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 – Assistant Principal
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 – Student Enrichment Administrator
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 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.
Qian Wu – Mandarin Immersion Program, (3rd & 4th Grade, Tiger Room)
Credentials: Bachelor of Accounting at Henan University of Technology
Ms. Wu is a native Chinese speaker from the city Yuzhou, the hometown of Jun-porcelain in China. After college she moved to Nanjing, China and started her career as a teacher. She has been teaching multi-age groups from kindergarten kids to adults for seven years. These experiences have been in teaching Chinese, ESL and college test prep. In 2018, she moved to the United States with her husband, and worked as a Chinese teacher for a year in the US school system. Ms. Wu’s motto is “A teacher should pass on principles, impart professional knowledge and help students resolve their doubts”, which was written by one of the ancient China’s educators called Han Yu. That is always the goal she keeps in mind when she’s teaching.
Email: QWu@GALACleveland.org Phone: (216) 315-7942
HuiWen Yeh – Mandarin Immersion Program, Teaching Assistant Intern
Credentials: Bachelor of Art in Teaching Chinese as a Second Language and Applied English, Ming Chuan University
Ms. Yeh is a native speaker from Taiwan. She is currently studying at the department of Teaching Chinese as a Second Language and minoring in Applied English at Ming Chuan University. Additionally, to learn more teaching skills, she also takes educational programs for secondary school teachers. During her years at Ming Chuan University, she was active in school clubs and served as a Chinese teaching assistant at National Taiwan Normal University’s Chinese summer camp. In 2018, Ms. Yeh received an overseas internship, sponsored by the Ministry of Education Taiwan, to work in San Francisco as a student-teacher at the Guang Hui cultural foundation. These experiences taught her how to work with people efficiently. Ms. Yeh loves teaching and getting along with children. She thinks that a teacher should treat every student fairly, be patient with the class, and encourage students to try. In this year, she hopes she can learn more class management from teachers and be a great teaching assistant at GALA.
Email: HYeh@GALACleveland.org Phone: (216) 315-7942
ChengWen Feng – Mandarin Immersion Program, Teaching Assistant Intern
Credentials: Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Mandarin Teaching, National Taitung University
Ms. Feng is a native Mandarin-speaker from beautiful Taiwan. She is double majoring in English literature and Mandarin teaching at National Taitung University. During her school life, she has had many experiences, such as being a teacher assistance at a Chinese immersion camp, serving as a volunteer in Taitung’s hot air balloon festival in Taiwan, and providing tutoring in English. In the summer of 2018, Ms. Feng was an intern in Fulbright Taiwan, helping Fulbright participants prepare to teach classroom skills to use in elementary school in Taiwan. Ms. Feng enjoys reading and having fun with kids. She also loves to sing and play music. This year, she hopes to learn more about the condition of second language learners in GALA. Ms. Feng is excited to be one of the members of GALA and is looking forward to swimming together with kids.
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.
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.
Luz Delgado – Spanish Immersion Program (1st Grade, Lion Room)
Credentials: Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education with a TESOL endorsement, Lake Erie College
Bio: Mrs. Delgado is from León, Guanajuato, México. She immigrated to the United States with her family in 2001. She is the oldest of five siblings and is the second to obtain a college degree in her family. Her love for education developed while working at a Head Start Program as a teacher assistant. Mrs. Delgado obtained an Associate degree of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education in 2015 from Lakeland Community College, where she was honored with the Outstanding Early Childhood Education Student Award. In 2018, she received the Academic Excellence Award for the School of Education and Professional Studies at Lake Erie College. She enjoys supporting her community by volunteering in many activities and works hard building positive and meaningful relationships with the people that surround her. Mrs. Delgado is excited to be part of GALA’s dedicated staff with whom she shares her passion to promote an appreciation for diversity and bilingualism among the students and their families.
Daniel Gutiérrez Brasero – Spanish Immersion Program (1st 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
Sydney Bender – Teacher, Spanish Immersion Program (2nd Grade, Falcon Room)
Miss Sydney grew up in central New Jersey and moved to Hudson, OH in high school. Ever anxious to learn more about the world and its cultures, she undertook coursework in both French and Spanish before matriculating to NYU Shanghai. In pursuit of her degree in Integrated Humanities, she studied history and literature in Shanghai, China, Paris, France and Abu Dhabi, UAE. Her interest in teaching first blossomed as a volunteer English teacher in Morocco in the summer of 2014. Since then, she earned her Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification in Barcelona, Spain and taught English to a group of brilliant students in Cairo, Egypt before returning to the States to pursue educational equity in the Cleveland community through Teach for America. Miss Sydney is excited to join the strong team at GALA to support students’ inquisitive natures and integrate diverse cultural competency with core academics. In the Falcon room, we seek pursue understanding avidly, rigorously and, just as importantly, joyously!
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 (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!
Marta Pinillos Pastor – Teacher, Spanish Immersion Program (3rd & 4th Grade, Hummingbird Room)
Credentials- Bachelor of Art in Elementary Education and Physical Education, University of León
Marta Pinillos is from Murillo de Río Leza, a small village in La Rioja, Spain. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and Physical Education Major, as well as a Master’s Degree in Physical Education in the University of León. Since 2013, Ms. Pinillos has been working without interruption as an Elementary teacher for public schools of the Autonomous Community of La Rioja (Spain). As a teacher, Ms. Pinillos always aims to balance intellectual, physical and moral development of her students. This developmental pass through makes the students a protagonist of their own learning, providing them with environments of active and significant learning, and supports understanding that their individual and group characteristics are linked with their immediate context and future needs.
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.
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.
Tiffany Hill – English Language Arts (2nd Grade)
Credentials: Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a minor in Philosophy, University of Colorado-Boulder
Ms. Hill was born and raised in Cincinnati, and is a University of Colorado-Boulder graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a minor in Philosophy. From college, she joined Teach For America (’16) and pursued her passion to work with children and help educate the next generations. She is currently licensed to teach Pre-K to 3rd grade, as well as a licensed Mild/Moderate Intervention Specialist. She obtained her Master’s in Elementary Education from John Hopkins University- School of Education in May of 2019. This will be her fourth year teaching in a general education classroom. She previously taught third grade reading and Accelerated Reader (AR) at Village Prep – Cliffs for three years. Now, she is beyond excited to teach second grade ELA at GALA, where she knows she will build strong relationships with families, the community, and be able to share her passion for learning with her students.
Diana Maher – English Language Arts (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.
Alyse Flack Brown – English Language Arts (4th Grade)
Credentials: Bachelors of Science in Education
BIO: Mrs. Flack-Brown studied Middle Child Education in English Language Arts and Social Studies at Bowling Green State University, Conflict Management and History at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, and Spanish and Dance at Universidad Veritas in San Jose, Costa Rica. She loves to learn other languages and cultures through reading and travelling and her passion is to spread that love of learning with her students. She has taught 4th grade in Euclid and Spanish to PreK-8th graders in Toledo. Her energetic approach to teaching includes creative hands-on activities, highly engaging opportunities for creative problem solving, and individual student goal setting and monitoring. Her ultimate goals are to lead students to fall in love with reading, confidently explore their talents, be unafraid to conquer difficult challenges in school, and become compassionate, capable global citizens. She looks forward to continuing her teaching career with the GALA community!
Amanda N. Bartko – Intervention Specialist
Credentials: Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and the History of Art & Architecture, University of Pittsburgh
Bio: Ms. Bartko moved to Cleveland after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh. There, she worked with students in various settings; from developmental psychology research projects to a contemporary art museum. Because of her passion for providing a meaningful education to students, Ms. Bartko completed a year of service with City Year Cleveland in 2019, and then transitioned to Teach for America. In her free time, Amanda enjoys working on artistic projects, spending time with friends and family, hiking, and learning about and exploring the city. Ms. Bartko is eager to work with students, their families, and the greater GALA community.
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.
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.