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Intellectual Virtues Academy: Public High School

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Meet the Faculty

 
DANIEL AVERY
 
 
Math Teacher
 
Daniel comes to the Academy after spending years in education—first as a private tutor and then as a teacher.  He received his undergraduate degree from UCLA and is currently working on his Master's of Education degree at Point Loma Nazarene University.  Daniel has taught math in Orange County and San Diego, working with students from both the middle and high school levels in a wide range of courses, including nearly everything from Integrated Math 7 through AP Calculus.  
 
"I chose the Academy because its core virtues look at advancing education in innovative ways. My goal is to find and implement new, research-supported methods to teach math, and to help students think critically while integrating technology in ways that extend and support student learning."
 
 
DAVID BRUDNEY
 
 
History Teacher
 

David grew up in the historically significant Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, and became fascinated by history, after discovering in college that the past is akin to different cultures. Since graduating, David has taught history, literature, and ESL to middle school and high school students in both South Korea and the United States. He has a Bachelor’s of Art degree in History from Stanford, studied the History of Education in a Master’s program at Harvard, and completed a teaching Master’s program at USC. He is eager to help students find ways to make the past relevant to their lives.

 

“I have been amazed at the openness, friendliness, seriousness of purpose, and intellectual humility that make the Academy such a special community. The Academy turns its Intellectual Virtues into a part of everything that happens on campus. The community is genuinely remarkable, and I feel extremely lucky to be able to learn from, and work with, the students and teachers of Intellectual Virtues Academy High School!”

 
 
 
JOSEPH GARCIA
 
Science Teacher
 
Joseph has taught science at the high school level for the past 9 years, including teaching Biology, Honors Biology, AP Biology, and Marine Biology. He led his AP Biology students to pass the test at rates higher than the national average. 
 
Joseph also coached girls basketball as the head JV coach and Varsity assistant coach. Twice his teams won CIF championships.  He is currently finishing up his MEd at Hope International University.

"I chose to come to the Academy because I was looking for a school that looked beyond traditional teaching methods in order to most effectively engage students. I am looking forward to continuing to grow as an educator, and use my knowledge and experience to educate and mentor the students at the Academy."
 
 
GREG NAVARRO PICKENS
Art Teacher
 
 
 
GRACE NIETO
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Spanish Teacher 
 

Grace graduated from California State University in Long Beach, with a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Spanish. Her education has given her exposure to a variety of courses in Spanish-Literature & Cultural Studies, Spanish-Linguistics, and Grammar & Composition, which provided the opportunity to acquire a solid knowledge of grammar, art, history and the culture of Latin America.

 

Ms. Nieto has been working as a Spanish teacher/tutor at different public and private educational settings for the past three years. She is currently pursuing a Master’s of Education Degree in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language. 

 

"I chose the Academy because I have always envisioned teaching in a place, where I can connect and build meaningful relationships with students and teachers. The Academy’s strong sense of community marked by collaboration provides an opportunity for teachers to develop character growth in our students, along with academic growth. Teaching in my native language enables me to share my own culture and personal experiences, while motivating, inspiring, encouraging, and leading young people. My goal is to guide students to effectively gain an appreciation for a language and culture, possibly different from their own, and/or to connect and share their own cultural experiences."

 
 
 
JULIE LEE 
     
 
Special Education Teacher
               
Julie is thrilled to be joining the Academy community and collaborating with students and families. She has experience teaching at the elementary, high school, and university levels. Julie immigrated to the United States from South Korea when she was 6 years old. She was inspired to make a difference once she saw how students "fell through the cracks", so she received a Bachelor of Arts in Special Education. Julie went on to earn a Master of Science in Counseling Psychology, and a Ph.D in Counselor Education and Supervision.
 
Julie is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Julie has always had a passion for special needs populations, working with children in foster care, the chronically mentally ill adult population, children with special needs, adolescents in the school setting, and adults in private practice. 
 
"I chose the Academy because it was an awesome opportunity to make a difference in the underserved community. This population is near and dear to my heart, and I wanted to continue to foster the fun in education while inspiring students to continue on the path to success. I also was intrigued by the challenge of being a part of a start up/inaugural year of a school."
 
 
 
 JOHN RODRIGUEZ
                    
 
English Teacher
 
John came to teaching English with a background in advertising, creative writing, musical performance, and parenting. All of those pursuits require creative approaches to solving problems and being able to communicate those ideas. 
He joins our English department after 12 years with LAUSD, including teaching Honors, AP, Journalism and Yearbook. He completed a fellowship with Teach Plus, an education reform think tank, and became a National Board Certified Teacher. 
 
"I firmly believe in the role of character growth on academic achievement. I say things like, "Effort equals results," and "I don't teach English; I teach humans." Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the Intellectual Virtues Academy was completely staffed by like-minded professionals! I chose to work at the Academy to bring my enthusiasm, creativity and rigor to this community. I also chose to enroll my son at the middle school. I'm all in."
 
 
 
DUSTIN SCHMIDT

Humanities Teacher
 

Throughout his academic career, Dustin has been devoted to engaging K-12 students on a variety of topics in the humanities and philosophy. He is currently a PhD candidate with a focus on environmental ethics, at the University of Washington, Seattle, where he has taught a wide range of courses, including Logic, Introduction to Philosophy, and Environmental Ethics. He has a very comprehensive career teaching students of all ages, including earning a fellowship to teach and develop curriculum for a high school International Baccalaureate course. 

"The Academy offers a rare opportunity for students and teachers to develop habits of mind that support good lives, strong relationships, and inclusive communities. It allows us space to investigate big, philosophical questions, apply our thinking to real, relevant social issues, and reflect on our thinking in a way that fosters critical, engaged, and compassionate citizens. This is, I think, the best we can hope for as we try to build supportive, forward-thinking communities. I am humbled to be part of such a passionate, intentional community of inquiry."