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."

Martha Esquivias

b_350_467_16777215_00_images_gallery_image_from_ios-1.jpgSocial Science Teacher

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Martha is a Cal State Long Beach graduate, with a bachelor's degree in sociology, and her single subject teaching credential in history. Prior to IVA, Ms. Esquivias worked with the Long Beach Public Library, as well as a K-12 substitute teacher in Compton and Long Beach. Ms. Esquivias truly enjoys working with youth and is passionate about helping students find joy in learning about history and becoming critical and deep thinkers. In her free time, she enjoys watching reruns of Gilmore Girls, spending time with her husband and their golden retriever Twix, cooking, and working out. 

"I was drawn to IVA because of their student-centered approach, which focuses on deep thinking and personal growth. Each of the virtues play a role in helping students build a sense of autonomy and confidence in their learning. In particular, I am a huge fan of the virtues of curiosity and open-mindedness because I feel like those really drive the social sciences. I am eager to be a part of IVA, and I look forward to playing a role in helping our students succeed and achieve their personal and academic goals."

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."

Casie Lowden

b_350_467_16777215_00_images_bioimages_image_from_ios.jpgPhysical Education Teacher

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Casie recently completed her Master’s Degree in Education along with a Single Subject Teaching Credential in Physical Education from Whittier College. She obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology and a Minor in Business Administration from Whittier College, where she also played volleyball at the NCAA Division 3 level. Prior to IVA, Casie worked as a Substitute Teacher and volleyball coach. She has experience coaching women’s volleyball at the middle school, high school, club, junior college, and collegiate levels. In her free time, you can find her being active with her pup Tucker, taking photos, and travelling.

“I was drawn to IVA because I believe in the development of lifelong learners in and out of a classroom. It is important to me that my students are empowered through their educational experiences that extend beyond the classroom and into their everyday lives.  At IVA, the virtues emphasize personal growth and a growth mindset, which is important within Physical Education to help create motivated lifelong movers.”

Sarah Marsh


Games & Logic 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.”

Alyssa Pritchett

b_350_478_16777215_00_images_gallery_alyssa.jpgLiterature and Composition Teacher

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Alyssa comes to IVA with a bachelor's degree in English Literature from Hope International University. She also holds a Single Subject Credential in English from Hope International University. Prior to IVA, Alyssa has taught at La Habra High School and worked as a substitute teacher for the Pomona Unified School District. Alyssa also has experience coaching boys and girls tennis at the high school level. In her free time she is either tending to her plants, trying new coffee shops, or trying new recipes in her kitchen. 
"I was immediately drawn to IVA's mission and vision. To equip every student with the skills to learn and live well is the exact reason I got into teaching. I want to empower my students to be the best versions of themselves. I also greatly appreciate that I can use literature as a tool to help students grow in their intellectual characters. From looking at different literary texts I can encourage students to be curious, thorough, and courageous in their thinking. I am so thankful to be apart of this amazing community where the virtues model is interwoven in every aspect of education." 

Alex Rosas

 b_350_596_16777215_00_images_gallery_Image_from_iOS_7.jpgSocial Science Teacher
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Alex comes to IVA from a non-profit background where she worked to provide housing for homeless veterans and families with Century Housing. Through this experience, she was inspired to follow her passion for teaching in an effort to provide a safe, supportive space for youth. Alex was born and raised overseas and speaks Romanian and Spanish. She enjoys traveling, dancing, taking care of her Shiba Inu puppy, Leo and spending time with her family, friends and husband, Gustavo.

Alex holds a Single Subject Credential in Social Science from CSULB, as well as BA’s in International Studies and Spanish from CSULB. Before IVA, Mrs. Rosas student-taught at Hughes Middle School in Long Beach and has been teaching dance for 13 years.

“I am so impressed with IVA’s commitment to deep thinking and developing lifelong learners and am so excited to be a part of this community. In a world where students are inundated with a variety of perspectives and media, social science and intellectual virtues play a vital role in teaching students how to sort through information and develop their own thinking. I am committed to being a lifelong learner and I want to encourage curiosity and autonomy in my classroom to help students take initiative in their own learning. I hope to empower students to see themselves as agents of change in their communities, enable them to use intellectual virtues to think deeply about the kind of world they want to see and tenaciously enact change.” 

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!"

Claudia Smith

Screen_Shot_2021-09-17_at_110309_AM.png Science Teacher

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Claudia is Salvadorian American and grew up in Southeast Los Angeles. She is married and has a little baby named Emily who was born on a very snowy Colorado day. She loves hanging out with family, going to Farmer’s Markets and trying new foods. She holds a B.S. in Biochemistry from Loyola Marymount University and M.A. in Education from Alliant International University. She taught high school and middle school chemistry early in her teaching career, then joined IVA where she taught middle school science and a year of Spanish. She was with IVA for three years before moving to Colorado where she continued to teach middle school science at Shaw Heights Middle School. She has now returned to IVA and we are so grateful!

"IVA has a personal and meaningful way of naming how we think and learn. Teaching students using intellectual virtues teaches students how to be meta cognitive, which empowers students. This is something that sticks with students and truly helps them become lifelong learners. I’m glad I get to be a part of a team that works to empower students in such a meaningful way."