IVA Faculty

Claudia Campos

Claudia CamposScience Teacher
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Claudia Campos, IVA's science teacher, holds a master of arts in education in teaching from Alliant International University, and a bachelor of science in biochemistry from Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles. She has a preliminary single subject credential in chemistry and completed the AP Summer Institute at University of California, Riverside, for teaching AP chemistry. Ms. Campos taught high-school chemistry and middle-school science at a private school in Encino for two years.

“I believe in IVA's mission whole-heartedly because I have always believed that students have the ability to grow into the learners they want to be. IVA not only believes in this growth as well, but also encourages the growth in a practical way that is evident to the students by using the nine intellectual virtues. It is exciting to me that my science students will be diving into a rigorous curriculum that requires them to practice the virtues as they perform investigations and analyses the way scientists do. I love that there is a sense of community, and even family, in the school, which I find is very important if we want our students to grow as learners, thinkers, and overall citizens. The beauty of this school is that I know that I will be growing in those aspects alongside my students.”

Deborah Chen

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Math Teacher

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Deborah Chen holds a multiple subject and a foundational level math credential from California State University Long Beach.  Prior to teaching at IVA, Ms. Chen taught middle school for three years in the Central Valley of California, where she helped develop curriculum for 7th and 8th grade math, using her interests in computer coding.  She has also served as a K-12 substitute teacher in several So-Cal school districts.

“IVA’s culture of thinking really appeals to me.  The fact that an entire school focuses on students having academic discussions, seeking conceptual understanding, and practicing intellectual virtues is just so wonderful.  Three of the master virtues that particularly stand out to me are autonomy, carefulness, and tenacity.  Being a math teacher, I encourage my students to especially practice these, and having the school-wide support really helps them value these qualities.”

Roberta Denis

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Roberta Denis, IVA's administrative assistant and a lifelong resident of Southern California, has spent her career in and around schools. She grew up in Monrovia, Calif., and earned a bachelor's in English and teaching credential from University of California, Los Angeles. She earned a master's degree in humanities from California State University, Dominguez Hills. Ms. Denis taught middle school in Whittier until she left full-time teaching to raise her three children with her husband. During that time, she worked as a substitute teacher, supervisor of teaching candidates, classroom and school volunteer, and art teacher.

“I love it here at IVA because there is such an openness to learning, a true willingness to consider other positions and a multitude of viewpoints, and encouragement to ask “why?” I enjoy teaching advisory, because the students and I get to apply the master virtues to all areas of our lives, from Minecraft to family dynamics. Never a day goes by, here, that I don’t laugh with students, have an opportunity to learn something from them, and become a better thinker. This is a wonderful place not just for students, but for the adults who work so hard right along side them, in becoming deeper thinkers and improving themselves each day.”

Megan Flower

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English Teacher

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Megan Flower is so excited to be joining the IVA staff this year! Ms. Flower graduated from Biola University with her BA in English and Secondary Education. She began her career in the Norwalk La Mirada School District by substitute teaching and later taught English Literature, English as a Second Language, and intervention courses. For the past two years, Ms. Flower had a wonderful experience teaching at Da Vinci Science High School in Hawthorne where she taught English Literature as well as electives like Creative Writing and English Support to English Learners. Ms. Flower is presently working on her Masters in Education degree at Biola University where she is focusing on effective learning strategies for teachers to use with students who have learned English as a second language. Ms. Flower loves to read, to be in the outdoors, to cook, and to spend time with her friends, roommates, and family. 

"I was drawn to IVA because of the commitment to academic growth as well as character development through the intellectual virtues. I'm so excited about everything that I've already been able to learn about the mission and vision of IVA. It has been wonderful to hear about the way that students are encouraged to be curious about the world, to ask bold questions, and to continually wonder."

Chris Fountain

chrisfountainupdate1.JPGHistory Teacher

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Prior to arriving at IVA, Mr. Fountain taught 6th- and 8th-grade history at Stanford Middle School in Long Beach. He previously spent five years working at Little Owl Preschool and Isabel Patterson Child Development Center, implementing a Reggio Emilia philosophy based on respect, responsibility, and community through exploration and discovery. He was also a community services aide for the City of Montebello, operating a drop-in program for local middle and high school-aged students.

Mr. Fountain attended California State University of Long Beach, where he completed a single subject social science credential and bachelor's degree in history with a minor in sociology.

Mr. Fountain lived in Florence, Italy for six months studying Renaissance and Jewish Italian History. He traveled extensively throughout Europe and, more recently, to Nicaragua in Central America. He has attended and contributed to numerous curriculum-building workshops, including the Forestry Institute for Teachers, and Teach India at the Yadunandan Center for India Studies.

"As an educator, I am drawn to IVA’s mission to practice methods that excite and continually engage students in learning, reflection, and self-awareness. I consider myself an advocate of critical thinking in historical study and, in observing the constant application of a growth mindset here at IVA, I was more than thrilled to join the team. Far too often, students are subject to an educational experience that inhibits their ability to explore, question, and challenge preconceptions of the world around them. IVA does the opposite. Here, students and teachers alike have the unique opportunity to learn together in an environment that promotes such virtues as intellectual autonomy, open-mindedness, and courage. All are expected to ask questions and embrace struggle. An intentional value is placed on the process of learning, creating an experience not beholden to a defined outcome. It is within this framework that students are much more than pupils in a history classroom; they become historians themselves. The school's vision of empowering students in expressing their unique curiosity and independence is aligned with my own belief that every student is a capable learner. Furthermore, my connection to IVA was strengthened by the school’s ability to create passionate and engaged citizens who advocate on behalf of their respective communities. As a history teacher, I am eager to expand my own understanding of intellectual character and promote an environment where every student feels comfortable to do the same."

Rachel Gordon

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Science and P.E. Teacher

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Before coming to IVA, Rachel Gordon taught for 13 years at Rosa Parks Elementary School in Lynwood, where she was originally placed by Teach for America. Always passionate about developing students as whole individuals, Ms. Gordon also coordinated and moderated the National Geographic Bee at Patric Henry Elementary School, directed enthusiastic school choruses of 50-100 students, coached for the Mathathon, piloted a nutrition education curriculum, started a school fruit and vegetable garden, and conducted student mock trials at Inglewood and Compton courthouses. She and her husband Mark have two children: Emery (6) and Miles (4).

"After teaching in a traditional public school where success and failure were solely measured by test scores, I feel convicted that many students are missing out on learning what it takes to persist in unpredictable and complex lives. I want to examine the processes and challenges we go through, especially when they are difficult. Studying and teaching with an emphasis on experience and thinking motivates me because I am able to get to the core of what matters and what promotes life-long success. I look forward to learning through collaboration the elements of a meaningful education."

Jana McAdams

b_811_536_16777215_00_images_JanaMcAdams1000.jpgPhysical Education Teacher
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Jana McAdams is a graduate from Cal State Fullerton with a Bachelor's in Kinesiology and Single Subject Credentials in both Physical Education and Foundational Level Mathematics. While at CSUF, Jana received the Outstanding Undergraduate in Kinesiology award and is a current member of California Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (CAHPERD). She is a former high school cross country and track & field coach, lifeguard, and swim instructor. Jana completed the 2016 Boston Marathon and continues to strive towards becoming a lifelong mover and thinker.
 
"I was really drawn to IVA because of the unique way that it addresses learning within the students: it gives a realistic approach to teaching students holistically. I appreciate that the emphasis is on personal growth within the students, focusing on their process, rather than their outcome. I love being able to challenge students not only physically, but also intellectually, in the way that they see themselves as a "mover," and what that means as they transition from one grade to the next. It is a joy to be working with like-minded teachers who are all striving to impact our students in areas that will carry through the rest of their lives."

Ian McCurry

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English Teacher
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Ian McCurry, IVA's English teacher, holds a master's in teaching from Azusa Pacific University. Prior to IVA, Mr. McCurry taught 2nd and 3rd grade at a private school in Downey, and 9th- and 10th-grade English/language arts at a Los Angeles charter school. Mr. McCurry has clear multiple subject and clear single subject English credentials. In 2013, McCurry presented on “Teaching for Intellectual Virtues in the English Classroom” at a summer conference at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles.

"I was drawn to the mission of Intellectual Virtues Academy before the school was even properly formed. In a pedagogy seminar with 15 other educators at Loyola Marymount University, hosted by Dr. Jason Baehr and Dr. Steve Porter, I caught the vision that education really could be about more than memorization, speed, and high test scores. I was reminded that learning to think well is part of learning how to live well and be a healthy, thriving human being. The qualities of good thinking (curiosity, open-mindedness, humility, courage) cause human flourishing. Teachers, classrooms, and schools can be places that encourage students toward this type of thinking. Almost as soon as I found out there was going to be a school focused on intellectual virtues I was eager to be a part of it in any way possible."

Cari Noble

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Math Teacher
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Cari Noble, IVA's math teacher, came to teaching after spending time at home raising three children. Her gradual entry into the profession included long-term substitute teaching positions in math classrooms at Newcomb Academy and Stanford Middle School. She also worked as an elementary science lab teacher at Newcomb Academy, during which time she developed curriculum for hands-on science lessons for grades K through 5. Ms. Noble has a multiple subject credential, foundational level math credential, and a foundational level science credential. She has taught for three years at IVA, in math and science classrooms. 
“I'm drawn to the rigor at IVA. In my previous math positions, my goal was to make the students think and understand the material at a deeper level. The thought of working at a school where this was not just a lofty goal, but a requirement for good teaching, was very appealing. Two virtues, in particular, resonated with me as a math teacher: carefulness and tenacity. To have the language to encourage these qualities in my math students is amazing! For the students to know that these are qualities that are valued, not just in math class but by our whole school community, adds purpose.”

Leeza Sindaha

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History Teacher

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Prior to arriving at IVA, Ms. Sindaha taught 7th and 8th grade history at Lexington Junior High School in Cypress. She also taught reading to students with learning disabilities at Pride Learning Center using the Orton Gillingham Method, a multi-sensory approach to learning how to read.

Ms. Sindaha attended California State University, Long Beach, where she earned a single subject credential in social sciences and a bachelor’s degree in geography with minors in Spanish and Middle Eastern studies.

"I was drawn to IVA’s mission and vision because I believe that having a growth mindset is absolutely essential in learning. There is always room for development when learning, and I am dedicated to supporting student growth.  I believe that empowering students to think critically, ask questions, and embrace challenges creates life-long learners who strive to grow academically and individually. When I found out about how IVA places strong value on the process of thinking and learning, I was so eager to join the school. As a social science teacher, I am so excited to guide students in learning about how past societies have shaped the world in which we live in today."