Sisu Academy would like to welcome our newest staff!
Amy Callahan, Rusty Walker, Karrine Caisse and Taylor Addision
Senior Leadership Team:
Sisu Academy is proud to announce that educational design thinking expert and recent M.Ed graduate in Education Leadership from High Tech High, Mindy Ahrens, has joined the Sisu team as our incoming principal. Mindy brings over 18-years of innovative education experience including being a founding faculty member at Poway Unified's most innovative public school Design39Campus.
“What excites me about this program is the fact that students will be able to explore new opportunities because we provide learning without the confines of typical time and space restrictions found in a traditional school. Using student voice to build learner led experiences, this environment will empower our students to truly become engaged in their education.
I am also looking forward to providing teachers a place to work that is supportive and empowering. In addition to whole child learning, my role also includes whole teacher professional development. As part of the Sisu team I am excited to make a mark in education that reaches beyond San Diego.” Explains Mindy Ahrens about joining Sisu Academy."
Design Thinking Lead and Incoming Principal
Becky brings years of experience in a broad range of organizations. Her primary role is to manage the operations of the foundation, direct research and strategy and facilitate building meaningful relationships within the education world.
Becky began work at Disney Consumer Products and she held several positions at the fastest growing high tech start up in Silicon Valley. She has won several business concept and team awards, and has presented corporate social responsibility topics for executives in Tokyo, including Sony’s Chief Transformational Officer.
She earned Masters degrees in Business and Human Resource Design and has earned a certificate in Human Centered Design from IDEO. Becky brings an analytical approach to create efficient and actionable strategies for improving the student experience. She served as a Board member for Commonwealth Club’s INFORUM which serves to promote civic discourse, education and engagement at a local level. She has worked and volunteered as an educator at schools in Southern California, including Claremont Montessori, MadScience after school programs and Grace Education for at-risk youth. Volunteering at the Youth Suitcase Clinic in Berkeley was an eye-opening experience highlighting the struggles of disenfranchised youth.
Director of HR Design
Jabez LeBret has been homeless, is a high school dropout, and was on a path to nowhere. After getting his GED, Jabez studied finance and marketing at Gonzaga University. He went on to become a financial analyst managing a multi-million P&L at Nordstrom. Jabez is now an international public speaker (1,100+ presentations), author, and Forbes Contributor.
He recently sold his award winning marketing agency to free up time to pursue his passion in education. Today Jabez is co-founder of Sisu Academy, a new education model that is going to reshape how we connect with students in the San Diego region and ultimately expanding beyond our city.
"The skills gap is widening due to a system crippled by lack of funding, rendering truly inspiring solutions cost prohibitive. These students need a place to learn, to fail, grow, build empathy, and cultivate the values of sisu. We will expand beyond the prevailing education models and create something new.
We choose bold education solutions because our students deserve a chance at success. Last I checked, bland solutions don’t create greatness."
Chief of Schools
Amy is excited to join Sisu for her 22nd year in education. Amy has a background in public schools, curriculum writing, community college, teacher professional development and most recently as a math teacher for 14 years at High Tech High. She sees education as the great equalizer and is thrilled about a school that is making an impact in such an innovative and exciting way. Amy also has four teenagers of her own - two sons, a stepson and a stepdaughter - and loves the unique energy and excitement that teens bring to the learning experience!
Rusty is excited to join SISU for his 10th year of teaching. He has taught science, humanities, design, and many more topics within Project-Based Learning and traditional school environments. Rusty has worked throughout his career to radically increase student agency over their own education and is looking forward to experimenting in bold new ways at Sisu to redefine how education works.
Taylor Addison - Community Engagement Advisor
Bio coming soon
Karrine Cassie - Community Engagement Advisor
Bio coming soon
Information about our board of directors:
Jabez LeBret, Chief of Schools at Sisu Academy, Chairman of the Board (Business)
A former business owner, financial analyst, and management expert, Jabez is one of the co-founders of Sisu Academy. He brings an extensive business background to the operations and planning of Sisu Academy.
Jenny Darroch, Dean of the Drucker School of Management, Claremont Colleges (Education)
As an educator, author, and presenter, Jenny brings both extensive knowledge of post-secondary schools and a strong business acumen. Her position at Drucker School of Management gives her unique perspective on the future of both higher ed as well as workforce needs.
Caroline Vander Ark, President Getting Smart (Education)
As president of Getting Smart, a learning design firm, she oversees client engagements, the day-to-day operations of the company, and business development. Caroline specializes in storytelling, strategic communication, professional learning and organizational management.
Rocco Cortese, Principal, The Heritage Group (Financial & Land)
With experience in building both a company and a fund, Rocco provides valuable business guidance. His company focuses on commercial real estate and this has helped Sisu Academy navigate the process of securing a location.
Jennifer Raffard, JD, and Manager at Salesforce (Legal)
Jennifer brings a strong legal and business background to the group, and her focus on intellectual property is important as we grow our school model.
Glynna Hoekstra, Executive Vice President, Balfour Beatty (Facilities)
In 2015 Glynna was named San Diego’s Power Woman of the Year. She has extensive experience in school construction in California and is well connected to the school ecosystem in the state.
George Bailey, Consultant, former executive at Sony and IBM (Executive Leadership)
From IBM to Sony, George has run large divisions with a focus on innovation and expansion. This experience helps guide our process and structure as we build this organization.
Nancy Batterman, CEO, Options for All (Nonprofit)
Nancy brings almost 25 years of experience as the CEO of a large nonprofit in California that focuses on helping adults with developmental disabilities become independent through work training and housing support.
Seth Au, CEO Dorado Financial, Treasurer of Board (Finance)
As a business owner of a financial firm, Seth brings a valuable skill-set to help Sisu Academy’s Board monitor and manage the project’s financial health.
Jack Berkman, CEO Berkman PR (Communications)
As a communications veteran for over 30 years, Jack brings a skill set that is crucial to helping share the wonderful stories of our program. He is heavily involved in the community and has won many awards over his career.