Media Arts Collaborative Charter School


P 505.243.1957
F 505.268.1651


AlaridPease, Isaac

Isaac AlaridPease

High School Art

Office: 505.243.1957, Ext. 402

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.

Asay, Beckie

Beckie Asay

SPED Teacher

Office: 505.243.1957, Ext. 204

My name is Maria, but I prefer to be called Beckie. I’m an Army brat, born in Germany, but raised all over. I have been married 31 years, have one son and three fur babies. 

For college, I attended both the Dona Ana Branch Community College and New Mexico State University, GO, AGGIES. My credentials include having a Bachelor’s Degree in Science in Education (Elementary and Special Education) and an Associate’s Degree in Computer Technology.

My interests include Reading (Anne Rice and Ann Rule), coloring adult coloring books and listening to classic rock, especially The Doors. My main priority is my three puppies: Isabella Boots, Itty Bitty and Mojo.

Barrow, Andrew

Andrew Barrow

High School Film

Office: 505.243.1957, Ext. 406

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.

Berlat, Kim

Kim Berlat

High School Humanities

Office: 505.243.1957, Ext. 202

As is often the case in life, Kim Berlat found teaching rather circuitously. She had not set out to become a teacher, but when she landed that first job in a classroom as an Educational Assistant, her path became clear. 

Over the past 30 years, Ms. Berlat has taught Gifted and Talented, middle school and high school English Language Arts, Journalism, and Adult Basic Education. Recently, Ms. Berlat decided see what life was like on the “other side” and spent two years as an assistant principal at an elementary school. 

In addition, Ms. Berlat has mentored and/or sponsored students in a variety of academic competitions including local, state, and national writing contests, Science Fair, Project GUTS (Growing Up Thinking Scientifically), Science Olympiad, and Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam. 

Having a career that spans 30 years or more is not unique or unusual. Many people have done the same. What makes Ms. Berlat’s career different is her passion. She was passionate about her work with students 30 years ago when she was an Educational Assistant and she has that same dedication and enthusiasm for education today.

Burnett, Robert

Robert Burnett

Middle School SPED

Office: 505.243.1957, Ext. 306

Born in Alamogordo, New Mexico, and raised in El Paso, Texas, Robert Burnett attended El Paso High School and was a member of the Varsity Soccer Team. He played Soccer for Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California, before transferring to UNM. He received a BA in Business degree in Psycho-Social problem-solving at UNM, and then an MA in Special Education/ Behavior Disorders at UNM as well.

Mr. Burnett has twenty years teaching experience with students with severe social behavioral/ emotional needs and mental illness. He is a varsity Soccer coaching with experience at West Mesa HS, Albuquerque HS, La Cueva HS, and Albuquerque Academy. He is also a part time whitewater raft guide as well as an EMT..

Mr. Burnett is a Biking and Cross country skiing enthusiast.

Castillo, Christine

Christine Castillo

Physical Education


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 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.

Coates, Vary

Vary Coates

Middle School Science

Office: 505.243.1957, Ext. 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.

Conforti, Anthony

Anthony Conforti

Media Coordinator/ TV Production

Office: 505.243.1957, Ext. 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.

Dolce, Michael

Michael Dolce

Middle School Humanities

Office: 505.243.1957, Ext. 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.

Edington, Creighton

Creighton Edington

Middle School Math

Office: 505.243.1957, Ext. 304

Creighton Edington started his teaching career in 1996. As a teacher, Mr. Edington focuses on applying abstract mathematics concepts to solving real-world problems. Over the years, he has taught science, math, social studies, and art including high school AP Physics with Calculus and AP Environmental Science. However, his true passion is academic competitions. Mr. Edington has coached state championship teams in Science Olympiad, Botball, BEST Robotics, and RoboRAVE. Additionally, he has sponsored student finalists in the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam program, Supercomputing Challenge, VEX Robotics Competition, FIRST Tech Challenge, and FIRST Robotics Competition.

Aside from teaching, Mr. Edington has a wide range of experiences including coaching sports and education projects in West Africa, serving on submarines, and working on farms and ranches in New Mexico and Texas.

Although Mr. Edington has received several awards during his career, he acknowledges the fact these awards are a reflection of the hard work and dedication of his students. Some of the awards include:

  • Advocate Award – Society for Science and the Public, Washington, DC
  • Advisor of the Year, Air Force Research Lab, Albuquerque, NM
  • Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams Educator (2007 & 2014), MIT
  • Educator Award, National Center for Women & IT (NCWIT), Denver, CO
  • Teacher Appreciation, Supercomputing Challenge, Los Alamos National Laboratories
  • Man of the Year, Socorro County Chamber of Commerce, Socorro, New Mexico
  • Coach of the Year, New Mexico Science Olympiad
  • Sponsor of the Year, New Mexico State Science and Engineering Fair
  • Advisor of the Year, New Mexico MESA (Math Engineering and Science Achievement)
Henderson, Harry

Harry Henderson

High School Math

Office: 505.243.1957, Ext. 203

Harry Henderson’s first encounter with New Mexico was boot camp in White Sands. After the service, where he received degrees in Geology and pure Mathematics from Kent State University, Harry returned to New Mexico for graduate school at the University of New Mexico. He put himself through school by driving school buses.

Harry has taught at traditional schools, charter schools and cyber schools. He has co-chaired Math and Science Departments teaching Math from elementary to AP calculus, plus most Science [excluding evil Biology], Computer Modeling, Robotics and sometimes Art.

Harry has focused his research on Computer Modeling since the early nineties. He worked with Global Circulation Models [GCMs] as an undergrad and then went on to work with Local Climate Models [LCMs] for his Master’s research. He worked with parallel architectures at Los Alamos National Labs and stretch grid models on massively parallel machines for NASA Goddard. More recently he has focused on research sustainability projects and alternatives to the “Big Bang”.

His hobbies include Dungeons & Dragons, hiking and building electric cars.

Kilman, Rachel

Rachel Kilman

High School Math

Office: 505.243.1957, Ext. 106

Rachel Kilman graduated from the University of New Mexico with a Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education with a concentration in Mathematics.  She works hard for students to be safe, successful and self-sufficient in the classroom, and gives them opportunities to demonstrate and practice this during activities.  

Ms. Kilman ties in her passions for drumming, martial arts, and crafting into the classroom. She loves it when the students find connections between their passions and the Math they are learning!

López, Christopher

Christopher López

Middle School Art

Office: 505.243.1957, Ext. 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!”

Lucil, David

David Lucil

Spanish/ Skills for Success

Office: 505.243.1957, Ext. 107

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.

McDowell, Jeannie

Jeannie McDowell

Special Education

Office: 505.243.1957, Ext. 103

Meeker, Paul

Paul Meeker

Special Education Director

Office: 505.243.1957, Ext. 105

Paul Meeker has been teaching middle and high school since 1988 in New Mexico and Louisiana. However, he has taken several extended breaks to serve on active duty (stateside and overseas) with the U.S. Army National Guard from which he is retiring this month (August 2018) after 29 years.

Two of his favorite pieces of wisdom are as follows:

“… no assurance, no fixed point. Always one must throw oneself into the wave.” –  Ransom from C.S. Lewis’s novel Perelandra

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

Mr. Meeker is looking forward to an exciting year with MACCS students and staff!

Mueller, Tanya

Dr. Tanya Mueller

High School Science Instructor

Office: 505.243.1957, Ext. 109

Dr. Tanya Mueller has her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Virginia Tech, and both her Master of Science and Doctorate in Anthropology from the University of New Mexico. Though much of her research has focused on the behavioral ecology of various species of mammals, her doctoral research focused her interests on the development of adolescence as a distinct life history stage.  Her work with baboons paved the way for her to study adolescence in indigenous populations, identifying how different this stage of life is for American teenagers.

She is currently employed by both the University of New Mexico and Central New Mexico Community College teaching a variety of anthropology courses and is excited to bring her love of science to the high school students at the Media Arts Collaborative Charter School. Though this is her first year working with predominantly high school students, she has regularly worked with middle school and high school students as a guest lecturer and has been tutoring middle and high school students in a variety of subjects since the early 1990s. Her understanding of adolescence and the challenges it brings carry over into her teaching philosophy, and she is able to tailor her teaching to meet individual students’ needs.

Richardson, Tom

Tom Richardson


Office: 505.243.1957, Ext. 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.

Strader, Anne

Anne Strader

Middle School English/ Media Literacy

Office: 505.243.1957, Ext. 303

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.

Valdes, Alisa

Alisa Valdes

High School Humanities

Office: 505.243.1957, Ext. 203

Alisa Valdes is a bestselling author, screenwriter, producer and award-winning journalist and mom who comes to teaching as a second career inspired by her experience homeschooling her twice-exceptional son for several years.

“Really, everything I’ve done up to now has been a conveyance of a specific story and message to an intended audience,” says Ms. Valdes. “Teaching is a very natural expansion of that skill set, one that I take very seriously as a way for me to be of service to others in finding their way in this world. I’ve spent my life as a passionately curious soul, seeking to understand and describe the world around me, my place in it, and how best to be creative while also being of service to the community. I am thrilled by this opportunity to work with creative kids, to unleash their potential as thinkers and creators, and I feel super fortunate to be joining such an outstanding team of freethinkers.”

Ms. Valdes was born and raised in Albuquerque, and is a graduate of Del Norte High School, where she was kicked out of Freshman Honors English for refusing to write an expository paragraph, choosing to write “a fancy baroque poem filled the thesaurus-words instead. I understood the expository paragraph,” she says. “I just didn’t see the point of it.” Twenty years later, when Ms. Valdes’s debut novel landed on the New York Times bestseller list its first week in stores, the same teacher who had thrown her out of that class was assigned a freelance article about her for Crosswinds Weekly, a now-defunct newspaper. “That was the moment I realized there is some greater force at work in this universe, and this force that goes by many names has a wickedly fabulous sense of humor. That’s when I realized that life will provide you with all sorts of punch lines and beauties, if you just wait long enough.”

The experience of having been a talented and visionary kid whose gifts were marginalized and stifled by teachers incapable of seeing her as a full participant in her own education and goals, and then seeing something similar happen to her son in the public school setting, are the motivation behind her passionate new career in teaching. “If there’s some way to balance that pressure towards standardized sameness, some hope of igniting critical thought and creative problem-solving in the minds of my students, some way to be that teacher who believes in them and sees them, who values them just the way they are, to do my best to figure out how that person learns best and to help guide them towards their best self – wow. That’s really everything, isn’t it? It’s just – that’s why we’re here, or at least I think that’s why I’m here.”

Ms. Valdes spent a decade as a staff writer for the Boston Globe and Los Angeles Times newspapers, where she was voted the top newspaper essayist in the nation. She has more than a dozen published novels, which have been in development for film or series with Starz, Columbia Pictures, Lifetime, NBC and TeenNick. She holds a bachelor’s degree in music from Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she majored in jazz performance on the tenor saxophone, and a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. In her free time she can be found roaming the hiking tails in the Sandia and Manzano Mountains, usually listening to an audiobook by Charles Dickens or Dean Koontz, her two favorite authors.

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