GALA Faculty & Staff
Meran Rogers – Founder, Executive Director
Credentials: Master of Business Administration, Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University | Master of Nonprofit Management, Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University
Ms. Rogers has twelve years of experience in the nonprofit and education sectors and received her K-12 Principal License in 2016 after completing the BRIGHT New Leaders for Ohio Schools fellowship. She established Global Ambassadors Language Academy (GALA) in 2012 and the school opened in August 2016. Prior to GALA, she spent several years working in Cleveland public schools during her tenure as an Executive Fellow of the Cleveland Leadership Center, City Year Cleveland, and Director of the Cleveland Campaign for Grade Level Reading. Additionally, Rogers worked as a third grade teacher in Taipei, Taiwan at an international English immersion school. Most recently, Rogers was a founding staff member of Global Cleveland, serving as Director of Community Affairs; leading services for volunteers, international newcomers and the Asian Initiative. In November 2014, Rogers was recognized as “One to Watch in Education” by Crain’s Cleveland Business Magazine. In 2010, she received the Cleveland 25 Under 35 Movers and Shakers Award, and in 2009 was featured as ONE2WATCH in Cleveland Inside Business Magazine. Rogers is a lifelong Cleveland resident, proud graduate of Cleveland and East Cleveland public schools, a first generation American and college graduate, and resides in Cleveland Heights with her family. Her son and daughter both attend GALA.
Dr. Michael Salwiesz – Principal
Credentials: Doctor of Philosophy, Case Western Reserve University | Master of Business Administration, The Ohio State University | Master of Education, University of Nevada, Las Vegas | Master of Social Work, University of Michigan
Mr. Salwiesz brings extensive experience in research and evaluation, social services, and education. He began his education career as a Teach For America Corps Member and teacher in Las Vegas and also worked as a Junior Cluster Teacher (Grades 3-5) at The Intergenerational School in Cleveland, where his students achieved a greater than 90 percent passage rate on the state assessment across grade levels. Mr. Salwiesz also spent considerable time conducting evaluations of the Michigan Department of Education’s Even Start Family Literacy Program and cooperative learning curricula throughout the country. His doctoral research focused on parent and community involvement and the achievement gap. Mr. Salwiesz spent the past two academic years working as an administrator in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District at Warner Girls Leadership Academy and Denison Elementary School.
Mark DeWine – Curriculum Specialist
Credentials : Master of Business Administration, The Ohio State University | Bachelor of Arts, The College of Wooster
Mark DeWine is a career educator who brings his passion for public education to GALA. He started his teaching journey as a social studies teacher in Memphis, Tennessee with Teach For America. Mr. DeWine then taught immersion English at an International Baccalaureate school in Ambato, Ecuador. Upon returning to the United States, he taught in Columbus and, most recently, in Cleveland at Entrepreneurship Prep Woodland Hills, where he worked as a teacher and a teacher coach. Mr. DeWine is a proud husband and a father of two boys, a runner, and advocate for social equity.
Jeanette Garcia – Office Manager
Credentials: Bachelor of Arts, Business Management, Cleveland State University – expected Spring 2019 | Associates Degree, Cuyahoga Community College
Ms. Garcia is a lifelong resident of Cleveland, Ohio. She has more than eight years of administrative experience. Prior to GALA, Ms. Garcia served as Program Staff for Horizon Education Center, West Preparatory Academy, and the Northeast Ohio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce / Hispanic Business Center. Ms. Garcia resides in Cleveland with her family, and also serves as President and Treasurer of the GALA Parent & Family Association.
Email: JGarcia@GALACleveland.org Phone: (216) 315-7942
Tim Gibbons – Operations Manager
Credentials: Bachelor’s of Arts, Spanish Major, Baldwin Wallace University
Mr. Gibbons brings his love for culture, language, learning and operations to his role as our our school’s operation manager. During his college years he spend time in both Argentina and Spain as a Spanish major. Mr. Gibbons then spent the next couple years working as an administrator at a Cleveland day care. This experience grew his passion to ensure that quality education was provided to all children in Greater Cleveland, which led to him joining Teach For America in 2016. During his time as a Teach For America corps member he taught kindergarten at Citizens Academy Southeast. Mr. Gibbons enjoys athletics and seeing all the sites and events that Cleveland has to offer with his wife, Kayla.
Jing Votruba – Teacher, Mandarin Immersion Program (Kindergarten, Dragon Room)
Credentials: Master of International Trade at China Agricultural University | Bachelor of Bio-engineering at China Agricultural University
Ms. Votruba grew up in the beautiful city Yangzhou, China. After she graduated from the China Agricultural University (CAU) in Beijing she worked as a college student counselor for two years at CAU. In 2009, she received her Master’s Degree and moved to the United States. Since then, Ms. Votruba has worked as a teacher in both Alaska and Colorado. She taught at the Colorado Springs Chinese Language School for four years, and worked as a Mandarin Immersion Language Teacher at Global Village Academy in Colorado Springs for one year. Ms. Votruba loves teaching and loves to use her language and teaching skills to nurture the students at GALA.
YanPing Yang – Mandarin Immersion Program (1st & 2nd Grade, Penguin Room)
Credentials: Master of Early Childhood Education, Cleveland State University | Bachelor of English at Changsha University
Ms. Yang is the Mandarin teacher in 1/2 at GALA and has lived in Cleveland for 8 years. As a native Mandarin speaker, Ms. Yang always longed to teach in an immersion school since high school. After she received her Bachelor’s degree in English from Changsha University, Ms. Yang moved on to obtain her Master’s degree plus teaching certificate in Early Childhood Education from Cleveland State University. Previously, she worked as a part-time ELL tutor at Elyria City Schools for two years, Mandarin teacher for summer camps at Lorain County Community College, and substituted at different school districts, including CMSD, Euclid, Parma, and Olmsted Falls City Schools. As a proud and enthusiastic educator, Ms. Yang believes that “A great teacher is someone who can learn from her students, who can learn with them, and learns for them”.
Yuting Huang – Teacher, Mandarin Immersion Program (2nd & 3rd Grade, Panda Room)
Credentials: M.Ed., Secondary Education, University of Missouri-St Louis | M.Ed., Elementary Education, University of Missouri-St Louis
Ms. Huang is the Mandarin teacher in K/1 at GALA. She is a native Mandarin speaker from Fuzhou City, Fujian Province, China. She earned her bachelor degree in English from Fujian Medical University (China), and her master degrees in Secondary Education-TESOL specified (2014) and Elementary Education (2016) from University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL). Previously, she worked in St. Louis Language Immersion school as a language teacher and part-time in UMSL Child Development Center.
WanTsun Lai – Mandarin Immersion Program, Teaching Assistant Intern from Taiwan
Credentials: Bachelor of Arts, Chinese Language and Literature, Providence University
Ms. Lai is a native Mandarin speaker from Taiwan (R.O.C). She is currently a senior at Providence University, majoring in Chinese Language and Literature with a minor in Spanish. During her time as a student, she has gained a lot of experiences teaching. Ms. Lai’s first internship was at Tamkang University in Taiwan. At Tamkang University, she served as a teacher assistant for Chinese education and practiced leading activities for students and working in a team. Her second work experience was volunteering at the Chinese center at Providence University to help foreign students improve their Chinese. Additionally, she was an intern at a High School in Taiwan, teaching Chinese to foreign students. Ms. Lai has successfully completed the Mandarin Teacher Training Program and has taken many courses about teaching methods and strategies for beginners learning Chinese as a second language. Now, she is excited to be an intern at GALA for the Mandarin immersion program.
Email: WLai@GALACleveland.org Phone: (216) 315-7942
Marina Nuñez – Spanish Immersion Program, Teaching Assistant Intern from Spain
Credentials: Bachelor of Social, CEU San Pablo Andalucia
Marina is from Seville, Spain. In Seville, Marina studied as a teacher in Primary Education and specialized in Physical Education. Teaching is her passion and she thinks that the way to teach students is through fun and dynamic classes. Marina has been working giving private tutoring classes to children for 6 years. She has done internships in different schools during her university studies, teaching all the subjects. Marina is an extroverted and outgoing person and is excited to be in Cleveland and at GALA to experience living in a different country and to learn to be a better teacher.
Email: MNunez@GALACleveland.org Phone: (216) 315-7942
Laura Pope – Teacher, Spanish Immersion Program (Kindergarten, Butterfly Room)
Credentials: Master of Arts, Spanish, Cleveland State University | B.A., Spanish and Communication, Hiram College
Ms. Pope is a longtime resident of Northeast Ohio, but spent the early part of her childhood in New Mexico, where she first became interested in learning the Spanish language. Ms. Pope earned a dual bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Communication from Hiram College and studied abroad in Segovia, Spain. She was selected to the Ohio Core Teacher Education Program at the University of Akron and holds a license to teach Spanish in the State of Ohio. Ms. Pope later graduated from Cleveland State University with a Master of Arts in Spanish, concentrating her studies in Latin American literature and the expression of Afro-Latino identity. Prior to becoming a teacher, she served for 13 years as a deputy clerk for a local municipal court and also worked in the area of performance and quality improvement at OhioGuidestone. Ms. Pope is honored to share her passion for education and language learning as a member of GALA’s inaugural staff.
Sara Treviño – Spanish Immersion Program (Kindergarten, Llama Room)
Credentials: Bachelor of Arts, Political Science, Kent State University
Ms. Treviño is from Mesa Arizona and has been living in the northeast Ohio region for the last three years. She is a current Greater Cleveland Corps Member with the non-profit organization, Teach for America. Ms. Treviño grew up in a bilingual home and has a passion for the Spanish language. She has traveled extensively and lived abroad in both Guatemala and Chile. She studied Political Science and International Relations at Kent State University. She decided to join Teach for America after graduation because she believes that all students should have equal education opportunities. She is very excited to be joining the GALA staff to advocate for language immersion learning and share her love of diversity and inclusion.
Daniel Gutiérrez Brasero – Spanish Immersion Program (First Grade, Dolphin room)
Credentials: Bachelor of Elementary Education – Physical Education, University of Seville (Spain) | Bachelor of Elementary Education – English Language, University of Seville (Spain)
Daniel is from Spain and he has lived in Seville since he was born. He studied as a teacher in Elementary Education in Seville too and is specialized in Physical Education and Second Language Learning (English). Since 2010, Daniel has worked as teacher in different schools including Colegio Lope de Vega (Seville), SAFA Nuestra Señora de lo Reyes (Seville) and Salesianos Manuel Lora Tamayo (Jerez de la Frontera). He has taught subjects in second language (science and english language art) as part of a bilingual program in the last years so that he has experience in teaching subjects to students in a different language of mother’s tongue. His philosophy is his students learn in an amusing way because creativity and spontaneity grows up and the input will be better. Daniel is sporty and he likes practicing any sport.
Email: Coming Soon Mobile: (216) 315-7942
Yashira Santiago – Spanish Immersion Program (1st Grade, Manatee room)
Credentials: Bachelor of Science, Early Childhood Education, Cleveland State University
Ms. Santiago is from Las Piedras, Puerto Rico where she grew up in a bilingual (Spanish/English) home. After graduating from high school, she attended Cleveland State University where she studied Early Childhood Education as a major. Through her practicum and student teaching, Ms. Santiago has experience in preschool and third grade in the public-school system, as well as preschool and kindergarten in Montessori education. She believes in encouraging independence, fostering accountability, maintaining a safe and nurturing atmosphere in the classroom, having high expectations, and building solid communication skills. Ms. Santiago continues expanding her knowledge and instructional skills by pursuing the Ohio Reading Endorsement for teachers (expected Fall 2019).
Katherine Thomas – Spanish Immersion Program (2nd Grade, Bull room)
Credentials: Bachelor of Arts, Psychology & Spanish, Franklin & Marshall College
Ms. Thomas is originally from West Hartford, Connecticut and is excited to be moving to Cleveland to teach with the non-profit organization, Teach for America. She has always had a passion for traveling, so she was motivated to learn Spanish after her involvement in a Spanish Exchange program in Madrid in high school. Ms. Thomas graduated from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA, where she double-majored in Spanish and Psychology, both of which fueled her interest in teaching. She hopes to contribute to the cause for educational equity and foster a love of learning for her students. Ms. Thomas is overjoyed to join the GALA staff and be able to incorporate her loves for travel, creativity, and a lifelong growth mindset in the classroom!
Email: Coming Soon Mobile: (216) 315-7942
Christian Duran – Teacher, Spanish Immersion Program (2nd & 3rd Grade, Quetzal Room)
Credentials: Bachelor of Arts,Psychology University of California, San Diego
Ms. Duran is from Los Angeles, CA and is a Corps Member from the non-profit organization, Teach for America. She grew up in a bilingual (English/Spanish) home in California. Ms. Duran attended UC San Diego, where she studied Psychology as a major. After graduating, she decided to pursue her interest in education by joining Teach for America. She hopes to learn more about the educational system by being at the front lines and working with her students to grow more individually and develop academically! Ms. Duran is excited to join the GALA staff and share her passion for higher education and diversity with her students!
Bethany Wilson-Araujo – English Language Arts (Kindergarten)
Credentials-Master’s degree in Education- Elementary Reading and Mathematics Specialization from Walden University & Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education, Elon University
Bethany has been an educator since 2004 after graduating from Elon University in North Carolina. There she taught general education in grades 3-5. She taught 8 years in a town called Haw River, then 2 years in Durham, NC. In 2014 she moved back to the Cleveland area with her husband and daughter and taught 4th and 1st grade at Village Prep School Woodland Hills. She has served as a mentor to new teachers and held leadership positions at each school she has been apart of. Mrs. Wilson-Araujo is extremely excited to be part of GALA and looks forward to sharing her love of learning with our kids and community.
Email: Coming Soon Mobile: (216) 315-7942
Wynter Pitts – English Language Arts (1st Grade)
Credentials:B.A. in Organizational Communication Studies & French, Albion College
Ms. Pitts was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. While attending Albion College, she developed a strong passion for community development through the lens of education and youth mentoring opportunities. At the conclusion of her senior year, she joined and completed Teach For America, a non-profit organization in the Greater Cleveland area dedicated to ensuring all children receive a high-quality education. Ms. Pitts began her educational career at Alfred A. Benesch as a K-8 long-term substitute for a year. She then transitioned to Breakthrough Charter Schools to teach 1st grade at Citizens Academy Southeast for two years. And now, Ms. Pitts is elated to continue her journey at GALA and looks forward to building long-life relationships with students, their families, and the community surrounding GALA.
Diana Maher – English Language Arts (2nd & 3rd Grade)
Credentials: Master of Science, Education, Johns Hopkins University Bachelor of Arts, Early Childhood Education, John Carroll University.
Ms. Maher originally hails from Buffalo, New York. She began her career in education as an English Teaching Assistant while living in the Dominican Republic. She fell in love with the city of Cleveland during her time at John Carroll University. Upon graduation Ms. Maher served as a Kindergarten Teacher with Teach for America in Tulsa, Oklahoma where she specialized in implementing Reggio Emilia and Whole Brain Teaching philosophies. During this time she also earned a Master of Science in Education from Johns Hopkins University. She has spent the last three years immersed in gender education at Warner Girls’ Leadership Academy where she served as a Third Grade Teacher, K-3 Data Manager and Co-Director of the Disney Musicals in Schools Grant. Ms. Maher has a strong belief in integrating STEM education with English Language Arts which lead to her being selected for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s Fabrication Lab Fellowship. She looks forward to sharing her many passions with the students and families of GALA.
Jessica LePera – Literacy Support Specialist
Credentials: Master’s of Education; Elementary Education, Vanderbilt University | Bachelor of Science; Human Ecology, The Ohio State University
BIO: Ms. LePera is from Columbus, OH and is the Literacy Support Specialist at GALA. She attended The Ohio State University in Columbus for a Bachelor’s degree as well as post-graduate education courses focused on literacy and science. She then earned her Master’s in Elementary Education from the then top-ranked Peabody College at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. She brings experience teaching 5th grade ELA and all subjects, 3rd grade, 2/3, and had valuable experience serving as a Literacy Group Specialist for grades 4-6. She also held a Literacy Specialist Internship for grades K-5 which sparked her interested in teaching primarily ELA classrooms. Jessica is excited to build strong readers and writers that can confidentially transfer their skills to all content areas and the real-world.
Natasha Healy – Intervention Specialist
Credentials: Bachelor of Arts, Special Education, Ohio University
Ms. Healy is from Brighton, Michigan and is the Intervention Specialist at GALA. After high school Ms. Healy attended Ohio University where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education for students with moderate to intensive needs. After graduating Ms. Healy moved to Toledo to teach at a school designed specifically for students with Autism. Ms. Healy has experience working with a diverse group of students throughout her student teaching at Ohio University. She has traveled extensively within the United States and abroad.
Errin Wischhusen – Teacher – Integrated Arts
Credentials: Master of Early Childhood Education, The Ohio State University | Bachelor of Art, Painting and Drawing, Pennsylvania State University
Mrs. Wischhusen is delighted to lead GALA’s student-centered art studio. Mrs. Wischhusen spent her childhood in the rural Pennsylvania Wilds area, where she then pursued her art degree in painting and drawing at Penn State. She moved to Columbus, OH after graduation and soon after attended Ohio State Marion and Lima campuses for her master’s of Early Childhood Education. Mrs. Wischhusen was a first grade classroom teacher for a number of years in Ostrander, OH before moving to her husband’s hometown of Cleveland. She was a stay-home mom and active community volunteer until her two children were both school age. Now she is absolutely delighted to be able to combine her two passions of child development and art at GALA. She believes that providing children a choice-based art education honors and nurtures each child’s individuality and innate creativity as well as fostering self-regulation and feelings of autonomy. Mrs. Wischhusen regards students as artists and offers them real choices for responding to their own ideas and interests through the making of art.
Lauren Jasica – Physical Education
Credentials: Bachelors of Scie
nce, Physical Education, Sports Administration, Kent State University.
BIO: Lauren grew up in Lakewood, Ohio. After high school she attended Kent State University. During her time at Kent State she was very involved in Intramural Leagues. She worked and participated in Intramurals for 4 years. Also during her time at Kent State she was an Intern for Athletics at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Kent, Ohio. There her passion for athletics and education grew. She graduated with a degree in Physical Education and minor in Sports Administration. Since college Lauren worked at as Summer Camp Director at a local daycare in Mentor, Ohio and as a Director of Activities at an Assisted Living community. Lauren started her Physical Education career at The Intergenerational School in Cleveland. She is excited to share her passion for health and athletics with GALA and build life-long relationships with each student.