Our passionate, professional staff looks forward to meeting you and your child.
Head of School
Ms. Stewart is an intelligent, compassionate, and well-educated native of Great Britain. She earned her undergraduate degree in Elementary education (B.Ed.) from the University of Greenwich in London, England, and her master’s degree in Special Educational Needs from the prestigious Exeter University, also in England. Over her twenty-year teaching career, Ms. Stewart amassed an incredible amount of wisdom regarding students and classroom methods. Later, as Deputy Principal for a special education school in Derbyshire, England, Ms. Stewart rounded out her experience, focusing on curriculum development and working with pupils with special emotional and behavioral needs. In 2011, Ms. Stewart brought her insight, education, and experience to LePort Schools. The Huntington Pier campus is privileged to have someone with Ms. Stewart’s keen insight and calm leadership as its Head of School.
Assistant Head of School
Ms. Hazard’s teaching career began in 1990, when she taught for the Santa Ana and Downey Unified School Districts. Ms. Hazard has been teaching in private schools since 2005.
In 2012, Ms. Hazard took on the role of Assistant Head of School, shifting her focus to curriculum development and staff training. She loves the challenges associated with every aspect of the educational process and realizes that a good education is founded on both excellent teaching and a solid partnership between the school and the home.
Ms. Hazard attended the University of California, Irvine where she completed her Bachelor’s of Science in Social Ecology. She went onto National University, where she earned her Master’s Degree in Educational Administration.
In her spare time, Ms. Hazard enjoys spending time with family and friends. She loves taking long walks on the beach and tent camping at National Parks in California.
Kelly Van Dyke
Ms. Kelly Van Dyke earned her B.A. from California State University, Long Beach, with a double major in English Literature and English Education. In her early career, Ms. Van Dyke gained five years experience as the administrator for her family business and two years experience with Wells Fargo Advisors. Later, Ms. Van Dyke realized that she was happiest on a school campus, so she sought out opportunities as Site Director and Designated School Official for two private schools, including a private university in Newport Beach. She jumped at the opportunity to bring her extensive administrative experience as well as her love for working with students to the LePort Schools community. You will never see Ms. Van Dyke without a smile on her face and a friendly word to say! Outside of work, Ms. Van Dyke loves volleyball, her six brothers and sisters, and paddle boarding.
Ms. Denise Betonio joined the Huntington Pier Administrative team in 2013. Before joining LePort Schools, Ms. Betonio gained administrative and customer service experience working in the durable medical equipment industry. Having earned an athletic scholarship to Tallahasee College, her major was Social Behavior and as a collegiate athlete, she dedicated much of her time training and coaching children in softball and fitness. Ms. Betonio has three younger siblings, ages 12, 10, and 5 and frequently volunteers and is involved in their school activities. Her siblings have naturally strengthened her passion for children and she is delighted to work with them. That same passion drew her to LePort Schools. She is currently pursuing studies in Early Childhood Education and Administration at Cerritos College where she has been influenced by the Montessori Method and eventually plans on teaching. She is honored and excited to be part of such a wonderful and caring administrative team and looks forward to creating memories at LePort!
Outreach & Operations Coordinator
Originally from Ohio, Ms. Jacquelyn Moss has spent most of her career in the Montessori world. She worked for several years with the North American Montessori Teachers’ Association (NAMTA), a Montessori teachers’ organization affiliated with the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI). With NAMTA, Ms. Moss planned national conferences and events for Montessori teachers. She also coordinated the travel and display of a touring exhibit, showcasing 100 years of Montessori education around the world. More recently before joining LePort Schools, Ms. Moss worked for four years as the Administrator of the Montessori Institute of San Diego, both in the Institute’s AMI-affiliated Teacher Training Center, and in its model Children’s House. Ms. Moss brings to LePort a wealth of knowledge and experience, both about the Montessori method and about school administration. She earned her B.S. in Journalism Ohio University.
Toddler and Primary Teachers
Montessori Toddler Head Teacher
Ms. Janine DPenha is an AMI trained Montessori teacher who earned her diploma from the Ratan Tata Institute in Mumbai, India. Earlier, Ms. DPenha earned her master’s degree from Mumbai University, studied classical music at Trinity College in London, and earned her “Certificate of Early Childhood” from the Auckland University of Technology.
Ms. DPenha has not only studied all over the world, she has also taught all over the world. Before joining LePort Schools in 2012, Ms. DPenha led Montessori classrooms from Mumbai, to New Zealand, to Singapore, to Salinas, California. She has seen the value of Montessori to so many children across so many very different cultures, and she never ceases to be impressed by how enthusiastically young children take to the Montessori classroom to learn and gain independence. Ms. DPenha never tires of watching that unconscious look of pride and delight on a child’s face, as he or she successfully accomplishes a task in the classroom.
Montessori Primary Head Teacher
Ms. Janine Bowman has been in the Montessori teaching field for decades. She began her teaching career in Manhattan Beach, California in 1987. Originally, she attended the Montessori Institute of Los Angeles and the International Montessori Institute in Sage, California. Ms. Bowman also completed her Montessori Infant Toddler training in Sage, California, and completed her administrative certificate at UCLA in 1993.
In 1993, Ms Bowman opened a new Montessori School in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. Later, she joined LePort Schools as the Head of School at one of its campuses. Ms. Bowman’s considerable knowledge and experience are now directed towards the management of an exceptional Montessori Primary classroom.
Mrs. Peggy Metz has an A.A. degree with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education. Upon graduation, Mrs. Metz was employed in the Disabled Students Office at a community college as a classroom interpreter in sign language for deaf college students. She also assisted in the office securing services for other disabled college students, which included many disabled veterans. In addition Mrs. Metz taught sign language through the college’s Community Services Program. She later attended California State University, Los Angeles.
Although Mrs. Metz has been working with children since she was 15 years old, she originally came to teaching after a successful 10-year career working with senior citizens. In 1991, she moved with her husband and son to Huntington Beach, and switched her focus from seniors to young children. From 1993 onward, Mrs. Metz taught at Carden Academy of Huntington Beach, focusing for most of those years on the Kindergarten class. Throughout the years, she has continued her own education with additional Early Childhood Education classes at Orange Coast College.
Mrs. Metz enjoys reading, movies, country western music, American history and most of all spending time with her husband, son and family.
Ms. Stanford has been working with three and four year olds since 1988, and has been a long-standing leader in the preschool programs at this campus. Ms. Stanford has an extraordinary love of children, and especially enjoys passing on the special moments she is privileged to observe every day to parents. As both a mother and a grandmother, Ms. Stanford loves spending time with the young ones in her own family. Her hobbies include spending quality time with loved ones, watching sports, bowling, and cooking.
Ms. Katja Flores was born in Germany, where she began working with small children at a young age. After relocating to Southern California, Ms. Flores studied Early Childhood Education at Orange Coast College. Early on after immigrating she taught Sunday school and also worked for the German American School. Later, she joined the Carden Academy of Huntington Beach, where she worked with preschool children for twelve years.
Ms. Flores is active in the community. She teaches cooking and nutrition at an afterschool enrichment program for elementary and junior high children. She also volunteers at a kitchen for the homeless. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, gardening, traveling and cooking. For Ms. Flores, there is nothing more satisfying than watching children mature and grow into increasingly independent young people.
Lower Elementary Teachers
Montessori Lower Elementary Head Teacher
After graduating from Michigan State University in 2003, Mr. Jose DeJesus began working as a counselor with at-risk youth in Chicago. It was through working with these students that Mr. DeJesus learned first hand how critically valuable—and often life-changing—it can be to reach children early in life (the earlier the better!), and provide them with a quality education.
Through a dear friend, Mr. DeJesus was introduced to the writings of Dr. Maria Montessori, and immediately felt a connection to her work. He realized that in Maria Montessori’s method lay a profoundly effective way to make a positive impact on the development of young children, and the adults they would some day become. Shortly thereafter, Mr. DeJesus began the AMI training for elementary education at the Montessori Institute of Milwaukee.
Mr. DeJesus moved to California and joined LePort Schools in June 2010. He immediately experienced great success teaching LePort’s lower elementary summer program. In his spare time, he enjoys exploring the great outdoors, especially the ocean and beaches of Orange County.
Lower Elementary Junior Teacher
Ms. Kathleen Habuki graduated from California State University, Fullerton with a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, and a Bachelor of Science in Child and Adolescence Development. She has been working in the field of education since 2005. Ms. Habuki is well-travelled — she has spent time studying abroad in Japan, as well as teaching in Korea. She has a true passion for education, and loves working with children. When she isn’t working, she enjoys cooking and scrap-booking.
Third Grade Teacher
As the mother of six, Ms. Mikelyn Weber developed a strong interest in education through her parenting. She returned to school to pursue her B.A. in Liberal Studies, with a minor in American Studies, from California State University, Fullerton. After completing the CSUF teaching program, Ms. Weber began teaching in private schools in 2006. Besides being extremely busy with her family, she enjoys sports, reading, and classic films.
Upper Elementary and Junior High Teachers
Mrs. Fisher grew up in Orange County and received her B.S. and Multiple Subject Teaching Credentials from California State University, Fullerton. Her previous teaching assignments have included elementary classes in both private and public schools, as well as Pre-Algebra through Algebra II in a junior high setting.
Mrs. Fisher’s extensive background in mathematics has offered excellent preparation for teaching the enriched curriculum LePort Schools offers to its students. She strives to utilize her creativity in the classroom, so that each and every child becomes curious and confident in the field of mathematics. Outside of the classroom, she enjoys traveling with her husband, spending time with her family, and relaxing by the beach.
Mr. Hai Le has been working with students as a substitute teacher, tutor, and mentor since 2005. He earned his bachelor’s degree in education from Wichita State University, and began his career in education teaching middle school math at an urban school district in Kansas, before relocating to California in order to join LePort Schools in 2012. Mr. Le also holds a California Preliminary Single Subject Teaching Credential for math.
Growing up, Mr. Le was lucky to encounter some truly inspirational and motivating teachers. He hopes to pass on this legacy to his own students, and to instill in them a sense of curiosity and appreciation for the process of learning, as well as the rigor and logic of a mathematical mind.
Ms. Jessica McNally graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Ms. McNally first became interested in teaching during her time at UCLA, when she tutored students from 2nd to 8th grade at the Pio Pico Span School. Through this experience, she became aware of the value of education. She realized that all of her students were capable of succeeding if only they were given the right combination of a rigorous curriculum and a friendly learning environment. After graduation, Ms. McNally was selected for the Teach for America program. For two years, she taught math and science at a rural school in Louisiana. There, Ms. McNally hit the ground running, building strong relationships with sometimes challenging students and families, taking the initiative to re-structure and re-write curriculum that was not effective in the classroom, and striving in every way to improve the educational experience for each one of her students. Ms. McNally’s boundless energy and thoughtful approach is a pleasure to behold in the classroom. Outside of work, Ms. McNally enjoys baking, rock climbing, and the outdoors.
Ms. Ashlei Sanchez has loved working with children since she was young. Since she was a teenager, she has sought opportunities to be in the classroom, whether as a volunteer, tutor, or teacher. Ms. Sanchez earned her bachelor’s degree with a specialization in Mathematics at San Diego State University. She earned her teaching credential at the same University, and went on to gain valuable teaching experience in first and fifth grade classrooms. She jumped at the opportunity to join LePort Schools in 2012, recognizing how closely LePort’s educational philosophy parallels her own. When not working, Ms. Sanchez enjoys hiking and reading a book.
Ms. Shannon Doherty graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies as well as a multiple subject teaching credential. Prior to joining LePort Schools, Ms. Doherty worked with children in many capacities, from teaching second and fifth grade, to substitute teaching in nearly every elementary grade level, to working at a variety of academic summer camps. Ms. Doherty discovered her love for teaching mathematics through her multiple subject teaching experiences. She has come to believe that when students are encouraged to learn the logical concepts behind mathematical practices, they also learn how to reason and become critical thinkers — a skill that is transferable to all subjects. Ms. Doherty also enjoys incorporating relevant resources, materials, and technology into her classroom to enhance learning. In addition to teaching, Ms. Doherty enjoys camping, hiking, reading, and traveling.
Language Arts Teacher
Ms. Lambert received her B.A. in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Psychology from California State University Long Beach. She went on to complete her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and earn a Master’s Degree in Education. She joined LePort after fifteen years of private school teaching, including valuable curriculum development experience.
In addition to teaching, Mrs. Lambert enjoys reading, biking, and spending time with her husband and children.
Language Arts Teacher
Ms. Kaela Mulvaney graduated magna cum laude from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, with a B.A. in English. Ms. Mulvaney chose English as her career because she loves to grapple with literature’s complexities, and appreciates the transcendent power of a well-written piece. She went on to earn her teaching credential, and has taught students from kindergarten through ninth grade. Most recently before joining LePort, Ms. Mulvaney taught at a charter school in Northern California dedicated to the principles of classical education, including the study of classic literature. There, Ms. Mulvaney wrote English curriculum from scratch, and delighted in teaching full-length novels to her elementary students, drawing out meaningful themes.
When asked why she became a teacher, Ms. Mulvaney responded: “I have wanted to be a teacher for nearly the entirety of my life. For me, teaching is a way to positively impact the world. Every child that I inspire to learn and lead toward self-education betters the world to some degree. Teaching also means that I get to further explore the subjects I am myself passionate about, so that I can share my own excitement with young-minds. I cannot imagine myself in another profession.”
Ms. Mulvaney was thrilled when she encountered LePort Schools. She knew she wanted to be a part of an environment where each individual student can actualize his or her potential. She feels honored to be a member of a team of such high-minded and passionate professionals. In addition to teaching, Ms. Mulvaney enjoys baking, reading, hiking, and running.
Language Arts Teacher
Mr. Joel Mendes has loved literature since he was a child. He earned his B.A. in English Education with an emphasis in Literature from California State University, Long Beach, graduating with honors. Mr. Mendes tutored extensively throughout both high school and college, and coached high school volleyball throughout college. He went on to earn his Single-Subject Teaching Credential in English from Long Beach State. He studied during the day, and taught at night, at a college for international students learning English as a second language.
Prior to joining LePort Schools, Mr. Mendes taught High School English as a student teacher at Woodrow Wilson Classical High School. He then taught Middle School English for two years at a brand new charter school in Long Beach, where he took a leadership role in writing the English curriculum for the campus. LePort was privileged to hire this intelligent, insightful teacher in 2012.
Outside of the classroom, Mr. Mendes and his wife love spending time with their young son and new baby daughter. His experiences with his own children have made the education and betterment of children even more of a priority in his life. Mr. Mendes makes it his mission to stretch his students, pushing them to grow into academically successful students, and well-rounded, good-natured individuals. Mr. Mendes loves to cook, plays a little guitar, dabbles in photography, and plays several sports.
Language Arts Teacher
Ms. Sullivan graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Political Science and English. It was through her studies at BYU and her extensive in-classroom volunteering opportunities that she realized the critical importance of education for all children, and her own role in seeing that ideal fulfilled. Upon graduation, Ms. Sullivan joined the Teach for America program. She taught middle school English for two years in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. While in Louisiana, Ms. Sullivan developed a deep understanding of the value of Language Arts education. Prior to joining LePort Schools in 2012, Ms. Sullivan was selected by Teach for America to train incoming teachers in rural Mississippi. In her spare time, she loves bike riding, reading a good book at the beach, and cooking.
Language Arts Teacher
Ms. Martinat graduated magna cum laude from the University of Southern California with her bachelor’s degree in English. During her time at USC, Ms. Martinat participated in a number of community outreach programs tutoring local elementary school children, and teaching junior high and high school English. Ms. Martinat is a dancer, and she has long taught dance and drama to elementary students through the YMCA, the Children’s Performing Arts group in San Dimas, and the Lifeworks Sun School summer camp in Portland. Ms. Martinat believes in studying great authors and in leading her students to personally experience the exciting and inventive process of writing. As a seventh grade English teacher, Ms. Martinat observed that her students developed a much deeper understanding and enjoyment of literature after themselves trying their hands at creative writing.
As soon as Ms. Martinat discovered LePort, she knew it was where she wanted to teach. Ms. Martinat strongly believes in LePort’s teaching philosophy, which emphasizes a strong academic foundation along with moral and ethical guidance. LePort enables students to become positive contributors to the world they live in, and Ms. Martinat counts herself as fortunate to be a guide in this journey.
When Ms. Martinat isn’t reading or re-reading one of her favorite books, she enjoys dancing and biking. She also loves going to the theater!
Ms. Caralyn Fry earned her B.A. in History from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her passion for this subject is rooted in a love for examining the cross-cultural effects that political, economic, and social structures have had on societies throughout history. She places quality writing, grammar, and critical analysis at the top of her educational values. However, Ms. Fry also lives by the phrase “education is everywhere” and seeks to impart not just historical, but life knowledge to her students at every available opportunity.
Prior to joining LePort Schools, Ms. Fry was a teaching assistant at UCLA Extension’s Pathway Program. Here, she taught students with Autism, Down Syndrome, and other developmental disabilities, while specializing in Educational Support and Health and Nutrition. She has also loved her experiences working as a swim teacher for the Red Cross, and a camp counselor with the YMCA. In her spare time, Ms. Fry is happiest when she is occupied with one of her three R’s of life – reading, running, and rowing!
Ms. Lanea Amick studied History at California State University, Fullerton, with an emphasis on the ancient and medieval periods. Ms. Amick has for years been involved with the performing arts. She is a three-time California Arts Scholar.
Ms. Amick is an energetic, upbeat personality, who has worked in the cast at Disneyland, and enjoys bringing history alive in terms that children can connect and empathize with. She has always loved history, from the time she was a child. She often chose to spend her time reading about ancient civilizations or constructing a model of Sutter’s Mill. She is keenly aware that history can sometimes be taught as a dry series of names and dates – so her highest goal is instill in her students the same excitement that she feels herself for this subject, guiding them through a thrilling story of the rise and fall of great civilizations and individuals. Ms. Amick is also an avid science fiction fan, and a cat lover!
Ms. Jenevein has loved the natural sciences from a very young age. As the child of two doctors, she spent many hours following her parents around the hospital. Later, she organized dissections and surgery observations for the pre-med club at her high school. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Southern California, where she majored in philosophy and neuroscience.
Prior to joining LePort Schools in 2011, Ms. Jenevein worked with students in many capacities, including leading programs in forensic science and the biology of the senses at an academic summer camp for gifted students. She also has extensive experience as a mediator for middle school, high school, and college students. At LePort, Ms. Jenevein teaches a range of scientific subjects: anatomy & physiology, geology, chemistry, zoology, botany, and astronomy. Although her work at LePort certainly keeps her busy, she still enjoys leading wildflower hiking tours in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains each summer.
Ms. Jenevein hopes to share with students her knowledge and experience in many branches of science, and to give students critical tools for future independent study in these fields.
Ms. Cassondra Becking grew up in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where she immersed herself in nature and fostered an early love for science. She earned her bachelor’s degree from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, with an emphasis in social studies and science. She continued on to pursue her multiple subject teaching credential from California State University, Long Beach.
Prior to joining LePort Schools, Ms. Becking worked with children in many capacities, from teaching second and fifth grade, to developing from scratch the curriculum for an outdoor elementary education school. Ms. Becking was attracted to LePort by the hands-on approach to learning and the collaborative teaching environment. She takes great pleasure in being outside, traveling, hiking, stand up paddle boarding, and baking.
Madame Waldron received her B.A. in French from California State University, Long Beach, and has been a French instructor since 2003, developing and implementing her own original French program through her experience. Madame Waldron is a member of AATF (American Association of Teachers of French). Her 7th and 8th graders participate in Le Grand Concours, the AATF sponsored National French Contest. Madame Waldron’s students have earned gold, silver and bronze medals, ranking in the top 10% of participants in the nation. Each year, students look forward to seeing how far they have progressed and successfully competing for medals and other recognitions. She enjoys sharing her love of the French language and culture with her students, and looks forward to hearing from former students who are now studying abroad!
Physical Education Teacher
Mary Boatman has been teaching for 26 years. She started her teaching career as a substitute teacher for Orange County Unified School, and has also worked as a Preschool teacher. During this time Ms Boatman also gained experience as a personal trainer. She now devotes her teaching time to physical education.
In her free time, Ms Boatman enjoys playing sports and working out. She supports the Lakers whenever she can and also enjoys gourmet cooking.
Ms. Elizabeth Curiel is southern California native and has raised two children. After a long career as a commercial artist, Ms. Liz has re-entered college and is happily pursuing an education and new career in what she loves most, children! When her children were young, she ran a licensed daycare where she cared for children from newborn to five years old. During her children’s early school years, she also worked as a teacher’s aide for a special education class and has completed countless hours of volunteer work and tutoring in elementary grade school classes. She recently completed an Art4Healing facilitator certificate program and has assisted in facilitating classes for underprivileged high-risk children, women’s shelters, and for Wounded Warriors and their families. All these experiences have only left her wanting to do more for children and to make a positive difference in their lives. She loves the children and teachers at LePort and is grateful to be part of the LePort team!
Ms. Jamie Miller, a southern California native. Before coming to LePort, Ms. Miller specialized in pediatric dentistry as a registered dental assistant committed to the health and preventative care of children. Having worked some year’s prior at a Montessori school, it has been a very seamless transition back into the classroom for her. Ms. Miller has a passion for working with children, which is evident in her patient demeanor. Ms. Miller earned her early childhood education units at Laguna Technical College.
In her free time, Ms. Miller enjoys spending quality time with her family, hiking, going to church, and journaling. She is the proud Aunt of three nephews, Nathan, Chase, and Aiden.