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Faculty

Mrs. Lupita Alvarez

Mrs. Lupita Alvarez

Preschool Teacher

Mrs. Alvarez teaches our both Pre-K in the Early Montessori program and Spanish. Mrs. Alvarez is currently working towards achieving her American Montessori Society (AMS) Early Childhood certification and holds a Certificate in Child Development from De Anza Community College Mrs. Alvarez is also certified in Good Manners Cotillion instruction. She graduated from the Instituto Claret in Guadalajara, Mexico and joined Canyon Heights Academy in 2009.

Ms. Bonnie Blackard

Ms. Bonnie Blackard

Resource Teacher

Ms. Blackard is the Resource Teacher for all grades at Canyon Heights Academy. She received a MS in Education from Cairn University. She also holds a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) from Harding University and a Master of Social Work (MSW) from Adelphi University. She has over 15 years experience teaching in elementary and middle school grades. Combined with her training and experience as a school social worker, she provides a diversity of enrichment and support to her students. Her goal is to help all students become their best selves.

Ms. Karen Carminati

Ms. Karen Carminati

Early Montessori Teacher

Ms. Carminati joined Canyon Heights Academy in 2006. She is currently assisting in the Early Montessori and Mommy and Me programs. She also assists with the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program. After spending many years in the physical therapy field, she changed careers to education and joined CHA. Previous positions at the school include Office Manager and Director of Admissions.

Ms. Maryjacqueline Fox

Ms. Maryjacqueline Fox

Early Montessori Teacher

Ms. Fox joined the Canyon Heights community as the Early Montessori Teacher in April 2017. She graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio with a Bachelors of Science degree in Early Childhood Education and completed her AMI Toddler Montessori education degree in 2017 from the Montessori Training Center of St. Louis. She is currently a graduate student at the University of Notre Dame in the Mary Anne Remick Leadership program. Prior to teaching at Canyon Heights, she worked for almost two years as a preschool assistant teacher at a Catholic Montessori school in Washington, D.C. She has lived all of her life on the East Coast and is happy to be in beautiful San Jose while working at such a great Catholic school!

Ms. Celeste Hatfield

Ms. Celeste Hatfield

Middle School Teacher

Ms. Hatfield joined Canyon Heights Academy in 2019 to teach middle school Math and Social Studies. She graduated from Gonzaga University with a BS in Math and a minor in Art. Ms. Hatfield is also in the ExCEL program at Santa Clara University to complete a Masters degree in Teaching. Ms. Hatfield was born and raised in Sherwood, Oregon and is excited to be part of the CHA community.

Ms. Kaitlin Hughes

Ms. Kaitlin Hughes

Fourth Grade Teacher

Ms. Hughes began teaching as an assistant Kindergarten teacher at a Montessori school before joining Canyon Heights Academy in 2018 to teach grade 5. She graduated from Benedictine College with a BA in Elementary Education. She student taught Grade 1 while in college and gained additional experience with elementary aged children as a catechist in her parish preparing students to receive first sacraments. As a camp counselor, she has helped lead two mission trips to Belize as an Orientation Leader and Retreat Leader.

Sr. Ain Karem

Sr. Ain Karem

Preschool Teacher

Sr. Ain Karem joined Canyon Heights Academy in the Preschool as she completes training for her Montessori Teaching Credential. Sr. Ain received a Bachelor of Arts in Theology and has previously taught multiple subjects and Catechism for children and adults. She served as a religious missionary for 25 years in hospitals, orphanages, parishes and schools. She is a member of the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara community (SSVM)

Mrs. Julie Keeney

Mrs. Julie Keeney

Preschool Teacher

After graduating from Santa Clara University, Mrs. Keeney embarked on a rewarding career with Hewlett-Packard Company. Seeking a new experience, she joined Canyon Heights Academy in 2017 as an Early Montessori teacher. She holds an American Montessori Society (AMS) early childhood credential and is extremely passionate about the Montessori teaching method. She is “over the moon” with excitement to be on the pre-school teaching team and grateful for the opportunity to be working with such special gifts from God…the young children at CHA!

Mrs. Lisa Kelsey

Mrs. Lisa Kelsey

Middle School Teacher

Mrs. Kelsey joined Canyon Heights Academy in 2008, beginning in 4th and 5th grade and then moving to the Middle School. She currently teaches Latin and American History in the Middle School. Mrs. Kelsey earned her bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Science and Math at San Diego State University. Mrs. Kelsey is one of the most tenured and most respected teachers at CHA.

Ms. Jiwon Kim

Ms. Jiwon Kim

Middle School Science Teacher

Ms. Kim joined the Canyon Heights Academy as the middle school science teacher in 2019. She graduated from Purdue University with distinction in Biology and received Purdue Charles C. Chappelle Fellowship for post-secondary studies. She taught first-year biology lab at Purdue and worked as a researcher to develop K-12 integrated science curriculum. She received her teaching credential in Science, Math, and Russian for K-12. She is excited to develop future Christian leaders with the Canyon Heights Academy community.

Ms. Monica Ku

Ms. Monica Ku

Preschool Teacher

Ms. Monica Ku is the most recent addition to the Preschool faculty at CHA. Prior to joining CHA, Ms. Ku spent 17 years as a business owner of two sporting goods stores. After enrolling and watching her daughter grow as a student at Canyon Heights, she was attracted to the importance of Early Childhood education and how the Montessori methodology develops the whole child. Ms. Ku decided to embark on a different career path and dedicate her time to developing young children’s minds. Ms. Ku has completed her American Montessori Society Early Childhood certification course work.

Ms. Shanmei Kuang

Ms. Shanmei Kuang

Kindergarten Teacher

Ms. Kuang joined the Canyon Heights community as a Kindergarten teacher in 2019. She graduated from the University of California, Davis with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology in 2014. She received her Master of Arts degree in Teaching from Santa Clara University in 2019. Prior to joining CHA, Ms. Kuang taught grade 4 in a Catholic school and worked as an instructional aide to students with moderate to severe autism. Ms. Kuang is an active parishioner at the San Jose Chinese Catholic Mission. She looks forward to growing as a teacher and helping form Christian leaders with the Canyon Heights community!

Ms. Katrina Ludwig

Ms. Katrina Ludwig

Middle School Teacher

Ms. Ludwig joined Canyon Heights Academy in 2019. She graduated from Saint Louis University with a BA in Secondary Education & Social Studies in 2018. Prior to joining CHA, she spent a year of service in Denver, Colorado with Alum Service Corps. During her year of service, Ms. Ludwig taught Social Studies and worked in the Campus Ministry office coordinating Masses, Retreats, and Prayer Services. Ms. Ludwig is also in the ExCEL Program at Santa Clara University, working on her Master of Arts in Teaching. Ms. Ludwig comes from Saint Louis, Missouri and is a proud St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Blues Fan!

Mrs. Nicole Mezzetta

Mrs. Nicole Mezzetta

Second Grade Teacher

Mrs. Mezzetta had 10 years experience teaching before joining Canyon Heights in 2013 as teacher for Second Grade. She holds a multiple subject teaching credential from San Jose State University and a BA in Sociology with a minor in Child and Adolescent Development. Mrs. Mezzetta enjoys preparing her class for their First Holy Communion.

Ms. Emi Minjares

Ms. Emi Minjares

Early Montessori Teacher

Ms. Mijares has spent her entire career working with children, including 17 years with toddlers, prior to joining Canyon Heights Academy in the winter of 2018. She received Montessori certification from South Bay College and has worked in schools since 2002. She is excited to continue working with our youngest students in a Catholic Montessori environment.

Mrs. Vui Nguyen

Mrs. Vui Nguyen

Preschool Teacher

Mrs. Nguyen joined Canyon Heights Academy in 2018 as a Preschool teacher. She has previous preschool teaching experience having taught for 5 years in Milpitas. Mrs. Nguyen received a BA in Early Childhood Development from Sacramento State University and absolutely enjoys working with young children.

Mrs. Veronica Orta

Mrs. Veronica Orta

Preschool Teacher

Mrs. Orta joined Canyon Heights in 2006 after receiving her Montessori teaching credential. She believes children need an environment that provides not only love but gives them the freedom to develop consistency, order, concentration and coordination skills, especially during the formative years.

Mr. Tho Pham

Mr. Tho Pham

Middle School Teacher

Mr. Pham joined Canyon Heights Academy in 2017. Prior to joining Canyon Heights Academy, he taught math at a private school in Milpitas. Mr. Pham received a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from University of Phoenix and a Master’s Degree with an emphasis in Management Information Technology from National University.

Mrs. Katie Pieplow

Mrs. Katie Pieplow

Fifth Grade Teacher

Mrs. Pieplow joined Canyon Heights in 2018. She previously taught for 7 years in the Diocese of San Jose in grades 1, 3 and Junior High. Mrs. Pieplow earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Child Development and Psychology from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from San Jose State University. She cleared her credential through Santa Clara University and is currently working towards her Masters in Educational Leadership.

Mrs. Mayren Sanchez

Mrs. Mayren Sanchez

Spanish Teacher

Mrs. Sanchez is the Spanish teacher for grades K-5. Born and raised in Mexico City, her family recently moved to the US. By learning English as a second language herself, she has effective techniques and procedures which she can implement with the students. Mrs. Sanchez received an MA in Liberal Studies and a Juris Doctorate from the Universidad Anahuac. After graduation, she practiced corporate law in Mexico City for many years before starting a family and moving to the United States.

Mrs. Meghann Slayton

Mrs. Meghann Slayton

Third Grade Teacher

Mrs. Slayton joined Canyon Heights Academy in 2012 after teaching 10 years of elementary school. Since joining Canyon Heights, she has taught second, third and fifth grade. Mrs. Slayton received her BA and teaching credential from Chico State University and a Masters in Educational Administration from Walden University.

Mrs. Hallie Smith

Mrs. Hallie Smith

Art Teacher

Mrs. Smith is the art teacher for all grades and also teaches middle school Language Arts. She received Bachelor of Arts degrees in both studio art and English as well as a Master of Arts degree in teaching from Santa Clara University. She has been featured in galleries and juried art shows throughout Northern California, most notably winning an Award of Merit in both the 2015 and 2019 California State Fair fine arts competition, long considered one of the most prestigious art competitions in the state.

Mrs. Lizzie Soares

Mrs. Lizzie Soares

Middle School Teacher

Mrs. Soares joined Canyon Heights Academy as the Resource Specialist in 2018. She previously taught English at the secondary level for 11 years in public education, gaining an array of experience in supporting students with varied needs. Mrs. Soares was born and raised in San Jose and proudly attended San Jose State University earning a BA in English, an MA in English and Comparative Literature as well as her Teaching Credential.

Ms. Mary Ann Solano

Ms. Mary Ann Solano

First Grade Teacher

Ms. Solano has taught Grade 1 at Canyon Heights Academy for 12 years. She received a Masters degree in Education from San Jose State University. She has previously worked as a catechist for deaf and hearing-impaired children within the Diocese. She joined Canyon Heights Academy in 2007 and teaches first grade.

Ms. Judaline Swinkels

Ms. Judaline Swinkels

Music Teacher

Ms. Swinkels teaches Music to all grades at Canyon Heights and directs the Elite Ensemble, Cardinal Choir and Ukulele Club. Ms. Swinkels joined CHA in 2013 bringing 20 years of experience in music, theatrical and choral performance and over 15 years in classroom instruction. She is a member of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), the California Music Educators Association (CMEA) and the Society for Research in Music Education. She also holds an Early Childhood Learning Montessori credential. She has appeared on Grammy-winning and Grammy-nominated recordings with the San Francisco Symphony and has toured the UK as a soloist with Stanford University.

Mr. Steven Vrablic

Mr. Steven Vrablic

Athletic Director - P.E. Teacher

Mr. Vrablic joined Canyon Heights Academy in 2016 teaching Physical Education. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, with a minor in History, from Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada. Mr. Vrablic is also the Athletic Director.

Mr. Matthew Zeik

Mr. Matthew Zeik

Fourth Grade Teacher

Mr. Zeik started at Canyon Heights Academy in 2016 and became a fourth grade teacher in 2017. He previously taught at Royal Palm Academy in Florida, including 4 years in the fourth grade. He received a BA in Philosophy from the Pontifical University Regina Apostolorum in Rome. He studied Education Administration at St. Louis University while simultaneously studying Education at Lindenwood University. In Florida, he was also Program Director at Catholic Charities for seven years, directing the organization’s Education Programs and Human Trafficking Victim Assistance outreach. Prior to teaching, he worked as a missionary for 5 years in Mexico.

Open House Schedule

Contact List
Click here for our Contact List

To contact one of our school administrators, please call us at: (408) 370-6727 and request their extension below.

Ms. Catherine Neumayr, Head of School
ext. 203

Mrs. Tiffannie Thom, Admissions Director
ext. 207

Ms. Melissa Ma, Business Manager
ext. 202

Ms. Carla Yanez, Vice Principal - Middle School; Director - After School Programs
ext. 254

Mrs. Estela Zeik, Vice Principal - Lower School
ext. 209

Mrs. Marija Fisher, Vice Principal -
Early Montessori, Preschool and Kindergarten Director

ext. 259

Mrs. Kathryn Sager, Marketing and Development Director
ext. 206