Nicole was born and raised in Taos on a farm South of town. Nicole grew up very close to her family with one younger sister. Nicole has always been very active in the community and giving back to others. Nicole has traveled to both New York and London to perform with her dance groups in her adolesence years. Nicole was seeking a degree in sonography but quickly found that after getting certified in phlebotomy that the medical field was maybe not for her. She has then turned to helping others through accounting and finance. Nicole has worked with adults with disabilities for over 5 years, not always an easy job, but very rewarding. Nicole has relocated to her hometown Taos, where she raises her two boys. Nicole loves working with children and is very excited to be a part of the TISA team. Nicole would one day like to see her two boys be a part of the TISA community as well.
Jutka Furesz- Kindergarten Teacher – email@example.com
Originally from Hungary, Jutka Furesz has traversed a global road, teaching at international schools on three continents, from Turkey to Venezuela. Having had over fifteen years of experience with students across the spectrum from pre-school to college, she has a keen understanding for attending to children’s developmental needs and fancies. Jutka received her Master of Arts in the English Language and Literature from Debrecen University, Hungary and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Primary Education from Northern New Mexico University. She completed her Waldorf teacher training at the Great Lakes Waldorf Institute, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her classroom passions are fostering creativity, hands-on traditional crafts, storytelling, foreign languages, music and nature. She upholds a philosophy of holistic education that is infused by the integrated arts approach and in tune with serving our planet. Her mantra is to give children joyful space to connect, explore, imagine, and express.
Tashina LaRocque- 1st Grade Teacher- firstname.lastname@example.org
Tashina LaRocque is a North Dakota native that has lived in Taos for the past six years. She is the proud parent of Gabriel, SaNoah and Savannah. Growing up, Ms. LaRocque was tremendously influenced by her parents, Dr. Loretta DeLong and Jim LaRocque. Her mother was the first Woman, Native American superintendent in New Mexico and her father is an awarded Metis musician who has played music with the Buffy Saint Marie Band also for the Queen of England. Ms. LaRocque earned her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Social Studies from Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minnesota. Ms. LaRocque completed a one year internship with Santa Fe Public Schools and has been teaching at Mesa Vista Consolidated Schools for the past four years. She has taught grades 1, 3, and 4, and she has experience teaching in self-contained and inclusion classrooms. Ms. LaRocque is extremely excited to have the opportunity to work with the excellent staff, students and parents at Taos Integrated School of the Arts. She looks forward to an awesome 2014-2015 school year!
Patsy Kinney- 2nd Grade Teacher- email@example.com
Patsy moved to Taos from Chicago with her husband, David, in 2013. Both have worked as teachers for the Taos Municipal Schools. Their daughter, Melissa, is a New Mexico resident living in Santa Fe with her children Aiden, Connor, and Sadie. Their son, Justin, lives in Chicago and is a sales consultant for CEB. He recently became engaged to Stephanie, who will be a welcome addition to the Kinney family. Since Patsy’s mother is an Irish immigrant, there are many family connections in Ireland. Aiden was born in Dublin and the Kinneys have enjoyed several trips to Ireland.
Patsy has an extensive variety of experiences in education. She has taught preschool through college students and has conducted numerous professional development sessions for teachers. Her undergraduate degree is in Elementary and Special Education. She has a Master’s degree in Child and Family Development and a Doctorate in Teacher Education, Early Childhood Education, and Educational Technology. She was a tenured Associate Professor in Teacher Education at Benedictine University in the Chicago area. During that time, she taught courses in Assessment, Learning Disabilities, Early Childhood, and Teacher Collaboration.
Patsy is very excited to be a member of TISA, where arts are integrated into the curriculum. She understands that Taos offers easy access to a rich art community surrounded by natural beauty. She believes in the multiple intelligences of children originally proposed by Howard Gardener. Her recent return to classroom teaching has resurfaced her passion for working with young people.
Rachel Wetmore- 3rd Grade Teacher -
Rachel grew up on a farm in New York state, with her two sisters, brother, and an array of animals including llamas for trekking. She studied abroad in France, Germany, and Montreal, where she learned to speak French and German, and earned her BA from McGill University. After earning her M Ed from Antioch University in Keene, NH in 2005, Rachel moved to Taos to teach at the Taos Country Day School (currently the Taos Waldorf School) in El Prado where she had the opportunity to collaborate and learn from two of TISA's current beloved teachers, Miss Jutka and Miss Linda!
Rachel taught grades 2-5 at the Taos Country Day School for 6 years, during which time she welcomed two wonderful children into her life – Ozias and Salome, now ages 8 and 6. She then ran The Coop, a middle grades schooling cooperative, where she designed and taught Core Standards based lessons for all academic subjects, using a theme-based, integrated, project and art-based curriculum. After running The Coop for two years, Rachel welcomed a third child into her life, Jasper, now age 2, and co-founded and opened INSPIRE Bilingual Early Learning Center, where she worked as the Administrator and Co-Director for the past two years, and it has been her greatest joy to watch the little ones, including her son Jasper, learn and grow!
Rachel is delighted to be returning to classroom teaching, and couldn't be happier to join the TISA team this year!
Linda Seto- 4th Grade Teacher- firstname.lastname@example.org
Linda was born and raised in Lebanon, Egypt and Iran. Her mother’s family is from south Texas in the Rio Grande Valley and her father is Japanese Canadian from British Columbia. They met in Illinois and were sent overseas to Iran in 1945. Her father was a Presbyterian minister with the World Council of Churches in the Middle East from 1945-1980. In 1975, Linda graduated from Tehran Community School, an international school serving grades K-12th grades.
Linda attended Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont, majoring in English literature and education. After graduation, she moved out to New Mexico in 1980 with her husband Peter Templeton. She taught 5th grade in Tierra Amarilla in 1981. Linda and her husband moved to Taos from Santa Fe in 1983 to teach at Mt. Wheeler University, a small K-12 school in El Prado. There she taught 2nd – 6th grades for two years. During the intervening years, they raised three children; Anna Makita , 26, James, 23 and Rachel, 19.
In 1995, Linda founded the Country Day School along with several other teachers. She taught two classes from first through eighth grade and graduated her last class in 2006. She left the school to work in the public schools and became a tutor for the Native American tutoring program at Enos Garcia Elementary School and Arroyos Del Norte Elementary School. She worked on the TISA charter from 2008-2010 and is a founder of the school. Linda completed her Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction specializing in Arts Integration Curriculum in 2010. Linda is thrilled to see the vision of TISA being fulfilled and enjoys working with such talented and enthusiastic learners.
Angela Abbate- 5th Grade Teacher- email@example.com
Angela is pleased to be a new member of the TISA community. Angela was born and raised in rural Wisconsin and has spent the last 13 years in Taos. She enjoys playing many active roles in the community she considers to be her home. Angela is a recent graduate of the University of New Mexico with a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education with focus on Science and Langauge Arts. Before completing her university studies, Angela spent six years working with the community at Twirl Toystore teaching the Baby/Toddler music classes and leading families in guided arts and crafts activities. It was this work that inspired her to return to school, and she is proud to be a member of the educational community. She is looking forward to meeting her new students and guiding them to become independent and critical thinkers.
Naomi Cyr- 6th Grade Teacher- firstname.lastname@example.org
Naomi was raised in a French-speaking town in northern Maine on the Canadian border. In her teens, she began to travel viewing and experiencing the Earth as a global village and the human family–the spice that flavors the world. Her greatest inspirations have been from Nelson Mandela, “As we let our own light shine bright we give others permission to do the same,” and from Mahatma Gandhi “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” With the help of amazing teachers, she experienced how compassion and hope can be life-changing for a student or family.
She embraces the spectrum of diversity and has participated in extensive Multicultural and Educational Travel in many universities, colleges, schools and communities worldwide. A few times she enjoyed a country so much she decided to hang her hat a while to live, work… and play there.
Four years ago, her adventures led her to Taos where Naomi found a colorful community she immediately felt at home in and blessed to be a part of. Naomi truly enjoys the shared experience of education and is very excited to be a part of TISA! Social and service learning have played a big part in her appreciation and understanding of global social awareness, sense of citizenship and need to care for this amazing planet we all share. She hopes to impart the joy of these valuable learning methods to the brilliant minds she is looking forward to teaching and the shared experience of exploring and discovery.
Jamie Grefe- 7th Grade Teacher- email@example.com
Jamie Grefe is thrilled to be a part of the TISA community. Grefe is originally from northeastern lower Michigan and has spent a decade of his post-university life working outside of the USA where he held secondary teaching positions in South Korea, Japan, and China. Grefe firmly believes in the transformational power of learning and self-expression through literacy and language arts. Along with teaching, he also loves all facets of creative writing and is currently a graduate candidate in New England College's MFA in Creative Writing program. When not working, reading or writing, Grefe spends quality time with his family in this beautiful mountain town of Taos.
Erika Tafoya- Science and Math Middle School
Erika is originally from southern Indiana and moved to Florida when she was thirteen. Her love of nature and science began in the forested hills of Indiana with her grandmother, who was a Chemistry teacher. She graduated from the University of Florida, with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. In addition, she earned her Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with the focus in Middle Level Science, from the University of West Florida.
Erika taught Middle School Science and Drama on the island of Kauai for three years. She also worked for several non-profit agencies on Kauai where she was trained in various expressive arts; including a theater program for girls and Playback Theater. One of Erika’s passions since undergraduate school was yoga and meditation. She became certified as a yoga teacher and began to share it with her students on the island. Erika gained extensive experience with youth in and out of the classroom for six glorious years on Kauai.
Taos has been home for the last eight years. Erika continued her work with youth at the Community Wellness Center. She has been assisting her husband Andy Tafoya on their organic farms, Las Aguas, for the past several years and raising their son Jaxon. Erika is so excited to work with youth again and be a part of the TISA team. She is grateful to be at a school that supports art integration into every subject and looks forward to weaving art and mindfulness into her classes.
Megan Bowers-Arts Coordinator- firstname.lastname@example.org
Megan Bowers Avina is excited about sharing the rich culture and community of Taos with her students as part of their education in the 2012-2013 school year. Megan spent last year as the second-grade educational assistant at T.I.S.A., where she led reading and math groups and helped with art projects. She also created the Book Nook for all grades to enjoy. Inspired by T.I.S.A.'s integration of art and academics, Megan received a Los Alamos National Laboratory scholarship to complete her teaching certification through Northern New Mexico College. She is a graduate of Parsons School of Design in NYC. For 15 years, Megan was a nationally award-winning photojournalist and teacher in Taos. In addition to working at The Taos News, she taught in the Discovery Program at both Enos Garcia and Taos Middle School, as well as the University of New Mexico's classes through Taos High School.
Waltraud Kuerschner-Burton- Educational Assistant (Early grades)
My family and I have lived in Taos, New Mexico for 38 years. The diversity of community and place has made it extraordinary to raise a family here. I was born in Germany and was raised there, as well as in Fort Bliss, Texas; Huntsville, Alabama; Alamogordo, New Mexico and Santa Barbara, California. Cultural diversity has been a lifelong experience for me, both in Europe and the United States. My training and BA are in Early Childhood Education, with a focus on the multi-cultural aspect of this discipline. I am a licensed teacher in New Mexico and have taught in the Taos community for 15 years. This will be my second year as an Educational Assistant at TISA.
- Title I Educational Assistant (5th-8th Grades)
Audrey Martinez- Special Education Coordinator- email@example.com
I always tell people I got the best of both worlds in the sense that my father is a Native American from Ohkay Owingeh, New Mexico and my mother is Irish from Stoughton, Massachusetts. I have an attachment to both places. Every summer, I dance in my tribe and visit my grandmother in Massachusetts.
I graduated from McCurdy High School in Espanola, New Mexico. I received my Bachelor’s Degree from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado and my Master’s degree from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
My area of study for my graduate program was Special Education. I found that this area is my passion. I enjoy assisting students in all subject areas with the hope of making tremendous gains. I have been teaching since 2005 and some of the grades I have taught include: 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th.
I believe in being a parent advocate and helping parents whenever needed. I feel the same way about my staff and believe collaboration is the key to making a school successful.
This is my first year living in Taos and I’m so excited! I can’t wait to go hiking and snowboarding.
Kristen Torres, MA., CCC-SLP
Miss Kris is the first and only Speech-Language Pathologist at TISA, having started the first year of their charter. She was raised in Nevada and came to New Mexico to attend the University in Albuquerque where she would meet her husband David Torres. Together they have raised two children, one a Princeton graduate and the other a Harvard student. Their life together has included work in various disasters around the world, with the largest amount of time spent living and working in El Salvador and Arroyo Seco. David is a General in the Air National Guard and heads the NM State Defense Force; in her free time Miss Kris gardens, cooks, plays guitar, sings, writes and reads poetry and plays tennis. Her favorite poet is Pablo Neruda. She holds a BA from UNM and a Masters from California State University, both in Communication Disorders. She also earned the American Speech and Hearing Association Certificate of Clinical Competence and is a trained Spanish interpreter for the medical setting,
Miss Kris makes each session fun while taking an analytical approach to each student and their progress. She enjoys the collaborative process when parents, teachers and therapist all understand the goals and work together to help each child meet them. She makes it a point to integrate school work into her sessions whenever possible. She generally has about 8-12 children on her caseload at TISA and works one day a week with those students both individually and in small groups.