Meet the newcomers

A higher-than-expected number of new students has led to an influx of new staff members at Laguna Beach Unified School District.

Many of the newcomers have interesting backgrounds in addition to their professional strengths.

?At El Morro Elementary School, Technology Support Aide Van Le is a second-degree black belt in Kenpo Karate. Melissa Martinez, an instructional assistant, is the mother of three boys. Nicole Osmanian Petersen and Camilla Maki round out the new classified, or non-teaching, staff and are also serving as instructional assistants, as well as being moms. Osmanian Petersen has an 8-month-old son; Maki has managed her daughter's music career for more than 11 years. New teacher Cama Stevens, a sports fan, remembers sitting in the dugout at Anaheim Stadium when the Angels won the World Series. Elizabeth Black, the new Occupational Therapist who works at both El Morro and Top of the World schools, is a musician who plays piano by ear.

?Top of the World Elementary School teachers new this year include Brian Kull who will be a new dad this month. Teacher Azadeh Baghai was born in Iran and lived in London and Paris before relocating to California. Marianne Bynum, also a new teacher, has traveled to Spain, France and Mexico. Another new staff member, Katherine Dunlop, was a student in the Special Education Program at El Morro Elementary and now works in the Special Education Program at Top of the World. Instructional Aide Mariah Amiri painted her resume on a surfboard shaped plywood in order to get a job with Roxy, Quiksilver. Anne Sadler was TOW PTA president and an active volunteer before taking an instructional aide position at the school. Speech/Language Specialist Tracey Slater, originally from Southern California, met her husband at UC Davis and lived in Sacramento for 20 years.

?Thurston Middle School Math teacher Christopher Reiland ran the last Los Angeles Marathon this past March with his team. English and Language Arts teacher Brandie Hayungs lived in Germany, where she studied German, taught English as a second language to adults, and met her husband. Daniel Thomson, who teaches Instrumental Music at both Thurston and Laguna Beach High School, was the drum major at UCLA for three years and once played for Pope John Paul II in the Vatican.

?Laguna Beach High School dance instructor Lisa Jay lived and worked in Hawaii. Science teacher Carrie Denton goes deep sea fishing and was invited on a California geology trip this past summer through the Eastern Sierras, including Mammoth Mountain, June Lake and Yosemite. Counselor Jan Healy has traveled all over the world, including trips to Europe, Southeast Asia, South America, Caribbean, Mexico and the Middle East. Assistant Principal Gretchen Ernsdorf has run in the last 17 out of 18 Turkey Trots. Special Education teacher Melinda Hawkins, who has five children, has dived with sharks around the world. Rounding out the new members of the team are instructional aide Noel Vincent, who taught English at a university in China and Campus Supervisor Scott Zine, who is also the assistant baseball coach.

?At the district headquarter's office, newly appointed Facilities/Business Services Technician Donna Montgomery loves to travel and has been to her favorite country, Italy, 17 times.

"” Cindy Frazier

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