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.
Ericka Davis – Principal
Credentials: Masters in Curriculum and Instruction, University of Phoenix, Bachelors of Education/Concentration in Early Childhood PreK-3, Cleveland State University
Ms. Ericka Davis has 15 years of experience as an educator. She has taught 12 years within the classroom from grades Pre-K to 5th grade. After teaching in the classroom, Ms. Davis joined the administrative staff through Curriculum and Instruction for grades Pre-K through 8th grade. She continued her aspirations to lead and was the Head of Schools for a charter school in Cleveland. Ms. Davis continues to sharpen her teaching skills through teaching Chinese students English skills and concepts online through VIPKid. She is a graduate of Cleveland State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. She also has a Master’s Degree from the University of Phoenix for Curriculum and Instruction. Ms. Davis is a certified Real Time Teacher Coach for educators for management as well as instruction. Ms. Davis grew up in East Cleveland and is a proud graduate of East Cleveland public schools. She is the first high school and college graduate of her siblings. Ms. Davis is the proud mother of a son and resides in Cleveland with her family.
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.
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
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 (First 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 (Second 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.
Abigail Ordillas – Mandarin Immersion Program (Third & Fourth Grade, Phoenix Room)
Credentials: Bachelor of Arts, Majors: Anthropology and Chinese Language & Literature, Davidson College
Ms. Ordillas was born and raised in Cleveland, OH and is a proud daughter of immigrants from the Philippines. Growing up, she studied Mandarin and owes much of her passion for language-learning to her Mandarin teachers. She strives to instill this same passion in her students. She studied Anthropology and Chinese Language & Literature at Davidson College. During her undergraduate studies, she mentored and taught students in the U.S., China, and Taiwan. Her commitment to cross-cultural education has driven her to serve as a blogger with the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, as an education consultant in Beijing, and as a fifth-grade teacher at Citizens Academy in Cleveland, OH with Teach for America. The belief that all children deserve excellent and equitable education guides her work. She is thrilled to help GALA’s brilliant students achieve academic excellence, bilingualism, and global leadership.
ChuEn Hsieh (Janet Bingham) – Mandarin Immersion Program (Fourth & Fifth Grade, Bear Room)
Credentials: Master of English Language Teaching at The University of Nottingham, UK / Bachelor of Interpretation and Translation at Chang Jung Christian University, Taiwan / Elementary School Teaching Program at Chang Jung Christian University, Taiwan
Mrs. Hsieh (also known as Janet Bingham) is originally from Taiwan and has dedicated herself to becoming a life-long educator and learner in bilingual education. She holds her master degree in English Language Teaching from The University of Nottingham, UK and is a certified elementary school teacher in Taiwan. She has worked as a teacher in Costa Rica, Taiwan, and The United States. Mrs. Hsieh taught Chinese at New Century International Elementary School and 71st High School in North Carolina for 2 years. Most recently, she taught in an international preparatory studies program in a bilingual school in Taiwan. When not teaching, Mrs.Hsieh loves traveling and playing music (piano).
Karla La Luz Rivera – Spanish Immersion Program (Kindergarten, Butterfly Room)
Credentials: Bachelor degree in Early Childhood Education, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus/ Montessori guide for infants and toddlers certification, Instituto Nueva Escuela (INE)
Ms. La Luz is from the beautiful island of Puerto Rico, located in the Caribbean. She has 10 years of experience teaching young children. She graduated in 2010 from the Universidad de Puerto Rico and after that she worked as a Montessori guide for infant and toddlers in a developing community in San Juan, Puerto Rico for 7 years. In 2017, after hurricane Maria devastated the island, she and her husband decided to move to Cleveland, Ohio. After relocating to Cleveland, Ms. La Luz worked for two years as a preschool teacher in Gordon Square with The Centers for Families and Children. She enjoys being surrounded by nature, that’s why she loves to go hiking, biking, kayaking, exploring and traveling.
Hannah Dubyoski – Spanish Immersion Program (Kindergarten, Giraffe Room)
Credentials: Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, John Carroll University
Mrs. Dubyoski grew up in Bay Village, Ohio as the 2nd youngest of 4 siblings. She graduated from John Carroll University in 2012. During her time at John Carroll, she traveled to El Salvador and Ecuador, and studied abroad in Spain. These travels instilled in her a passion for the Spanish language and hispanic cultures. After graduating from John Carroll, she spent a year as a volunteer English Teacher in Guayaquil, Ecuador, which strengthened her love of the Spanish Language and instilled in her a love of teaching and a passion for language immersion. When she returned to Ohio, she pursued her teaching licence and has been a Spanish Teacher for the past 4 years. She is excited to join the GALA Team and to contribute to the bilingual education of her students here at GALA!
Sara Knapp (Treviño) – Spanish Immersion Program (First Grade, Llama Room)
Credentials: Bachelor of Arts, Political Science, Kent State University
Mrs. Knapp is an Arizona native and has been living in the northeast Ohio region for the last five years. She studied Political Science and International Relations at Kent State University. She is a 2018 Greater Cleveland alum with the non-profit organization, Teach for America. Mrs. Knapp grew up in a bilingual home and has a passion for the Spanish language. She is an advocate for Spanish education and equal learning opportunities for all students. She has traveled extensively and lived abroad in both Guatemala and Chile. She is very excited to be entering her 3rd year with GALA and her first year in 1st grade.
Mobile: (216) 315-7942
Alexander Bosque – Teacher, Spanish Immersion Program (First Grade, Macaw Room)
Credentials: Bachelor of Arts, Criminology, The Ohio State University
Mr. Bosque was born and raised in a bilingual household in Cleveland, Ohio. Following his graduation from college he first served one year with AmeriCorps in Bridgeport, CT as a math/ELA teacher assistant and math tutor. Following that Alex served as a team leader for AmeriCorps NCCC where he served with many non-profit organizations including The Boys and Girls club of Chelsea, OK and of Miami, OK where he and his team were able to program for their upcoming summer camps. Right after his service with AmeriCorps, he joined the Peace Corps Costa Rica team where he worked alongside Costa Rican counter-parts teaching English as a foreign language. He is now a corps member for the non-profit organization, Teach for America, and is excited to meet the students and families of GALA.
Sydney Bender – Teacher, Spanish Immersion Program (Second Grade, Falcon Room)
Credentials: Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Integrated Humanities, New York University Shanghai
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!
Lauren Anderson – Teacher, Spanish Immersion Program (Second Grade, Owl Room)
Credentials: Bachelor of Arts, Economics and Spanish, Wheaton College
Miss Anderson was born and raised in Troy, Ohio, and is a Corps Member from the non-profit organization, Teach for America. She studied Economics and Spanish at Wheaton College (Illinois), and graduated in May 2019. During her time in college, she had the opportunity to study in Costa Rica and Cuba. After graduating, she pursued her passion for language learning and love of working with students by working at a high school in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico through a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship during the 2019-2020 academic year. Miss Anderson is honored and excited to meet the students and families of GALA!
Christian Duran – Teacher, Spanish Immersion Program (Third 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!
Gabriel Costa – Teacher, Spanish Immersion Program ( Fourth & Fifth Grade, Bats (Los Murciélagos) Room)
Credentials: Master’s degree in Education. Kent State University, Bachelor’s degree in Education from Kent State University and Ohio State University. Endorsements from Ashland University, University of Texas at Tyler and Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla (UPAEP)
Sr. Costa has been an educator all his adult life. He grew up near Cleveland but has lived in Puebla, Mexico, where he has family, and has taught in Houston, Texas and Central Ohio. He is looking forward to re-establishing his roots in Northeast Ohio while maintaining a modest farm with his wife and son in Crestline, Ohio. He is particularly excited to join the team at GALA since he strongly believes that being multilingual is a super power that brings endless opportunities. “One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way” – Frank Smith
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 (First 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 (Third 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 (Fourth & Fifth 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.
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.
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.