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Staff

Joan Ling Zwissler
Joan Ling-Zwissler

Throughout the many adventures I've had in my adult life, teaching has been my constant companion. As a young college graduate yearning to explore my Chinese heritage, I taught English in Taiwan...and years later, Mandarin Chinese in San Jose. In between those teaching jobs, I became an aspiring musician; and found great joy in teaching Suzuki violin and Music Together. Upon starting my own family, I rediscovered my love for teaching young children; and returned to what I was originally trained to do: teach in the elementary classroom. 
 
In 2016, my family fell in love with a piece of land in Larkin Valley and became homesteaders, after many years living in San Jose. Once again, my teaching complemented this new stage in my life, as I started teaching at PCCS. My work with K-8 families has been a perfect fit with my eclectic life on the ranch. I thrive on the relationships built with my PCCS family, when not tending to my many farm projects and critters, along with my husband and teenaged son. Currently, our outdoor endeavors include an apple orchard, small kitchen garden, birdwatching, babydoll sheep, chickens, a livestock guardian dog, and most recently a barn cat. In my spare time, I mostly daydream about my other hobbies, such as crafts, reading, yoga, making music, and watching baseball. 
 
I love teaching at PCCS because I get to spend each day sharing my love of learning, my creative ideas, and my diverse experiences, with a wonderful learning community. It's a privilege to be able to work so closely with families to find the best learning tools for each student, and I plan to continue to do so, for years to come.

Dawn Binder

Dawn Binder

Dawn Binder--2021 Teacher Summary for PCCS Website 

I am one of the K-8 Supervising Teachers at PCCS. My undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies and teaching credential are from UC Santa Cruz (1982); my Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership focused on equity and inclusion, with a year-long research project on Dyslexia (2020). I am curious about everything from cells to stars, how things are made, and how people live. Learning and curiosity are what float my boat, so teaching is a great way for me to have fun while learning with others. I have a vast book collection, love to read, and often share books with families. 

I guide each parent and student in how to create their educational program at home using a wide variety of curriculum and instructional methods. I also meet with each student regularly to assess their progress, discover what piques their curiosity, and suggest resources for their next studies. 

I teach classes on-site and on-line for K-8 students. Problem-solving, art, and language skills are embedded in my classes. Lessons are hands-on and as messy as humanly possible. Classes I have designed and taught include: Microbiology, Engineering, Intro to Chemistry, Intro to Physics, People of the ‘Wild West’, Pirates & the Age of Exploration, Bears of the World, Endangered Animals, Energy Sources & Solar Ovens, Patterns All Around Us, “What is Culture?”, Mindfulness, Hands-On Math, Poetry, Ceramics, and Book Studies with many novels.

Michelle Chapa

Michelle Chapa

My name is Michelle Chapa, and I have been teaching high school math students since 1991. I have also been teaching at Cabrillo College since 2016 when I got my masters in mathematics.  I LOVE helping students understand math!  I also have a husband and three adult kids.  I like running, hiking, camping, and baking.  I also love to read.  I have been a teacher at Pacific Coast Charter School since 2004.

Marilyn Guido

Marilyn Guido
 
My name is Marilyn Guido.  I grew up in Manhasset, New York, where I attended Saint Mary's School for twelve years. I graduated from SUNY Cortland in 1982. After graduation, I worked for nine months as an intern at MS Magazine in New York, where I did research, edited articles, and sorted through mountains of queries. It was very exciting to travel to the city every day and work with some well-known writers.

Over 2 summers, I was employed by American Trails West, which enabled me to escort teenagers on tours throughout Canada, the United States, and Mexico. I moved to Santa Cruz in 1983 and received my Learning Handicapped Credential from UCSC. Two years later, I obtained a Resource Specialist Credential from the Assessor Panel in Monterey.

In addition to being an RS, throughout our district, I have taught Kindergarten through third grades, teaching both English and bilingual classes. This is my second year teaching at PCCS and I love it here. As an RS, I am very fortunate to work in a creative environment, with students of all grade levels and where staff and students respect and care for one another. I am also a professional Cantor. I enjoy hiking, biking, cooking, reading and spending time with my daughter, who is a high school English teacher, and my son, who is an artist and student.

Gala Haskins

Gala Haskins

Gala Haskins - Science Geek (with a capital G). Always looking for interesting and engaging ways to learn and teach science. My background is in Marine biology but I like to dabble in physics, earth, and space sciences. In my free time you can find me walking my dogs (husky and shepherd), practicing yoga, roller skating, or milking goats.

Hegg Whitney

Whitney Hegg

My name is Whitney Hegg and this is my 18th year of teaching. I was a special education teacher for grades 6-12 for my first 11 years of teaching. I only worked in larger schools in the past, so it was always a challenge for me to help all of my students. It was such a great change to find PCCS and I enjoy personalizing learning for all of my students. I joined this amazing staff in 2014, and I have pursued multiple subject and science credentials since I started teaching at PCCS. I currently teach Biology and I enjoy helping students with math as well. Outside of school, I am a mother of twin girls, and my husband and I love to get outdoors for adventures with our family whenever possible. 

Karen Lessard

Karen Lessard

Hi I'm Karen Lessard. I've been teaching here for 3 years and before that I taught in Paradise, California, for 20 years! I live in Monterey with my husband while our 2 daughters and their husbands live nearby. I have one granddaughter named Poppy, and another on the way (I'm calling her sweet pea!) I love to travel, camp, hike, see and feel nature, read and watch TV (can't lie.) I feel so lucky to be at PCCS.

Elisabeth Rettenwender

Elisabeth Rettenwender

Living in Germany until age 12, I grew up Bilingual, speaking both English and German. My mother is American and my father is Austrian. Nowadays my family is spread from Mongolia to Germany and we do not get everyone together very much. I am lucky though to have my mother and one of my brothers live close by. As a child, I attended International school, German school and a school on an American Military Base. I have lived in Germany, France, Spain and Charlottesville, Virginia. I attended Smith College and later, Naropa University where I got a master’s degree in comparative spirituality. I have one son who is graduating from Aptos High School in the spring of 2021. I enjoy reading and theatre and camping out. I speak Spanish German and French.

Lola Ross

Lola Ross

Hi! I’m Lola, and I’m one of the high school supervising teachers at PCCS. I also teach hybrid English classes. If you end up having me as a teacher, you will learn that I love WORDS!!! I started my teaching career as a Montessori preschool teacher, and over the course of 20 years of teaching in the same Montessori school in San Jose, taught all ages from 2 to 15. It was a natural transition from Montessori to Independent Studies, because my focus stayed the same: helping students develop, learn, and grow at their own pace. Besides making Shakespeare fun for my English students, my favorite part of teaching at PCCS is the one-on-one connection I get to make with my students, whether they are students I supervise directly or students in my English classes. 

A little bit about me outside of school: I moved to Santa Cruz in 2004, but I am a California girl through and through. I grew up on the Mendocino Coast, and the only time I have not lived in California was when I went to college just outside Philadelphia, and when I spent six months in a study abroad program in England. In my free time, one thing I love to do is to make jam, and enter it in the county and state fairs. Even more than getting ribbons, though, I love eating it!  However, the thing I like to do most is spend time with my husband and my daughter. We go on bike rides, go to the beach, watch the birds at our feeders, tell stories, talk about books and science news, and mainly get as silly as possible.

Theresa Wren

Theresa Wren

Hello students, family, and community.  My name is Theresa L. Wren and I am the PCCS counselor.  I have been in student service positions since 2002 and moved to Watsonville to join the PCCS staff in 2018.  I am passionate about helping students reach their full potential and I'm dedicated to helping families access school and community resources. I look forward to working with your students and celebrating their success.

Greg Kropf

Greg Kropf

I came to PCCS as the first high school teacher in 1998 when we got our charter. I've taught Art, Ceramics, Science, Health, and Social Studies, I currently teach Independent Studies Art. I like to paint, garden, swim, surf, and SUP paddle.

Angelica Martinez

Angelica Martinez

My name is Angelica Martinez, Registrar at PCCS. I was born and raised in Santa Cruz where my husband and I have raised our three boys. I love outdoor activities, reading and living by the beach.

Drew Singleton

Drew Singleton

Hello Fearless Flyers, my name is Drew Singleton and I am the Principal of Pacific Coast Charter School. I have been working in education for about 25 rewarding years. I started out as a behavior management assistant at a school that worked with at-risk youth before becoming a Health and Biology teacher in both California and Arizona. I have worked as a school Principal for almost 16 years, and being here at Pacific Coast Charter for the past three of those years has been one of the best experiences of my career. I get to go to work everyday with the best students, staff, and parents you could hope for. Go Pelicans!

Socorro Ancira

Socorro Ancira

Hello PCCS family, my name is Socorro Ancira, and I am the office manager here at Pacific Coast Charter. I have worked for PVUSD for 37 years. My favorite things are being with my family and dogs.  I love to cut people's hair and make them feel good.  I love sewing, being creative, and decorating for my grandchildren's parties.  I also enjoy helping family and friends.

Sophia Ceja

Sophia Ceja

Hey Pelicans,

My name is Sophia Ceja and I have been a Library Media Tech for over 17 years. I have enjoyed connecting with students and providing support throughout the years. Every student has their own story. I have three fur babies that are my world. In my spare time I work on projects, home interiors, gardening and crafts. I also enjoy cooking, baking, reading, hiking, taking long road trips and spending time with family.

Mike Harwell

Mike Harwell

Hi, my name is Mike Harwell.  I graduated from the University of Southern California and earned a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration. I received my teaching credential from National University and have taught for 25 years in alternative education. This is my second year at PCCS supervising K-8 students in language arts, math, science and social studies.

When I have time, I enjoy exploring all of our beautiful  beaches and mountain trails.  I  feel fortunate to be able to raise my family, live and work in Santa Cruz County. 

It is an amazing place!