ASB Leadership (E), Black Student Achievement Program (BSAP) Coordinator, MS Instructional Coach
Education: Bachelor of Arts, African American Studies, English concentration, University of California, Los Angeles. Masters of Education, Social Justice Emphasis, University of California, Los Angeles
Bio: Ms. Agamegwa started her teaching career with LAUSD in 2000 teaching K, 1, and 5th grades at Western Avenue Elementary School. She and her fiancé, Doug, moved to the Dallas area in 2005 where she taught 5th grade for 4 years. New opportunities led them back to Los Angeles in 2009 and, since then, she has taught middle school at two charter schools and eventually found her way back to LAUSD in 2013 as a 2nd grade teacher at Melrose Avenue S.T.E.A.M. Magnet. Rose is an all-girls alumna. She says that her years at Immaculate Heart High School were some of “the best years” of her life. Her love of upper grades and single-gender education has led her to GALA, where she hopes to be part of what will become the best times of these girls’ lives! She understands all too well the challenges, yet the beauty of being a woman in today’s society. Rose loves all things orange, gold, and leopard. She is currently learning to blog. In her spare time, she loves to plan parties, watch TV, decorate and redecorate her home, and spend time with her husband, family, and friends.
English (7), Yearbook (E)
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies with a Minor in Sustainable Design and Business Administration Concentration, University of California, Berkeley. Masters of Arts in Teaching with a Gifted Education Certificate, University of Southern California.
Bio: Iris Agrafiotis grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and is the daughter of Greek immigrants. During her high school years, she was a competitive gymnast and nationally ranked triple jumper. She then attended UC Berkeley, where she studied architecture and city planning. After receiving her BA, she worked for several tech startups based out of Silicon Valley doing sales, marketing, public relations, and partnerships. In a change of heart, she transitioned to a career in education and received her Master’s of Arts in Teaching from USC, specializing in English Language Arts and Gifted Education. Prior to joining the GALA team, Ms. Agrafiotis helped to successfully found a new public charter middle school in the San Fernando valley. She joins GALA eager to share her passion for lifelong learning and entrepreneurship. She is also a certified Pilates Mat Instructor through the Equinox Pilates Institute and loves teaching Pilates, yoga, gymnastics, and other forms of fitness. In her spare time, she likes to travel, cook, paddleboard, and spend time with family and friends.
Math (8), AP Computer Science Principles, Math Lab (E)
Education: Bachelor of Arts, Economics - University of California, Los Angeles
Master of Education - University of California, Los Angeles
Bio: Ms. Artis grew up in San Diego, California before moving to Los Angeles to attend UCLA. During her undergraduate years, she rediscovered her love for teaching and working with students as an intern for CalTeach and a camp counselor for UCLA UniCamp. After years as an AVID tutor in Santa Monica, she entered the UCLA Teacher Education Program where she earned her Master's in Education and teaching credential. Ms. Artis is passionate about teaching mathematics and creating an environment where students' math identities can grow in the face of challenges. She loves being part of the GALA family and is committed to supporting and empowering young women in their journey with STEM. When she’s not teaching, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, watching dramas, attending K-pop concerts and traveling to different countries.
Algebra 1, Geometry, Testing Coordinator
Bachelors of Science in Mathematical & Scientific Computation; Minor in Education -- University of California, Davis
Masters of Education -- University of California, Los Angeles
Bio: Ms. Barajas grew up in a small Central Valley town before moving to Los Angeles. As a daughter of Mexican immigrants, she is passionate about co-creating a supportive and inclusive learning community where everyone’s voices are heard and all identities are valued. She loves math and finding ways to help students see math as a tool to understand the world around them. As a Latina in STEM, she is passionate about working with families, communities, and colleagues to empower girls through education and support girls' sense of belonging in STEM. Ms. Barajas is excited to start her teaching career at GALA!
Spanish 2, Spanish 3, Spanish 2 (E)
Bachelor of Arts in Theatre, Suffolk University
Spanish Single Subject Teaching Credential,
California State University, Los Angeles
Ms. Black grew up in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic. There she attended an all-girls polytechnic elementary and secondary Catholic school. The education, love, support, and empowerment received at this school made a positive impact in her life, personally and as an educator. During her adolescence, Ms. Black moved to the United States; being an immigrant and Latina in the US were now part of her identity, and preserving her culture, her mother tongue, became essential to her. Ms. Black attended Suffolk University; there she fell in love with teaching working at a preschool in East Boston through the AmeriCorps Jumpstart program. At SU, she worked as a Spanish Modern Language Assistant, a TA and tutor. Ms. Black developed a passion for teaching the Spanish language, history and diverse cultures of Spanish speaking countries. She moved to Los Angeles where she attended Cal State LA and she received her teaching credential in Spanish. Ms. Black loves to spend time with her cat, Prince Watson, listening to music, reading, travelling, hiking, camping, attending concerts, comedy shows, playing golf, going to the nursery, and checking out new exhibitions at museums and art galleries. Ms. Black is excited to empower GALA students to be confident and to become actively engaged justice-oriented global citizens.
Science (7), AP Biology
Bachelor of Science, Psychobiology, UCLA
Master of Education, UCLA
Master of Instructional Technology, GCU (in progress)
Awards: LAUSD 2020 Rookie of the Year.
Bio: Ms. Clark grew up in San Rafael, California, which is just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. She is very excited to join the GALA family, and looks forward to empowering and supporting young women to become leaders in STEM fields. She is passionate about science, specifically Biology, and loves spending time outdoors. She is happiest when she is playing volleyball, hiking, camping, waterskiing, backpacking, crafting, or spending time with her family.
Title 1 Coordinator, Athletic Director, Physiology/Sports Medicine, Sports Management (E)
Bachelor of Science, Biological Sciences, Clemson University
Master of Arts, Secondary Science Education, California State University Northridge
Bio: Ms Eckel moved from the small town of Florence, New Jersey to Los Angeles in 2006. After receiving her BS in Biological Sciences from Clemson University (Go Tigers!), she began her teaching career as a Senior Teaching Assistant at Mercer County Community College in West Windsor New Jersey. At the community college she taught many nursing and pre-nursing students in a variety of lab courses including Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology, and Non-Majors Biology. Ms. Eckel began teaching science in Los Angeles Unified School District in 2006 and is excited to join the GALA family. In her spare time, she enjoys photography, baking, sports, reading and spending time with family and friends.
Spanish 1, Spanish 2, Spanish 1 (E)
Education: Bachelor of Arts, major in Spanish, minor in education, University of California, Los Angeles. Elementary Education, California State University, Los Angeles. Single Subject Education, Mount Saint Mary’s University. Ms. Flores attended primary catholic school, and LAUSD middle and high school.
Bio: Ms. Flores has taught 2nd and 5th grade and was the head of the Spanish Department at Cathedral Chapel School since 2001. She studied and lived in Granada, Spain. Her passion is teaching and she is thrilled to play a role in your daughter’s education at GALA. She loves to travel and spend time with her husband, daughter, and the rest of her family.
History (7), Ethnic Studies (9), AP African American Studies, Latin American Studies (E)
M.A. in Education, Stanford University
M.A. in Latin American Studies, Certificate in Refugees and Humanitarian Emergencies at Georgetown University
B.A. in Political Science and Latin American Studies at UNC Chapel Hill
Bio: Mr. Gonzalez recently moved to Los Angeles after completing a Master of Arts in Education at Stanford University. He is from Bogota, Colombia and has lived in North Carolina for several years. He likes to research historical topics related to human rights and other themes in Latin American history. During his studies at UNC Chapel Hill and Georgetown University, he worked with distinguished anthropologists, historians, and political scientists on many research projects. In 2019, he began teaching history in Bogota in elementary school, and his love for the profession led him to continue teaching in the Bay Area. He previously taught European and World History in Mountain View, California. In his spare time, Mr. Gonzalez enjoys reading history books, watching soccer, and dancing salsa. He's also an expert pizza maker and a Carolina Tar Heels fan! In all, Mr. Gonzalez is happy to join GALA and teach girls the importance of history and politics in our daily lives.
Computer Science (7) (8), Exploring Computer Science, Intro to Computer Science (6th Wheel), Game Design (E)
Bachelor of Science, Applied Mathematics, UCLA
Master of Education, UCLA (in progress)
Bio: Mr. Hale’s first computer had an Intel 386, which made him cooler than all his friends, and he’s been studying hardware and software ever since. He grew up in the San Fernando Valley and has lived in Southern California his whole life. In school, his first love was history, second love classics, but then he fell in love with math when he discovered how challenging and empowering it could be. He wants to help students overcome math anxiety and frustration so they can have the same epiphany. He loves GALA because he knows, at some schools, computing and math are fields where not everyone feels like they belong, and the girls of GALA will be the ones to change that. When he’s not teaching, Mr. Hale loves cooking and eating, drinking unreasonable amounts of coffee, and exploring places he’s never been with his trusty companion Mitch, the best dog in the world... which is objectively true.
AP Seminar (11), AP English Language (11), Speech (E)
B.A., Chapman University in English Literature and Rhetoric from with minor in Sociology and Women's Studies
M.A., Pepperdine University
Bio: Originally born in Beirut, Lebanon, Maria Harfouche immigrated to Southern California with her family at four years old. She grew up in Orange County, CA and is a proud graduate of an all-girls high school. After high school, she earned her B.A. in English Literature and Rhetoric from Chapman University where she also minored in Sociology and Women’s Studies. Most recently, she received her Master’s in Teaching and California Teaching Credential in Secondary English from Pepperdine University. Maria believes deeply in the power of girls and women to change the world through leadership and excellence. In her free time, you can find her drinking coffee, listening to podcasts, going to concerts, or hanging out with her cat, Umi).
AP World History (10), AP Psychology
Education: Bachelor of Arts, History & Education, University of California, Santa Cruz
Bio: James Harpole was raised in the Los Angeles area and graduated from South High School in Torrance. He received a BA in History and a minor in Education from UC Santa Cruz. For his BA, he primarily focused on the early histories of the United States and Central/South America, however, he enjoys learning about all types of history. He is passionate about issues involving education- particularly about educational equity and public school reform. He is excited to begin working at GALA, as he feels that it is very important to encourage girls to enter STEM fields. In his spare time, Mr. Harpole loves going to the movies, hiking, running , loves animals and meeting new people.
English (9), AP Literature (12), Youth and Law (Mock Trial Team) (E)
Education: Master of EducationTeacher Education ProgramGraduate School of Education and Information StudiesUniversity of California, Los Angeles
Bio: Ms. Leslie Hemstreet realized her lifelong dream of being a teacher after moving from Portland, OR to Los Angeles in 2011. A former librarian, her first job in LA was opening a brand-new computer lab for Gardena Elementary and she instantly fell in love with LAUSD. After getting her elementary credential and Master’s in Education from UCLA, she taught at an LAUSD science magnet for several years. After earning double single-subject credentials from UCLA in both Social Sciences and English Language Arts, she was recruited to teach high school. She believes in single-gender education even more strongly after watching her own GALA goddess (class of 2024) flourish. She loves rescuing dogs, cats, and chickens… she also aspires to have a rescued goat, llama, and horse someday. Besides being a total news junkie, she loves reading and writing science fiction, speculative fiction, and teen dystopian fiction.
Resource Specialist, Learning Lab (7)
Education: Masters of Science in Teaching Exceptional Adolescents, Fordham University, New York.
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with three minors in Educational Theatre, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies, and French, College of Arts and Science, New York University.
Bio: Originally from Florida by way of New York City, Lindsay (she/they) moved to Los Angeles in 2019 from Brooklyn, where they taught 7th grade Social Studies, Science, and ELA in both lead teaching and integrated co-teaching roles. Their passion for social and racial justice, disability justice, and educational equity runs deep, and they are thrilled to be in a position where they can work with youth across all grade levels and subject areas to ensure students have the support they need to learn and do more than they thought possible. They are humbled to work with such driven and caring young people and absolutely love GALA! In their spare time, Lindsay enjoys dancing, swimming in rivers, oceans, and lagoons, playing with their niblings, and imagining a world where love, care, and community are at the heart of our society and its systems.
Algebra 1 (8), Algebra 2
Education: Master of Arts in Integrated STEM Teaching, Cal State LA; Online Teaching and Learning Certificate, Cal State LA; Bachelor of Arts in Theatre, Minor in Mathematics, Trinity University
Bio: Arden Houghton is entering her second year as an educator. She has always loved math and is ecstatic to teach young women how to embrace their love of STEM as well. Ms. Houghton attended an all-girls' high school in Houston before going to college in San Antonio. In San Antonio, she discovered her love for education and began taking as many education-related courses as Trinity would allow. After taking a year after graduation to help take care of her grandmother, Ms. Houghton picked up everything and moved to Los Angeles, where she entered the Los Angeles Urban Teacher Residency program through California State University, Los Angeles. Through this program, Ms. Houghton learned how to teach math through a social justice lens and make sure that all students know they can perform well in their STEM classes. During her sparse free time, Ms. Houghton enjoys reading, cuddling with her dog (Saoirse), going on hikes, and flying back to Texas to visit family. She cannot wait to meet the girls at GALA and help them achieve their full potential.
History (8), AP US History (11), AP Government
Bachelor of Arts, Political Science – University of California, Davis
Master of Arts in Teaching, Social Studies – University of Southern California
Bio: As a youth growing up in Los Angeles, Mr. Koda dreamt of becoming a scientist, but the trajectory of his life changed in high school when he joined his local YMCA’s Youth and Government delegation. In Youth and Government, Mr. Koda learned to love politics, debate, and public policy. Mr. Koda’s new dream was to work as a legislative staffer for Congress. To achieve that goal, he enrolled at the University of California at Davis and obtained a degree in Political Science with an emphasis on Congressional and Judicial Politics. After graduation, he worked as a legislative correspondent for a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and for the House Democratic Caucus, where he specialized in trade and budget legislation, but also worked on housing, education, appropriations, judiciary, and defense issues. Upon leaving Congress, Mr. Koda worked as a commercial real estate analyst and managed local market research departments for some of Silicon Valley’s largest commercial real estate brokerage firms. After some years in the real estate industry, Mr. Koda decided to pursue his passion for civic education and returned to school to get a master's degree in teaching and a teaching credential at the University of Southern California. Before joining GALA, Mr. Koda taught World History, U.S. History, and Leadership at Le Conte Middle School. In his spare time Mr. Koda enjoys going to musical theater, photography, video gaming, watching anime, fencing (épée and foil), and tennis.
Graphic Design 1, Virtual Branding, Middle School Graphic Arts (E)
Education: BFA in Visual Arts, University of Colorado, Boulder
Bio: Jennifer grew up in the outskirts of New York City, where she discovered her love for the arts at a young age. She went on to attend the University of Colorado in Boulder, where she majored in fine arts. After graduating, she began working as a designer in magazine publishing. Her ambition for increased work opportunities brought her to Los Angeles in 2000, where she began to work in the entertainment field. She has since worked for advertising agencies representing the major studios in LA, designing film and tv campaigns. She took time out from fulltime advertising work when she started a family, which is also when she gained experience teaching middle and high school age students. Jennifer is excited to share her love and knowledge of graphic design and passion for art with the students at GALA. She and her two kids, two dogs and husband live in Echo Park, where she enjoys daily hillside walks. Jennifer is an accomplished ceramic artist and maintains an art studio at her house, where you will likely find her when she is not teaching. She also enjoys gardening, cooking, hiking and playing tennis.
Exploring Computer Science, AP Computer Science A (Java), Intro to Data Science, High School Robotics (E)
Education: Bachelor or Science, Electrical Engineering/Computer Science, University of California, Berkeley
Bio: John Landa is a former Software Engineer whose resume includes IBM and a dot-com company. His teaching career began at South Gate High School where he taught Math and Computer Science. He later moved to South East High School where he was the lead teacher of the Technology and Media Academy. John spent the last 8 years working at UCLA for the Exploring Computer Science (ECS) program writing curriculum, training new Computer Science teachers, and striving for equity in Computer Science. His latest curriculum project has been writing a unit on E-Textiles which combines sewing, crafting, circuitry, and programming. John still works for Code.org and ECS training new K-12 Computer Science teachers. He joins GALA eager to share his passion for creativity and problem solving with his new students. John’s favorite activity is spending time with his wife and three daughters.
History (7), History (8), Art History (E)
Bachelor of Arts in History, California State University, Long Beach
Social Science Teaching Credential, Biola University
Masters of Arts (in progress) in Education, Biola University
Bio: Ms. Lee grew up in Orange County, CA and is a daughter of Korean immigrant family. She has attended CSULB for undergraduate in History (U.S. and Early Modern European). After receiving her BA, Ms. Lee has worked as translator for schools, colleges, broadcast stations, and sports teams and trainers, and worked as part-time teacher for AP European, U.S., and Human Geography classes in schools and learning centers. She then transitioned into education after finding her passion of working with English learners of all ages and helping them achieve their goals inside and outside the classroom. Ms. Lee has then attended Biola University for Teaching Credential in Social Science to work towards her passion in full gear. By teaching History, she hopes that students learn to build connections with their communities, cultures, and identities in our ever-changing society, and support the next generation of empowered women and global citizens. In her spare time, Ms. Lee enjoys traveling with family and friends, visiting museums and art galleries, and trying new restaurants.
Pre-Calculus, AP Calculus, AP Statistics, Engineering (E)
Education: Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, Washington University in St. Louis
Master of Science in Civil Engineering, Drexel University, Philadelphia
Math Credential, California State University Dominguez Hills
Bio: After an engineering career designing bridges and buildings, I shifted gears into education and began teaching math full time in 2012. I've taught Geometry, Precalculus, AP Calculus AB, Intro to Engineering, AP Statistics, and a social and emotional curriculum in Advisory. I also head the WASC accreditation team, and am the NHS moderator. In my spare time, I'm always reading for my two book clubs, and love to travel with my husband and two college-aged daughters.
Music, Choir, Orchestra, Musical Theater, Choir (E)
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Cello Performance, Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance, and Master of Arts in Music Education from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, FL
Bio: Mrs. Leppard comes to Los Angeles by way of Orlando, FL where she attended the University of Central Florida for undergraduate and graduate school. She holds performance degrees in cello and voice. She began teaching for a non-profit music program which offered instruction in stringed instruments for Title I schools in the Orlando area, and then transitioned to teaching music in the public schools. This began a lifelong passion for music education and a desire to share her love of music and expertise with students. She has taught orchestra, guitar, band, general music, music appreciation, digital music production, and chorus and is very excited to bring those skills to the amazing girls at GALA. In her free time, Mrs. Leppard enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, camping, sewing, rockhounding, cycling, gardening, and reading.
Science (8), Biology (9), Marine Biology (E)
Education: Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science, Northeastern University; Master of Education (in progress), UCLA
Bio: Ms. MacKie grew up near San Jose in the San Francisco Bay Area. Growing up in a place so imbedded with the tech industry, she understands the STEM field's benefits, as well as how STEM spaces need to be pushed to change. Ms. MacKie is passionate about social justice, and in her free time enjoys hiking and baking. She hopes to create a classroom where all students are empowered to become agents of positive change, and understand the power they hold as individuals.
Science (8), Physics, AP Physics, Robotics-Middle School (E)
Bio: I came from a family of teachers and we weren’t well off. Teaching became my life’s ambition because I wanted others to see that poverty can be overcome and education is the key.My teaching career started in 2004 as a Physics Teacher in Baguio City, Philippines. During my teaching career in the Philippines, I coached students for various Science Quiz Bee Competitions and Science Fair Projects from school level to national levels in the country. When I moved to Los Angeles, I started teaching for LAUSD in 2007 as an 8th Grade Science Teacher and in 2014 I moved to Senior High School to teach Physics, Chemistry and Exploring Computer Science. I want to share my passion in S.T.E.M. to all my students that is why I started a Robotics Team in my former High School and went to several competitions. After work, I spend most of my time with my wife, who is also a teacher, and two sons Jez and Shan. I love fishing and travelling.
Science (6), AP Environmental Science
Education: Bachelor of Arts, Environmental Studies, Wellesley College
Master of Arts, Urban Education, Loyola Marymount University (LMU)
Bio: As a proud graduate of a women's college, Ms. McFadden is thrilled to be a part of the GALA family and is fiercely committed to helping catalyze the leadership of girls in STEM fields. Ms. McFadden’s love of science and learning has brought her to roles as both a classroom teacher and a teacher coach. She taught biology and was co-lead teacher of the Arts, Entertainment, and Media Academy (a California Partnership Academy) at John Muir High School in Pasadena Unified School District. Most recently, she has served as an instructional coach with Teach For America, supporting new teachers in developing rigorous, social justice-oriented pedagogy. Ms. McFadden earned a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from Wellesley College, during which time she explored her passion for the outdoors and conservation through studies in the Turks and Caicos Islands, Mexico, and Tanzania. In her spare time, Ms. McFadden enjoys hiking, running, and cheering on her favorite sports teams (go Orioles!).
Accelerated Math (7), Math (7), Math Coach
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies:Teaching English as a Second Language and Middle School Mathematics, Northeastern Illinois University-Chicago, IL.Master of Arts:Middle Level Education in Mathematics and English as a Second Language, Northeastern Illinois University
Bio: Mr. Mulka is originally from Chicago, and moved to LA with his husband of 14 years and his beautiful dogs, Kelie and KC (which are their fur babies). Working at GALA, Mr. Mulka feels as if he has won the lottery, teaching with the best of the best. He has been in multiple teaching settings, but has a true passion for mathematics. During graduate school, Mr. Mulka was a graduate assistant whose prime responsibility was to get his undergraduate students to pass the math credential for college. Before he was a math teacher, Mr. Mulka was a professional makeup trainer in which he inspired everyone not to look great on the outside, but most importantly, beautiful on the inside. His passion to excellence, humor and dedication led him to become a math teacher who focuses on holistic concepts to make his students more well rounded in every aspects of life. Mr. Mulka is honored to become part of GALA and cannot wait to see our future leaders blossom and become part of the change and solutions we are seeking. H has many hobbies of interest, but there is one that he has been studying for the last 5 years. Mr. Mulka is an advocate and an enthusiast to the preservation and survival of the honey bee. Mr. Mulka has created several lessons in advisory and math to spread the awareness of the honey bee. Outside of the preservation and survival of the honeybee, he enjoys to rollerblade, trying new restaurants, traveling and catching up on the latest makeup trends.
English (8), Broadcast Journalism (E)
Education: Bachelor of Arts, Education, Creative Writing - University of Michigan
Bio: Ms. Payne was born and raised right here in Los Angeles. After graduating high school, she moved to the great Midwest and received her Bachelors of Art in Education and a minor in Creative Writing - Poetry at The University of Michigan (Go Blue!). She spent the last couple of years in Baltimore teaching and enjoying the East Coast seasons. As an alumni of LAUSD schools, she is grateful to return and help give back to the school system that taught her so much. In her classroom, all students are made to feel welcome and supported. She promotes social-emotional learning and focuses on supporting students’ mental health. She also centers her teaching philosophy around diversity and inclusion, making sure all students feel seen within their learning. She is enthusiastic about getting students to love reading and find the power in words. In her free time, Ms. Payne enjoys reading, knitting, baking, hiking, listening to Taylor Swift, and playing fetch with her dog, Phoebe. She is incredibly excited to be a part of the GALA family and help empower young females to excel and use their voices.
Physical Education (6) (7) (8) Advanced P.E., Advanced Conditioning
Bachelor of Science, Kinesiology, Cal Poly Pomona
Masters in Educational Leadership and Supervision, University of Phoenix
Bio: Ms. Petrich is a California native from the city of Long Beach, graduating in 1996 from Saint Joseph High School. She continued her education at Cal Poly Pomona, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology, as well as, a single subject credential in Physical Education. Ms. Petrich also earned a Masters in Educational Leadership and Supervision, along with an Administrative Credential from the University of Phoenix. She has been teaching middle and high school physical education in LAUSD since 2008. Her goal is to teach students how to be active, healthy, productive adults once they have graduated. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking with her dog, reading, attending concerts, and game night with family and friends.
Guadalupe Portillo Deras
Math (6), Aerospace (6th Grade Elective Wheel), Aerospace (E)
Bachelors of Arts in Mathematics, Minor in Teaching and Learning Studies:
Masters of Education (in progress): University of California, Los Angeles, (UCLA)
Bio: Ms. Portillo is a proud Angeleno born and raised in Highland Park, Northeast Los Angeles. As a product of LAUSD schools, she is excited to be working with the same community of schools she grew up with. Ms. Portillo is committed to building student’s mathematical confidence and showing her students how they too can be seen and heard in the STEM fields. As a first generation woman of color in STEM, she is passionate about creating equitable spaces for girls to excel in the math and science fields. Ms.Portillo is excited and thankful to start her teaching career with the amazing GALA community on a united mission to support and empower young women in STEM.
Advanced PE, Health (High School), Advanced Conditioning/Weight Lifting (E), Assistant Athletic Director, Health & Wellness Coordinator
Education: Bachelor of Arts, Psychology & Social Behavior, University of California, Irvine
Master of Arts, Teaching, University of Southern California
Bio: Mrs. Ragozzino was born and raised in Southern California. She graduated from an all-girls high school in Orange County and loved the experience of attending this model of school. She taught in elementary schools for 10 years before she made the transition to middle & high school. She earned an added single subject credential in P.E. and another credential in Health to share her passion for fitness and health with students. Mrs. Ragozzino is now GALA’s first Health and Wellness coordinator. In 2018, she was asked to be a part of Michelle Obama’s Becoming Book Tour’s opening segment at The Forum, where GALA students were also in attendance. In 2021, she was awarded “Extra Yard for Teacher” by UCLA at the Rose Bowl. She is a certified CrossFit Level 1 trainer & group fitness instructor, and a Precision Nutrition Level 1 coach. Her goal is to empower teens to feel strong & confident by learning to lift weights!
English (10), American Literature (11), English Learner Coordinator (7th period)
Education: Bachelor of Science in Broadcast Journalism, Ohio University
Master of Education, Wright State University
Bio: Sheila Reid launched her teaching career in 1995 at Bowsher High School in Toledo, Ohio. She was a part of the Toledo Area Writing Project, Humanities 2000 (a partnership with The University of Toledo), and she participated in an Asian Studies Program where she collaborated with other colleagues to provide presentations to fellow educators. In 2000, she moved to San Bernardino, California where she continued her teaching career. She participated in the Inland Area Writing Project, obtained her CLAD credential, AVID training, and taught AVID courses. In Los Angeles, she educated freshmen at Lynwood High School while she also instructed adult learners at LA College International. She taught courses in College Writing, Literature, and Introduction to Computers. When offered to be the Dean of General Education, she welcomed the opportunity and fulfilled her duties until her position ended in 2010. That same year, she moved to New York, where she taught Pre-AP English to freshmen students. Missing family and close friends, she returned to California in 2012. In Blythe, she taught ninth graders and was trained in the most recent Jane Schaffer Writing Strategies. She has since moved back to the Los Angeles area, where she is happy to be a part of LAUSD. She is looking forward to collaborating with her fellow educators and sharing her passion for literature and writing with our young ladies at GALA.
English (6), History (6), Global Stuidies (6th Grade Elective Wheel, Ethnic Studies (E)
Bio: Mr. Ochoa is a lifelong learner with an almost insatiable curiosity. After earning his undergraduate degree in Political Science and Sociology, he decided to continue his educational interests by pursuing a masters degree, while simultaneously working as an instructional aid at a local elementary school and graduate assistant at the University. During his time at California State University, Fullerton, Mr. Ochoa assisted the department chair with research, led seminar classes, and was awarded an honor for his written work in political philosophy. He took some time away from school to travel and explore potential career paths before deciding to apply for the LA Unified District Intern Program, where he subsequently earned his multiple subject teaching credential. Over the course of his career, Bill has taught gifted students in a variety of academic settings, served as a GATE Coordinator and English department chair. He is a fierce advocate for student mental health and believes all children can accomplish great things when given the opportunity to try. A typical day in Mr. Ochoa’s classroom might include a character autopsy, kinesthetic debate, collaborative exercises, brain teasers, and the (not quite so) occasional Star Wars or other nerd-culture reference. He has not quite given up his love for Legos or Star Wars, nor his love for basketball and music; he hopes to pass at least one of these on to his sons, Ezra (3) and Elias (<1). When not working, Mr. Ochoa enjoys exercising, reading, listening to music or podcasts, binge watching the MCU with his wife and building forts with Ez and Eli. He would best describe himself as an idealist without illusions. He brings with him years of experience working with diverse student populations and hopes to have a positive, lasting impact on the GALA community.
Physical Education (7) (8)
Education: Bachelor of Science, Kinesiology, focus on Sports Studies, California State University Northridge
Master of Education (in progress), Alliant International University
Bio: Mrs. Roque-Ferrel is from the San Fernando Valley. Growing up she was very active in sports, playing basketball, volleyball, and competing in track in high school. She has worked with youth since she was 16 years old, as a youth leader and later as a Girls Basketball Coach. In 2012, she was hired by Lisa Leslie to coach for the Lisa Leslie Basketball and Leadership Academy in West Los Angeles. She is also trained as a volleyball and basketball referee. She graduated from Cal State Northridge in 2017 with her Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology with a focus on Sports Studies. Basketball helped her to develop team building and coaching skills that would support her transition into teaching in 2017. She taught middle school physical education and continued to coach for 6 years in Northeast Los Angeles. In 2021, she received the Teacher of the Year award. She believes that sports and fitness teach life skills and has let that belief guide her through her mentoring of student-athletes. In her free time, she enjoys watching sports, hanging out with family and friends, and going to concerts. Mrs. Roque-Ferrel is very excited to join the GALA team and help her students learn the skills to develop an enjoyable, active lifestyle.
Architecture Design, Engineering Dynamics, Exploring Architectural Design and Engineering (Middle School)
Education: Bachelors of Science, Biology, SUNY Albany
Masters of Architecture, Southern California Institute of Architecture
Bio: I moved from the East Coast to Los Angeles to study architecture and have been smitten with both the field of architecture and the city of Los Angeles ever since. I love LA’s diversity, its eccentricities and, of course, its weather. I also love the wide range of architectural styles that coexist within the city. In the twenty years that I have been working in the field of architecture I have had the opportunity to work with several amazing architects that have helped to shape Los Angeles, including Frank Gehry, Barbara Bestor and Brenda Levin, and have had the chance to work on projects including Blackbirds, Silvertop and Dodgers Stadium. I love the field of architecture and its balance between art and science, abstract and concrete, drawings and the built environment, and am very excited to share it with the students of GALA.
English (6), History (6), Creative Writing (6th Grade Wheel), Middle School Journalism (E)
Education: Bachelor of Arts, Ethnic Studies and Education, University of California, San Diego. Masters of Education, School Leadership Program, California State University, Dominguez Hills (in progress), Administrative Services Credential, California State University, Dominguez Hills (in progress)
Bio: Ms. Valera is a proud first-generation Filipina American and lifelong Angelena. As a child, she adored listening to the stories of her Lolo and Lola, both of whom were teachers before they immigrated from the Philippines. Supported by her hardworking family, she learned empowerment through education. After attending both public and private schools in the San Fernando Valley and graduating from Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, her passion for equity and social justice led her to study Ethnic Studies and Education at UCSD and earned her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential at CSUN. During her 23 years as an educator, she has remained passionate about providing her students with an empathetic, empowering, and equitable education. She taught Kindergarten, 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grade. She taught for eight years at Melrose Avenue Elementary Math/Science/Technology Magnet. Ms. Valera has a deep love of reading, writing, and history, and a fervent commitment to the implementation of Social Emotional Learning, restorative and trauma-informed practices, anti-racist curriculum, and culturally/linguistically responsive pedagogy. As a mother to an innovative and strong girl, she feels honored to be part of GALA's mission of ensuring that young women possess the academic foundation, leadership qualities, growth mindset, and self-confidence to go out and succeed in STEM fields. When not teaching or learning, she loves reading, hiking, and spending time with family, especially her husband, daughter, Abigail, and rambunctious Boston Terrier, Roscoe. One day, she hopes to write a children's book about the adventures of Abigail and Roscoe.
English Advanced Composition (12), AP Research (12), Government/Economics
Education: Bachelor of Arts, Political Science and History from Wesleyan College. Master of Education, UCLA (2018)
Bio: Ms. Warlick moved to Los Angeles from her home state of Georgia. Soon thereafter, she began teaching at an international school in Redondo Beach where she fell deeply in love with teaching. She is currently working on her Master of Education at UCLA. As soon as she found out about GALA, she knew she wanted to work here and that GALA would be the perfect place to continue her career. She is a proud graduate of an all-women’s college and is passionate about education and social justice. In her spare time, she loves running, reading, and spending time with friends and family. She also loves squirrels!
7th period ELECTIVE teachers
SUBJECT TO CHANGE. For course descriptions, click HERE.
ADVANCED CONDITIONING - Mrs. Ragozzino
AEROSPACE - Ms. Portillo Deras
ARCHITECTURE DESIGN - Ms. Thomas
ART HISTORY - Ms. Lee
BIO-MEDICAL- Ms. Eckel
BROADCAST- Mrs. Payne
CHOIR HIGH SCHOOL- Ms. Leppard
CONSTITUTIONAL YOUTH IN LAW (MOCK TRIAL) - Ms. Hemstreet
DANCE- Ms. Britch
ENGINEERING- Ms. Leifield
ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES - Mr. Ochoa
ETHNIC STUDIES - Mr. Ochoa
GAME DESIGN- Mr. Hale
GRAPHIC ARTS- Ms. King
JOURNALISM MIDDLE SCHOOL- Valera
LEADERSHIP- Ms. Agamegwa
MARINE BIOLOGY - Ms. MacKie
MATH LAB - Ms. Artis, Ms. Barajas
ROBOTICS (HIGH SCHOOL)- Mr. Landa
ROBOTICS (MIDDLE SCHOOL)- Mr. Malassab
SPANISH 1 - Ms. Flores
SPANISH 2 - Ms. Black
SPEECH & DEBATE - Ms. Harfouche
SPORTS MANAGEMENT - Ms. Eckel
YEARBOOK- Ms. Agrafiotis
6TH GRADE ELECTIVE WHEEL
AEROSPACE - Ms. Portillo Deras
CREATIVE WRITING - Ms. Valera
COMPUTER SCIENCE - Mr. Hale
GLOBAL STUDIES - Mr. Ochoa
SUBJECT TO CHANGE. For more information on AP classes, click HERE to find our course handbook.
AP AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES - Mr. Gonzalez
AP BIOLOGY - Ms. Clark
AP CALCULUS- Ms. Leifield
AP CAPSTONE SEMINAR - Ms. Harfouche
AP CAPSTONE RESEARCH - Ms. Warlick
AP CHEMISTRY - TBA
AP COMPUTER PRINCIPLES - Ms. Artis
AP COMPUTER SCIENCE (JAVA) - Mr. Landa
AP ENGLISH LANG AND COMP - Ms. Harfouche
AP ENGLISH LITERATURE - Ms. Hemstreet
AP ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE - Ms. McFadden
AP GOVERNMENT - Mr. Koda
AP PHYSICS - Mr. Malassab
AP PSYCHOLOGY - Mr. Harpole
AP STATISTICS - Ms. Leifield
AP US HISTORY - Mr. Koda
AP WORLD HISTORY - Mr. Harpole
CLASS OF 2030
Mr. Hale, Ms. Houghton, Ms. Payne, Ms. Petrich
CLASS OF 2029
Ms. Flores, Ms. Harfouche, Mr. Koda, Ms. Portillo Deras, Mrs. Ragozzino
CLASS OF 2028
Ms. Agrafiotis, Ms. Barjas, Ms. Clark, Mr. Ochoa, Ms. Valera
CLASS OF 2027
Ms. Artis, Mr. Gonzalez, Ms. MacKie, Ms. Leifield
CLASS OF 2026
Ms. Hemstreet, Ms. Herz, Mr. Mulka, Ms. Leppard
CLASS OF 2025
Ms. Eckel, Ms. Lee (Knopfler), Mr. Malassab, Ms. Reid
CLASS OF 2024
Mr. Harpole, Mr. Landa, Ms. Black (Ms. Petrich), Ms. Warlick
CLASS OF 2023 (ALUMNAE)
Ms. Agamegwa, Ms. Streff (Ms. Brown), Ms. Houghton (Ms. Nieves), Ms. McFadden
CLASS OF 2022 (ALUMNAE)
Ms. Leifield, Ms. Ragozzino
CLASS OF 2021 (ALUMNAE)
CLASS OF 2020 (ALUMNAE)
Ms. Fernandes (Ms. Hill)