- The Traditional Academy at Bellair
- Teacher Profiles
Faculty and Staff of the Traditional Academy at Bellair
Listed below are the faculty and staff. To see their short biography and photo just click on the name.
I can’t wait to go back to the kindergarten classroom at The Traditional School at Bellair! I have a BA in Communication and a Master’s degree in Elementary Education. I also have an early childhood endorsement on my certificate. My passion for teaching began when I volunteered in my oldest son’s kindergarten classroom. He is now 24 years old, and I have been teaching in the Deer Valley school district for 14 years.
When I am at home, I enjoy spending time playing board games with my family. Right now my favorite game is Five Crowns. It is a card game similar to Gin Rummy, but with a wild twist.
I love teaching and getting to know all of my students. I enjoy seeing the excitement in students’ eyes when they figure out something new. It is truly a gift to witness my students become excited about learning.
I am delighted to join the Dream Team at the Traditional Academy at Bellair as the Reading Specialist! My name is Michele Balsamo. I grew up near Chicago. GO BEARS! I served in the United States Air Force for four years. I graduated summa cum laude from Columbia College. I earned my graduate degree from Grand Canyon University, Master of Education in Reading Curriculum and Instruction. I have an Early Childhood Endorsement, Structured English Immersion Endorsement, and Reading Endorsement. My first year of teaching was in Tokyo, Japan. I also taught in China, California and Florida. I have been teaching in Deer Valley for 15 years. I am proud to be a Deer Valley “Teacher of the Year” 2016!
I lean into our community team to instill a growth mindset, that all children are capable of success-no exceptions! I remind children that they matter in a comfortable environment for learning. Children rise to the occasion as I hold expectations high and support with love, guidance and encouragement.
In my spare time, I enjoy scuba diving, boating, swimming, and just about everything that has to do with water. I also love live music. Mostly, I like spending time with my three daughters and my husband, Joe.
Hi Everyone! I am so excited that I get to be here and to have the opportunity to witness the beginning of this new journey with all of you. Together, we are going to create the best school ever!
I teach Math and Science and am currently teaching my 25th class of fourth-graders. Although I’ve taught mostly fourth grade, I am looking forward to being “promoted” to next year’s sixth-grade class to teach the big kids, and to be part of the challenge of starting a new school and building a new community.
I began teaching after graduating with my Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Arizona State University and went on to get a Masters in Education from Northern Arizona University. I continue to take Professional Development classes to learn new ways to inspire and reach students. I have a passion for teaching, especially when it comes to math. I strive to have every student love math as much as I do and to make math everyone’s favorite subject by the time they are done with my class!
I love spending time with my family. We like to hike, go on trips, and just be together. We recently had the opportunity to go to Hawaii, and it was an amazing trip filled with adventures and memories. I also travel to visit family in New York and New Jersey in the summers and get to spend lots of time at the beach when I’m there (which is definitely my happy place). Whenever I have downtime I also love to read.
You’ll find that once you become my student, you will forever be one of my kids, and I can’t wait to get to know you and meet you all in person!
I am so excited to start our adventure together as part of the Dream Team at The Traditional Academy at Bellair! I have been a teacher for 15 years and have taught 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students in the Peoria and Deer Valley districts. I provide enrichment and differentiated learning for all my students. I will treat them as individual learners that possess unique learning abilities and provide for instruction that will help them reach their highest potential. Our classroom is set up to create a community of learners because I believe every child should have the opportunity to have extraordinary learning experiences. I am a strong believer of team work, and look forward to working as a team to help your child excel this year.
We have three daughters, the oldest is 25 and our twins are 23. I am also a proud grandmother to Owen, 18 months. My husband, Paul, and I love to play golf, travel, and do community service in our neighborhood.
James C. Born Bio
Over twenty years ago I started my quest in education. That pursuit has been guided by these three principles:
- In a rich learning environment, children can reach their greatest potential. Such an environment should be positive and filled with an abundance of engaging educational opportunities.
- If excellence in education is to be met, then every member of the school family must work as a cohesive unit and contribute to the reaching of this goal.
- For our society to continue to flourish, we, as educators, are not only responsible for developing skilled students, but productive citizens as well.
As a favorite teacher, I will strive to meet academic needs through traditional programs focusing on mastery of foundational skills. I look forward to providing engaging lessons and activities that will create a spark in your student’s learning.
In my free time, I enjoy cars, sports, reading historical biographies, and spending time with my family. My wife and I have four wonderful sons and a granddaughter. Our sons have all blazed their own paths towards being contributing members of their communities. They’ve become an artist, a software engineer, an Air Force pilot, and an aspiring mechanical engineer.
I look forward to meeting your family and you this coming August!
As a member of the Dream Team at The Traditional Academy at Bellair, I am excited to challenge students to be their best in their character and academics by providing an accelerated pace of study and a focus on patriotism and citizenship. I look forward to building a partnership with parents and students as we learn and grow together!
I have been teaching for fifteen years. I earned both my Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s degree in Educational Technology from Northern Arizona University. I began teaching on the Navajo Reservation. I then taught first grade in my hometown of Winslow, AZ, for five years. I have taught kindergarten, third, and fourth grade in the Deer Valley Unified School District. I have been teaching in the district for eight years.
In my spare time I enjoy going on long runs, working in the yard, going to the lake, and pretty much anything that has to do with the outdoors. But most of all, I enjoy spending time with my four children and my husband, Gary.
I bring high expectations and a lot of enthusiasm to the classroom. Through my enthusiasm, students are motivated, engaged, and eager to learn. I relate well with children and am understanding of their needs. Students leave my class with a love of learning.
I was born in Niagara Falls, New York and graduated from Buffalo State University College with a BA in Education, and an emphasis on Pre-K to 6th grade. I moved to Arizona in 1989 and began teaching at Bellair Elementary school in 1991. During that time I continued to pursue my education, earning one M.Ed. (Masters in Education) in Elementary Education (NAU); a Certification in Administration (NAU) and a second M.Ed. Degree at Arizona State University in Educational Technology.
While I lived in Niagara Falls, I trained and worked as a Radiologic Technologist at two hospitals in the Western New York area. I also worked for ten years as a technologist at Good Samaritan Hospital in Phoenix, AZ.
At Bellair, I've taught kindergarten, second grade and most recently, gifted students reading, writing and math in a replacement model called the SAGE program. The school year 2020-2021 will mark my 30th year teaching at this school. I am excited to be part of the family at The Traditional Academy at Bellair!
During the summer, I teach technology at Camp Plug and Play, a tech camp for teachers hosted by the Arizona K12 Center in Tucson, AZ. I also attend the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and have enjoyed presenting there and at many other conferences over the years. I enjoy tinkering with technology and discovering fun ways to learn new things.
I find teaching to be an unpredictable, exciting, and rewarding job and as a life-long learner myself, I strive to help students also become lifelong learners.
Welcome to 6 th grade! My name is Kileigh Erickson, and I feel so privileged to be a part of the Dream Team at the Traditional Academy at Bellair! I can already tell that this is an incredible staff and school to be a part of. There is a lot in store for 6 th gradethis year!
Here’s a little snapshot of who I am! I grew up in Wisconsin (Go, Pack, Go!), and have also lived in Minnesota, Indiana, California, Spain and now Arizona! I graduated from Taylor University with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a minor in Spanish. Previously, I taught 5 th grade, so I’m excited to move up to 6 th this year! I love to travel (18 countries, and counting!), do CrossFit, cook and bake, hike in Sedona, and go on adventures with my family and friends. I have *almost* visited all 50 states and have explored many of our National Parks, too.
My hope is that from the moment a student walks through the threshold of my classroom he or she feels known, valued, and deeply cared for. I am committed to the academic, social and emotional growth as well as the development of good character and principles of personal integrity in all students. My classroom is structured around an emphasis on meaningful community and responsibility, but boy, are we going to have fun!
My name is Sherry Erling and I am a school counselor/certified teacher. Not only have I taught in grades 2-5, but I also have one year of experience as a High school LINKS teacher. I received my Master’s in School Counseling at Capella University. I also have a Master’s in Educational Leadership, from Northern Arizona University and I am currently in the process of getting my Ph.D. in Counseling and Supervision.
I currently sit on the Arizona School Counseling Board, with professional development, and conference.
My personal interests include hanging out with my husband, and daughter, family, three dogs, and various other animals. I like to scrapbook and go for long walks.
Why am I a Member of the Dream Team?
I am a member of the Dream Team because if you can dream it, then there has to be a way to achieve it. The way to achieve it is with positive teamwork for all students to connect, learn, and accomplish their goals. When students are excited, they will bring along their families. Positive connections in educating our students and families is why I am a member of the Dream Team!
What makes me a favorite counselor?
I take the time to talk, meet students and their families, looking for ways to help them. I enjoy talking to teachers and helping them find solutions to different issues that happen with students in their classrooms. I enjoy being a school counselor.
Hello! My name is Ms. Susie Forry and I am excited to announce I will be a special education teacher at The Traditional Academy at Bellair! I know the value of having strong parent-teacher relationships and I cannot wait to work with you!
This is my 18th year of teaching and my 15th as a special education teacher. I have a BA in Elementary Education, ESL and Special Education certifications as well as an M.Ed in Educational Leadership.
In my free time, I love to crochet.
The Traditional Academy at Bellair is going to be a great place to learn with consistent expectations for your child both socially and academically. I cannot wait to get started!
I am so excited to be a part of the new team of The Traditional Academy at Bellair and can’t wait to work closely with families that hold to the same values of family participation, accelerated academic rigor, traditional education and outstanding conduct and character.
I am certified both in general education and special education and am a proud University of Arizona Wildcat Alumni. I have taught for 15 years in both Arizona and Illinois, and even a year in Germany. My career actually began at a Traditional school in Tuscon, where I was one of the first staff members to use Spalding. It is exciting to move full circle back to where I first began. I have instructed students in every grade level including K-12 and across general education and special education. I guess you can say I am flexible and enjoy new challenges.
I just love being a Mimi to my two young grandchildren. We have many pets for them to enjoy including a tortoise, two dogs, three fish and now seven chickens. I also enjoy scrapbooking with friends.
My students enjoy my sense of humor and the classroom climate of warmth and safety with high expectations. They also love all my llamas that adorn my classroom. They have even gifted me with their own llama pictures.
I have served for the last four years as a Special Education Strategist in Deer Valley and look forward to using those skills as well to help our families and teachers navigate special education practices. I am looking forward to meeting you all!
Kathryn Jamiolkowski is originally from the Chicago area in Illinois. She attended Arizona State University and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Art Education. Kathryn also received a Master of Education Degree from Northern Arizona University. She is currently teaching her 24th year at Bellair Elementary School in the Deer Valley District and is in her third year serving as Co-Team Lead for ES K8 MS Visual Arts group. In 2003 she was recognized as teacher of the year in the DVUSD. Kathryn has also taught Photography at North Canyon High School in Paradise Valley and spent three years teaching Art at the Middle School level in Dysart Unified School District.
"As an art educator I really like to design my lessons so they have many cross-curricular connections. I like to infuse literature, language arts, social studies, math, and science as a means to reach as many students as possible. I feel that my students learn more and are more engaged when they see the connections between the different content areas. I have written and been awarded four Arizona Commission of the Arts grants and have also received many more supplemental grants to support this mission. I think project-based lessons provide a meaningful and authentic learning experience for my students."
Kathryn enjoys traveling with her family, hiking the local mountains, yoga, and making jewelry in her spare time.
•Teacher in Fine Arts Teachers
•Teacher, in 16-17 Summer Arts Curriculum Work Team
•Teacher in 2016 5th Grade/8th Grade Assessment Work Team
•Teacher in 17-18 DVUSD Visual Art ES MS Co-Team Lead
•Teacher in 18-19 DVUSD Visual Art ES MS Co-Team Lead
•Teacher in 19-20 DVUSD Visual Art ES MS Co-Team Lead
Degrees and Certifications:
B.F.A. Art Education ASU
M.Ed. Elementary Education NAU
Hello! I have been a teacher in Arizona for the past 23 years, 18 of which have been in Deer Valley Unified School District. I received my Undergrad Degree from Arizona State University and then went back to school to obtain my Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Infants and young children with special needs from Arizona State University West Campus.
I love watching and teaching some of the smartest children in our state. Preschool is the most rewarding for me, as I get to see all the growth and changes that children make in such short time frames. I am honored to be able to help shape our communities next leaders.
In my spare time, I enjoy researching my family’s genealogy. I have found family members all the way back to the 1300s and even some that came across on the Mayflower. I am even a family member of Black Beard the pirate and I’m also related to King Robert Stewart III of Scotland (1337-1406).
I graduated from Northern Arizona University in 1997.
I have been teaching Physical Education at Bellair for 20 years.
I have 23 years of teaching experience.
I was Teacher of the Year in 2013-2014
I love coffee in the morning!
I enjoy playing basketball and a little tennis.
Our family plays a lot of card games.
What makes me a favorite teacher?
The kids LOVE Physical Education class. I'm lucky enough to be their PE teacher!!! I try my best to be fair and consistent, making exercise, games and activities meaningful. One of my favorite parts of PE class is teaching the kids Life Skills they can use in PE, but also in other aspects of their lives.
Hello! My name is Ann Lamont and I currently co-teach (team teaching) 4th grade with Denna Squire. I was born in Arizona and have lived here my entire life. While attending Northern Arizona University I earned my degree in business and communications. A year later I went back to school and received my elementary teaching certificate.
My career started in the Washington Elementary School District where I taught for five years until I got married and had my two children. For a large portion of my career, I have worked in the Deer Valley School District in numerous capacities. My roles have included substitute teaching, classroom aide, office clerk, volunteer, and 4th-grade teacher.
I am incredibly excited to start on this new adventure because I believe in what The Traditional Academy at Bellair has set out to accomplish. I am extremely passionate about learning and it is rewarding being able to share that with my students.
I am Cynthia Leisey and will be one of two kindergarten teachers at The Traditional Academy at Bellair. I am looking forward to the “back to basics” approach that The Traditional Academy is embracing because that is exactly how I teach, and it works! I relish the look on a little one’s face when they realize that they can read or do something they have never been able to do before! They are precious moments.
I have been in the education field for the past 27 years in the states of Iowa, Arizona, and Texas. My previous positions include noon duty aide, teaching reading to 3rd graders in an “at-risk” program, 5th grade Art teacher, substitute teacher in various grade levels, elementary gifted teacher, pre-K teacher, kindergarten teacher and 5th grade ELA/Social Studies teacher.
My husband and I relocated back to Arizona last summer to be closer to our adult sons. When we lived in Texas, I worked at a private Christian preschool and kindergarten where I taught Pre-K and kindergarten. I’m currently a 5th grade ELA/Social Studies teacher at DVUSD.
Education was not my first degree. I was a graphic designer and went back to school to acquire my teaching certificate when my children were in elementary school. Due to this background, I bring lots of visual interest into the classroom. In fact, you might even see me wearing a Native American Indian costume to open a unit of study and a discussion with my students! I don’t throw very much away because I can always make something out of it - reuse, repurpose and recycle. My interests include crafting, sewing, knitting, and woodworking (I’m still working on this one).
I am looking forward to being a part of The Traditional Academy at Belair staff and community.
Hello. My name is Pam Lingenfelter. I am the registrar for the Traditional Academy at Bellair. I have been married to my husband Brad for 30+ years and have a son who is finishing his senior year at Cactus High School. I was very active in my son's Cub Scout and Boy Scout Units as well as his ROTC Unit. I am originally from Erie, Pennsylvania and moved to Arizona in 1995. After working for American Express for 17 years, I decided to change up careers and begin teaching.
I began at Arrowhead Elementary as a crossing guard, and after a short period of time, I started subbing as a Paraprofessional. This eventually developed into a long-term position, and the following school year I was hired as a full-time paraprofessional at Arrowhead Elementary. After 2 years of working with grade school students, I continued my role and moved over to developmental preschool. I loved working with the preschool kids! It was a great position. However, I had an itch for something more challenging and after two years of being a paraprofessional in preschool, I moved into the Arrowhead Elementary registrar position.
This position combines all the things I love most into one job (i.e. helping people, working with the students), so when the opportunity arose for the Traditional Academy of Bellair registrar, I couldn’t resist the chance to start a new adventure with an awesome group of co-workers and students. I look forward to a wonderful action-packed school year.
My formal musical education began on an alto trombone when I was only three years old. My training came from my father Bob McAllister, an eighteen-year veteran member of the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, and an Award-Winning Arizona music educator. My keyboard training came from my mother Dee-Ann McAllister, a Northwestern alumnus, and award-winning Arizona music educator.
I received my bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Northern Arizona University in 1997, and my Master’s Degree in Music Performance from Arizona State University in 2000 - where I also taught undergraduate Music Education and Music Performance courses.
As a professional trombonist, I have performed music all over the world, and have played many national and local broadway shows. I’ve also recorded T.V. and radio jingles, played many local venues, and I’ve even performed on stage with groups such as “The Harry James Band” and “The Temptations” - and artists like Jackie Evancho and Frankie Valli. In 2010 I was a soloist on a recording that won an “International Trombone Association” performance award.
My Name is Gretchen Michalski. I graduated summa cum laude from ASU where I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Education Degree. This is my twenty-second year encouraging and teaching children. I have taught 1st, 2nd, 3rd (gifted cluster), and 4th grades, and am currently working on earning my gifted endorsement.
My interests include gardening and bird watching. I am a highly motivated, enthusiastic, and dedicated teacher who works hard to ensure all students become successful learners. I create a community in my classroom where kids feel safe, have mutual respect, and work as a team in a stimulating atmosphere to achieve goals. I am committed to the care and education of young children and love being a teacher.
Ginny Mullins and I am a member of the Dream Team at The Traditional Academy at Bellair.
Why am I a member of the Dream Team?
I strongly believe in the principles that a traditional school has to offer. Providing a challenging learning environment, promoting advanced learning opportunities, a strict code of conduct, and a back-to-basics philosophy is important for students to be successful 21st Century learners. I am extremely excited to start this new adventure and cannot wait to meet my new classroom of 5th graders!
What is my educational background?
I have a BAE in Special Education and Elementary Education from ASU (Go Sun Devils!). I have 20 years of teaching experience, including 15 years teaching 6th grade, 3 teaching 4th grade, and 2 years teaching Special Education. I am also happy to say that all 20 years of my experience have been at Bellair Elementary!
What is a personal interest?
Well, I have 4 children of my own, so I’m not sure that I have my “own” personal interest. My 15-year-old daughter Presley, is a Freshman at Deer Valley High School. My 12-year-old son Caleb, is in 7th grade at Desert Sky Middle School. My 11-year-old son Austan is a 5th grader at Bellair, and my 5-year-old son Bryan is in Preschool at Bellair. We stay busy by playing at the park, being a part of soccer leagues, and having movie nights. If I do happen to get some “free time”, I enjoy putting together puzzles and playing board games.
What makes me a favorite teacher?
I am proud to say that I was DVUSD Teacher of the Year in 2008-2009! Wow, was that an experience I will never forget! I have many former students (who are now married with their own kids) that have come back and shared their stories from when they had me as their teacher.
For example, I had four former students (who were now football players at the High School) visit and sing to me the “Preposition Song” that I had taught them in class 7 years prior. It's stories like this that remind me why I became a teacher in the first place. Knowing that these boys remembered a song from so long ago, made me realize the impact I have on my students. As the years go on, being a teacher has also made me realize that I learn just as much from my students, as they do from me.
My name is Jane Oura. I graduated from California State University Los Angeles with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration. This is my fifteenth year with Deer Valley Unified SchoolDistrict. I have been an instructional assistant in developmental preschool, a certified substitute teacher, and for the past five years, a special education teacher in developmental preschool. My teaching certificate is in Special Education with endorsements in Early Childhood Education and Structured English Immersion.
I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and doing crafts – all kinds of crafts! My favorite part of working with children is doing hands-on activities! I love to see children jump in and become part of the learning experience. Our learning environment is built on respect, collaboration, and fun! I am excited to begin this new adventure with The Traditional Academy at Bellair family!
After vacationing in Arizona for the past 15 years, I recently moved here from Washington. I decided to follow my youngest child who will be attending Grand Canyon University in the Fall. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Wittenberg University in Ohio and a Master of Arts in Education with a certificate in Reading and Literacy from City University in Washington. I have been teaching for 17 years, with 10 of those years being at the first grade level. I am very patient and love working with six and seven year olds. I am passionate about teaching reading and see this as an important skill to be learned in first grade. In my free time I enjoy attending sporting events, reading, hiking, and spending time with my children. I look forward to collaborating with my fellow colleagues and parents to create a rich learning environment for our students.
I believe in children. I believe that all children should have a life full of love, wonder, learning, exploration, and happiness. Through their own hard work and the guidance of a teacher who cares about them, my students rise and succeed.
I am a 4th generation Arizonan. I graduated with a BS from Brigham Young University and have taught for over 30 years, 29 years at Bellair Elementary. I was Deer Valley USD Teacher of the Year 2018-2019. One of my proudest moments was having a former student bring her own daughter to Bellair so that I could be her 4th-grade teacher, too! I have now had the privilege of teaching eight children of my former students. I am touched that my former students entrust me with their own children.
I love teaching! I love taking my students on field trips, tie-dying t-shirts with them, laughing with them, working hard with them, and I love to see them succeed! I’m so excited to be part of the Traditional Academy at Bellair dream team!
Hello! My name is Claire Westbury and I am a First Generation American born in New Jersey to immigrant parents from England! By the time I reached 3rd grade, I just KNEW that I wanted to become a teacher, and I’ve NEVER looked back. When I was 12, my father took a leap of faith, retired, had Mum and I pack up, and move to Arizona! After graduating from Prescott High School, I went up to Northern Arizona University where I majored in Elementary Education and minored in Speech Pathology. Upon graduation in 2001, I was hired by Deer Valley Unified School District and was blessed with my very OWN 5th-grade classroom.
Here we are, entering year 20 and I am PROUD to say that I am a professional 5th grader. I have a dog named Davey Jones, and we spend a lot of our time hiking and reading. I also love being creative and using my extra time to do things such as cooking, baking, painting and thinking of ways to bring learning to life. My job is my passion, so get ready - life aboard a Pirate Ship in 5th grade will be one for those who are destined to be ready!
Hello, my name is Jeanette Zambito and I am currently the library clerk at The Traditional Academy at Bellair. I have been with DVUSD since 2007 in different capacities, including Lunch Monitor/Crossing Guard, Reading Tutor, Kindergarten Enrichment, Paraprofessional and Volunteer. This will be my 8th year as the library clerk and it is the best job ever! I enjoy reading stories and helping kids make connections to characters and storylines. I love to help students find that special book that gets them hooked on reading and then challenging them to read every day!
The mission of the DVUSD Library Media Center staff is to work collaboratively with teachers and students to support academics, to promote reading for pleasure and information, and to prepare our community of learners with the life-long skills necessary to be competent, critical, ethical, and independent seekers and users of information.
When not snuggled up with a good book, you can find me enjoying the outdoors with my husband of 24 years and my 2 adult children!
I am so excited to be a part of this new adventure and can’t wait to see what the new school year brings!