Capistrano Connections Academy Expands Teaching Team and Staff with 21 Hires

Capistrano Connections Academy, a tuition-free virtual public school, welcomes 21 new staff members for its 2013-14 school year. Now in its 12th year, Capistrano Connections Academy serves more than 2,000 students in grades K-12 throughout Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties, and is accepting students for the current school year through mid-February 2014.


With the addition of state-credentialed educators and specialists, Capistrano Connections Academy continues to grow staff and expand its offerings to students.


“Having worked in education for more than 14 years, I recognize that one of the most important factors for student success is passionate and experienced educators,” said Richard Savage, principal at Capistrano Connections Academy. “These new teachers, as well as our veteran staff, are incredibly driven and dedicated to helping each student achieve their learning goals, and their hard work is reflected every day in the positive learning experiences of our students.”

New additions to the teaching staff include:

-       Susan Schmidt, advisory teacher

-       Amber Baur, middle school advisory teacher

-       Mary Olson, fifth-grade teacher

-       Scott McCoy, secondary English teacher

-       Meagan VanDeventer, secondary art teacher

-       Maria Petrocco, fifth-grade teacher

-       Ryan Dreifus, high school social science teacher

-       Ted Zakka, high school advisory teacher

-       Allyson Rawlins, sixth- and seventh-grade English teacher

-       Bonnie Wheeler – high school science teacher

-        Marissa Solomon – high school science teacher

-       Daniel Bowe – high school math teacher

-       Caren Sanchez – elementary special education teacher

-       Lisa LaSarge – third through fifth-grade teacher

-       Ashley Taylor – kindergarten through second-grade teacher

-       Kristen Ela – high school English teacher


Ashley Silver and Faith Fuata also joined the team as a K-8 resource specialist and educational specialist, respectively. Ashley French joined as a PPS Certified Counselor, and  Chriss Erickson  and Claudia Villafana joined the administrative department.


“I’m delighted to have more one-on-one time with my students,” said Mary Olson, who brings six years of teaching experience to Capistrano Connections Academy. “Having more time to focus on each student helps them reach their individual academic goals and encourages them to become life-long learners.”


“My goal is to engage my students through interactive lessons and one-on-one sessions. With access to so many resources, such as Math Labs and LiveLesson® sessions, there are diverse opportunities to engage all types of students,” added new high school teacher Ryan Dreifus. “Connections Academy’s interactive tools allow us to share the passion and excitement for the subjects we teach through platforms that resonate with 21st-century learners.”


Capistrano Connections Academy’s innovative education model provides students with a flexible learning environment that meets their individual learning needs and the state’s rigorous academic standards. Students can interact with one another through field trips, which are held throughout the year, to local learning sites such as art and science museums, as well as through group labs and LiveLesson® sessions—live instruction conducted online. The school also offers visits to college campuses, which are open to all grade levels, and Career Technical Education (CTE) courses for high school students with in-depth career and field of study exploration opportunities.


Capistrano Connections Academy is accredited (grades K-12) by the Schools Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and authorized under state law by the Capistrano Unified School District. For more information, please visit Capistrano Connections Academy’s website


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