Staff Listing

The 2018-2019 Staff at Canyon Charter 


When I was selected to be Principal of Canyon in 2015, I felt like I won the lottery! Growing up in Pacific Palisades and spending my entire career working at schools within the Palisades Complex, I had always admired Canyon from the outside. When I joined the Canyon community, I knew that I was “home.” Being part of a true community school where collaboration and community are strongly valued is important to me. From a very young age, I knew that I wanted to be in education. I spent much of my childhood in my mother’s classroom and enjoyed playing “teacher.” After graduating from Loyola Marymount, in 1995 I began teaching at Palisades Elementary and remained there for 10 years teaching various grades. My principal inspired me to go into administration and in 2006 I became an Assistant Principal, Elementary Instructional Specialist (APEIS).

As an APEIS, I traveled between 3 high performing westside charter schools where I supported the special education programs. I learned so much about special education laws and policies and supporting the individual needs of students became a true mission of mine. Since then, I have made it my goal to ensure that every child at my school gets what they need, whether additional intensive support, or further challenge.
After serving as APEIS for four years, I was fortunate to be selected as the principal of Topanga Elementary Charter School. It was at Topanga that I truly discovered the importance of a school community. In my four years at Topanga I thoroughly enjoyed the culture of collaboration and shared decision making. My passion for meeting the academic as well as social and emotional needs of students grew even more deeply as I strived to address the needs of the “whole child.”

On a more personal note, I currently live in Pacific Palisades with my partner, son, and 2 dogs. When not working I enjoy hiking, gardening, spinning, yoga, cooking, traveling and home improvement projects. I am a born busy body and rarely find time to sit still. I feel blessed to be at Canyon every day, carrying out the school vision to ensure that all students receive the best education possible. Canyon has made exceptional achievements and I am proud to be able to serve as this school’s Principal.



I’m excited about working with you and your child in the 2018-19 school year! I’m passionate about teaching and building a community of learners in my classroom, which this year is in Room 19.

I’m eager to take on my new role this year as Coordinator and Learning Academy Teacher. In addition to my new administrative role, I will be working with students who need a little extra support with reading. I’m looking forward to working with students in small groups to ensure their academic success. I approach my work as an educator with great humility, understanding the awesome responsibility that it comes with. I believe in the importance of teaching the whole child. The role of the teacher is not only to teach, but also to help monitor and shape the social and emotional aspects of life at school. I pride myself in being collaborative with my colleagues, in being a life-long learner, and in developing a love of reading and learning in my students.

I hold a Bachelors Degree from UCLA, as well as a Masters in Educational Leadership and Administration. I am also a National Board Certified Teacher. Besides being a teacher, I am the mother of two recent college grads. My experience as both a parent and a teacher has given me perspective and insight that I bring with me in my role as an educator. I look forward to working with you to make this year a very positive and successful year for your child!


Margarita Contreras: Administrative Assistant

Jackie Arabia: Office Assistant

Luz Cruz: Office Assistant

Greg Herd: Plant Manager

Sheena Washington: Cafeteria Manager

Barbara Blake: Librarian

Nirit Levy: School Psychologist

Veero Derkarabetian: Science Instruction

Susan Haskell: Art 

Joey Medaglia: Physical Education

Katy Arnovik: Music (Vocal)

Carlos Velado: Digital Learning

Lily Velado: S.T.A.R. Director

Shawn Genut: Adapted PE

Rachel Galper: Drama (Kinder)

Bobby Bolden: Beyond the Bell


Grade Room Teacher
TK/Kindergarten 1 Tamara Gorman
Kindergarten K1 April Walker
Kindergarten K2 Kellie Howard
1st Grade 2 Lisa Riddle
1st Grade 15 Olivia Lim
1st Grade 16 Zarin Khossoussi
2nd Grade 11 Maisha Harris
2nd Grade 17 Sherry Ikebe
2nd Grade 18 Erica Lamb
3rd Grade 6 Katje Davis
3rd Grade 7 Steve Butts
3rd Grade 8 Rya Hollander
4th Grade 3 Courtenay Pfau
4th Grade 5 Laura Goldstein
4th Grade 9 Charlena TerVeer
5th Grade 4 Doug Stoll
5th Grade 10 Akimi Sujishi-Watson