Teacher Advisory Panel 2021–22
The Teacher Advisory Panel advises on Huntington curriculum development, providing creative input through lesson planning, and showcasing the ways in which The Huntington can activate its resources for 21st-century learners in relevant and engaging ways. Members of the advisory panel have authored many of the lesson plans available at By Teachers, For Teachers. Read more about them below!
Melissa Cervantes is a fourth-grade teacher at Jackson STEM Dual Language Elementary School in Altadena. In this role she teaches 4th graders all subjects in the school’s dual language Spanish program. Prior to teaching, Melissa worked with students of all ages as a parks and recreation manager, teacher assistant, and middle school girls’ basketball coach. While studying abroad in Santiago, Chile, Melissa’s internship gave her the opportunity to teach English to college students. She has presented at the California Association for Bilingual Education conference and enjoys teaching fellow educators. She is always looking to learn something new and is especially passionate about teaching California history to students so they may understand those who came before them, and how that affects who we are today. Melissa is a proud native of the Central Coast of California and has roots in the Bay Area, and greater Sacramento area. In her transition as a Southern California resident she has learned even more about the state and enjoys exploring all the nature California has to offer. Melissa received her B.A. in Political Economy from the University of California, Berkeley, and her M.A. in Education with a Bilingual-Spanish California Teacher Credential from the University of California, Davis.
Katharine Collins has been working in education since 2000 and became a full-time teacher in 2013 teaching tenth grade honors English and American Literature. In 2016, she found her home at Birmingham Community Charter High School, a large Title I school in Lake Balboa. After teaching tenth grade English for another two years, a chemistry teacher learned she had a science background and invited her to switch subjects. She is now in her third-year teaching college prep and honors chemistry and first year teaching AP Chemistry. Katharine has a passion for social justice issues, which led her to become a 2020 Hollyhock Fellow with the Stanford University Graduate School of Education. This program focuses on creating equity in the classroom for historically marginalized populations by breaking down the personal, instructional, institutional, and systemic barriers that hinder their access to a quality education. For the next two years, she will be learning to support students in developing their own intrinsic motivation, as well as developing and utilizing their unique voices. Katharine’s other passion is creating, and she does a lot of writing on the side, including a full novel. Katharine is excited to have been chosen for the 2020-2021 Teacher Advisory Panel and looks forward to supporting The Huntington’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion goals.
David Daedalus Franke has been teaching in LAUSD since 1993. He has been at Eagle Rock Elementary School since 1999 and teaching fourth grade since 2009. He is a Master Teacher, and the in-school coordinator for the California Dance Institute. He loves to play guitar in class and believes that the arts are essential to a balanced education. He is active in the community in which he both lives and works; he is the PTA representative and a founding member of the Social Justice Committee. This year, Mr. Franke was honored as one of 22 LAUSD Teachers of the Year.
Tina Hernandez is a first grade teacher at Mayflower Elementary School in Monrovia, California. She has worked for the Monrovia Unified School District for over 20 years. During her time with Monrovia Unified she has taught multiple grade levels ranging from kindergarten through fifth grade. Her college career began at Citrus College in Glendora, California where she grew her passion for the arts participating in various performing arts groups. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in education and her multiple subject credentials from the University of La Verne. Her passion for arts education propelled her to become a T.E.A.L. (Technology Enhanced Arts Learning) coach for her school site. Wanting to provide teachers with ways to integrate arts into the curriculum, she signed up for the Huntington Summer Workshop. Her experience learning from The Huntington staff and fellow teachers encouraged her to participate on the Teacher Advisory Panel and she is excited to be a part of this creative and creative and collaborative process.
Heidi Kwalk discovered her joy of teaching and interacting with students as a substitute teacher. After working in the field of customs brokerage for six years after college, she decided to go back to school and earn her teaching credential with this newfound joy. Kwalk earned her B.S. in international business and her teaching credential from California State University in Fullerton. She has taught upper elementary class for 20 years and is currently teaching 4th and 5th grade combo classes at Weaver Elementary School in Orange County.
Kwalk continues to seek opportunities to learn and grow and bring ideas back to the classroom. In addition to participating in the Huntington’s Summer Teacher Workshop, she has participated in numerous summer institutes with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Kwalk is also a fellow of National Endowment for the Humanities summer teacher programs as well as the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources.
Kwalk is connected to The Cotsen Foundation for the Art of Teaching. She has presented to their mentor teacher group on the implementation of primary sources across the discipline and opened her class for demonstration lessons using primary sources and for CGI lessons (Cognitively Guided Instruction in mathematics). The highlight of her career has been visiting Bright Future School in the summer of 2003 and 2004, a newly opened school in Kompong Chom Province in Cambodia. She worked with the teachers in sharing best practices in teaching. There, she eye-witnessed the eagerness of the locals to learn and how much they valued education and its impact on their lives.
Heidi is excited and honored to join the work of the Teacher Advisory Panel at the Huntington.
Rosanna Villalobos is a moderate-severe special education teacher and instructional designer. She has worked in the field of education for almost 20 years, in the areas of K–12 special education, museum education, religious education, and higher education. She is entering her sixth year as a teacher at San Marino High School where she also served as the assistant cheer coach for two years. During school closures due to Covid-19, she collaborated with other educators to design online learning experiences for students enrolled in moderate-severe special education courses within the San Marino Unified School District. While teaching at San Marino High School, Villalobos has received grants from the San Marino Rotary Club and SMHS PTSA to help fund two ongoing projects for a sensory garden and assistive technology in the classroom.
Villalobos grew up in the neighboring city of San Gabriel where she completed her K–12 education, graduating from Gabrielino High School. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in art education from California State University, Los Angeles, and obtained her Moderate-Severe Education Specialist credential through the LACOE BTSA program. She recently continued her education and completed her Master of Education in learning design and technology from the University of Southern California, graduating with honors as a member of both Phi Kappa Phi and Kappa Delta Pi. While studying at USC, she completed an internship with USC Bovard College where she assisted the instructional design team with the development and implementation of various higher education courses, including a brand-new onboarding course for future Bovard interns. When she is not teaching or continuing her own education, Villalobos happily volunteers for her daughter's Girl Scouts troop as their troop cookie chairperson and has also volunteered as the advancement chairperson for her son’s Cub Scout pack. She enjoys bringing her family to The Huntington for walks through the gardens and art galleries.
Virna Villagomez was born and raised in Morelia, Mexico. In 1993 she graduated with honors and obtained a bachelor’s degree in special education from Escuela Normal de Especialización in Mexico City. She began her professional career in Mexico City as a Speech and Language Therapist as well as teaching students in a Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program (DHHP). Three years later, while teaching English as a Foreign Language in the middle school DHHP, she was invited to join the Los Angeles Unified School District as a speech and language pathologist. In 1996, she moved to California where she later obtained a master’s degree in moderate to severe disabilities from National University. In 1999, Ms. Villagomez transferred to Montebello Unified School District where she taught a K–5, bilingual, special day class for students with mild/moderate disabilities. In 2010, she joined the Moderate/Severe Autism Program at Greenwood Elementary where she currently teaches a K–1 class. She obtained an Autism Specialist Certificate from UCLA in 2012. Villagomez has a passion for serving students with unique abilities and strives at finding new ways of improving her daily practice. In 2020 she joined The California Arts Project (TCAP) as part of the Montebello USD Arts Education Program. She strongly believes in the power of art and nature as tools to provide enriching experiences for every child. Villagomez is honored to be a part of The Teacher Advisory Panel at The Huntington and looks forward to collaborating with like-minded individuals.
César Cázares has been teaching for twenty-three years in various school districts throughout Los Angeles, including private, charter and public schools. From 1996 through 2007 he taught biology, chemistry and pre-algebra to middle and high school students before becoming a Waldorf teacher in 2008. His first class in Mexico was a combined group that he carried for two years before joining Pasadena Waldorf School in 2010. He graduated his first class in 2017 from an eight-year journey and is presently carrying a second class. He’s also been a guest lecturer at the Waldorf Institute of Southern California - a teacher training and certification program.
Tracy Clark received her B.A. in English from the University of California Los Angeles and her M.A. in Multicultural Education from California State University Dominguez Hills. She is currently teaching in the Torrance Unified School District and has spent the last 22 years at Torrance High School. As a veteran high school English teacher, Tracy does more than grade essays, read Shakespeare, and serve as a sometimes therapist. Her interests lie in developing ways to blend art integration with both her district curriculum and the California State Common Core Standards. She is obsessed with creating inspiring lessons and collaborating with other like-minded professionals to find exciting, new ways of guiding America’s youths toward obtaining a well-rounded education. As a parent of three teenagers and a leader to a troop of Girl Scout Cadettes, she recognizes the value of the humanities in the lives of this rising generation. Her participation in the 2018 Huntington Voices has inspired and energized her teaching and her students’ interest in humanities.
Teresa Dickey, a native of Los Angeles, has a deep connection to the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens: as a child she roamed the grounds of the campus learning to love the Japanese and Desert Gardens. These early trips helped her find her passion: first, by studying the literatures of Japan; then, in her exploration into key African authors. As a result of years of study, Ms. Dickey brings a rich and diverse curriculum to her students. Currently, she works as an English instructor at Marymount High School, Los Angeles, a community she has served for the past 26 years. She has consistently planned student field trips, as well as teacher-guided tours in the East Asian Gardens for her students who study Japanese Literature. Throughout her career she has been fortunate to improve her practice, as well as the practice of other teachers, through a variety of scholarly and experiential opportunities. She has spoken at the National Association of Independent Schools, California Association of Independent Schools, National Council of Teachers of English, California Association of Teachers of English, National Catholic Educators Association, and individual school communities in Southern California. Additionally, she has earned recognition as a California Writing Project Fellow, 1985; a Center for Basic Education Fellow, 1989: “Woodblock Prints in 19th Century Japan: 4 masters;” National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow, 1992: “Four Texts and Japanese Culture” California State University, Sacramento; Toyota International Teacher Scholar Ambassador, 2001; Sarah D. Barder Fellow, Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth, 2005; and most recently, a Huntington Voices Institute participant, 2018. In many ways, her participation as a member of the first Teacher Advisory Panel allows her to give back to the Huntington what it has so generously given to her over 50 years.
Sandra Garcia is a secondary social studies and dual immersion program teacher at Glendale Unified School District. Sandra’s career and education began in the field of business administration where she spent more than a decade working in accounting, human resources, and quality departments. After deciding to fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming and educator, Sandra return to school to obtain the necessary certifications. She received her bachelor’s degree from Mount St. Mary’s University, Los Angeles, and her master’s degree and teaching credential from the University of Southern California- USC. As a life-long learner, since the moment she stepped foot into the classroom in 2016, Sandra continued to pursue additional educational opportunities. This practice led her to obtain an additional teaching authorization in Spanish, an Educational Technology Certificate from the University of California San Diego, and most recently, to pursue a second master’s degree in United States History from Pace University in New York. Sandra has been a speaker at multiple events such as the California Association for Bilingual Education State Conference, and the UCLA Teaching History Conference. She has also served in several boards and volunteers her time in organization like the Department of Family Life for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Phi Delta Kappa Chapter of USC. Sandra has received awards for her work in genocide education, for her service, and her research. She is now extremely honored to be part of the inaugural Teacher Advisory Panel at the Huntington Library and is looking forward to continuing to grow both as a student and as an educator through this entity, and through upcoming additional collaborations with the USC Shoah Foundation, and the Holocaust Center for Humanity in Washington this summer.