Faculty and Staff
The faculty and staff at Canyon Heights Academy are a big reason why we are consistently recognized as one of the best private schools in San Jose. Whether your child is just beginning in our Montessori preschool or getting ready for the next steps in middle school, the CHA team is committed to supporting your child through each step of their formation in the Catholic faith.
Miss Elise Abrahamson
Early Montessori Teacher
Mrs. Lupita Alvarez
Mrs. Alvarez is one of our Preschool teachers and has been with Canyon Heights Academy since 2009. Mrs. Alvarez has been teaching Spanish since 2005, which was her first position when she started with Canyon Heights Academy. Currently, Mrs. Alvarez leads the After-School Spanish program for pre-kindergarten through fifth grade students. Before her work with pre-kindergarten students, Mrs. Alvarez worked in the Canyon Heights Academy Early Montessori progam. Mrs. Alvarez holds an 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.
Miss Vanessa Alvarez
Ms. Colleen Bateman
Ms. Cynthia Batres
Resource Teacher; Registrar
Ms. Batres served as our long-term substitute Resource Teacher for grades 1-5 last school year and will assume a new role this year as our Lower and Middle School Resource Teacher and School Registrar. Ms. Batres is a former Kumon Center business owner and teacher, where she provided one-to-one and small group after-school academic support for students in grades PK-12. She also worked with middle school students through a one-to-one learning model at Lydian Academy in Menlo Park. Ms. Batres has also taught in the Diocese of San Jose, Voices College-Bound Language Academy, and the YMCA.
Ms. Ana Brockmann
Early Childhood Teacher
Ms. Ana Brockmann Aldasoro joined Canyon Height’s Early Childhood Education team this year. As a graduate of our school in 2015, Ms. Brockmann is excited to be back and teach in her beloved school community! Ms. Brockmann received her Bachelor’s Degree in Global and Regional Studies from Saint Mary’s College of California and is pursuing her American Montessori Society (AMS) Early Childhood Certification. She is passionate about integral formation and quality, Catholic education.
Mr. Charles Carlisle
Middle School Teacher
Mr. Carlisle has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Humboldt State University and has been teaching science for 20+ years. He started his career teaching high school general biology and Higher Level International Baccalaureate Biology. About 10 years ago he discovered that he really liked middle school students while teaching College for Kids at West Valley College. For the past 10 years he has been teaching 6th thru 8th grade Earth Science, Life Science, Physical and Integrated Science.
Ms. Juliana Caruso
Middle School Teacher
Ms. Caruso is a Canyon Heights Academy alum and former Cardinal. She has been working as an Archaeologist after receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology/Archaeology and Economics from St Mary’s College in California. Ms. Caruso has been a substitute teacher at CHA for grades K-8 for several years, RCIA instructor for students and adults, and Lasallian Peer Minister at St. Mary’s College. She is excited to share her love and knowledge of our Catholic faith with our Middle School students and to support our eighth grade students with their transition to high school as the Eighth Grade Homeroom Teacher.
Mrs. Teresa Davancaze
Fourth Grade Teacher
Mrs. Davancaze graduated from St. Mary’s College in Moraga in 1991 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology. She volunteered in several middle school biology classrooms before starting a career in the biotech industry, where she worked for over 30 years supporting patients. Mrs. Davancaze recently served as a lead Catechist for first graders at St. Nicholas and St Williams Parish in Los Altos for 5 years. She also volunteered for many activities in schools where her three children attended.
Mrs. Davancaze is excited to join Canyon Heights Academy where she will have an opportunity to teach and guide students through their studies and faith formation. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, baking, hiking, traveling, and spending time with family and her two dogs (Remy and Shasta).
Ms. Cauany De Souza
Substitute Teacher; Teacher Aid
Ms. Souza joined our Canyon Heights Academy Early Education team in 2022 and holds a teaching degree in Pedagogy for Early Childhood to Elementary from Salesian University in Americana, São Paulo, Brazil. She was an English Teacher in Brazil for seven years, where she coordinated a Bilingual Program for private schools and worked on multiple educational projects. Ms. Souza also served as a missionary volunteer focused on evangelization efforts in Mozambique. She has found her life vocation in teaching and loves to implement her passion for music in her pedagogical practices.
Mrs. Kelly Delk
Mrs. Delk has taught at Canyon Heights since 2020. She graduated with a BA in graphic design from Florida Southern College. After several years in the field, she decided to pursue a teaching certificate and has taught for 14 years at all grade levels. She also has a love of coaching and has given her time to coaching both girls soccer and volleyball. Her philosophy is that the art room should be a safe learning environment for creative expression of ideas. She also believes that art truly is a skill that can be learned, not a talent that you must be born with. She’s enjoyed being a part of this community where she can see these young artists’ skills grow over many years. Over her few years here she has really come to appreciate the Canyon Heights family.
Mr. Paul Hernandez
Ms. Valerie Hernandez
6th Grade Teacher
Mrs. Lisa Kelsey
Fifth Grade Teacher
Mrs. Kelsey joined Canyon Heights Academy in 2008, beginning in 4th and 5th grade and then moving to the Middle School, where she taught American History, Language Arts, and Latin. Over the years, she has helped write many of the RC curriculum revisions. Lately, she returned to the lower school to teach 5th Grade. She 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. Monica Ku
Ms. Monica Ku started teaching at Canyon Heights Academy in 2020. She taught Preschool, transitioned to Lead Early Montessori Teacher, and is now back teaching at Preschool.
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 been accredited and certified by American Montessori Society (AMS) for Early Childhood as well as Infant/Toddler programs.
Mrs. Nicole Mezzetta
Second Grade Teacher
Mrs. Mezzetta joined Canyon Heights Academy in 2013 as a second grade teacher. She started her teaching career as a preschool teacher and has been teaching for 18 years. Mrs. Mezzetta has taught students in preschool-third grade as a classroom teacher and also as a reading and math intervention specialist in first-fifth 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 watching her students grow in their love for reading and preparing her class for their First Holy Communion. In her free time, she enjoys baking, reading with her two boys, and going on hikes with her family.
Mr. Joseph Nguyen
Music Teacher, Athletic Director, Choir Director, Volleyball Coach
When Mr. Joseph Nguyen first enrolled his two boys at Canyon Heights Academy in 2010, he instantly fell in love with our school and mission. Since then, Mr. Nguyen has consistently volunteered at CHA as a volleyball coach and sound system manager, and he has also played the piano and led the students’ choirs during school masses. Coming from a family of musicians, Mr. Nguyen has studied piano since a young age and is currently a choir director for youth and adults at his parish. He hopes to share his love of Gospel music with CHA students and bring their hearts closer to God through music and service for the Church. After 33 years working as an engineer, Mr. Nguyen is following his passion for music and the school as our new CHA Music Teacher. Mr. Nguyen holds a BS degree in Chemistry and BA in French from U.C. Berkeley. He is excited to join the CHA faculty to continue cultivating Catholic formation of our students through music and Volleyball.
Fr. Tamson Nguyen
Mrs. Vui Nguyen
Mrs. Nguyen joined Canyon Heights Academy in 2018 as a preschool teacher. She graduated from Sacramento State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and completed her American Montessori Society Early Childhood Credential. She has been in this early childhood field for more than 15 years and teaching has always been her passion. It is amazing to see young minds grow and develop. She enjoys baking, listening to music, and spending time with her family in her free time.
Ms. Jaqueline Paras
Lead Early Montessori Teacher
Ms. Paras joined CHA in 2022 and is currently the Lead Teacher in the Early Montessori Program. She holds a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from SFState University and a Montessori Credential from Pacific Oaks College. She has extensive experience working in Montessori, Reggio-Emilia, played-based, and bilingual environments. Also, Ms. Paras currently holds a Child Development Program Director’s Permit issued by the State of California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, and has worked as a Preschool Director. Ms. Paras also has a Master’s Degree in Catholic Education from USF, specializing in teaching Religion. She loves being at CHA and though she has worked with children of all ages, including infants, she has a passion to serve toddlers! They achieve so many developmental milestones which are wonderful to see, observe, and celebrate with them! She also loves teaching about our Catholic faith. Currently, she is taking the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd training for young children. Whether she is giving a Montessori lesson or sharing about the Catholic faith, Ms. Paras is committed to promoting a learning and sacred environment centered on love, respect, kindness, and unconditional acceptance.
Mr. Tho Pham
Middle School Teacher
Mr. Pham joined Canyon Heights Academy in 2017. Prior to joining Canyon Heights Academy, he taught math for 19 years and IT support for 3 years at private schools in Milpitas, Sacramento, and Washington State. 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. Theresa Rainaldi
After earning a Master’s degree in English from the University of Florida, Mrs. Theresa Rainaldi worked as a paralegal for the Social Security Administration for many years. In 2018, when Mrs. Rainaldi enrolled her daughter at Canyon Heights Academy, she fell in love with CHA’s preschool curriculum and the Montessori teaching method. She enthusiastically volunteered at CHA, becoming a familiar face as the librarian for preschoolers and kindergartners. Mrs. Rainaldi feels blessed to be on the preschool teaching team, and she is so excited to have the opportunity to work with young children. Mrs. Rainaldi looks forward to growing as a teacher, and to guiding preschoolers on their journey to discover, develop, and share their own unique strengths and talents.
Mrs. Amanda Ruffo
Middle School Social Studies/Student Council Moderator
Mrs. Ruffo began her 16 year teaching career in the Diocese of San Jose teaching first grade, sixth grade Religion and Language Arts, and 6th-8th grade History. She brings over 8 years of experience specifically teaching Middle School History within the Diocese and other private schools in Silicon Valley. Mrs. Ruffo has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Social Behavior from UC Irvine and a Masters of Education along with a California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from National University. She was born and raised in San Jose and is extremely proud of her K-8th grade Catholic education. After living in Phoenix, Arizona for the past 5 years, Mrs. Ruffo is thrilled to be returning to the Bay Area and our Middle School classroom. She believes in teaching the whole student while creating a safe environment for students to take risks and develop a growth mindset. Mrs. Ruffo looks forward to joining the Canyon Heights Academy community!
Mrs. Mayren Sanchez
Mrs. Sanchez the Spanish teacher for grades K-5, joined Canyon Height in 2017. 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. Angela Schaffner
Early Montessori Teacher
Mrs. Natalie Shvetsky
Mrs. Natalie Shvetsky joined Canyon Heights Academy in the summer of 2022 as a Kindergarten teacher. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from University of Dragomanov and completed Montessori Training for ages 3-6 in 2005. She worked as a Kindergarten teacher for 15 years and as a 1st grade teacher for 3 years at a Montessori school in Sunnyvale.
Mrs. Shvetsky has a true passion for working with our younger learners! Helping each child progress in academic and social areas are challenges that she is honored to accept daily. She calls her students “My kids” because in their year together they aren’t just children on her class roster, they become a part of her heart.
Mrs. Shvetsky enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She likes playing tennis, basketball, chess with her daughters, swimming, reading books, hiking, traveling and watching movies. She speaks English, Greek and Russian. Her goal is to learn Spanish.
Mrs. Shvetsky enjoys teaching this age and level and promises that she will do her best to nurture your child in a very loving environment. She looks forward to working with your child throughout the year.
Ms. Mary Ann Solano
First Grade Teacher
Ms. Solano has taught Grade 1 at Canyon Heights Academy for 13 years. She received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Humanities and a minor in Deaf Education, and a Masters Degree in Education from San Jose State University. She has previously worked as a catechist for hearing, deaf and hard of hearing children within the Diocese of San Jose and looks forward to returning as a catechist in the future. Ms. Solano joined Canyon Heights Academy in 2008 and is excited for another year of teaching in first grade.
Ms. Elena Villagomez
Third Grade Teacher
Ms. Villagómez joined Canyon Heights Academy in the fall of 2023 as the third grade teacher. Prior to joining CHA, she taught in the public school setting for 16 years and this will be her 8th year teaching in the Catholic school setting.. She has taught TK through 4th grades. Each grade has her something fun and new. Ms. Villagómez received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies with a minor in Spanish and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and holds a Preliminary Administrative Credential from San José State University. She holds a BCLAD Multiple Subject Credential from National University. In her free time, she enjoys reading, visiting the library, and taking walks with her daughter.
Mrs. Nadia West
Mrs. West joined Canyon Heights Academy in 2001. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and American Montessori Society (AMS) Early Childhood certification. During her early years at the school, she taught Pre-K, Kindergarten, and Second Grade. In 2008, Mrs. West took a break from teaching to focus on her family. She was a substitute teacher for Canyon Heights Academy from 2014 to 2017. In 2021, she returned full-time to Canyon Heights Academy. She enjoys going on adventures with her husband, her three sons, and her rambunctious chocolate labrador. Her hobbies include reading, walking, volunteer work, and fostering puppies.
Open House Schedule
To contact one of our school administrators, please call us at: (408) 370-6727 and request their extension below.
Mr. Kevin Holman, Executive Director
Mrs. Lydia Lim, Director of Admissions and Marketing
Dr. Analiza Filion, Principal
Mrs. Marija Fisher, Vice Principal - Early Montessori, Preschool and Kindergarten Director
Ms. Melissa Ma, Director of Finance and Operations
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