founding board member and chair of the Board of the California Montessori Project, one of the largest public Montessori schools in operation for 10 years. Ms. Gaskell has been Executive Director for Pivot Charter Schools since November 2010.
1st you do it for yourself, then you do it for friends and then you do it for money:
As a teenager, Craig loved ski racing and became the youngest instructor in ski school. He was mentored by a biology professor/professional ski instructor who planted the seed of becoming a life-long learner by teaching others. After ski school he found work as a river guide, a college trip leader, taking friends climbing, and discovering new trails on a mountain bike. He found great meaning by sharing new skills with others, especially younger people.
After college Craig first worked in biotech, and later in computer technology, but he wasn’t satisfied. One brave day he applied to graduate school and earned a Master’s degree in Education. Like many students, he thinks he found the ideal environment at Pivot.
Pivot has proven to be a campus of kindness and respect that strives to find an ideal work environment that first engages students. He strives to bring a culture that blends student needs, teacher satisfaction, technology, and an entrepreneurial spirit, together to create a safe real-life model of the outside world.
Director of Human Resources
Brittany Daugherty is a graduate of Plumas Charter School. She works as Director of Human Resources for all 4 Pivot schools. She enjoys traveling and reading, as well as spending time with her family and friends. She loves being a part of the Pivot team and looks forward to working with new students and families.
Chief Business Officer
Liz has always loved math, and she finds happiness in teaching others. Her favorite thing about Pivot Charter Schools is the ability to tailor students’ education plans to meet their individual needs and goals. Liz grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, graduated from UCSD with a Bachelor’s degree in Cognitive Science, and earned her teaching credential in Mathematics from SDSU. She loves rowing, music, cooking, puzzles, and backpacking.
As Chief Business Officer, Liz works with a wide range of staff and contractors to manage the financial operations that make Pivot Charter Schools possible. Liz has been with Pivot since 2010, and looks forward to serving Pivot’s students and families in many diverse ways in the years to come!
Accounts Payable Clerk
Cindy Spencer was born in Placerville, California and raised in Placer County. She was fourth among five brothers and a sister, so she grew up in a very competitive environment. She attended Sierra Junior College and after two years transferred to American River College for her English degree. Enjoying the best of many industries, Cindy worked both in the public and private sectors of the land use industry. After the building industry fallout, Cindy moved into managing a Chiropractic office for nearly five years. Through that experience, Cindy was sought out to close out a teaching program for the Sacramento Office of Education for three years. She taught the Medical and Chiropractic Assistance program to at-risk adults. This program was fulfilling in that after 300 hours of class and hands-on training, she was tasked to place each student in a medical/chiropractic office for 250 hours of internship. Her last graduating class was 86% employed at the time of graduation.
Cindy has two sons, both Placer County Deputy Sheriffs who live also in the Roseville area. She also has two grandchildren. Her non-working hours are spent hiking and kayaking, golfing and playing volleyball. Before accepting this wonderful position with Pivot, Cindy spent six months in South America, backpacking through Ecuador, Argentina & Chile, enjoying the adventure of a new culture.
Director of Systems and Accountability
Born and raised in Southern California, Lindsey Vining has her Bachelor’s degree from UC Santa Barbara in Mathematics and her Master’s degree from Oregon State University in Mathematics Education. As a credentialed teacher, Lindsey has taught at the middle school, high school, and college levels. She enjoys working with students of all ages, backgrounds, and experiences to increase their understanding and enthusiasm to learn. As a school administrator, she enjoys supporting staff and students reach their full potential. At home, Lindsey enjoys spending time with her family, going to the beach, gardening, and taking care of her rescue animals.
Director of Student Services
Kareen Poulsen is a fourth generation Santa Rosa citizen and graduated from Santa Rosa High School before attending U.C. Davis, where she played volleyball for four years, rowed crew for two years and still managed to receive a BA in English. After 25 years as the CFO for an Investment Corporation, she decided to pursue her dream of becoming a full-time teacher and went on to receive her teaching credential in Mathematics from Sonoma State University. She previously taught Math at Pivot and has now moved into the role of Director of Student Services for all four resource centers. Kareen also serves as the Title IX Coordinator for Pivot Charter School. For information on Title IX, click here. She enjoys spending time with family, going to the beach, hiking, traveling, reading books and watching good movies. As a part of the Pivot Charter School Team since 2013, Kareen is devoted to using her education and experience to help students succeed.
Elementary Classroom Aide
Andrea Gutierrez earned a Bachelors degree in Child Development / Family Studies from Long Beach State University. Over the past 9 years, she has worked with children and families in Los Angeles County as a Preschool Teacher. Andrea enjoys jiu jitsu, roller blading, spending time with family and watching her children play sports.
Luis is native of South America, where he spent most of his youth. He received his B.A in Spanish Linguistics and M.S in Counseling with a specialization in school counseling, and Child Welfare and Attendance from California State University Dominguez Hills. Luis has been working as a College Counselor for over five years, and it is his greatest joy to help students guide them to reach their life goals. Luis has a great interest for languages and other cultures. His favorite hobbies are spending time with his family, traveling, and playing online video games.
Sarah is originally from the Midwest but has lived in California for the past 10 years. She enjoys hiking, running and stand-up paddle boarding. She is a marathon runner and competed in cross country while in college. She is passionate about working with youth and has traveled to Rwanda, Africa to volunteer with children 5-18 years old in various communities. She has two dogs, a French bulldog named Linus, and an English bulldog named Franklin.
Donna grew up in Southern California, obtained her BA in Psychology at UC Berkeley, and then graduated from Columbia University in New York with a Masters of Education in School Psychology. As a school psychologist, she has worked with special education students with mild to more severe needs at the elementary, junior high, and high school levels for 14 years. She has been a part of the Riverside team at Pivot since September of 2018 and has enjoyed seeing what the students can achieve with the dedication, support, and collaboration of the staff and parents. In her free time, she loves spending time with her family, going to the beach, and reading.
Executive Assistant & COVID-19 Coordinator
Born and raised in Southern California, Rachel Angeles has received her Bachelors of Arts from Cal State San Bernardino. She is currently working on obtaining her credential and master’s degree in elementary education from WGU. Throughout her life, Rachel has always been involved in competitive sports and performing arts and is always looking for continued growth in everything she does. She loves music, books, and all animals. When Rachel is not working, she enjoys spending time with her husband, two boys, and dogs. She likes entertaining friends and family, rescuing animals, and is an avid movie watcher. Rachel loves the fun and diversity that Pivot brings and enjoys interacting with all the Pivot staff and families.
Brenda grew up in North County San Diego and graduated from CSU, San Marcos with a degree in Social Sciences. She loves international travel and has worked on community development in Australia and Costa Rica. Becoming fluent in Spanish is one of her life goals. Brenda was drawn to education as a field that empowers future generations. Working with young people to help them reach their goals and see them thrive is what inspires her to be a part of Pivot Charter Schools. Brenda enjoys all outdoor activities and visiting her sister in Bend, Oregon.
Nicole was born and raised in Long Beach California. She previously spent 10 years in Montessori, first as an assistant teacher, before receiving her certification and becoming a Lead Montessori Preschool Teacher. In her spare time, Nicole enjoys spending time with her 3 year old daughter, traveling, Disney days and creating new memories with her daughter.