Our Staff

MY Academy has wonderful faculty and staff
who care deeply about the success of our students.

Administration

Dawn Zwibel

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Dawn Zwibel is the Director of MY Academy. Ms. Zwibel has been a part of the team for two years and brings with her many years of both teaching and leadership across the K-12 continuum. Prior to joining MY Academy, Ms. Zwibel was the Director of Human Resources and an Elementary Principal in the Poway Unified School District. She was also an Assistant Principal in the Grossmont Union High School District.

Ms. Zwibel holds multiple teaching and administrative credentials, as well as a Masters of Science in Curriculum and Instructional Leadership. She graduated from the University of San Diego with honors. She has a passion for working with high school students and loves helping parents and families get involved in their child’s education. Ms. Zwibel loves spending time with her husband and two children, enjoying art and music in San Diego, camping, and being active in her community.

Bill Dobson

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR

Bill Dobson has devoted his career to supporting families and students of all ages as they identify, pursue, and achieve their dreams. During this time he has maintained an unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion. His relationships within sports and academic communities are extensive, having spent 35 years recruiting, retaining, coaching, and mentoring student-athletes. His work at every level of the NCAA (D-I, D-IAA, D-II, and D-III) in addition to his years in the professional ranks empower him to serve as a unique resource for students and families as they pursue their passions and interests.

Dobson works with students, families, and groups to provide an educational solution that allows the flexibility to pursue individual passions and chase dreams. Customized learning plans provide each student with a wide range of educational options that can be tailored to the specific needs of the individual learner and their support group. This personalized approach allows the educational experience to be intimate in scale yet infinite in scope.

Dobson earned a BA from Occidental College, an MA from New Mexico State University, and through the San Diego County Office of Education completed preparation as a Highly Qualified Teacher (HQT) in accordance with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). In addition, he has completed coursework at Brandman University and the United States Sports Academy.

Daniel Espinoza

SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGIST

Daniel has been working in education since 2001. He obtained a Master’s Degree in School Psychology in 2012. He has worked in both site-based and non-site based schools. He has strong knowledge of Special Education laws and regulations and extensive experience working with at-promise students. He focuses on strong communication skills and a truly student-centered approach. Daniel enjoys spending time with his wife and 5 children, being outdoors, and being active.

Support Staff

Gigi Lenz

OPERATIONS AND PROJECT MANAGER

Gigi brings many years of administrative and office management experience to the MY Academy team. Prior to joining MY Academy, her previous roles include Administrative Assistant for Poway Unified School District and Human Resources Analyst for Oceanside Unified School District. Additionally, as a graduate of Communications from Cal State Fullerton, Gigi spent many years in the corporate world as a Marketing and Sales professional until taking some time off to stay home with her three boys. Gigi loves working at My Academy because she truly believes this team of educators and the overall vision of MY Academy sets our school apart from so many others with its model of personalization and flexibility.

Gigi enjoys family time with her husband and kids whether it be exploring new places to surf, fish or camp or relaxing by the pool, backyard BBQing and enjoying a movie night.  She loves to sing, listen to Country and Hawaiian music, and catch a good podcast in her spare time.

Yvette Lares

STUDENT DATA MANAGEMENT SPECIALIST

Yvette Lares is a Data Management Specialist. She has worked in education for 17 years, in several different roles. Yvette spent the first two years at a brick and mortar school, working as a teacher’s aide in a first-grade classroom and as a resource teacher assistant working with students in first through sixth grade. For the past 15 years, Yvette has dedicated her administrative skills to charter schools. Her expertise is in the area of enrollment, IT support, compliance, and assisting teachers to bring personalized learning to all students.

Lares has a passion for supporting teachers, so they have more time to assist students with their educational needs. She is thrilled to be part of the MY Academy Team and excited to work with all stakeholders.

Sarina Laff

INSTRUCTIONAL ASSISTANT

Sarina Laff joined the MY Academy family in 2019. Sarina holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a double minor in Criminal Justice and Biology. She has always wanted to give back to her rural East County community, which is why she is so excited to be working with MY Academy at the Campo Indian Education Center. Sarina finds great joy in helping students achieve success!

Her interests include reading, horseback riding, cooking/baking, and spending time with her family!

Dasia Dunn

INSTRUCTIONAL ASSISTANT

Dasia Dunn joined MYAcademy in 2021. She holds a bachelor degree in Global Studies from UC Santa Barbara, and a
Masters In Education from the University of San Diego where she specialized in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Dasia is passionate about helping students not only succeed in their educational journeys, but in
seeing that they enjoy them as well.

Dasia is a San Diego native, who is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. She enjoys traveling, eating, hiking and spending
time with her loved ones.

Teachers

Melissa Blitzstein

LEAD TEACHER

Melissa Blitzstein brings many years of experience to MY Academy. She has taught and been a leader in both virtual charter schools as well as traditional public schools. She loves developing relationships with students and families and sees that as the most effective way to empower student success.

In addition to her role as a Credentialed Teacher she also is the lead of Academic Student Services for MY Academy where she works to develop ways to support student needs and grow our top-notch academic program.

Blitzstein earned her bachelor’s degree in English and Master’s degree in Adolescent English Education from Ithaca College in upstate New York. Her career began in her home state of New Jersey before venturing West to soak up the sun and beautiful beaches of San Diego. When she’s not hiking, golfing, or snowboarding she enjoys reading and playing with her dog Ziggy, a rescue Spaniel Chihuahua mix.

Noel Larsen

TEACHER OF RECORD – INDEPENDENT STUDY 

Ms. Larsen came to MY Academy in 2019 and we are so happy to have her as part of our teaching staff! She has both multiple subject & single subject credentials as well as a master’s degree in education and counseling. She began teaching high school in her early 20s while also lifeguarding and coordinating the San Clemente State Beach Junior Lifeguard Program. She loves teaching and learning from her diverse students and their compelling stories, and supporting them along their journey to achievement and personal success.

She has three teenagers, 30 chickens, one rescue dog and enjoys mountain biking, traveling, surfing and “swamping,” a term she’s dubbed for long-distance ocean swimming over several days along remote island coasts while towing her camping gear and food. Welcome, Mrs. Larsen!

Colleen Ochs

TEACHER OF RECORD – INDEPENDENT STUDY

Colleen Ochs is a credentialed teacher with MY Academy. Ms. Ochs has been part of the County team for 3 years and loves teaching, learning new concepts, and sharing ideas in all subject areas with her students. Before landing her position with MY Academy, Ms. Ochs worked in the Riverside and San Bernardino area serving students in all capacities. Ms. Ochs has many years of experience teaching and supporting students in reaching their academic and personal goals.

Ms. Ochs grew up on the beautiful beaches of St Petersburg, Florida. After graduating from the University of South Florida, she followed her dreams of living out west and headed for the less humid and beautiful state of California. She loves golfing, gardening, sightseeing, and exploring the hidden treasures of California.

Susan Clark

TEACHER OF RECORD – INDEPENDENT STUDY

I attended UCLA undergraduate and graduate schools where I majored in Psychology, minored in the Diversified Liberal Arts program, and obtained a clear teaching credential. After taking a break for a few years to start a family, I found myself back in the classroom at my son’s school; I’ve been teaching ever since and that was over 20 years ago! Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to work at a private school in the elementary levels, charter schools in the middle and high school levels, and the home school platform to independent studies. I enjoy working with students who have diverse levels of education and helping them to achieve their future goals. Currently I live in Palm Desert bμt am lucky to be able to get back to Orange County (where I grew up) to escape the summer heat. Having raised three sons, all of whom graduated from major universities, we are very much a sporting family which loves both playing sports and attending events whenever possible. I enjoy traveling, especially when it combines a trip with a new venue.

I am so excited to be a part of My Academy!

Jennifer Cook-York

SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHER

Jennifer Cook-York is an Education Specialist with MY Academy. She grew up in San Diego then traveled to Arizona to attend Northern Arizona University earning her master’s degree in special education.

Mrs. York has taught traditional special education in middle school as well as severely handicapped high school special education in the San Diego area for 14 years. She loves developing relationships with students and families of middle school and high school students. She is very excited to be at MY Academy in the role of Education Specialist. She hopes to use her teaching and special education background to make lessons meaningful and directly correlate to what students are learning and empowering her students to succeed.

Mrs. York loves spending time with her husband and children, visiting family in Idaho, being active in her community, exploring new places as well as camping, kayaking, and watching sports.

Mari Mann

TEACHER OF RECORD – INDEPENDENT STUDY

Lisa Torbenson

SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHER

Lisa Torbenson is an Education Specialist with My Academy. She grew up in La Jolla, California, and completed her degree in special education at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where she received her credential in severely handicapped. She also holds a resource specialist certificate that allows her to provide special education services for students enrolled in general education classes.

During her career, Lisa has worked with severely handicapped students as an Independent Living Skills teacher, taught as an Inclusion Specialist for orthopedically challenged students, and has been a Resource Specialist teacher for the last 14 years. During her 30 years of teaching, she has worked in both Northern and Southern California school districts. She enjoys the relationships that she has created with her students and their families over the years. Her goal is to help students feel empowered, capable, and successful.

Lisa enjoys spending time with her husband and grown daughter, as well as, hiking, gardening, and doing anything active. She also provides education for adults and seniors on healthy lifestyles, nutrition, and exercise, and is a certified health and wellness coach.

Cheryl Tyler

MATH SUPPORT TEACHER

I am new to MY Academy and will be supporting students as the Math Tutor. I have been a math teacher and mentor for 35 years and am originally from Boston Massachusetts but have lived in San Diego for the past 31 years. In addition to teaching, I coach track and field in San Diego with hurdles being my area of expertise.

In my spare time, when I’m not spending time watching sporting events with my two adult sons, I enjoy gardening, reading, and training for half marathons.

I am thrilled to be joining the MYA team!

Jonathan Childers

MATH SUPPORT TEACHER 

I have been a full-time high school math teacher for 8 years and have taught part-time at the local community college for 2 years. I have always loved math and started tutoring the subject back when I was in high school. I realized how much I loved making connections with my students and loved being able to help them understand math and its applications in the real world. This is what got me interested in teaching and what pushed me to become a teacher.

I am originally from Texas but moved to Temecula, CA when I was in 5th grade. I have been in southern California for 23 years now. After graduating from Temecula Valley High School, I attended Palomar College and San Diego Mesa College before transferring to UC San Diego. I received my B.A. in Mathematics/Secondary Education and my M.Ed and teaching credential from UCSD. I also hold an M.S. in Mathematics from CSU San Marcos.

When I am not teaching, I enjoy spending time with my wife and my two daughters, playing golf, and learning new songs and techniques on the guitar.

Cindy Martin

SCIENCE SUPPORT TEACHER 

I went to San Diego State University to earn my degree in Biology and have taught Science at the high school level for 25 years. During this time, I went back to school at National University, earning a Master’s degree in Education. I have taught most of the sciences including Biology, Medical Biology, AP Biology, Chemistry, and Earth Science. I have also taught 9-12 AVID. I have coached cheer and advised many years of class office. I enjoy working with teens immensely and am especially inspired especially by students with a love of the sciences.

My husband and I have 3 sons. My oldest is graduating in May from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, my middle son is a sophomore at Southern Utah University, and my youngest is a sophomore in high school. As a family, we enjoy outdoor activities including camping, boating, and hiking. We also love to travel with one of our favorite destinations being Costa Rica. I am an avid animal lover, my favorite being the sloth! I also enjoy running and was able to complete my first half-marathon (The Rock and Roll Las Vegas) in November of 2019. I am thrilled to have this new opportunity to help students in Science with this team of educators!

Molly Thomsen

CONTENT AREA SUPPORT TEACHER – MATH AND SPANISH

Molly Thomsen is excited to begin working at Myacademy. 

Molly has taught for 12 years. She spent eleven years in a high school setting and one year in a middle school. She has taught Spanish, English, and Math. She has also worked part-time for Pearson since 2005, scoring SATs, ACTs, and most recently, as a writing tutor. 

Molly earned her B.A. from the University of Notre Dame in 2001. She earned her Masters in Education from Notre Dame in 2003 and her Masters in Educational Administration (also from Notre Dame) in 2010. 

Molly enjoys spending time with her family, biking, and reading. 

School Counselor

Stacie Sevcik

SCHOOL COUNSELOR

Stacie Sevcik is a school counselor at MY Academy. Stacie has been a teacher and counselor for over 20 years at the middle school, high school, community college, graduate school, and adult school levels in both Illinois and California. She holds a BA in the Teaching of Spanish, an MA in School Counseling, and an MA in Educational Administration. Stacie is passionate about her students and makes sure to get to know them on an individual level in order to best serve them. In her spare time, Stacie enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, and playing soccer.

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