DEANs – Dads Eliminating Andersen’s Needs

Dolphin Academy Teachers

DEANs – Dads Eliminating Andersen’s Needs

Meet Our Dolphin Academy Teachers

“We are deeply indebted and grateful for the support of the DEANS and the entire Andersen community for our Dolphin Academy Teachers! While many are familiar faces, we are fortunate to have some new additions to this year’s team as well.

The most important functions that our Dolphin Academy Teachers will provide is differentiation and enrichment. Differentiation is a critical high-impact teaching strategy used by teachers to craft lessons and projects that provide the right amount of support and challenge for every student. This structure is flexible, allowing students the opportunity to exit a support group once it no longer needed and move into an extension opportunity to be challenged.

The Dolphin Academy Teachers will also provide enrichment projects based on topics the students are interested in exploring deeper. To help challenge these students, teachers will create projects that allow them to dig deeper into content and enhance a student’s education by bringing new concepts to light or using old ideas in new ways.

We know that by utilizing our Dolphin Academy Teachers, Andersen’s students will have every opportunity to reach their maximum potential.”

Tiffany Lewis
Roy O. Andersen Elementary School


Kristi Kirsch

Hello Andersen Families, this year starts my 15th year as Andersen’s Instructional Assistant for Technology. Before that, I was a part of the Andersen community as a parent. I have had the privilege to help bring Andersen’s technology from a small room of 20 desktops to a computer lab of 40 and now to a Chromebook and Google School. As the technology changed, we also transitioned from a traditional computer lab to what we now call our Think Tank – a space that has flexible seating and moveable tables and chairs to better support collaborative work. In addition to our Think Tank, with the support of our DEANS, we created our Makerspace. This is where our students learn and work on Engineering Design Process, have introduction to coding and robotics, circuitry, and more. The main focus is to create a Growth Mindset that involves learning to try again and that if something doesn’t work out the first time it’s an opportunity to improve, learn and grow from mistakes that happen.

My passion is supporting our students and teachers in learning how to use their devices and the Google suite of tools. With the implementation of our Makerspace, I can really help to build a growth mindset. I am so happy to have students back in these spaces and I look forward to continuing to support them as they grow their critical thinking, collaboration, engineering, designing, technology and Growth Mindset skills!


Rebecca Garcia

For the past two years, I have had the pleasure of working as a Dolphin Academy Teacher. Before my time at Andersen, I taught in Mission Viejo for close to 20 years. I have a Master’s Degree in Education and a Bachelor’s degree in psychology, emphasizing child development. Education is my passion, and I am grateful to be part of the Andersen Team. I believe every child can learn. It is my job to help each individual reach their full potential to become a productive and independent scholar.

Rebecca is our technology expert working alongside Kristi Kirsch to provide students with the skills required to be a 20th-century learner. Additionally, Rebecca will provide English, Language Arts & Writing support and enrichment to our upper-grade students focusing on deepening their understanding of theme, character development, and vocabulary. Students will enhance their critical thinking skills as they embark on deep discussions and projects.


Jeff Vonnahme

I’ve been teaching at Andersen for seven years now and have been blessed to watch our students grow academically and socially. I have coached the Andersen Robotics Team and am excited to keep the program going to allow students to integrate tech, mechanical, and collaboration skills needed to run a successful team. I enjoy spending recess and lunch on supporting students’ learning and playing in mini-tournaments! I love watching our kids become independent learners and strive to instill in them my love of education.

In addition to supporting the Robotics Program, Jeff will provide math support and extension to our middle and upper-grade students. Advancement in math does not mean “learning next year’s curriculum,” but rather, Jeff will focus on delving deeper into math concepts and ensuring students develop a stronger understanding of numbers in order apply this knowledge to more challenging concepts.


Mackenzi Stuart

I am so excited to join the Andersen Dolphin Academy team! This is my 5th year in Newport Mesa and my 8th year teaching. I am lucky enough to have been able to teach everything from Preschool all the way through 6th grade. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Education as well as my credential from Texas Christian University. Outside of school I love sailing, spending time with my family and friends, and skiing. I am excited to see all of the Andersen Dolphins learn and grow this year!

This year Mackenzie will be supporting our 2nd graders in math and our 3rd and 4th grade students in English, Language Arts & Writing. We are so fortunate to have added Mackenzie to our team!


Elizabeth Wiley

I’ve been teaching in the district for 23 years, teaching everything from preschool to 3rd grade. With an emphasis on physical education, my goal has always been to teach inclusively. I attended UCI as an undergraduate and Concordia for my credential. I love to fish, sail, cook and spend time with my family. I love to garden, and plumerias are my favorite flower! I walk the beach daily. I love my job and am excited to return to see students in person!

Tapping into her primary experience and love of PE, Elizabeth will work with our primary team as a dual expert! She will engage our primary students in interactive and fun physical education activities, focusing on the skills needed for successful playground and social navigation. Elizabeth has spent the past year (and her summer) honing her primary English, Language Arts & Writing skills. While focusing on the expert implementation of our SIPPS (Systematic Instruction in Phonological Awareness, Phonics, and Sight Words), Elizabeth is well-versed in all things literacy. Elizabeth will work with our younger students as they explore print and start their journey of becoming expert readers and writers!

Kira Malin

Allison Barnett

This is my second year teaching at Andersen. I love the Andersen community of learners and I am so excited for the wonderful year that we have ahead of us. Prior to working at Andersen, I taught first grade at a charter school in Inglewood. I have my Master’s degree in Education and Bachelor’s degree in Human Development. Teaching is my passion and I love watching my students learn and grow as individuals throughout the year. Through my experience I have become passionate in my commitment to three things: Instilling a sense of self-worth among all students, inspiring student interest in core academic content and developing a life-long love for learning and exploration.

This year Allison will be supporting our Kinders and 1st grade students. Allison is well versed in early literacy and works well with our primary teams, creating small groups and individualizing the curriculum so that all students thrive.


Barbi Townsend

I have been teaching in Newport Mesa for the past 20 years. I am so excited to be returning to Andersen, where both my boys attended! I received my Bachelor’s at Long Beach State and my credential and ESL/Bilingual Certificate of Competency at Azusa Pacific. I also have a Master’s degree in Educational Administration. In addition to teaching, I have been involved with the PTA, the school play, been a Cub Scout leader, and utilized my love for photography as the yearbook chair. I am ready for all this year has to offer!

This year we are excited to tap into Barbi’s expertise in Language Acquisition and Development in order to offer students the opportunity to learn the Spanish language and its culture. In addition to offering all students Spanish instruction, she will work with our upper-grade students on understanding the structure of the Spanish language and writing. We are so excited have the opportunity to offer this unique opportunity to our students.

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1854 Port Westbourne Place, 7:00pm


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