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Becky Bird (Second Grade)

I am Becky Bird and I am a second grade teacher here at Sequoia Pathway Academy. I have been teaching second grade here at Sequoia for 5 years. I am married with four children and a dog. I attended Northcentral University for my bachelor’s degree in elementary education. I continued my education and received my master’s degree in education, specializing in curriculum and instruction, at Grand Canyon University. I am highly qualified and a certified teacher.

I love spending time with my family, friends, and attending All-Star cheer competitions with my oldest daughter. I love everything Disney and my favorite character is Tinkerbell. I enjoy watching movies and traveling.




Rebecca Collins (Guidance Counselor)

My name is Rebecca Collins and I am a certified Guidance Counselor at Sequoia Pathway. I have been a guidance counselor for six years and a Puma family/ substitute teacher at Pathway for many years! I have three children who are 11, 14 and 16. All have attended Pathway. I have lived in Maricopa for twelve years and my husband and I are involved in the community with sports and volunteering. I am excited to be part of the Pathway family again and working with the elementary through high school students.



Shelley Damron (Kindergarten)

Mrs. Shelley Damron here! Pathway Kindergarten Teacher for 10 years strong. I have a dual Master’s degree in Elementary Education and Special Education. I have been here since Pathway opened its doors. I thoroughly enjoy teaching my Kinders the foundations for learning. The growth in Kinder is  A-mazing to watch and warms my heart. Prior to Pathway, I worked in the Kyrene School District in the Special Education Department. I am also an Air Force Veteran.  🙂

I am happily married to “Mr. Damron”. My 2 teenage sons attend Pathway. Tyler is a Sophomore and Ryan is a Freshman. We have 1 tortoise, 3 dogs- 1 Golden Retriever and 2 Goldendoodles, 2 Guinea Pigs and 13 Sugar Gliders. YES, I love animals!



Diana “Dee” Estrada (Health Aide)

Diana Estrada AKA “Dee” – I Have Been in the Medical Field For 18 Years and I am the Health Aid for Pathway. Mother of 8 Children, 4 Grandchildren & happily Married for 25 Years.  My passion is to mentor our youth through the instruction of Basketball and my immediate family is my entire being!  I am blessed to be a PUMA and have been with Pathway for 6 years & Look forward to many more!



 Sheri Forester (SPED Para-professional)

My name is Sheri Forester. I am married with children. My family and I moved to Maricopa five years ago. I’ve been part of the Pathway family for four years as a parent/educator. I received my Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Upper Iowa University. I am currently attending GCU for my Master’s in Mental Health. I have a passion for people with disabilities.  In my spare time I enjoy playing bingo and spending time with my family.



Denise Foulkrod (Reading Specialist)

I am the certified K-6 Reading Specialist at Sequoia Pathway Academy.  While I have been an elementary school teacher for eighteen years, six of those years have been as a Pathway Puma.  At Pathway, I have also taught first grade and fourth grade.

My husband, three children, and I moved to Arizona from Cleveland, Ohio thirteen years ago.  In Cleveland, I graduated from Baldwin-Wallace College with a K-8th grade certificate and a minor in Psychology.  Recently, I earned a Master of Reading from Grand Canyon University.  My post graduate work also included Special Education and Early Childhood development.

As a teacher, I believe in providing high-quality curriculum and instruction in a supportive and effective learning environment.  With high expectations, I endeavor to help motivate my students to learn and develop a love of learning!

The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.

– Dr. Seuss



David Gantz (Elementary Music)

Hi!  My name is David Gantz and I am from Harvard, MA.  I have been honored to teach music to children in preschool through 12th grade over the last 20 years and I am thrilled to be teaching music at Sequoia Pathway Academy!

During my career I have taught for Imagine Schools and at the Arts Academy at Estrella Mountain in Tolleson.  In 2016 and 2017, I was selected as guest conductor for the Pendergast Honor Choir Festival where students sang my original songs including “Can We Be Better Than We Are?”, “All I Can Do Is My Best,” and “We Will Sing.”

My character education songs have been recorded recently by members of the One Voice Children’s Choir in Utah.  This choir has appeared on America’s Got Talent and they have over 100 million views on Youtube.

I hold the Master of Music degree with an emphasis in music education from the University of Florida. I have completed additional study at the world renowned Berklee College of Music.

When I am not teaching, I enjoy writing songs with positive messages, themes which raise students’ self- esteem, achieving our personal best, believing in ourselves/teachers, and making the world a better place.

As a teacher, my focus is on developing a love and appreciation for music while nurturing the skills necessary for the students to reach their full potential as musicians.



Laurel Gerla (Administrative Assistant)

I am just finishing my 10th year at Pathway.  I came onboard the summer we were opening the school.  My two grandsons are students at Pathway; one is in the 5th grade and the other in the 3rd.  I have 3 grown children, 7 grandchildren and 2 great- grandchildren.  We are from the Seattle area and have lived in Arizona for just over 10 years. “When are you going to retire?” – that’s the big question that so far has no answer.  I enjoy my Pathway Family.



Ani Hamilton (3rd Grade)

This is my 10th year as a teacher, with my most recent four years being with Pathway!  I consider it a great privilege and responsibility to be a teacher.  My goal is to provide a happy, educational environment for children as I bring my experiences as an educator to the classroom.  Outside of school, my life is dedicated to my family.  I enjoy hiking and camping up north, reading, running, and caring for animals.  I am a believer that what is taught in the classroom is never as important as what is learned.  As a teacher and a mom, it is my duty and privilege to instill compassion in young minds.



Richelle Hanks (3rd Grade)

My name is Richelle Hanks and I teach third grade. This is my 3rd year teaching at Pathway and I love it!

I graduated from Brigham Young University. My husband and I have three wonderful children. The oldest is twenty and she will begin her last two years of college at Utah State in the fall. We have a 16 year old daughter and a 14 year old son who both attend Maricopa High, where my husband has taught math for the past 12 years. We have lived in Maricopa since the summer of 2006.



Michele Hill (Registrar)

I am on my 8th year here at Pathway. I started as a Para professional in Kindergarten and then worked as a Para in Resource and am now in the front office as the Registrar and LOVE it here. I have recently married a man that I have known since I was 15!  My new last name is Hill!  I have 2 amazing children. Shawn is 20 and attending his 2nd year of college at NAU and my daughter Nicolette who is in 8th grade and looking forward to possibly going to college abroad!

P.S. Laurel has promised to retire when I retire, so she will be here with me another 20 years! 🙂



Aleksandra Jupina (Resource)

Mrs. Jupina is in her first-year teaching at Sequoia Pathway Academy, this school year. She relocated from Texas to Arizona where she attended GCU for Elementary and Special Education where she earned her degree. In her spare time Mrs. Jupina travels with her husband, Arthur, and two children, Clara and Koan. She hopes to see Russia, Iceland and New Zealand very soon. When she is not traveling Mrs. Jupina is working on learning a second language, Russian, remodeling her new home or singing.



Lisa Long (6th Grade Science)

My Name is Lisa Long. I am the 6th Grade Science Teacher. I have been with Sequoia Pathway Academy for 6 years. I am originally from Philadelphia. Go Eagles! I’ve been married to an awesome guy for 24 years. He is a retired Marine and I have lived all over the world, including Okinawa, Japan. I have two sons. One is in the Marine Corps, like his father, and the other is in college studying Computer Programming. My hobbies are making soaps and many other bath goodies. I have three extra-large dogs. I love my French Mastiff, Italian Mastiff, and my curvaceous Boxer.



Rogerlene Parson (4th Grade Science)

Hello! My name is Rogerlene Parson. This is my second year as the 4th grade Science teacher at Sequoia Pathway Academy! I was born and raised in New York, but moved to Michigan after college. There I raised a family and worked in the health care field, as well as in elementary schools, before relocating to Arizona in July 2017. I live in Maricopa with my husband. We have three adult children (Andre Jr., Milan, and Collin) and two grandchildren (Camile and Eathan). I enjoy spending time with my family, traveling, and reading. My desire is to promote a curiosity and love for science in all students.



Ryan Portee (SPED – Para-professional)

I am originally from Decatur Illinois, but I grew up in Washington DC. I moved a lot as a kid because my dad was a college football coach from Illinois State, to Cornell University, University of Maryland, to NC State. I went University of Maryland, but I chose the music biz when I got offered a record contract. I was in the entertainment biz for 25 years before I retired and started coaching. I moved to AZ in 2009, and married Elizabeth, my high school sweetheart. We have 9 children, 2 of which attend Pathway, Ellie Mae and Ryan Jr. I love Pathway and love coaching these young men in football and basketball. Go Pumas!!!

Assistant Varsity Football Coach

Assistant Varsity Basketball Coach

Head Flag Football Coach




Kathy Raske (Title I Para-Professional)

 My name is Kathy Raske.  I have happily been part of the Pathway family since 2013.  I have worked in education for over 14 years.  During my time at Pathway, I have had the privilege of working in Title One assisting our students with reading.  I have lived in Maricopa since 2004.  I am happily married.  My husband and I have four children, three in college and one in high school.




Wahkeyta Rogers (2nd Grade)

I am originally from Washington State.  I received my B.A. from Western Washington University.   In 2012, I relocated to Arizona with my family.  We love living in this warm climate where we can do more things outdoors all year round.

I have worked in the education field for the past five years.  I enjoy being a teacher and working with young children.  My students really keep me on my toes and make my heart smile.  Doesn’t get any better than that!



Ann Rosati (Title I Para-Professional)

I am Ann Rosati and have been a proud member of the Pathway family for 5 years and part of an education environment for the past 12.  I work in the Title One Program as a Title One Assistant, reinforcing and enhancing reading skills in grades K-6.  I received a Bachelor of Science Degree from Colorado State University and moved to Arizona with my husband in 1999.  I am the proud parent of 2 Russian born adopted children, one who is a 2017 Puma graduate and another who will graduate in May.



Barbara Rose (Speech)

My name is Barbara Rose and this is my first year at Sequoia Pathway. I am originally from Long Island, N.Y. and I moved to Maryland after receiving my Bachelor’s degree from Howard University. While living in Maryland, I received my Master’s degree from Argosy University. I was Human Resources Manager, for 30 years, at a health care facility that served the uninsured and under insured population of Baltimore and a foster parent for about 23 years until I moved to Maricopa, six years ago. I feel like I have come full circle, as my first job was with the D.C. public school system.

I am the mother of one Pathway Puma and the grandmother of two Pathway Pumas. When not at work, I enjoy spending time with my family and playing computer games.



      Deidre Stapleton (First Grade)

HI! I am Deidre Stapleton and this is my second year teaching first grade here at Sequoia Pathway.  I am originally from southern California and my children and I moved to Arizona in 2010.  I did my undergraduate studies at the University of California, Riverside and completed my Masters in Early Childhood Education at Arizona State University.  Prior to moving to Arizona and entering education, I worked as a paramedic for 11 years and taught skills at a paramedic academy.

Outside of school you can find me at my boys’ activities.  My twins are juniors at MHS and are on the Track & Field and Cross Country teams, in ROTC, and the Marching Band.  I also have an 8th and 3rd grader here at Pathway.  They keep me busy with ice hockey, baseball, and figure skating.  In my spare time, you will always find me engrossed in a book.  Biographies and anything related to history are my favorites.

I look forward to a great year and all the energy and enthusiasm that our young students have for learning!


Renee Velchek (Kitchen Manager)

My name is Renee Velchek, I am the kitchen manager here at Pathway. I started at Pathway in 2016. I grew up Chicago and moved to Indiana in 1998. I was a stay at home mom until my son was 3. When he started school I started working for the School City of Hammond and I worked in their preschools and the lunchroom until I moved to Arizona with my family in 2016. I have been married for 20 years and I have one son who is 12. He is the light of my life.  I have one dog who is 5. I have a certificate in “Serv Safe” as a manager and my food handler’s card from Arizona. When I worked in Indiana I took a lot of cooking classes with Chef Cindy.  I enjoy watching my son play baseball and taking my dog for a walk.