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 to 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

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 passion 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.

Support Staff

Gigi Lenz

Gigi Lenz

ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE

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.

Genny Girten

Genny Girten

COMPLIANCE COORDINATOR

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 assisting 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

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!

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 school. 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 Larson

Noel Larsen

TEACHER OF RECORD – INDEPENDENT STUDY AND HOMESCHOOL

Ms. Larsen is new to MY Academy this school year 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 masters degrees 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.

Nicolas Pradel

Nicolas Pradel

TEACHER OF RECORD – INDEPENDENT STUDY

Nicolas Pradel joined the MY Academy family in 2019. His areas of expertise include Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Anatomy, Calculus, and Spanish. Pradel attended UC Davis and graduated with BA in Exercise Biology. While there he also competed for the Aggies NCAA DI cross country and track and field teams.

Returning to his native San Diego, Pradel began coaching at the high school level for different schools in San Diego County. Rewarded by his 10 years of coaching, Pradel decided to return to school where he earned his Teaching Credential in Science and a Masters in Education. He enjoys helping students achieve in the classroom and in the field.

Pradel likes to spend his free time swimming, cycling and running. He continues to coach cross country and track at the high school level. When he is not training for half-marathons or Ironmans you can find Pradel relaxing in his hammock at local parks. You might also find him camping in the Sierra National Forest and Inyo National Forest.

Jennifer Cook-York

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 masters 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

Mari Mann

TEACHER OF RECORD – INDEPENDENT STUDY

Tamara Miller

Tamara Miller

TEACHER OF RECORD – INDEPENDENT STUDY

Tamara Miller, Teacher of Record, holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in Children’s Literature and is a credentialed teacher in English.  She has over 16 years of experience working with students in the independent learning setting for both middle and high school age students.

Tamara took a short sabbatical from teaching to become a Healthcare Administrator for a Skilled Nursing Facility and owned a licensed Board and Care Facility for the Elderly. However, the love of  teaching and encouraging students to reach their utmost potential ultimately called her back and is now fortunate to continue her love of teaching to the students of MyAcademy. 

During her free time, Tamara loves to get lost in a good novel, spend time with her husband and six kids and going on long Harley Davidson rides on the open road.

Christine Gee

Christine Gee

MATH TEACHER – INDEPENDENT STUDY

Christine Gee holds a bachelor’s degree in business economics with a mathematics major, a master’s degree in teaching as well as a master’s degree in mathematics education. She has over 14 years of experience teaching Mathematics and has served as an administrator. In 2019, Christine chaired the committee for the Global Ethics Day of Action sponsored by the International Center for Academic Integrity (ICAI). In 2017 the team she led was recognized by Turnitin as the Global Innovative Award winner, and placed 7th for the Enterprise Learning Award for Innovation in Assessment Delivery. Christine’s main interests include equal access to education, animal rights, the environment and plant-based initiatives.

Lisa Torbenson

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.

Guidance Counselor

Roger Brown

Roger Brown

SCHOOL COUNSELOR

Roger Brown has served as a school counselor for over 27 years in San Diego County. He has worked the majority of his career at the high school level in both the Grossmont Union and Carlsbad Unified School District as well as at the elementary and middle school levels in the La Mesa-Spring Valley District.

Over the course of his career, Roger has assisted a variety of students, including those academically gifted, learning disabled, emotionally disturbed, from single-parent households, of minority heritage and culture and who identify LGBTQ. His core beliefs in counseling students are 1) accept and value each student for who he/she is, 2) listen first to understand and 3) provide the best positive guidance that encourages each student to succeed academically to the best of his/her ability, find meaningful and supportive peer relationships and develop a vision for life after high school graduation. He possesses extensive experience in academic planning for graduation and post-high school opportunities, college admission counseling, career exploration, and individual and support group counseling.

Roger graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from UCLA and a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from San Diego State. He also completed advanced studies in the School of Education at Stanford University. At MY Academy, he is pleased to be part of its dynamic and professional team and excited to contribute to its more personalized approach to educating and guiding students.

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