23-24 School Year Information Learn More
Discover Our Staff

Discover Our Staff

Abra
Shay

Community Schools Program Chair

Abra Shay

Abra Shay

Community Schools Program Chair

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Adonahi
Ascencio

Family Engagement Coordinator

Adonahi Ascencio

Adonahi Ascencio

Family Engagement Coordinator

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Ahjia
Moore

Restorative Practices Director

Ahjia Moore

Ahjia Moore

Restorative Practices Director

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Ahmire
McKoy

School Psychologist

Ahmire McKoy

Ahmire McKoy

School Psychologist

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Aleida
Cajahuaringa

Speech and Language Pathologist Assistant

Aleida Cajahuaringa

Aleida Cajahuaringa

Speech and Language Pathologist Assistant

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Aleksandra
Vargas

Cluster Data Coordinator

Aleksandra Vargas

Aleksandra Vargas

Cluster Data Coordinator

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Alexander
Huerta

Cloud Support Manager

Alexander Huerta

Alexander Huerta

Cloud Support Manager

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Alexandra
Duggins

Mathematics Instructional Coach

Alexandra Duggins

Alexandra Duggins

Mathematics Instructional Coach

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Alexandra
Lee

Vice President of Academic Initiatives

Alexandra Lee

Alexandra Lee

Vice President of Academic Initiatives

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Alexandra
Martinez Ramirez

Speech and Language Pathologist Assistant

Alexandra Martinez Ramirez

Alexandra Martinez Ramirez

Speech and Language Pathologist Assistant

Contact

Ally
Nanji

School Psychologist

Ally Nanji

Ally Nanji

School Psychologist

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Amanda
Akens

Speech & Language Pathologist

Amanda Akens

Amanda Akens

Speech & Language Pathologist

Contact

Ana
Vargas

Vice President of Human Resources

Ana Vargas

Ana Vargas

Vice President of Human Resources

Contact

Angel
Cerritos

Transition Specialist

Angel Cerritos

Angel Cerritos

Transition Specialist

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Angelina
Calderon

Vice President of Outreach and Engagement

Angelina Calderon

Angelina Calderon

Vice President of Outreach and Engagement

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Ashley
Colburn

Director of Teacher Induction and Development

Ashley Colburn

Ashley Colburn

Director of Teacher Induction and Development

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Aya
Cheung

Controller

Aya Cheung

Aya Cheung

Controller

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Bridget
Sibley

Speech & Language Pathologist

Bridget Sibley

Bridget Sibley

Speech & Language Pathologist

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Carla
Aguirre

School Psychologist

Carla Aguirre

Carla Aguirre

School Psychologist

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Carlos
Cordova

Maintenance

Carlos Cordova

Carlos Cordova

Maintenance

Contact

Carmen
Garcia-Shushtari

Senior Manager, Marketing

Carmen Garcia-Shushtari

Carmen Garcia-Shushtari

Senior Manager, Marketing

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Carolina
Mora

Speech and Language Pathologist Assistant

Carolina Mora

Carolina Mora

Speech and Language Pathologist Assistant

Contact

China
Habte

Head of Accounting & Fiscal Services

China Habte

China Habte

Head of Accounting & Fiscal Services

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Clara
Garay

Lead Instructional Mentor

Clara Garay

Clara Garay

Lead Instructional Mentor

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Claudia
Jerez Sneed

Claudia Jerez Sneed

Claudia Jerez Sneed

Contact

Daisy
Gomez

School Data Specialist

Daisy Gomez

Daisy Gomez

School Data Specialist

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Daniel
Garcia

Cluster Data Lead

Daniel Garcia

Daniel Garcia

Cluster Data Lead

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Daniela
Feria

IT Helpdesk

Daniela Feria

Daniela Feria

IT Helpdesk

Contact

Dawn
North

Wellness Coordinator

Dawn North

Dawn North

Wellness Coordinator

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Dr. Eliza
Kimly

Head of Schools, wý

Dr. Eliza Kimly

Dr. Eliza Kimly

Head of Schools, wý

Dr. Eliza KimLy is the co-Head of Schools for wý, and the former founding principal of Rise Kohyang Middle School. As co-Head of Schools, she leads the development and execution of a rigorous instructional program that serves all students and supports principals to achieve their schools’ goals.

Dr. KimLy joined wý as a science teacher in 2004. After teaching both science and English Language Arts for three years, she served wý as assistant principal, principal, and director of instruction.


A Los Angeles-born native who grew up in Koreatown, Dr. KimLy wanted to give back to her “kohyang” (“hometown”). She founded Rise Kohyang Middle School in 2012 to serve the educational needs of families who live in Koreatown.

Prior to joining wý, Dr. KimLy served as a teacher, substitute teacher, student teacher, and teacher’s assistant for the Los Angeles, Culver City, and Beverly Hills Unified School Districts.

Dr. KimLy holds a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism with a minor in American Studies from the University of Southern California; a teaching credential and master’s degree in education; and a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership from Pepperdine University. Her administrative credential was completed at Loyola Marymount University’s Institute of School Leadership & Administration.

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Elijah
Sugay

Chief Business Officer

Elijah Sugay

Elijah Sugay

Chief Business Officer

Elijah Sugay grew up in the San Fernando Valley near our Valor Academy schools and was the first employee hired at Valor Academy Middle School (VAMS). Elijah became the Founding Director of Finance and Operations for VAMS and helped the school launch and grow into the successful institution it is today. 

After serving at VAMS for four years, Elijah became Senior Director of Operations for wý and then Vice President of Facilities and Finance for Bright Star, where he oversaw facilities and finance for all 9 Bright Star schools and helped build permanent campuses for Valor Academy Middle School, Valor Academy High School, and Stella Middle Charter Academy.

As Chief Business Officer, Elijah leads all facilities projects for wý, as well as Bright Star’s fiscal health. He supports school leaders to develop sustainable budgets that meet their schools’ highest needs, priorities, and visions for how they want to achieve our mission on behalf of the students we serve.

Elijah holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from UCLA.

 

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Elizabeth
Carter

Director of Expanded Learning

Elizabeth Carter

Elizabeth Carter

Director of Expanded Learning

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Eman
Fakhr

Science Instructional Coach

Eman Fakhr

Eman Fakhr

Science Instructional Coach

Contact

Eric
Tran

IT Helpdesk

Eric Tran

Eric Tran

IT Helpdesk

Contact

Francisco
Uriarte Salazar

Cluster Data Coordinator

Francisco Uriarte Salazar

Francisco Uriarte Salazar

Cluster Data Coordinator

Contact

Genoveva
Cortes

Director, Alumni Support and College Success

Genoveva Cortes

Genoveva Cortes

Director, Alumni Support and College Success

Supporting: All wý Alumni with with the graduate school application process

M.A., Harvard Graduate School of Education, Class of 2010

B.A., University of California, Los Angeles, Class of 1997

Genoveva Garibay Cortes has over two decades of experience working as an elementary and middle school teacher, K-12 and college administrator, and program coordinator. She was wý’ founding math teacher for Stella Middle Charter Academy in 2003, and currently serves as the Director of the Alumni Support and College Success (ASCS) Program for the organization. Geno developed and launched Bright Star’s ASCS Program to support the organization’s alumni to persist in and graduate from higher education. ASCS tracks, supports, and coaches wý' alumni to get to and through higher education, with a goal of 60% of wý alumni graduating with a bachelor's or associate's degree, vocational certificate, or from a workplace development program within six years of high school graduation. Geno is a former foster youth and the first in her family to have graduated from college. She is passionate about educational equity and reform, and social justice. 

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Gloria
Hamilton

Crossing Guard

Gloria Hamilton

Gloria Hamilton

Crossing Guard

Contact

Haruko
Hatakeda

School Psychologist

Haruko Hatakeda

Haruko Hatakeda

School Psychologist

Contact

Hrag
Hamalian

Founder and Executive Director, Valor Academy Middle School; wý Executive Director Emeritus

Hrag Hamalian

Hrag Hamalian

Founder and Executive Director, Valor Academy Middle School; wý Executive Director Emeritus

Hrag Manuel Hamalian previously served as the Chief Executive Officer of wý. Hrag strategically grew wý from four to nine schools, and created a community-based schools model that provides a transitional kindergarten to 12th grade education, plus 6 years of higher education support, for over 3,500 students across Los Angeles.

Prior to joining Bright Star, Hrag founded Valor Academy Middle School, a high performing 5th through 8th grade charter public school in Los Angeles. In 2013, Hrag helped lead the strategic merger of Valor and Bright Star, the first merger between two successful charter organizations in Los Angeles.

In 2011, Hrag was the recipient of Boston College's prestigious Gold Award, honoring him as alumnus of the decade. Hrag holds a double-major bachelor’s degree from Boston College in biology and honors English, a master’s degree in secondary education from Loyola Marymount University, and a master’s in business administration from UCLA.

Hrag is a Broad Academy Fellow, Aspen Institute Fellow, an Achievement First Accelerator Fellow, a Building Excellent Schools Fellow, and a Teach for America Corps Member. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for ExEd and Building Excellent Schools.

Contact

Huang
Li

School Psychologist

Huang Li

Huang Li

School Psychologist

Contact

Idera
Adagun

Coordinator, Alumni Support and College Success

Idera Adagun

Idera Adagun

Coordinator, Alumni Support and College Success

Supporting: VAHS & SHCA Class of 2018-2023 (Community College & CTE programs)

MPA, Evans School of Public Policy & Governance, University of Washington, Class of 2019

B.A., Barnard College, Class of 2015

Born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, Idera Adagun’s passion for college access and success started at a young age. With a mother who received her master’s in special education and a father who emigrated from Nigeria with only a high school education, she grew up hearing various perspectives on how college would help overcome the societal inequalities that come with being African-American, low-income, female, and from an inner city. 

These narratives followed her through various education nonprofits, leadership development programs, Downtown Magnet High School and eventually college, where in 2015 she received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a minor in Africana Studies from Barnard College of Columbia University. 

In pursuit of supporting students like herself, Idera went on to complete a Master of Public Administration from the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy and Governance in 2019. There, she focused her research on Social Policy, Education Policy, and Nonprofit Management. Most notably, she completed a graduate internship with the UW Academic Support Programs Office. 

Idera has gone on to serve as the Assistant Director of the Summer Academy with Thrive Scholars (formerly South Central Scholars/SCS Noonan Scholars), helping high school graduates prepare for the academic and socio-emotional transition into college. Her most recent roles of College Counselor and College Success Director at C5LA also helped Idera further her passion of getting first-generation, low-income, and minoritized students to and through college.

Idera is excited to bring her years of experience, resources, and knowledge to wý as the Alumni Support and College Success Coordinator for VAHS & SHCA’s community college and CTE alumni. She hopes to help alumni reach their full potential, complete postsecondary programs, and enter into careers no matter the circumstances or challenges stacked against them.

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Jaime
Hernandez

Vice President of Information Technology

Jaime Hernandez

Jaime Hernandez

Vice President of Information Technology

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Jennifer
Akshlomo

School Psychologist

Jennifer Akshlomo

Jennifer Akshlomo

School Psychologist

Contact

Jennifer
Simmons

Vice President of Curriculum and Instruction

Jennifer Simmons

Jennifer Simmons

Vice President of Curriculum and Instruction

Contact

Jesus
Regalado

IT Help Desk

Jesus Regalado

Jesus Regalado

IT Help Desk

Contact

Johnny
Teran

Family Engagement Manager

Johnny Teran

Johnny Teran

Family Engagement Manager

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Jonathan
Escobar

Vice President of Data Management

Jonathan Escobar

Jonathan Escobar

Vice President of Data Management

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Jonathan
Perez

IT Help Desk

Jonathan Perez

Jonathan Perez

IT Help Desk

Contact

Jose
Perez

Director of Facilities

Jose Perez

Jose Perez

Director of Facilities

Contact

Juan
Orozco

Maintenance

Juan Orozco

Juan Orozco

Maintenance

Contact

Julie
Shvarts

Speech & Language Pathologist

Julie Shvarts

Julie Shvarts

Speech & Language Pathologist

Contact

Kaitlin
Foe

Chief of Staff

Kaitlin Foe

Kaitlin Foe

Chief of Staff

Kaitlin Foe has served wý since 2016, first as Director of School Development and Strategic Initiatives and then as Vice President of Strategy. As Chief of Staff, Kaitlin oversees numerous Bright Star functions, including marketing and communications, educational compliance, fundraising, and organizational strategy.

Kaitlin started her career as an elementary school teacher for the East Baton Rouge Parish School System in Louisiana with Teach For America. After her time in the classroom, she served at both City Year, Louisiana and later as a Teach For America staff member for four years. Kaitlin was selected as both an Education Pioneers Fellow and a Broad Resident, both prestigious and selective programs that identify and support the further development of promising education leaders. Kaitlin holds a bachelor’s degree from UCSD, a master’s degree in public policy analysis from USC, and a master’s degree in educational leadership from The Broad Residency.

 

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Karlyn
Yngve

Enrollment Manager

Karlyn Yngve

Karlyn Yngve

Enrollment Manager

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Kendra
Racouillat

Vice President, Marketing and Communications

Kendra Racouillat

Kendra Racouillat

Vice President, Marketing and Communications

Contact

Laura
Reed

Director of Strategy

Laura Reed

Laura Reed

Director of Strategy

Contact

Leeann
Yu

Chief Operations Officer

Leeann Yu

Leeann Yu

Chief Operations Officer

Leeann Yu currently serves as the Chief Operations Officer for wý where she leads strategic operational initiatives across the network and oversees the student data, school operations, human resources, and information technology teams.

Leeann joined Bright Star in 2011 as the School Operations Manager for Stella Middle Charter Academy and Bright Star Secondary Charter Academy and has since held a variety of operational roles as the organization has grown from two to nine schools.

Prior to joining Bright Star, Leeann was an Education Pioneers Fellow at PUC Schools, an English teacher in Taiwan, and a financial advisor for Ameriprise Financial. Leeann holds a bachelor’s degree in international development with a minor in education from UCLA and a master’s in business administration from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management.

 

Contact

Liezl
Caluag

Liezl Caluag

Liezl Caluag

Contact

Lilianna
Gonzalez

Vice President of Inclusive Education

Lilianna Gonzalez

Lilianna Gonzalez

Vice President of Inclusive Education

Contact

Lydia
Garcia

Manager of Compliance & Special Projects

Lydia Garcia

Lydia Garcia

Manager of Compliance & Special Projects

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Maggie
Kwon

Enrollment & Outreach Coordinator

Maggie Kwon

Maggie Kwon

Enrollment & Outreach Coordinator

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Malay
Toston Goodman

Alumni Career Accelerator Outreach Lead Intern

Malay Toston Goodman

Malay Toston Goodman

Alumni Career Accelerator Outreach Lead Intern

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Manuela
Hyman

School Psychologist

Manuela Hyman

Manuela Hyman

School Psychologist

Contact

Marc
Osadchey

School Psychologist

Marc Osadchey

Marc Osadchey

School Psychologist

Contact

Marisol
Blanco Claros

Meal Server

Marisol Blanco Claros

Marisol Blanco Claros

Meal Server

Contact

Maritza
Arambula

Cluster Data Coordinator

Maritza Arambula

Maritza Arambula

Cluster Data Coordinator

Contact

Marni
Parsons

Vice President of Student and Family Services

Marni Parsons

Marni Parsons

Vice President of Student and Family Services

Contact

Matt
Williams

Vice President of Inclusive Education

Matt Williams

Matt Williams

Vice President of Inclusive Education

Contact

Matthew
Garcia

IT Systems Analyst

Matthew Garcia

Matthew Garcia

IT Systems Analyst

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Melody
Morris

English Language Development Instructional Coach

Melody Morris

Melody Morris

English Language Development Instructional Coach

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Michael
Hoover

Director of School Culture

Michael Hoover

Michael Hoover

Director of School Culture

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Michelle
Washington

Outreach Coordinator

Michelle Washington

Michelle Washington

Outreach Coordinator

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Miguel
Avila

Human Resources Coordinator

Miguel Avila

Miguel Avila

Human Resources Coordinator

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Nicole
Wellman Noble

Vice President of People Development

Nicole Wellman Noble

Nicole Wellman Noble

Vice President of People Development

Contact

Olga
Ramos

Senior Director of Human Resources

Olga Ramos

Olga Ramos

Senior Director of Human Resources

Contact

Olivia
Martinez

Head of Schools, wý

Olivia Martinez

Olivia Martinez

Head of Schools, wý

Olivia Martinez is the co-Head of Schools for wý, and former principal of Stella Middle Charter Academy (Grades 7-8). As co-Head of Schools, she leads the development and execution of a rigorous instructional program that serves all students and supports principals to achieve their schools’ goals.

Olivia joined wý in 2008 as a teacher and taught physical science, life science, biology, and earth science to students in grades 7 through 11. She became assistant principal at Bright Star Secondary Charter Academy in 2011, and principal at Stella Middle Charter Academy in 2013.

Olivia began her teaching career with a student teaching position at David Starr Jordan High School in Watts through Teach For America.

Olivia holds a bachelor’s degree in psychobiology from UCLA and two master's degrees in urban education and in educational leadership from Loyola Marymount University.

Contact

Pablo
Olivares

Vice President of Inclusive Education

Pablo Olivares

Pablo Olivares

Vice President of Inclusive Education

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Paulina
Sylvester

Senior Talent Manager

Paulina Sylvester

Paulina Sylvester

Senior Talent Manager

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Rachel
Asher

School Psychologist

Rachel Asher

Rachel Asher

School Psychologist

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Raquel
Martinez

Human Resources Generalist

Raquel Martinez

Raquel Martinez

Human Resources Generalist

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Rebecca
Vogel Sanchez

Board Certified Behavior Analyst

Rebecca Vogel Sanchez

Rebecca Vogel Sanchez

Board Certified Behavior Analyst

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Roxanne
Romero

Outreach & Recruitment Manager

Roxanne Romero

Roxanne Romero

Outreach & Recruitment Manager

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Samantha
Davidson

Cluster Data Coordinator

Samantha Davidson

Samantha Davidson

Cluster Data Coordinator

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Sebastian
Valdes

Vice President of School Operations and Safety

Sebastian Valdes

Sebastian Valdes

Vice President of School Operations and Safety

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Stephanie
Adams Mendez

School Psychologist

Stephanie Adams Mendez

Stephanie Adams Mendez

School Psychologist

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Stephen
Allen

Cluster Data Coordinator

Stephen Allen

Stephen Allen

Cluster Data Coordinator

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Steven
Lopez

Senior Talent and Credential Manager

Steven Lopez

Steven Lopez

Senior Talent and Credential Manager

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Steven
Rockey, II

Director of School Counseling

Steven Rockey, II

Steven Rockey, II

Director of School Counseling

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Sunil
Kewalramani

Sunil Kewalramani

Sunil Kewalramani

Contact

Vanessa
Ordonez

Vanessa Ordonez

Vanessa Ordonez

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Victor
Perez

Family Engagement Coordinator

Victor Perez

Victor Perez

Family Engagement Coordinator

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Victoria
Banuelos

Victoria Banuelos

Victoria Banuelos

Contact

Wendy
Gadea

SIS & Compliance Manager

Wendy Gadea

Wendy Gadea

SIS & Compliance Manager

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Young
Kim

Attendance Compliance Assistant

Young Kim

Young Kim

Attendance Compliance Assistant

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In our small, joyful schools we provide students with excellent academics, holistic and inclusive support, personal attention, and rich life opportunities beyond the classroom so they thrive from kindergarten through high school.