Welcome New Faculty and Staff!
Posted 08/31/2017 02:58PM


This year, there are a number of new and recently hired faculty and staff joining our community, as well as a few who have assumed new roles at Westridge. Read more about them below and please join us in welcoming the newest members of our community!

Elias Aguilar joins Westridge as our maintenance technician.  For the past five years Elias worked at Kidspace Museum in Pasadena as a custodial supervisor and maintenance technician. His previous experience includes working as an electrician apprentice at TC Electric in Monterey Park, and in construction and remodeling, maintenance, and carpentry.  He attended El Camino College. 
  Valerie Brownsmith joins our 7th grade team as its new mathematics teacher. A graduate of Smith College, she has taught math for 10 years within the Glendale Unified School District. There, in addition to teaching middle school math, Val served as a department chair and expanded her role to curriculum development and teacher training.  She earned her master’s degree in administration from Concordia University in Irvine in 2013. 
  Samantha Chaffin joined the communications team in the spring as Webmaster and Online Content Manager. Previously, she served as Marketing Manager for the Downtown Women’s Center and as a digital content consultant. Samantha earned her B.A. in English and Theatre from the University of Southern California.
  Allison Clark, Westridge Class of 2007, returns to Westridge as a physical education teacher this year after previously serving in a variety of coaching and long-term substitute teaching roles.  She comes to Westridge from Aveson Global Leadership Academy in Altadena, where she taught PE for four years, serving as lead teacher for her final year. Allison holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Redlands, and a Master’s of Education degree from the University of Washington.
  Julia Davis is the school’s new Middle School theatre teacher. Julia earned her undergraduate degree in theatre from San Francisco State University, before completing her master’s work in acting at USC. She comes to Westridge from the New York Film Academy of Los Angeles, where she taught courses in movement and period styles. She has also served as a teaching artist at various institutions, including the Lyric Hyperion Theatre, Cal State Long Beach, the Newman Theatre, and the Center for Performing and Visual arts in Coweta County, Georgia.
  Tsia Harris joins Westridge as the newest member of the Dining Services team. Tsia received her Associates Degree in Le Cordon Bleu – Culinary Arts from California Culinary Academy, San Francisco. She has since worked in a number of restaurants, cooking everything from pizzas to pastries. Most recently Tsia worked as library assistant for the Durango Public Library in Colorado where she has been living for the past three years.
  Ian Ingram joins Westridge as the new Upper School Robotics instructor and coach. He earned his undergraduate degree in Ocean Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he studied Marine Robotics, Autonomous Underwater Vehicles, and Robot Navigation and Control. He also holds an M.S. in Ocean Engineering from MIT and an M.F.A. in Visual Arts from Carnegie Mellon University. His solo and exhibition work has garnered numerous press reviews and publications; he also taught at Carnegie Mellon University from 2004-2010 and at Pitzer College from 2014-2016. 
  Melissa Kelley, trained historian of education and gender, will teach history in the Upper School. She is a PhD candidate at the University of Minnesota where she has been a part of the history department since 2010, most recently teaching Studies in 20th Century Europe and History of the Holocaust.  She has also worked as a tutor and academic coach for high school students and as a scorer for the AP History exam. Melissa earned her undergraduate degree in history from Smith College and was a Fulbright Scholar, studying at Humboldt University in Berlin. 
  Brandon Kruhm, who has served as Westridge’s Middle School theatre teacher since 2014, assumed the role of Director of Theatre over the summer. He will work closely with colleagues to develop and integrate the theatre program across grade levels and divisions.
  Emma Pell is the newest member of the marketing and communications team, serving as communications associate. Emma was previously employed by the New West Symphony, where she was the manager of communications and patron relations and assisted with development and fundraising. She double majored in Rhetoric and Folk Art & Culture and graduated with high distinction from UC Berkeley.
  Michael Powers joins Westridge as Middle and Upper School orchestra teacher with more than 15 years’ experience directing and conducting orchestras. He has been with USC since 2005, serving as an adjunct instructor in conducting studies and conductor of the USC Concert Orchestra. While at USC, he also worked as the music director and conductor for the Pasadena City College Symphony and the Pasadena Conservatory Music String Orchestra, and worked with Crossroads School, and the American Youth Symphony, amongst others. He is a graduate of the University of the Pacific and USC, the latter from which he earned his master’s degree in orchestral conducting.
  Hector Rodriguez joins Westridge as groundskeeper.  He has been with the Lynwood Unified School District since 2013 working as a light and heavy equipment operator and gardener.  He has also worked in landscaping for Pepperdine University and the City of Los Angeles, Department of Recreation and Parks.  Hector holds an Associates of Arts degree in liberal arts form East Los Angles College. 
  Refugio Sanchez joined Westridge as director of facilities in April.  Refugio brings nearly a decade of facility management experience to Westridge, having previously served at the Downtown Women’s Center and Haven Hills, a provider of safety, shelter, and support to all victims of domestic violence. In addition to facilities management, he has worked as a tutor and food distribution program director at the Rakestraw Memorial Educational Community Center. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Cal State Los Angeles.
  Margaret Shoemaker has served in various positions at Westridge since 2006 – as long-term sub for the Director of MS, as Director of Upper School for five years, and as academic dean during the 2016-2017 school year, a position that worked closely with our Admissions Department. This summer, Margaret moved into a full-time position in admissions as the Westridge associate director of admissions.  

An independent, forward-thinking
day school for girls, grades 4–12

324 Madeline Drive
Pasadena, California 91105
Phone: 626-799-1153
Fax: 626-799-9236
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