Pivot Charter School provides instruction to students through a robust standards-based online curriculum supported by class offerings at our resource center, tutoring, strong oversight and academic support. The school is a “blend” of online curriculum with resource center support.
The role of the teacher at Pivot Charter School is to monitor student progress online daily, provide feedback, encouragement, and support to students, provide academic support in their areas of expertise for students needing help and produce accurate, timely and compliant documentation of independent study attendance. Teachers do not necessarily provide direct instruction to a “class” of students on a daily basis but are at our resource centers every day. Teachers, also known as Educational Coordinators, counsel, mentor, provide oversight, direction and whatever support it takes to help students succeed in their academic endeavors.
The Educational Coordinators of Pivot North Bay:
Jennie is an alumna of Sonoma State University and has spent over a decade teaching in Sonoma County schools. As an English teacher, she is passionate about helping students realize the power words have to transform thought into action. She is committed to providing more individualized attention in education in order to help serve the needs of a more diverse population. Having moved over forty times in her life and having spent time traveling the world, Jennie values unique approaches to education and truly appreciates Pivot’s flexible and supportive program. Jennie loves to travel, camp and explore the outdoors with her family.
Melissa grew up in Santa Rosa and studied at San Francisco State University, receiving a B.A. in Creative Writing with a minor in World Literature. She hopes to bring her passion for the written word to the students at Pivot. Outside of the classroom, she spends her time writing, adopting new plants, learning arts and crafts projects, and hanging out with her “niblings” (her sibling’s kids).
Robert Brier – Educational Coordinator
Robert grew up in Southern California and graduated from Cal State University Long Beach. He started at Pivot in 2010 and is passionate about teaching, and he loves to see history in person. He has lived and taught in Taiwan and studied Mandarin Chinese. In his spare time, he loves to camp with his family.
Sara was born and raised in Needles, CA and graduated from Needles High School. She received her B.A. in Linguistics and English Education, and later her M.A. in Education, from CSU, Chico. Sara is passionate about creating positive learning experiences for students that enable their growth and development as lifelong learners. Sara finds Pivot Charter School inspirational because it allows teachers to form meaningful connections with students and individualize instruction while meeting standards and reaching higher goals. Before coming to Pivot, Sara worked in education as a tutor, preschool teacher, and substitute teacher. She has also held positions as a Logistics Analyst and Purchaser and as a Marketing Communications Specialist. Sara loves traveling, backpacking, swimming, cooking, and so many other things, especially when she can enjoy them with her husband and dog.
Meghan Coffey – Educational Coordinator/Curriculum Coordinator
Meghan’s love for science started in early elementary and has been the driving force in her educational endeavors ever since. She was fortunate to have inspiring science instructors throughout high school and college who challenged her and supported her. She earned a B.S. in Cellular and Molecular Biology and a Single Subject Credential in Biology from Sonoma State. She has more than 15 years of experience providing academic support to youth in Sonoma County through various programs and is thrilled to have found a place at Pivot Charter School. When Meghan isn’t catching up on science in the news, she enjoys spending time with her child, crocheting, knitting, baking, decorating cakes and cupcakes for her friends and family, having impromptu dance parties in her living room, going to concerts, and spending time outdoors with her family. In the near future, Meghan hopes to learn how to use her new sewing machine, do some traveling with her family, and start running again with the ultimate goal of running a marathon someday. Meghan is very excited to share her passion for science with students, and support them in becoming lifelong learners.
Roy Domke – Math Coach
Roy is a Pivot Math Coach Coordinator of middle and high school on-campus and Virtual students at all five Pivot campuses. He has always been fascinated by all things mechanical, especially machines that move people about with powerful motors. He has logged over two million miles operating numerous cars, trucks, boats, and airplanes. This life-long passion drew him to the field of Mechanical Engineering, in which he holds a BS degree from the University of Nevada, Reno. He also loves to travel and has visited all fifty States and seven continents, including Antarctica. During his working career, he held a position of Project Engineer with an aerospace firm designing ICBM components for the US military. He served seven years in the US Navy Reserve, founded and managed companies ranging from custom home building, insurance claims investigations, medical research, and antique/classic mahogany boat restorations. Following the sale of his last business, Roy began volunteering as a math tutor in Sonoma County schools on a part-time basis. That activity hooked him on helping kids succeed in math. Especially high school students. After spending several years working in the Healdsburg and Santa Rosa School Districts, Pivot Charter School caught his eye as a perfect match for his skills and worldly experience.
Stephanie Doucette – Educational Specialist
This is Stephanie’s third year at Pivot! Though Stephanie has been helping teenagers for over twenty years, teaching is actually her second career. After working with kids from all paths of life, from affluent summer camps to foster care group homes, Stephanie directed after-school programs in the non-profit sector for three years before embarking on her teaching career. This is Stephanie’s tenth year teaching high school students, initially as an English teacher and later as an Education Specialist. She has a passion for laughing, literature, and all things culinary. When she’s not laboring over essays and equations with her students, she’s exploring the outdoors with her family or running around town experiencing all the art and music our area has to offer. Her goals are to write the great American novel, travel around the world, and inspire positive change in her community – not necessarily in that order, but possibly all at the same time. Stephanie finds great joy in working with teenagers and she especially appreciates teaching at Pivot, where she’s found a solid sense of community and a real opportunity to give her students high-quality individualized attention.
Dana Durfey – Educational Coordinator
Danielle “Dana” Durfey has lived in Sonoma County for over ten years and earned her Masters of Education in Teaching from the University of San Francisco. Dana has a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential as well as a Single Subject Teaching Credential in English Language Arts. She brings her lifelong love of learning to the forefront of her teaching philosophy and is enthusiastic to be a part of Pivot Charter School North Bay. She grew up in Houston, TX and attended Loyola University of New Orleans where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in English. She has co-owned a successful coffee shop in Connecticut, traveled around the world for a year on $22.00 a day, and lived in the Caribbean on the island of St John, the smallest of the U. S. Virgin Islands, for ten years. She is passionate about her family, friends, community, good healthy living, and service. She advocates for social justice and believes, like Nelson Mandela, that “education is the best weapon for changing the world” and she is proud to be a part of that change.
Bob Firestone – Educational Specialist
Bob was born in Missouri but moved to southern California at a young age. Following his service in the US Army, he graduated with a BA in Political Science from Sonoma State University. His first career was with the United States Postal Service, where he held a variety of management positions in operations, engineering and budget. He retired as Manager of the North Bay General Mail Facility in Petaluma, CA after more than thirty-five years of Federal service. He then began his second career in 2004 as a substitute teacher. Bob taught almost exclusively at Healdsburg High School for the next twelve years. A good deal of his assignments involved Special Education classes. One of Bob’s younger siblings had special needs and his understanding of the challenges these students face developed from an early age. In January 2016, Bob began work on his Special Education Teaching Credential with the County Office of Education. He joined the Pivot North Bay team near the end of the spring 2016 school year. During the past three years Mr. Bob has come to love both the Pivot model and the unique student population. Working closely with the Educational Coordinators who are responsible for students on his caseload creates a great collaboration model to support our students. The real reward comes at the end of each year when graduation rolls around and all the hard work pays off for the seniors receiving their high school diplomas. During his spare time, Bob and his wife enjoy spending time with their four children, six grandchildren, and their two labs. Bob is a freelance photographer and enjoys hiking on local trails, camping, sailing and of course teaching at Pivot.
Shelli Golden – Educational Specialist
Shelli is a native Californian with a passion for education. She graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature. After a career as a marketing and event specialist and taking time to start a family, she pursued her Education Specialist credential at National University which, like Pivot, provides their curriculum online. In her free time, Shelli loves to read, do yoga, bake, take walks, and go on adventures (near and far) with her husband and two daughters.
John Halderman – Educational Coordinator
John was born and raised in Sacramento. He moved to Sonoma County in 1993 to pursue his education at Sonoma State. He has a B.A. in Mexican American Studies and a Teaching Credential from Sonoma State University. As an advocate for youth, John has a passion for educating our diverse community by encouraging creativity and supporting ambitious endeavors. For 9 years he educated youth at Rancho Bodega School. This is his fifth year teaching at Pivot, and he is committed to our mission to provide an individualized educational program to each student. In his free time, he loves to go hiking, mountain biking, spend time with his daughter, and play music with his band, Hoodwink.
Ray Hammer – Educational Coordinator
Since high school, Ray knew that he wanted to help children and teens reach their potential. After high school, Ray attended Santa Rosa Junior College but was unsure what to major in. He had been a math tutor and a big brother for at-risk youth for several years and eventually decided that the field of psychology would best prepare him for teaching and guiding students. Ray then went to Humboldt State University and received a bachelor’s degree in psychology and his multiple subject teaching credential. He returned to Sonoma County, where he taught for five years. He then had a desire to go back to school and get his administration credential. After earning his credential from Sonoma State University, Ray worked as a principal for two years, where he saw a shift in education happening with Common Core and stricter regulations. Traditional school class sizes were expanding for grades 3 – 12 and students were starting to learn a new system in Common Core. Ray taught at several schools after his experience as a principal but wasn’t finding one that fit what he thought was best for students: an individualized education that meets their needs with a group of people willing to help them through their learning experience. Fortunately for us, Ray has found that at Pivot.
Jennifer McKim – Educational Specialist
Jennifer was born and raised in the greater San Fernando Valley in Southern California. She attended California State University, Chico where she majored in Business Administration with an emphasis on Organizational Management and received minors in Diversity, Sustainability and Operations Management. Jennifer then decided to go back to earn her Single Subject English, Mild/Moderate, Moderate/Severe and Autism credentials. She started working with students at an early age, through the YMCA as a tutor, youth mentor, lifeguard and swim instructor. Jennifer continues to work on motivating and inspiring students to be pushed to achieve more than they think possible. Which is made possible through a concentrated team effort that is made and encouraged by both the teacher and the family. Jennifer’s general motto is: “It is only through adversity that one can see their true potential and grow to meet or exceed those expectations.” Jennifer lives in Chico with her two dogs and cat. When not teaching, she enjoys spending time baking, reading, playing games, and staying active in nature through dog walks in the park, paddle boarding, swimming, hiking and especially traveling.
Tim Mehew – Educational Coordinator
As an English teacher, Tim has always maintained the goal of enabling students to be more effective communicators. As a History teacher he tries to imbue their communication with understanding and context, a task he finds increasingly important today. He has had a desire to teach and reach young people since he was relatively young. He began pursuing his career at both Chico and San Francisco State Universities immediately after high school, while simultaneously pursuing a career as a musician. In his 9 years of teaching, Tim has worked in traditional classrooms in 9th-12th grades at various schools throughout the Bay Area, but, as a former independent study student, he feels most at home working at Pivot and the unique student population with whom he identifies very closely. He still plays music, and sometimes this endeavor takes him abroad and keeps him very busy. It enables him to find common ground and connect with students on a personal level, thereby building a better rapport with students and families alike. Establishing this accord between these three parties is an essential quality of an Educational Coordinator and the one to which Tim attributes his success.
Ann was born on a small farm outside of Redding, California. She grew up milking cows, playing in the backyard creek, and teaching cow school to the Pedersen’s small herd of cattle. (Her mom has blackmail pictures of her doing this at age five). Each week she would watch Nature, Nova, and other traveling programs on PBS with her family. She would see the beautiful pictures of faraway temples, people, and exotic animals. She wanted to see these places, touch these buildings, and meet these people. In her late teens and twenties Ann made it her mission to explore as much of the world as possible. She has visited 15 countries, lived in three, and taught school in two (three years in Japan and one year in Mexico). Ann has been a teacher since 2010 and an Educational Coordinator at Pivot Charter School since 2018. She is currently training for a half-marathon, plucking at her guitar, and reading as many travel books as possible.
Kristen is a Northern California native, growing up and going to school in the East Bay area. Kristen began talking about being a teacher “when she grew up” from as young as four years old. In college, she studied creative writing (her other passion) and earned her BA in English/Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. After some time spent traveling in Europe and living in Scandanavia, Kristen returned to earn her Single Subject Teaching Credential in English at Cal State University Sacramento where a strong emphasis was placed on social justice and equity in education. She worked as an English and reading intervention teacher for two years at Armijo High School in Fairfield, before leaving to pursue a career in alternative education. She is so happy to have found a home at Pivot where a holistic approach to education leads every student on their unique path to success! When she isn’t teaching, she loves writing, playing and listening to music, hiking, catching up on her favorite shows on Netflix and spending time with her family and friends.
Sam Pratt – Educational Coordinator
Sam Pratt was raised in Santa Rosa, CA and graduated with a BA degree in Art and Design from San Diego State in 2003. After working with the San Diego Office of Education’s Outdoor Education program, he decided to move back to Sonoma County to pursue his teaching credential. He has worked in a variety of educational settings including assisting ESL learners, substitute teaching and was a middle school Visual Arts and PE teacher. He has also continued to teach outdoor education and art during his summers in West Sonoma County. This is his first year at Pivot and he is excited to work with a flexible and accommodating student-centered environment. In his spare time, Sam enjoys trail running, gardening, playing guitar and listening to music.
Julian Rooney – Educational Coordinator
Julian grew up in Southern California before moving to Northern California in 1999. He attended Santa Rosa Junior College and after transferring, earned his BA in Geography from Sonoma State University. He joined Pivot Charter School in 2017 and was very impressed with the individualized education approach. He believes that we all learn differently, but that is something that should be embraced! He entered education because he believes strongly in empowerment through knowledge and wants to help children reach their goals in life through learning. Julian previously worked at Salmon Creek Middle School and spent six years as a manager at Sports City Indoor Soccer. He loves to play and talk sports with anyone who is willing. He also enjoys traveling to new places whenever he gets the free time.
Kathleen Slowiczek – Educational Specialist
Kathleen is currently an Educational Specialist, delivering services to virtual Pivot North Bay students. Kathleen grew up in San Diego, California, and obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts, a Masters of Special Education, a second masters in Instructional Technology, an Education Specialist and Doctorate in Leadership from Northern Arizona University. Her initial professional experience was in San Diego City Schools at Clairemont High School, of Fast Times at Ridgemont High fame, and John Muir Alternative, a school based on the Summerhill model of education. Switching to program development and administration, she held jobs as Coordinator of Special Populations for School-to-Work, vice principal, coordinator of federally funded magnet schools in Savannah, Georgia, and as principals at Shoreline Middle School in Santa Cruz, Ross K-8 in Marin, and McCracken in Beaufort, South Carolina. Kathleen has traveled extensively and has lived in the countries of Israel, Australia and England. She currently lives, gardens and hikes in Fort Bragg, situated on the beautiful and spectacularly wild Mendocino coast.
Julie Smith – Educational Coordinator
Julie joined Pivot in 2016 with over twenty-five years of experience in education. The majority of her experience has been in elementary education and includes public, private, and homeschooling. She is teaching elementary school – especially at Pivot where she enjoys working with families to support students! Julie grew up in Santa Rosa and received her B.A. (Hutchins School of Liberal Arts) and multiple subject teaching credential from Sonoma State University. During her time away from Pivot, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters, Lauren and Grace (who is a Pivot high school student), as well as their dog Rose. For hobbies, she loves gardening, DIY projects, and art as well as entertaining friends and family.
Abigail Titus – Educational Coordinator
Abigail was born and raised Ferndale, California where caring teachers and parents showed her the power of learning and helping others. After graduating high school, she spent a year as a Rotary Youth Foreign Exchange student in France. She went on to received her BA in Anthropology and Social Justice from St. John’s University in Queens, New York. Abigail returned to Northern California with a goal to make a positive impact in the lives of others through education and joined the teaching profession by entering the Sonoma County Office of Education Intern Teaching Program. Over the last year, has applied her passion for teaching and learning at Pivot Charter School where she can be an advocate for all students. When she is not in the classroom, Abigail enjoys spending time with her hilarious family and traveling. She has been to 27 states and hopes to visit all 50 before she turns 30!
Barrie R. Waldman – Educational Coordinator
Barrie was born in Brooklyn, New York but became a transplant to Southern California’s San Fernando Valley at the age of 8. She loves the beautiful variety of climates in our state and says that the only place she could imagine living other than Northern California would be the Hawaiian Islands. A veteran of virtual education, Barrie received her Bachelor of Science degree in 1998 from Excelsior College, the online extension of the University of the State of New York. She has continued her personal educational journey in obtaining her Master’s Degree in Educational Administration through the blended learning program from National University. When not teaching at Pivot Charter School, Barrie enjoys spending time with her family which includes her husband of 15 years Jack, fabulous human son Jaden, and adorable fuzzy puppy son Pluto, and organic gardening, reading, and participating in historical reenactments at the Renaissance Faire and Dickens Christmas Fair.
Nicole Westbrook – Educational Coordinator
Nicole Westbrook has a B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Santa Cruz, CA and is the Biology and Physics Lab teacher at Pivot Charter School. She enjoys outdoor activities, gardening, cooking, and going on walks with her adventurous cat. Her favorite part of teaching is when her students get to engage in hands-on learning and work collaboratively in her labs.
Jessica Wilcox – Educational Coordinator
Jessica went to Sonoma State University and finished with a BA in Mathematics in 2015. She currently is attending Chico State earning an MS in Mathematics. She loves to play with her dog Bobby the basset hound in her spare time. She also enjoys puzzles, riddles, and going with friends to escape rooms. Her favorite part of Pivot so far is running workshops and working with students.