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A Message from the Founder


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A Message from the Founder


From the Founding Head of School

The Episcopal School of Los Angeles is a school for innovators and pioneers. It is for students and families who embrace the opportunity to shape a culture and create a community that will lead the way forward. At ESLA, we are looking for students who are bright, motivated, creative, and curious. We are looking for families who want to leave a positive mark on this city and this school.

We built ESLA to engage a young person in a life of civic engagement. We are a community defined by a common conversation on local and global politics, the environment, the arts, innovation, and the economy. We are a school that will ask our graduates to take their skills, their privileges, their lives, and to offer those gifts to their community and to the world. For all we offer our students, we expect even more of them.

Finally, ESLA is made possible by the expansive generosity of many. That spirit of generosity shapes our intellectual, spiritual, and communal life. This is what defines our school: our commitment to raising young people with the heart, mind, and soul necessary to lead the world in the twenty-first century.

Warmly and faithfully,
The Rev. Maryetta M. Anschutz

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School Leadership


School Leadership


The Rev. Maryetta M. Anschutz is Founder and Head of the Episcopal School of Los Angeles. Before moving to California, she served as Associate Dean of the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, where she launched the Educational Leadership Project designed to recruit, train, and place graduate students in secondary schools as teachers, chaplains, and administrators. The program was designed to refocus Yale graduates and secondary schools on the opportunities for service within an academic community, as well as expose young people to opportunities for service in their communities of faith, the nation, and the world. 

Maryetta has been an ordained priest for over ten years and has worked in schools and parishes. Before ordination, Maryetta worked for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a political/military think tank in Washington, DC. She moved to Los Angeles in 2006 to work on the staff of All Saints’ in Beverly Hills where she serves as a priest associate several times each month.

Maryetta served on the board of Children’s Mission of New Haven, is a published writer, and continues to preach in parishes around the city of Los Angeles and nationwide. She is a trustee of Madeira School in McLean, Virginia. Maryetta is a graduate of Madeira School, Sewanee: The University of the South, and Yale University. She lives in Bronson Canyon above Hollywood with her very bad dogs, Huck and Finn.


The Rev. Megan Hollaway is Chaplain and Head of the Religion and Ethics Department. She has over fifteen years of experience working directly with young people in a variety of settings. Ordained in 2007, she served as Associate Rector for three years at Grace Church, Kilmarnock, Virginia. While there, she also served on the board of the local Boys and Girls Club, started a monthly community dinner at an apartment complex for elderly and low-income residents, and organized urban immersion trips for young people to learn about revitalizing American cities and empowering people in need.

Megan received her Master of Divinity from Yale University in 2007. Before divinity school, she worked as a clinical social worker for three years in public mental health and private practice, specializing in trauma and family therapy. Megan received her Master of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2000 and did her clinical internship in hospice. For four years, she lived and worked at Richmond Hill, an ecumenical and interracial religious community committed to healing the city of Richmond around issues of race, jurisdiction, and economics. In 2005, she studied at the Summer Peacebuilding Institute at Eastern Mennonite University, a graduate-level program in conflict transformation.

Megan was raised on a military base outside of Washington, DC. She currently lives in Atwater Village with her husband, James Ponsoldt, who is a filmmaker; their son, John; their daughter, Alice; and their two cats.


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Kristen Johnson is Executive Director. She received her BA in Political Science and Legal Studies from Northwestern University and her JD from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law. While at Northwestern University, Kristen’s academic focus was alternative retribution and the juvenile justice system. Her studies culminated in a thesis examining the accessibility of the process of sealing and expungement of criminal records in Cook County, Illinois.

Following her undergraduate studies, Kristen worked at a Chicago-based immigration law firm where she primarily managed employment-based immigration petitions and asylum applications. She then moved to Los Angeles with her husband Jay. At UCLA School of Law, she was a member of the mock trial competition team, participated in moot court, and was a staff member of Women’s Law Journal.


Upper School


Jason Brooks is Head of Upper School and a member of the Languages Department.

Prior to ESLA, Jason led the World Languages Department at Brooklyn Prospect Charter School in New York. In addition to his administrative duties, he taught Mandarin Chinese, French, and Spanish.

Before his time in Brooklyn, Jason worked at the McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he designed comprehensive language curricula.

He is a 2003 graduate of Trinity University, where he played lacrosse and ran track. He holds a master degree in Teaching Chinese as a Second Language from Zhejiang University, China, and a Master of Education in Learning and Teaching from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. 

In addition to a passion for learning anything new, Jason is an avid CrossFitter, podcast listener, and fan of gospel music.


Amanda Valenzuela is Upper School Coordinator and Head of the Languages Department. A native of Southern California, she completed her undergraduate studies at California State University, Fullerton in Spanish Linguistics and Literature, and her graduate studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she earned an MA in Spanish and advanced to PhD candidacy in Hispanic Languages and Literatures. She speaks Spanish, English, and some Portuguese.

Amanda has been teaching since 2003, and has taught multiple subjects to students in the elementary, secondary, and collegiate levels, including all levels of Spanish. In 2006, she taught Spanish in Granada, Spain with UCLA’s International Education Office. This year she is teaching AP Spanish Language and Culture, Heritage Spanish, and Spanish III. As Head of the Languages Department, Amanda is currently developing a Heritage Spanish track for native-speakers, expanding the AP course offerings in Spanish, and continuing to design project-based learning opportunities. 

As Upper School Coordinator, Amanda will also be directly involved in student testing, course counseling, and the improvement of teaching and learning across disciplines. Promoting an environment that not only values the creativity and diversity of her colleagues and students, but also engages directly with the community to solve problems, tops her list of goals at ESLA. 

When she is not teaching, Amanda is surfing with her family, riding motorcycles, reading, or gardening. 


Middle School


Jay Johnson is Head of Middle School and a member of the Visual and Performing Arts Department. He holds a Master of Music Education in Choral and General Music from Northwestern University. His graduate studies focused on implementing new comprehensive curricula in schools as well as an emphasis in secondary general music. He studied choral conducting and has led several choral-conducting clinics. He has experience teaching music at the elementary, middle, and upper school levels in the greater Chicago area. Jay also spent time teaching composition and improvisation in Cook County Juvenile Detention Center as a part of the Jail Arts Initiative in Chicago. He worked as a coordinator of the Summer Music Institute at Northwestern University and also worked in the admissions office of the School of Music.

In addition to his duties at ESLA, Jay is Assistant Director of Music and Director of Children’s Music at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Glendale. Outside of school, he enjoys the many outdoor activities that Southern California allows with his wife, Kristen, and their three dogs, Winston, Puccini, and Branson.


Laura Spencer is Middle School Coordinator and a member of the English Department.

She received her MS in Childhood Education with a focus in Middle Childhood Education from Canisius College, a Jesuit institution in Buffalo, New York, where she also completed her undergraduate work in political science, urban studies, and English.

Laura has spent several years working with middle schoolers, teaching within the sciences and humanities. She is passionate about middle-level education, and is excited to be returning to ESLA.

Outside of school, Laura is often found spending time with her husband at Disneyland.


Administration


Janie Hannon is School Registrar and a member of the History Department. She graduated from Sewanee: The University of the South with a BA in History and a minor in German.

Her other area of focus was art history, which she studied during a semester abroad in Vienna, Austria.

A member of Sewanee’s lacrosse team, Janie flat-out loves to run. She hails from Nashville, Tennessee. Having originally ventured to Los Angeles to serve as an intern at ESLA, she is very excited to continue her work at the school. 


William Litton is Director of Enrollment and Outreach. He holds a Master of Fine Arts from the Graduate Programs in Writing at the University of California, Irvine, where he received the Strauss Fellowship. He also holds a BA with Honors in Literary Arts from Brown University, where he received the Weston Prize for Fiction.

Before joining ESLA, he served as Head Writer and Communications Strategist in the Office of Enrollment and Student Advancement at the University of Chicago.

In 2007 William received a grant to study the effects of development interventions on public health in Haiti; in 2008 he conducted field research in the jungle of Chitwan National Park, Nepal, focused on informal financial institutions and development discourse; and in 2009 he cofounded the literary magazine Wag’s Revue, where he served as Fiction Editor and Marketing and Publicity Manager for several years. From 2009 to 2012 he studied and performed on a house team at the iO Theater in Chicago, Illinois.

He taught rhetoric and creative writing for several years at UC Irvine, and has experience teaching English literature at the Governor’s School of North Carolina.


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Emily Nuckols is Development and Community Engagement Officer. She is a born-and-raised Angeleno and holds a BA in History from the University of California, Los Angeles, where she studied the effects of cultural institutions on the creation of a Los Angeles identity during the 1960s.  

Prior to ESLA, she worked in sales for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

She currently resides in Santa Monica (yes, the West Side) and enjoys spending her time going to local museums, the opera, and of course, Dodger games.


Julio Puente García is Associate Director of Enrollment and Outreach and a member of the Languages Department. He holds a PhD in Hispanic Languages and Literatures from the University of California, Los Angeles. He also holds an MA and a BA in Spanish Literature from Fresno State, where he received the Graduate Dean’s Medal for his academic achievements and contributions to the campus community. Julio has taught Latin American and Mexican literature and film at UCLA and Cal State, Los Angeles. He has also taught Spanish language abroad through the International Education Office at UCLA.

Born and raised in Mexico, Julio has always been in contact with California, and particularly with Los Angeles, as his great grandmother was born in Torrance and his father Juan Puente has produced fruits and vegetables for thousands of Californians in his forty years of farmworking. During the eight years that Julio lived in Fresno, he collaborated in outreach projects with the Student Support Services and the College Assistant Migrant Program.

In his free time, Julio enjoys watching baseball with his wife, Jennifer, and their one year old baby, Alessandro.  


Walter Thorne is Facilities Coordinator, Associate Chaplain, and a member of the Religion and Ethics Department. He also teaches a course in economics.

Walter holds a BA in economics and religious studies from the University of Virginia and received a Master of Divinity from the University of Chicago Divinity School in 2014. He is currently discerning a call to ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church.

His academic interests include behavioral economics, biblical studies, Christian history, and eastern orthodox theology. Walter grew up in Washington, DC where he graduated from St. Albans School in 2007.


Mark Zalin is Director of Facilities and Director of Athletics and Physical Education. He received his BA from The University of California, Santa Barbara and his MA from California State University. He added lifetime teaching credentials in Health and Physical Education from UCSB.

Mark brings a wealth of instructional, coaching and athletic administrative experience at the primary, secondary, collegiate, and national-team level. During his 11-year tenure at Harvard Westlake, he was a California Interscholastic Federation Championship coach. He moved on to the The University of California, Berkeley, where he was a Collegiate National Championship coach. He was asked by Stanford Head coach and 1992 and 1996 Head Olympic Coach, Fred Sturm, to join the USA Volleyball Elite Development staff, working at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs as well as USA Team Headquarters in Southern California. He enjoyed national and international travel and was part of an Olympic medal-winning staff at The Games of the XXV Olympiad. When his time and schedule permits, he still works at camps and clinics for the national team. When the World Cup Soccer Games came to the USA in 1994, Mark served in an administrative capacity with the USA, Bulgarian, and Swiss teams.

Mark has served the California Interscholastic Federation as a league president, member of the Board of Managers, Athletic Directors Advisory committee, and Site Director for CIF Championship playoffs. For his efforts, he was awarded the Inaugural CIF Steve Stearns Sportsmanship Award.

Mark and his wife Steph Steele have two children, Mack and Anjelica.


Steph Steele is Administrative Coordinator. No stranger to Hollywood, Steph grew up as a child actress in a variety of commercial, television, and film roles. When she married Mark Zalin, she began a new careerwhile raising their two children, Mack and Anjelica—working in independent schools. She has served as a director of summer programs, a class advisor, and has run a residential dorm and taught drama.  

Steph has also had a wonderful career as a designer for both residential and landscape projects and is a certified master gardener.

She is delighted to be at ESLA and work daily with the faculty, staff, and student body.

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Department Heads


Department Heads


Jamie Douglass is Head of the Mathematics Department. He attended St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire, graduating with Distinction in Music and English. In 1999, Jamie graduated from the Honors Division at Indiana University, Bloomington, earning a BS in Psychology with concentrations in Chemistry and Music. While still an undergraduate, Jamie participated in leading-edge lab work at IU’s Department of Psychology, including neurobiology of memory investigations with Dr. Joseph Farley, and research in infant cognition with Dr. Kelly Mix. He also had his first experiences as a tutor during this period, coaching fellow students in biology, music theory, and other subjects.

Jamie has been teaching and tutoring professionally in Los Angeles since his arrival here in April, 2000. Prior to joining the ESLA faculty, Jamie served for over twelve years as Adjunct Professor at La Sierra University in Ontario, California, where he taught undergraduate courses in mathematics, percussion, music pedagogy, and the history of contemporary and popular music.

Jamie gives a shout-out to his beautiful wife, Rachael, and his wonderful kids, London and Axel. For information about Jamie’s musical adventures, visit: www.drumsetartist.com.


Amanda Rusher Foushee is Head of the English Department. She received a Master of Fine Arts from the Graduate Programs in Writing at the University of California, Irvine, where she began working on a novel that explores questions of genealogy and human experiences of space. She also read way too much Virginia Woolf. Amanda taught composition and rhetoric and beginning and intermediate fiction to undergraduates at UC Irvine.

Prior to graduate school, Amanda taught study skills and English at St. Albans School Summer Program and interned for two years at 826 Valencia, a nonprofit organization in San Francisco dedicated to engaging students ages six through eighteen in the literary arts. Amanda graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 2010 with a BA in English and Queer Theory.

She grew up in Washington, DC, where she attended the National Cathedral School for Girls. She is thrilled to be back in an Episcopal school setting. 


Jane McCarron is Head of the Visual and Performing Arts Department. She holds a BA in Dramatic Literature and Studio Art from Wheaton College. Jane’s undergraduate career culminated in an interdisciplinary art thesis exploring the impact of childhood trauma on the art-making process.

Jane is a professional actress and vocalist as well as a working artist. She has been directing Youth Theatre since 2007, and has written, directed, and produced over twenty-five plays with various student groups.

Jane focusses on utilizing theatre as a means for social change and is interested in how technology impacts the definition of art and performance.


Jesse McIntosh is Head of the History Department. This is his third year at ESLA and his ninth year as a professional educator. Prior to ESLA he taught history in a variety of institutions, including the University of California, Berkeley; Columbia University; Bard High School Early College; New Orleans’ Isidore Newman School; and San Quentin Prison.

His current dedication to working with adolescents stems not only from the joys of introducing teenagers to the complexities of historical thinking, but also from a desire to work with the “whole student.” Ideally, he hopes to prepare ESLA students both for success with future, more specialized historical study and for a lifetime of ethical and compassionate engagement with others.

Jesse earned his BA with High Honors in Art History from Wesleyan University in 2005, received an MA in History from UC Berkeley in 2009, and advanced to candidacy at UC Berkeley in 2010, with a specialization in intellectual history and the history of political philosophy.


Erin Perez is Head of the Science Department and a member of the Mathematics Department. She received a BS in Physics from Trinity University in 2005 and a Master in Education from Vanderbilt University in 2009. Erin began teaching as an undergraduate teaching assistant in Trinity’s Computer Science Department in 2002 and continued teaching undergraduate labs while pursuing a PhD in Physics and Astronomy at Vanderbilt.

Her years teaching in the college classroom inspired her to pursue an education degree and teach full time. She has since taught middle and upper school physics and math across the greater Los Angeles area. Erin strives to create a classroom environment that functions at the intersection of tradition, rigor, creativity, and humor. Everything that goes on in her classroom is “for science!” In addition to her love of science and math, Erin also has a passion for music, computer games, and “nerdy” pursuits—and she shares those passions with her students whenever possible.

She plays the French horn, trumpet, and flugelhorn at a variety of ESLA events. She was a member of the orchestra for ESLA’s 2016 production of The Sound of Music, and also recited 217 digits of pi (in song) at the 2016 Pi Day celebration.

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Faculty


Faculty


Chloe Adler is Learning Specialist and a member of the Student Support Team. She received her MA in Speech and Language Pathology from Lehman College in New York City. She also holds a BA from St. Lawrence University with a major in French and a minor in Secondary Education. She is dedicated to understanding and supporting all different types of learners and advocating for their needs inside and outside of the classroom.

Chloe was born and raised in New York City, and worked there for several years after completing her masters degree. She had the experience of working in a multidisciplinary private practice. She eventually realized that Los Angeles was a much sunnier and better place to live, so she packed up and moved west. Initially, she began working at Los Angeles Unified before joining the team at ESLA.

In her spare time, Chloe is most passionate about horses and riding, which has been a lifelong hobby. She also loves to be outdoors, and can often be found hiking around LA or at the beach with her boyfriend and rescue dogs. 


Karla Aguíñiga is a member of the Visual and Performing Arts Department. Karla received her BA with an emphasis in Painting from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2011. For the past several years she has been a practicing visual artist, educator, and arts administrator, living and working between Los Angeles, Mexico City, and Tijuana/San Diego. 

She is the former Chief Coordinator at Material Art Fair, Mexico City, and a public programs coordinator at the Hammer Museum, where she helped produce over eight hundred public events in four years. She has been an active art educator in the greater Los Angeles area since 2011 and has worked as a teaching artist at Heart of Los Angeles, Side Street Projects, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, LA United School District, and the UCLA Summer Institute. She was a founding member of the arts pedagogy collective Art and Nature. 

She currently sits on the board of Relaciones Inesperadas in Tijuana and continues to engage in art projects on both sides of the border.


Seyi Akinwale is a member of the Science Department and teaches robotics. He earned his BS in Electrical Engineering in 2009 from the University of California, Los Angeles.

After college Seyi taught earth, life, and physical sciences at Frederick Price III Middle School. After leaving Price, he continued mentoring the robotics team.

Seyi then taught engineering and robotics to elementary school students at STAR Education while also head coaching at Pacific Elementary School.

Most recently Seyi taught Math Modeling I Honors, Math Modeling II, and Statistics at ESLA. This year he will be concentrating on robotics and will be using Design Thinking to stimulate creativity and inventiveness in ESLA’s students.


Erin Bagley is a member of the Visual and Performing Arts Department. Erin received her BA in Art History from Bard College in 2008. A Los Angeles native, Erin spent many years living in New York City, working in arts administration and studio management for a painter and sculptor.

Since returning to Los Angeles in 2011, Erin has worked as a freelance product designer, production manager, and fabricator for artists and designers. She has volunteered her time at the Natural History Museum and the Velaslavasay Panorama, an exhibition hall, theatre, and garden in Los Angeles dedicated to unique visual experiences.

Prior to joining ESLA, Erin spent the last three years designing and leading workshops for Crafting Community, a company devoted to cultivating creativity as a tool for people of all ages through immersive, interactive art projects. She would often oversee fifteen to twenty workshops at a time, which required fluency in a variety of skills including leather working, fabric dyeing, macramé and weaving.

Erin is excited to bring her breadth of art-making and problem-solving skills to develop and support young artists at ESLA. When she is not teaching, Erin is working on her own textile-based work and visiting galleries around Los Angeles.


Shelby Bartlett is our Director of Student Life and a member of the Science Department. She comes to ESLA straight from Teachers College, Columbia University, where she earned an MA in Independent School Leadership. 

Before graduate school, Shelby spent four years as an upper school dean, teacher, and athletics coach at the Pingry School in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. Shelby is an active academic and athlete. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BA from Sewanee: The University of the South and played four years of varsity Division III lacrosse. 

Originally from the New York City suburbs, Shelby comes to Los Angeles with an enthusiasm for the arts and the outdoors. She spends her free time exploring the local music venues and summiting the region’s many peaks.


Kendall Beeman is a member of the History Department. Before coming to ESLA, she taught ninth- and tenth-grade history at Phillips Academy, Andover, as a teaching fellow.

She received her BA in History, Legal Studies, and Theatre from Northwestern University. She is passionate about constitutional law and the study of justice throughout history. Her thesis examined the injustices of special education litigation in Chicago Public Schools. She also assistant taught a course on law and politics in US history at Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth.

In addition to legal history, she loves teaching world history and examining the themes and patterns in global issues. She has also always loved math and has been tutoring math since she was in high school.

While she has many academic interests, she is most passionate about teaching. Outside of the classroom, she loves dance, theatre, and the outdoors. 


Brian Collins is a member of the Science Department. He received a BA in Environmental Studies and Environmental Science from Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio. Brian also attended North Carolina Central University after completing his undergraduate degree as part of the NC TEACH program, which served to train and place teachers in underserved schools in and around Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Brian has a background in several educational disciplines, including classroom teaching, outdoor education, training and development, and curriculum design. In his time as an educator, Brian has worked with a broad range of students with diverse backgrounds. Beginning in 2008, Brian worked for the Los Angeles County Outdoor Science School. This was an experiential educational program where all lessons were taught outside in the mountains and on the beaches of Southern California. Additionally, Brian has taught at a private boarding school and a private parochial school.

Brian is excited to be part of ESLA. He is excited to be part of a place that puts equal value on all things, academically, socially, and formatively as that pertains to the larger community. In his spare time, he enjoys music and visual art as well as traveling, cooking, and outdoor activities.


Ilyana Contreras is a member of the English Department. Prior to joining ESLA, Ilyana spent her time teaching in New York City public schools where she worked as the English team leader, instructional coach, and AP coordinator at the Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women. There she worked diligently to promote equity and to empower her students.

She received her BS in English Education from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education. Most recently, she completed a two-year fellowship at Stanford University working on issues OF cultural relevancy in the classroom. In 2015 she received a separate fellowship through Fund For Teachers to travel through South Africa and Malawi in order to study gender and socioeconomic issues in both countries.


Caitlin Halasz is a member of the Languages Department. Before coming to ESLA, she was a PhD student in the Department of Classics at UCLA, where she earned an MA in 2012 with a focus on Greek tragedy. While she was a graduate student at UCLA, she taught courses in Latin and ancient Greek, and was a teaching assistant for large lecture courses in Greek and Roman history, literature, and mythology. She also taught a class on pedagogy and teaching methods to incoming graduate students in the department. Throughout her time in graduate school, she worked as a private Latin tutor throughout the Los Angeles area, helping students of all ages to improve their understanding of Latin, Roman history, and related subjects.

Caitlin grew up in Santa Cruz, California, where she attended Georgiana Bruce Kirby Preparatory School. She earned a BA in Classics from Vassar College in 2010, with general and departmental honors.

Caitlin lives in Hollywood with her husband, and is thrilled to be working within walking distance of home. When she’s not teaching, studying, or learning new things, Caitlin loves reading—particularly science fiction and fantasy—and knitting.


Patrick Hecker is Assistant Chaplain for Service and Justice and a member of the Religion and Ethics Department. Patrick’s main academic interests lie at the intersection of Christianity and political/social responses to poverty. He holds a Master of Divinity from Duke Divinity School, a Master of Social Work from The University of North Carolina, and a BA in Biblical and Theological Studies from Wheaton College.

Before coming to ESLA, he gained experience working in various nonprofits in four countries (Honduras, Mexico, South Africa, and Uganda) and three states (Illinois, Utah, and North Carolina). This included experience in homeless shelters, primary care clinics, senior homes, health and wellness programs, centers for community development, a home for former-street children, and an after-school education program.

Additionally, he has worked in diverse ecclesial settings. These include churches ranging in size, age-span, socioeconomic class, racial make-up, and theological-leaning.

Originally from Chicago, his favorite sports teams are Arsenal, Duke Basketball, da Bears, and any Chicago team. In terms of actually playing sports, Pat enjoys ultimate Frisbee and ping pong. He also likes reading nerdy theology books and listening to classical music.

Patrick is thrilled to work at ESLA and hopes to have an influence on students who are thinking, working, and living through issues of justice and social change.


Philip Hodges is a member of the Visual and Performing Arts Department. He studied animation at Harvard College, where he was an illustrator for the Lampoon and a member of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals. He received his MFA in directing from the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, where his love for children’s media and puppetry would land him his first film with Disney. Phil has since worked with Nickelodeon, Snapchat, VICE, YouTube, and The Jim Henson Company.

As Director of Film Studies, Phil works closely with all departments to integrate media and technology into the ESLA curriculum. His courses include Film Theory and Video Production. Spanning the history of cinema from its origins to the ethical and effective use of social media today, the film program aims to equip students with the tools and know-how to create content that supports our mission of community and social justice.


Clayton Houck is a member of the Science Department. He received a BS in Biology from Syracuse University, an MS in Biology from the University of California, Riverside, and an MBA from the University of Portland. For his MS in Biology, he conducted research on insects to study the relationship between animal behavior and cell development.

He has seven years of science teaching experience and has taught in Japan, China, and California. Besides teaching, he has also worked for start-up companies and has given entrepreneurship investor pitches at events such as Santa Monica New Tech.

When Clayton is not teaching, he is likely investigating animals in tidepools, camping, or trying (unsuccessfully) to surf.


Nathan Kendler is a member of the History Department. He was one of the first fellows hired at ESLA back in 2012. After three years at ESLA, Nathan left to pursue an MA in World History from NYU, where he had also earned a BA in history in 2012.

Armed with his new mastery of history, Nathan returns to ESLA to continue where he left off. As an expert in world history, Nathan teaches our 10th grade class as well as electives from around the globe, most notably an introduction to East Asian history.

In addition to a lifelong love of history, Nathan is an avid cooker and eater of foods, reader of fantasy and sci-fi series, and player of board and card games. Just be careful, if you get him started talking about history he may never stop!


Michelle Khodadian is a member of the Mathematics Department. She earned an MBA from Pepperdine University, Graziadio School of Business Management, and bachelor degrees in both Finance and Economics from the University of San Francisco.

Prior to joining ESLA, Michelle worked in finance and banking institutions such as Wells Fargo and Chase Bank & JP Morgan Investments, as well as a small, local real estate investing firm. She holds active Series 6, 63, Life Insurance with Variable Contract, and Real Estate Broker Licenses.

She now brings that real-world experience to the classroom and loves nothing more than to see her students engage, learn, and reach their “light bulb” moments.

In her spare time, Michelle enjoys swimming, traveling, and trying new restaurants. 


Román Luján is a member of the Languages Department. He is a PhD candidate in Hispanic Languages and Literatures in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of California, Los Angeles. He earned an MA in Spanish from the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Florida State University.

In a previous life, he earned a Bachelor of Law degree from the Autonomous University of Querétaro, México, where he also worked as an attorney. For fifteen years he has taught courses, seminars, and workshops on Spanish, Latin American literature, creative writing, and literary translation.

He has been awarded three national poetry prizes in Mexico, and has published five books of poetry in Spanish. His literary work and translations have appeared in journals in the United States, Mexico, Spain, Argentina, and Chile, among other countries.

As a language educator, his aim is to debunk stereotypes in order to promote cultural diversity and social sensitivity among his students, as well as to promote an understanding of the linguistic and historical complexities of the Spanish-speaking world, including the city of Los Angeles.

Born in Mexico, Román has lived in Hollywood for over a decade and considers himself an Angelino.


Tim McCarthy is a member of the Mathematics Department. He grew up in Central New York and graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 2001. At Hobart, he was a member of the Teaching Program that allowed him to work with many of the local elementary schools in the area while pursuing his degree. Tim was also a member of the NCAA Ice Hockey team at Hobart, where he was a two-time captain.

His official teaching career began at Northwood School in the Olympic village of Lake Placid, New York. Here he spent three years teaching upper school history and math courses, coaching ice hockey, soccer, and lacrosse, as well as being a dorm parent. After his time at Northwood, Tim spent twelve years at Hillside School—an all-boys junior boarding school in Marlborough, Massachusetts. During this time Tim served in many different capacities, including Athletic Director, Program Administrator, math teacher, head dorm parent, and coach.

Outside of school life, Tim stays busy with his wife, two kids, and two dogs.


Gabe Yoon-Milner is a member of the History Department. He received a BA in History from Vassar College in 2004 and a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in 2013, where his research focused on historical memory and popular culture in the turn-of-the-century United States. Since graduating, he has taught courses in US History, African American History, US Urban History, and US popular culture at colleges around the Bay Area. 

When not teaching, writing, and reading about the “old, weird America,” he likes seeking it out—in wax museums, public art, miniature golf courses, and state capitol buildings.


Jamie Neilson is Capstone Coordinator and a member of the English Department. He has over thirty years of experience in education, primarily in independent schools. After earning his BA in English from the University of Pennsylvania in 1984, he found his way to Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont, where he earned a Master of Fine Arts in Writing and Literature in 1987. Returning to the Philadelphia area, he taught English at Delaware County Community College and Drexel University. 

In 1990, Jamie was hired to teach English at the Shipley School, where he would make his professional home for the next fifteen years. During that time, in addition to working as an English instructor, Jamie taught US history, developed an interdisciplinary course in American studies, served as a grade-level dean and dean of students, and ultimately filled the role of Assistant Head of Upper School.

In 2005, Jamie completed an EdD in Educational Leadership at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. That same year, he was appointed Director of Upper School at Polytechnic School in Pasadena. He served in this capacity at Poly for eight years, deciding in the spring of 2014 to return to teaching.


William Pearson is Associate Facilities Coordinator and a member of the English Department. He graduated with a BA in English and a minor in Philosophy from Sewanee: The University of the South. His senior honors thesis focused on hope in Dante’s Divine Comedy.

He enjoys studying poetry, English and Irish literature, and the philosophy of Wittgenstein. William fully indulged his inner Anglophile by studying abroad at St. John’s College at Oxford, and hopes he can return some day for graduate work.

Outside of academics, William plays rugby, loves the outdoors, and is an avid sports fan. 


Hunter Perrin is a member of the Visual and Performing Arts Department. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2000 and went on to the Yale School of Music in 2002, where he was awarded the Eliot Fisk Award for Outstanding Guitarist. He then went to work as a studio musician, film composer, and educator in New York. He taught at several conservatories and composed music for films that won awards at the Tribeca Film Festival, Woodstock Film Festival, and Avignon Film Festival. 

After he moved to Los Angeles in 2006, he became a founding member of the experimental Episcopalian mission community known as Thad’s, where he continues to serve as Music Director. 

From 2007 to 2011 he was a member of John Fogerty’s band. He toured the world and played on several of Fogerty’s records, including the Grammy-nominated Revival. Since 2012, he has enjoyed touring Scandinavia with the Swedish band Karavan and focusing on work with his Texas band Thunderado. When not playing guitar, he enjoys cooking spicy food, playing cards with his wife Minnow, and hiking with their dog Wolfy.


Jenn Quinly is a member of the English Department. She completed her BA in Liberal Studies at California State University, Los Angeles with a focus in gender studies and modern literature. When she saw the landscape of schools shifting toward technology and information access, she began studies at San Jose State University, where she earned a Master of Library and Information Science. Most recently, Jenn has earned her Master of Education at Loyola Marymount University as a member of the CAST program in LMU’s School of Education. 

A native of the San Gabriel Valley, Jenn comes to ESLA with eighteen years of teaching experience, the last ten of which were spent honing her craft in the middle school setting. She is passionate about learning, and looks forward to sharing her love of history and literature with the sixth grade. 

Outside of teaching and her own educational pursuits, Jenn enjoys comic books, hunting for old 45s in overstuffed record bins, and exploring Los Angeles with her husband and their two pups. 


Stephen Smith is Director of the Incubator Space. He received his BA from James Madison University. After graduating, he moved to Shenzhen, China, where he taught English at the Shenzhen Institute of Information Technology while pursuing a career as a professional soccer player.

Stephen left China to become a member of the Oakland Teaching Fellowship program, which ultimately led to him working as a resource specialist in the Oakland Unified School District for the following nine years. During that time, he earned his Multiple Subject and permanent Education Specialist teaching credentials, doubled the size of the resource program at Roots International Academy, worked part-time as a executive functioning coach for students with mild learning differences, played soccer semi-professionally, had two solo art shows, and freelanced his graphic, website, and furniture design skills.

In his spare time, Stephen enjoys making traditional and digital art, playing soccer, and going on adventures with his French bulldog.


Nicole Stanton is a member of the English Department. She received her BA from Wesleyan University in the College of Letters and Hispanic Literatures and Cultures, where she completed a thesis that explores the human body’s role in subverting cultural and historical narratives. This summer she began her Masters in English at the Bread Loaf School of English. She reads novels without abandon and is working on a collection of poetry. 

Before arriving at ESLA, Nicole spent two years in Colorado working for Aspen Words, a program of the Aspen Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting people through the power of literature. Nicole’s work focused on creating community space for writing and performing poetry. 

Nicole is from Long Beach, California, and is thrilled to be returning to Los Angeles to begin teaching.