Shafter Learning Center Instructors
Christopher Chamberlain is a native of Bakersfield. After spending 12 years working in the political field, he has turned his life to teaching. He teaches at the Opportunity School for Panama Buena Vista School District. He is passionate about teaching and is excited to return to the Shafter Learning Center, where he taught a class about water and rivers in the summer.
John Ruby is a retired Business Education teacher that moved to Shafter from Washington state in 2010. He enjoys working as a substitute teacher and volunteering in the Richland School District. He has taught at the Shafter Learning Center since it opened in June 2014, teaching both summer sessions and the fall session. He is enthusiastic about teaching students the life skill of keyboarding and being a part of the Learning Center team.
Ivonne Hernandez is a teacher at Golden Oak Elementary. She has been teaching elementary school for the past nine years. She enjoys working with students and challenging them to be creative. She believes everyone can learn and is passionate about helping people achieve their goals. Mrs. Hernandez is excited about the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of some of the adults in our community by providing them with the necessary tools to advance in their English skills.
Marisela Plascencia is a sixth grade teacher at Redwood Elementary. She graduated from California State University of Bakersfield with a bachelor's degree in liberal studies and a preliminary credential. Ms. Plascencia attended Shafter High School. She looks forward to giving back to the community through advanced math classes to provide students with the opportunity to work at the pace they are capable of. I enjoy traveling and hope to travel around the world within the next couple of years.
Nicole Saint-John is an artist and mentor artist who has worked with children of all ages and adults with- and without- physical disabilities and developmental disabilities. As a program director she has developed and managed programs which engage and further the well-being of the participants. In the field of arts-supported learning she has worked closely with the following Kern County organizations: Bakersfield Museum of Art, Arts Council of Kern - Young Audiences, BARC, NAPD, DART, Kern Autism Network, Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, KCSOS, Independent Living Center of Kern, Kern Regional Center, the Richland School District in Shafter, and the Delano Union School District/Turning Point Academy.
Over the last decade Nicole has received various awards and recognition as a visual artist, including the 2012 Beautiful Bakersfield Award in the category “Arts-Individual”, the 2011 Bakersfield Californian “Artist of the Year” award, and the 2010 International Women’s Day Award in the Arts.
Hans Tullmann grew up in Southern California and graduated from California State University, Bakersfield, earning his Bachelor's degree in Liberal Arts and his teaching credential. Since then, he has been working as an elementary school teacher in the Richland School District in Shafter, earning a Master’s Degree in Teaching and Learning from Point Loma Nazarene University. After teaching 3rd grade for 10 years, he recently became the Educational Technology Integration Coach for the Richland School District, helping teachers integrate technology in their classrooms.
Jillayne Lowe is a Richland School District teacher and has been educating the children of the Shafter for the past 31 years. She is a graduate of California State University of Bakersfield, with a BA in Liberal Studies and a MA in Curriculum and Instruction. She is always looking for ways to help children succeed and is excited to be part of the Learning Center experience.
Brittney Neal-Soberanis, a Kern County native, received her Bachelor of Arts in Intercultural Studies with a minor in Spanish from John Brown University in 2007, as well as a Master's of Science in Leadership and Ethics in 2009. While attending JBU, Brittney spent a semester in the Latin American Studies Program that enabled her to travel throughout Central America and even to Cuba. After graduation Brittney Neal-Soberanis married and returned with her husband to his home country of Guatemala. Brittney lived in Guatemala for three years. While there she worked as a teacher in a private international school, as well as a private English tutor for students ranging in age from preschool to adults. Brittney became fluent in Spanish through her desire to connect with friends and neighbors in her new home. She hopes that sharing her knowledge of the Spanish language will enable her students to get out and connect with the world in a richer way.
Bryan Jacobs has been teaching at the Richland School Distrcit for 13 years. He has taught Special Day Classes, 6th grade and 4th grade. Mr. Jacobs started his adult life owning a cleaning company for 22 years. He attended California State University of Bakersfield and earned two credentials. His favorite hobby is flying. He has a small home built airplane called a Harmon Rocket. Mr. Jacobs flies most Saturdays. Math and Science are his favorite subjects, so he is excited to be teaching the Problem Solving Skills class at the Shafter Learning Center.
Maira Rios received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Entrepreneurship from California State University, Chico. While attending CSU, Chico she studied French and spent a year studying in Paris, France. During her time in France, Maira was able to explore her passion for languages and cultures. She looks forward to sharing some of the knowledge she obtained from educational and travel experiences with the students and parents of this community and hopes to inspire other Kern County natives to explore the reaches of their dreams.
Mattie Jacobs is a native of East Texas. She grew up on a dairy farm in a small town similar in size to Shafter. She moved to California to go to college in northern California at Yuba College. After graduating with an AS degree she moved to Bakersfield where she met and married her husband, Bryan Jacobs. She went back to school and earned Bachelors and Masters degrees from Cal State Bakersfield. She began teaching in the Richland School District as a 6th grade teacher in 2004. Math and Science are her favorite subjects. Mrs. Jacobs and her husband moved to Shafter 9 years ago. She loves her family, learning, and teaching, with other hobbies of sewing, cooking, and gardening. She has taught at the Learning Center since its opening last summer and looks forward to many more years of sharing her love of lifelong learning with many students.
Martha was born in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. She attended primary school in Mexico and junior high and high school here in the United States. She graduated high school in 1995 and received her bachelor's degree in 1999 and her single subject teaching credential in 2000 which granted her the opportunity to be able to teach Spanish. Martha received her master's degree in 2005, the year when she had her first child;She did all her college education at CSUB. She married her husband Santiago and they have two boys, Santiago Angelo (9) and Sebastian Andres (6). Martha feels that she is a better person thanks to the people that surround her, which includes her family, colleagues, friends, former students and current students. She loves to read, cook and create memories with her family. Martha would love to see all of her students graduate high school and pursue a higher education and to not forget about our community. She has been teaching Spanish at Shafter High School since 1999. She loves her profession, her students make her smile at work every single day, She hopes she has placed a smile in their life's as well.
Diane Barnett knew at an early age she wanted to be a teacher. Her favorite subjects were math, reading, and music. She received her degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. While working for Texaco she tutored high school math students during the evenings and weekends. She finally realized her dreams and earned her teaching credential in 1992. Diane currently teaches 1st grade for the Richland School District. Her goal is for students to develop a love of learning, understand the value of hard work, and be inspired to reach for their dreams. “Students deserve a teacher who believes in them.”-Diane Barnett
John Wiebe has a Bachelors Degree from Fresno Pacific University plus a teaching credential and Master's degree from Point Loma. He has taught at Shafter High School for nine years. John also coaches basketball and tennis at Shafter High School and loves working with students of all abilities. He looks forward to preparing college-bound students for the SAT at the Shafter Learning Center.
Esmeralda Hernandez-Aguilar is a native of El Ranchito Michoacan , Mexico. She arrived to this country at the age of 13. She graduated from Shafter High, then attended Bakersfield College for two years and then transferred to California State University of Bakersfield where she received a Bachelors of Science in mathematics and her teaching credential. She has worked as a teacher at different grade levels going from junior high to university. Her passion is mathematics and for the past four years she has dedicated her life to helping Richland Junior High students to understand the importance of mathematics.
Corrine Coats is an English Teacher and Coach of the Speech and Debate Team at Bakersfield High School. Coats, a Bakersfield native, studied Communication and Education locally at California State University, Bakersfield. Prior to becoming a teacher, Coats enjoyed a successful career in the public relations and communications field working mostly with local non-profit organizations. Coats loves her community and has been involved with many local charities and organizations including the Junior League of Bakersfield and the Downtown Business Association where she served on the board of directors.
Kendall Marshall has been teaching English Language Arts, Video Production and Yearbook Production classes for the past 10 years. Previous to being a teacher, Ms. Marshall spent over 25 years in the Radio and Television industry as a radio personality and television entertainment reporter. Marshall has one son who is a professional stage actor in Los Angeles, 3 dogs, and a giant land tortoise. When not working, Marshall likes to travel, read, swim and jump out of airplanes
Dennise Bentle is an eighth-grade ELA teacher at Richland Junior High. She was born and raised in Kern County and attended North High School in Bakersfield. She graduated from California State University Bakersfield in 2010 with a Bachelor’s Degree in History. Understanding the value of education (and loving her discipline), she then pursued a Master’s Degree in European History. Dennise worked as a substitute teacher in the Kern High School District while attending college. She has taught at Richland Junior High for two years and has loved every minute! The community is warm and welcoming and the students are very special to her. She looks forward to many years serving the community of Shafter.
Angelica Martinez is a native of California and has lived in Bakersfield since 1999. She attended California State University Bakersfield and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in English in 1996 and a teaching credential in 2004. She also received a Master’s Degree in Counseling from the University of LaVerne in 2004. After working for Kern County Child Protection Services for a year, she transitioned into the teaching profession. She has been an 8th grade Language Arts Teacher for Richland Junior High since 2004 and a part time school counselor since 2013. Ms. Martinez loves the community she serves and dedicates much of her personal time to the students and staff at Richland Junior High. This year, Ms. Martinez received the Richland School District Teacher of the Year award, and the Kern CUE (Computer Using Educators) Educator of the Year Award for 2015 for using technological tools in the classroom. She loves spending quality time with family, vacationing in the mountains, and cooking. She is the proud mother of a son who attends Richland Junior High.
Jill Wilson has been a 7th and 8th Grade Language Arts Teacher for eleven years (six of which are here in Shafter). Born and raised in Southern California, she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in English and a Single Subject Credential at California State University Fullerton. Mrs. Wilson spends her weekends riding her bike, conquering mountains, and running with her dogs. She is passionate about her adoptive community of Shafter and about providing young people with practical reading and writing skills which will allow them to advance into their chosen areas of study at the university level and careers.
Ryan Murry is a native Californian who received his bachelor’s degree in English from the California State University of Bakersfield. He earned his single-subject teaching credential, his master’s degree in Education, and his administrative credential from the University of La Verne. Ryan Murry has been teaching ELA for nine years--- He has spent five of those years happily teaching the students of Shafter at the Richland Junior High! Prior to becoming an educator, Mr. Murry traveled the world with his wife and enjoyed visiting numerous cities in several countries. Mr. Murry enjoys working with technology, reading short stories and articles, and cooking food for his family. He is the proud father of three daughters and one chihuahua.
April Martinez is a native of Bakersfield, California. Ms. Martinez attended CSU, Bakersfield and graduated with a B.A. in English and a M.A. in English. She has been teaching English at Shafter High School for eight years where she also coaches the Academic Decathlon team.
Edna Ivana Muy Curiel is a teacher who loves contributing to her community. She has lived in Shafter since 2006. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Education with a TESOL certification and Master’s Degree in a foreign language from California State University Bakersfield. For the past four years she has worked at Taft Community College as a teacher. She has gathered lots of experience on how to interact with students, encourage them to enjoy extra-curricular activities, and study groups. During her professional career she has worked with special needs students, motivated students and supervised study groups for adult students. Mrs. Muy Curiel has been working with the Shafter Education Partnership, helping parents reach their English language fluency goals, since 2011. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family.
Barbara Johnson has 18 years of teaching experience, 14 being with the Kern High School District. She is a graduate of CSU Bakersfield and St. Mary’s College (Moraga). Barbara has been teaching AP Psychology since 2005, and has worked as an AP Reader for the College Board for the Psychology exam since 2008.
Katie Wiebe is a native of Bakersfield, CA where she attended local public schools. She graduated from Fresno Pacific University, and it was there that she discovered her passion for teaching children. She taught for 4 years in the Fruitvale School District, prior to her current job as a mom to 3 energetic boys. She married John, a teacher at Shafter High School, and loves living in Shafter!
Donald Hansen was born and raised in Bakersfield, Ca. He attended Fresno State University. After graduation he went to work for Chevron USA Inc. as a corrosion specialist. Mr. Hansen has taught at Taft Union High School, the Wasco State Prison, and the Kern County Superintendent of Schools’ Court and Community Schools as well as the KCSOS program “Do the Math.” He earned a Masters of Education in Administration and in Multicultural Curriculum. He enjoys helping students of all ages in receive a solid education. His hobbies are woodworking, playing darts, and spending time with his family. He is thrilled to be working at the Shafter Learning Center especially since his mother, Margaret Hansen, a Scottish immigrant, used to work with the Kern County Library for several years. Mr. Hansen’s favorite football team: SEA HAWKS!
Francis O’Neil is a resident of Bakersfield, born and raised there his entire life. He comes from a Catholic family of seven (yes, seven). Francis has four sisters and three brothers and is the second youngest. His interests include writing and reading of course, as well as movies such as classics, comedies, mysteries and sports mainly baseball. He graduated from Garces High School in 1990, and then went to college at Bakersfield College, Cal State University of Bakersfield and the University of LaVerne, where he earned his credential.
Carla Stanley is a native of Bakersfield and has just retired from teaching Theater Arts (Drama and Technical Theater) at Shafter High School where she taught since 2003. She has a Masters of Arts in Theater Production. She has worked in most of the Bakersfield theaters since 1993 and has directed and/or designed over a hundred plays. She has also worked with the Shafter Children's Summer Theater in various technical capacities since 2004. She fell in love with theater in high school and feels it is a creative way to approach any subject in school and in real life.
Michele Livingston grew up in southern California and earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from California Lutheran University. She received her teaching credential from California State University, Bakersfield and her Masters of Science in School Counseling from the University of La Verne. She has been teaching for sixteen years. She and her family have lived in Bakersfield for seventeen years.
Belinda Castro was raised in and currently lives in Shafter. Ms. Castro graduated from Shafter High School in 2009. She then attended California State University, Bakersfield, and received a Bachelor's Degree in Spanish in 2013. In 2014 Ms. Castro completed the Credential Program and received a teaching credential in the subject area of Spanish. She was also accepted into the Masters Educational Counseling Program at CSUB. She has over 5 years of experience as a tutor for the City of Shafter and is a Spanish teacher at Shafter High School. She enjoys both being a teacher and a tutor because she is able to work with a different range of students, from 3rd to 12th grade. She hopes to inspire all of the students she comes across to be the best that they can be. Ms. Castro shares that “As teachers, most of us dream of making a difference in our students' lives, but in reality, they are the ones who make a difference in ours.”
Dacia Solis has a Bachelor's Degree in Liberal Studies and Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from California State University, Bakersfield. This is her second year teaching 6th grade at Redwood Elementary. Ms. Solis was raised in Bakersfield but currently resides in McFarland. Ms. Solis is married and has a 10 month old daughter, Alyssa. Her passion for teaching became even stronger when she became a mother. She tries to be the teacher that she wants her daughter to have when she enters school. She enjoys spending her free time with her daughter and husband, cooking and reading.
Natalie Feinberg is an English teacher entering her 18th year at Shafter High School, Kern High School District. She is a graduate from California State University, Bakersfield and she worked on her Masters in Educational Administration at Point Loma Nazarene University. She is an advocate of students’ academic growth and college readiness. Natalie is the proud mother of three adult children, grandmother to two grandchildren, and currently resides in Bakersfield, California.
Gisela Gaona is a Shafter High School graduate (2007) and a University of California, Santa Barbara graduate (2013). She graduated with a double major in History and Chicano/a Studies. She currently works at Shafter High School as a Bilingual Instructional Aide. Gisela is currently applying to graduate school and hopes to earn a Master's degree in Education. In her spare time she loves to read non-fiction books and travel around the world. She has visited countries all over Europe and Latin America, her favorite city thus far has been Berlin, Germany.
Jordan Lewis grew up in Shafter, California and graduated from Shafter High School, Home of the Generals! After high school he continued to Baylor University and graduated with a B.A. in Mathematics and a M.S. in Mathematics. Now he is teaching Math at Shafter High School where he also coaches Cross Country, Basketball, and Track.
Kevin Allred was raised in the town of Shafter, California and has resided here for the past 23 years. He graduated from California State University Bakersfield with honors in History and Economics. While attending school, he dreamed of one day teaching the youth of Shafter in achieving their educational goals. Kevin has tutored in Shafter’s Reading Academy for one summer and has tutored students from grades 3-7 in mathematics and language arts. This will be Kevin’s third term working with students in the math lab.
Julian Irigoyen grew up in Bakersfield, California and graduated from Shafter High School. While at Shafter High School Julian competed in cross country and track. In the fall he will attend Wingate University, in North Carolina, where he will major in Biology and run cross country and track, on an academic and athletic scholarship
Jazmin Zamudio was raised in Shafter, California. She attended CSU, Bakersfield where she obtained her Bachelor’s degree, her multiple subject teaching credential, and her Master’s degree in Education. Her main focus has always been to try to get students to read more, and to enjoy what they are reading. She has been a fourth grade teacher at Sequoia Elementary for the past three years. Helping students learn new things is one of the main reasons she chose to be a teacher.
Yesenia Calderon was born in Guanajuato, Mexico, and moved with her family to the United States a the age of 10. She graduated Shafter High School in 2012, and then she attended the University of California, Irvine where she received a Bachelors of Science in Biological Sciences. Yesenia plans to attend medical school and become a family physician. She hopes to one day serve her community by helping make healthcare accessible to all. She believes a healthy community is built through education, cooperation, equity, and kindness. Yesenia is excited about the Learning Center and hopes to become a resource to students in not only mathematics but also goal setting endeavors.
Erika Loveall is a sixth grade teacher at Redwood Elementary in the Richland School District. She attended Cal State University, Bakersfield receiving her BA in Liberal Studies and a multiple subject credential. She completed her student teaching in the Richland School District and became a long term substitute teacher in sixth grade at Redwood Elementary. She is now in her second year of teaching with the same position. Mrs. Loveall has a passion for teaching and seeing students discover and work towards their dreams. She knew from the time she was in first grade she was going to be a teacher and wants to help students realize that they too can be whatever it is they dream of. With hard work and dedication, together we can help students make their dreams a reality.
Monica Plascencia is a Kindergarten teacher at Buttonwillow school and has been teaching since 2012. Monica graducated from Shafter High School where she participated in Cross Country. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies and a concentration in Child Development from California State University Bakersfield. She is currently working on her Master in Curriculum and Instruction and Reading certificate. She is excited to be working in Shafter and giving back to the community.
Curtis Halberg is a special education teacher at Redwood Elementary, servicing students in grades TK-sixth. This will be his fourth year working for the Richland School District. He is a graduate from Cal State Bakersfield where he earned his bachelors degree in child, adolescent, and family studies as well as his masters degree in special education. Curtis has been working with children for 13 years. He looks forward to teaching students the tools they need to be successful readers.
Juana Zamudio was born in Mexico and she moved to Shafter, CA at the age of 5. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at California State University of Bakersfield. Juana is currently attending National University and is working on her Masters of Science. She has worked at Richland Junior High for the last 6 years. She is passionate about helping students reach their full potential and about helping students discover the joys of reading.
Melanie Diaz was born and raised in Delano, CA. She is currently attending Bakersfield College to further her education in Psychology where she will later transfer to California State University of Bakersfield to obtain her Bachelor and Master degrees. Ms. Diaz works at Redwood Elementary in the Learning Center. Ms. Diaz has a two-year-old son, Noah. Her passion for education came at a young age and later become stronger when she became a mother. She enjoys spending time with her son and family in her spare time.
Joel has mentored and tutored students in multiple subjects for nearly 11 years. He graduated from UC Berkeley with a double major in Marine Science and Environmental Science with a minor in Spanish Composition/Literature, Integrative Biology, and also completed the CalTeach Program. He is looking forward to attending graduate school this upcoming Fall 18, where he will either participate in the Masters Program for counseling & also try on receiving a multi-subject credential or participating in a PhD program where he will conduct research on the Megafloods that occur here in California. Joel plans on giving back to his community and helping students further their education. He wants to help encourage them to strive for a better future and that they are capable of succeeding in life. He also enjoys traveling, collecting rocks, and making people laugh.
Johnny Rubio is a Kern County native that has been involved in the Information Technology field for a total of 13 years. In that time, he has obtained several certifications that has helped him to understand the ever-changing world that is IT.
Raymond Carr is the assistant principal at Golden Oak Elementary. During his twelve years of teaching, he has worked at Richland Junior High, Norris Middle School, and Mojave High School. Also, he opened a private tutoring business with his wife in Busan, South Korea. He has many interests including cooking, reading, and travel. He loves the process of education and seeks to make learning engaging and rewarding for all students.
Jeff Unfried, born and raised in Bakersfield, CA, is a son to two teachers (something he always vowed he would never do himself). He attended Point Loma Nazarene University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree. After graduating he did not set out to become a teacher but his determination to help young students grow into young adults eventually led him down the path of getting his teaching credential in math. Jeff has been teaching for over ten years (9 at Richland Junior High). He taught math, most recently 8th grade Algebra, until the 2017-18 school year when he began teaching the Gateway to Engineering elective, PLTW for junior high students. Jeff has been teaching the incoming 7th and 8th grade Advanced Math Labs for the past 6 summers (this summer being his 7th). Teaching is his passion and always where Jeff was meant to be.
Lizeth Carrillo was born and raised in Kern County. In 2013, she graduated from Shafter High School. In 2018, she graduated from California State University, Bakersfield with a bachelor's degree in Physical Education and Kinesiology with an Exercise Science concentration and Psychology minor. Through her studies, she knows the importance of health and wellness and spreads that message throughout the community. As a first-generation graduate, Lizeth knows the values of education and is here to encourage and help others to continue to learn.
Melissa Bergen was born and raised in Shafter. She has spent nearly a decade in community benefit work--running after school programs, tutoring students, and helping young adults apply for college or apply for jobs. Inspired by Shafter students, she created Shafter’s Little Free Library network--a free book sharing program through boxes placed all throughout Shafter. Melissa has always valued pursuing education and just finished her Master’s degree in Community Leadership and Transformation at Fresno Pacific University in December 2018. She looks forward to helping Shafter students pursue their academic goals and encourages them to “have dreams.”
Alma Ruiz is a science teacher at Frontier High School, where she has taught Biology since 2006. Previously she taught AVID, life science and Biology at Arvin High School, her alma mater. She came from a migrant farm working family and has always had a passion for learning. She graduated from UC Riverside with a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Science and a minor in Spanish language. Ms. Ruiz has also attended CSUB and the University of LaVerne for postgraduate coursework. She has worked as a court interpreter, and in a private laboratory, however, teaching has by far been the most challenging career, as well as the most rewarding for her. Ms. Ruiz hopes to instill a love for learning, if not science, by continuing her teaching journey. Some of her hobbies include reading books, traveling, fossil hunting, and trying out new things like baking and building lego sets with her son.
Emily Lopez was born and raised in Shafter. Coming from a family with a Deaf brother, Emily chose to pursue a career in sign language interpreting. Emily worked for the Kern County Superintended of Schools as a staff interpreter for 7 years before moving to Sacramento to continue her education. She graduated from American River College where she completed the Interpreting Preparation Program. Emily stayed up north for a total of 7 years to work for Lodi Unified School District and Eaton Interpreting Services. When her contracts were up, she returned to Kern County to help establish a non-profit ASL interpreting service agency. Once the agency was up and running, Emily accepted a position with the Kern Community College District as a Sign Language Interpreter II at Bakersfield College. In addition to her staff position at BC, Emily works as a freelance community interpreter. Her ASL interpreting experience includes: K-12, Postsecondary education, Athletics, Medical, Mental Health, Political and Performing Arts Interpreting. Emily currently holds an Educational Signing Skills Evaluation Certification (ESSE) and National Interpreter Certification (NIC). She is also a certified member of the Registry for Interpreters of the Deaf.