Our Staff

Central Tucson, Arizona

DENNIS O’REILLY – Head of Schools

Dennis O’ReillyDennis O’Reilly started working with young people as a volunteer junior high basketball coach and has been in education working with young people since 1990, getting his start as a middle school math teacher. Mr. O’Reilly has been in administration since 1999 serving in a variety of capacities: Curriculum Coordinator, Assistant to the Principal, Principal, and Head of Schools at three different private schools in Tucson, Arizona; he was able to earn his Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Chapman University.

Mr. O’Reilly has been married to his beautiful bride Krissy since the spring of 1999, and has two teenage kids in high school, Conner and Adeline, who both graduated from Marana Leman Academy.


Stephen Rothkopf - PRINCIPAL

Mr. Rothkopf has served in many capacities before joining Leman Academy over the last twenty years. This includes being an Upper School Head (Principal), Secondary Principal, Director of Curriculum and Curriculum Coordinator in private and public school settings. Mr. Rothkopf earned an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership through ASU and a second M.Ed. in Educational Technology through NAU. He is credentialed through the Arizona Department of Education as a PreK-12 Principal and for Teaching 6-12 history, social studies, humanities, and psychology.

Prior to entering school administration, Mr. Rothkopf taught middle and high school humanities classes in Arizona and at several international schools in Europe and Asia. He is joined by his lovely wife Anastasia, who are both very happy to be returning to Tucson. When not at work, he enjoys spending time hiking, and scuba diving.


Michelle Buhs - Vice principal

Michelle BuhnMrs. Buhs is originally from southern California where she completed her bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. She has taught elementary education in four states and has nearly 20 years of experience both in public and private schools. In 2019 she completed her master’s degree in Educational Leadership. She and her husband have two grown children, are active members of their church, and enjoy spending time outdoors with their two dogs. Mrs. Buhs is passionate about education, and is looking forward to helping scholars reach their full potential!



Gabriela GonzalezGabriela Gonzalez grew up in Tucson, AZ and has lived in other places like Scottsdale and also San Diego, CA! She loves hanging out with her family and friends, but especially with her wife and their two fur babies! Gabriela has over 10 wonderful years of experience and is excited to get to know our new Leman community!



Monica Majalca - Administrative Assistant

Monica MajalcaBorn and raised in Tucson, Az, God has blessed me with 4 fabulous, artistic, loving adult children and the Grandmother to my precious Grandson. I love cooking, baking, gardening, anything DIY and camping whenever possible. “My favorite thing in life is family gatherings & time spent around the table with family and friends". With over 15 years of experience in the field of education, I'm happy and honored to provide and serve our Leman families with the best experience possible. Much Love, Peace, Kindness & Respect is my Prayer for All of Humanity! Many Blessings and Peace Be With You!!!


kendall colell - kindergarten TEACHER

Kendall Colell will be starting her first year teaching at Leman Academy of Excellence as a Kindergarten Teacher. She is from Tucson and has a twin sister! She graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education. Currently, she is obtaining her Masters of Education in Special Education.

During her free time, she enjoys reading, going on road trips, hiking, being with family and practicing yoga. She loves to share her love of learning and is eager to meet all our scholars at Leman Academy!



Heather OaklandMs. Oakland is so excited to join the Leman family! She is a native Tucsonan who attended The University of Arizona to get her Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education. Ms. Oakland has taught Kindergarten since 2013 and is looking forward to another great year! In her spare time, she loves hiking, reading, and spending time with family, friends, and her dog Tango.



Marianne PorzioThis is Ms. Porzio’s first year teaching at Leman Academy of Excellence. She feels very blessed to be part of the Leman Academy family and is very excited for this school year.She was born in Virginia and grew up on the East Coast until she was 10 years old. She moved to Tucson, AZ in 1996 and has lived here ever since. She went to Elementary School, Middle School, and High School in Tucson. From 2008-2015 she went to college in Dallas, TX where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree, both in Elementary Education. She moved back home to Tucson in 2015 and she launched her teaching career in 2016 where she taught Kindergarten for the last 4 years for a different charter school. This will be her 5th year teaching Kindergarten and she absolutely loves it.

When she is not teaching she enjoys spending time practicing her new hobby of hand-lettering and modern calligraphy. She loves to write and draw and loves all things markers, pens, pencils, and paper. She also enjoys crafting with her Cricut machine. She loves to make paper crafts and vinyl stickers. She also enjoys spending time with her friends and riding her bicycle.

She looks forward to meeting you and your child and partnering with you as we adventure on with learning.


monica bird - 1st GRADE TEACHER

Ms. Bird and her two daughters are excited to be a part of Leman Academy this year. This will be Ms. Bird’s fourteenth year of teaching. She earned her bachelors degree in Early Childhood Education from New Mexico State University. This helped cultivate a love, understanding, and empathy for our youngest of scholars.

Ms. Bird and her twin sister grew up in The Land of the Midnight Sun, Anchorage, Alaska. This is where she earned her Masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Alaska Anchorage. While teaching in Anchorage, Ms. Bird headed thyese Multicultural Committee and helped start the 21st Century After-School program at her school. This is also where she grew a love of nature, hiking, camping, and playing softball. One of her greatest accomplishments was hiking The Chilkoot Trail, which is an old, gold-mining trail that goes from Alaska to Canada. Ms. Bird is looking forward to having a great partnership with her classroom families this year.



Pauline HallMrs. Hall is very excited to be part of Leman Academy of Excellence. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Liberal Studies from California State University San Bernardino, then went on to earn an Elementary Education Teaching Credential.Later during her career, she went on to earn her Master's degree in Educational Leadership from NAU.

Since moving to the Tucson area, Mrs. Hall has taught many grade levels in elementary school (K-5). She has also taken on many leadership roles such as Curriculum Management, Cognitive Coach, Instructional Team Leader, and English as a Second Language (ESL) coordinator. Mrs. Hall was selected as Acacia Elementary-Vail School District Teacher of the Year in 2003/2004.

In order to spend more time with family, Mrs. Hall opened an In-Home Daycare where she continued to teach. She provided a complete preschool program and provided a homework club for her students. As her youngest now enters high school, she feels that she is being call back into the classroom and cannot wait for the first day of school.

Mrs. Hall and her husband Steve have enjoyed the Tucson area for over 20 years. They are both so glad that they made the decision to move from California to Tucson to raise their four children (Chris, Jeff, Megan, & Sean).


Heather McClure - 1st Grade TEACHER

Heather-McClureMs. McClure is originally from the Pacific Northwest and her family relocated to Tucson in 2006. She has worked in Early Childhood Education since 2001. She started out her education by learning American Sign Language, as one of the children she worked with was deaf and she wanted to enhance their communication. During her years of the Interpreting for Sign Language program, she was introduced to Speech Pathology, which led to an interest in that profession. She worked on her undergraduate degree at Northern Arizona University, where she received her Bachelor’s in Interdisciplinary Studies: Speech Language Sciences and Technology and Speech-Language Pathology Assistant (SLPA) certificate and a Masters of Education in Special Education with a focus in Autism Spectrum Disorders. She radiates love for what she does and is so eager to teach, learn and grow with our scholars at Leman Academy!


Alison Moore - 1ST GRADE TEACHER

Alison MooreMs. Moore acquired her BA in English from California Baptist University and has completed master courses in Christian Education and Counseling. She began her journey with Leman Academy of Excellence on day one with the opening of the East Campus. She started on the Exceptional Scholar Services team and immediately developed an appreciation and connection with the Leman culture and values. She eagerly made the transition to full time teaching in her very own classroom and fell in love with the rigor and joy that is being a teacher.


lawanda blacketer - 2nd GRADE TEACHER

Lavanda BlacketerMs. Blacketer has recently relocated to Tucson and is excited to enjoy the endless sunshine. She has moved from St. Louis, Missouri. She graduated with a B.S. in Christian Education from St. Louis Christian College, A.A.S in Early Care and Education from St. Louis Community College, and later earned her Masters in Education from Missouri Baptist University. She began her teaching career working with Preschool and Pre-Kindergarten students and moved into an Elementary classroom when joining North County Christian School in 2013.

Ms. Blacketer has served as a classroom teacher, bus driver, interim Preschool director, and K-2nd Elementary Department lead. She is excited to join the Leman family and begin building a new community. Ms. Blacketer enjoys reading, spending time outside, cooking, and baking. She also makes time to spend with family and friends whenever possible.


Miranda Cottrill - 2ND GRADE TEACHER

Ms. Cottrill will be starting her second year teaching at Leman Academy of Excellence as a second-grade teacher. She graduated cum laude from Cameron University with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She taught one year in Oklahoma, and this will be her third year teaching in Tucson. Ms. Cottrill has previously taught kindergarten and second grade. She is certified in two states: Oklahoma and Arizona.

Born in Seoul, South Korea, Ms. Cottrill grew up in a military family - her mother and father served 20+ years in the United States Army. She moved from Oklahoma to Arizona to be closer to family. During her free time, she enjoys reading and spending time with her family and friends.


lili martinez - 2nd GRADE TEACHER

Lili MartinezMs.Martinez is an Arizona native who will be starting her first year teaching at Leman Academy of Excellence. She recently graduated from the University of Arizona with a magna cum laude distinction. Her degree in Elementary Education with a bilingual endorsement and her previous experience in a bilingual elementary school has prepared her to work with students of all ages and backgrounds.

Ms.Martinez is originally from Nogales, Arizona and moved to Tucson to pursue her degree in elementary education. In her free time she enjoys jogging and spending time with her dog and friends. She loves learning and hopes to inspire those around her to keep learning everyday. Her main goal for this school year will be to create a safe and encouraging environment for her scholars to develop a love for learning!


gabrielle robustelli - 2 GRADE TEACHER

Ms. Robustelli is excited to be joining Leman Academy of Excellence this year. She is originally from New York and received her BS from the University of Delaware and her MAT from Manhattanville College. Her teaching career has included anywhere from grades pre-K to middle school and spans from NY to AZ with a little OH in between.

Outside of school, Ms. Robustelli loves nothing more than spending time with her three children. They keep her busy with all of their activities. She also enjoys cooking, being outdoors, and spending time with family and friends.


Karise Allen - 3RD GRADE TEACHER

Karise AllenMs. Allen is honored to be a part of the Leman Academy of Excellence. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Design with a minor in Marketing from the University of Arizona. After working in design for five years, Ms. Allen decided that she wanted to pursue her elementary teaching certification in order to make a difference in young people’s lives. Teaching runs in her family, both grandmothers and her mother were teachers. She received both undergraduate degrees and her Master’s of Education degree from the University of Arizona graduating cum laude all three times.

This is Ms. Allen’'s twentieth year of teaching. She has taught grades K-4, art and music. This will be her fifth year of teaching third grade. Ms. Allen has high expectations for each of her scholars and strives to guide them to be happy life long learners. Her goal is that each of her scholars will persevere through challenges, develop confidence, and become more independent individuals.

Ms. Allen has two amazing children who both attend the University of Arizona. She loves animals and has two dogs and 4 cats. A lifelong dancer, Ms. Allen found Pilates after an injury and it changed her life. Now, as a Pilates instructor, she is able to share with others the beauty and strength of movement through teaching Pilates classes.


trancye foster - 3RD GRADE TEACHER

Trancey FosterMrs. Foster and her family are from Mississippi. They moved here in 2019 because her husband is in the Air Force and he is stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. She has been married for 22 years and her husband has been serving in the military for the same amount of time. They have two beautiful children, Azariah, who is a senior this year and Alyjah who is in 8th grade this year. During those years, she has traveled and taught domestically around the world: Louisiana, Texas, Japan, South Korea, Hawaii, New Jersey, and currently Arizona. She has been teaching for over 20 years!

Mrs. Foster attended Alcorn State University where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and received her Master’s degree from the University of Phoenix. She has worked in nurseries with infants and taught children upto 10th grade working internationally over the of her husband’s military career. She is excited to be teaching 3rd grade for the third year in a row. She loves being a part of children’s journeys on their way to becoming!

Mrs. Foster loves to spend time with her family! Apart from the family, she loves hanging out with friends and going to the movies. She enjoys chocolate, chocolate coffee, and her favorite color is Pink!


Hannah Bjorgum-Johnson - 4TH GRADE TEACHER

Hannah Bjorgum-JohnsonMs. Bjorgum-Johnson was born and raised in Tucson and left to attend college at Grand Canyon University where she earned her Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education. She worked with children for many years prior to earning her degree and knew it was her passion to become a teacher to create a fun and encouraging environment for scholars.

Ms. Bjorgum-Johnson grew up playing all different kinds of sports and still loves to play them in her free time. She also enjoys weightlifting and hiking, anything to get her moving. She is a certified scuba diver and was once attacked by a very angry lobster! She has always wanted to go skydiving with her brother and hopes to do so in the near future. When she has downtime she likes to paint and hang out with her 1-year-old brindle pitbull, Mocha. Ms. Bjorgum-Johnson is very excited to be joining the Leman community!


Rachael Fussell - 4th grade teacher

Mrs. Fussell got married and moved to Tucson in July and is so excited to be at Leman Academy! Mrs. Fussell studied at Grand Canyon University, where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. She will also be pursuing her Master’s in Psychology. This is Mrs. Fussell’s third year of teaching 4th grade, and she is ready for a year of adventure with her new scholars! 

In her free time, she likes to sing and play guitar. She also loves to be outdoors through hiking, camping, and playing disc golf! She enjoys traveling and has been to several countries in Europe and the Middle East. She cannot wait to bring her cultural experience to the classroom!


Paige Fisher-McCranie - FOURTH GRADE Teacher

Paige Fisher-McCranieMrs. McCranie moved here in July 2020 with her husband from San Diego, California in order to be able to teach here at Leman Valley. She was born and raised in San Diego, but loves living here in Tucson. She always knew that she wanted to work in the field of education. She taught 4th-grade last year at Leman Oro Valley, but this year is excited to start her 6th year of teaching here at Central.

Mrs. McCranie attended Point Loma Nazarene University, receiving her B.A. in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Math and Human Development, and a minor in Therapeutic Psychology. She also received her Master’s in Teaching from PLNU, as well as a Reading Certificate and her Multiple Subject Credential in CA. She has worked with grades K-8, teaching in both public and private schools. She has taught 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade and is excited to continue with 4th grade this year!

Mrs. McCranie enjoys living in Eastern Tucson, where she likes to relax and spend quality time with family & friends, especially during the holidays. She enjoys watching UFC fights, attending football games (Go Chargers!) and NHRA Drag Races (Go Force Family!), going fishing with her husband, and spending all the time she can with her new little bundle of joy, her son Barrett Jackson.
One of her most favorite sayings is: "By doing what you LOVE, you INSPIRE and awaken the hearts of others."


hanah knox - 5th Grade teacher

Hannah KnoxMrs. Knox is new to the Leman Academy family but this is year number nine for teaching! Originally from a small town near Houston, Texas, Mrs. Knox came to Arizona in 2009 to attend the University of Arizona. Mrs. Knox graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education with an endorsement for teaching English as a second language. Mrs. Knox lives with her husband, who is also a Leman teacher, and her daughter, Penelope, a new Leman scholar! Mrs. Knox enjoys reading, playing videos games, and doing cross-stitch for fun.



Mr. Lytle has been working in education for 8 years and feels right at home as a member of the Leman family. He began his career in education while completing his Bachelor's degree in history from Monmouth University. Later, he earned 27 credits in a Masters in Education program at Monmouth University and is currently working on his Masters of Science in Higher Education Administration at SNHU. Mr. Lytle enjoys working out and staying active through various indoor and outdoor activities. He is happy to be at Leman Academy and aid scholars in their educational endeavors!


edgar bernal sevilla - 6th-7th Grade History

As the eldest of four children, Mr. Bernal Sevilla likes to joke that he has always been in the field of education. Mr. Bernal's educational career has taken him many places; from studying teaching abroad in Granada, Spain, to working as a graduate teaching assistant while finishing the coursework for his Master of Arts in History degree at Northern Arizona University. He loves combining his twin passions of history and education at the Leman Academy of Excellence. When not teaching history, Mr. Bernal Sevilla likes video games, basketball, travel, writing poetry, and grilling carne asada in his backyard.


cheryl carnes- 6th-7th GRADE Science

Cheryl CarnesMs. Carnes has always loved science from spending copious amounts of time outside exploring as a child in the Annapolis area of Maryland to her studies in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona and on to her Masters in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at the University of California, Berkeley. Ms. Carnes has been fortunate enough to participate in bird surveys, bird behavioral studies, wildflower monitoring, prescribed burns to control invasive species, nesting sea turtle monitoring, and parasitic insect studies. After these countless hours hanging out with insects, plants, and birds, Ms. Carnes was inspired to pursue science from another perspective which led to pursuing a teaching career via a Masters from the University of Arizona.

Ms. Carnes taught middle school in a local public school for one year and then at a local charter school for nine years. Ms. Carnes is thrilled to be joining the Leman Academy of Excellence team and to have the opportunity to inspire scholars with her passion for science. Ms. Carnes’s hobbies include CrossFit training, running, biking, hiking, camping, being a dog mom, and basically anything outside.


patricia mckelvy - 6th-7th grade logic

Mrs. McKelvy has been working in the education field for the past 10 years, starting out as a Middle School TA. Continuing her passion for learning and education, specifically in Language Arts and History, she decided teaching was meant for her. She has degrees in History, English and a Masters in Library Science, all with a focus in Victoria, Renaissance and Teen literature and history. Mrs. McKelvy is obsessed with all things British, having studied at Cambridge in England. She is very excited to be a part of the Leman family!


Allison Meade - 6TH-7th GRADE ELA TEACHER

Allison MeadeMs. Meade loves being a part of the Leman family and feels incredibly thankful to be the 6th grade English/History/Logic teacher. Ms. Meade has been working with young people and kids in various capacities for 8 years and has been teaching for 3 years. She was born in Tucson, moved to the northwest for a while, and moved back to Tucson a few years ago after living in rainy Portland, Oregon while she went to college and graduate school.

She graduated from George Fox University with a Bachelor’s in English with a double minor in literature and writing. Ms. Meade attended George Fox University for graduate school as well and holds a Master of Arts in Teaching and Reading Specialization. She is committed to her scholars and their families and loves to see and bring out the best in others. She cares deeply about making sure every scholar feels safe, respected, celebrated, and honored. In her free time, Ms. Meade loves to read, write poetry and stories, play music and sing (especially sing in the car), spend time with her nieces, and swim. She is committed to partnering with and building trusted relationships with her scholars and families.


erin murphy - 6th-7th GRADE math TEACHER

Erin MurphyMs. Murphy is ecstatic to join the teaching staff at Leman Academy Central. She is a graduate of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas where Ms. Murphy was born and raised. Having taught in her tenth year of teaching she continues her personal goal of inspiring her students with her love of math. She loves to make complex concepts understandable and thoroughly enjoys the excitement and enthusiasm when her students let go of their fears and begin to love math.


carmen dettmer - ESS K-3rd grade

Carmen DettmerMrs. Dettmer admires Dr. Leman, his philosophies and wisdom, and feels very thankful and privileged to be at Leman Academy this year. Mrs. Dettmer was born in Mexico but moved to Tucson 21 years ago. She has over 10 years of experience educating scholars and 5 years of experience specializing in Exceptional Scholars. Mrs. Dettmer received a Masters of Arts degree in Bilingual/Multicultural Education from the University of Arizona. She speaks English and Spanish fluently. Over the years Mrs. Dettmer has worked as an inclusion teacher, ESS classroom teacher as well as ESS teacher aid.

Mrs. Dettmer is very passionate about forming great relationships and teaming up with parents and scholars. She believes it takes great teamwork and relationships to find and apply what moves scholars to succeed. When Mrs. Dettmer is not teaching, you can find her hiking, reading a good book or spending time with her husband and two boys.



Andrea WoolleyMs. Woolley is excited to be at Leman Academy. She has over 20 years of experience in education. She graduated from St. Thomas University in Miami, FL with a B.A. in Human Services with a concentration in Elementary Education. Ms. Woolley has an MBA in Human Resources and a MA in Autism Spectrum Disorder. She has worked as a Behavior Consultant, ESS classroom teacher, Transition Specialist, and also served as Associate Head of School for the Abbie School.

Her passion is helping children succeed and help them find what their passion is. When she isn’t working you can find her coaching softball or spending time with her family.


Natalie Stringer – School Psychologist

This is Mrs. Stringer's third year in the Leman family and her first year joining the Central campus. Mrs. Stringer was born and raised in California. She obtained her Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Lafayette College in Pennsylvania before moving abroad to teach English in Asia for two years. This experience led her to her true passion for School Psychology. She returned to California to get her Master’s degree in Educational Psychology and Education Specialist degree in School Psychology from Chapman University.

She then worked for five years, as a school psychologist and counselor, in international schools in Germany and Malaysia before moving to Arizona to work at Leman Academy. She currently enjoys spending her free time with her one-year-old daughter, puppy, and husband. She also enjoys running, hiking, cooking, and traveling any chance she gets.


yshelle barraza - Reading Intervention

Hello! My name is Yshelle pronounced E-shell. I served as a Teacher for seven years in the public school system teaching middle school and third grade students. Prior to that I worked as a Social Worker partnering with Parents and their children striving to build healthier family relationships in theTucson and Phoenix communities.

Professionally I have served as a Team Lead for Scholastics NSGRA, Math Pathways and Pitfalls for my Site for two years. I also served as a member of the school leadership team as the Third grade Representative for four years. I have had the privilege of serving as an after school 21st Century tutor in Math and Reading for 2nd and 3rd graders for 4 years which encouraged me to continue my education as a Reading Interventionist. I received my M.Ed from Northern Arizona in Elementary Education with a Reading Endorsement to continue to assist children with their reading.

As a Community Member I have served as a Volunteer Coach in Softball, Soccer, Dance and Volleyball. I have also had the honor of being a Girl Scout Leader for a multilevel troop of girls ages 5- 11 for Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona. All of these roles as Teacher, Coach and Leader have all derived from my main role as Mother to four children, three girls and one boy. As a family we enjoy game nights and movie nights. Movie nights are the best because we enjoy having movie marathons such as Harry Potter, Avengers/Marvel, DC comics, etc. Personally I enjoy art, crafts, puzzles, and gardening.


tabitha miranda - Scholar Success Facilitator

Tabitha MirandaHello! I was born and raised in Phoenix, AZ. I have adored and visited Tucson all of my life, and am happy to be here permanently! I hold bachelor and master degrees in Social Work from ASU. I have worked in the fields of child welfare, foster care & adoption (working primarily with kinship/families adopting relatives), medical case management and program management.

I began my current journey in an elementary school last year and feel I have found my "home" in school social work. I love animals, traveling (locally and abroad), all things related to nature, trying new hobbies and learning new things. I look forward to working with all of you!


Kimberly Jeter Hall - Music TEACHER

Mrs. Jeter Hall was first introduced to the Classical Education model while at Scripps College, where she received her degree in Choral Conducting. She continued her graduate and postgraduate studies at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont California.

Mrs. Jeter Hall is the recipient of the University of Irvine, Most Influential Teacher Recognition Award, The National Association of Independent Schools, Teacher of the Year Award and the Scripps College, Alumnae Award.

Mrs. Jeter Hall has extensive work experience in music. Her experiences include conducting choirs, orchestras, instrumental ensembles in academic, church and community settings. She has designed and directed national and international tours and concerts for schools and community ensembles. One of her fondest experiences was a choral exchange with the American School in Austria involving Middle and Upper School students. She has been a guest lecturer and a clinician with the Southern California Vocal Association and at colleges, churches and musical organizations throughout southern California.

Mrs. Jeter Hall enjoys teaching voice and instrumental music privately, as well as in academic settings, and directing musicals. She has a nephew who attends Leman Academy East.

She married the love of her life 14 years ago. They moved to Tucson one month before the start of the 2020-2021 school year and are looking forward to becoming a part of the Leman Academy of Excellence community.


Mallory Shibe - ART TEACHER

Miss Shibe is a proud Tucson native, who’s passionate about the arts. She graduated from the University of Arizona with two degrees: a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art Education and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography, and has been teaching Visual Art for 6 years. Her passion, expertise, and knowledge about visual art and photography inspires her teaching.

She loves to introduce scholars to new artists and ideas that encourage them to create individually personalized artwork.

When Miss Shibe isn’t teaching, she loves spending time with her family, camping, creating art, and photographing the beauty of nature.


Erin DenBaars - Latin Teacher

Ms. DenBaars graduated magna cum laude from the University of Arizona with a double major in Classics and Anthropology. She is excited to begin her second year at Leman Academy. An avid traveler, Ms. DenBaars has visited such places as Costa Rica, Japan, and Egypt. She enjoys baking, reading fantasy and historical fiction, and spending quality time with her fiancé and friends.



Maria Verdugo - Spanish Teacher

Maria VerdugoMrs. Verdugo has worked in education for 20 years as a teacher, substitute teacher, and a teacher's assistant. She earned a degree in elementary education from Benemérita y Centenaria Escuela Normal del Estado de Sonora "Profr. Jesús Manuel Bustamante Mungarro" . During her time working in education she has had the opportunity to work with all grade levels from K-12. She really loves and enjoys working with scholars.

Mrs. Verdugo is originally from Hermosillo, Sonora and moved to Tucson, Arizona in 2003. She enjoys spending time with her family and in her free time she loves to walk around the park and get fresh air. She loves to travel during vacation and go to the beach. Mrs. Verdugo is excited to start a new adventure by working with Leman Academy of Excellence!


Greg Taves - Athletic Director

Greg TavesTeaching is Mr.Taves 3rd career. He ran his own business for 10 years and then had a 15 year stint as a Sales Executive for multiple Fortune 500 companies. In 2008 he decided to leave his sales career and pursue a career in education. He returned to college in 2010 and received his teaching certificate in 2012 from Pima Community College. After completing his student teaching he has held multiple positions as a Physical Education teacher. As a senior in high school Mr. Taves played on a state championship basketball team and participated in track and baseball.

Mr. Taves holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from Arizona State University and is married to his beautiful wife Edith. They have two wonderful daughters; Natalie and Rhian. On the weekends Mr.Taves’ favorite pursuits are spending time with his wife, close-up photography, and reading. Mr.Taves is very excited to be working with Leman scholars, peers, and parents!



Holly PimentelMs. Pimentel is a Certified Medical Assistant. She has an Associates Degree in Science/Medical Assisting and graduated with Honors from Mountain State University. Her background experience comes from ER/General surgery and dabbling in some orthopedics as well.

She is a mother of 4 fabulous grown and established children, 2 boys and 2 girls, well now men and women, but always her babies. She just became a grandma of her 3rd grandchild. She moved to AZ approximately 1 year ago from WI to join her significant other here. They have a puppy that is a complete joy! She absolutely loves the outdoors, gardening, camping, fishing and swimming.