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.



Mr. Edwards was born and raised in Kansas. He attended Emporia State University and graduated with his Bachelors in Elementary Education in 2001. Since moving to Tucson in 2004, Mr. Edwards has taught a wide range of scholars at both the elementary and middle school levels. In 2012, he received his Masters in Educational Leadership from NAU. He has worked with scholars, their families and school faculty in an administrative capacity since that time.

Mr. Edwards has been married to his wife, Tia since 2003 and they have four children. Nate enjoys mountain biking, reading, cheering for his Kansas Jayhawks and discussing anything related to Star Wars. He and his family also love worshipping and serving alongside their church family. Mr. Edwards is very excited to lead the Central Tucson Leman Academy campus and be part of seeing scholars maximize their potential.


Michelle Buhs - Vice principal

Mrs. Buhs is originally from southern California where she completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, and her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. More recently, she completed her Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Creighton University. Mrs. Buhs has over 20 years of experience in public and private education, serving over half of those years as a classroom teacher. She has district as well as site based leadership experience in such roles as instructional coaching, developing and facilitating professional development for teachers, and curriculum and instruction. 

She and her husband Bill have two grown children, are active members of their church, and enjoy spending time outdoors with their two dogs.


Landon Walls - Vice principal

Mr. Walls was born and raised in Sedona, Arizona. He is the eldest of three and enjoys being outside, playing or watching sports, and traveling. He graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelors of Science in American Indian Studies in 2007. He obtained his Masters degree from Northern Arizona University in 2019 in Educational Leadership. He has 15 years experience in education and prides himself as a life-long learner. Mr. Walls is married to his wonderful wife Emily Walls, who is also an educator and Principal in the TUSD. They enjoy their time together and love to go on exciting adventures throughout the year, especially alongside their dog, Aubri. Mr. Walls is excited to be a part of the Leman family and looks forward to meeting the young and bright scholars and their families.



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 two fur babies! Gabriela has over 13 wonderful years of experience and is excited to get to know our new Leman community!



Jemimah Chacon - Administrative Assistant









Jennifer Struble - Administrative Assistant

Jennifer was born and raised in Tucson. In 2011 she married her childhood sweetheart Austin. Together they have 2 beautiful children Riann and Aiden, who both attend Leman Academy of Excellence East Tucson. She enjoys crafting, baking, camping, most of all being with my family. She has been an active parent since 2018 when Leman East opened. She is very excited to be a part of the Leman Academy of Excellence Central location.


Crystal Dolan - Scholar Accountability Clerk

Crystal was born and raised in Los Angeles County, California. Crystal and her family originally moved to Tucson in 2011. Crystal has three children who have been Leman Scholars for 4 years. Crystal enjoys painting, crafting, and watching movies with her family. She has been in education and childcare for over 15 years. Crystal is excited to be joining the Leman staff, after being a Leman parent.



Clarissa Garcia - kindergarten TEACHER

Clarissa Garcia is excited to join the Leman family as a kindergarten teacher.

She is 24 years old and recently got married to her wonderful husband who serves for the United States Air Force. Clarissa earned her associates degree in education from Palo Alto College then transferred and graduated from Texas A&M San Antonio with her Bachelors of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies EC-6.

She was born in Laredo, Texas and grew up in a small town called Pearsall, TX. She is the oldest sibling of 4 and is very family oriented. On her free time she enjoys cooking, drinking coffee, shopping on marketplace, offer up, or thrift stores, and taking her 1 year old goldendoodle named Bear to the park or on a walk.

She is excited and eager for this school year and cannot wait to meet your scholars!


Lesley Howe - kindergarten TEACHER

Mrs. Howe grew up in Tucson and loves the Sonoran Desert. She is a graduate of the University of Arizona, go Wildcats! She has five amazing children, two silly dogs, two loveable lambs, one precocious cat and a fabulous husband. Mrs. Howe has been an early education teacher for the past 12 years. She genuinely loves children and finds their curiosity, acceptance, and energy contagious. She enjoys the classical education model and loves partnering with families in student-driven discovery.


Kristen Leon - kindergarten TEACHER

This will be Mrs. Leon’s first year teaching at Leman Academy of Excellence and she is very excited to be part of the Leman family. Mrs. Leon is a veteran teacher with over 30 years of experience in Early Childhood education. She is a graduate of the University of Arizona and, along with her supportive husband, are proud parents of three U of A graduates. She is also the loving grandmother of four. She enjoys spending time with her ever growing family, reading, and traveling. Mrs. Leon is looking forward to meeting her incoming kindergarten scholars as they will embark on their Leman learning journey together!



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.


Claudia Bacelis - TEACHER Aide

Claudia is a native of the Yucatán peninsula and left her Hotel management and Service Industry career in Cancún to become a full-time mom. She has been in the Sonora – Arizona region since 2004 where she and her husband decided to start their family. With the spirit to serve since she was a child, she found a way to use this gift during preschool through the early elementary years of her two boys at the school that they attended in Nogales, Arizona by actively volunteering and working with preschool to 4th-grade children as well as in administration. Claudia is the proud parent of two sons who attended Leman Academy since its opening in 2015 and who graduated from 8th grade as Leman Academy Scholars in 2019 and 2021. Both young men are currently in high school. Claudia was privileged to be a part of the Leman Academy Marana campus her first two years as a volunteer and then as an instructional assistant for four years. She transferred to the Central campus and began her journey during the 2021-2022 school year, where she will continue to serve children, families, and fellow staff. On a personal note, when she is not driving her boys around town to their numerous activities, she enjoys amateur photography, graphic design, beginner yoga, dancing, strength training and quiet family time.


Gabriela Grijalva - TEACHER Aide







Lisa Lohn-Ziehler - TEACHER Aide







Charlotte Elander - 1st GRADE TEACHER

My name is Charlotte Elander and I began teaching in 2009 when I graduated from the University of Roehampton in Surrey, England. My degree is in Primary Education (which is the equivalent of Elementary Education) and I have spent my teaching career mostly in First Grade and Kindergarten. I really enjoy the curiosity and enthusiasm that you see in young children and strive to learn something new with my scholars every week!
I moved to Tucson from England 7 years ago, and I love exploring Arizona and trying new (to me) American foods. I have a goal to visit all 50 States with my husband, and we are currently at 34!  When I'm not teaching I like to hike, read, craft, sew and spend time with my 3 kids.
I am really excited to be joining the Leman Academy team, it is a similar approach to learning that we took in my previous school. I already feel so welcomed and inspired.


Heather McClure - 1st Grade 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. 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-Jardine - 1ST GRADE TEACHER

Ms. Moore-Jardine 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.










Carrie Avila - 2ND GRADE TEACHER








lawanda Clarke - 2nd GRADE TEACHER

Ms. Clarke 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. Clarke 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. Clarke 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.


gabrielle robustelli - 2nd GRADE TEACHER

Ms. Robustelli is excited to be returning to 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.


Janell Christ - 3RD GRADE TEACHER

Janell Christ

Ms. Christ is honored and beyond privileged to be a part of the Leman Academy of Excellence family. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from the University of Arizona South. After spending time in her cousins classroom and volunteering in several other classes, Ms. Christ knew this was the career for her. Since she could remember she wanted to become a teacher when she grew up. She was influenced by the long line of educators in her immediate family.

This is Ms. Christ’s 4th year of teaching. She has taught third grade for three years and fourth grade for one year. Ms. Christ 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 feels safe and accepted in her classroom.

Ms. Christ enjoys spending her time outdoors, riding horses and playing volleyball. She has played volleyball since the sixth grade from seeing the positive impact it had on her older brother that introduced the sport to the family. Her parents live here in Tucson. She has two brothers, a niece and nephew, and her oldest brother was a big part of her life who unfortunately passed away. He is a huge part of the person she is today and she knows he is watching over her daily.

The story that tells about why she became an educator begins with her play-dates with her grandma growing up. Everyday, her mom would drop her off at her grandmas while her brothers went to school. Ms. Christ’s grandma would ask her what she wants to do. She would answer the question the same everyday, “We are going to play school. You will be the student and I will be a teacher.” Since Ms. Christ was about five or six years old, she decided that is what she is going to be when she grows up.


Jackilyn Drake - 3RD GRADE TEACHER

Ms. Drake earned her Bachelor of Arts in English and Master of Education from the University of Arizona, graduating magna cum laude with her master’s degree. Loving a challenge and looking for opportunities for growth, she has taught 7th and 8th English Language Arts, Sophomore English and Pre-AP British Literature, and a math study skills support class at the University of Arizona. She is now excited to apply her experience at Leman Academy of Excellence teaching 3rd grade.

Growing up the ninth of ten children, Ms. Drake learned to value family, hard work, service, thriftiness, and getting along with others. She was born and raised in Bisbee, AZ and will tell anyone willing to listen about its colorful history and the best places to visit! She loves being an Arizonan and United States Citizen and feels blessed to be teaching the next generations skills they will need to become productive members of their communities, who add to the rich heritage of our state and nation.

Ms. Drake has a great many pastimes, some of which are attending live theater, reading picture books and novels, watching Korean and Period Dramas, gardening, singing in her church choir, and taking time to visit her siblings and 25 nieces and nephews. Her bucket list is also varied and includes touring the US Presidential Libraries, ziplining over a valley or gorge, eating a Jackfruit, and attending a Shakespearean play at the Globe Theater in London, England.


Rachael Fussell - 3RD GRADE TEACHER

This is Mrs. Fussell’s second year at Leman Academy. Mrs. Fussell studied at Grand Canyon University, where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Music. In the next few years, she aims to pursue a Master’s in Psychology. This is her fourth year of teaching and her first year in third grade, and she is ready for a year of adventure with her new scholars!

Although teaching is her first love, her second is music. In her free time, she likes to sing and play guitar. Mrs. Fussell spends most of her weekends camping, hiking, or biking with Mr. Fussell and their dog, Obi. Mrs. Fussell is also a huge fan of football, baseball, volleyball, and Star Wars. She enjoys traveling and has been to several countries in Europe and the Middle East, as well as a majority of the U.S. She cannot wait to bring her cultural experience to the classroom!


David Hoffman - 3rd Grade Teacher

Mr. Hoffman was born in Ohio and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. With one month to go in his junior year of high school he moved to Troy, Michigan. He attended Grand Rapids Baptist College, then Calvin College and he also graduated from Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary. He has a bachelor of arts, bachelor of science (Earning a teacher certificate), and several masters degrees. He moved to Tucson in 1996. He has been a principal and a teacher at several private schools and also taught prisoners (helping them obtain their GED diploma). Mr. Hoffman has been married to his wife Debbie since 1978 and they have five children and 11 grandchildren. He loves all the angels that God has blessed them with. He also has been actively involved in his church. He looks forward to helping the scholars at Leman Academy with their math needs, as a math interventionist.


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 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!



Mr. Jorge Guido is excited to begin his new journey at Leman Academy of Excellence. He earned his teaching degree in 1994 from Western New Mexico University. This will be his 28th year of teaching and is looking forward to helping scholars succeed. Before earning his teaching degree, Mr. Guido was an FAA-certified airplane mechanic. It was a fun career, but, he prefers the rewards of helping young people grow socially and intellectually.

Mr. Guido has several hobbies and interests. These include cooking, hiking, gardening, working on cars, creating art, and taking walks with his daughter Eilean and his dog Jasper.


Paige McCranie - FOURTH GRADE Teacher

Mrs. 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. This is her 7th year teaching overall, her 3rd year at Leman Academy. 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 one year old son, Barrett Jackson. One of her most favorite sayings is: "By doing what you LOVE, you INSPIRE and awaken the hearts of others." Mrs. McCranie looks forward to a great school year here at Leman Central! Go Royals!


hanah knox - 5th Grade teacher

Mrs. 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!


Tina Simmons - 5th Grade teacher








Albert "Jay" Moore- 6th GRADE History TEACHER

Jay Moore started working with young people as a youth pastor of his church and continued working with them and their families as an assistant pastor and senior pastor of several different churches throughout the years. Mr. Moore has received his Bachelor's of Arts degree from California Baptist University in Riverside, CA and a Master’s of Arts degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX. Mr. Moore has also been an adjunct professor for Wayland Baptist University teaching Old and New Testament History. Jay comes to Leman Academy to impact the young people of our community and help them become the future confident and competent leaders that our world needs. Jay has been married to his amazing and beautiful wife since August of 1979 and together they have 4 amazing adult children and 11 grandchildren. Jay enjoys traveling to see new places, sports, “GO COWBOYS!”, and worshiping and serving alongside his church family. Mr. Moore is very excited to teach 6th Grade Medieval History to our amazing scholars at Leman Academy.


Brian Hofmann- 6th GRADE Science TEACHER








Esperanza Sesteaga - 6th Grade ELA TEACHER








edgar bernal sevilla - 7th-8th 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.


Valerie Cripe - 7th-8th Grade ELA TEACHER

Ms. Cripe has always loved traveling where the wind may take her, seeking out both the unique and shared experiences one may find between strangers. She has learned through her travels across the street and her teaching career across the seas, that every person has a story to tell. We are part of a gloriously interconnected world with complex characters and many crossing paths, and she cannot wait to explore the wonder it has to offer with her scholars.

Ms. Cripe graduated Westmont College of Santa Barbara with a Bachelor's degree in both English and Communication Studies. She has written a screenplay that was entered into an international film festival competition, taught English in Japan, and for the last few years has worked with adults who have developmental disabilities to help equip them to pursue excellence. In her free time, Ms. Cripe can often be found volunteering at her church, playing creative role-playing games, or practicing martial arts.


Christopher Wilkinson - 7th-8th GRADE Math TEACHER








Thomas Schilke - 7th-8th GRADE Logic/Debate/Geography TEACHER

After a brief (5 year) foray into working with young adults with special needs, Mr. Schilke is excited to be returning to the field of education as a member of the Leman family. Born in sunny Yuma, AZ, Mr. Schilke moved to Tucson in 2009, where he graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelors in Political Science and a minor in History. A former college and high school tutor, Mr. Schilke is looking forward to bringing his passion for teaching to his scholars as the 7th/8th grade Logic/Debate/Geography teacher. In his free time, he enjoys reading, hiking, volunteering, watching football, the occasional video game, and catching up on the news.


carmen dettmer - Kindergarten-3rd grade ESS Teacher

Mrs. 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 Woolley - 4th-8th Grade ESS 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 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.


Marsel Salivanos – Kindergarten-3rd grade ESS Teacher Assistant

 Mrs.Salivanos is honored to be part of Leman Academy of Excellence and is starting her second year as ESS Instructional Assistant. A bilingual speaker, she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Studies in Israel in 2011. That same year Mrs. Salivanos got married , moved with her husband to Tucson, Az. and has been calling Tucson home ever since. After 5 years of working as a general manager at her family business and having two amazing daughters ( both of whom attend Leman Academy Of Excellence) she decided to work with children as she did back in her country Israel. She loves working with children wants to make a difference in their lives. Mrs. Salivanos has worked and taught from preschool-7th grade in the US since 2018. She is passionate about her job and happy to support and guide scholars through their learning journey. Her goal is to make every scholar develop confidence, keep trying and to never give up. Mrs. Salivanos loves animals as she is an owner of two dogs and six cats. In her spare time aside from avid traveling, Mrs. Salivanos loves sharing her talent as a baker and cake decorator to provide sweet treats to her friends and family.


Roxanne Cruz – Speech

This is Mrs. Cruz's second year at Leman Central. Mrs. Cruz earned her Bachelor of Scientce in Speech and Hearing Sciences from the University of Arizona and her Master of Science in Communication Disorders from Arizona State University. Mrs. Cruz has worked as a school-based Speech Language Pathologist for more than 20 years and has worked with scholars of all ages from Preschool to the 12th grade. She has experience working with children with Developmental Language Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder and other Developmental Disabilities. In her time away from school, Mrs. Cruz enjoys reading and watching movies.


Monica Bird - Reading Interventionist

Ms. Bird is excited to start her 15th year of teaching, and her second at Leman Central. This year she will step out of the classroom, and into the role of Reading Interventionist/Dyslexia Designee.

She is the proud mother of two daughters, and two rescue fur babies. Ms. Bird and her twin sister grew up in Anchorage, Alaska. This is where she earned her Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Alaska Anchorage. While teaching in Anchorage, Ms. Bird headed the Multicultural Committee and helped with the start of 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 earned her Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education from New Mexico State University. This helped her cultivate a love, understanding, and empathy for our youngest scholars.


Tara Devereaux - Reading Interventionist








Chris Tanner - 3rd-5th grade Math Interventionist








Alina Andrade - kindergarten-3rd Grade Art TEACHER

I am Alina Andrade the K-3 Art Teacher here at Leman Academy in Central Tucson. I enjoy art and it's lovely history. I am hoping to implement my passion and love for art in the classroom. I want children to create and let their creative juices flow into their art work. Let's cheer for a great new school year!




Jill Hiestand - 4th-8th Grade Art TEACHER

Jill grew up moving around a lot and knows what its like to always be the new kid. She started her higher education at a Wilderness program in WI. She ended with her first BA in Philosophy and Biblical Studies from Nyack College, NY. After graduation, most of Jill's work experience was in the education sector of the behavioral health field. Through a series of moves and perseverance Jill decided to go back to school to pursue one of her first loves, Art. She was able to get her Teaching Cert in Art over the Covid year and completed a BFA in Studio Art from University of Arizona in 2022. Though majoring in 3D Art at U of A: ceramics and sculpture, Jill also enjoys watercolor painting and collage techniques. She is looking forward to being a part of scholars learning and discovering new ways of seeing the world and themselves. When she's not using or organizing her Art supplies, you can find her curled up on the couch with her three kitties and Philosophy prof husband, drinking cups of strong Irish tea.


Jenna Reagan - kindergarten-3rd Grade Music TEACHER

A University of Arizona graduate and Tucson native, Jenna has over 14 years of teaching experience. While studying for her Bachelors degree in music education under award-winning violinist and concertmaster, Professor Aaron Boyd, she devoted her spare time to leading group sessions with the University of Arizona String Project, as well as teaching private in-home lessons to aspiring musicians. After graduation, she worked as a regional orchestra director with TUSD, and over the course of many years, she successfully restored orchestral programs that now provide musical outlets for over 300 elementary and middle school students annually. Through the use of Traditional and Suzuki teaching methods, as well as the integration of modern technology, Jenna has developed an effective signature style of instruction that accommodates and entertains students of all ages, and skill levels. She also performs locally with a band called The Awkward Moments.


Kimberly Jeter Hall - 4th-8th Grade 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 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 in 2006. They moved to Tucson one month before the start of the 2020-2021 school year and are happy to be a part of the Leman Academy of Excellence community.


Maria Verdugo - Kindergarten-2nd grade 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!


Jennifer Sandberg - 3rd-5th grade Latin Teacher








Joel McMillon - Kindergarten-3rd Grade PE Teacher

Joel McMillon feels blessed and honored to be working with and part of the family at Lena Academy of Excellence. Joel holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Phoenix in business management as well as certificates in Fitness in Sports Science Coaching, Human Kinetics Coaching Education, NFHS Fundamentals of Coaching baseball, football, and basketball. Joel has coached and mentored our youth for over 25 years. Joel enjoys helping our youth reach their full potential academically, emotionally, and mentally, as well as learning and strengthening life skills. Joel has worked as an Intervention Specialist Marana Unified School District and AN Intervention Monitor for Tucson Unified School District. In 2008 Joel retired from the Tucson Police Department after 26 years service.


Mark Swenson - 4th-8th Grade PE Teacher

Originally from Long Island NY, Mark grew up in Tucson, a product of 12 years of Catholic school graduating from Salpointe. He got a BS in Athletic Admin from the University of Arizona and a Masters in Education Leadership from Northern Arizona University. Mark has been the Athletic Director at The Gregory School, St. Augustine Catholic, and Academy of Tucson. He will embark in his 23rd year in the same capacity at Leman Academy this year.

Mark has been married to Laura for 29 years. They have 3 kids, Gabriel finishing Med School, Brandi finishing Nursing school, and bonus blessing Marcus entering 8th grade at Gregory School. Surfing is Mark's passion, an activity he enjoys with the family at every opportunity.


Olivia Flores - Health Coordinator

Bobbie was born and raised in good ole Tucson. I lived in Portland, Oregon where I graduated with my Certification in Medical assisting. I have worked in various fields of healthcare. I am happy to be working with children. I have 7 grown children, and 10 grandchildren. I have a soft spot in my heart for children. My passion is helping and giving. I enjoy spending time with my family, at the beach, sewing and crafting. I pray we have a healthy year.



Samantha Williams - Office/Health Assistant

Samantha Williams








Beth Premo - Lunch Coordinator








Patricia Johnson - Lunch Staff








Megan Homach - Lunch Staff








Jimmy Teran - FACILITIES Custodian