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Dedicated experts with a proven record of success.

 

Our Executive Director, Daniel Calzaretta has been an educator since 1990, most recently working in Walla Walla Public Schools for eight years.

After spending two years teaching at a traditional public high school in a suburb of Portland, Oregon Dan started the award-winning Pacific Crest Community School in Portland in 1992.

Dan believes that schools must be designed to meet the needs of students, their families, and the community. By building strong relationships, personalizing education for students, putting the latest technology into the hands of teachers and kids, and infusing joy into the learning process, Willow Public School will change the lives of students, and put them on a path to college and professional success.

Dan loves bicycle touring with his family. In 2008 he, his two children, and his wife Alison Kirby cycled across the US. Dan has since cycled from Washington to Mexico with his son. Dan is also a science fiction nerd, and an avid award-winning beer brewer.

Mobile: (509) 593-0821

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Katie Christianson is our Director of Culture and she comes to school leadership with a background in early childhood education, and an understanding that toddlers and middle schoolers are very alike.

A graduate of the Sherwood Trust Community Leadership Program and Collaborative Leadership Institute, Katie has put her activist chops to use in the volunteer arena, building and nurturing relationships to lead various community groups.

After years of volunteering the Walla Walla Public School District and running various businesses of her own, Katie worked with the founding team of Willow School to bring the dream to reality.

Katie’s role at Willow Public School focuses on continued relationship building to benefit students and their families. Katie is a mom to two and stepmom to three kids, Auntie to at least a dozen more, an avid skier, and adores animals, especially dogs. She is an accomplished musician and she and her husband have a band that specializes in covers of cover tunes.

Mobile: (509) 301.5143

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Our Director of Finance & Operations, Amanda Yuen, is excited to move to Walla Walla and join Team Willow!  Amanda was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the second of three children, and has worked in education since high school.  With Bachelors degrees in Social Science and Special Education and a minor in Spanish from the University of Oklahoma, she taught high school special education English and math before returning to school for her MBA at Washington University in St. Louis.

Amanda has worked in a variety of roles in education — from teacher to tutor to ops director — with a range of ages from preschool to adult.  While working on her MBA, she transitioned from teaching to operations, serving as an Operations Director for the charter Tulsa Institute for Teach for America. Later, she supported all non-instructional functions at two elementary schools in Memphis as Director of School Operations, before becoming Founding Assistant Principal of Operations at a new middle school in Denver.  

When she's not working, she enjoys avoiding paying full price for things and going on road trips to explore new places.

Mobile: (901) 800-9025

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Summer Barcenas grew up in Walla Walla. She was in the public school bilingual program from the time she was six. Two years later her brother was adopted from Guatemala, and Summer translated for her family for the first time. She began to realize the power of languages and culture.

In seventh grade; her family left everything to move to Europe for two years. While in Europe they traveled to over twenty-four countries and she learned the wonders of diversity and loved learning new things about the varied cultures. At the same time, she homeschooled herself; started a successful blog, learned to play flamenco guitar, and learned about entrepreneurship.

Upon arriving back home in Walla Walla, she quickly became restless. She felt the need to see more of the world. Summer began painting the places she had seen in her travels showing people a glimpse of the world through her eyes. After a successful first art show, she flew to France for her senior year of high school. Arriving in Lille, her new hometown and not knowing a word of French she began to immerse herself into the French culture while going to school for French Literature. She very quickly realized the hardships and headaches of being unable to speak or understand the language. Once the French finally began to click, she started helping out in her host mother's French class for the children who had recently migrated to escape the war in the Middle East, who also came not speaking the language. She loved life in France and quickly became accustomed to metros, American stereotypes, and escargot. 

She arrived home again with a fresh perspective, and eager to begin a new chapter in her life. She is thrilled to be a part of Willow, and she looks forward to learning from and enriching the lives of children and families alike.

Mobile: (509) 299-3622

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Joelle Pomraning was born and raised in Walla Walla. She left her beautiful town to attend college at the University of Washington. After obtaining a BS in Aquatic Sciences, she spent ten years following the rivers as a biologist. During that time she became so interested in educating young people that she went back to school to gain a masters degree in education. She has extensive training in math and science, with real-world applications. Joelle is excited to continue educating in our community through Willow School.

Joelle has four amazing children: Finn, Maeve, Colt, and Kian. As a family, they spend lots of time in the pool and playing outside. Joelle amd her husband will often be found on walks with their kids and spending time in their garden.

Joelle believes that relationships with students built on trust and respect are the foundations for a successful classroom experience. Her math class will be project based so students can learn while having fun.

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Kim Lawbaugh, our Science Teacher, has been an educator since 1992. She taught fourth and fifth grades for seven years where her passion for project-based learning flourished. She loves working with older students. Combined with her experience working as a scientist before teaching led her to pursue teaching science at the middle school level.  Since then, she has taught all grade levels of middle school science, most recently working in Walla Walla Public schools for eleven years. 

After earning her Bachelor of Science Degree in Natural Resource Management from the University of Maryland, she spent eight years working at a variety of science-related jobs. She worked seasonally as a biological field aide at Olympic National Park while also teaching environmental education in northern Minnesota and Central Oregon. This experience inspired her to pursue a teaching degree.  

For fun, she loves to read, knit, create art, and hike, camp, and travel with her husband, Joe.  

Kim is excited to work with the dynamic team at Willow Public School, where all teachers and staff will come together and work to create a dynamic, rigorous, and joyful learning experience for all students.

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Nelly Pilares, our Spanish Teacher, has been an educator since 1998. She earned a Bachelor's degree in Education and Visual Arts, and taught Art and Theater in Peru for several years. In 2005 she moved with her family to the USA, where she earned both an M.A and a Ph.D. in Hispanic Linguistics, Literature and Culture, and began teaching Spanish at the college level. Nelly has worked for three school districts: Minneapolis, Minnesota; Sioux City, Iowa and Walla Walla, Washington.

In 2014, Nelly started teaching Spanish at Whitman College. Nelly hopes that students’ experiences in their classes at Willow School will teach them far more than subjects matters and will cultivate an environment in which students can freely express themselves while learning in meaningful ways.

Nelly lives in Walla Walla with her husband, her two daughters, three cats, and a hamster. She loves arts and theater, and has been a theater practitioner and actress since high school. Nelly, and her husband have a theater company in Peru, where they direct shows and teach workshop, and they are currently developing a Hispanic Theater Company in Walla Walla.

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Associate Teacher Rigoberto Fernandez, was born in Orange County, California. Hoever; he has lived in Walla Walla ever since he was two years old. He went to Walla Walla High School and graduated in 2007.

He worked at Inspire Development Centers as a Preschool Lead Teacher for five years, and he enjoys working with kids! Rigoberto graduated from Walla Walla Community College with an AA in Early Childhood Education and he plans on continuing his education in the future to become a Middle School teacher. He is excited to be a part of Willow Team and what Willow school holds for our kids, families and our community!

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Our English Language Arts teacher, Andrea Cyrus-Medina, was born in Seattle. At a young age, her family relocated to Southern Colorado. It was there in the high mountain desert where her Abuela taught her to eat off the land.  During spring and summer in the San Juan mountains, her family fished for trout and picked wild asparagus along the Alamosa River. Andrea and her cousins also picked wild capulin berries to make jam to go with their grandma's freshly made tortillas de harina. She values the family's role in one's education and personal development.

Andrea has lived in Walla Walla since 2010. She has two elementary school-aged children: Carolina and Lukas. As a family, they adore playing with the animals at the Blue Mountain Humane Society. At home, they have one pet – Azulito, a beautiful betta fish. Every year, Andrea travels abroad to hike a different mountain range. She holds her experiences with the locals throughout Peru, Mexico, Spain, and Ireland close to her heart. 

Andrea comes to Willow after teaching at St. Basil's Academy and Walla Walla Public Schools. Her mission at Willow begins by helping each student develop their confidence and voice. She believes that for adults and children alike, a mistake holds power to unlock enormous growth and knowledge. As a teacher and mentor, Andrea will work diligently to encourage and support all the students at Willow Public School. 

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Brooke Bouchey has a rich history in the social service field having worked in an adult correctional facility, the Walla Walla County Juvenile Justice Center, as an Intervention Specialist at Lincoln High School and most recently with the Community Resilience Initiative training locally as well as nationally on trauma and resilience.

Her gift to parents is sharing how her involvement in this research has created a new understanding of parental resilience, and how to transfer that gift broadly.

Brooke has taken an active role in building relationships with community partners to ensure students and families are connected to the resources they need to feel connected, valued and supported.

Brooke enjoys spending time with her family and connecting to the community. She and her partner are raising three children and enjoy camping, fishing, BBQ, and sarcasm.

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Shannon Ball, our Special Education Teacher, is a Walla Walla native and has taught in the public-school system in both Washington and Oregon since 2005. 

Earning both a Master of Teaching Education and a Master of Special Education degree, she has been able to work with students who have a wide range of disabilities. Creating education plans based on the individual needs of the student has provided the opportunity to know and respect the unique perspectives and situations of every child and their family. She believes all humans hold their experiential knowledge to be the norm, it is what they can see, what they have resolved to be real, and will access for future reference.

Shannon enjoys traveling and music, passions passed down from her parents. Having two children with families, both stationed at military bases, she has been able to visit many states and countries. She loves to cook and is always excited to learn recipes from around the world.

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Emily Dietzman Asmus has spent more years teaching in the outdoors than inside classrooms. She plans to keep bringing vivid connections to the real world to her social studies students at Willow.
Since 2007, Emily has owned and operated Welcome Table Farm here in Walla Walla. This diverse, organic farm grows vegetables, fruit, and flowers, and trains aspiring farmers. Emily loves to work hard, see meaningful results from her endeavors, and eat delicious food.

Emily was born and raised in Walla Walla and graduated from Wa-Hi in 1996 as the “Scholar-Athlete” of the year. She attended the Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon earning her BA in Environmental Studies and her MA in Education, with teaching endorsements in social studies and science. She founded the School Garden Project of Lane County, building gardens, designing curriculum, and training teachers in the use of outdoor learning classrooms. She then worked for GRuB, a  non-profit organization in Olympia, Washington leading teens in a farm-based job skill development program.

The attraction of grandparent help with raising kids, small-town community and the best soil in the world lured her back to Walla Walla in 2007. She and her husband Andy have three children — aged nine, six, and there — all future Willow students! Some days the family dog, Millie, may come along to the school to share her affection for all people.

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Nichole M. Alvarado is a Walla Walla native. She graduated from Eastern Oregon University with a BA in Environmental Science and minors in Spanish and Geography. Nichole worked for the Intermountain ESD as an interpreter, translator, home visitor, and preschool teacher while coaching High School Soccer and Softball.

Nichole is excited to be a part of the Willow familia and utilize her knowledge and experience in connecting with students and their families. She is happy to be back home and thrilled at the opportunity to give back to her community.

Nichole is a sports enthusiast who enjoys spending time outdoors with her better half and their kids.

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Board President, Jennifer Beckmeyer brings experience in bilingual education, community organizing and community development to the board. With a BA in Spanish and ten years living and working abroad in Costa Rica, she is fluent in Spanish and very aware of the nuances of Latino culture.

She holds a Master’s Degree in Human Rights and Peace Education from the Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica and worked as a consultant for the Ministry of Education, traveling to rural areas around the country to create community-centered plans to improve the quality of education in indigenous villages.

Since returning to Walla Walla three years ago, she has served on several coalitions focused on youth, diversity, and poverty. Her work in Walla Walla as a community organizer is what introduced her to Willow Public School and from day one it was very clear that her passions and experience aligned with the mission and vision of Willow. She currently manages the Community Development Block Grant program for the City of Walla Walla.

Her favorite place in the world is Isla Ometepe, a laid back volcanic island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua.

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Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Board Member Cynthia Selde traveled to Mexico after a year of college at the University of Washington and ended up living, studying, and working in Mexico for many years. She worked in economic and social development and education. Cynthia's daughter was born and raised in Mexico City.

Cynthia is very passionate about the importance of high quality education for every individual, from birth to old age, and about the crucial need to build a stronger, inclusive community, in which every single human being is valued and given the support they need to thrive.

One curious thing Cynthia can’t explain: She seems to have left her sense of direction back in Mexico. Although she had no problem living in a huge city like Mexico City, she is constantly getting lost here in Walla Walla!

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Board Treasurer, Rick Aguilar was released from prison on December 14, 2015 after serving 8 years of his 10 year prison sentence for drug/weapon possession and attempting to elude law enforcement. While incarcerated, he made the decision to walk away from the Sureño gang, and began a quest to educate himself and to give back by helping his fellow prisoners. In prison, he attended classes and completed his Bookkeeping, Graphic Design, Automotive, Paralegal/Legal Assistant and Advanced Criminal Law certificates. Rick helped launch Toastmasters club at Coyote Ridge Correction Center, where he served as Vice President of Education and President. He served as Ministry Leader for 5 years of Celebrate Recovery, a faith based 12 step recovery group.

At he end of his sentence, he and a fellow prisoner launched an inmate run leadership program called “Moving Forward”. Since his release he has completed a degree in Automotive Repair Technology and is working to complete his dual degree in Collision Repair. He created a local youth outreach organization called Juntos.

Rick likes to dance Zumba (although not very well) on Friday nights as a warmup before Juntos.

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David Brauhn is the communications manager for the City of Walla Walla and our Board Vice-President. He has served as associate director of communications for Whitman College, presentation editor for the Union-Bulletin, and chief executive of a creative agency. He has given presentations on social marketing to business, nonprofit, and government leaders throughout the West Coast.

Since moving into government service, he has worked to build stronger connections between citizens and civil servants.

David has earned honors from the City County Communications and Marketing Association, the Hermes Creative Awards, and the Audio Visual Arts Awards. He serves on the Visit Walla Walla marketing board, the Suicide Prevention Workgroup, and the Walla Walla Valley Home Fund committee.

He strongly believes dinner is just a gateway to dessert.

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Born and raised in Walla Walla, Rosanna Lugo, 0ur Community Outreach Specialist, attended schools locally while working the fields, and/or packing sheds through high school. Upon graduating, she immediately went to work for Employment Security Department holding various positions throughout her 32 years. She graduated from Walla Walla Community College in 2017 with an AAS in Human Services. Rosanna will attend Central Washington University online to obtain her Bachelor’s degree either in Sociology or Psychology.

She is involved with various local committees that include Latino Forum, Comite Hispano. She is very involved with our union, currently a Shop Steward for our office, a Policy Committee member and co-chair for our Department’s statewide committee, and on the Executive Board as an active member representing Eastern Washington.

Rosanna loves to dance, and in high school she was selected to represent the Edinburg Sargenettes dance team (one of 75 dancers) – 150 competed for one of the 75 slots.

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Joaquin Avalos

We'll have a bil for Joaquin soon. Please check back here for details.

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Michelle Salazar

We'll have a bil for Michelle soon. Please check back here for details.

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