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Founder Biographies

Sara Hallermann is a mother of three and co-chair of the Founding Group. Sara works as a charter school Administrator. Ms. Hallermann holds an undergraduate degree in Elementary and Special Education from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. After working as an elementary school teacher, Director of Special Education, and Assistant Principal, Ms. Hallermann obtained a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois. Her educational leadership experience includes service as an Instructional Coordinator, Assistant Principal for Curriculum and Instruction, Elementary Principal and Regional Education Specialist. She has presented a session on designing a standards-based report card at the California Charter Schools Association Conference, and a session on Curriculum Mapping at the Charter Schools Development Center’s Leadership Summit.

Joseph Maionchi works as a Director of Software Development at Symantec Corporation in Mountain View, CA. His responsibilities include managing a global team of software developers, delivering a suite of Enterprise software solutions and driving the technology direction for the Linux Storage Foundation product line which encompasses a staff of approximately 100 employees and more than $40 million in annual revenues. His diverse background includes software development, IS&T administration, board leadership, large-scale event planning and community service. Mr. Maionchi holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University of California at Berkeley. He is the proud father of three children and resident of Vallejo since 2002.

David Ross is a 10-year veteran classroom teacher who works as an educational consultant for the Buck Institute for Education and the New Technology Foundation. During his K-12 career, David taught sixth-grade language arts/social studies in an urban middle school near Los Angeles and U.S. history at New Technology HS in Napa. In the winter of 2005 he will launch his own staff development firm, Novel Approach Consulting Group, specializing in project-based learning. He is completing his PhD in education at UC Davis. David, a specialist in children’s literature, writes a nationally syndicated review of children’s literature. He and his wife Zarah are the tired but proud parents of two active boys.

Barbara Schwenk, Ph.D is a Vallejo resident and has served as a consultant to the Hillsborough City School District in the areas of community relations and student literary assessments. Previously she served as the reform coordinator for Lomita Park in Millbrae and schools in San Bruno and Hillsborough. In this position, she assisted with the implementation of an Annenberg-Hewlett grant. She facilitated executive team meetings, provided professional development for 39 teacher leaders, coordinated Literacy assessments for the schools and participated in BASRC (Bay Area School Reform Collaborative) professional activities. Dr. Schwenk brings 25+ years of teaching and administrative experience at the K-8 level. In Missouri she served as the principal of a K-6 school with 1500 students and 160 teachers and support staff. Before assuming the position as principal she was an elementary school teacher and a reading specialist. Dr. Schwenk earned a Ph.D. in Educational Administration at the University of Missouri-Columbia, an Ed. Spec. in Educational Administration at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and an M.Ed. and B.S. in Education from Drury College in Springfield, Missouri.

Elizabeth Mathern is the lead Petitioner and has been involved with the founder’s group since the beginning in 2001, and currently serves as co-chair of the Founding Group. She has 24 units towards a California Multiple-Subject teaching credential. Ms. Mathern is employed as the Executive Assistant of a $13M non-profit organization that serves emotionally disturbed children from all over California. She has nearly 20 years of business administration experience, and knowledge of fundraising and grant writing. Ms. Mathern has a BA from UCLA and is the mother of a school-age son.


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