Juanita Staff

Shelli.pngShelli Kurth
School Director

contact: s.kurth@thrivesd.org

Shelli’s enthusiasm for innovative and excellent education began before the birth of her children. Upon receiving her Bachelor of Arts and Teaching Credential from San Diego State University Shelli taught in both private and public schools. She taught multiple grades and special education and later co-created a preschool-age kinesthetic learning program. She has used her energy to start innovative and exceptional programs for over 6,000 students in San Diego Schools. Her passion for reinventing education led Shelli to found UPforEd, a grassroots, non-profit organization that works with parents, teachers and community members to help support public schools and  improve student outcomes.  The next, natural step for Shelli was to work for an innovative, collaborative school that inspires students–Thrive Public Schools was a perfect match! 

Jaclyn.pngJaclyn Vasko

contact: j.vasko@thrivesd.org

Jaclyn is a passionate educator who has been working as a teacher in public schools since 2010. Prior to her work in the classroom, Jaclyn graduated from San Diego State in 2008 with a Bachelors in Liberal Studies, knowing well and true that teaching and inspiring children was her craft. Following her studies at SDSU, Jaclyn received her Masters in Education and Elementary Teaching Credential from University of California, San Diego. In 2011, Jaclyn merged her two life interests and accepted the challenge to move to Germany to be immersed in the German culture and teach kids. The year abroad allowed Jaclyn to understand the first hand struggles of being a language learner and how teaching and learning looks & feels outside our community.

Jaclyn was hired as a founding Kindergarten teacher at High Tech Elementary in North County. Her and her team of 7 constructed a project based school with a value of community, personalization, and high expectations that would bring progressive learning to the families of North County. With all the knowledge, excitement and accomplishment that comes from opening a new school and building the community it encompasses, Jaclyn wanted to find this challenge again with another innovative school and a leader as passionate as she. The adventure she took to get to Thrive was long and sprinkled with many fruitful experiences along the way, however, Thrive is home for Jaclyn, where she will continue to grow as an educator, plant her roots and help kids thrive.

04_Courtney_Ochi_(Core_1).jpegCourtney Ochi
Intervention Coordinator

contact: c.ochi@thrivesd.org

Courtney Ochi was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, and moved to California to attend the University of San Diego. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies and Spanish and studied abroad at Universidad Pontificia Comillas in Madrid, Spain. During her time at USD, she volunteered in a bilingual second grade classroom at Carson Elementary School. This experience solidified her love for teaching and working with children, and ultimately led her to join Teach for America. She spent two years teaching students from grades Transitional Kindergarten through Fifth Grade in Southeast San Diego, while earning her Multiple Subjects Elementary Teaching Credential through the High Tech Graduate School of Education. 

Courtney is passionate about educating and supporting the whole child through a focus on social emotional learning which is what drew her to Thrive in 2016. She spent an amazing year creating, learning and growing with her beautiful class of Core 1 students. This year, Courtney is excited to transition into the role of Intervention Coordinator. She loves the caring and compassionate community that exists at Thrive and looks forward to the opportunity to work with all students. 

PPerlroth.pngPhyllis Perlroth

Education Specialist

contact: p.perlroth@thrivesd.org

Since 1981, I have been passionate about educating children who learn differently. For the past 28 years, I have worked with children and young adults in San Diego Unified School District, High Tech High and Thrive Charter Schools as a special education teacher in several different capacities. I have clear California credentials in Special Education and Multiple Subjects, as well as certifications in Assistive Technology and CTEL, and have worked with students from ages three through college. As a teacher, I have written Individualized Education Programs, designed accommodations and modifications, created behavior intervention plans, and developed comprehensive transition plans for students with Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ( ADHD),  Learning Disablities and Orthopedic Impairments.  In addition, I have experience as a course instructor and supervisor at the University of San Diego, San Diego State University and High Tech High Charter Schools, preparing new teachers who are completing their course of study to become special education teachers. In 2010, I co-authored the High Tech High Special Education Mild/Moderate Intern program for aspiring teachers pursuing a special education credential. In the spring of 2017, I joined the Thrive Public School community and will have several roles supporting students and teachers who work with students who have learning challenges.


Meagan_juanita.jpgMeagan Tracy
Education Specialist

contact: m.tracy@thrivesd.org








Jen_Johnson_pic.jpgJen Johnson
Core 1 Teacher (Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten) 

contact: j.johnson@thrivesd.org

Jen Johnson is so excited to join the Thrive Juanita team this year as a Core 1 teacher! This is Jen's second year teaching at Thrive and her 11th year teaching! As part of a military family, Jen had the unique opportunity to grow up all over the country and overseas. At the start of high school, her parents made the final move back to Pennsylvania, where Jen was born. She graduated from Millersville University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor's in Elementary Education, and after college, moved to Baltimore, Maryland to begin her career as an early childhood educator. There, Jen earned her Masters of Education in Leadership in Education, with a specialization in Teaching English as a Second Language from Notre Dame of Maryland University, and taught PreKindergarten and Kindergarten for eight years. In addition to classroom teaching, she was hired by Baltimore City Public Schools as a teacher professional development facilitator and literacy curriculum writer for Kindergarten, so Jen brings a strong passion for early literacy to the Thrive team. Jen and her husband moved to San Diego in 2016, and this East Coast girl has been loving the SoCal life! She has since trained to be a yoga teacher and kids yoga teacher and is excited to incorporate movement and mindfulness in her classroom. In her spare time, Jen loves spending time with her husband and friends, exploring new restaurants, going to the beach and practicing yoga.

Catherine_K.pngCatherine Kolodin
Core 1 Teacher (Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten) 

contact: c.kolodin@thrivesd.org

Catherine Kolodin grew up in Petaluma, California and moved to San Diego in 2009 to attend San Diego State University. There, she studied Kinesiology, following an interest in health, fitness, and science that stemmed from her career as a competitive gymnast. After dabbling with various jobs within the medical field, Catherine decided to follow her long-time passion of working with children and being a part of next generation education. Catherine obtained her Multiple Subject Credential from California State University, San Marcos, and has since worked with students in Kindergarten, Second, Fourth and Fifth grades. When she toured the Thrive campus and met the inspiring staff that composed the teaching and administrative team, Catherine knew this was where she belonged. She could not be more excited to be a part of the Core 1 team at Thrive on Juanita and is looking forward to evoking passion and excitement for learning while personalizing a school experience for her students. In her free time, Catherine enjoys spending time outdoors with friends, and she is also an avid yoga practitioner and teacher.  

Ashley.jpgAshley Wright
Core 1 Teacher (Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten) 

contact: a.wright@thrivesd.org

Ashley is a San Diego native and a San Diego State University alumni. She studied Business Management while working as a full-time nanny. Upon completion of her Bachelor's Degree, she decided to follow her true passion of working with children by completing the Multiple Subject teacher credentialing program through CalStateTEACH. Since then, Ashley has had experience working with children in transitional kindergarten, kindergarten, first, second and fifth grade classrooms. It was during her time interning at Thrive that she fell in love with the school's culture and practices. She instantly felt like this is where she belongs. During her free time, Ashley loves to spend time with her big family (She is the oldest of 6 siblings!) and enjoy the great outdoors.




Jeanette_juanita.jpgJeannette Monroy
Core 1 Teacher (Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten) 

contact: j.monroy@thrivesd.org

Jeannette is incredibly excited to be part of the Core 1 team because she strongly believes in setting a strong foundation in the early years to develop the social, emotional, and academic success of every student. The classroom environment she strives to foster consists of rigorous content and personalized learning, mixed in with fun and lots of love. She is eager to see the amazing projects the students will design and create at Thrive!

 Jeannette was born and raised in San Bernardino, California. She was a first generation college student who attended California State University of San Bernardino and San Diego State, where she earned three bachelor degrees and a bilingual credential. She is also a Teach for America alumni, and her passion for social justice and educational equity continues to be of paramount importance to her. Before deciding to call San Diego her home, she was teaching abroad in France and Spain, where she was able to learn new teaching strategies, languages, and develop a love for traveling. She has spent the last three years teaching transitional kindergarten at a bilingual charter school. Her goal was to transition the students into the next grade with a distinct academic advantage as well as socio-emotional growth. The most joyful teaching moments for her there were to see such young minds begin to read and write in both languages and add and subtract with ease. She is ready to collaborate and grow alongside passionate educators and parents to provide engaging and personalized student learning at Thrive! 



Këri Bolding

Core 2 Teacher (Grades 1-2)

contact: k.bolding@thrivesd.org

Këri Bolding knows teachers have a unique power to transform lives, because her third grade teacher changed the course of her life with one sentence: “I think you are a genius.”  Keri began her teaching career at the young age of 19, as a graduate of Stanford University, determined to make a difference through education. While teaching, she also started a nonprofit community center for arts and technology. Years later, Këri took a break from teaching to pursue a career in communications on environmental issues. Her work with climate scientists and energy experts took her to over 22 different countries to build partnerships and dialogue that advance efforts to reduce emissions, save energy, and protect the environment.  After more than a decade away, she realized that nothing makes her happier than teaching.  Këri recently earned a Masters Degree in Education with a specialization of “U.S. Education in the Global Context.” She joins the Thrive with a drive for designing creative and effective lessons aligned with standards for excellence. Këri is an artist, a lifelong learner, and an animal lover.  She wants to spend the rest of her life engaging and advancing students of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. 

Bridget.jpgBridget O'Keefe
Core 2 Teacher (Grades 1-2) 

contact: b.okeefe@thrivesd.org

Bridget grew up in Mission Viejo, California and moved to San Diego to attend the University of San Diego. While there, she studied psychology and was a member of the Cross Country and Track and Field Team. She discovered her love for education while volunteering for a psychology class at Carson Elementary School. After spending a semester with the kids there, she knew that the classroom was where she needed to be.  She went on to receive her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential at USD and has spent the last 4 years teaching Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade at Aspire Gateway Academy in Los Angeles. In her free time, Bridget can be found running, at the beach, reading, or spending time with family and friends. 
Bridget's goal as a teacher is to help students connect deeply with each other and the world around them through active and meaningful learning experiences. She feels so lucky to have the opportunity to learn and grow along with her students every day, and is thrilled to be part of such a passionate and caring team at Thrive!

saskar_headshot.jpgSteven Askar
Core 2 Teacher (Grades 1-2) 

contact: s.askar@thrivesd.org

Steve loves to laugh, love, and learn. He feels grateful to be doing all three of these things alongside an incredible Thrive staff. Before coming to Thrive, Steve graduated as valedictorian from Brigham Young University - Idaho, receiving summa cum laude honors for a degree in Elementary Education. More recently, Steve graduated with Summa Cum Laude Honors from Johns Hopkins and received a Master’s degree for Early Childhood Education. In addition to formal schooling, Steve has learned a great deal about teaching from his experience as a Teach For America corps member, where he taught preschool in San Diego for two years. During this time, Steve was named by SDAEYC as the San Diego Early Childhood Educator of the year. He’s excited to leverage his unique background and collaborate with students, parents and community members this coming year as a Core 2 teacher!



Alyssa Diaz
Core 2 Teacher (Grades 1-2) 

contact: a.diaz@thrivesd.org

Alyssa was born and raised in Duarte, California, and moved to San Diego in 2003 to attend San Diego State University. Go Aztecs! She received her Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Pre-Physical Therapy. While preparing to enter a Physical Therapy program, she worked at Monarch Schools in downtown San Diego as a teacher’s aide, and realized that her true passion was in the classroom. In 2011, she moved to San Jose, California to begin a two-year commitment with Teach for America where she taught 3rd grade at a school in East San Jose. She also earned her Multiple Subject Elementary Teaching Credential through a partnership with TFA and Loyola Marymount University. After her commitment, she returned to San Diego to find a new school to call home. After working at a couple of schools, several opportunities led her to Thrive. Upon learning about Thrive and all that it strives to be, she knew Thrive is where she was meant to be. She is so excited and honored  to join the amazing Thrive family!


Dana_Gaertner.pngDana Gaertner
Core 3 Teacher (Grades 3-4) 

contact: d.gaertner@thrivesd.org

Dana is excited to join Thrive for the 2017-18 school year as a classroom teacher. She has a bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Wisconsin Stout, with a teaching license in Early Childhood Education. Dana is currently completing her Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, with an emphasis in Turnaround Leadership, from the University of Denver, where she also received her principal’s license.

Dana began her teaching career as a kindergarten and first grade teacher in Denver Public Schools, and has worked in School Improvement for the past 6 years. During her free time, she loves to work on her urban homestead—vegetable gardening, harvesting grapes, and taking care of her three chickens. She also enjoys the beach, cooking, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.


08_Michael.Tong_(Core_3).jpgMichael Tong
Core 3 Teacher (Grades 3-4)

contact: m.tong@thrivesd.org

Michael Tong graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Southern California with a B.S. in Business Administration and a double minor in Professional and Managerial Communication and Philosophy. While at USC, he served as President of Residential Student Government, Vice President of the Trojan Consulting Group and President of the National Residence Hall Honorary. He competes at the national level in Triathlons which combines his love for running, swimming and biking. While at USC he joined the Joint Education Program and taught local elementary students Geology and Exercise Science. Although he worked for both the Target corporation and PwC, it was his experience as an educator and leader that he found truly gratifying. This led him to join Teach For America in his hometown of San Diego. He hope to bring his passion for leadership and business to help show his students the real-life application of their learning in the classroom. He is thrilled to be joining the Thrive team whose approach to education parallels his personal values on learning. 

mhanlineheadshot.JPGMercedes Hanline
Core 4 Teacher (Grade 5) 

contact: m.hanline@thrivesd.org

Mercedes is thrilled to join the Thrive family as a core 4 teacher! Born and raised in San Diego, her love for the charter school model comes from having attended one herself. Graduating in 2006 from the Preuss School UCSD, Mercedes was part of the first graduating class to attend the school from 6th-12th grade. She then went on to earn a B.A. in American Literature and Culture from UCLA. While attending college Mercedes worked as a mentor and coordinator for a student-initiated and student-run tutoring/mentoring program that serviced high school youth throughout Los Angeles. She also spent time working with elementary school students as a TA in West Lost Angeles and has worked in every grade level from K-12 in public, private, and non-public settings. For the last two years she has been working in special education at the high school level and has a wealth of experience in case managing and collaborating with student success teams. She holds a multiple subject credential, a special education credential (mild-moderate), and recently completed her Masters degree in teaching. She enjoys reading, writing, listening to music, going to concerts, spending time with friends and family, and making art of any kind. 


Kyle.jpgKyle Fabacher
Core 4 Teacher (Grade 5) 

contact: k.fabacher@thrivesd.org

Born and raised in small town southern Georgia, Kyle experienced firsthand how motivated teachers can dramatically shape a student’s life. He is passionate about serving others in both his professional and personal life, and always seeking experiences that put others first. Kyle has demonstrated this passion through experiences such as volunteering his time coaching soccer in inner-city Atlanta, and by participating in both domestic and international mission work.

Kyle joins the Thrive team through the Teach for America Organization. He is a recent graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology where he earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Leadership studies, and graduated with Honors. He took advantage of the diverse collection of activities at Georgia Tech including the international study abroad program. Kyle spent 5 months in France learning about new cultures, which sparked an interest in traveling. Traveling has become one of his favorite hobbies and, as a lover of the outdoors, he looks forward to enjoying San Diego’s oceans and hiking! Kyle is excited to become a part of STEM education in the greater San Diego community. He is thankful to believe deeply in many of the values of the Thrive family, and cannot wait to collaborate with other educators in always putting students first.


Shawn.JPGShawn Sobieski
Exploratory Design

contact: s.sobieski@thrivesd.org

Shawn loves being wrong. Why? Because being wrong is usually the first step to learning something new and learning is his favorite thing to do. In his own life, sometimes that meant exploring the human experience as a Philosophy major with a Psychology minor at Loyola Marymount University and sometimes it meant understanding the foundations of the American legal system during a detour at Loyola law school.
Through these experiences of early adulthood one lesson stood out; good memories are worth working hard for. And in the past three years while he's worked as a teaching associate at Citizens of the World Charter in Echo Park, earned his credential and masters from Antioch University, and substitute taught with SDUSD that lesson has driven him forward. Passion and enthusiasm are certainly part of the package, but Shawn is most excited to join the Thrive team because he can already tell how hard this community works to make the school wide experience an incredible one.
During his free time he loves to read, mostly non-fiction, although he's eagerly anticipating the next Game of Thrones book to hit the shelves. He also likes to stay active, either by playing sports, hiking with friends or by practicing yoga, which he does almost daily.  

Sam.PNGSam Anderson
Exploratory Movement

contact: s.anderson@thrivesd.org

Sam comes from a family of educators who early on instilled in him the importance of creativity, curiosity, and fun when it comes to learning.  He studied at Universidad de Alicante and Universidad del País Vasco in Spain before graduating at California State University San Marcos with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish.  Growing up he competed in collegiate and freestyle wrestling as well as played baseball.  He now enjoys surfing, boxing, Muay Thai, and spending time with his wife and their 1 year old Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy.  Sam is very excited to bring his enthusiasm for an active and healthy lifestyle to the students of Thrive in his role as movement teacher.





Shanti Curto
Exploratory Design

contact: s.curto@thrivesd.org

Shanti Curto is a wife, mother of two beautiful boys, and an artist who has studied photo-realism and color theory.  Shanti's curriculum focus includes technique, terminology and exposure to artists/genres through both process, product, and project based lessons.  Shanti traveled the globe as a young child and planted roots in San Diego. She raises her family of passionate surfers and heart minded individuals in OB.




Maintenance Services







SMaribei.jpgSilvia Maribei

Sylvia Maribei is an intern at Thrive. She discovered her passion for teaching after moving to San Diego from Kenya four years ago, when she took part-time job as an early childhood music teacher.  She was considering ways to develop as an educator when found out the internship opportunity at Thrive. She was impressed by Thrive’s innovative approach to education, and bowled over by the emphasis on social-emotional learning.  She is excited to train as a teacher in a vibrant community that aligns with her personal values on education.  She holds a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from the University of East London, U.K; Graduate Diploma in Disaster Management from Coventry University, U.K. and an Associate Degree Music Performance from Sydney, Australia.  She is thrilled to get to be a part of the wonderful work her that will prepare students to Thrive.


Abi_Q.jpgAbigael Quincena

Abigael has been been working with children since she herself was a child. Accompanying her Pre-school teacher mother as her teacher’s aide at the age of ten, volunteering in various children’s programs through out middle school and high school — Abigael has always had a passion working with youth. She continued on to attend UC San Diego, where she received double degrees —a Bachelors of Arts in Communications and a Bachelor of Science in Public Health. In college, she worked as a camp counselor, as well as a Behavioral Interventionist doing ABA with children on the autism spectrum. During the past two years, Abigael has applied her talents and expertise serving as a therapeutic tutor for students with dyslexia, ADHD and other differential processing issues. She is devoted to creatively designing personalized teaching instruction to meet each students’ individual learning needs. Abigael uses her passion for Public health to incorporate social-emotional learning, teaching students how to self-regulate and find activities that may help them achieve control, calm, and confidence. Her passion is to see each child gain confidence in their abilities and develop a thirst for knowledge. On weekends, you can find her soaking up the San Diego sunshine on her fixed gear bicycle, with her black lab pup running alongside. When she’s not teaching, she also spends her time doing yoga, pilates, crafting, cooking, and snacking on a pint of Creme Brûlée Ice cream. 


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