IVA Faculty

Paul Burns


Science Teacher

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Paul Burns holds a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from UC Santa Barbara, a multiple subject and single subject science teaching credentials, and a master’s in educational technology and media leadership from Cal State Long Beach. While at CSULB, Mr. Burns was honored to be on the Dean’s list and presented and published research findings on student perceptions of S.T.E.M. and S.T.E.M. careers. Mr. Burns likes to practice chemistry in the kitchen, physics on a yoga mat, and biology in the garden. 

"I am drawn to IVA because I believe that students need soft skills to learn. To me, the virtues are the soft skills that are required to be successful in life, and in learning."

Roberta Denis

b_350_438_16777215_00_images_bioimages_00202.jpgArt Teacher

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Roberta Denis, a lifelong resident of Southern California, has spent her career in and around schools. She grew up in Monrovia, California, and earned a bachelor's in English and a teaching credential from UCLA. She earned a master's degree in humanities from California State University, Dominguez Hills. Mrs. 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 an 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.”

Caitlin Fountain

b_377_471_16777215_00_images_bioimages_Caitlin.JPGSocial Science Teacher

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Caitlin holds a Single Subject Credential in Social Science from CSULB, as well as a BA in Sociology & Urban Studies from SFSU. Before IVA, Ms Fountain taught at Millikan High School (PEACE program), taught elementary school ESL classes for recent immigrant students, and worked as a K-12 substitute in LBUSD schools. 
Before being involved in Education, Caitlin lived and worked in Nicaragua for two years in a community-driven non-profit that sought to reduce poverty and inequality through the creation of sustainable systems of employment and equal access to education for all children. She also lived in Big Sur as a property caretaker for a native plant estate. Caitlin enjoys speaking Spanish, traveling, working with plants, reading, and spending time with her friends, family, and husband, Jonatan. Jonatan and Caitlin recently welcomed twin babies into the world!
“As a life-long advocate of learning and thinking deeply and critically, IVA’s pedagogical theories of student development and empowerment struck a chord with me. The beauty of exploring Social Science and Social Justice with our students leads to deep questions and thoughtful conversations about our society and the world we live in. I learn from and with my students on a daily basis, especially through the cultivation of the virtues model. I am particularly motivated by the virtues of open-mindedness and intellectual autonomy. Here at IVA, I am excited to help strengthen our students desire to become not only deep thinkers, but thoughtful, empathetic and active community members.”

Rachel Gordon

b_350_438_16777215_00_images_bioimages_rachelgordon.jpgScience 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 Patrick 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 and Miles.

"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 Hughes

b_350_438_16777215_00_images_bioimages_janamchughes.jpgPhysical Education Teacher

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Jana Hughes 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, Ms. Hughes 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. Ms. Hughes 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."

Sarah Marsh


Literature & Composition Teacher

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Sarah Marsh teaches 8th grade Literature and Composition at IVA.  Before staying home with her five (yes, five!) children, Mrs. Marsh taught in Paramount Unified as a 9th grade English teacher and curriculum specialist.  During her hiatus from full-time teaching, she kept her foot in the door through teaching adult school, supervising student teachers, and substituting at IVA.  She holds a California Clear Credential in English, and has a Masters in Education with a curriculum emphasis.

"I'm glad to at last be a part of the IVA family.  The commitment to raising good thinkers and, more importantly, good people has been a personal endeavor of mine; I've tried it out on my guinea pigs (also known as my children), and I'm eager to put it into practice in the IVA classrooms.  There is so much to learn and do and investigate in this beautiful world of ours, and so much that we can easily miss if we're not paying attention. Curiosity, attentiveness, and carefulness make life so much richer, and I hope for rich lives for all the young people I encounter."

Ian McCurry

b_350_437_16777215_00_images_bioimages_ianmccurry.jpgLiterature and Composition Teacher
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Ian McCurry 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

b_350_438_16777215_00_images_bioimages_carinoble.jpgMathematics Teacher
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Cari Noble came to teaching after spending time at home raising three children. Her gradual entry into the profession included long-term substitute teaching positions 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 Teaching Credential, a Single Subject Math Credential, and a Foundational Level Science Credential. She has led and supported IVA Primes (IVA's math club), to compete in math competitions in Long Beach.
“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, is 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 students is amazing! For the students to know that these qualities are valued, not just in math class but by our whole school community, adds purpose.”

Jordan Sachs

b_350_438_16777215_00_images_bioimages_jordansachs.jpgPhysical Education Teacher

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Jordan recently completed his Master's Degree in Coaching and Athletic Administration from Concordia University. He is currently living in Long Beach and raising a wonderful basset hound puppy named Boone. Prior to completing his Master's, he completed his BA at Westmont. While attending Westmont, Jordan played basketball for 4 years and was an NAIA Division 1 All-American. He also competed in Track and Field during his Senior year. Jordan completed his Single Subject Teaching Credential in Physical Education from Vanguard University. 

"I was drawn to IVA because I believe in developing the whole student as a person. It is important to me that my students leave my class as better people who are ready to positively contribute to their families, communities, and schools. The virtues at IVA provide students with structure and skillsets that they can carry with them for their entire lives."

Gaby Schmidt

b_350_438_16777215_00_images_bioimages_gabyschmidt.jpgMathematics Teacher
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Gaby taught math at Roosevelt Middle School in Glendale for 12 years before taking a long break from teaching to raise 3 kids with her husband, Andre.  She taught all levels of middle school math and coordinated her school's AVID program. She obtained a Bachelor's of Science in Mathematics/Applied Science from UCLA, and also has her teaching credential and Master of Education from UCLA.

"I love IVA's focus on deep thinking.  Our math curriculum is so rich in problem solving, deep conceptual understanding, and mathematical communication, while still providing plenty of practice of essential math skills. I have been so impressed with the deep commitment to working together as a group of educators to do what is best for the students. I'm so excited to be a part of this team!"

Cathy Simpson

b_350_438_16777215_00_images_bioimages_cathysimpson.jpgMathematics Teacher

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Cathy received her B. A. in Psychology from Puget Sound and Foundational Math single subject credential from Brandman University. Her passion to teach math was illuminated at a young age helping and tutoring peers from pre-Algebra to Calculus. This love to teach math was rediscovered while tutoring math again after college, enjoying these moments with students and their growth more than her ‘career’ designing catalogs. She switched paths, starting as a substitute teacher in 2015 and ultimately a student teacher in 2018. At the culmination of her credential program, she was ecstatic to discover IVA and how well the philosophy aligned to her own, and felt so thankful that IVA saw this too. In her spare time, Mrs. Simpson enjoys cooking with foods from her garden, playing any and all games, and creating both 2D and 3D art.

"I really love the focus on student thinking because the process of learning is much more valuable than the final answer. In my other teaching positions, it has felt like pulling teeth to engage students in thinking practices because they just want to know a formula for success. At IVA, the culture of thinking is at the core of the mission. I had never heard of a school that valued intellectual virtues and character growth in both students and teachers, and practiced them so intentionally. I am very lucky to be part of this amazing community as I already feel like I have found a home."