Meet the ROA Team
Claudia grew up in Switzerland and moved to the United States in her early 20’s. She earned her B.A. in English and German at California Lutheran University (CLU), where she graduated summa cum laude. She then went on to receive her single-subject teaching credential in English and her Master’s Degree in teaching from CLU as well. After teaching middle and high school students at local public schools, CLU approached her to teach as a part-time adjunct faculty member in the German and English departments.
When her own kids started to approach college age, she decided to look for full-time work and found a position at a local charter school in Ventura as the Curriculum and Assessment Coordinator. During the time there, she learned as much as possible about independent study charter schools, measurement, and curriculum. She had the privilege to work under the director and was able to participate in such important tasks as the WASC self-study, board presentations, creating math intervention strategies, the graduation committee and more. After that, two other charter schools approached Claudia to build their homeschool programs, which she did for three years. Both programs were successful and had a long waitlist of students.
In 2013 Claudia joined ROA. During her time at ROA, the school successfully renewed its charter twice, received a 6-year WASC re-accreditation and a $600,000 career pathways grant. The school’s student population has tripled in the last two years as well. ROA also opened a second facility in Oxnard three years ago and has moved in July 2020 to a new facility, which offers twice the square footage. The enrollment in Oxnard tripled in the last three years and growth continues at that rate. Claudia considers it a privilege to work with ROA’s dedicated, brilliant and amazing staff and enjoys the daily interaction with the school’s amazing students and families.
During her free time, Claudia loves to work with animals. She used to breed and raise alpacas and worked with the Sheriff’s K9 Search and Rescue team, where she trained her dog, Toby, to be a search and rescue dog. She loves the outdoors, enjoys her sunrise hikes out in the local hills and spends time with her friends and family. Claudia has 3 children. All of them are now pursuing their own passions. Both of her daughters finished veterinary schools and are working in their fields (one with large animals and one with small ones) and her son finished his PhD in psychology and he is working partially as a clinician and partially in research at UCLA.
Jennifer is from southern California but has spent years living in northern California and Montana. She received her B.S. in Psychology and her B.A. in Elementary Education from Montana State University and her M.A. From California State University Northridge in Deaf Education. She currently holds a regular Multi Subject Teaching Credential as well as a Special Education Teaching Credential. Jennifer has three amazing kids, two of which she home schooled. She has been married for over 20 years and loves going to the beach with her family and scrapbooking with her girlfriends.
Leina grew up on the Mendocino Coast of northern California. She earned her bachelors in geography and enjoyed learning about various people and places. Next she pursued her masters in teaching in a constructivist program at Washington State University. Over the last dozen years she has taught all subjects in 4th-8th grades, taught English as a second language to first graders, and tutored foster students K-12th grade in their homes. She earned her national board certification in English and is a teaching consultant for the national writing project.
Until discovering BRIDGES and Ventura charter schools the closest she had come to educating in the spirit she was trained was through the national writing project. In the summer of 2010 she was fortunate to Co-Direct their summer institute which celebrates teachers teaching teachers and teachers who teach writing being writers themselves. She is an avid reader and writer who loves to share her enthusiasm for learning with her students. She also enjoys spending as much time as possible regenerating in nature.
Ray Clayton is a Southern California native and avid outdoor enthusiast, enjoying camping, hiking, rock climbing, fly fishing, as well as numerous others. When he is not found wandering the outdoors you can also find him on the basketball court. He has played most of his life and coached youth teams at various levels. He was the head coach of the basketball team at UPCS leading them to a District Championship with a 20-8 overall record.
Prior to teaching Ray has worked successfully in three other professions (Corporate Health and Safety, Home Sales, and Construction), tutored, fostered children, and was a former ROA parent. He credits his previous work history by sharing his experiences with his students as to the importance of education in the STEM fields. He constantly incorporates these experiences into lessons to help create more meaningful lessons.
Ray graduated from California State University Channel Islands, CSUCI, in 2015 with a degree in Biology (evolution and natural history) and minor in History (U.S. government and politics). During his time at CSUCI, Ray tutored Biology, Geology, Ecology, and History. He began his teaching career under the guidance and direction of his mentor, Mrs. Annie Ransom, a Fullbright Scholar and Next Generation Science Standards leader for the State and County. He went on to complete his credential with CSUCI’s School of Education in 2016 and has enjoyed teaching 7 & 8th Grade math and science. He is a member with the Ventura County’s Office of Education of NGSS Leadership Network. His fondest teaching memory was a mystery fossil lab where students had to use geological evidence to unlock the age, location, evolutionary relationships and species of a set of unknown fossils.
Monica is a Southern Californian native. Monica came to us with 10 years of experience in retail management and administration. She is currently attending Oxnard College with hopes of becoming a teacher. Monica Lives by the beach with her childhood best friend and loves relaxing in the sun with a good book. She is an avid jewelry collector and spends her free time searching for vintage and Native American jewelry. She loves music and grew up playing competitive classical piano. She spent several years in her late teens and early twenties giving piano lessons to younger children.
Lidia Finocchiaro grew up in San Luis Obispo, California prior to residing in Ventura County. She attended Cal Poly State University where she earned her Liberal Studies degree and multiple subject credential. She taught elementary school aged children for 12 years and then stayed home after having her son. Lidia enjoys hiking, kayaking, cooking, and traveling amongst many other things.
Teri grew up in Manhattan Beach and then attended San Diego State, where she earned her degree in Liberal Studies and her multiple subject credential.
She then moved to San Francisco, where she began her teaching career. She taught 1st and 2nd grade. She then relocated to the Conejo Valley, where she taught Kindergarten and 1st grade. Teri currently teaches Parenting the Preschool Child at Conejo Valley Adult School. Teri is enthusiastic about finding that educational spark in a child's eye. She experienced homeschooling her oldest child in first grade, and saw how that spark can shine bright when a child finds their passion. Both of her boys (6 and 9 years old) now attend BRIDGES Charter School and have a great love of learning.
Jackie is an Oxnard native. After high school, she attended Ventura College and transferred to UC Santa Barbara where she received her B.A in History. Jackie went on to pursue her teaching credential in Social Science from the University of La Verne and is currently working on her Masters in Educational Leadership. She hopes to continue her education and earn a Masters in American History. She spent almost ten years working in elementary and middle schools as a literacy tutor and as an after-school coordinator. She comes to ROA with experience working at the high school level and a lot of enthusiasm for working with our students. When not teaching, Jackie is spending time with her husband and her two kitties at home. She loves going to the movies and finding local vegetarian and vegan restaurants to eat at. She enjoys baking and decided to turn that into a small business.
Glenn comes to ROA with three teaching credentials and 25 years of classroom experience in public and private schools in Ventura County, Los Angeles, and Central America. His work experience outside of education includes writing computer code for spacecraft at JPL; conducting environmental impact studies; and, founding the Surfrider Foundation. His two children, Pierce and Helen, now have careers in architecture and the entertainment industry. Glenn is married to the love of his life, Heidi, a yoga teacher. They live a block from the beach in Oxnard Shores, where Glenn can be found riding waves in his free time.
Nick was born in southern California and has lived in the Pasadena area for most of his life. He started his path in education as a counselor at the day camp he attended as a child. After graduating from UC Santa Barbara as an undergrad he attended Cal State Channel Islands for his teaching credential. He first taught in the traditional classroom in Rowland Heights as 2/3 grade and 6th grade social studies teacher before coming to River Oaks. He is starting his fourth year at ROA. When he is not teaching at ROA you can find him on his bicycle either at race or riding across the country.
College and Career Counselor
A fifty year resident of the Conejo Valley, Richard grew up in the Sherman Oaks/Studios City area before heading off to the University of Notre Dame, where he earned his Bachelor's degree in 1971. Richard began his career in education at Sequoia Intermediate School in Newbury Park in 1973 before moving on to teach English at Newbury Park High School in 1978. In the mid-1980's, Richard spent two years as a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of English and the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Santa Barbara, while pursuing a Master's Degree in Counseling and Guidance at California Lutheran University. He rejoined the Newbury Park High School faculty as a counselor in the fall of 1987, serving in that capacity until his retirement in June of 2013. Richard joined the River Oaks staff in February of 2015 as the high school counselor. He is thrilled to be able to continue working with the students, parents, and staff at this very special school.
Richard is a Fellow of the South Coast Writing Project at UCSB, and he serves on the Board of Directors at the Miller Family YMCA in Newbury Park. He loves travel, reading, writing, and sports of all kinds!
Kathy is a native Californian. She has lived in Thousand Oaks most of her life. She joined a lively family of four older siblings and then delighted in the addition of a little sister, rounding out the family with six children, 3 boys and 3 girls. She attended local Conejo Valley schools and graduated from Newbury Park High School. She attended Moorpark College and then transferred to Westmont College in Santa Barbara where she majored in Liberal Studies. She did her student teaching in 6th grade at Franklin Elementary School in Santa Barbara and loved every minute of it. She moved back to Ventura County and began teaching in the Conejo Valley, working alongside many teachers who had previously taught her. While subbing, she got her first position at Redwood Intermediate School as an English teacher. After this assignment she was assigned to Colina Intermediate School where she taught social studies, English, and math. After these assignments she went to University Elementary where she taught 6th grade. Between her first two assignments, she returned to California Lutheran University and completed her Master’s Degree in Elementary Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in English. Upon the arrival of their first child, Kathy was grateful to able to “leave” her career in order to stay at home with their children. However, when the Jackson’s first son approached kindergarten, the decision was made to home educate this child, at least until he read fluently. Thus began an unplanned adventure into the world of home education. 20 years later, she has graduated all four sons and gained a daughter in law and a beautiful grandson. Her eldest son is a Mandarin Chinese Linguist with our US NAVY and her second son is a Mechanical Engineer. The youngest are twins who have just begun college at Moorpark and she is excited to see where their gifts and talents will take them. She is returning to her professional role as teacher, hoping the years of parenting have resulted in greater wisdom, compassion and understanding for all students and their parents. She is very active in her community of faith and is involved in several mentoring relationships with other women, young and old!. She enjoys daily hikes into the nearby hills, swimming or boogie boarding at the beach, cooking and baking for her hungry and still growing sons, enjoying her friendships, investing in her own extended family and spending time with her grandson. She is very grateful for the privilege of being a parent and teacher and appreciates the relationships she is developing with her new families at ROA.
A native born Californian, Leslie was number four out of six children. There were three boys first then, three girls followed. Being the oldest of the girls made her a little bossy. Leslie lived in north Orange County all of her childhood in an obscure place called La Habra. It wasn’t until 1989 did she get the privilege of relocating to beautiful Ventura County. Her oldest son Gregory was a mere four year old; today he is twenty-seven. Her daughter Madison is twenty-five and youngest child Luke, is eighteen. Her house is a busy place; Madison is at home applying for graduate programs. She wants to be a teacher. Luke is attending Moorpark College and her husband works from home. Mr. Maple is a very talented museum designer. To add to the fun, there are three dogs: Lady a Sheltie, James a Scottish Terrier and Simon a mutt, but mostly Pomeranian. During the summer she loves to garden, travel and visit her family that still all live in Whittier and La Habra. Leslie has been a teacher for almost thirty years and finally she is back at school for her Master of Arts in Education: Curriculum & Instruction at CSUCI. She loves teaching and especially loves reading awesome books. One of her favorite pastimes is getting kids excited about writing. So watch ROA students!
Beverly grew up in Worthington, Ohio then came to California to attend Biola University where she graduated with a Bachelor's Degree focusing on a Performance Major on Flute. She met her husband, Tom, in the music department at Biola and they have 3 fabulous children, 1 grandson, with 2 more grandchildren on the way. Beverly taught instrumental music in private schools for over 17 years focusing on elementary and middle school bands, jazz band, and handbells as well as private music lessons. Her love of playing the flute and piccolo continues as she performs with the Camarillo Community Band and 1st chair with the Ventura County Band. Beverly has come to River Oaks with 10 years of office work in public schools and loves working with the staff, students and parents here at RIver Oaks Academy where the atmosphere is so positive and fun!
Sara lives in Camarillo with her two sons, Averian and Lucas, and with her husband, Ian, who is a high school math teacher. She was born in Torrance, California in 1979 and moved to Camarillo when she was 2. She earned her Elementary Teaching Credential from California State University, Chico, and has enjoyed teaching her sons since 2010. She enjoys family activities like hiking, going to the beach, watching The CW’s DC Comic TV shows and/or Marvel superhero movies, swimming, camping, and enjoying time with her extended family who lives here in Ventura County. Her hobbies are practicing the art of mehndi (or henna), gardening, walking, doing anything that has to do with glitter, reading novels and comics, grocery shopping (just kidding) and decoupaging most plain items in her house. Sara loves exploring interests and working with the incredible teachers and families at River Oaks Academy.
Maria was born in Venezuela. As a child, she lived in Canada and France, before returning to her home country. By middle school, Maria had realized that she had a penchant for Mathematics and started to tutor her family and friends. This is how she learned that she enjoyed teaching others and after graduation pursued a career in Mathematics. In 1999, her family moved to Orlando, Florida where she completed a BS in Applied Mathematics, and a MA in Mathematics Education.
When not teaching, she likes to spend her time experimenting with new cooking recipes, attempting to surf with her husband Enrique, and meditating with her two black cats Tweeky and Pixie. Maria has committed herself to sharing her enthusiasm for Mathematics and looks forward bringing this passion to River Oaks Academy families.
Amylynn Robinson was born in the Mid-West and moved to Southern California as a young girl. She earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature from California State University Northridge, and later, a Master of Arts Degree in Education from California State University Los Angeles. She taught in the public school system for thirteen years concurrently teaching part time at California State University Los Angeles until she had her own children. Education has always been a passion for her, and led her earn a certificate in gifted education from University of Southern California late in her teaching career before beginning her journey as a home schooling mom of two. In her spare time she enjoys reading and scrap booking.
Michal was born on a kibbutz in Israel, she has two brothers and one sister. She enjoyed growing up on a communal farm where she came to love animals. Among her pets as a child were: ducks, guinea pigs, goats, donkeys, water buffalo, and capuchin monkeys. At the age of 18 she served in the IDF for two years. Later she traveled and lived and for several years in Asia in India, Thailand, Nepal, and Laos. That’s where she developed the travel bug that brought her to the United States. She came to travel but stayed to peruse her other passion for learning. She earned her B.A. in Child Development and art from CSUN, and continued her education in CSUN earning a CA Multiple Subject Credential and a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction. She married her husband who is also a teacher and they had this first child, Sean, in 2012. In her free time she likes to spend time with her family, do any kind of art, and she enjoys cooking, reading, and scuba diving. Her greatest passions are teaching young children, art, and travel.
Dana is am a mom to a very talkative little boy named Leo and a dog-mom to an old pup named Luke. She lives in Simi Valley and does lots of outdoor activities in her free time! She loves the beach, the farm, jiu jitsu, and soccer.
Dana was born and raised in Ventura County. After she graduated from Thousand Oaks High School, she went off to college and traveled before coming back to VC! She’s currently finishing a terminal degree in K-12 Leadership at California Lutheran University. She holds a California Teaching Credential in Biology and a Masters in Teaching Secondary Science from the University of Southern California. Her Bachelor's degree is in Biology from California State University Monterey Bay.
She loves teaching because she enjoys helping kids apply their individual talents to strengthen their education. She finds value in making a positive impact on the next generation of kiddos by helping them understand and enjoy science.
Laura is delighted to be a part of ROA to support independent learning as she also loves homeschooling her own children: Anna, Elijah, and Rebecca! Before becoming a homeschooling mommy, Laura was a classroom educator, spanning all of the elementary and middle school grades. She loves spending time with her family, swimming, hiking, and enjoying the blessings of nature.
Office Assistant / Technology Specialist
Tezo was born and raised in Oxnard, was Drum Major for the Oxnard High School Band in 1998, and earned a B.A. in Chicano Studies at Cal State Northridge in 2003. He served as President, for 14 years, of the Ventura County Branch of Foresters, a not-for-profit organization specializing in family services and education, and was happy to bring the Foresters Reading program to his alma mater, Curren Elementary School, as well as E.P. Foster and McKinna Elementary School. Tezo also worked as a computer technician for the Oxnard School District, music teacher, graphic designer, special fx makeup artist, and for the past 7 years, he was a substitute teacher for the El Rio School District. In his free time, Tezo enjoys performing with a 1860s comedy caroling troupe, The Merry Gentlemen, writing, and watching his Lakers.
Leah was born and raised in Westlake Village. Her mother is a California native, but her father was born and raised in Naples, Italy, and left there for America shortly after WWII. She, her younger brother, and parents spent most summers growing up in Italy, and she feels so blessed to have been able to marry her husband, a Santa Barbara native, in a small island off the coast of Naples.
After graduating from Westlake High School, Leah attended UC Santa Barbara, where she graduated in three years with a BA in English and Minor in Italian. She continued her education at Pepperdine, earning a Master’s in Education, a Clear Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, a Single Subject Teaching Credential in English, and a Preliminary Administration Credential. In addition to tutoring students of all ages, Leah has taught in several local schools over the past 20 years, teaching various elementary grades. Leah also has a 200-hour yoga certification and a 300-hour clinical yoga therapy certification.
Leah and her husband reside in Thousand Oaks, along with their three children, two cats, and one dog! She is an avid yogi, runner, and reader. She enjoys traveling, spending time with family and friends BBQing, swimming, and just hanging out!
Susan is a SoCal girl and grew up in North Hollywood. She attended CSUN where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism. Susan began her career in public relations, but soon realized that her true passion was in education and working with kids.
Susan earned her multiple subject teaching credential and Master’s degree in Education from Pepperdine University. She spent 12 years teaching 1st through 5th grade in Culver City and Santa Monica.
In 2013, Susan joined ROA as a parent where she homeschooled her son for six years. During that time, she also served as a board member. When her son switched to traditional school for 6th grade, she was excited to take on a coaching role. Using her own experience she now loves sharing her knowledge with other families.
Susan lives in Camarillo with her husband, Mike, son, Lucas, chocolate lab, Charlie Brown and tortoise, Brocky. She loves the beach, walking, spending time with friends and family and learning new things.
This post is also available in: Spanish