Nicole.jpgNicole Assisi, Ed. D.
CEO, Thrive Public School

Dr. Assisi is an accomplished school developer and leader in 21st century learning innovations, who launched Thrive Public Schools, a new breakthrough model for project-based, blended learning K-12 schools. Thrive is the result of years of research, experience and collaboration with some of the nation’s finest educators, including work as an Entrepreneur in Residence for the Charter School Growth Fund who support the launch of this new charter network. In less than 2 years Thrive was named one of the top 100 Schools Worth Visiting and is a Gates Foundation Model School for Next Generation Learning.


Dr. Assisi started her teaching career as an English teacher in the San Diego Unified School District before transitioning into the charter world and working at High Tech High and later becoming a founding team member for Camino Nuevo Charter Academy and then Da Vinci Schools, where she served both as Founding Principal and Director of New School Development. Under her leadership, Da Vinci opened 4 schools and earned widespread recognition for their rigorous and innovative programs, including funding from Hewlett, Gates, Belkin, Northrop and others. Believing deeply in more innovative and active support for teachers, she started Teacher Credentialing and Beginning Teachers Support Program at Da Vinci in partnership with High Tech High.


In addition to her school based work, Dr. Assisi teaches and mentors new charter school leaders as a professor for the Charter School Policy, Finance, and Administration Certificate Program at UCLA and the Charter and Autonomous School Leadership Academy at Cal State Dominguez Hills. She is a frequent speaker at statewide and regional conferences on charter schools, education reform and Next Generation Learning.


Originally from Germany, Dr. Assisi is fluent in Spanish, Portuguese and German and worked in television in both the Unites States and Europe before finding her passion in education. While she was designing and launching several new charter schools, she earned her Master’s Degrees in K-12 Literacy from the University of San Diego and in Educational Leadership from Point Loma Nazarene University, as well as her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education. Dr. Assisi also served as a board member for the Goethe International Charter School and also serves on the Advisory Board for the UCLA Extension Program.


shelli_head_shot_laugh_(Small).jpegShelli Kurth
School Director


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 including 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 create 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 School was a perfect match!


Joe Acker

Dean of Students


Joe has a rich background as an educator, engineer and scientist.  He has taught Advanced Placement Physics, Earth Science, Pre-Engineering, Math and robotics.  Before coming to Thrive, Joe, was involved in several innovative programs including the creation of the Design and Technology Academy (D.a.T.A.) at Madison High School, teaching Math and Science at High Tech High North County and most recently helping start e3 Civic High in the new Downtown Library. In addition to being a staff member at Thrive, he is also a Thrive parent!

 You can learn more about what is happening in his class by clicking here

Core 1

Lauren_pic.jpgLauren Valot
Core 1 Teacher (Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten) 


Website: Core 1

Lauren Valot’s adventure into education began during the last year of studying at Michigan State University for a Bachelors of Art in advertising. She began by volunteering for the local Awana Organization working with kindergarten and first grade children. Lauren pursued a job in advertising after graduation, but quickly realized her passion was working with kids. Because of this, she returned back to school at Saginaw Valley State University and completed her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential for elementary school. During this process she spent several years substitute teaching and volunteering in preschool through fifth grade classrooms. Lauren is also a strong believer that helping the community is important, and because of this, started a local Girl Scout Troop for kindergarten and first graders while in Michigan. For the past four years she has also been teaching English as a second language through interactive classes online. Once arriving in California she began her search for a unique and innovative school; Thrive Public Schools was her match! Lauren is very passionate about building an individualized plan for each student that will help all students appreciate their education and be excited to continue growing both in and out of the classroom!


Brandy Flesock 
Core 1 Teacher (Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten) 


Website: Core 1

Brandy Flesock is a passionate educator who values both the social-emotional growth of her students, as well as an interdisciplinary approach to teaching . She began her teaching career as a graduate from the Integrated Credential Program at California State University San Marcos in 2008 with a degree in Liberal Studies. Since then, she has taught in the Poway Unified School District and at Albert Einstein Endeavour Academy. Brandy has taught across several different grade levels, including Transitional Kindergarten, Kindergarten, First Grade and Third Grade. During that time, Brandy has gained invaluable experience in Project-Based Teaching and integrating both Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards into her classroom instruction.As an educator, Brandy values teaching to the whole student by fostering their growth not only academically, but socially and emotionally as well. She believes in building a strong classroom community that promotes a culture of high expectations and instilling a passion for lifelong learning.Brandy is thrilled to be joining Thrive this year and being part of an innovative team of educators who are so passionate about teaching!


Bekah.jpgRebekah Olive
Core 1 Teacher (Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten) 


Website: Core 1

Rebekah grew up in Minneapolis. She started working in classrooms at age 16 as a special education paraprofessional. She's aspired to be an educator ever since. She earned a B.S. and an M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education from the University of Minnesota. She moved to San Diego in September 2014 with her husband, who is pursuing a PhD at the University of California. She obtained her Multiple Subject Elementary Teaching Credential and began her search for "the dream job." She found it at Thrive! Rebekah cares deeply about teaching and supporting children's development of knowledge, skills, and creativity. She is passionate about reaching each of her students and helping them access their unique superpowers.




Jamie Pekras

Core 2  Teacher (Grades 1-2)


Website: Core 2

Jamie Pekras. Jamie grew up in San Diego and attended San Diego State University. She received her BA in European Studies and had the opportunity to study abroad at the University of Granada in Spain. It was then that she developed a passion for travel and learning about other cultures. As a child, she always said she would be a teacher someday, and this love of education continued when she returned to San Diego State and received a multiple subject teaching credential. For the past four years she has lived in San Francisco and has taught first, second, and third grade at East Palo Alto Charter School in the Bay Area. She absolutely loves teaching writing and helping students find their passions. She was a member of a district-wide writing team to develop rubrics and assessment and a part of her school’s Social Emotional Learning team to create curriculum around character development. She is thrilled to be a part of such a devoted team at Thrive this year!




Jaclyn Vasko

Core 2  Teacher (Grades 1-2)


Website: Core 2

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.

Courtney_pic.pngCourtney Horne
Core 3 (Grades 3-4)


Website: Core 3

Courtney Horne grew passionate towards pursing a career in elementary education when she began her first job at age 15 as a summer camp counselor. She later left her hometown of Petaluma, California to pursue a Bachelors of Art in Psychology at San Diego State University. Throughout her undergrad years, she spent her free time utilizing her 18 years of dance training in contemporary, jazz, hip-hop, tap, and ballet by teaching dance classes at elementary schools in San Diego through a program called Heartlight Aerobics. After graduating from San Diego State, she immediately enrolled into Cal State Fullerton, where she received her Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential. Her student teaching experience took place at Explorer Elementary School where she spent time teaching 2nd and 4th grade. Courtney’s most recent accomplishment was this August 2014 when she received a certification as a Lead Launch Teacher for a S.T.E.M program called Project Lead the Way. She is excited to bring her love of tinkering and building to Core 3.



Kirsten Luongo

Core 3 (Grades 3-4)


Website: Core 3

Kirsten Luongo grew up in Connecticut and has recently moved to San Diego California. She earned her teaching credentials from Connecticut and is currently in the process of obtaining her Multiple Subjects Teaching Certification from California. Kirsten graduated from Southern CT State University with a Bachelors in Elementary Education, and a Bachelors in Liberal Studies with minors in Communication, Psychology, and Journalism. She began her teaching career as a co-teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, then taught third grade for two years at Quinnipiac Real World Math S.T.E.M Magnet School in New Haven, CT. Kirsten has written and implemented four S.T.E.M unit curriculums to enhance student learning. She believes in making learning ,engaging and modifying instruction to meet the needs of each student. Kirsten is very excited to be a part of the Thrive Team, and is looking forward to her new journey as an educator at Thrive Public Schools.



Cori Brooks

 Core 4-5 Humanities Teacher (Grades 5-8)


Website: Core 4

Cori Brooks started her educational career working in the traditional public school classroom. She moved into a teaching position at a homeschool public charter school where she worked closely with all grade levels of students and their parents. She worked as a site lead and then led the implementation of a new hybrid onsite program. She received her Master of Education in Teacher Leadership from High Tech High Graduate School of Education where she was able to complete action research on one of her passions; global citizenship in and outside of the classroom. She led a startup, recycled bag company that she gave up to focus on educating students and bringing them closer to the world around them. She loves playing and watching soccer. She also loves spending quality time with her husband and two daughters, ages 11 and 14.


Wes_Davis.jpgWes Davis

Core 4-5 Science Teacher (Grades 5-8)


Website: Core 4

Meet Wesley Davis our Middle School Science and Engineering teacher. Wesley has a robust background in real-world science and progressive education. Since graduating from California State University, Chico in 2000, his biology degree has led to cloning DNA in Santa Cruz, studying forest carnivores around Lake Tahoe, making wine in the Napa Valley and filming coral reef fish in French Polynesia. In 2005, Wesley earned teaching credentials in Math and Science and began developing his skills as an educator. Over the past ten years, Wesley has worked with students at High Tech Middle Media Arts, A Reason To Survive (ARTS) and Innovations Academy. During the summer, Wesley is a Rock Climbing Specialist for Outpost Summer Camps.
Through meaningful projects, Wesley strives to cultivate a sense of wonder, belonging and scientific literacy. Past projects have included microscope photography, creating living sculptures from reclaimed materials, launching student-designed rockets, reimagining playground equipment, engineering tools to collect marine specimens, recording science podcasts, reducing lunch waste on campus, woodworking, running a 5K race, creating custom LED circuits and publishing the children’s book “Nico the Gnatcatcher”. Wesley is excited to begin his first year with Thrive!


Glenn Jacobson

Core 4-5 Math Teacher (Grades 5-8)


Website: Core 4

Glenn moved to Southern California from Chicago this summer. Over his nine years of teaching math, science, and technology in Chicago he's learned a lot about reaching students and reflecting on his practice. He is originally from Wisconsin and a proud alumnus of UW-Madison (with a B.S. in Elementary Education). He is still a big fan of Wisconsin Badger athletics. Glenn is serious about continuing his own education and is currently working on completing a masters program in Technology in Education at National Louis University.

Glenn loves teaching math and thinks that it should be viewed in a conceptual and authentic way because math is everywhere around us. His longstanding goal as an educator is to contribute to the well-being of the community with dedication to meaningful classroom instruction that stretches beyond the walls of the classroom and school."I believe in maintaining high expectations for all students and want to help guide students to find their path and purpose in life. I feel fortunate to be in such an influential field and truly enjoy making a favorable impact on the lives of children."

julia.JPGJulia Hollison Specialist


After graduating from college in 2001 and with her BA in Elementary Education, Julia began her professional teaching career teaching English in Chile. Julia spent a year teaching and traveling in South America, studying Spanish and building teaching skills. Julia returned to her hometown in NJ after her adventures, but her spirit took her west to California in 2005. After substitute teaching in public schools for a couple years while transferring teaching credentials, Julia got a job as
an academic coach at High Tech High in Point Loma. Working at High Tech High with students with special needs opened a new passion in her career as a teacher. Julia completed her MA in Special Education: Mild to Moderate Disabilities during her time teaching at HTH. She went on to work with students on the Autism Spectrum for three year before finding Thrive. The
three years teaching students with Autism, Julia developed a love of behavior therapy and developing strategies in classrooms to help all students learn. She is so happy to find herself at Thrive with the amazing staff, students and parents that have welcomed her with open arms!



Ellen.jpgEllen Monfredi

Design Lab Teacher (Grades TK-4)


Ellen is very excited to be a part of the Thrive Team. She has taught Kindergarten, and  Fifth grade for 11 years in both public and private schools in San Diego. She is a native san Diegan and currently residents in La Mesa. When she isn't watching her kids play soccer or fence, she is out at an art museum or hitting the trails n her horses. Ellen is also a volunteer for the Sheriff's Mounted Posse.





Mei Christensen 

Intervention Coordinator


Mei has been working with children in and out of the classroom for the last decade. She has been a swim coach, tutor, and camp counselor, and has taught in grades PreK-8 in public, private, and charter schools. While a student-athlete at the University of Virginia, Mei was captain of the swim team and competed in the 2008 Olympic Trials. She graduated from the U.Va with a Bachelors in Psychology and a Masters in Elementary Education.







Yeager_-PMB.jpgDavid Yeager
Business and Operations Manager  


David Yeager is a native San Diegan, who attended schools in San Diego Unified School District for his entire K-12 education. After graduating from Crawford High School, he worked as a teacher's assistant at a local private school while attending college full-time as a business major eventually earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.  David spent 12 years in Operations Management and Process Improvement with a Fortune 500 technology company.  In addition to his business experience, David, has been active in the education community in San Diego both through his son's schools and independently with other schools.  Currently he serves as a member of the Charter Board at Helix High School. He has also held roles on the CPMA (Creative, Performing, and Media Arts) School Site Council and was Chairperson of the Board at Darnall Charter School, both schools his son attended.  David has also worked on the development of several charter schools in San Diego.  His contribution to education is a focus on providing operational knowledge, support, and expertise so educators can focus on educating students.  He lives in the College Area with his fiancé and son and is active in his son's extracurricular activities.  David is excited to be a part of the team that will grow Thrive Public Schools to serve students throughout San Diego.

 blake.jpgBlake Dye

Thrive Beyond (After School) Staff


Blake is a San Diego native and graduate of Steele Canyon Charter High School. He has 8+ years of experience in after-school programs and summer camps from various YMCA branches throughout San Diego County. As the Rancho Family YMCA Summer Camp Coordinator, he most recently serviced over 3,200 children. He very passionate about youth development and is excited to build the Thrive Beyond After-School program.




anya.jpgAnya Hall-Flores

Thrive Beyond (After School) Staff

contact: a.hall

Anya is the CEO anad Director of ACME Education and the newest member of the Thrive Beyond Program. Anya has 15 years of experience working with youth with and emphasis on after school development. Anya believes it is important to give youth the opportunity to learn and grow in a safe environment, to interact with other people their age and adults, and experience new and exciting things that will aid them throughout their lives.  


So, you still want to know about our staff?

Why not check out these fun videos about a handful of our team members?


Nicole Assisi


Shelli Kurth


Cori Brooks


Courtney Horne


Lauren Valot




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