Our Faculty & Staff

Rose Navarro – Principal

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It is with great honor that I am serving Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary school as its principal.  As a product of Catholic education I experienced first hand the beauty of a faith-based education. I owe my professional success to the love and support from my parents and being a product of 12 years of Catholic education. I am an alum from San Gabriel Mission High School.The lessons I learned in those 12 years have guided me throughout my life.  They taught me that with faith in God, there is no obstacle in life that couldn’t be overcome. They taught me the meaning of discipline, unconditional love, my obligation towards supporting social justice, and how important it is to use the gifts that God has given us productively.

God has blessed me with a career that has been rich in culture and experiences. My professional experiences range from working with PK – Jr. College within private, public, and Catholic school settings. I last served in the Diocese of San Diego for 14 years; 4 years as an elementary school principal, 6 years as a vice principal along side 10 years as a Middle School Social Studies Teacher.  One of my greatest professional achievements was being a Catholic school teacher selected for Teacher of the Month in April 2007 by the Teachers are Heroes Program in San Diego.  Prior to working with the San Diego Diocese I worked for 5 years with 1st and 4th grade second language learners and gifted students for Oceanside Unified School District. I  had the opportunity to teach abroad for 12 years in 3 different countries for American and International Schools. While I was overseas I also organized after school programs and summer programs for the American Embassies where I was posted. It has been a wonderful experience working with children around the world and in diverse communities.

It is my endeavor to ensure that the students at ABVM continue to be provided with a learning environment that meets the needs of all its learners.  The students will continue to be provided with highly qualified teachers who have a passion for teaching and a passion for learning. The school has prided itself on ensuring each child reaches their full potential. It is our goal to provide them with the foundation needed to go forth in life with strong faith, confidence and skills to pursue their dreams, and to use the gifts God has given them productively and wisely.

Nicole Ostrander – 1st Grade

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  • Clear Multiple Subject Teaching Credential- Mount Saint Mary’s University 
  • Crosscultural, Language and Academic Development Certificate- Brandman University
  • Elementary Education Certification – Michigan
  • Early Childhood Special and General Education Certification – Michigan
  • Bachelor of Arts in General Education – Aquinas College; Grand Rapids, MI

Hello! I am Nicole Ostrander, the First Grade teacher at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This year will be my sixth year teaching and my third year teaching First Grade at ABVM. I previously taught TK at ABVM for three years. First Graders are active learners. Our classroom strives to be a safe and loving learning environment for all students. The students will be invited to apply their knowledge daily to the real world. Each day will be filled with Reading, Writing, Religion, Math, Social Studies, Science, along with their specials classes. Reading and writing are at the core of each of our subjects and students will have multiple opportunities to practice both daily. We will have a lot of fun moving around the classroom and singing along with educational songs. The students will engage in academic conversations with one another to build their understanding of concepts.  

I am a graduate of Annunciation Catholic School in Arcadia, Bishop Amat Memorial High School in La Puente, and Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. As a graduate of Catholic Schools at the Elementary, High School, and Collegiate levels, it was the involvement and support of students, families, faculty, and staff that drew me to a career in education. In the past I have had the opportunity to work as a reading tutoring coordinator in a Grand Rapids Public School, complete an internship at an Early Childhood Educational Center and to teach First Grade in a Grand Rapids Catholic School. In my spare time I enjoy reading, going to Dodger games, and traveling. 

I look forward to a wonderful year with the 1st Graders!

drodriguez

Ms. Demyla Rodriguez – 4th Grade

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Hello!  My name is Ms. Rodriguez.  I truly believe God has called me to assist, teach and guide students in their education and faith journey.  Prior to my work experience in Los Angeles I worked as a part-time Kindergarten teacher and preschool special education teacher in Honolulu, Hawaii. My personal education journey has been highlighted by Catholic Schools.  I attended St. Mary of the Assumption School in Whittier, CA for my elementary studies, graduated from St. Paul High School in Santa Fe Springs, CA and I earned both my Bachelor’s Degree and Ma Save & Exit ster’s Degree from Chaminade University of Honolulu.

I enjoy running 5k’s, half marathons and marathons. I have completed marathons in California, Hawaii, and Dublin, Ireland! If its summer time you can find me on the lake jet skiing with my family.  In the fall and winter months you can find me enjoying my season tickets for Los Angeles Kings hockey.  I also enjoy traveling to watch the Los Angeles Kings play; I’ve been to games in Arizona, Colorado and Canada!

I am blessed that God placed me within this school location.  I am eager to immerse myself in the culture and community of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary School and Parish!

Ms Alonso

Ms. Paola Alonso – 7th Grade

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  • Bachelor of Science – California Polytechnic University, Pomona 
  • California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential & Master’s of Arts in Education/Elementary Teacher Education Degree – in progress.
  • Anticipated date of graduation: Spring 2023

Hello! My name is Ms. Alonso. I am excited to start my first year at ABVM as the 7th grade homeroom teacher and also one of the Junior High Math instructors.  This will be my fourth year teaching math in a Catholic school setting. My journey as an educator begins with both of my parents being educators. My father teaches math at a local Catholic high school and has been a strong influence on me and my interest in teaching mathematics. Just as he made learning math fun for me, I would like to provide a learning environment where my students not only love math and are successful, but also understand its value. It is my goal to make a positive difference in the lives of the children I work with so that they too can go forward and pursue their dreams successfully. As a product of Catholic education I understand the value of a faith-based education and how it prepared me with a solid academic foundation. When I’m not teaching, I enjoy going to the movies, grabbing an iced coffee from Starbucks, spending the day at the happiest place on earth, Disneyland, and cheering on the Los Angeles Dodgers and Lakers.

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  • Bachelor of Science, Business – California State University, Los Angeles
  • Master of Arts, Education and Elementary Teacher Education Multiple Subject Credential – University of Phoenix
  • Clear Credential Program – San Diego State University

I am very excited to be working with our 7th grade students! I have been working in the classroom at Assumption since 2007.  I teach 5th- 8th grade science  and 7th grade religion. My goal is to make science fun and interesting with hands-on experiments. I believe children learn by asking questions and investigating ways to problem solve. Through participation, I am hoping the students will gain positive attitudes towards science that will carry through their life.

I come to teaching after almost a decade in a successful career in pharmaceutical sales. After a couple life-changing experiences, I returned to school to become a teacher. My 3 children attended Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary from K-8th grade. They were very well prepared for the challenges of high school and for college.

In my spare time I enjoy running, reading and playing with our German Shepard-Duke. My husband Chris and I enjoy traveling and spending time in the desert.

I have a great passion for teaching and look forward to continue working with the students at Assumption School.

Mrs. Kris Feldman – Music Director

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I am so happy to begin the new school year at ABVM, teaching music and leading the Childrens’ Choir to another successful year of worship.  I plan an exciting year of learning for all of the children, as well as helping them to reach their full potential as loving and helpful people in the world.

I grew up with an understanding that music contributes to all aspects of learning. Music is math, science, language, and art, all rolled up and disguised as fun! It is my privilege to teach children of all ages, from 4 to 94, but especially now in the community of Pasadena an ABVM.

I have spent my entire life as a musician, starting with my musical family. I derive inspiration from my father, who spent his career as a music teacher and band director in my home state of New Jersey; from my mother, who taught us to read music before we could read English, and to play the piano; and from my siblings, who all play several instruments and sing!

I have my Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies, with a Flute Concentration, from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. I was privileged to be able to study flute with Harry Houdeshel; Jazz Studies with Domenic Spera and David N. Baker of the Smithsonian Jazz Institute; and voice classes with operatic legend Eileen Farrell. I developed the program for Flute Studies in the Jazz Department myself, so that my best friend and I could learn more! While there, I was able to learn conducting, electronic music, composition, and arranging for band, orchestra, and choir.

I spent my early career in Chicago, where I honed my skills in several different recording studios as a vocalist, singing commercial jingles for radio and television, and singing backup and lead vocals for many artists.  I played and sang in bands of different styles, performing blues, jazz, pop, progressive rock, funk, classical, musical theatre, and rock along the way. And I thoroughly enjoyed all of the styles!

I moved to Los Angeles to pursue music and my heart, and I started my family here. I had been living in the Santa Clarita Valley since 1989, teaching voice, flute, and piano, as well as leading the Honor Band Flute Section in the Saugus school District.  I continue to play and sing with and for the religious community of Santa Clarita, which I have done since 2006, as well as here at ABVM.

I moved to Pasadena in 2020 to live closer to my daughter, and I have fallen in love with this community! I am looking forward to another year of lifting this community up with music.

Jennifer Barako – TK

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  • Bachelor of Arts, Theater- Loyola Marymount University
  • Master of Science, Education- University of Southern California
  • Professional Clear Multiple-Subject Credential (Bilingual)- University of Southern California

I am a proud graduate of Assumption (class of ’91) and I’ve been a teacher at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary since 2011. ABVM prepared me well for high school at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy. The skills I learned as a theater major at LMU continue to be useful tools in my “bag of tricks” as a primary grades teacher.  I’ve enjoyed using my theater background as director of the annual Assumption Spring Concert.  I received my Master’s degree and teaching credential at USC. Upon completing my program I worked for the Los Angeles Unified School District for 3 years as a 1st grade teacher at Hobart Elementary.  I helped open up Mariposa-Nabi Primary Center, a new LAUSD school in Korea town.  I was a first grade teacher there for 6 years before I had the wonderful opportunity of coming back to Assumption as the first grade teacher for 9 years.

Ms Sison

Ms. Sonia Sison – 2nd Grade

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Greetings, I am Sonia Sison, and this is my first year of teaching at the ABVM School. I am so excited tobe a part of this prestigious institution. To use Krista Mc Auliffe’s words, “I touch the future I teach.” What a great privilege to have been given this opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the young people entrusted to my care here at ABVM.

I take pride and great responsibility in my teaching profession. Teaching is my passion. I think I was born to teach. I am at my best when I’m in the classroom. I enjoy learning along with my students. I was fortunate enough to spend many years as a teacher in my native country in the most prestigious school for the gifted in Science and Math, the Philippine Science High School.

I was also blessed to have encountered so many talented educators when I started my teaching journey here in California in 2003. This is my 12th year teaching in the Archdioceses of San Francisco and Los Angeles. I graduated BSE in Don Bosco College Philippines. My Salesian education has prepared me to have a strong faith in God, in the Church, and a great love for Mary. I had my MA in Reading at Philippine Normal University. I took Early Childhood Education at LA City College. I have been a member of Flat Classroom and Classroom2.0 and since then through these associations my classroom has never been the same.

It is my wish to pass on to my students my love for reading because I believe reading will not only give us an edge but also will take us to places – Oh, the Places You’ll Go! By Dr. Seuss is one of my favorites.

Mrs Jensen

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  • Bachelor of Arts, Diversified Liberal Arts – University of San Diego
  • Master of Education, Reading – University of La Verne
  • Professional Clear Multiple Subject California Teaching Credential
  • Reading Specialist Teaching Credential

As a product of 20 years of Catholic education, I always knew I wanted to be a teacher in Catholic Schools. I truly believe in a Catholic Education.

I started my teaching career 26 years ago as a second grade teacher at a local Catholic School. I loved teaching second grade and did so for 10 years. After having my daughter, I changed schools and spent 4 years as a Reading Specialist, Librarian and Vice Principal. I feel extremely lucky to have then been hired at Assumption. I have enjoyed all my  jobs that I’ve  had at ABVM; a Reading Specialist for 3 years, starting up our Transitional Kindergarten class and teaching it for 3 years,  and teaching second grade for 3 years. I am now in my 3rd year as the fifth grade teacher for homeroom, Religion, ELA, and Social Studies as well as seventh grade ELA.

In addition to teaching in elementary school,  I cultivated my love of reading by being an Adjunct Professor for 10 years at the University of La Verne teaching two courses, Literature for Children & Adolescents and the Reality of Teaching.

I love reading and read every day! I’m on a 520 day reading streak and I cannot break it!  Besides reading, I am a taxi driver for my 15 year old daughter who is an avid swimmer. I truly enjoy sitting by the pool watching my daughter swim her heart out. #futureolympianhopeful.

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  • Bachelor of Science, Business – University of San Diego
  • Master of Arts, Education – University of Phoenix
  • Clear Elementary Education Multiple Subject Credential – San Diego State University

My name is Kerry Holtz and I am excited to be the homeroom teacher for Assumption 8th graders as they prepare to transition to high school. I will be teaching social studies in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades this year, as well as 8th grade religion. Our goal at Assumption is to educate our students in a nurturing environment, rooted in Gospel values and Catholic traditions, where each child is recognized, respected, and cherished as a child of God.

As a product of 17 years of Catholic education, I believe wholeheartedly in the spiritual and academic benefits of Catholic schools. I believe that teaching in a Catholic school is more of a calling than a job. I believe in the need to provide opportunities and experiences, centered around the Catholic faith, where each child can strive to reach their potential and be proud of their effort. Finally, I believe that the sense of community and belonging offered at Assumption School and developed during our Religion classes is an integral part of each child’s success.

I fell in love with Assumption when my oldest son began Kindergarten here in 2005, and have been teaching and working here since 2007. I am currently a proud parent of three Assumption graduates!

Go Gators!

Makhyan

Ms. Zhanna Makhyan – Advanced Math Teacher: Grades 6-8

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My name is Zhanna Makhyan. I have earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics from University California of Irvine, as well as gained Teaching Credentials in Mathematics (k-12) from Azusa Pacific University. Being a versatile individual, I have  had the opportunity to teach students who functioned below and above grade level. I have been very successful at accommodating diverse students’ needs by facilitating styles of learners, offering individualized and extracurricular support, and integrating effective materials. Since I am trilingual in English, Russian and Armenian, I was also able to help the students who were not fluent in English. Being a hard working and well-rounded educator, my extensive experience, collaborative nature, and innovative skills would benefit your mathematics program.

ahurtad

Ms. Ana Karina HurtadoVillasenor – Art Teacher

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Hello! My name is Ana Karina HurtadoVillasenor, the Art teacher at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It will be my first year teaching at ABVM.

Prior to coming to ABVM, I was a Costume Designer for several projects at Nickelodeon. After having my kids I decided to go back to school and get my degree in Illustration at The Art Center College of Design. In this new chapter as an Illustrator and a teacher, God has blessed me with the opportunity of being part of this catholic community and I am excited to help each kid find their creative voice.

Nicole MacLennan – Kindergarten

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  • Bachelor of Arts, Liberal Studies – California State University, Northridge
  • Clear Multiple Subject Teaching Credential – California State University, Bakersfield
  • Masters of Education, Early Literacy – Walden University

Hello and welcome to Kindergarten!  My name is Mrs. MacLennan. I am very excited to be your student’s kindergarten teacher.  We are going to have so much fun in kindergarten! We will sing, dance, and learn! This is my second year at ABVM and I have over ten years of teaching experience. I have a diverse background in teaching since I have worked in both public and private schools. I have also taught kindergarten, first, second, and third grade in the past. My experience in schools ranges from classroom aide, lead teacher, one on one specialist, to reading specialist. I am looking forward to spending this year with your children and working together to give your child the best education possible!

Joyce Malloy – 3rd Grade

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  • Bachelor of Arts, Liberal Studies – California State University, Northridge
  • Clear Multiple Subject Teaching Credential – California State University, Bakersfield
  • Masters of Education, Early Literacy – Walden University

Hello and welcome to Kindergarten!  My name is Mrs. MacLennan. I am very excited to be your student’s kindergarten teacher.  We are going to have so much fun in kindergarten! We will sing, dance, and learn! This is my second year at ABVM and I have over ten years of teaching experience. I have a diverse background in teaching since I have worked in both public and private schools. I have also taught kindergarten, first, second, and third grade in the past. My experience in schools ranges from classroom aide, lead teacher, one on one specialist, to reading specialist. I am looking forward to spending this year with your children and working together to give your child the best education possible!

Jason Foell – 6th Grade

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  • Bachelor of Arts, History – University of Northern Iowa
  • Master of Arts, Teaching – University of Southern California
  • Professional Clear California Teaching Credential – University of California San Diego

Hello and welcome to 6th Grade! New challenges, opportunities and spiritual discovery are a hallmark of the middle school experience. I am eagerly awaiting motivated students to join me in the classroom so that we can learn to transition and embrace these new experiences together.

I have been teaching since 2012. Before relocating to Los Angeles, I first worked at a private school in downtown San Diego. At that school, I taught elementary reading, as well as elementary through high school history. When that school was on summer break, I was fortunate enough to teach English and American Government in China. After that school relocated to Escondido, I was blessed with the opportunity to teach 7th grade at St. Columba in San Diego.

I love the enormous benefits that come with Catholic education, and I am truly grateful to be a part of the Assumption community. When I am not devising ways to enhance the learning of young minds, I enjoy watching baseball, playing with my dog Fred, grilling on the Traeger and spending time with my family.

Mrs. Amanda McGeough – Learning Specialist & STEP Coordinator

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  • Bachelor of Arts, English – California State University, Northridge
  • Clear Multiple Subject Teaching Credential – California State University, Los Angeles
  • Master of Arts in Education, Option in Reading Instruction – California State University, Los Angeles
  • Reading and Literacy Leadership Specialist Credential – California State University, Los Angeles
  • Dyslexia Screener  and Consultant

Welcome! My name is Amanda McGeough and I am the Learning Specialist and STEP Coordinator for grades K-8.

The call to education came late in life for me–the wise old age of 30. Prior to coming to Assumption, I taught 5th grade, as well as  6th-8th Math and Science at St. Thomas More School in Alhambra from 2002-2008. In the three years from 2008-2011, I actively pursued my teaching credential and masters, with the goal in mind of becoming a reading specialist. Why? It is best answered with the following quote by Rick Lavoie, noted education specialist, “Fairness doesn’t mean giving every child the same thing. It means giving every child what they need.” Knowing what a child needs allows for effective instruction and leads to student success.

Mrs. Gabrielle Suriano – Athletic Director and Physical Education

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  • Bachelor of Arts – Theology with an emphasis in Church History – Azusa Pacific University

I began my time at ABVM as a student in the Kindergarten class. After graduating from ABVM, I went on to attend La Salle High School and then attended Pasadena City College. While at PCC, I earned my Associate of Arts degree in Humanities and was part of their Early Childhood Development program. I transferred to Azusa Pacific University where I gained my Bachelors degree in Theology with an emphasis in church history.

During my time at ABVM, I have filled multiple roles. I started working at ABVM in the Fall of 2009 as the Kindergarten Unit Leader in Gator Club. Eventually, that position led to the classroom where I worked as the kindergarten aide for seven years. In addition to my aide duties, I have also taught religion to 7th and 8th grade, filled the position of the Student Council moderator, and coached several sports. I have now happily moved into the position of Athletic Director and P.E. teacher.

I have been given the unique opportunity to help develop and strengthen a program that I was once a part of as a student myself. I have always been actively involved with sports and I am eager to share my enthusiasm for exercise with the students. I strive to teach them to remain active throughout their lives, whether that’s by participating in team sports or just simply being active outdoors on their own. Movement is vital to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and I hope to expand the students’ love and appreciation for all forms of physical activity.