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.

Email: MRogers@GALACleveland.org Mobile: (216) 370-8006

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.

Email: EDavis@GALACleveland.org  Phone: (216) 413-6244

Derrel Stephens  – Dean of Students

Credentials: Bachelor of Arts and Science, University of Toledo

Growing up in Cleveland, I always wanted to make a change. Leaving Cleveland to attend The University of Toledo, it was there I learned just how important making a difference was. I signed on to assist a charter school with the inner city youth in an after school program. Seeing the need for a Dean I quickly answered the call. During my 7 year tenure my passion for education blossomed. Leading me to start mentoring programs within the school, with the program catching the attention of local news and businesses it was validation that a change was being made. Moving back to Cleveland during the pandemic, it is my hope to continue to change and inspire young minds.

Email: DStephens@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.

Email: TGibbons@GALACleveland.org Phone: (216) 512-9880

Tracey Payton-Johnson, School Secretary, 21st CCLC Student Enrichment Administrator

Credentials: Credentials: Master of Science in Psychology, University of Phoenix – Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration, University of Phoenix

Tracey Payton-Johnson has an extensive background working in the non profit, drug and alcohol and the mental health sector and has received numerous certifications and awards. Tracey has been recognized for her efforts on WKYC Channel 3 News, has received awards through the National Counsel of Negro Women (The Lorain County Section), has been recognized in the Morning Journal and The Chronical of Lorain County.  Losing her late husband to a drunk driver in 2016, she made the painful decision to resign as Director of the Mission Services Department through Goodwill Industries of Lorain County. With encouragement from family and friends, she started a non profit organization “The Goal Diggers Fundraising Committee” which consists of thirty women in order to raise money to help those who are less fortunate.  Tracey also opened an online motorcycle apparel store to honor the memory of her late husband.  In her spare time and because tomorrow isn’t promised, Tracey loves to spend time with family and friends and she is constantly giving back to those who can never repay us.

Email: TPaytonJohnson@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

Mrs. Votruba grew up in the beautiful city Yangzhou, China. She went to college and graduate school in Beijing and has worked there as a student counselor for two years. With the desire of working in the Education field, Mrs. Votruba started substitute teaching as an elementary school teacher in Alaska. Through an alternative teaching program, Mrs. Votruba obtained a Colorado teaching license in Elementary Education (K-6) while teaching at a language Immersion school in Colorado Springs. Mrs. Votruba has been working at GALA as one of the founding teachers after her family moved back to Ohio in 2016. She studied at Cleveland State University and received her Ohio Early Childhood (P-3) with (4-5) Endorsement teaching license. The seven years of Mandarin language immersion teaching experience have deepened her understanding of American Education, child development, and the importance of diversity and equity. She loves working with children and enjoys teaching them the Chinese language and culture. She believes every student shines at GALA. Besides teaching, she enjoys hiking/biking/fishing in the Metro Parks and visiting the National Parks with her family.

Email: JVotruba@GALACleveland.org Phone: (216) 315-7942

YanPing Yang – Teacher, 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”.

Email: YYang@GALACleveland.org Mobile: (216) 315-7942

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.

Email: YHuang@GALACleveland.org Phone: (216) 315-7942

Abigail Ordillas – Teacher, Mandarin Immersion Program (Third 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.

Email: AOrdillas@GALACleveland.org Mobile: (216) 315-7942

ChuEn Hsieh (Janet Bingham) – Teacher, 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).

Email: CHsieh@GALACleveland.org Mobile: (216) 315-7942

Minzhi Peng – Teacher, Mandarin Immersion Program (Sixth Grade, Lion Room)

Credentials: Masters of Education Cleveland State University / Masters of Education Hunan Normal University (China) / B.A. from Hunan Normal University

Ms. Peng was born in Hunan, China. Before teaching at GALA, she worked with students in three different countries. She was a college teacher in China, she taught Chinese in a Thai public High School and after she earned her first master degree from Hunan Normal University, she came to United States and taught Mandarin at Shaker Heights City Schools for 4 years. She earned her 2nd master degree at Cleveland State University. She earned her Ohio teaching certificate in preK-12 Education in Chinese.  As a teacher, Ms. Peng believes in caring for every student and differentiating instruction based on students’ needs.

Email: MPeng@GALACleveland.org Mobile: (216) 315-7942

YuHsin Wang – Intern Teaching Assistant, Mandarin Immersion Program

Credentials: Bachelor’s degree, English, National University of Tainan (Taiwan) (2023)

Yu Hsin Wang is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s degree of English at the National University of Tainan (Taiwan). She is a passionate bilingual learner, and eager to contribute to teaching students Mandarin at GALA. With training in elementary educational courses, she has learned high quality audio-lingual teaching methods and has more than one year of experience teaching elementary school students. In 2019, Ms. Wang was a character education teacher at a non-profit organization that helped children gain an understanding of professional knowledge. In early 2021, she was a lecturer in a primary school that motivated learners with dynamic and delightful lessons.

Email: YWang@GALACleveland.org Mobile: (216) 315-7942

Shuoyu Chen – Teaching Assistant, Mandarin Immersion Program

Credentials: Master’s degree in Education, Ashland University – Bachelor’s degree, Translation and Interpretation, Chengdu Institute Sichuan International Studies University, PhD candidate

Shuoyu Chen finds her passion is teaching students Mandarin and how to build connections between learning and lessons. She has Bachelor’s degree in Translation and Interpretation from Chengdu Institute Sichuan International Studies University. She has earned her Master’s degree in Education from Ashland University, and is working on achieving her doctorate. Shuoyu has been working with the Ashland University International Service Office for three years, furthering her connection with multicultural backgrounds. Shuoyu has also been tutoring children in Mandarin for a year. Shuoyu is excited for the opportunity to enhance education for children from all points of view!

Email: SChen@GALACleveland.org Mobile: (216) 315-7942

Karla La Luz Rivera – Teacher, 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.

Email: KLaLuz@GALACleveland.org   Mobile: (216) 315-7942

Hannah Dubyoski – Teacher, 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!

Email: HDubyoski@GALACleveland.org    Mobile: (216) 315-7942

Wanda Torres – Teacher, Spanish Immersion Program (First Grade, Llama Room)

Credentials:  Master’s Degree in Special Education in Mild Disabilities, University of the Caribbean – Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education 4th to 6th with Specialization in Special Education, InterAmerican University of Puerto Rico

Ms. Wanda Torres is from the Caribbean Island, Puerto Rico. She started her passion for teaching as a young child. Her mother has always been her inspiration for her study and her role model in life. Ms. Torres started her studies at the InterAmerican University of Puerto Rico in Elementary Education 4th to 6th with Specialization in Special Education. Soon afterwards, Ms. Torres received her Master’s Degree in Special Education in Mild Disabilities at the University of the Caribbean. Currently, she is continuing her professional training and started a PhD.  Ms. Torres has worked as a teacher for toddlers and preschoolers for the past 4 years. She has also worked as a Special Education teacher, bilingual teacher, head start program teacher and child care provider.  Ms. Torres loves being a teacher and teaching her students. She is extremely happy to be part of the GALA school team.

Email: WTorres@GALACleveland.org     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.

Email: ABosque@GALACleveland.org Phone: (216) 315-7942

Selene Tofani – Teacher, Spanish Immersion Program (Second Grade, Hummingbird Room)

Credentials: Bachelors of Arts from the University of Arizona in Psychology, and Italian Language and Literature

Ms. Tofani was born and raised on the U.S.-Mexico border of Nogales, Arizona. Her love of travel, culture, and languages stem from her bilingual upbringing and her mixed identity. In 2018 she was the first generation to graduate from the University of Arizona and obtain two degrees in Psychology, Italian Language and Literature. During her undergraduate years, she interned at a charter school in Tucson, AZ as the Spanish teacher for an academic school year. She was also awarded a scholarship and another internship opportunity to teach English at a middle school level in Orvieto, Italy. This is Ms. Tofani’s 3rd year teaching in Cleveland, Ohio and she is looking forward to all the new relationships and growth this school year has to offer.

Email: STofani@GALACleveland.org Phone: (216) 315-7942

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!

Email: LAnderson@GALACleveland.org Phone: (216) 315-7942

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!

Email: CDuran@GALACleveland.org Phone: (216) 315-7942

Gabriel Costa – Teacher, Spanish Immersion Program ( Third Grade, Jedi 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

Email: GCosta@GALACleveland.org Phone: (216) 315-7942

Maitane Ruiz Uranga – Teacher, Spanish Immersion Program (Fourth Grade, Whale Room)

Credentials: Bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Basque Country (UPV)

Miss Ruiz was born and raised in Zumaia, Basque Country, Spain. She has been bilingual since she was born, as in the north of Spain where she lives “Basque and Spanish” languages are official. She studied in the University of the Basque Country in San Sebastian and since then she has been travelling and teaching in different countries, such as: Peru, Colombia and England. Apart from teaching she has volunteered for several years with different non-profit organizations, the most important one is called “Darahli” that works with Saharauian Refugees. Miss Ruiz loves discovering new cultures and ways of living, as well as water sports and dancing. She is very excited to join GALA Educational Team!

Email: MRuizUranga@GALACleveland.org Phone: (216) 315-7942

Jordi Brunet Espuela – Teacher, Spanish Immersion Program (Fifth & Sixth Grade, Dolphin Room)

Credentials: Master’s degree in Teaching Spanish as a Second Language, Valencia International University (Spain); Four year Bachelor’s degree in Education major Physical Education from Universidad Isabel I (Spain); Three year Bachelor’s degree in Teaching Universitat de Vic (Spain)

Sr. Brunet Espuela has been teaching since 2008. He has taught in Barcelona (Spain) and Mansfield (Ohio) as an elementary teacher, and in Winterthur (Switzerland) as a Second Language Teacher.  Born and raised in Barcelona and fluent in Catalan, Spanish, Italian (University of Perugia), and English (Cambridge University) and with a good command of French and German, he loves learning and teaching languages. He is delighted to be part of the GALA team and to guide the students on their adventure of learning through languages. “Learning another language is not only learning different words for the same things, but learning another way to think about things.” Flora Lewis

Email: JBrunetEspuela@GALACleveland.org Phone: (216) 315-7942

Keyshla Mercado – Teacher, English Language Arts (Kindergarten)

Credentials: Bachelor’s degree Psychology, Cleveland State University

Miss Mercado (also known as Miss M) was born in Puerto Rico. She moved to Cleveland, OH when she was 6 years old and has lived in Cleveland her entire life.  Miss Mercado knew she wanted to be a teacher when she was in the third grade tutoring students. She is a CMSD graduate, as well as a first generation college graduate.  Miss Mercado graduated from John Carroll University in 2017.  Her love and appreciation of being brought up in a bilingual home and school setting reinforced her passion for teaching at dual language schools. She taught at Luis Munoz Marin, teaching Math, Science, and Spanish Language Arts to second graders for three years. Miss Mercado enjoys movies, traveling, attending concerts and being around family. Her passion and love for teaching lead her to GALA. She is thankful to be a part of a very supportive and welcoming school family.

Email: KMercado@GALACleveland.org Phone: (216) 315-7942

Wynter Pitts – Teacher, 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.

Email: WPitts@GALACleveland.org Phone: (216) 315-7942

Nadia Vaidwatie Dabydeen – Teacher, English Language Arts (Second Grade)

Credentials: Bachelor’s of Science, Early Childhood Education, Cleveland State University

Nadia, known by her students as Ms. Nadia, proudly calls Cleveland home. She is the oldest of 4 siblings, whom she considers to be her first students. Ms. Nadia discovered her passion for teaching and learning while living in Madrid, Spain. She loves traveling, especially back to Spain and Mexico. Ms. Nadia received her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Cleveland State University. She previously taught kindergarten and first grade.  Ms. Nadia is excited to be a part of GALA and hopes to foster a lifelong love for learning in her students.

Email: NDabydeen@GALACleveland.org Phone: (216) 315-7942

Shayla Ivezzy – Teacher, English Language Arts (Third Grade)

Credentials: Bachelors of Arts, Spelman College, Masters of Science, Education, John Hopkins University (2022)

Ms. Ivezzy was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. She is a graduate of CMSD schools and a first generation graduate student and educator. Ms. Ivezzy studied pre-law at Spelman College and started her career in law at the Cleveland Municipal Court. Ms. Ivezzy is a CMBA Louis Stokes Scholar and Cleveland Leadership Center Program Graduate. Ms. Ivezzy has a passion for education and civic engagement which led to her transition into education in 2017. She is a 2019 Teach for America Corp Member and holds dual licensure in early childhood education and K-12 mild/moderate intervention. Ms. Ivezzy believes in the potential of all learners and has committed to pursuing equity in education. From the courtroom to the classroom, “advocacy is the name of her game.” We welcome Ms. Ivezzy and her excitement in joining GALA in our mission to cultivate global citizens.

Email: SIvezzy@GALACleveland.org Phone: (216) 315-7942

Alyse Flack Brown – Teacher, English Language Arts (Fourth & Fifth Grade)

Credentials:  Bachelors of Science in Education

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!

Email: AFlackBrown@GALACleveland.org Phone: (216) 315-7942

Mark Sellards – Teacher, English Language Arts & Social Studies (Fifth & Sixth Grade)

Credentials:  Master’s degree in Elementary Education from Ohio State University, Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Ohio University

Mr. Sellards grew up in Springfield, Ohio and attended the Ohio University Scripps School of Journalism where he learned to become a professional writer. He has worked as both an editor and a writer for a variety of publications including newspapers, magazines and websites. Early in his writing career he took a part-time job as and aide at a local elementary school in Ashland, Ohio where he found out quickly that he also loved working with children as a mentor. He decided to pursue a second career as a teacher and earned a Master’s degree in education. He has been a professional educator for more than 18 years, and he is excited to help students at GALA develop a passion for the written word, by both reading other accomplished writers and by learning the tools to become excellent writers themselves. Mr. Sellards resides in Bedford with his wife and two teenage sons.

Email: MSellards@GALACleveland.org Phone: (216) 315-7942

Bethany Wilson-Araujo – Intervention Specialist, Title Teacher

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: BAraujo@GALACleveland.org Phone: (216) 315-7942

Lauren Jasica – Teacher, Physical Education

Credentials:  Bachelors of Science, Physical Education, Sports Administration, Kent State University.  

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.

Email: LJasica@GALACleveland.org Phone: (216) 315-7942

Matthew Munson – Integrated Arts

Credentials: Bachelor of Fine Arts, Illustration, School of Visual Arts, New York City | Associate of Arts in Indonesian Language and Culture, Presidio/Defense Language Institute of Monterey, CA | Teach for America, Tulsa, OK

Mr. Munson is thrilled to lead GALA’s student-centered art studio. Mr. Munson’s love and appreciation of art, as well as his passion for creating art, has been a common thread throughout his entire life.

While serving in the United States Marine Corps, he obtained his Associate of Arts in the Indonesian Language and Culture at the Presidio/Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA in 2014. Mr. Munson went on to earn his BFA in Illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York City (2019), where he excelled in Printmaking, Painting, Color Studies, and Life Drawing.

Over the past two years, Mr. Munson enjoyed working with middle school students and their families at Citizens Leadership Academy Southeast in Cleveland, creating/developing curricula in Science and Outdoor Leadership, utilizing a variety of technologies and online methods while teaching courses. He also developed and organized the CLAS Art Club and ensured that each student found an opportunity to showcase their individual creative strengths while supporting them in areas where they could grow.

Mr. Munson is looking forward to creating an energetic, positive learning environment that is student-centered and also developing venues where all students will showcase their amazing creations.

Email: MMunson@GALACleveland.org Phone: (216) 315-7942

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