and meet our teachers
Drawn by TiLizz (Former Student)
Progressive Learning Academy (PLA)
a small private middle school serving grades 5 through 8
currently located at the El Centro Building
We often don't get to the phone while we are teaching , so it's best to leave a message.
We will return your call or text as soon as possible.
We bonded as colleagues during a strategic planning process where we discovered we share similar ideas for our dream school. We found that our philosophies were very similar and our pedagogies compliment each other. We have worked closely together for the past several years developing our teaching styles together as a team. We both continue to master our teaching craft through research and professional development. With the help of some motivated people, we are able to make our dream school come to reality.
I am originally from Sonoma county in Northern California. I moved into the area in 2004 and call Goleta my home. I spend my free time being the parent of an amazing young man and the professional walker of one rather quirky dog. I am an avid reader, artist and connoisseur of all things espresso (though I try to keep it to decaf these days). I am one of those people who always wanted to teach, though it took me awhile to get into teaching in the school system.
While working in wildlife rehabilitation quickly realized how much easier most people seemed to learn when the instruction was hands on, relevant to their needs and delivered in a way that they could relate to. It also became clear that if a student saw you as a “them” then a collaborative learning environment was hard to create or maintain. As a school teacher I try to always keep these things in mind. I spend a lot of time adapting the task at hand so that it is relevant, fun, meaningful and connected to the culture of the class. This makes it so every year is a little different as assignments and projects get changed or adapted for different groups of students. My job as an educator is to guide the learning process, make information readily available to students when it is needed and to help students become advocates for their learning experience.
My inspiration as a teacher comes from our quickly changing times. We live in a world where we can so easily connect to almost any culture in the world. Where history and science are a few clicks away. Where we can pop on a VR headset and tour other countries’ natural treasures without leaving our living room. One where teachers can pose a problem to a class and step back and watch as the class uses modern resources and technology to assess the issue, research possibly solutions and collaborate a plan to solve the problem all on their own. There is so much potential and power at the fingertips of our youth, I seek everyday to find new ways help them assess the quality of the information they have access to, help them process what they learned and be able to turn that learning into a final product or opinion that they can soundly defend.
I was born in Yuba City, CA but raised all over the United States. I came back to California and was able to attend all four years at the same high school. I’ve slowly moved my way down the California coastline and settled in Ventura for over a decade. I enjoy all the outdoor activities this beautiful area has to offer and especially love scuba diving our magnificent Channel Islands. When I am above water I do a variety of paddle sports and try to surf.
Teaching was not really on the top of my list of things I wanted to do when I grew up. I actually got a Bachelor’s of Architecture Degree at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. About half way through getting that degree, I realized I was heading down the wrong path. I took a look back and found that all my previous jobs and interests pertained to teaching in some way. And, I was actually good at it. I believe it was actually meant to be and I love what I do.
My teaching style is more like coaching, probably because I was a swim coach for about a decade. As a teacher, I am most inspired by John Wooden’s book “You Haven’t Taught Until They’ve Learned.” I do many activities, discussions, assessments, and games to discover what my students know and how they apply their skills, and then I give them advice, feedback, and practice to help them improve in whatever way is needed. I also learned a lot from Carol Dweck’s research on mindsets. It has helped me as a teacher to develop the growth mindset in students, so they can learn whatever they want and achieve great things. I hope to inspire lifelong learners, productive problem solvers, and strong leaders in our community.
What Others Say About Our Teaching
Tami and Carrie are most definitely my two favorite teachers I've ever had.
Carrie was pretty much a second mother to me. She is extremely kind hearted and patient, making her easy to get along with. Carrie's goofiness and humor is evident in her lessons, keeping them interesting and easy to focus on. Carrie always manages to keep a level head and deal with any problem in a kind manner. She has a teaching style all its own, making you enjoy what you are learning and retain it better.
Tami is all I could ask for as far as a math/grammar teacher and always had a way to make me chuckle. No matter how confusing a math subject was to me, and how many times it had been shown to me, Tami always had a new way to explain it to me that would make me understand. And, as an ELA/grammar teacher, she showed me new ways to improve on my writing I didn't think were possible. No matter how great my writing was, she was always there to help me make it better than before.
These two are a truly dynamic duo. They both adapt perfectly to their students and help anyone and everyone learn. To this day, even in high school, I know I can text either of them anytime with questions. I can't wait to see them function completely under their own control at PLA!
Grace (Former Student)
Heroes are people who save in some way.
Some are grand moments that save lives, others are small gestures that impact a lifetime. Tami and Carrie are part of those unsung, quiet heroes who make a lasting impact. My son was struggling as a young student in many ways. He was inattentive, anxious, unsure of himself and not succeeding academically. Yet, he is an exceptional child; kind, respectful, bright and in some ways mature beyond his years. He wasn’t seeing that part of himself. Tami and Carrie did. As his teachers they found out how he learned and what motivated him. They adjusted lessons to meet his needs and taught him to use his unique thought processes to his advantage. They talked to him, listened to him, and built an amazing level of trust. Today, he is an A student in high school. He is confident in his abilities and has the courage to talk to his teachers and reach out when he needs guidance. As a parent, I will be forever grateful. They changed his entire school experience and his outlook on himself.