About Linscott‎ > ‎

Our staff

Staff List


Lisa Fowler, Third grade (Looping Class)
Sue Creswell, First grade
Shaun Gruber, Kindergarten
Jessica Rice, Second grade
Darlene Beal, Third grade
Odile deFaymoreau, First-third grade
William Poore & Linda Bennett, Fourth grade
Karen Mora, Fifth grade
Seth Lewis, Sixth grade
Julie Wiley, Seventh-eighth grade Humanities
Brett Hagerman, Seventh-eighth grade Science and Math

Adjunct Teaching Staff

Mark Damiani, Physical Education
Holly Ota, K-6 Music Instructor
Alisabeth Jarrett, Resource Specialist
Alison Guerin, Speech Pathologist
Vincent Rodriguez, Resource Aide
Susan Yambra, Language Teacher

Administration and Facilities

Jeff Cortez, Facilities Manager
Robin Higbee, Administrative Director
Sandra Traub, Office Manager
Andrea Williford, Administrative Assistant & Enrollment Coordinator
Erik Orgell, Network Administrator

Staff Biographies

Lisa Fowler

Third Grade, Looping, Treehouse

Lisa has been a teacher in the Pajaro Valley School District since 1997. She has taught Kindergarten, first and second grade in addition to her 6 years as a reading and language development specialist.
One of the things she enjoys most about teaching is the opportunity she has to celebrate with kids as they read their first books and write their first words. Even after 15 years of helping kids learn to read it is always exciting and wonderful to participate in those “A-HA” moments!

Lisa builds upon the natural curiosity of  children with her year long theme “Exploring our World.” She teaches students how to “think like scientists,” observing, asking questions and making predictions about the animals and habitats here in Pajaro Valley and around the world. She uses field trips to give students hands-on experiences related to each unit of study. Units are developed based upon the California State Standards for Science and Social Studies. Literacy, science, social studies and math are integrated (interconnected) as much as possible. Art, music and hands-on science are an integral part of the "Treehouse Class" learning experience.

Sue Creswell

First grade, Heart Room

Sue Creswell received her B.A. in Social Sciences and her Elementary Teaching Credential from San Jose State University. She has been teaching first grade at Linscott since it became a charter school, in 1994. Before that, she taught K-2 for six years in the Oak Grove School District in San Jose. While at Linscott she has enriched her education by taking yearly classes, including trainings in Box It or Bag It Math, and Picturing Writing/ Image Making, along with attending a two year Monterey Bay Aquarium Teachers Institute and the Mid Summer UCSC Arts Institute.

Sue appreciates the opportunity to work with families at Linscott, completing the important home/school connection. She facilitates a standards based curriculum that sparks the learning process with thematic, project based activities. She especially enjoys infusing creative movement, puppetry, drama, cooking and art into the day.

During her years at Linscott Sue has been a member of the SMT board several times, along with multiple years of heading up the Sunshine appreciation efforts, the Science Fair, Harvest Fair, Million Words program and has been on several long range planning committees. Sue is married and has a son who is just graduating from high school and a daughter who is teaching middle school.

Shaun Gruber

Kindergarten, Hummingbird Hall

Shaun: I graduated from the University of California Santa Barbara with a Bachelors Degree in Studio Art.  After two years of being a college graduate and living in the UK for a period of time, I ended up back in Santa Cruz. I began volunteering at two local elementary school classrooms (6th grade at Mar Vista Elementary and 5th grade at H.A. Hyde).  Literally, within days, I had fallen in love with the idea of becoming and elementary school teacher.  Six months later I was convinced that I needed to make this idea a reality.  I entered San Jose State last fall, and enrolled in their Multiplication Subject Teaching Credential program, where I was exposed to creative educators and an inspiring cohort of peers. While student teaching at Si Se Puede, a Rocketship parent-participation and college-prep charter school, I was trained in individualized instruction and was taught the importance of holding high academic expectations for my students. I also became interested in public policy and making sure all children have access to quality education.

I feel so lucky to be teaching such an amazing group of Kindergarteners at Linscott and having the chance to implement all of my new found skills, as well as developing many more!   I have grown so much already through my time at Linscott and my collaboration with both teachers and parents.  My love for teaching increases everyday and I am so thrilled to be a part of such a wonderful community of teachers, administrators, parents and students!                     

Jessica Rice

Second grade, Discovery Room

Jessica graduated from California State University Monterey Bay with a B.A. in Liberal Studies and a minor in Environmental Science and has been teaching at Linscott since 2009.  She completed her Master’s Degree in Education through UCSC, where she received excellent in class teaching experiences, the most current, and research based teaching practices. My training placed a heavy emphasis on English language development across the curriculum while concentrating on building academic success with all children.  She also holds a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential.  While pursuing a career in education Jessica volunteered in the Watsonville Cooperative Preschool, Aromas School, Mount Madonna School, and Linscott Charter School.  Jessica worked actively in many classrooms, taught an after-school science program with K-3rd graders, and taught an environmental education exploratory to middle schoolers.  She is very excited to be teaching at Linscott, a true community that is very special in her heart.   She was instantly drawn to the environmental educational philosophy and strong parent and school connection that makes Linscott unique. Teaching at Linscott provides a wonderful opportunity to bring student’s purposeful learning holistically, giving students a cross-curricular thematic teaching experience to grow academically, socially, and emotionally.  Jessica  looks forward to teaching every day at Linscott because she builds a strong class community, working with students who are eager to learn and come to school.  Jessica’s students feel cared about, have multiple opportunities to learn within a collaborative team environment, and are guided to acquire new knowledge within a realm of creative arts and science based modalities.  Jessica feels very fortunate to be a part of the Linscott community.  As a parent of a student who attended Linscott, she knows that students here are getting the best possible educational experience.  

Darlene Beal

Third grade, Phoenix Hall

Darlene Beal received her B.A. Cum Laude with distinction in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Child Development at California State University Monterey Bay. She holds a BCLAD credential and has taught third grade at Linscott Charter School since 2001. Darlene was a vision therapist for 8 years working with children and adults with vision related learning difficulties.

She worked with John Fleming at Developmental Learning Solutions for three years where she gained knowledge and experience working with many different learning styles. She is a graduate and support training staff of GLOBE (Global Observations to Benefit the Environment). For several years she has participated in the SCHELD (Science, Culture, History and English Language Development) Institute, first as a participant and then in the leadership training.

She loves teaching at Linscott Charter School because it allows her to address the whole child and provide hands-on integrated curriculum. She also values the parent, teacher, student collaboration which is fostered here. Darlene feels especially connected to Linscott because she and her children attended this school for 14 years before she finished her credential program and became a teacher.

Odile deFaymoreau

First - Third Grade, Rainbow Room

Odile has been teaching kindergarten at Linscott since 1997. Prior to that she spent 3 1/2 years as director of the Watsonville Cooperative Preschool, teaching students ages 2 1/2 to 5 years old, and parent education. In addition to teaching, Odile has served on the Mountain Elementary School Board of Trustees for 9 years, the Santa Cruz County Children's Commission for 5 years, and the Linscott Site Management Team for 5 years. She has been instrumental in developing Linscott policies and served as co-director at Linscott for two years. She returned to focusing on kindergarten through the 2007-2008 schoolyear. Starting with the 2008-2009 schoolyear, Odile is running Linscott's innovative Rainbow Room, a mixed grade classroom.

William Poore & Linda Bennett

Fourth grade, Exploration Station

WILLIAM:  I graduated from California State University Fresno with a B.A. in Liberal Studies and a minor in English and have been teaching at Linscott since 2007. I completed my teaching credential training through the Kremen School of Education and Human Development at California State University Fresno in 2007 where I received excellent training in the most current, research based teaching practices. My training placed a heavy emphasis on English language development across the curriculum while concentrating on student-centered development. I hold a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential K-8 and a Single Subject Authorization in English.

Before pursuing a career in education I lived in Santa Cruz for nearly twelve years. During the majority of that time I owned and operated a small business as well as having obtained an Associates degree from Cabrillo College. I am very excited to be back in the Monterey Bay Area and ready to serve this special community.

I have been teaching 4th grade here at Linscott for the past five years.  I was instantly drawn to the community spirit and educational philosophy that makes Linscott unique. Teaching at Linscott provides an outstanding opportunity to expand the educational experience beyond the conventional in a supportive, structured environment. I am looking forward to the discoveries in learning that my students will experience as I will be exposing them to language rich, cross curriculum studies, integrated subjects, technology, and plenty of hands on/minds on learning; all of which will be supported and guided by the California State Standards.

I am very excited to be a part of the Linscott community as both a teacher and parent as my two children, Liam and Elise, attend Linscott.             --William


I first became involved with Linscott in 2006 when my two daughters began attending our school. As a parent, I have loved being at Linscott and have always wanted to be very involved with our school . This is why I worked as a substitute teacher and member of the Site Management Team for two years, in addition to serving other roles in our Linscott parent community until my youngest daughter graduated in June of 2012.

My educational background includes having earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Environmental Studies and Political Science at U.C. Santa Barbara in 1986, a Master’s Degree of Urban and Regional Planning at San Jose State University in 1997, and a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from Cal State Teach at CSUMB in 2007.  I am happy to say that I earned the Academic Achievement Award in 1996 in my Master’s Program at San Jose State University, and earned a Cross-Cultural, Language and Academic Development (CLAD) Certification from Cal State Teach. Currently I am finishing a professional development program through the Santa Cruz County Office of Education which will enable me to earn my lifetime teaching credential in June of 2014. In addition to these courses of study, I have attended many specialized trainings to enhance my ability to work with students of varying learning styles. I have taught in all grades from preschool through fifth grades and am currently in my tenth year of teaching.

I am very grateful and delighted to be working at Linscott, and very much look forward to meeting you and working with you and your child.                 --Linda


Karen Mora

Fifth grade, Research Room

Karen received a B.A. in Sociology from University of California at Santa Cruz and a multi-subject teaching credential from Chapman University. After college, she pursued an interest in dance and movement and became a member of the improvisational dance troupe, Discordance. During this same period she studied Yoga, and was fortunate to be able to travel to Pune, India to study with the Yoga master, BKS Iyengar. For almost ten years she taught Yoga and movement privately and through various institutions such as Cabrillo College, UCSC and Wesleyan University in Connecticut. She also taught Adult Education classes throughout Santa Cruz County.

When her oldest daughter was four years old, she enrolled her in the Watsonville Cooperative Preschool located at Linscott School. Following preschool, she enrolled her in Linscott Magnet School. Excited and captivated by working in her daughter's classes as a parent volunteer, she returned to school to earn a multi-subject credential. Shortly thereafter, she began teaching a second/third combination class at Linscott. Both her daughters (now in high school and college) attended Linscott.

Karen has followed Linscott through its early days as a small magnet school, through its transition into a charter school into its position today as a successful, mature charter school. She has served on the Site Management Team (SMT) for many years. She now teaches 5th grade. Karen is committed to the idea that education is a family endeavor. She believes that all people, children and adults as well, learn best in a safe, but challenging environment, and that it is essential for children to engage in enriching experiences outside of a classroom.

Recently Karen was one of three California teachers to be accepted to the 2007 Mount Vernon Teachers' Institute held at Mount Vernon, VA. Along with 20 other teachers from around the US, she had the opportunity to live at Mount Vernon for a week, attending seminars with prominent scholars of George Washington, the Constitution and 18th century American life.

Seth Lewis

Sixth grade, Fox Landing

I am extremely excited to be working as an educator at Linscott Charter School since 2007. My background and life experiences have fortuitously provided me with the skills and motivation to have an extremely positive impact on the both the students in the classroom, as well as the school. The following paragraphs give a brief introduction to who I am as a person as well as my philosophy as an educator.

My youth was spent in Santa Maria, California, an agricultural community with startling similarities to Watsonville. After graduating from UC Santa Barbara with a Bachelors Degree in History in 2001, my wife, who is an environmental educator, and I spent several years traveling, teaching, and learning in the South Pacific, New Zealand, Australia, South East Asia, and Central and South America. When I returned to the United States in 2005, I attended the University of California, Santa Cruz where I obtained my Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and Master of Education degree. I spent 2006-2007 in Burlington, Vermont as my wife completed her Master of Science in Environmental and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont.

As an educator, I have extensive experience teaching children from diverse social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds, teaching in multi-age settings, and working as an outdoor educator. In fact, six years orchestrating the surfing portion of UCSB's Eco-Surf and Kayak Camp taught me that experiences and engagement in the outdoor world are an irreplaceable form of education. I am particularly motivated by Linscott's community support, and vibrant atmosphere. I am enjoying integrating myself into the Linscott community, while I strive to inspire innovation and development.

Julie Wiley

Seventh and Eighth Grade Humanities, Lion's Lair

Julie Wiley graduated With Honors from California State Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo with a B.S. in Social Sciences. After completing a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from San Jose State and teaching briefly, Julie took time off to raise a family before returning to teaching in 1996.

Since going back to the classroom, Julie has taught 6-­-8 grade humanities, integrating social studies with language arts curriculum. She is a Fellow with the Central California Writing Project, a member of the Coalition of Essential Schools and invited presenter to their 2009 Fall Forum in New Orleans, and a member of the International and California Reading Associations. Julie has been trained in a variety of cooperative learning practices including Step Up to Writing, Reciprocal Teaching, and Interact units of study which she uses daily in her classroom.

Julie’s love for developing curriculum that is integrated and interactive led her to a teaching position at Linscott Charter School. The focus on students’ needs and the chance to work with parents dedicated to a quality education for their children feels like a perfect fit!

Brett Hagerman

Seventh and Eighth Grade Math and Science, Lion's Lair

Brett Hagerman is our Seventh and Eighth Grade Math/Science teacher. Bio forthcoming.

Jeff Cortez (aka:Superman)

Facility Manager
Although I didn't realize it at the time I found my calling in 1995 when I was hired as Facilities Manager.  My responsibility is the maintenance of our site.  I come into contact with staff parents and students  and I truly enjoy the opportunity to interact them, assisting them with anything they may need.  I take an active roll in empowering students with knowledge about the little stuff.  I take my job seriously and feel it is a privilege to be here.

I am married have 2 sons who who attended middle school here and are now attending U C Santa Cruz, and Cabrillo College.

Mark Damiani

Elementary physical education

I showed up here at Linscott in 1990 as a parent. Both my children attended 2 years of preschool here at the co-op and they stayed here right through 8th grade. After filling many voluntary positions here at Linscott over the years, I hired on as the Physical Education Instructor. Over the last 13 years I have participated in some of the nation's top Instructors conferences and workshops.This has helped me to develop a Physical Education Program that is based in a mix of cooperative games, competition, character reveal, cross curricular activities as well as basic skills development. Along with specialized training in Physical Education and Development and Conflict Resolution, I also earned an AA and a BA in Liberal Arts, graduating Cum Laude and with distinction in the major. I have taught English as a second language in both Peru and Argentina. I am currently awaiting acceptance into a Masters of Education Counseling and Credential program. So much for qualifying myself...what I want you to know is that I come to work every day happy to be a part of Linscott. I love my job and I love the kids. I have the best job in the world. I get to be outside unless it rains which isn't often, I get to make Physical Education fun and exciting for your kids; which means that they will probably keep active and playing hard throughout their lives; which means I get to make a difference in this world! That is what is important to me, to be useful and joyful and to carry that message into my program and into the lives of your kids. Play hard, play fair and have fun!

Robin Higbee

Administrative Director [e-mail]

Many elements of Robin's background and experience make her an exceptional fit for the position of director of Linscott Charter School. After completing Cabrillo College's Early Childhood Education Program, Robin earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Developmental Psychology at San Jose State University. During her undergraduate work, Robin was involved in several educational programs that followed the teachings of Piaget and Montessori, emphasizing a developmental, hands-on, constructivist approach to education. After working for several years at the preschool level as a teacher and director, Robin returned to San Jose State and received a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and has since worked with students of all ages including elementary, middle school, high school and adults. In 2004 she earned a Masters degree in Education as well as an Administrative Services Credential. Her background has taught her to value a community approach to education and the importance of parent involvement. She strongly believes that schools serving students from Kindergarten through eighth grade offer the most natural, supportive learning environment, allowing students to learn through mentoring relationships.

Robin arrived at Linscott Charter School in 1997 as a teacher for grades 6-8. She served as the school's Middle School Coordinator before becoming Director. During her time at Linscott she has come to a deeper understanding of the needs of students, parents and teachers working in a collaborative environment as well as the opportunities and challenges associated with a charter school.

Robin has a strong commitment to school choice and the charter school concept because of her belief that children and families have diverse needs and learning styles. As the Director of Linscott, Robin continues to work toward supporting students and their families in receiving the educational program that meets their individual needs so that all students are successful and develop into happy, productive members of society.

Erik Orgell

Computer Technician

Erik Orgell has been with PVUSD since 2007 working as a computer site tech. He is responsible for maintaining, upgrading and replacing all of the technology at Linscott. He is passionate about technology and how tech can broaden horizons in education and beyond. His aim is to empower students, staff and parents to make use of the technology to open up new experiences and opportunities.

He is also a parent of two Linscott students and his wife, Paula, is an active parent. In his free time, Erik enjoys mountain biking, photography, playing Lego with his boys, going to the beach and, as might be expected, technology.

Sandra Traub

Office Manager [e-mail]

Sandra Traub has been working for Linscott since 2002 as the Office Manager. She enjoys working along side the parents, students and staff at Linscott assisting with any needs that arise. Her focus is on student records, personnel, purchasing and dispensing medications while providing medical assistance to students.  She provides support to staff, students and parents and although she always looks busy, she never minds stopping to help out in any way she can.

Sandra enjoys spending time with her family, husband Terry, sons Tyler and Trevor and daughter Xani (all former Linscott students)  Favorite activities include camping, dirt biking, Martial Arts and reading a good book! She is also the Director/Master Instructor of the Watsonville P.A.L. Martial Arts Program where many of our Linscott students study Taekwondo.

Andrea Williford

Administrative Assistant & Enrollment Coordinator [e-mail]

Bio forthcoming

Holly Ota

K-6 Music Instructor

M.M., Northwestern University; B. Mus. Ed., Western Kentucky University; Baldwin Music Fellowship recipient.

Holly has 24 years experience as a music teacher. Her goal is to excite students about singing, playing instruments, and moving with music. She also wishes for students to understand how music theory and history can make music study more meaningful and prepare them for future musical endeavors. Her students are a constant source of pleasure and motivation and teach her something each class day.

In addition to teaching at Linscott Charter School, Holly performs as a piano and vocal soloist, teaches piano lessons, and is the Director of Music at Watsonville 1st United Methodist Church. 

Her family consists of her husband, Zane, and daughters, Allison and Sydney.