High School Art
Office: 505.243.1957 ex. 203
Isaac AlaridPease was raised in a centuries old, exposed adobe home in rural Abiquiu, NM. He grew up with a menagerie of childhood pets including dogs, cats, ferrets, toads and innumerable chickens. He is a husband, father, teacher, and painter. Mr. AlaridPease graduated cum laude with a BFA in painting and drawing from UNM in 1998. He has taught widely in various after school and summer art workshop settings in Albuquerque and abroad. He earned his MA in Art Education from UNM in 2013.
Mr. AlaridPease believes young artists should actively explore their own creativity through careful inquiry into materials, through the acquisition of traditional art skills, and through exciting personal and theme-based projects. His own urban folk paintings and abstract expressions can be seen locally and online.
High School Humanities
Office: 505.243.1957 ex. 204
Courtney Angermeier is a teacher of 10th grade humanities and Comic book production. She also teaches at UNM, is a doctoral student in LLSS, and a local comic book artist and writer. She is committed to community building, critical thinking, social justice, and multicultural education.
High School Film
Office: 505.243.1957 ex. 306
Andrew Barrow is an Albuquerque native who earned his BA in Media Arts from the University of New Mexico and an MFA in Film from Ohio University. He has created numerous narrative films that have appeared in festivals across the country.
Every individual has an original story to tell. Through rigorous technical teaching and the fostering of individual creativity, those stories can all blossom into unique and memorable visual experiences.
High School Science
Office: 505.243.1957 ex. 105
Rachel Benner is a native New Mexican and was born and raised in Albuquerque. She attended New Mexico Tech (NMT) and received her Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry in 2011. A life-long learner, Rachel is currently pursuing a Master’s in Science Teaching through NMT. Along with her love of math and science, Rachel has always had a passion to teach and is excited to be teaching at MACCS. Rachel’s prior teaching experiences include teaching chemistry at Sandia High School as a student teacher and working as a research assistant to students at Diné College on the Navajo reservation conducting environmental research and analysis projects. Rachel loves being with students and greatly enjoys helping them learn and overcome difficulties in math and science. She believes that comprehension of math and science is important in understanding the natural world and a basis for developing creative innovations for the future. As a teacher, Rachel hopes to help each student identify and develop his or her purpose in life. She believes that every student is capable of learning and hopes to instill a love of learning in her students so that they can pursue their dreams and be successful.
Christine Castillo, a native New Mexican, graduated from West Mesa High School in 1983. After managing McDonald’s Restaurants for 5 years, she attended UNM wanting to major in Music Education, but when APS cut elementary school band program, she changed her focus to Physical Education with a Minor in Music. Immediately upon graduating in 1996, from UNM with a BS in Physical Education, she was hired as an Adaptive Physical Education teacher at Manzano High School, where she has taught for 20 years. The fall of 1996 found Chris in her first coaching job as well as C Team Volleyball Coach and Assistant Varsity Volleyball Coach for 15 years. In 2006, Chris was awarded Assistant Coach of the Year for Manzano High School. In 2003, Chris started one of the first Special Olympics High School Delegations to give her students an opportunity to be active and social throughout high school and beyond. In 2004 she was honored as NM Special Olympics Coach of the Year, followed by being named International Top 40 Special Olympics Coach of the Year in 2007. In 2008, she won the Golden Apple Award in Teaching Excellence for NM High Schools. In 2009 she became a National Board Certified Teacher. In 2015, she was Manzano High School Teacher of the year. Chris remains committed to building self-esteem, self worth and confidence through PE, sports and competition.
Being an Adapted PE Teacher allows me to adapt, change and modify the PE curriculum to meet each of my student’s individual needs. Each student’s success is how I measure my effectiveness as a teacher.
Middle School Science
Office: 505.243.1957 ex. 101
Vary Coates grew up in Washington, DC. Later, she earned a BS from NMSU in Biology, and her MA from UNM in Secondary Education. Before becoming a teacher, she was a tree farmer.
Ms. Theresa was raised in Los Alamos New Mexico. She went to Eastern New Mexico University where she received her BS in Anthropology with a minor in Geology. After being an archaeologist for a few years she decided she didn’t want to live like a gypsy, and she returned to Eastern New Mexico University where she then got certified to teach and received her M.Ed. She went to New Mexico Highlands University where she got certified to teach special education. She also attended UNM where she was endorsed in TESOL.
Ms. Theresa has taught for the last 37 years. She has taught kindergarten through high school, throughout New Mexico. She has taught in small two teacher schools and at the time the largest High School in New Mexico, Rio Rancho High School. She has taught special education for the last 18 years. She retired two years ago and decided that retirement was not all that it’s hyped up to be and she is very happy to be working here at MACSS. I enjoy time with my two grown children and my three dogs.
High School English
Office: 505.243.1957 ex. 107
Allie Coleman grew up in Albuquerque and graduated from The New School University with a degree in Philosophy and Literature. She recently completed a Masters in Secondary Education at The University of New Mexico. Ms. Coleman is grateful to be on a team of innovative educators and excited to work with students in an inquiry based curriculum. When she is not thinking about the classroom, she can be found practicing yoga or backpacking with her dogs.
Media Coordinator / TV Production
Office: 505.243.1957 ex. 307
Anthony Conforti is a graduate of the University of New Mexico with a BA in English/Creative Writing and Theatre Arts. He began his professional career in media working in the, then, embryonic New Mexico film industry as a production manager and editor. Subsequently, he spent twenty years as a television news and documentary producer. Upon retiring from the television news business, Anthony traveled and lived abroad and wrote and published the historical novel, “ACALAN” which was the result of many years of research in Latin America.
While media has been Anthony’s career, it’s more than that now.
It’s a life skill. We are in the information age, and even if we don’t work professionally in the media, we’re all voracious media consumers.
Anthony takes a media literacy approach to the teaching of journalism and production.
To be responsible citizens and wise media consumers we must understand how media and especially the news media work. We must be able to recognize the processes that drive the media and hone our own critical thinking skills in order to evaluate what we see, read and hear.
I believe that anyone who can speak can write. Many of us have been taught that we simply cannot write and that has stifled our innate ability. We all have heard stories and the ability to tell a story is another inherent human quality. Media and writing is fundamentally about telling a good story. It all begins with the story. My goal as a teacher is to bring out the storyteller in my students.
Middle School Humanities
Office: 505.243.1957 ex. 304
Michael Dolce was a poor student when he was in school. It was not because he lacked the intelligence or skill requisite to succeed, but because, he, like so many kids in school felt that education, as it was being offered to him, was more about teaching obedience and conformity than it was about taking what he and those around him brought to the table and developing these attributes in such a way that each individual in a classroom could be rendered visible to themselves. Michael does not excuse his failure, but it very much informs what made him the teacher he chose to become.
Michael stands in defiance of anything that resembles cookie cutter instruction, intended to make compliant worker drones out of unique and essential human beings. No matter how many students Michael may have in his classroom, Michael considers it his essential duty, as a mentor, to help each person he encounters see what makes them singular and irreplaceable. From there, it is Michael’s eternal hope that students can envision a life ahead of them in which they find right livelihood, happiness, material success and compassion for others. Humanities has proven, for him, to be the best vehicle to enable this individual sojourn to commence.
Middle School Math
Hello students and families! My name is Maria Garcia, and I will be joining the MACCS family as the new math teacher for middle school. I am excited to be joining this wonderful community of educators. I have been teaching 3rd grade for the last two and a half years, but have always wanted to teach math in the upper grades. For as long as I can remember, math has been a passion of mine. I love everything about it, which is often a surprise to people. I love math because it is straight forward, black and white, and it has rules and structures. When these rules and structures are learned correctly it becomes fun and easy to build on. However, this is not the experience for most people. Throughout school, including college, I would hear people saying how much they hated math, or how they just couldn’t get it, and worst of all, how scared they were of the subject. They avoided it as long as they possibly could and got anxiety when faced with those classes they “knew” they would struggle in. I knew that as a math teacher I would have to find a way to make that fear of math fade away in my students. I want them to enjoy the subject, and to learn that there is no such thing as “being bad at math.” Those gaps that have caused the struggle can be filled with the missing knowledge, and everything will become easier to understand and learn. I always think of math as a puzzle. If you are putting a puzzle together, but you are missing 50 out of 100 pieces, how will you figure out where the other pieces go, and what the final picture looks like? You might be able to understand a glimpse of what it is meant to be, but you will never know what the whole picture truly is. It is only until you begin finding those missing pieces and filling in those gaps that you begin to see the bigger picture. It will be clear, and more rewarding when every piece is in its rightful place. My goal for your students is to make sure they find those missing pieces.
On a more personal note, I am a mother of two beautiful baby girls; one is five and the other just months old. My husband is also joining the teaching community and I am looking forward to bouncing off ideas with him. My favorite sport is soccer, but I have recently started watching baseball and football due to my husband’s persistence on the matter (soccer is still better). Blue and white Argentina is my favorite team. I was not born in Albuquerque, but I was raised here so I consider this my home. I was graduated from UNM with a Bachelor’s in Education (K-8). I speak Spanish and English, and would one day like to learn French. I also have two dogs. Finally, I am very excited to start this new journey with all of you!
High School Mathematics
Office: 505.243.1957 ex. 302
Mrs. Houser recently moved to Albuquerque after teaching both middle school and high school in Colorado. She graduated from Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO with a BA in Mathematics with a secondary education teaching license. She enjoys painting, reading, and playing piano as hobbies. She loves the enthusiasm and bright personalities of middle school students, and is excited to be a part of the new middle school redesign!
High School Mathematics
Office: 505.243.1957 ex. 106
John LeTard has a B.S. degree in Pure Mathematics from the University of New Mexico, as well as an A.A.S degree in Culinary Arts. After working as a Chef in New Hampshire and here in New Mexico, for over fifteen years, he returned to school to get his most recent degree.
Outside of mathematics classes, John is a tournament chess player, amateur robotics enthusiast, fisherman, and carpenter. He also has been known to walk around in the mountains, and raft down rivers.
John believes that math is the perfect gateway to learn logical thinking and problem solving. Learning mathematics is not a process of memorizing formulas and answers, but creating a path to discover your own method of solving problems.
Middle School Art
Office: 505.243.1957 ex. 301
Christopher López was born and raised in Northern New Mexico where he learned to create art, raise animals and grow food. He comes from a strong lineage of educators and artists, which helped shape him into the artist he is today. In 2000, Mr. López graduated from the University of New Mexico with a BFA in Painting and Drawing. He is a father of two wonderful children, he calls his greatest creations. He is an active artist incorporating his education as an artist to set a positive example for anyone who is working towards the path of art and creativity.
The spirituality of telling stories, he feels, is important and moments in time that represent memories and visions. He also works through emotions and feelings in his work.
“We have all felt pain, pleasure, stress, love, happiness, sadness…normal emotions that we all share, some more powerful than others. I create because I have to, it is a major part of my life and all I do. If I am working in the garden, I think, what I can do to make these plants grow beautifully? I care about how they grow, so they in return share their sustenance with me. When people look at my work I hope it evokes feelings and memories they can relate to because I feel we all want to relate in one way or another, that is why I create!”
Office: 505.243.1957 ex. 206
Before teaching Spanish in the United States, David taught English as a Second Language in Colombia, Ecuador, and Spain. Throughout his travels, David gained an appreciation for cultural diversity, language acquisition, and el fútbol. Learning languages builds brainpower and can channel one’s creativity towards greater self expression. Although David grew up chasing turkeys through cranberry bogs in Massachusetts, he now steers clear of New Mexico’s terrestrial cuckoo, the Road Runner.
Office: 505.243.1957 ex. 103
Jessica Mares was raised in the South Valley of Albuquerque, NM, and she comes from a long line of educators and advocates. She graduated from the University of New Mexico with a B.S. in Psychology and Evolutionary Anthropology. While attending UNM, she worked as a substitute teacher in APS, and found a passion for teaching. After graduating in 2012, she worked toward obtaining her special education teaching license.
Jessica has a variety of interests, from philosophy and art to comic books and video games. Her mantra is, “Knowledge is power, gained from both victory and defeat.”
Jessica believes in providing support and encouragement for all students, while maintaining the integrity of a challenging and rigorous curriculum.
Office: 505.243.1957 ex. 103
Jeanne Pahls has been teaching for 31 years in a wide variety of settings: suburbs, inner-city, Native American communities, public, private and charter schools. Dual certified and TESOL endorsed, she has taught grades 1-12.
Her other interests include, photography, writing, social justice issues, and running for public office every once in a while. She has been a foster parent in the past and she and her husband, Bob, have recently adopted two wonderful children.
Office: 505.243.1957 ex. 305
Tom Richardson has been working with photography for over the last 15 years in many capacities including commercial photography, fine arts, and academia. His personal photographs have been exhibited in the U.S. and abroad. He holds a Masters of Fine Arts from UNM and a Bachelors of Fine Arts from the University of Florida. As an advocate for photographic education, he is excited to be working with the young hearts and minds at MACCS. On photography, he states:
What excites me about photography is that it is grounded in reality but completely abstracted from it at the same time.
Special Education Coordinator
Office: 505.243.1957 ex. 103
Sherry Russell worked in business and many other things before she became a teacher, and once her kids were in school. Sherry earned her Bachelor’s degree in Art History. Later, she earned her certification to teach, then went on to get a Master’s degree in Special Education.
I love working with students, and feel that everyone can learn, maybe differently than other people, maybe faster, maybe slower. If your student needs something different to help them learn, I will be happy to assist them or help teachers work with them to help them succeed. I love working at MACCS!
Animation, Game & Graphic Design
Office: 505.243.1957 ex. 202
A love of learning has lead Ryan Salway to study business, computer science, fine art, architecture and animation along his path of education. Animation has been the most fulfilling path as it uses knowledge from all fields allowing Ryan to be a designer, a draftsman, an actor, storyteller and much more. Now as an instructor Ryan is able to pass on his love for learning and the arts to the eager students of MACCS.
While teaching at MACCS Ryan is also a multimedia designer at Northrop Grumman as well as freelance designer and animator. His work has included projects for every division of the armed forces as well as Intel, NASA Challenger Center and other large corporations in the US and abroad. Ryan has enjoyed freelance work illustrating a children’s book, creating TV commercials and working on the Award winning feature Film “A Lonely Place for Dying”.
Ryan enjoys being active in the community of artists, animators and game designers taking part in IGDA, game jams, film festivals and other events when possible.
I feel that art is a way of life. Any aspect of human behavior that a practitioner takes care to master can be an art when a desired product is crafted. Programmers, mathematicians, writers and more are often forgotten by the visual artists and musicians, however any creation that enriches life is art. The amalgamation of diverse knowledge is at the root of creativity.
Middle School English
Anne Strader has lived on and off in Albuquerque from the age of 12. She has traveled and lived in many places around the world including England, Japan and Venezuela. She graduated with a B.A. from UNM in Communicative Disorders, a B.A. from the College of Santa Fe with a degree in Elementary Education where she obtained a K-8 teaching license. In 2008, she became a Nationally Board Certified teacher and achieved a Master’s Degree in Media Literacy from Webster University in 2013. Her teaching philosophy is student-centered, project-based with high expectations and a healthy dose of critical thinking to help students develop excellent 21st century skills.
High School Humanities
Office: 505.243.1957 ex. 201
Jessica Vierra was born on Whidbey Island in Washington but grew up in Albuquerque. She received her B.A. in History with a minor in American Studies from the University of New Mexico in 2002. In addition to her love of animals and music, Ms. Vierra enjoys traveling and learning about history. She is especially interested in 20th century US and European history and had gained a deep appreciation for the history of New Mexico as well. Ms. Vierra believes that critically examining history is a crucial aspect of community building and social justice and this belief prompted her to become a teacher. She completed CNM’s Alternative Teacher Licensure Program in 2011 and is excited to be a part of the MACCS community where she hopes to share her passion for learning with her students.