Teacher and Staff Spotlights

Meet Ms. Morgan!

Hello! What do you do at Lashon? How would you describe your job?

This is my fourth year as the dance teacher at Lashon. When I first started, we only had dance during the second half of the year and we would choreograph dancer for the dance show at the end of the year. Last year, we started a full  year program so the students and I could study more styles and master more skills together. By the end of the year, every class has a dance to perform at the End of the Year Dance Show! As of last year, we upped the dance show game and brought it to the big theater at CSUN. The kids have grown so much over the years and it is so fun to watch them light up the stage! 

How do the students refer to you?

Ms. Morgan

How long have you worked with Lashon?

4 years 

What are some of your favorite parts of working with Lashon?

I am so grateful to be able to introduce so many kids to movement arts. It is so fun to see how the kids become more confident throughout the years.

Is there a special or funny memory you want to share working with Lashon?

If anyone is ever having a bad day, come watch the TK-1st grade dancers play freeze dance, it’ll turn your day around. Those are my favorite memories. 

 What are some great conversation starters for you? Things you love to talk to people about aside from work?

I’m getting married in September!!!!! I have the coolest/fastest dog, Echo. I love my family and my soon to be husband, Tyler. I have a masters in Applied Exercise Science and love taking care of my plants. 

 Is there anything else that you would love to share or have mentioned in your post?

I love my days at Lashon! 

Recognition from Staff

Summer Ransom, TOSA: Morgan is a true ray of sunshine, filling Lashon’s halls with music, creativity, movement, and joy. Her incredible ability to build student confidence and transform them into dancers is awe-inspiring. We are incredibly fortunate to have her, and we deeply appreciate her contributions in exposing our students to the arts!

Ryan McMorran, Elementary Administrator: I have had the pleasure of working with Ms. Morgan over the past few years at Lashon. She is a phenomenal dance teacher and coach, and really brings such great energy to our school. Her innovative dance ideas and dedication to our dance program, really allow our students to shine and showcase their talents. We love Ms. Morgan!

Sarah Keledjian, 4th Grade Teacher: Morgan and Amir are amazing at their work. They are so creative for each choreographed dance they create. They show their dedication every day by showing up and helping all Lashon students learn all dance styles. I am so lucky to work with and be able to bounce ideas off of them for my class. It’s always a fun and exciting time when all of us are together. 

Meet Mr. Brett!

Hello! What do you do at Lashon? How would you describe your job?

I’m the Community Recruiter at our City campus. I would describe my job as an educational matchmaker. I share with parents what Lashon Academy offers– a multilingual environment, academic rigor, and a strong sense of community. If these are values they share, I invite them to apply and tour our campus. Getting to meet so many families has been extraordinarily rewarding, especially when you see how the students grow here at Lashon. 

How do the students refer to you? 

Mr. Brett, Mr. Nava, Mr. B 

How long have you worked at Lashon? 

I’ve been working for Lashon City for 5 happy months 🙂 

What are some of your favorite parts of working at Lashon? 

There are so many! The first would be that I am surrounded by amazing co-workers that are supportive and caring about their work and of the team. 

The second is that my job requires me to go to different events and be out in the community. I’ve learned so much about what parents want in a school, and it’s been quite fun sharing with others how Lashon can positively impact a student’s educational journey. 

Is there a special or funny memory you want to share working at Lashon? 

In my first month working here, I helped our Principal translate a meeting she had with our graduating 6th graders. Many of the parents expressed their gratitude to the school and were tearful about the fact they were leaving Lashon. They said they had a wonderful experience here at our City campus and that graduation would be a bittersweet moment. I knew then that I found a wonderful school to be a part of. 

What are some great conversation starters for you? Things you love to talk to people about aside from work? 

Weirdly enough, I think Monday’s may be my favorite day of the week because I look forward to asking my co-workers what they did over the weekend. Did they like that concert they went to? How was dinner with your family? What movies did you watch? Did you end up finishing that book? And I also like sharing what I did on the weekend, whether that’s going to see one of my favorite DJs, going to brunch, or just hanging at the beach. These small conversations build such great rapport! 

Recognition from Staff

Maria Gennaro, Director of Business and Operations: Brett has been an excellent addition to the Lashon Academy City team! His passion and charm add energy to interactions with community members, prospective students, and families. Brett has also developed excellent ties with the whole personnel at our city location. We are extremely happy to have him! 

Thomas Bangert, MSA, Administrator: I want to recognize and appreciate the outstanding efforts of Brett Nava, our dedicated Lashon City school recruiter. Brett has done an exceptional job in serving our families and creating a strong presence in our front office and in our historic Jefferson Park community. His commitment and hard work have truly made a positive impact on Lashon City. Thank you, Brett, for your dedication and passion in representing our school so well. Your efforts are truly valued and appreciated.

Katherine Chung, TOSA: Brett has been such a wonderful addition to our staff. He is always proactively reaching out to future families as well as building relationships with our current families. He is a team player and makes himself available to help and support our school, especially our office. He is the first encounter with our prospective families, and it has been such a pleasure seeing him thrive in this role. He is passionate about his work and shows great worth ethic. We are lucky to have him as our community recruiter and a positive representative of Lashon City!

Noreen Bolden, City TK/Kindergarten Teacher: Brett has done an incredible job as the community recruiter at Lashon City. He has such a fun and bubbly personality which makes it easy for him to connect to potential families, students, and staff members. If he’s not taking a quick power nap on his break, he is usually grabbing snacks with us in the staff lounge and talking about the latest news. We are super lucky to have him part of our ever growing City staff!

Cinthia Hernandez, Office Clerk: Brett is an awesome office buddy! He is incredibly supportive, friendly, and understanding. His sense of humor never fails to brighten our days at work. We are truly fortunate to have him as part of our team!

Meet Ms. Destiny!

Hello! What do you do at Lashon? How would you describe your job?

 I am the office clerk for the middle school office. I like to describe my job as assisting parents and students as well as communicating with them.

How do the students refer to you?

They refer to me as Ms. Destiny.

How long have you worked at Lashon?

I have worked at Lashon for two years now. 

What are some of your favorite parts of working at Lashon?

My favorite part of working with Lashon is being able to witness the growth and flourishing of students in their academic journey. I also love working with all admin and office staff. They’ve always been so helpful and kind to me. 

Is there a special or funny memory you want to share working at Lashon?

I have so many! I remember when I first started off at Lashon as a coach, all students knew me as the “coach with the adorable hello kitty shirts”. I would also always give out hello kitty stickers and parents would always come to me the next day expressing how happy their student was because I gave them a sticker 

What are some great conversation starters for you? Things you love to talk to people about aside from work?

Aside from work I always love to talk about new things to try, new foods, hobbies etc.

Recognition from Staff

Ravit Feldman, Special Programs Administrator: Destiny is known for her sensitivity, always greets students with a warm smile and a listening ear, making them feel valued and heard. With her compassionate demeanor, she embodies the heart of our campus, leaving an impact on all who interact with her.

Crystal Rodriguez, Yard Coach: Destiny is always so humble and taught me many things, I don’t know how things would be without her!

Erica Fileto, 6th Grade Math Teacher: Destiny is a sweet, kind, and patient person. She is always so helpful and willing to help as much as she can. We are extremely lucky to have her in our Valerio office helping out middle school students and the team of staff.

Jennifer Dunn, Middle School Teacher: Destiny is truly the backbone of our middle school. She keeps everything organized and running smoothly as she looks out for all of the teachers, staff and students with her kind, gentle and understanding approach. We are so very fortunate to have Destiny as part of our team!!

Lee Maron, TK-8 Administrator: Congratulations Destiny! You are a kindhearted individual who embodies exceptional qualities and contributes positively to the Valerio office environment. Your thoughtfulness sets you apart, showcasing a level of dedication that is commendable. Destiny can be described as humble, and prefers to carry out her responsibilities with a calm and composed demeanor, never seeking attention for herself. It is a pleasure to work with Destiny, and I’m proud of her accomplishments.

Jocelyn Ulloa, Health Coordinator: Destiny is a combination of both sweet and sassiness. As a worker, she goes above and beyond for the team. She carries the Lashon Middle School and fulfills every expectation. Destiny as a friend/family is compassionate. She’s what I like to call “My Purple”. That is defined as someone who comes into your life and just simply makes it better by just existing.  

Meet Ms. Valentin!

Hello! What do you do at Lashon? How would you describe your job? 

I help feed all the kids and try to make the school as clean as possible for all the parents and everyone who visits.  

How do the students refer to you? 

They just say Miss.

How long have you worked at Lashon? 

About a year, but I worked with a vendor who worked with Lashon for 3 years

What are some of your favorite parts of working at Lashon?

 I love trying to help everybody as best I can, anything they need help with.

Is there a special or funny memory you want to share working at Lashon? 

Everyone here is very helpful and friendly, I have had a positive reaction from everyone.  

 What are some great conversation starters for you? Things you love to talk to people about aside from work?

 I love doing activities with my kids like going to the park. I love to listen to music, especially romantic music. I love to cook. During my down time, I like to look through my phone to find ideas of what to cook.

 Is there anything else that you would love to share or have be mentioned in your post? I love to help the students. I wish I could help all students, but not all of them speak Spanish. But if I could help all students I would!

Recognition from Staff

Maria Gennaro, Director of Business and Operations: We are incredibly fortunate to have Ms. Ana, Lashon’s School Lunch Hero, at our Valley location. Her warm smile and compassionate nature radiate positive energy, brightening the day of each student she graciously serves. Ms. Ana truly embodies the essence of care and kindness in all she does, making her an invaluable part of our school community. 

Sheila Ghlijkhani, Business Operations Manager: Ana goes above and beyond her role as a server. Her commitment to ensuring each child receives their meal with a smile is remarkable. Ana’s kindness, patience, and unwavering dedication makes a world of difference in the lives of our students. For many of them, Ana is more than just a lunch server; she’s a role model and a source of comfort. Her presence enriches our school in countless ways, and we are incredibly grateful to have her as part of our team.

Bryan Lara, Support Aide: Ms. Ana is such a kind soul, she comes in everyday with a smile and a positive attitude. She is very hard working, she is always willing to go the extra mile to help anyone in any way that she can. Lashon is very fortunate to have her.

Allofs Lima, Yard Lead: Ana is a very sweet and genuine person. She is very thoughtful and is always ready to serve the students lunches. We all really enjoy working with her. She always has a friendly smile and willingness to help out. She is very valuable to our day to day here at school.

Frank Garcia, Yard Coach: Ana is one of the most genuine and down to earth people I have had the pleasure of working with. She is always at work with a smile and treats everyone around her, from the students to the staff with such kindness and respect. 

 

Meet Ms. Huang!

Hello! What do you do at Lashon? How would you describe your job?

Hi everyone! I’m Lashon’s school counselor. I like to tell the students I’m the feelings teacher. I spend the majority of my time helping students with all the things outside of their school work, whether that’s problems with friends, coping with big feelings (especially anger and anxiety), or building students’ self-esteem and self-confidence. I also do a lot behind the scenes, such as supporting teachers and parents with ways to address student challenges both in and out of the classroom. And I attend a lot of meetings to make sure our students have all the support they need to succeed. No two days are ever the same, and I absolutely love it!

How do the students refer to you?

Students call me Ms. Huang.

How long have you worked at Lashon?

I’ve been at Lashon since October, so about 6 months now. But I’m still meeting new-to-me students every day.

What are some of your favorite parts of working at Lashon?

I consider myself extra fortunate because I get to interact with almost everyone at Lashon, plus parents. I also work on all three of Lashon’s campuses every week! I love getting to meet all the wonderful people that work at Lashon, and especially the students – from TK through 8th grade.

Is there a special or funny memory you want to share working at Lashon?

I feel so lucky to be able to spend my days talking with students about their feelings. It’s very personal! I value the students’ trust and feel honored to be part of their journey here at Lashon.

What are some great conversation starters for you? Things you love to talk to people about aside from work?

I love to talk travel, especially if you have some unique travel interest. For example, I love to visit national parks, and hope to visit all of them at least once in my lifetime. I also enjoy sharing about being a parent – I have two sons, one in college, the other in high school – and being a parent is a huge part of my life.

Recognition from Staff

Cynthia Felix, Behavior Coordinator: Debi is an amazing colleague! She is the epitome of charisma, grace, and compassion. I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with her on a few projects, which have been very insightful for myself as well as the students we work with. She has been a guiding light for many of us here at Lashon and I’m grateful to have her on our team 🙂

Jocelyn Ulloa, Health Coordinator: Working with Debi at Lashon has been such a great experience. She creates a peaceful work environment for the rest of the staff and I’ve learned so much from Debi this past year. She has a way of making people feel acknowledged and that their thoughts matter. I admire her skills and knowledge about mental health and other areas. Debi is an amazing counselor. She cares about her students and she makes them feel safe and heard. Therefore, I just want to say that I cherish Debi’s presence at Lashon. I hope to continue working with her on many more projects.

Ryan McMorran, Elementary Administrator: Though new to Lashon Academy, Ms. Huang has already done a phenomenal job in connecting with so many of our teachers and students. Her ability to spread kindness and be a listening ear for so many in our community, is truly inspiring. She is caring, passionate, and truly dedicated to making a difference. We love Ms. Huang!

Gabriela Fernandez, 3rd Grade Teacher: Ms. Huang is an amazingly compassionate individual. She has worked with many of my students and her dedication really shines through. No matter how busy she is, she always spares time to help or give a listening ear. I appreciate all the hard work she puts in and I personally am grateful for the time she has put in for our 3rd grade students. Ms. Huang is also very welcoming and I always appreciate her conversation. Thank you, Debi!

 

Meet Nadav and Ayala!

Hello! What do you do at Lashon? How would you describe your job?

Ayala: My job is to teach kids about Israel (from TK to 8th graders). Each class has a Shinshinim lesson once a week and we learn cool stuff about Israel like places to visit, the culture, interesting people and more.

Nadav: My work in Lashon is focused on Israel studies. Each class occurs once a week instead of a regular Hebrew lesson. It is an Israeli studies lesson in which I have the opportunity to teach the kids about different subjects related to Israel (culture, map, music, arts, stories etc). We do our best to make sure our lessons will be fun, active and memorable because I believe this is the best way to pass our messages to the kids.

How do the students refer to you?

Ayala: The students call me Ayala. Some of them call me Hamora Ayala or Shinshinit.

Nadav: The students refer to me as Nadav. At the city school, I’m referred to as Mr. Nadav.

How long have you worked at Lashon?

Ayala: This is my first year in Lashon, after this year I’m going back to Israel.

Nadav: I have worked in Lashon for 8 months.

What are some of your favorite parts of working at Lashon?

Ayala: I like that every time the kids see me they say “Shalom” and smile. You can feel the love and the support that you can get from the kids and the teachers.

 Is there a special or funny memory you want to share working at Lashon?

Ayala: I remember that some kids tried to communicate with us so they would say “Boker Tov” (which means good morning) to us all the time, even at the end of the day.

Nadav: A special and funny memory I have from my work at Lashon is from the first Jewish holiday of the year (Rosh Hashanah) when we brought the kids apples with honey (An Israeli custom) as part of the lesson. For many of them, it was the first time tasting this combination, and their faces were extremely funny.

 What are some great conversation starters for you? Things you love to talk to people about aside from work?

Ayala: I like to talk about music, food or even cool places to visit, I like traveling!

Nadav: I’m a big fan of sports, especially football (what Americans refer to as soccer), basketball and running. I also love traveling and talking about different countries and landscapes around the world.

Is there anything else that you would love to share or have been mentioned in your post?

Ayala: I just want to say thank you for the opportunity to be here, in Lashon. It is not easy to be far from your home especially during this time in Israel and Lashon has come to be like a second home for me. Next year I’m going back to Israel (to the military service) and I will definitely miss you

Nadav: I would also love to share that next year I’m going to the army in Israel, and as well to say that I’m praying and waiting to see all the hostages back in their homes as soon as possible. I’m going to miss the students and staff in the school very much next year 

Recognition from Staff

Anat Hutnicki, Hebrew Instructor: Nadav is simply amazing and so patient with all the students. Nadav is extremely hard working and always has a smile!! Nada, I know you are destined to do amazing things after Lashon Academy!!

Ayala in her own quiet way, is absolutely amazing.  The students adore her and always run up to her for a hug.  She always has a smile and is truly loved by all. Ayal, I really love your quiet nature and your approach to life. Thank you for all that you are.

Gallila Waintraub, Hebrew Instructor: There are no words to describe the magnitude of their volunteerism and contribution to Lashon Academy. They warm the hearts of both the students and staff in their calm and polite way – and set a good example for our growing youth. As an Israeli, I am proud and appreciate their representation of Israel. They are the perfect representation of the compassion and creativity of the Israeli people. Thank you very much! Todah Todah Ayala and Nadav!

Ravit Feldman, Special Programs Administrator: Ayala, your quiet smile and inner strength, and Nadav, your maturity and serious approach, both enrich Lashon in remarkable ways. Your dedication is evident in the engaging and meaningful lessons and activities you design, and the connections you make with both adults and young. By bridging cultural aspects and learning opportunities for our students, you bring the Hebrew language to life. We feel incredibly fortunate to have you as part of the Leopards team this year, and we are very grateful for your contributions. Todah and Kol Hakavod!

Meet Ms. G!

Hello! What do you do at Lashon? How would you describe your job? 

This year I teach 6th Grade ELA/History. I am the Middle School Lead Teacher, the ELAC staff rep, Student Council head, and the 8th Grade Parent Committee rep. I would describe my job at Lashon as fast-paced but rewarding; I’ve had the opportunity to teach and watch students grow academically and bloom into teenagers, whole families; there’s no greater reward!

How do the students refer to you?

 Well those that can pronounce it Ms. Galleguillos, those that can’t Ms. G, if you had me as a teacher since first grade Gigi, and if you’re family, “G”.

How long have you worked?

 I’ve been in education for 14 years; 8 years at Lashon; having taught 1st, 3rd, 5th, 6-8th grades. Prior to Lashon I worked for LAUSD for 6 years teaching K-5 and as a Testing Coordinator.

What are some of your favorite parts of working at Lashon? 

One of my favorite parts of Lashon is of course being part of Lashon; it has been 8 years and I have seen our school grow, develop, foster, and enrich, both students and staff. I always say the day I leave Lashon I know I will walk away with amazing friendships and memories I’ve created throughout the years. I feel that being the “momma bear” of the group has allowed me and has given me the opportunity to watch and be part of my friend’s lives: adulthood, getting married, and some even becoming parents. I also truly value the ability to be me when it comes to teaching; the opportunity to push and instill rigor and creativity at the same time. 

Is there a special or funny memory you want to share working at Lashon?

 My first summer PD at Lashon I got lost finding the place, I called Sara and she had Ryan come to my rescue, he came out with a big smile on his face and it was as if we had known each other forever; from that day on he has been my rock at Lashon.

What are some great conversation starters for you? Things you love to talk to people about aside from work?

UMMM, I’m great at all crime show talks, love to talk about food, especially BREAD, History documentaries, museum exhibits, and the weather (honestly) lol

Is there anything else that you would love to share or have been mentioned in your post?

 I am lucky to be so close to so many of our families, teaching and watching our kiddos grow has been a true gift. The fact they keep coming back even after they graduate means something, right? Lol

Recognition from Staff

Ryan McMorran, Elementary Administrator: I have had the pleasure of working with Ms. Galleguillos, or Ms. G as most of us know her, for many years at Lashon. We have taught together, led together, and grown together in our respective educational roles. I can say confidently that Ms. G is a caring educator that sets high standards and supports her students every step of the way. She is creative, vibrant, passionate, and a definite trailblazer in our field. I am both excited from and inspired by everything she does at our school. We love Ms. G!

Ravit Feldman, Special Programs Administrator: Ms. G is fervently committed to motivating her students to reach their fullest potential, setting high yet attainable standards for excellence. Her passion is evident in her dedication to their growth and well being.

Jennifer Dunn, Middle School Teacher: Priscilla is an absolutely incredible teacher. She inspires her students, as well as her fellow teachers. She is kind, witty, intelligent, knowledgeable and fills every day with fun and laughter. She is consistently there for her colleagues, and will assist you in whatever you need. Her support means the world to me and I look to her for guidance on a regular basis. I know she will always be there for me and our entire team. We are the luckiest. 

Erica Filleto, 6th Grade Math Teacher: Ms. G has been very supportive and helpful in my first year as an intern!

Meet Mr. McMorran!

Hello! What do you do at Lashon? How would you describe your job?

My current role at Lashon is to serve as the TK-8th grade Principal. Perhaps out of all of the roles that I have served within Lashon, being the school Principal is the most rewarding and important position I have assumed. Within my role as Principal, I have the pleasure of working with everyone in our community. 

How do the students refer to you?

This is a funny question because, before I got married, I was Mr. Word. So, some of the students who I taught still refer to me as Mr. Word. Others, however, refer to me as Mr. McMorran because that’s all they know. I love both, especially because it serves as a reminder of my time spent at Lashon. 

How long have you worked at Lashon?

In total, I have worked at Lashon for the past 9 years. I first started my work with Lashon as a TK/Kindergarten combo teacher. After 3 years, I made the transition to teaching our first 6th grade class. I always knew that I wanted to extend the work that I do beyond the classroom. Therefore, shortly after, I took on the position as Dean of Academics, working closely with the teacher as a coach and mentor. This eventually led me down the path to Administration. 

What are some of your favorite parts of working at Lashon?

I truly love working with all of our engagement partners (staff, students, and parents). Being able to build meaningful relationships and partnerships as a community is so integral to the success of a great school. This is something I really pride myself on and hope to maintain throughout my time at Lashon. 

Is there a special or funny memory you want to share working at Lashon?

I have been so lucky to make so many fun memories throughout my time at Lashon. The funniest have been from the innocence of students, just being happy and joyful to be at school and with their friends. This joy and light is what makes every day bright and rewarding. 

 What are some great conversation starters for you? Things you love to talk to people about aside from work?

Oh wow! Well I am definitely a talker, and part of me building relationships is getting to know everyone for who they are, not just what they do. I love asking people about hobbies, family, pets, adventures they love to take. As a new dad to twin boys, I love asking others for advice and thoughts on parenting tips and tricks. 

 Is there anything else that you would love to share or have be mentioned in your post?

I am a new dad to adopted twin boys. I am so sad, but excited that they will already be turning 1-year old in April 2024. Fatherhood has perhaps been my most incredible and profound journey that I have taken so far. I never knew how much love you could have for something or someone, until I became a father. 

Recognition from Staff

Josh Stock, CEO:  Ryan, your journey at Lashon began as an exceptional teacher, spanning multiple grades, and has since evolved into a remarkable leadership role through your outstanding attitude and enthusiasm. I am truly in awe of how effectively you present and package your  ideas. I eagerly anticipate witnessing your continued path forward.

Sara Garcia, Director of Education: From day one, Ryan blew me away with his incredible professionalism and passion for education . Whether he was teaching Kindergarten or rocking it as a 6th grade teacher, Ryan’s dedication was above and beyond. His students were always the stars of the school, thanks to his hard work and enthusiasm. And now, as an administrator, Ryan’s qualities shine even brighter. He’s compassionate, organized, and always positive—a true leader! Ryan, you’re a superstar and we’re so lucky to have you!

Ravit Feldman, Special Programs Administrator: Mr. McMorran exemplifies exceptional leadership qualities that resonate throughout the school community. His unwavering dedication to advocating for the needs of all students underscores his commitment to equity and inclusivity. Through his exemplary leadership, Mr. McMorran sets a standard of integrity, fairness, and dedication that inspires others to strive for excellence. His leadership style cultivates a positive and impactful school culture where every member feels valued, supported, and motivated to achieve their fullest potential. I feel honored to work alongside him.

Summer Ransom, TOSA: Ryan McMorran is the ultimate triple threat: a leader, a friend, and a mentor! He helped me become the teacher I am today! He brings a perfect balance of professionalism and warmth to everything he does. Leading the school with a friendly smile and an open door policy, he makes everyone feel valued and heard. Whether it’s bouncing around ideas or tackling tough challenges together, Ryan McMorran is always right there in the trenches, making magic happen. Our school is lucky to have such a rockstar!

Cassandra Taylor, Kindergarten Teacher: Under the guidance of Mr. McMorran, our school flourishes with kindness and support. His dedication to our success is unmatched, fostering an environment where everyone feels valued. With genuine concern and a helping hand, Mr. McMorran embodies the best of leadership, making him the cornerstone of our school community.

Jennifer Dunn, Middle School Teacher: Ryan is always positive and has kind and supportive words for everyone. He is there to lend a hand whenever needed and he cares so much about making everyone feel welcome and at home at Lashon. We are so fortunate to have him as one of our administrators.

Caitlin Hollenbeck, 5th Grade Teacher: Ryan is an excellent leader and truly inspirational to all! He leads the school with such elegance and care, all who come here feel welcome and appreciated!

Meet Ms. Keledjian!

Hello! What do you do at Lashon? How would you describe your job? 

At Lashon Academy, I am a 4th grade teacher. I would describe my job as wizardry, magically turning students into academic scholars, innovative thinkers, and overall community leaders.  

How do the students refer to you? 

Students refer to me as Ms. Keledjian or Ms. K.

How long have you worked at Lashon?

This is my second year working at Lashon. 

What are some of your favorite parts of working at Lashon?

 One favorite part about working at Lashon is being able to connect, teach, and learn with students and staff from all different nationalities and cultures. 

What are some great conversation starters for you? Things you love to talk to people about aside from work?

I love to talk about all things Harry Potter and Disney. I can go on and on for hours. From books, movies, and even theme parks. I love incorporating these topics into my classroom as well. 

Recognition from Staff

Ryan McMorran, Elementary Administrator: Though Sarah has only worked at Lashon for a short period of time, her impact on student success and positive school culture has been immense. Sarah is creative in her approach as an educator, and cares deeply about her work at Lashon. Aside from being a wonderful teacher, she is also a caring friend and values the well-being of all staff. We are very lucky to have her as part of the Leopard community! 

Arlene Haro, Instructional Coach: Sarah is a dedicated educator who deeply cares about all her student’s needs. She is a great team player who always cooperates, collaborates, and enhances her team’s ideas to make every lesson and cumulative project engaging and rigorous. It is such a pleasure to work with such an amazing person.

Kristie Hernandez, Resource Teacher: Sarah loves Harry Potter and I agree that she is such a Gryffindor in real life because she is so well rounded across the board in all she does. As in she is brave, a leader , kind and very smart too. She attends to each student, is so good at differentiation, so that everyone’s needs get met. She is flexible, engaging and is great with teaching students how to be more independent learners. I love and appreciate working with her.

Meet Ms. Cinthia!

Hello! What do you do at Lashon? How would you describe your job?

Hi my name is Cinthia Hernandez and I am the Office Clerk at Lashon City. I would describe my job as a source of communication and assistance to parents and students at Lashon City.

How do the students refer to you?

Students refer to me as Ms. Cinthia.

How long have you worked at Lashon?

This month is my one year anniversary working at Lashon and it has been an amazing experience working alongside a wonderful and tight knit community.

What are some of your favorite parts of working at Lashon?

These are my favorite parts of working at Lashon Academy: To begin with, my coworkers that contribute to an enjoyable work environment every day. The kind parents who have welcomed me in and been really friendly. Lastly, our students that never fail to make me smile, and it feels great to be a comfort zone for a lot of them.

Is there a special or funny memory you want to share working at Lashon?

Winning staff member of the year at the end of the previous academic year was truly special. It made me feel incredibly valued and appreciated by my team.

 What are some great conversation starters for you? Things you love to talk to people about aside from work?

I enjoy sharing stories about my golden retriever, Uzi. Students are very interested in his growth and always want photos because when I started working at Lashon he was just four months. In addition, I’m a foodie so I always like to ask parents for recommendations and I also love to give them recommendations.

Recognition from Staff

Stacy Lee, School Principal: Cinthia is a ray of light on our Lashon City campus. She exudes positivity understanding, and is quick as a whip on the job. When it comes to any type of concern or support our stakeholders, parents, student, or staff, may need from her she is able to problem solve quickly and offer support all with a smile on her face. She is truly an asset to our City campus and community and we are so lucky to have her.

Brett Nava, Community Recruiter: One of my favorite things about Lashon Academy is that I get to work with Cinthia. When I first started here at Lashon, Cinthia made me feel welcomed and helped me get adjusted. She is smart, caring, and hardworking. I couldn’t ask for a better office buddy!

Nancy Hernandez, Instructional Aide: Ms. Cinthia is nothing but an incredible and kindhearted coworker and friend. Everyday she comes in to work with a positive attitude and is always willing to assist anyone’s needs. Her hard work at Lashon never goes unnoticed and we are always appreciative of her patience and dedication. We are all very lucky to have Ms. Cinthia as part of our Lashon community!

Ben Harrison, Teacher: Cinthia is a wonderful member of our Lashon City team. Her smile lights up the main office and her sweet demeanor is always a pleasure to be around.

 

Meet Ms. Nia!

Hello! What do you do at Lashon? How would you describe your job? My current position at Lashon is a Behavior Intervention Aide. I would describe my role as helping support students during class instructional time. The goal is to help students stay on task and succeed in the classroom setting.

How do the students refer to you? The students refer to me as Ms. Nia

How long have you worked at Lashon? I have been working at Lashon for 5 months.

What are some of your favorite parts of working at Lashon? My favorite part about working at Lashon is that I get to meet new people and help students get through their day. 

Is there a special or funny memory you want to share working at Lashon? There have been a few special moments while working at Lashon, but one of my favorite moments so far is when I had the chance to be a part of the winter camp program. 

What are some great conversation starters for you? Things you love to talk to people about aside from work? Some great conversation starters for me would include talking about astrology, food, cats and travel. I love talking about horoscopes and going into depth about signs- shout out all the Geminis! I also love trying new places that have great food.

Is there anything else that you would love to share or have be mentioned in your post? I love doing charcuterie during my spare time and creating art 

 

Recognition from Staff

Amber Cox, Dean of Student Services: Nia is such a fantastic addition to the behavior team! She is a consummate professional and has a great rapport with staff and students alike. Her compassion and care for students is evident and we are all lucky to have her at Lashon!

Cynthia Felix, Behavior Coordinator: Nia is such a sweet and kind soul. Working with her has been such a pleasure because she is reliable, responsible, and personable. She has worked with a number of students who love her very much, and I believe it is because she has a very calming and nurturing energy. She is a valuable and integral part of our team and I am happy to have her with us this school year 🙂

Angelina Llerenas, SPED Aide: Nia is an an excellent coworker, she has taught me so much. She is such a kind and patient person. The amount of effort she puts into this job is impeccable. Her efforts definitely show as students and staff always gravitate towards her. Nia definitely cares and her tremendous work ethic always ceases to amaze me. 

 

Meet Mr. Ducas!

Hello! What do you do at Lashon? How would you describe your job?

Hello! My name is Joseph Ducas and I am a Resource Teacher here at Lashon. My primary responsibility is to ensure that students are supported in their academic, emotional, and social needs at school. Special Education is multi-faceted in that it sometimes requires you to be a teacher, counselor, and coach all at once! The most rewarding part of my position is the connections I get to make with my students as I guide them through their educational journey. I pride myself on my ability to foster a safe environment for my students where they feel seen, heard, and appreciated. 

How do the students refer to you?

The students refer to me as Mr. Ducas.

How long have you worked at Lashon?

I have worked for Lashon for nearly 2 years now.

What are some of your favorite parts of working at Lashon?

The part of my job that I enjoy most is working with the close-knit SPED team. We stay in active communication regarding our caseload, and we all share a strong drive to help make a positive impact on our students. I really enjoy working alongside others who share similar goals to me in this respect.

Is there a special or funny memory you want to share working at Lashon?

There are so many special memories that I have during my time at Lashon! It’s hard to choose just one, but I will say that I like to see how students progress over time. I can remember when I first began working with some of them and to see how they have grown puts a smile on my face. I have also shared countless laughs and created many friends at Lashon. There is a playful side to my personality, so I will often use sarcasm or dry humor with my students/colleagues. I feel that it helps lessen the tension in some of the more challenging aspects of our work.

What are some great conversation starters for you? Things you love to talk to people about aside from work?

I am one of the biggest sports guys you will ever meet! I’ve grown up playing football, basketball, and baseball as well as watching my favorite teams compete year-round. I love going to games and will travel across the country to do so. My favorite teams are the Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Braves, and Indiana Pacers (quite the mix I know). Sports are a great outlet for me and I appreciate the life lessons you can learn from the hard work, discipline, and teamwork embedded in the games. Fitness is another area I love to talk about! Running is my favorite of all, and I am currently training to compete in my first marathon.

Is there anything else that you would love to share or have be mentioned in your post?

I am originally from Scranton, Pennsylvania and moved to Los Angeles in 2018. I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Marywood University as my original plan was to become a counselor. I always knew that I wanted to help people, and when I became a behavioral therapist working with students diagnosed with Autism, I immediately knew that I was in the right place. That experience motivated me to get my Master’s degree in Special Education which I obtained last year. I would also like to add that I am a strong believer in self-care activities like meditation, exercise, and traveling. 

Recognition from Staff

Amber Cox, Dean of Student Services: When he first interviewed for a support position at Lashon, the principal came up to me and said with excitement, “I’ve found a unicorn!” She then pulled me from what I was doing at the time and rushed me into her office to continue the interview process. Ever since I have referenced that nickname more than once in regard to Joe Ducas! Joe has experience working with a wide variety of students, including those with more moderate social-emotional/behavior needs, which speaks volumes to his empathy, compassion, and understanding as an educator. Among many other strengths is his ability to connect and build rapport with students, and it is obvious that they really look up to him as not just a teacher but a mentor. Lashon is lucky to have such an effective and positive role model on campus! 🙂

Jennifer Dunn, Middle School History Teacher: I would say that Joe is a truly wonderful colleague and friend. He is always there to support his fellow teachers when needed, and is always kind and helpful, no matter how busy he may be himself. We know we can always count on Joe to assist and we are all so grateful to have him as part of our team.

Hillary Sampson, Resource Teacher: Mr. Ducas has been a great addition to the SPED team. You can tell he cares about all of the students he works with and genuinely wants what is best for them. He is there to offer his support to both SPED and general education students alike and he is always willing to go that extra mile. It is a privilege to work with him.

Kristie Hernandez, Resource Teacher: Joe is very good at teaching, especially math!  He is always engaging the kids in a game of hopscotch, basketball or jeopardy both in math and as breaks. He can gamify anything! He is easy to talk to. The kids feel comfortable to open up, take his feedback and are motivated to work to their potential in class. He is fun, kind and an energetical, intelligent, soul/ energy to be around. He loves adventure and is not afraid of anything.  He is always checking in and offering to help with us as co-workers. He is both a leader and a team player. He is funny, calm and always has a smile on his face. He always greets you when walking by with a wave and probably a short question or a nice comment. He loves math and is super athletic/ disciplined in sports, [ football, basketball].I would describe him as a coach to everyone.  He knows how to train, encourage, support and guide us to victory.

 

 

Meet Mr. Abelson!

Hello! What do you do at Lashon? How would you describe your job?

My primary role is being a Middle School Science Teacher. I also support the elementary teachers with science materials, curriculum, and instruction. I teach 5th grade science lab activities as well. I also act as the science department lead. I would describe my job as part teacher, part magician, a bit of scientist, warehouse management, entertainer, instructional coach, counselor, and customer service representative.

How do the students refer to you?

Students, in class, call me Mr. Abelson. Outside of class and out of ear shot, I hope it is the same. 

How long have you worked at Lashon?

This is my third year at Lashon.

What are some of your favorite parts of working at Lashon?

I appreciate a lot of what the school’s mission is in regards to creating a diverse community. The fact that the focus is the Hebrew Language allows me to feel a deeper connection to the school than what I may encounter as a teacher at other public schools. It’s a language that I am familiar with culturally, not fluently, and being at the school allows me to continue to improve my own Hebrew. I also like many of the people I get to work with, and the ability to approach administration with questions or concerns comfortably. 

Is there a special or funny memory you want to share working at Lashon?

That’s pretty hard to think of just one. I would say that so far my most special, most meaningful memory, though not funny or happy, is when I received a call from two co-workers who showed up at the Kaiser Permanente in West Hollywood to give my daughter some things when she became very ill (she’s better now!). The fact that two coworkers drove down to support what was going on with my family was really a very special moment of support, and that both Sara and Josh reached out to me was special for me. That was early on in my second year. That experience along with the consistent support from many of those at Lashon (admin, staff, faculty, parents, students, etc.) are some of the most meaningful experiences I have had as a teacher in the past fourteen years. 

What are some great conversation starters for you? Things you love to talk to people about aside from work?

So, science is usually a topic I love discussing – really. I particularly like dissecting social norms, interactions, and cultural differences (I was a socio-biology major).  I also like all types of science too!  So, chemistry, physics, biology, all of it. It’s my main jam. I also like discussing music, sometimes music theory and bands. I’m very into guitar types of music, particularly acoustic guitar styles and genres of all types. All parents like to talk about their kids, as do I; especially my favorite son or daughter. Luckily, I have only two kids, one son and one daughter, so they both count as my favorite.  I also enjoy dry senses of humor and discussions that are not just chit chat.  

Is there anything else that you would love to share or have been mentioned in your post?

I come from a military family (Dad was US Air Force), and grew up in Dayton, OH: I have lived in Maryland, Germany, Ohio, Virginia and California. I am equally as terrible at Hebrew as I am at Spanish, so working at Lashon continues to improve my skill in those areas. My wife, Debbie, is from Sherman Oaks, which is how I got here in the first place. Prior to teaching in California, I was a wannabe rock star in the Washington, DC area. Somewhere, on line, my music still exists. I like Coke Zero, and a good medium rare New York Strip or Ribeye. I also like New York Style pizza, Chinese, BBQ style foods and I have a sweet tooth.  I enjoy grilling and cooking. I enjoy finding ways to repurpose things, particularly electrical items; but, also reusing old containers and other items to keep them from the landfill. I tinker with items to learn how they work, fix them or take them apart. I enjoy playing guitar and rehearsing with a garage band of middle aged guys in hopes to eventually play outside of the garage. 

Recognition from Staff:

Ravit Feldman, Special Programs Administrator: Mr. Abelson passionately nurtures his students, showing genuine care for their well-being and academic growth. Through his teaching, he ignites curiosity, inspiring a lifelong love for learning and exploration in his students.

Ryan McMorran, Elementary Administrator: Lashon Academy is very lucky to have our own Bill Nye, but better! Mr. Abelson started Lashon Academy’s very first Science Lab, where students of all grades can come investigate, experiment, and explore. Mr. Abelson does a phenomenal job at fostering a love of science for all of our students, and for getting them to see the world through new eyes and perspectives. We are very lucky to have Mr. Abelson as part of the Leopard community!

Srilatha Kadambala, 6th Grade Math/Science Teacher: I would like to congratulate Mr. Abelson for coordinating the Science Fair at our school. He has contributed a lot of knowledge, direction to make students’ projects well developed and successful. As a coworker, he has been helpful and cooperative with me in fulfilling my duties in the science lab. It’s been a pleasure working with him in the science lab.

Sarah Keledjian 4th Grade Teacher: Mr. Abelson has an amazing open-door policy. He is always there to lend a helping hand in all things science. He takes time out of his day to help all teachers enhance science in their classrooms. He is an amazing colleague and friend to have and turn to at Lashon Academy.

Meet Ms. Bolden!

Hello! What do you do at Lashon? How would you describe your job?

Hi! My name is Noreen Bolden and I am the TK/K Teacher and City Lead over at Lashon City. I would describe my job as being a Broadway performer. From the start of class to dismissal it’s showtime! Then the minute the lights go off, I take a bow, and head home.

How do the students refer to you?

The students call me Ms. Bolden but sometimes they like to make it plural and make it Ms. Boldenssss

How long have you worked at Lashon?

 I have worked at Lashon City for 5 years

What are some of your favorite parts of working at Lashon?

One of my favorite parts of being at Lashon City is the community; from the students, to the families, to the staff. With it still being a small school, we are very close to each other and invested in each other’s lives. We turn to each other for both academic support and life support and celebrate each other’s success and lend a shoulder when we are stressed or anxious.

Is there a special or funny memory you want to share working at Lashon?

Something funny I’d like to share is the amount of Baby Yoda themed items I have acquired over the years. When the Mandalorian first came out I expressed my love for Grogu and my students took that idea and ran with it. I have Baby Yoda candle warmers, plushes, action figures, socks, and so much more that are currently taking over my house!

What are some great conversation starters for you? Things you love to talk to people about aside from work?

I have a 3 year old pug named Stanley and he is my world! He has come to visit my students at our end of the year parties and has showered them with kisses and sneezes. They are constantly asking for pictures and even two of my former students have gotten pugs after me! He has become such a crucial part of our class.

Recognition from Staff:

Stacy Lee, Principal: When I think of the word “Dedicated”, I think of Ms. Bolden. She is truly one of the most committed teachers who takes ownership of not only her classroom, but her greater role within Lashon City. Noreen is the type of teacher that can run small groups the second week of school (with kindergarteners mind you!), organize a parent workshop, and lead a community event all with a smile on her face. Many of her students actually mistakenly call her “Ms. GOLDEN” those first few months as they get settled into school, but “Ms. GOLDEN” could easily stick since she really is golden. As Lashon City grows, she has also taken a Lead Teacher position in order to help train new teachers and serve as an additional support for my staff. She is someone who every stakeholder within the school can count on, including myself and she makes Lashon City a better place to be every single day. We are so lucky to have Noreen at Lashon City and within the greater Lashon community.

Lekeshia Banks, Teacher: When you start a new teaching job, you never know what you should expect from your team. Noreen has been such a positive helpful co-worker from day one and working with her at City is a pleasure. Noreen exudes laughter and cheerfulness! She is fun, creative, and high spirited! She is such a positive influence for all of us here and the students.

Benjamin Harrison, Teacher: Noreen is an exceptionally dedicated and original founding member of Lashon City. Her kind and caring manner allows her young students to grow in a happy and comfortable educational environment. She is an essential and indispensable member of the Lashon City staff.

Cinthia Hernandez, Office Clerk: Noreen is an incredible teacher and a kind coworker. Her students love her because she is patient and genuinely cares about them. I love her positive attitude, and it’s always fun to be around her.   
 

Meet Hamora Gallila!

Hello! How do the students refer to you?

Shalom, my name is Gallila Waintraub and the students call me “Hamora Gallila”

What do you do at Lashon? How would you describe your job?

I am happy to engage in education and the teaching of Hebrew through respectful tolerance and acceptance of the other – in the classroom, at school and in the world.

How long have you worked at Lashon?

I’ve been teaching at  Lashon for 8 years now.

What are some of your favorite parts of working at Lashon?

It’s a real pleasure to watch our students grow, develop and be ready for life from preschool to Middle school.

What are some great conversation starters for you? Things you love to talk to people about aside from work?

I am a proud mother of three sons and a proud grandmother of three grandchildren. I like to travel with them, play together on the playground, climb mountains and ride bikes. I enjoy vegetarian and Middle Eastern food and really like all the colors of the rainbow, they make me very happy.

Is there anything else that you would love to share?

Students don’t know how much you know until they know how much you care!

Recognition from Staff:

Ravit Feldman, Special Programs Administrator: Hamora Gallila’s approach shines through in every aspect of her work! Whether it’s her dynamic and enjoyable teaching methods in the classroom or her adept coaching of new teachers, she consistently infuses each interaction with warmth and positivity. Kol Hakavod!

Niv Hadar, Hebrew Teacher: Gallila is an amazing teacher. Every time I see her teach, I learn something new. Every day she meets her students with enthusiasm and a sparkle in her eyes. I am happy to work with Gallila in the Hebrew team.

Lilach Whitman Hebrew Teacher: Oh wow! Gallila is so deserving of recognition for the countless ways she helps everyone around her and for her endless love of teaching Hebrew. She is creative, wise and hard-working. She has a great sense of humor and she’s fun to be around. I feel so lucky to work with her – I absolutely LOVE her!!!

Ravit Mor Yosef, Hebrew Teacher: Gallila is a teacher with a lot of seniority and experience, professional, and creative—a teacher who influences the team that works with her with her many professional abilities and skills. Working with her is a great privilege because she is a teacher who always wants to help, contribute her knowledge, and give to the team and the children alike!

Valerie Vanderheyden, Transitional Kindergarten Teacher: Gallila is an amazing teacher and such a supportive co-worker. She truly cares about her students. Every time she walks into the room my students wave at her and give her hugs. Gallila always asks me what I am teaching to my TK students so she can teach them similar things during Hebrew class. Her teacher desk is in my classroom and when she notices that my teacher assistant is absent, Gallila will ask me if I need some extra help. I absolutely love collaborating with her as well as just spending quality time together when we talk before school starts.

 

Meet Mrs. V!

Hello! How do the students refer to you at Lashon?

The students mainly refer to me as Mrs. V since my last name is so long. However, a few of them do refer to me as Mrs. Vanderheyden.

What do you do at Lashon? How would you describe your job?

I am the transitional kindergarten teacher at Lashon. I would describe my job as being fun and energetic. I am always up on my feet whether I am singing and dancing or helping my students make crafts. 

How long have you worked at Lashon?

This is my third year working at Lashon.

What are some of your favorite parts of working at Lashon?

One of my favorite parts about working at Lashon is watching my students grow throughout the year. It brings me so much joy to watch them learn new things and try to go out of their comfort zone. Another thing I love about working at Lashon is having the support and friendship of my grade level team. The other kinder teachers have given me lots of advice on how to improve my teaching.

 Is there a special or funny memory you want to share working at Lashon?

A special memory I have from working at Lashon is that my students always gift me items that are purple. They very quickly learn that I am obsessed with the color purple. Their attention to detail melts my heart every time. 

 What are some great conversation starters for you? Things you love to talk to people about aside from work? 

When I am not at school, I love spending my weekends at an amusement park. I go to Six Flags Magic Mountain the most often because it is very close to my house. I also really enjoy attending sporting events. Most recently I went to my first Lakers basketball game and I drove to San Francisco to watch my hometown team, the Detroit Lions, play football.  

Recognition from Staff:

Summer Ransom, T.O.S.A Instructional Coach: Mrs. Vanderheyden is creative, hardworking, and organized. She’s especially amazing at creating innovative, hands-on learning experiences perfect for her little learners. I also love her willingness to collaborate, her positivity, and her visible passion for teaching. Our students and staff are lucky to have her! 

Ryan McMorran, Elementary Administrator: Mrs. Vanderheyden is definitely a one-in-a-million kind of teacher. It takes a very unique and a very special human to teach TK students, and Mrs. Vanderheyden is absolutely the best person for the job. She is always positive, engages her students in creative and fun ways, and provides a space that is full of comfort, warmth, and love. We are very lucky to have Mrs. Vanderheyden as part of our Leopard community! 

Nicole Sena, Kindergarten Teacher: Valerie Vanderheyden is an incredibly kind, loving teacher who provides her students with a warm welcoming first year of formal school.