Justin Aquila grew up in Southwest Florida, deciding near the end of High School to join the Marine Corps, where he served as a Security Force Marine. Afterwards, having decided to return to school, and having discovered it is possible to major in Latin and Greek, he attended the University of South Florida and pursued the degree in Classics, which he received in 2009. His interest not only in Latin, but in other Ancient and modern Languages, as well as in Ancient and Medieval History, Mythology, and Archaeology, stems from early exposure to encyclopedic entries on these topics, and also to some degree, no doubt, from the Indiana Jones movies. After graduation, he worked variously in sign making, delivery driving, as a Grocery clerk, and in Auto Insurance Customer Service. He is most grateful and excited to open a new chapter with Great Hearts and North Phoenix Prep. In his free time, Mr. Aquila catches up on reading, of which his greatest interest lies in J.R.R. Tolkien and Robert E. Howard. He also continues to plod through the writing of his second fantasy novel. Other interests include Hockey and Traditional Archery.
Dr. Avery received his doctorate at the University of Dallas in 2006 and thereafter worked as an English professor for eleven years at universities in Florida and Texas. In addition to his roles at North Phoenix Preparatory, he is also Adjunct Assistant Professor of Humanities with the University of Dallas. His research interests lie chiefly in Renaissance British Literature, especially Shakespeare and Thomas More. He has published a number of articles on those topics and also serves as a reader for Moreana, a journal specializing in Thomas More Studies. Being a lover of the Great Books, he especially appreciates teaching the Great Hearts classical curriculum. Dr. Avery is married with three children. Outside of education and research, he enjoys playing Ultimate Frisbee, strategic board games, and spending time with his family.
Dr. Bahbah earned her first bachelor’s degree in Biology and her master’s degree in Botany in Science while living in Turkey, where she was born and raised. When she was a teacher in Turkey, she was awarded a highly competitive scholarship by the Turkish government to pursue her graduate studies in the United States. She successfully completed her master’s degree in science education at the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2002. She studied the impact of the 5E science model (engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate) on elementary and middle school students’ learning and attitudes. After completing her master’s degree, she began her doctoral studies in the interdisciplinary Ph.D. program at ASU’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction. She graduated and received her PhD degree in 2008 (go Sun Devils!) She has taught Math and Science in different grade levels, including college level courses. She is a proud mom to one fantastic, nine-year-old daughter who is a student in Archway North Phoenix. She has a one dog, Cotton Ball. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family, taking road-trips, exercising, playing with her dog and learning new languages. Dr. Bahbah is looking forward to joining North Phoenix Prep as an 8th-grade Earth Science Teacher this year.
Marizza Bailey has an M.S in Pure Mathematics from the University of California, Irvine and four years of graduate work towards her PhD in Arithmetic Geometry from UCI. She began her high school teaching career in Camden-Fairview High School in Southwest Arkansas and moved to the Arkansas School of Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts (ASMSA) two years later. During her time at ASMSA, she spent a summer working with the Army Corps of Engineers at various hydroelectric plants in Arkansas to develop a system for calculating the arc flash protection boundary and incident energy of the electrical components in the plant. She did this to understand the applications of complex analysis, a new course that she was going to be teaching in the fall.
From 2010 to 2019, Mrs. Bailey taught classes ranging from Algebra 2 to Group Theory and Topology at BASIS Scottsdale. Mrs. Bailey made the happy move to North Phoenix Prep last year and hopes it will be her permanent home.
Mrs. Bailey has been awarded the Presidential Award for Teaching in Mathematics, Raytheon Math Hero Award, have been named an Intel Science Teacher of Merit, Northwestern University Distinguished Secondary Teacher Finalist, and received National Board Certification in Mathematics for Adolescent and Youth. During her free time, Mrs. Bailey likes to play with her dogs, play piano, and one day, hopes to enjoy hiking again.
Dr. Stephen Bain has lived much of his life in or around Atlanta, Georgia, but his family is primarily from Columbus, Ohio.He received a BA in Biblical Studies and Humanities from Point University, a Master’s degree in Philosophy and the Humanities from the University of Dallas, and in 2017 he completed his Ph.D. in Humanities from Faulkner University.He has long been a loving student of the Great Books of the Western World, having a particular interest in the Virtue Ethics tradition and the works of J. R. R. Tolkien.Dr. Bain has several years of teaching experience, from middle and high school Literature and History to Philosophy and Humane Letters at such colleges as West Georgia College and University and Auburn University at Montgomery.Dr. Bain is an avid fan of the Atlanta Braves, and also enjoys reading and games of all kinds, including board games, strategy games, and collectible card games.
Sarah Baker received her Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Wheaton College in 2014. While finishing her Master of Arts in Teaching from the same university, she worked as a preschool aid and substitute teacher at Clapham School, a private Classical school in Wheaton, Illinois. After receiving her Master of Arts in Teaching and her Illinois teaching certification in Secondary Education with an endorsement in English language arts, Ms. Baker moved to Arizona to join the Great Hearts family in 2016. This will be her third-year teaching 8th Grade Literature and Composition and her 6th year teaching 9th Grade Poetry at Great Hearts. She has also previously taught 7th Grade Literature and Composition and 11th Grade Drama. In addition to teaching, Ms. Baker enjoys swimming, traveling, and reading Victorian novels and poetry.
David Belcheff earned a Master’s degree from the School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies at ASU. This will be his fifth year teaching Ancient History at NPX. He is also proud to lead the wonderful team of seventh grade teachers at our academy, and will be sponsoring the Antiquities ECNA this year. In addition to studying Ancient History, Mr. Belcheff loves to read, write, discuss philosophy, listen to music, and spend time with his wife, sons, cat, and desert tortoise.
Mr. Black proudly joined North Phoenix Preparatory Academy in 2015. His teaching career began in 1996 in graduate school. Following which, Mr. Black moved to Oregon where he worked as an art professor at Willamette University, dividing his time between teaching and acting as the exhibition designer for the Hallie Ford Museum of Art. In 2005 he returned to his home state of Arizona and accepted a position as one of the founding teachers at Chandler Preparatory Academy. In addition to teaching, Mr. Black is also a respected professional watercolor artist whose work is collected on a national level. Mr. Black is happily married and also enjoys hiking, tennis, and golf.
Ms. Bruch has taught Studio Art at NPX for the past two years and enjoys helping scholars find their creative voice though visual media. She has also taught as an Adjunct Professor of Art History at Paradise Valley Community College for the past eight years. In her free time, Ms. Bruch loves to travel and has visited world class museums and archeological sites across Europe. She has also lived and worked abroad in Scandinavia, taking the opportunity to learn Finnish weaving and felt-making techniques. She holds two Master’s Degrees – an MA in Art History from the University of Iowa and an MLIS in Library and Information Science from the University of Southern Mississippi. Ms. Bruch is a ceramic artist, an avid photographer, and likes to participate in local art shows. She is married, has a 9th grade daughter, and keeps a backyard full of happy, free-range chickens. In her free time, she enjoys camping, yoga, baking, and attending art festivals.
Mr. Nathaniel Calahan grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, before moving to Phoenix, Arizona as a teenager. He received a degree in Linguistics and Cognitive Science from Pomona College, before returning to Arizona to teach and coach at his high school alma mater, Tempe Preparatory Academy. Mr. Calahan has taught Latin, English, and Humane Letters for eleven years, and he will be teaching Medieval History and Humane Letters at North Phoenix Prep this year. He is excited to become part of the community at NPX. Outside of school, Mr. Calahan spends most of his time with his family, with time set aside for watching movies, reading books, and complaining about rule changes in baseball.
Ms. Isabel Coffey graduated from Valparaiso University with a B.A. in Classics and Creative Writing. During her time at Valpo, which is situated in the Northwest corner of Indiana, she also studied Humanities, with a focus in English, Greek and Latin literatures. She grew up in Phoenix, but greatly enjoyed her time in the Midwest, and hopes to venture back someday. Ms. Coffey cultivates an array of interests and hobbies in her spare time, from collecting typewriters to sewing clothing. As her name suggests, she loves coffee, and sometimes misses her days as a barista. Ms. Coffey is excited to be returning to NPX for a second year, to be adding Greek I to her teaching slate, and to continue her time with the Great Hearts family after previously graduating from Veritas Prep.
James Crowley is originally from the small town of Temple City, California (a suburb of Los Angeles), where he first got involved in theatre and music as a child. After moving to Arizona, he became more serious about his fine arts studies. Mr. Crowley spent several years apprenticing with the late prominent Valley music professor, Dr. Daniel Hooper, from whom he learned piano, sight singing, composition, and conducting. Mr. Crowley then began formal vocal studies at the age of eighteen, and first sang with the Arizona Opera chorus, where he discovered he was a tenor.
From this first professional opportunity began a wide and varied opera career that took him across the United States, from San Francisco to New York City, and finally, to the Metropolitan Opera Company. Mr. Crowley’s other love is creative writing, and has resulted in two children’s novels as well as several fiction and non-fiction short stories. Mr. Crowley holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Grand Canyon University.
Ryan M. Fleming is from the small town of New Castle, Delaware. He completed his undergraduate studies at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. There he studied the Liberal Arts in a rigorous Great Books program which includes works from the great minds of Aristotle, Plato, Descartes, Cervantes, Euclid, Einstein, Newton, Galileo and several others. During his studies he was involved not only in the academic culture but volunteer and leadership organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and the Hugh O’ Brian Youth Leadership Foundation. During his education he has also participated in an array of athletic activities such as Cross Country, Indoor and Outdoor Track, Cross-Fit, Swimming, Ultimate Frisbee, and many others. He wishes to bring the excellence of the Western Tradition to the everyday habits of the students and make the Liberal Arts a way of life for these young individuals, rather than leave it a strange and unapproachable name.
Ms. Flood is looking forward to her third year at North Phoenix Prep where she will teach Medieval History and Humane Letters II. She finds it so exciting to be able to share her passion for History and Literature. Ms. Flood is originally from Nebraska and has come to love the lack of winter in Arizona. She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a double major in English and History and a minor in Philosophy. Ms. Flood received a Master’s Degree in English from the University of Nebraska-Kearney. Her teaching career has spanned over twenty years affording her the opportunity to teach 5th grade through college. Ms. Flood spent many years as a Lecturer at the University of Nebraska-Kearney, teaching Composition, Literature, and Holocaust Studies. Not surprisingly, Ms. Flood loves to read. Her idea of a perfect day is a good book, a comfortable chair, and an endless supply of tea. She is also very interested in Astronomy (alas, Phoenix is not very good for dark night skies), Geology (she loves collecting rocks), and, strangely enough, Hockey (go Coyotes). When she can, she likes to travel, especially to the old mining towns here in Arizona. Her family consists of 7 cats and a dog.
Mrs. Alexis Fulton is a native Texan. She attended Sul Ross State University in Alpine, TX where she earned a B.S. in Biology with a minor in English. She then attended Wayland Baptist University in San Antonio, TX in pursuit of an M.Ed. She taught every level of both high school English and science over the course of seven years in Texas before moving to Arizona in 2011. Since moving to Phoenix, Mrs. Fulton has taught high school English and various high school and community college level science classes for both public and charter schools in the city. A love of learning about and exploring the natural world, and humanity’s interaction with it, fuels Mrs. Fulton’s enthusiasm in the classroom. When she is not busy teaching or taking classes of her own, she loves to spend time with her husband, children, and friends. She also enjoys reading, hiking, cooking, music, and yoga.
Dr. Geraci has a BA in Biology (Drew Univ.) and graduate degrees in Ecology (MA, UNC-Chapel Hill) and Entomology (PhD, Clemson). After postdoctoral fellowships at the Smithsonian and National Science Foundation, she served as an Assistant Professor at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani. Her team earned USAID funding to build an undergrad research program on freshwater science in the Tigris River Basin. Teaching at a liberal arts college abroad led her to classical education and the desire to cultivate sense of wonder in young scholars. Dr. G spends her free time fishing, camping, and collecting insects with her husband, son (a first-grader at ANP), and two dogs. This is her fifth year with Great Hearts and second at NPX.
Mr. Gray has had a love of history since middle school.He began his studies in history at Colorado State University, completing his BA in Biblical Studies at Dallas Baptist University.He taught American History at the University of Northern Colorado while doing graduate work and completed his M.Div. at Fuller Theological Seminary focusing on church history in 2017.While completing his M.Div., he developed a love for the life of the mind which drew him to Philosophy and Ethics.He has taught Ethics and Historical Theology at Grand Canyon University since 2017.His daughter has attended North Phoenix Prep since 2016.Mr. Gray joined North Phoenix Prep in 2018.When not teaching, Mr. Gray enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, strength training and competing in the Scottish Highland Games.
Mr. Herrera is originally from Los Angeles, California, but has called Arizona home for the past 18 years. In addition to a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from California State University, Northridge, Mr. Herrera holds Bachelor of Music & Master of Music degrees in Vocal Performance from California State University, Northridge & The University of Arizona, respectively. His decision to continue his musical training brought him to Arizona where he has been a featured soloist with The Phoenix Symphony, Phoenix Opera, and Arizona Opera. Mr. Herrera has been a member and soloist with the internationally acclaimed Phoenix Chorale for seven years, winning a Grammy Award with this professional ensemble in 2016 for their recording of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s All Night Vigil. Before arriving at North Phoenix Prep, Mr. Herrera taught at several local colleges such as Phoenix College, Glendale Community College, Arizona Christian University and Grand Canyon University. Whether or not his NPX students decide to pursue music as a life-long vocation, he has enjoyed introducing students to the rewarding rigors & beauty involved in studying the vocal arts.
Mr. Jameson was born and raised in Pittsburg, Kansas, a small college town of approximately 20,000 people located in the southeast corner of the state. He is proud to be from the Midwest, and he holds firm to the values that were instilled in him from his youth: faith, family, and community. As an alumnus of the University of Dallas, Mr. Jameson is excited to teach Pre-Algebra for his second year at North Phoenix Prep. Although he was grateful for the opportunity to teach high school Spanish last year, he is excited to teach 7th graders about the beauty of mathematics.
Mr. Jameson enjoys promoting extracurricular life at NPX, especially by serving as an assistant coach for track and field. He also enjoys hiking the Arizona landscape, running marathons, and traveling all over the world. Since moving to Arizona to serve as a teacher at NPX, Mr. Jameson has loved every moment of living in Arizona, and he doesn’t plan to leave anytime soon.
Mr. Latham comes to us with vast experience and knowledge in teaching and acting. He has spent the last 15 years performing for the Southwest Shakespeare Company & Childsplay Theatre, teaching theatre at the National Performers Academy, and substitute teaching for the Mesa School District. He earned his Bachelor’s of Science with a focus in Theatre Performance and Political Science from NAU and is currently finishing his Teaching Certification. We are grateful to add him to our faculty this year!
Ms. Lentz grew up in Phoenix and studied at Tulane University in New Orleans. After graduating, she earned her teaching certification through the University of New Orleans and went on to begin her teaching career in the New Orleans Public Schools. Ms. Lentz continued her work at St. Martin’s Episcopal School in Metairie, Louisiana, where she received the J. Gordon and Lou Ann Reishe Outstanding Teacher Award and had the opportunity to pursue further education in Teacher Leadership. Ms. Lentz returned to Phoenix in 2012 and spent several years at home with her young family while also starting a small business. Ms. Lentz joined the faculty at North Phoenix Prep in 2018 and was delighted to again be working with middle school students. With four children at Archway North Phoenix, Ms. Lentz is a devoted member of the Great Hearts community.
Joseph A. Mann received his B.M. in Piano Pedagogy from Longwood University, summa cum laude, his M.M. in Piano Performance from James Madison University, and his Ph.D. with distinction in Historical Musicology with a Ph.D. minor in English Literature from The Catholic University of America.
As a musicologist, Dr. Mann’s scholarly articles are published in Musica Disciplina and The Musical Times. A new article, “Virtuous Music by Virtuous Musicians: The Political Functions of Praising Music, ca. 1560-1640,” is forthcoming in the essay collection, Elizabethan and Jacobean Praises of Music from Taylor & Francis. Dr. Mann regularly presents papers on early modern English music, politics, and literature at local and regional conferences such as the North American British Music Studies Association, the Society for Seventeenth-Century Music, and the Renaissance Society of America. Clemson University Press published Dr. Mann’s first scholarly book, Printed Musical Propaganda in Early Modern England, in 2020.
In addition to teaching music history at The George Washington University, American University, and at The Catholic University of America, Dr. Mann has also taught music theory, aural skills, and Great Book (HL) at The Catholic University of America and St. Gregory’s University, where he was a visiting assistant professor. At NPX, Dr. Mann currently teaches Humane Letters and serves as the Chair of the Liberal Arts Council.
Rocky Márquez is a native Arizonan. He grew up in the Valley and graduated from Greenway High School. After high school, he studied mathematics at Paradise Valley Community College and then at Arizona State University. While at ASU, Rocky was volunteering in the evening with children, and it was during that time that he discovered a passion for helping young people succeed. His newfound passion led him to transfer to Franciscan University of Steubenville, a liberal arts university outside of Pittsburgh, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy. After graduating from FUS, Rocky decided to fulfill his passion by teaching and joined the Great Hearts team. In his free time he volunteers in his local community, hikes around Arizona, and travels with friends to countries around the world to enjoy as much delicious food as he can.
Miss O’Sullivan is a Phoenix native, growing up in the area around North Phoenix Prep. She received her BA in History for Secondary Education from Grand Canyon University. Her most recent teaching experience was at an international school in Japan teaching world history and U.S. humanities. Her passions include Cold War American history and political science. The last few years have given her an opportunity to explore some of the historical sites in Arizona. In her free time she enjoys travel, reading, frisbee, any lively discussion, and good coffee.
Mr. Pagani has been teaching with Great Hearts since 2008. He obtained his first BA from St. John’s College in Santa Fe, NM, and holds a second BA in Classical Philology from the University of Cincinnati, where he took multiple graduate level courses, and was welcomed directly into the PhD programme in Classics at the University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In addition to Ancient Greek and Latin, Mr. Pagani also taught Spanish and English before joining Great Hearts. Mr Pagani loves and continues to cultivate his knowledge of classical philology, literature, languages, and linguistics. He has created and led student & faculty clubs in Old English, Old Norse, Old Irish, Classical Hebrew, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Linguistic Creations, conversational Latin, Classical Latin verse composition, and German. He is particularly fascinated by ancient languages, literatures, and music, and he enjoys serving as the editor of the English Club Newsletter.
Ms. Kimberly Poduska hails from the windy city of Chicago, Illinois. After graduating from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in 2004, with a BA in English and a minor in Secondary Education, as well as endorsements in the other core subject areas, she began her career as a sixth-grade common core teacher. Following this role, she continued as high school English teacher, as well as a seventh and eighth-grade honors English teacher. As science is Ms. Poduska’s most passionate interest and hobby, she is honored and excited to meet and work with her students. Some of her other interests include painting, singing, reading, writing, and playing with her pet rabbit, Thumpkins Rumplestein.
Mrs. Pagnone originally hails from Venezuela. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics and a post-baccalaureate degree in Tax Policy from her home country, and a master’s degree in Business Administration from Arizona State University, where she also worked as a Teacher Assistant. She is recently back to school to earn an academic certificate in Language Studies (focusing on Latin) from Rio Salado Community College. Before becoming a teacher, she worked as Business Consultant for several years, collaborating in multiple software-related financial projects in the US, Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean. Mrs. Pagnone worked at North Phoenix Preparatory Academy for over five years, where she has taught Honors Economics and Honors Spanish (I through IV). Outside school, she enjoys learning new things, spending time with her family and friends, traveling, taking pictures, going on long walks while listening to audiobooks, reading, cooking, and dancing.
Sarah Schripsema has served the North Phoenix Prep community for many years in many capacities. She received a bachelor’s degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology and a master’s degree in Teaching and Teacher Education from the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona. She has taught Chemistry, Biology, Life Science, and Humane Letters. She has served as our Dean of Students, working with students and teachers to solve disciplinary issues in the classroom and on campus. This year she is teaching 10th grade Humane Letters and acting as support and coach to several of our teachers. She teaches leadership skills to 9th and 10th grade Lanistae, who collectively manage our Gladiator Familia Program. Ms. Schripsema is always excited to help students learn through experiences and mistakes in a safe, supporting, and loving environment.
Mr. Shisler came to the North Phoenix family in 2017 after teaching mathematics and coaching cross country and track at Scottsdale Preparatory Academy for 7 years.Before coming to Great Hearts, Mr. Shisler also taught high school mathematics and coached for 19 years at private schools in Phoenix and the San Gabriel Valley in California.He is proud to be from Eugene, Oregon, where he acquired his love for both running and mathematics.Mr. Shisler received his BA from Azusa Pacific University.He has been married to his amazing wife for 34 years and has a daughter and a son.Mr. Shisler enjoys table games, hiking, biking all over Phoenix, and inspiring young minds and hearts.
Ms. Srinivasan earned her Bachelor’s degree in Engineering in India, focusing on Electronics and Instrumentation. After many years in the software industry, she found that her calling was for teaching. She obtained a Bachelor’s in Education which afforded her to teach Math, Science and English. Since moving to Arizona, she has obtained an Arizona Teaching Certificate in Secondary Education with Math and English as approved areas of expertise.
Ms. Srinivasan is a proud mom to two fantastic kids who attend Archway North Phoenix. She loves to play, swim, and craft with them, and watch them grow! She spends time with her husband and friends during weekends. In her spare time, Ms. Srinivasan also loves to draw, sketch, paint and solve Math and logic puzzles.
Ms Washburn has been teaching with Great Hearts since 2014.She is originally from New England where she earned a BA in Journalism and Marketing, followed by a Masters in Education with certification to teach French, avidly pursuing study in Avignon, France and Laval University in Québec, Canada. A devoted, passionate linguist and lover of different cultures, she has also studied German, Russian, Mandarin, Spanish, and Latin.She taught at the Holderness School in New Hampshire for 17 years where she coached girls’ lacrosse and co-ed golf while raising two sons.She then taught and tutored in the private sector for several years at Plymouth State University.A lover of baking and fine cuisine, she ran a bakery for a couple of years and over the last nine years has become a devotee and teacher of yoga and meditation.Ms Washburn still loves and continues to cultivate her interest and passion for the French language and film, literature, linguistics and over time has been teaching herselfItalian.Her other interests include modern dance, somatic movement, Ayurveda, travel, hiking, connecting with nature and healthy cuisine.Her overall love in life is to help people realize their unique gifts and help them to cultivate the beauty that life offers on a daily basis.
Mrs. Woelzlein is originally from Lima, Peru where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Law and Political Science. Mrs. Woelzlein has lived in Phoenix since 2008 and has pursued her passion of teaching the Spanish language here at North Phoenix Preparatory Academy since 2017. Her satisfaction is to help strengthen the academic development of students through the teaching of the language .In her free time, Mrs. Woelzlein enjoys dancing, working out, photography, travel, movies and spending time with her family.