• Faculty & Leadership

Dedicated Staff

Senior Leadership

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Dr. Damon Twist
Senior Director of Talent

Dr. Damon Twist is a Midwestern transplant to Phoenix having grown up in Illinois. He is a proud UCLA graduate where he was a political science major. After being accepted to Teach For America he was placed in Washington DC and subsequently spent eight years as a classroom teacher. He relocated to Phoenix and soon after received his principal’s certification. He spent ten years in school leadership including eight years as principal at Excelencia Elementary School, working alongside the staff and families to help the school attain recognition as an “A+ School of Excellence”. He then earned his doctorate and served on staff with Teach For America as Vice President of Teacher Leadership Development, leading their teacher training and support. He currently serves as Director of Talent at PCA and is passionate about recruiting and retaining the most exceptional staff to serve our students and families.

Akshai Patel

Mr. Patel earned a B.A. in Economics and a B.S. in Political Science, from Arizona State University, and a MBA from Columbia University. He joined Teach For America to make an impact on students from his hometown and give back to the Phoenix community. While teaching 5th grade in the Laveen School District, he earned his Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from ASU and served on the Teach For America Phoenix Regional Board. He studied and taught in Southern Chile, as part of a Fulbright study. While teaching in the Roosevelt School District, he organized his 1st grade students to lead a voter registration drive before the 2008 elections.

Rachel Bennett Yanof
Director of External Affairs

Rachel Yanof was the Lead Founder and now serves as the Director of External Affairs for Phoenix Collegiate Academy. She completed a year-long Fellowship with Building Excellent Schools which included a residency at Excel Academy, recognized by The Center of Education Reform as one of the top charter schools of 2007. A graduate of Georgetown University, Mrs. Yanof received a B.A. in Economics before she joined Teach For America, a nationally acclaimed and highly selective teaching program. While a member of Teach For America, Mrs. Yanof earned her Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from Arizona State University. Before PCA, she taught 8th grade Social Studies in the community, where she developed an annual Washington, D.C travel program with her students.

Dr. Matthew Gehrman
Senior Director of Academic Program

As a proud dad and a career educator, kids play a central role in Matt’s life.  A product of Arizona schools, Matt earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona and began teaching junior and senior high school English.  While earning his masters and doctorate at Arizona State University, Matt served eight years as a high school assistant principal and seven as a high school principal.

Creative at heart, his leadership not only spurred the implementation of AVID, Professional Learning Communities, and a school within a school, it also resulted in hosting a visit from President Obama.  Matt’s passion for learning and leadership eventually led him to serve as the Director of Instructional Services in the Tempe Union High School District, serving teachers and administrators by designing and delivering professional development, developing a process for implementing Arizona’s College and Career Readiness Standards, and building the capacity of site leadership to implement curricular and instructional improvements.

Jessica Ward
Director of Operations

Jessica Ward earned a B.A. in Political Science from Oregon State University. Upon graduation she joined Teach For America and moved across the country to Jacksonville, Florida. While in Florida she taught 6th and 8th grade science for three years. She moved on from teaching and started her graduate work at the University of Central Florida. She continued to work in education, but shifted to a nonprofit that helped adults with their literacy skills, earn GEDs, or pass citizenship exams. After graduating with her MPA, she decided to relocate to Phoenix in order to be closer to her West Coast family. She currently serves at the Director of Operations for the elementary and middle school.

Dedicated Staff

Senior Advisors

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Ernie Hostetler, AIA
Facilities Consultant

Ernie Hostetler has a long and broad history in virtually every type and aspect of facilities development. Experience includes projects for commercial, industrial, healthcare, residential and institutional uses and involvement in market and space analysis through site selection, design, construction, financing and sales. Since starting his career in 1970 he has founded six different companies in the Midwest and Arizona. Ernie served for eight years on the Phoenix regional board of Teach For America and more recently has provided oversight on four projects for Phoenix Collegiate Academy. In his spare time he enjoys traveling and organizing fishing trips worldwide. He is a graduate of the Illinois Institute of Technology with an undergraduate degree in Architecture and a master’s degree in city and regional planning.

Elementary School Administrative Team

Amanda Jacobs

Georgina Garcia

Yeimi Candelaria

School Instructional Team

Savanna Eaton

Maria Amezquita

Amber Ybarra
1st grade

Anahis Bazua Oros
1st grade

Maia Martynova
2nd grade

Jessica Watson
3rd Grade

Gabrielle Schiffer
3rd Grade

Carrie Larson
4th Grade

Heidi Manoguerra
Math Teacher

Charles Barton
Math Teacher

Joanna Simone
Special Education

Teaching Fellow
Deborah Shanahan

Middle School Administrative Team

Thai Nguyen

Jonathan Deremiah
Dean of Students

Laura Dosten

Angelica Gutierrez 

Ofelia Amaya 
Lead Custodian

Robert Acosta
Crossing Guard

Middle School Instructional Team

Karina Arroyo
5th Grade English Language Arts/Social Studies

Sangay Sirleaf
5th Grade Mathematics/Science

Crystal Mason
7th Grade English Language Arts

Avelina Nicholas
7th/8th Grade Social Studies

Alyssa Perez
8th Grade Mathematics

Hailey Alcaraz
8th Grade English Language Arts

Suzanne Schrewe
6/7/8 Science Teacher

Dijan Johnson
Physical Education Teacher

Patsy Wallace 
Special Education

Jennifer Taylor
Academic Support Specialist

High School Administrative Team

Dr. Chantelle Frazee

Samantha Davis
Dean of Students

Maria Bustillos
Office Manager

Andrea Glenn

High School Instructional Team

Logan Allen

Jill Loveall
English Language Arts

Kathryn Hart
English Language Arts

Sharah Nieto

Aracely Wolfchief

Forrest Radarian

William Robb
Social Studies

Khaleb Straight
Social Studies

Jake Winfield

Mallory Stermon

Chani Clark
21st Century Grant Coordinator

Mahogney Turner

Teaching Fellow

Support Staff


Maeghyn Koehler
Executive Assistant

Patricia Freeman

Contact Our Staff

Elementary School Staff


Middle School Staff


High School Staff



Should you wish to review the qualifications of your child’s teacher at any one of our three campuses you may request to review them in person with our receptionist on that respective campus.