- Kindergarten Teachers
- 1st Grade Teachers
- 2nd Grade Teachers
- 3rd Grade Teachers
- 4th Grade Teachers
- 5th Grade Teachers
- 6th Grade Teachers
- ESS Staff
- Art & Music Teachers
- Language Teachers
- Physical Education
- Health Coordinator
- Afterbell & Food Service
DENNIS O’REILLY – Head of Schools
Dennis 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.
HEATHER PARRA – VICE PRINCIPAL
Mrs. Parra has worked in education for over 20 years. Her career includes experience as a Science and Biology teacher and for the past four years she has served as a school administrator in a local charter school. Mrs. Parra received her undergraduate degree from North Dakota State University and her Master’s in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. She holds a PreK-12 Principal certificate and a 6-12 Secondary Education certificate.
Mrs. Parra is originally from Minnesota and moved to Tucson in 2001. She enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter, and son. In her free time, she can be found outside hiking with her dogs or relaxing inside with her cats. Mrs. Parra is excited to be a part of Leman Academy of Excellence!
GABRIELA GONZALEZ - OFFICE MANAGER
Gabriela 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
MEGAN JUHASZ - KINDERGARTEN TEACHER
Ms. Juhasz is a Tucson native. She graduated from Sabino High School and attended Northern Arizona University where she obtained her Bachelor's degree in Business. She misses the beautiful weather and visits the mountain town any chance she gets. In her free time, she enjoys exercising, hanging out with friends and family and learning more about photography.
Ms. Juhasz began her journey at Leman Academy of Excellence as a kindergarten teacher's assistant. She knew instantly this is a place where she would love to continue her career. She is beyond excited to start her first year teaching at Leman Academy of Excellence and is thrilled to learn and grow with your scholars.
Heather McClure - KINDERGARTEN TEACHER
Ms. McClure is originally from the Pacific Northwest and her family relocated to Tucson in 2006. She has worked in Early Childhood Education since 2001, as a pre-kinder teacher. 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 for 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. She has a piqued interest in working with children with Autism. Currently she is getting her Masters of Education in Special Education. She radiates love for what she does and is so eager to teach, learn and grow with our scholars at Leman Academy!
Heather Oakland - KINDERGARTEN TEACHER
Ms. 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 Porzio - KINDERGARTEN TEACHER
This 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.
Gabriele Araiza - KINDERGARTEN TEACHER assistant
Alanna Gray - KINDERGARTEN TEACHER assistant
Gabriela Grijalva - KINDERGARTEN TEACHER assistant
Lisa Ziehler - KINDERGARTEN TEACHER assistant
PAULINE HALL - 1ST GRADE TEACHER
Mrs. 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).
Alison Moore - 1ST GRADE TEACHER
Ms. 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.
Debbie White - 1ST GRADE TEACHER
Ms. White is thrilled to be part of Leman Academy of Excellence. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies from Azusa Pacific University in California. Ms. White will graduate from Northwest Nazarene University with her Ed.S degree in Educational Leadership: Organizational Development on August 18, 2020. Ms. White is an experienced teacher and school administrator skilled in creating positive school culture and long-term plans for student academic success.
Ms. White was raised in Tucson, Arizona and has returned to her hometown after living more than 20 years on the East Coast. Ms. White has two children Beth (24) and Austin (22) who live in Manchester, Connecticut. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, tennis, and writing. Ms. White looks forward to partnering with parents and building significant relationships with scholars and their families.
Autumn Withers - 1ST GRADE TEACHER
Mrs. Withers is an experienced educator and has spent the last seven years teaching at a Montessori school. She attended the University of Arizona and University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Mrs. Withers enjoys building relationships and collaborating with scholars, parents, and colleagues. She is very excited to be a part of the Leman Academy of Excellence.
Miranda Cottrill - 2ND GRADE TEACHER
Ms. Cottrill will be starting her first 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 second 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.
Georgina Meislin - 2ND GRADE TEACHER
Mrs. Meislin feels delighted to start her first year at Leman Academy of Excellence as a second grade teacher. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. Mrs. Meislin has been working in education for 8 years and is grateful to be part of the Leman family.
She and her husband, Justin are both Tucson natives and enjoy spending time with their three boys and two dogs. We love Lego, baseball, and summers in Chicago and Coronado.
In the classroom, Mrs. Meislin is committed to creating an enjoyable learning environment and is looking forward to meeting and building relationships with her new scholars!
Caitlyn Slanina - 2ND GRADE TEACHER
Mrs. Slanina is a Tucson native who enjoys cycling and rock climbing on Mt. Lemmon, running and competing in local races and fun runs, as well as rollerblading wherever she can. Prior to beginning her teaching career Mrs. Slanina enjoyed her job as a nanny, and volunteered her time at local schools and online learning platforms to help foster a creative and positive learning atmosphere for children. Following her passion for teaching Mrs. Slanina earned her Bachelor of Science in Education at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ. She is currently pursuing her Master of Education.
Mrs. Slanina and her husband Matthew are proud to call Tucson their home where they continue to adopt, raise, and foster a myriad of animals which currently include 3 dogs, 2 cats and a tarantula.
Melanie Ford - 3RD GRADE TEACHER
Mrs. Ford is ecstatic to be a part of the Leman Academy of Excellence. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Mathematics with a minor in biology from Northern Arizona University. This is Mrs. Ford's fourth year of teaching, and second year of teaching third grade. In the summer of 2019, she took the opportunity to teach abroad in Guangzhou, China, at a math camp. Looking forward, Mrs. Ford is looking to earn her Master's degree in Applied Mathematics, and one day, even a PhD.
Mrs. Ford spends much of her free time walking her dog, Saya, going to Renaissance Festivals and Comic Cons with her husband, Cameron, reading manga, and taking cycling classes. In the classroom, she is dedicated to creating a fun and enjoyable learning environment for her scholars. She is greatly looking forward to meeting her new scholars and spending the year learning together!
Shilah Garrigan - 3RD GRADE TEACHER
Ms. Garrigan is honored to be at the Leman Academy of Excellence. Her career includes being a Behavior Therapist, Special Education Teacher, General Education Teacher, and Montessori Teacher. She has been teaching in the classroom since 2006. She believes highly in each of her scholars and works to guide them in becoming life-long learners. Her goal is that each of her scholars leaves her classroom more independent, confident, and willing to be a positive light within their community.
Ms. Garrigan holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Psychology from San Francisco State University and a Masters in Special Education, along with general and special education teaching credentials from Brandman University. She holds a certification in Applied Behavior Analysis from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She also holds a Montessori certification from the North American Montessori Center.
Ms. Garrigan has four children and her family loves playing board games, hiking, bike riding, cooking, and baking together. Ms. Garrigan enjoys yoga, running, and meditation. She is also a life-long learner and enjoys taking various classes to gain knowledge and grow as an individual. She is looking forward to working with the families, staff, and scholars of Leman Academy.
Hannah Bjorgum-Johnson - 4TH GRADE TEACHER
Ms. 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 down time 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!
KATHLEEN TUTAAN - 4TH GRADE TEACHER
Ms. Tutaan has been with the Leman Academy of Excellence family since 2018. As a Wildcat alum, she graduated cum laude from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor’s degree in Studio Art with a concentration in photography and a minor in Creative Writing. She has been published both for her writing and art, and some of her photography can be found displayed in the Asian Pacific American Student Affairs center at the University of Arizona. Ms. Tutaan also has a history working in broadcast media as a Morning Show Producer sharing and teaching the great stories of Anchorage, Alaska. Born in Madrid, Spain, Ms. Tutaan grew up in a military family — her father served 21 years in the United States Air Force. She also comes from a long line of educators on her mom’s side. It was only natural that she made a career shift toward public service and education.
Currently Ms. Tutaan is in the process of obtaining her Master’s degree in Elementary Education. Last year she worked at Leman Academy East as a 5th grade teacher. This year she is thrilled to serve 4th grade scholars at the brand new Leman Academy of Excellence Central campus and to have the opportunity to be a part of their incredible scholastic journey. Her goal is to create challenging and creative experiences for her diverse scholars in an atmosphere that is based on mutual respect and caring.
As a Filipino-American, Ms. Tutaan loves to travel to the Philippines every 2-3 years. In her free time, she loves to read classical novels, write/illustrate short stories, and do yoga and kickboxing aerobics. Outside of the classroom she can be found painting, biking, hanging out with her brothers, going on road trips, or taking long walks with her rescue Chihuahua, Paco. Ms. Tutaan dedicates herself to lifelong learning and professional development. She looks forward to building strong and meaningful relationships with her colleagues, scholars, and their families.
NAOMI CARTER - 5TH GRADE TEACHER
Ms. Carter has called Tucson her home for the past four years. Ms. Carter is a life learner both professionally and personally. Striving to grow and learn are just a few of the values she expects to extend to her scholars. Ms. Carter's background experience in elementary education has allowed her to teach scholars in grades K-6th. Her heart is found in 5th grade. She embraces moments where she is able to learn from her scholars, as well as see them shine in the classroom and beyond. " Children learn more from what you are than what you teach ." W.E.B. DuBois
ROLAND LYTLE - 6TH GRADE TEACHER
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!
Allison Meade - 6TH GRADE TEACHER
Ms. 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.
Andrea Woolley - EXCEPTIONAL SCHOLAR SERVICES TEACHER
Ms. 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 a 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.
Arianna Tuomey - EXCEPTIONAL SCHOLAR SERVICES TEACHER Aide
Ki'Jev King - READING INTERVENTION
Mr. King is an educator who partners with scholars, parents, staff and administrators to educate children by minimizing skill deficits using a variety of philosophies, tools and resources.
Mr. King received his M.Ed. from Gonzaga University. He has spent over a decade working in the public and private sector educating 1,000's of children; analyzing the function of behaviors in school settings, aligning academic supports to students' needs and using data to identify “next steps” in student learning.
In addition to teaching full-time, Mr. King spends most of his leisure time raising two children and soft-coaching teachers who demonstrate they have the love, kindness and passion it requires to do this heart work.
Mallory Shibe - ART TEACHER
Miss Shibe is a proud Tucson native, who’s passionate about art and teaching. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art Education and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography, and has been teaching Visual Art for 4 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. Miss Shibe is so grateful to be part of the Leman family, and excited for the first year at Leman Central!
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.
Erin DenBaars - Latin Teacher
Ms. DenBaars is excited to join the Leman Academy of Excellence family! She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Arizona with her Bachelor's degree in Anthropology and Classics. An avid traveler, Ms. DenBaars has visited such places as Costa Rica, Japan, and Egypt. She enjoys studying languages, reading fantasy and historical fiction, and spending time with her fiance and friends.
Maria Verdugo - Spanish Teacher
Mrs. 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
Teaching 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 Pimentel - HEALTH COORDINATOR
Ms. 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.
Jose-Gabriel Gallego - Facilities Coordinator