The Educational Coordinators and Support Staff
of Pivot North Valley
Educational Coordinators and Education Specialists
Pivot Charter School provides instruction to students through a robust standards-based online curriculum supported by class offerings at our resource center, tutoring, strong oversight and academic support. The school is a “blend” of online curriculum with resource center support.
The role of the teacher at Pivot Charter School is to monitor student progress online daily, provide feedback, encouragement, and support to students. They provide academic support in their areas of expertise for students needing help and produce accurate, timely and compliant documentation of independent study attendance. Teachers do not necessarily provide direct instruction to a “class” of students on a daily basis but are at our resource centers every day. Teachers, also known as Educational Coordinators, counsel, mentor, provide oversight, direction and whatever support it takes to help students succeed in their academic endeavors.
Education Specialists play a crucial role in the education of Pivot’s students with Individualized Education Plans. Each student with an IEP will have an Education Specialist who will help them achieve their goals through regular support.
Brenda grew up in North County San Diego and graduated from CSU, San Marcos with a degree in Social Sciences. She loves international travel and has worked on community development in Australia and Costa Rica. Becoming fluent in Spanish is one of her life goals. Brenda was drawn to education as a field that empowers future generations. Working with young people to help them reach their goals and see them thrive is what inspires her to be a part of Pivot Charter Schools. Brenda enjoys all outdoor activities and visiting her sister in Bend, Oregon.
Sara received her B.A. in Linguistics and English Education from CSU, Chico. She worked as a Logistics Analyst and Purchaser in the Bay Area and a Marketing Communications Specialist in Tahoe before returning to Chico State for her M.A. in Education. Sara is passionate about creating positive learning experiences for students that enable their growth and development as lifelong learners. She enjoys working at Pivot Charter School because it allows teachers to form meaningful connections with students and individualize instruction while meeting standards and reaching higher goals. Sara loves traveling, backpacking, swimming, cooking, and so many other things, especially when she can enjoy them with her husband, Corey, and daughter, Ruby.
Sam was born and raised in a little town outside of Chicago called Valparaiso, Indiana. When he graduated high school, Sam was drawn to the mountains and nature of California, so he moved out west and went to college at Humboldt State University. Sam received his bachelor’s degree in Geography and developed a passion for travel and seeing the world. Later, he went back to school at Butte College here in Chico and completed the pre-requisites for medical school thinking that maybe he had a future as a doctor. At the last second, Sam pulled the plug on that idea and decided to get my teaching credential in Chemistry and be a teacher. This will be Sam’s 7th year teaching and he really love the model that Pivot offers. Some things Sam really enjoys are hiking, biking, travel, reading, food, cooking, and all things related to fitness. Sam has also been a pretty dedicated yoga practitioner for about a decade now and more recently come to like weightlifting.
Susan Raven was raised in Chico and graduated from Chico High School in 1983. She received a BS in Math/Physics from CSU Los Angeles in 1992, her teaching credential from CSU Chico in 1999, and an MA in Applied Statistics from Penn State in 2013. Susan has been at Pivot for 9 years and has seen students thrive in the flexible and accommodating environment Pivot offers while simultaneously becoming empowered learners. She loves the ability of the Pivot EC to provide personalized academic counseling to students who don’t even know what questions to ask but don’t stop asking questions once they start to explore their options. When Susan is not working she enjoys spending time with her daughter in Southern California, traveling, gardening, cooking, and spending time with friends, family and her many pets.
As an English teacher, Tim has always maintained the goal of enabling students to be more effective communicators. As a History teacher he tries to imbue their communication with understanding and context, a task he finds increasingly important today. He has had a desire to teach and reach young people since he was relatively young. He began pursuing his career at both Chico and San Francisco State Universities immediately after high school, while simultaneously pursuing a career as a musician. In his 9 years of teaching, Tim has worked in traditional classrooms in 9th-12th grades at various schools throughout the Bay Area, but, as a former independent study student, he feels most at home working at Pivot and the unique student population with whom he identifies very closely. He still plays music, and sometimes this endeavor takes him abroad and keeps him very busy. It enables him to find common ground and connect with students on a personal level, thereby building a better rapport with students and families alike. Establishing this accord between these three parties is an essential quality of an Educational Coordinator and the one to which Tim attributes his success.
Chris was born, raised, and spent most of his life residing in Chico, Ca. He has spent a significant amount of time playing competitive and recreational sports in the community, has a love of the outdoors, enjoys snowboarding in the winter, and plays guitar and bass in various local bands. Chris graduated from California State University, Chico where he received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and eventually earned Education Specialist and Social Science teaching credentials. Chris has spent seven years working in education as a Paraprofessional working one-to-one with a talented young man diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy. This will be Chris’ second full year as a full-time Education Specialist, and he is excited to continue the work with the awesome students and dedicated Pivot staff. His goal is to help young people find a passion in life, develop it as well as evolve and create meaning in their lives.
Travis grew up in Elk Grove, CA and graduated from Sacramento State with a degree in liberal studies and a minor in mathematics. He holds a single subject credential in math and has been teaching since 2006. Travis has worked at Pivot since 2013 as an Educational Coordinator and as a Site Administrator. He and his wife have two sons and have lived in Chico since 2011. He enjoys movies, sports, and spending time with his family and friends. One of the best things that he loves about working at Pivot, is the flexibility the program offers to students and families who may be looking for something new or different. Travis loves to be able to help students design a program that fits their needs, and is happy to have been a part of the Pivot family for so long.
Brooke Van Arsdale
Education Specialist & RtI Coordinator
Brooke Van Arsdale
Brooke grew up in Western North Carolina and attended University in Tennessee, where she majored in English Literature and Secondary Education and minored in Mathematics. After graduating with her Bachelors of Arts in 2012, Brooke spent a year teaching 9th grade Algebra. Afterward, she obtained a Masters of Education in Special Education and worked as an Inclusion Teacher for two years. After moving to California, she worked at a Non-Public School for two years, serving students with higher levels of need. Brooke began working at Pivot in 2017. She loves working with students with a variety of backgrounds and needs. She works to create a collaborative and supportive environment for her students at Pivot. When not working, Brooke enjoys spending time with her family and exploring national parks.
Bio coming soon!
Alex Braden was born and raised in Santa Rosa. He has dabbled in a little bit of everything, from Engineering and Chemistry to Game Design and Writing. He strives to learn something new every day and feels that the only thing needed to be exceptional in a field or topic is the right teacher.
Kristen is a Northern California native, growing up and going to school in the East Bay area. Kristen began talking about being a teacher “when she grew up” from as young as four years old. In college, she studied creative writing (her other passion) and earned her BA in English/Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. After some time spent traveling in Europe and living in Scandanavia, Kristen returned to earn her Single Subject Teaching Credential in English at Cal State University Sacramento where a strong emphasis was placed on social justice and equity in education. She worked as an English and reading intervention teacher for two years at Armijo High School in Fairfield, before leaving to pursue a career in alternative education. She is so happy to have found a home at Pivot where a holistic approach to education leads every student on their unique path to success! When she isn’t teaching, she loves writing, playing and listening to music, hiking, catching up on her favorite shows on Netflix and spending time with her family and friends.
Theresa thoroughly enjoys working with the highly collaborative Pivot team of professionals and the unique educational setting it offers. She was deeply moved after attending her first Pivot graduation and witnessed the transformational impact of personalized learning on student growth and success. Theresa is excited about her role at Pivot and expanding the learning opportunities for our students.
She loves spending time with family and friends, often hiking, being at the coast, or exploring a different park trail. Theresa recently caught the Pickleball craze and is often hitting the courts after work. She still becomes flabbergasted at the Pickleball-sized hole that mysteriously appears in her racquet on occasion.
Special Education Administrative Assistant
Barbara was born and raised in New York and New Jersey and relocated to California to be near family. She earned a special education teaching credential and M.A. at Fresno State and taught special education for 18 years at Fresno Unified School District. Barbara was an adjunct professor at Fresno State University in the special education department for 8 years, preparing teaching candidates. She moved to Sonoma County to be near her two grandsons and joined the Pivot Team in the role of special education administrative assistant in November 2016.
Reading Intervention Specialist
Shayna Calkins is from Kauai, Hawaii and received a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Language Arts/Secondary Education from Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. She loves learning about new cultures and has taught in The United States, South Korea, Albania, and Taiwan. She also has previous experience working for Upward Bound, Project Mentor, and the Des Moines Public Library. Shayna enjoys reading, writing, volunteering, gardening, swimming, hiking, and spending time with her husband and their new baby girl. She also holds a Master’s in Secondary Education and plans to continue her goal of being a life-long learner.
Julianne is a San Diego native and math nerd. She has taught math for 11 years, in 6 different schools, on 2 coasts. She holds degrees in Mathematics and Secondary Education and Curriculum and Instruction. When she isn’t busy obsessing over numbers, she enjoys time with her husband and two boys, going to the beach, watching movies, campaigning for the clean beauty movement, baking, and exercising.
Shahram holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in chemistry and organic chemistry and loves all things science. He enjoys helping students realize science is fascinating and not a subject to be feared. He is married with two young adult children and in his free time loves gardening and bicycling.
Tiago lives in Shasta County, CA and started his career as a California credentialed teacher in 2017 at a local personalized learning school such as Pivot and later at a large high school. He has three single subject credentials for Information and Communication Technologies, Business and Finance and Marketing, Sales and Services. He has supported a Tehama county school district as a Technology Support Specialist, Shasta County Office of Education as a Information Technology Analyst and the Office of State Publishing Department at the Capitol building in Sacramento as a technology consultant. Besides his love for technology, Tiago is also a language consultant for different government organizations and technology companies such as The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, Google, Sony and many others. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with family and friends, working as a volunteer and traveling around the world.
Jenny was born and raised in Huntington Beach, CA where she spent most of her childhood in and out of the ocean or pool. She received her B.A. in English and a minor in Health Science, and later her M.A in Literacy Instruction, from Michigan State University. Jenny has lived in the midwest and the southwest of the United States, but has called Chico home for several years. When working with students, she strives to create meaningful relationships that are grounded in promoting a love for learning. Jenny has taught in grades 7 through 12 but finds working at Pivot Charter School refreshing and meaningful as it gives her the ability to work one on one with students in a unique and dynamic setting. When not working with students, she enjoys spending time with her husband and teenage daughters; as a family, they love traveling, cooking, reading, crafting, and cheering for the Michigan State Spartans.
Joanna has happily been a part of Pivot’s English Department team since 2015. She has been teaching middle school and high school English and history since 2003 throughout California before joining Pivot. She holds a Master’s degree from California State University, Fresno. She loves working at Pivot and helping all of our incredible students achieve their goals and become stronger writers. In her spare time, Joanna enjoys quality time with her family, music, road trips, reading, and the beach.
Chelsea Van der Heide
Chelsea Van der Heide
Chelsea was born and raised in San Francisco but moved to San Diego in 2008 where she attended San Diego State for her undergraduate degree. Chelsea majored in Political Science and Women’s Studies with a minor in history. During college, Chelsea volunteered with the organization Girls on the Run where she helped young adults train for a 5K. She worked as a kindergarten teacher at a Montessori school for five years before going back to SDSU to obtain her teaching credential in History/Social Studies. Before coming to Pivot, Chelsea worked as a 6th-grade History teacher and ASB leader. During her free time she loves spending time with her fiance, friends, and mini Goldendoodle; Mr. Baba Ganoush. She loves cooking new recipes, journaling, and taking long walks on Coronado Beach. Chelsea is passionate about implementing restorative practices in her classroom and nurturing her students’ social and emotional mindset.
Grader (Physical Education & Art)
Shawn has a degree in Art and Art History and a multiple subject teaching credential from SSU. One of the most rewarding teaching moments for her is when she gets to observe how students express themselves creatively through art when words can’t describe how they feel. Shawn looks forward to centering the needs of students at Pivot and contributing to an environment of mindfulness and reciprocity. During her own time, she does something that makes her happy every day. Whether it’s playing with her two kids, hiking, riding bikes, or helping her husband with garden projects – they are her favorite parts of the day.
1st you do it for yourself, then you do it for friends and then you do it for money:
As a teenager, Craig loved ski racing and became the youngest instructor in ski school. He was mentored by a biology professor/professional ski instructor who planted the seed of becoming a life-long learner by teaching others. After ski school he found work as a river guide, a college trip leader, taking friends climbing, and discovering new trails on a mountain bike. He found great meaning by sharing new skills with others, especially younger people.
After college Craig first worked in biotech, and later in computer technology, but he wasn’t satisfied. One brave day he applied to graduate school and earned a Master’s degree in Education. Like many students, he thinks he found the ideal environment at Pivot.
Pivot has proven to be a campus of kindness and respect that strives to find an ideal work environment that first engages students. He strives to bring a culture that blends student needs, teacher satisfaction, technology, and an entrepreneurial spirit, together to create a safe real-life model of the outside world.
Chief Business Officer
Liz has always loved math, and she finds happiness in teaching others. Her favorite thing about Pivot Charter Schools is the ability to tailor students’ education plans to meet their individual needs and goals. Liz grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, graduated from UCSD with a Bachelor’s degree in Cognitive Science, and earned her teaching credential in Mathematics from SDSU. She loves rowing, music, cooking, puzzles, and backpacking.
As Chief Business Officer, Liz works with a wide range of staff and contractors to manage the financial operations that make Pivot Charter Schools possible. Liz has been with Pivot since 2010, and looks forward to serving Pivot’s students and families in many diverse ways in the years to come!
Director of Systems and Accountability
Born and raised in Southern California, Lindsey Vining has her Bachelor’s degree from UC Santa Barbara in Mathematics and her Master’s degree from Oregon State University in Mathematics Education. As a credentialed teacher, Lindsey has taught at the middle school, high school, and college levels. She enjoys working with students of all ages, backgrounds, and experiences to increase their understanding and enthusiasm to learn. As a school administrator, she enjoys supporting staff and students reach their full potential. At home, Lindsey enjoys spending time with her family, going to the beach, gardening, and taking care of her rescue animals.
Director of Human Resources
Brittany Daugherty is a graduate of Plumas Charter School. She works as Director of Human Resources for all 4 Pivot schools. She enjoys traveling and reading, as well as spending time with her family and friends. She loves being a part of the Pivot team and looks forward to working with new students and families.
Luis is native of South America, where he spent most of his youth. He received his B.A in Spanish Linguistics and M.S in Counseling with a specialization in school counseling, and Child Welfare and Attendance from California State University Dominguez Hills. Luis has been working as a College Counselor for over five years, and it is his greatest joy to help students guide them to reach their life goals. Luis has a great interest for languages and other cultures. His favorite hobbies are spending time with his family, traveling, and playing online video games.
Director of Student Services
Kareen Poulsen is a fourth generation Santa Rosa citizen and graduated from Santa Rosa High School before attending U.C. Davis, where she played volleyball for four years, rowed crew for two years and still managed to receive a BA in English. After 25 years as the CFO for an Investment Corporation, she decided to pursue her dream of becoming a full-time teacher and went on to receive her teaching credential in Mathematics from Sonoma State University. She previously taught Math at Pivot and has now moved into the role of Director of Student Services for all four resource centers. Kareen also serves as the Title IX Coordinator for Pivot Charter School. For information on Title IX, click here. She enjoys spending time with family, going to the beach, hiking, traveling, reading books and watching good movies. As a part of the Pivot Charter School Team since 2013, Kareen is devoted to using her education and experience to help students succeed.
Accounts Payable Clerk
Cindy Spencer was born in Placerville, California and raised in Placer County. She was fourth among five brothers and a sister, so she grew up in a very competitive environment. She attended Sierra Junior College and after two years transferred to American River College for her English degree. Enjoying the best of many industries, Cindy worked both in the public and private sectors of the land use industry. After the building industry fallout, Cindy moved into managing a Chiropractic office for nearly five years. Through that experience, Cindy was sought out to close out a teaching program for the Sacramento Office of Education for three years. She taught the Medical and Chiropractic Assistance program to at-risk adults. This program was fulfilling in that after 300 hours of class and hands-on training, she was tasked to place each student in a medical/chiropractic office for 250 hours of internship. Her last graduating class was 86% employed at the time of graduation.
Cindy has two sons, both Placer County Deputy Sheriffs who live also in the Roseville area. She also has two grandchildren. Her non-working hours are spent hiking and kayaking, golfing and playing volleyball. Before accepting this wonderful position with Pivot, Cindy spent six months in South America, backpacking through Ecuador, Argentina & Chile, enjoying the adventure of a new culture.
Jayna Gaskell has worked in education for more than 30 years. Gaskell holds a Masters degree in secondary education from Emory University. After teaching grades 4-12 in Florida and Georgia, Gaskell moved to California in 1993 to serve as Director of Admissions and Academics of a small boarding and day school for four years. In 1998 Gaskell co-founded and directed a California charter school for five years. Gaskell has presented multiple statewide workshops on Independent Study, Governance, Renewal, Special Education and Strategic Planning with the Charter Schools Development Center, CANEC and other educational agencies throughout California. Ms. Gaskell also established a highly successful charter school consulting business assisting schools by drafting and reviewing charter petitions, writing grants, creating charter renewals, developing staffing plans, WASC Self Study documents, educational plans and school wide improvement plans, and conducting governance trainings, compliance reviews and strategic planning projects. She served a two year term on the State Superintendent’s Advisory Commission on Charter Schools, and has participated in the US Department of Education and the Office of Civil Rights Summit on Charter Schools and Special Education for four years. In addition to serving many CA charter schools, Gaskell has worked with charter schools in Fl, TN, OR and AZ. She has worked with over 200 schools in the last 10 years. She served as a founding board member and chair of the Board of the California Montessori Project, one of the largest public Montessori schools in operation for 10 years. Ms. Gaskell has been Executive Director for Pivot Charter Schools since November 2010.
Executive Assistant & COVID-19 Coordinator
Bio coming soon!
Serge V. Koblik
Serge was born in Ukraine and lived there until he immigrated to California with his family at the age of 8. He began attending US school in third grade learning both the culture and language of his new country. He struggled through middle and high school and lacked motivation to learn. While taking general education courses at his local community college, he stumbled upon the science of psychology and became incredibly fascinated with this discipline. Transferring from his community college to Sacramento State University, he obtained his B.A. in Psychology and continued to pursue his M.A. in Education (School Psychology).
Currently, Serge lives in Sacramento, CA with his wife and two sons where he practices as a School Psychologist at a local school district as well as Pivot North Valley. He is also an Associate Professional Clinical Counselor and intends to test for Licensed Educational Psychologist (LEP) to begin his private practice in a part time capacity. Serge’s professional interests include bilingual assessment, autism and emotional disturbance. In his free time Serge enjoys spending time with his sons and wife, preferably on the ski slopes, poolside at his house or lakeside with a fishing pole in hand. He also enjoys serving at his local church where he promotes mental health and parental advocacy for special education students.
Paraprofessional / Classroom Aide
Megan grew up on the Central Coast of California and earned her Bachelor’s in Liberal Studies from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She has been an educator in some capacity for the past 16 years, including teaching private music lessons, coaching volleyball, being a parent educator for children with special needs, and aiding in K-12 classrooms. She relocated to Chico in 2018 and loves the many opportunities for hiking and exploring with her husband and kids. She most enjoys the simple pleasures in life, including gardening, cooking, and taking her dog for long walks.