IVA Faculty

Michele Bolanos

b_350_467_16777215_00_images_bioimages_Michele_Bolanos.jpgScience Teacher

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Michele graduated from UC Irvine with a bachelors in Environmental Science and education along with a single subject science/ biology teaching credential through their CalTeach program. She has taught middle school science for the past 5 years. Before coming to IVA, Michele was teaching 7th grade science at Beverly Vista Middle School in BHUSD.

Michele loves singing and making art. At the end of a long day, she will decompress with some video games or look forward to a fun board game night. She also has an escape room addiction and a love for anime and Disney movies.

"When I learned about IVA's 9 master virtues, I saw that they aligned very well with my personal teaching philosophy. They focused on growth and depth of learning and the real process of critical thinking. But even more than that, what made me want to be a part of IVA was the people. When I met the staff and faculty, I saw people who truly believed in their message and mission, people who cared about their students and each other. I am so thankful to be able to be a part of a school that is so diverse, welcoming, and passionate about 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."

Viktoria Kleven

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Physical Education Teacher

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Viktoria Kleven earned her BA in Psychology at UCSB, MA in Teaching at UCI, as well as her Multiple Subject and Supplemental Credential in Physical Education. She taught skiing and snowboarding for 10 years in Big Bear, where she received the Instructor of the Year Award in 2013 and earned Children’s Specialist and Snowboard Level 1 Certifications. Ms. Kleven Worked as a PE teacher teaching high school freshman and before that, taught 6th, 7th, and 8th grade SPED classes.

She has always been passionate about helping students learn sports and physical fitness, Ms. Kleven has also taught physical education games and the fundamentals of swimming, volleyball, soccer, basketball, tennis, handball, softball, hockey, golf, Omnikin Ball, weight training, and rope climbing. She enjoys playing chess, video games, boating, SUPing, swimming, skateboarding, bike riding, bowling, hiking, fishing, camping, and skiing/snowboarding during the winter.

"I am excited to be a part of IVA and have the opportunity to use the intellectual virtues to help students to be lifelong learners. I like the notion of teaching students to seek out challenges and embrace the learning process."

Sonia Malhotra

b_350_467_16777215_00_images_bioimages_Sonias_Bio_Photo.jpgMath Teacher

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Prior to teaching at IVA, Sonia was a field instructor with Loyola Marymount University. In this position, she observed, guided and mentored teacher candidates in Middle and High School math classrooms. Prior to that position, she taught Middle School Math in the Bay Area for a number of years. Sonia is originally from Fresno, CA and met her husband while in college at UC Berkeley.  In her free time, she love playing tennis, reading books, hiking and spending time with friends & family. 


"When I read IVA's mission, I was immediately drawn to the culture of thinking. Having taught in traditional public schools for a number of years, I am grateful to be a part of a school that puts so much emphasis on teaching our students to be good thinkers.  So many of the virtues help students develop life long skills that they can use to deepen their understanding of material presented in any educational or career setting. I also believe that a growth mindset is something that all children should be exposed to and understand. There will often be challenges and difficulties that they encounter throughout life and perceiving those situations as an opportunity to grow can be very powerful. "

Ian McCurry

b_351_438_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."

Catherine Nguyen

b_356_474_16777215_00_images_bioimages_Cats_Bio_Photo.jpgArt Teacher

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Catherine is a Vietnamese-American educator who has taught for seven years in Irvine, California; Biển Hoa, Vietnam; and Oakland, California.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English & Education from UC Irvine and a Master’s in Education from Brandman University. Catherine is passionate about helping all students thrive in and out of the classroom.  As a yoga teacher and fellow of the Resilient Mindful Learner program, she seeks to help students develop intellectual character, grit, and compassion for themselves and others. Catherine believes the arts play a critical role in helping students blossom into wonderful humans.  

“I’m honored to be a part of this robust program that helps students understand themselves, others, and the world in a deep and meaningful way. The virtues which this program and school were founded on align deeply with my own values and vision to help create a more open-minded and courageous world.”

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.” 

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.pngScience 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."

Rachel Stanley

b_350_467_16777215_00_images_bioimages_Rachels_Bio_Photo.jpgPhysical Education Teacher

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Rachel Stanley is a two-time graduate of California State University, Long Beach, where she received her bachelor's degree in Fine Art and her teaching credential in Physical Education.  She has been a substitute teacher with Long Beach Unified and Los Alamitos Unified School Districts since 2017, with a particular focus on middle school, and has also been a swim instructor for 13 years.  She comes to IVA after spending the past two years as a long-term substitute in middle school PE with Long Beach Unified.  Ms. Stanley credits her lifelong love of the water and the outdoors with sparking her passion for physical education.  In addition to swimming, she spends much of her time running, walking, and cycling around Seal Beach and Long Beach.  She also loves music and dance, and fits them into her PE classes whenever possible!
 
"I was drawn to IVA because I enjoy the chance to build relationships, both with my students and with other teachers, and realized a smaller school with a more tight-knit community would provide better opportunities to connect.  I share IVA's vision of helping students get to know themselves through identifying their own interests, strengths, and needs for growth, and equipping them to live well in their teen and adult years by teaching them how to develop their own fitness and health goals.  To help my students develop positive connections with physical activity, I teach a variety of skills and activities, and use games or music to make it fun and engaging.  When students find movement activities they genuinely enjoy, it empowers and motivates them to make exercise and fitness a part of their daily lives."