Intellectual Virtues Academy: Public High School

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Academy Directors and Staff




Founding Director



Prior to joining the Academy full-time in August 2015, Mr. McGrath practiced law with a prominent international law firm representing Fortune 100 companies spanning a variety of industries including real estate finance. He was named a Rising Star in Southern California Super Lawyers and Los Angeles Magazine.  For seven years, Mr. McGrath served on the Board of Directors of Bright Star Schools in Los Angeles, a small network of high-performing charter schools serving students who are predominantly low-income and non-white. He was also involved in overseeing Bright Star’s development and launch of 6 new schools during his Board tenure.  He also served on the Board of IVA for about 2 years, serving as Vice-Chair and Chair of the Academic Committee. 


Before law school, Mr. McGrath was an adjunct philosophy professor at Long Beach City College.  He also taught mathematics at Santa Margarita High School in Rancho Santa Margarita, where he coached baseball. Mr. McGrath earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy from U.C. Berkeley, a Master’s in the Philosophy of Education at U.C. Irvine (his master’s thesis pertained to developmental virtue theory), and he earned a J.D. from UCLA School of Law, where he was co-chief managing editor of the Women’s Law Journal and class president.







Director of Student Services



Mrs. Sanders was hired in September 2015 to help lead the Academy’s initial community engagement and outreach. Mrs. Sanders now serves as the Counselor, and oversees Student Services, working collaboratively with all members of our community. Before the Academy, Mrs. Sanders served in a similar hybrid role for six years at an arts integrated, project-based K-8 school in San Francisco, as a K-8 Counselor and Middle School Administrator. She also has experience as a college counselor, high school guidance counselor, and intervention specialist. Mrs. Sanders provides on going, collaborative professional development to teachers/staff and counseling interns, thoughtfully constructing a responsive and positive staff community. She has developed a comprehensive school counseling program, advisory program, and positive school culture for the Academy.


Mrs. Sanders is passionate about advocating for students, giving them a voice, and coaching them on how to actively listen. Her education has focused on Human Services, Child/Adolescent Development, Counseling, Mental Health, Social Justice, and Education. She has a Master's degree in Counseling, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, obtained Credentials in School Counseling/Guidance and Preliminary Administrative Services. Mrs. Sanders is passionate about equitable learning opportunities, taking a holistic approach to education, and utilizing constructivist inquiry-based pedagogies, with the belief that social relationships are a constructive learning opportunity for both staff and student development. Summer enjoys adventures, walks, and spending as much time with her family on sunny beaches.


"I am inspired to be a part of a group of people who value supporting and challenging students through care, connection, and a growth mindset. Together, we are aware that we are not only educating students in academic subjects, we are also supporting the discovery of who they want to be, what matters most, and inspiring them to make positive contributions to our world now, and in the future. With an open-mind and heart, we learn from our students as much as they learn from us. This school was founded on these beliefs- that is a rare find. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by a community committed to manifesting a cohesive vision."





Attendance and Support Specialist



Makenna is passionate about arts integration, empowering youth, and organization. She comes to the Academy with a counseling background from California State University, Fullerton and has a wealth of knowledge in supporting youth. Makenna now oversees attendance as well as providing student support services. 






Office Clerk, Translator



Ms. Angheven started working for Intellectual Virtues Academy (IVA) Middle School in 2015. She currently attending Long Beach City College Associate of Science Degree in Social Science, to become a Spanish/Geography Teacher. She loves to read, spend time with her family, and is looking forward to traveling the world.




Office Clerk



"As a person who struggled in traditional education growing up, I chose the Academy because I wanted to be part of a community-based reinvention of how academia can be used to empower young learners to grow intellectually as well as in their individual identities and interpersonal communications. The Academy's Master Virtues of Creativity, Critical Thinking, and Self Growth make this possible, and I look forward to seeing the positive changes being made."




Office Manager



A Southern California native herself, Phenice developed a passion for education in under-served communities early in her career, serving as an Office Manager for one of the top performing charter middle schools for 11 years. She brings her attention to detail, dedication to excellence, and genuine love for students and their families to the Academy this 2019-2020 school year. She is committed to continuing to foster an enrollment experience that students and their families will appreciate while here at the academy. Aside from life at the Academy, Phenice enjoys playing and watching sports, food, and spending time with her family. 




Community Outreach Coordinator



Ms. Laura was born in Guatemala City, emigrated here as a young child and grew up in Orange County. She is a Cal State Fullerton alumni. During graduate school she found a love for cultural studies and diversity in education programs. She is looking forward to earning a PhD in Cultural Studies & Historical Education someday, and she cares about diversity in schools, communities, as well as representation for people of all backgrounds. She loves to hike with her dog, read, and spend time with her family.


"I joined the academy because I believe in cultivating students into becoming independent thinkers and IVA really empowers them to discover who they want to be and how to contribute to society in a positive, self-directed way."



Teacher Aide



Julissa graduated from Cal State Fullerton with a Bachelor's of Arts in Theatre with an Emphasis in Playwriting. They come to the Academy as a Teacher's Aide for the Special Education department. Julissa believes in utilizing the arts as a way to help children, teens, and adults alike learn to embrace their creative side while also using it as an emotional outlet.
"This team truly cares about creating opportunities for their students, and staff as well, to thrive in a community with like-minded individuals who want to explore education as more than just a learning objective, but as a true foundation for becoming a free thinking member of society. Kids need to know they aren't just another passing face in the system. I firmly believe the Academy proves that our students matter to us. The Academy gives me a chance to utilize my skills to make a difference to students who may not get as much focused attention from a more populated school setting."



Teacher Aide



Nita is a lifelong learner and current Masters of Teaching Candidate at the University of Southern California with concentrations in English and Special Education. She received her undergraduate degree in Theatre with an Integrated Educational Studies minor from Chapman University. Previously, Nita has taught students ages 2 through adult in the areas of English, ELD, Special Education, Theatre, Design, and Fine Arts. She founded the Theatre Design Program at McCoy Rigby Conservatory of the Arts in 2016 to produce creative literacy opportunities for students.


“By choosing the Academy, I chose to join a team of passionate educators who value the importance of intellectual character as well as self-knowledge and self-reflection. I am looking forward to growing as a teacher and contributing to an environment that encourages collaboration, empowerment, and respect for the thinking of others.”