Summit Academy

Meet Our Staff! » Meet our Staff!

Meet our Staff!

Rita Reese
Executive Director
Chiara Reese
Clerical Coordinator
Corey Hill Figueroa
Support Staff
Heather Littrell
Marketing & Events Coordinator
Terry Egan
Education Specialist
Daniel Esparza
Support Staff
Jennell Hicks
Education Specialist
 I have always had a passion for education and a love of learning. Growing up, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I attended California State University, Bakersfield where I received my Bachelors in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Mathematics and Music. Soon after, I received my teaching credential in Mathematics and my Masters in Education from University of Phoenix. I then taught and tutored Math in the public school system to students of all levels, from first grade to seniors in high school. I now enjoy the privilege of being an at home educator where I homeschool my own three children and offer support to homeschooling families. I am excited to be working as an Education Specialist with Summit Academy!
Christian Martin
Education Specialist
Marnee Reeves
Education Specialist
Teaching and working with kids has been my passion since I was a little girl. I always knew it was what I wanted to do. I also really love working with and helping families. At Summit Academy, I get the best of both worlds. I am able to not only
work with kids, but with parents as well. I love being a partner with parents in the education of their children. Homeschooling can be challenging, but also extremely rewarding. It’s my job to help make it easier.

I have twenty-two years of teaching experience. Most of that experience has been in an elementary school classroom, but I also include home-schooling my own children as part of that experience as well. I am mom to 3 daughters – ages 9, 15, 17 and they have taught me more than I could ever teach them.
Janell Christensen
Education Specialist
Cindy Ruiz
Support Staff
Shawna Short
Education Specialist
I love teaching and really enjoy supporting, encouraging and reassuring parents as they teach their children. Homeschooling can be a daunting task and, thankfully, we don't have to do it alone. Summit Academy offers excellent support, help and resources for the journey.

(Also, I have a BA, an MA and seventeen years of teaching public school and eleven years teaching and working with home school families.)
Ann Watt
Support Staff
I started working at Summit Academy June 2017. Prior to Summit, I worked at the Orange County Department of Education as an Administrative Assistant.  
I am the mother of 2 wonderful sons. We raised our family in Newport Beach, Ca but I was born and raised in Minnesota.  I still am a fan of the MN Vikings, but I am not a fan of the extremely cold MN winters!
If I can assist you with the enrollment process at Summit Academy, please let me know.  I am happy to help you!
Dr. Yunnis Stein
Education Specialist
My dream of being a teacher started when I was in the 5th grade. I had a very influential and caring teacher at that age and I knew that I wanted to grow up to be that kind of person for others.  My teaching career began in Chicago, Illinois at a public school on the west side of Chicago where I taught K-1 for 6 years. From there, I found a teaching position for TK/K students at a dual immersion language school in Orange County, CA. The sunny days of California had been calling out to our family for many years so my husband and I worked hard to make that move a reality. We moved from Illinois to California in 2015, just after our son's first birthday. Moving out here has been one of the best decisions my husband and I have made for our children. About a year after relocating, I decided to take a little break to stay at home with my kids. I have a Bachelors in Elementary Education and a Masters in Teaching English to speakers of other languages.I hold a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership in Higher Education. Our family of 5 loves to spend each day outdoors and we are in the perfect place for it! I am thankful for my position as an ES at Summit as it allows me to work from home and also learn about the wonderful world of homeschooling from my families!
Casey Campbell
Education Specialist
I have had a passion for education since I was a young girl playing "school" with my neighborhood friends in my home garage. I have bee working in the education field for 14 years as an assistant, tutor and teacher.  My first job working with children was at the age of 16 supervising K-6 students at a private school in Brea.  Later I attend California State University where I received my Bachelors in Liberal Studies and my Multiple Subject Teaching Credential.  Soon after, I began teaching Second Grade, which I taught for 6 years.  I now get the privilege of being an Education Specialist for Summit Academy where I get to work with students of all ages again.  I am excited for productive and enjoyable school years and I am eager to help make your child's education fun, exciting and rewarding!
Dawn Sharp
Education Specialist
As a young teenager, I knew my calling was to work with children and education.  From babysitting to tutoring in an after school program, which eventually led me to earning my AS degree in Early Childhood Education. From there, I earned my BA in Liberal Studies from Chico State University and my Multiple Subject Credential.  I am currently working on my Masters in Education.  I have been working in education for the last 16 years in public schools. During this time, I have had the wonderful opportunity to teach most grade levels, Pre-K through 12th grade and have enjoyed them all.  However Pre-K through 6th will always hold a special place in my heart.  In August 2017, I became an Education Specialist with Summit Academy and I couldn't be happier. I truly enjoy working with my homeschool families and love the diversity and knowledge they all bring.
Mayli Levin
Education Specialist
Veteran homeschooling mom who started homeschooling her children in 1994.  Her girls have since graduated early with high honors and honorable mention from various Colleges and Universities.  Mayli has since worked with homeschool high schoolers in various programs to help them realize their dreams.  In the interim she has earned a Masters in Education and High School Teaching Credentials in Biology, Earth Science, English and Social Sciences.  Mayli has joined our team to pay it forward and assist Summit high schoolers who attempt to approach the high school years in creative ways.
Kayla Sullens
Education Specialist
When I was in high school, my Geometry teacher asked me if I had ever considered being a teacher. My answer was a big "No way!" until my senior year when I decided I actually did want to be a math teacher. I've taught Mathematics in the classroom the past 5 years, but am excited to be in a different role in the education world to allow me to stay home with my daughter. While teaching is certainly my passion, I love being able to help parents support their children in their individual learning interests. I've taken my own education very seriously from the start, and I love the idea of homeschooling through a charter school.
Roger Scherger
Education Specialist
I have been involved in Education for almost 40 years; it was not my first choice! I grew up on a 100 acre farm in Northwest Ohio, and wanted to be a farmer!  Due to changing times, I went to College and earned a  BS in Accounting &  Business from Tiffin University in Ohio.  Worked my way through College in CPA offices, and after graduation was employed in Industrial Accounting for several years. After five years of Accounting work experience, I decided I wanted to go into teaching. Since I did not have any education courses in my under-graduate degree, Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan required that I earn my teaching credentials  through a Master's Program. I completed a Master of Education Degree, and my Michigan Teaching Credential.  During that time I thought about moving to California, so I applied and received my Clear California Teaching Credential.  Before finding a teaching job in California at that time, I was offered a teaching position at a new community college in Ohio, where I taught Accounting for thirty years and retired thinking that I was done with education.  My wife found a teaching position in Bakersfield, CA and we moved to California!  After being away from education for a couple of years, I knew that I was not done with the education field. I wanted to work with younger students, so I tutored with Sylvan and was a substitute teacher at the High School level for several years.  This July I started as a Education Specialist with Summit Academy and all my work experience is helping me with the Summit program. I will always want to be involved in the education field!  I enjoy working with the parents and students at Summit very much, and  this Home Schooling program opens the door for a unique education style!
Kristi Pruitt
Education Specialist
Teaching has always been my passion. I have been in the field of education for 9 years. I graduated from Cal State Fullerton where I received my Bachelors of Liberal Studies and Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. I worked as a tutor for 2 years while receiving my credential. After that I taught Kindergarten for 4 years and moved up to Fourth Grade for 3 years. I am excited that now I have the opportunity of being an Education Specialist for Summit Academy where I get to live out my dream of impacting the lives of students of all ages. I have been married to my husband, Josh, for 12 years now. We have two beautiful boys, Dylan (10) and Cullen (4). On my free time I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. We love going to the mountains and the beach. I can’t wait for the school year to start and am excited to help make your child’s education experience memorable and full of growth.
Amy Troutman
Education Specialist
As the daughter of two educators, education has always been a part of my life; however, I didn't fully embrace my passion for teaching until later in life.  I started out in high-tech public relations, but realized that my parents had been right all I packed up my PR career and went back to school for my teaching credential and master's in education.  Over the past 15 years, I have been blessed to teach students ranging from kindergarten through sixth grades.  Transitioning from being a full-time classroom teacher to working with the homeschool community has allowed me to balance my two passions...working with kids and focusing on my own family.  In my "spare" time, I love exploring my South Orange County community with my husband and our three kids (15, 11, and 4).
Alex Kane
Education Specialist
My mission is to empower parents and their children to maximize their education possibilities. I graduated summa cum laude with a Masters in Education from UC Santa Barbara with the dream of taking education to the outdoors.  My15 year career in education began by teaching in public elementary schools and continued at an independent progressive school in the Bay Area. I also served as a Director of Curriculum Development for Harvard University’s Agency by Design project, which focuses on the intrinsic curiosities of children through maker education.  Additionally, I developed a curricula titled “Monkey Bar Math” to encourage movement and kinesthetic mathematical understanding.  The culmination of my experiences guided my decision to homeschool my own children and found an academic nature education center for homeschooling families called the Capay Atelier.
Angela Slate
Education Specialist
I accidentally stumbled upon homeschooling when my children's hectic performance schedules no longer allowed them to attend a regular brick-and-mortar school. At first, it was done out of necessity, but we have fallen in love with the endless possibilities homeschooling allows and the freedom to pursue our own interests on our own schedule. As an Education Specialist, I love sharing this joy of learning with my families. 
I have a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and seven years of classroom experience with both elementary and middle school. I am a huge history buff and am currently working toward my Single Subject Social Science credential. You will often find us learning at theme parks, museums, and many, many musical theatre productions. When we're not out and about, we're at coding classes, singing lessons, martial arts, or at home filming YouTube videos of our science and art projects. But no matter what, we're having fun learning! And we'd love for you to join us!
Nicole Gallella
Regional Manager
I have always been a learner and I love sharing my passions with those around me. I have a BA in psychology from UC Santa Barbara, a Masters of Education. from UCLA, and I am currently earning a Masters in Library and Information Science from San Jose State University. I have 25 years of educational experience in the traditional classroom, alternative education settings, charter schools, and most importantly as a homeschool educator and mom. My four children, ages 12 to 19, have been my inspiration and have taught me far more than I ever could have learned in school. 
After several years of homeschooling I started working as a mentor to new homeschool families and I realized how much I enjoy this relationship; watching the growth that happens in the homeschool environment, not only in the children but also their parents. That is what encouraged me to start working with homeschool families more formally in the charter school setting.  Over time, I have progressed to my current role as Regional Manager, where I still have the pleasure of helping families, but also the privilege of guiding and assisting a wonderful staff of educational professionals. It is really a dream come true.
If you are looking  for a great conversation, I am always available to discuss children, education, information literacy, genealogy, gardening, good books, cooking. or chickens.
Jennifer Lovejoy
Education Specialist
I have always had a passion for working with children!  I received my M.A. in Teaching, hold a Multiple Subject and Single Subject credential, and have had many rewarding classroom teaching experiences, working with children in grades K-12.  A few highlights of my teaching career include working as a kindergarten teacher at a Waldorf-inspired charter school and teaching dance and acting in grades 7-12 at Orange County School of the Arts.  I am very excited to now be working at Summit, where I can help guide families through their homeschool journey!
Eugenia Ives
Education Specialist
Eugenia Ives, M.Ed, began teaching twenty years ago. In addition to being an Education Specialist with Summit Academy, she is a high school AP English and Creative Writing instructor, as well a writing coach.  She enjoys working with Summit Academy because she loves working with the students and families and building these relationships while championing for students' needs. Eugenia herself was homeschooled for some years as a child and understands and advocates this educational option for learners who choose it. Homeschooling can open minds and give the gift of becoming a lifetime learner.
Kimberly Bender
Education Specialist
I have been “teaching” for as long as I can remember! It started off as playing school with my siblings and friends, to coaching swim team during my high school years, and nannying during college. I received a BA in Communication Studies at Loyola Marymount University and then decided I wanted to pursue an official teaching career. I continued at LMU and received my MA in Elementary Education with a clear Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. I have worked with children in a variety of capacities and have spent eight years as a full-time teacher in grades PreK-4th. I am excited to be an Education Specialist with Summit Academy. I look forward to working closely with my families and watching children succeed through a homeschooled environment. 
Sandy Lee
Education Specialist
I graduated from UCLA's School of Education in 1997. I homeschooled grades K-6 with my own children in three different states and continue to teach writing to students of all ages. I've been working with kids for nearly 25 years and really believe in each one's potential.  I love working with students and parents to help support their homeschooling in ways that are both effective and efficient.
Holly Dong
Education Specialist
I was an "accidental" homeschooler, planning to only homeschool my son until 2nd grade, when a new school was going to open near us. Ten years later, I "retired" from homeschooling when my son started in an arts school. But, my passion for homeschooling and supporting homeschool families did not end with my retirement. I feel so fortunate to be able to help homeschooling families in following their individual paths through education.
I have a BS in Biology and a Masters in Education, specializing in Curriculum and Design. In addition to homeschooling, I taught middle school science and math in a Riverside area public school. Middle school students still hold a special place in my heart! 
Allison Barrett
Education Specialist
I  graduated from Cal State Long Beach in 2012 with my teaching degree and credential.  I first worked as an interventionist at the school I completed my student teaching at.  I enjoyed tailoring lessons to meet the needs of all students.  Then I was hired as a full-time classroom teacher at a private school in Brea, California where I taught third grade for four years.  Now, I work as an Educational Specialist with Summit Academy.  I love being able to work with students of all ages and assist their parents with developing an educational plan that sets their child up for success.  I enjoy researching curriculum, developing lessons and finding materials that suit the needs of each individual student.  In my spare time I enjoy time with my family, running on the beach with my dogs, baking, and hiking.
Justina Engen
Education Specialist

Justina Engen is one of our Educational Specialists.  She has over 20 years experience working with families and students of all ages, from birth to High School. She earned her Bachelors of Science Degree in Child Development from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a minor in Child and Family and Psychology and a California State Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from Cal State Bakersfield.  She lives in Tehachapi, a rural mountain town about 2 hours north of Los Angeles, with her her husband and two amazing daughters, ages 10 and 7, who inspire her everyday. In addition, she loves photography, animals, being outdoors, and jumping outside of her comfort zone.