Faculty & Leadership

Dedicated Staff
Senior Leadership
Dr. Damon Twist, Ed.D.
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
CEO
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.

Matt Kainaroi
OPS Support
Matt Kainaroi was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh with a B.A. in Political Science, Matt relocated to Phoenix seeking opportunities where he could make a difference. He began working with PCA as a part-time student recruiter. His experiences canvasing and meeting prospective students in the South Mountain area inspired him to join the PCA team full-time where could help provide the learning environment and opportunities our students deserve. Matt served as the Director of Operations for 3 years and though he recently decided to return to Pittsburgh, he still provides operational support from a distance and frequent visits.

Dr. Paul Kremer
Director of Special Projects
Dr. Paul Kremer holds a B.A. in Psychology from Wisconsin Lutheran College. He also holds a M.A. in Educational Psychology as well as a Ph.D. in Lifespan Developmental Psychology both from Arizona State University.

Dr. Kremer became immersed in the field of education when he became the Founder and Executive Director of a highly performing charter school in South Phoenix called EAGLE College Prep. After several years, he started an additional charter school (EAGLE) as well as a pre-school program. Prior to this venture, Dr. Kremer conducted research on bullying in schools and taught educational psychology classes as a graduate student at Arizona State University. From 2011-2015, Dr. Kremer served at Arizona Christian University in a variety of administrative roles including Chair of the Education Department, Dean of Academic Affairs, Provost and Executive Vice President.

Married since 1995 to Leslie, Dr. Kremer has four children (Jack, Madelyn, Owen, and Harrison) and they keep him both busy and young.

Jessica Ward
Director of Operations
Dedicated Staff
Senior Advisors
Catherine M. Freericks, Ed.D.
Dr. Cathy Freericks has lived in the Valley since 1981. She is a University of Oregon undergraduate where she was a music education major, specializing in piano and French horn performance. Her first teaching job was in Superior, AZ and while working there, completed her Masters Degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Arizona. She continued to teach music in the Valley – three years in the Scottsdale School District and moved on to become a K-8 Assistant Principal in the Pendergast School District. After being recognized for her efforts in the fight against drugs, she was asked to serve Governor Mofford in the newly formed Governor’s Office of Substance Abuse. Cathy worked for the Governor for 18 months, but decided that politics just wasn’t the way to go and returned back to the world of education, accepting a position at Arizona State University’s College of Education. In this capacity she supervised student teachers, taught classes for both undergraduate and graduate students, and was responsible for developing the DELTA Doctoral Program for working administrators. Dr. Freericks currently serves as an advisor to PCA and is thrilled to be mentoring and coaching teachers once more.

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
Middle School
High School
Support Staff
Elementary School Administrative Team
Amanda King
Principal

Jessica Ward
Director of Operations

Adalberto Nido
Office Manager

School Instructional Team
Alyssa Carey
3rd Grade Math/Science

Yeimi Candelaria
Instructional Asstistant

Karina Chavez
Teaching Fellow

Sasha Ferguson
2nd grade

Abigail Flister
3rd Grade English Language Arts/Social Studies

Georgina Garcia
Kindergarten Aide

Jacob Gonzalez
4th English Language Arts/Social Studies

Aurelia Ionescu
1st grade

Tania Jaramillo
Special Education

Carrie Larson
4th Grade Math/Science

Amanda Marquez
Instructional Assistant

Alimatu Sirleaf
Kindergarten

Contact Our Staff
Elementary School Staff
602.268.9900
[email protected]

Middle School Staff
602.268.9900
[email protected]

High School Staff
602.842.1722
[email protected]

Elementary School
5610 S. Central Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85040
email: [email protected]
phone 602.268.9900
fax 602.268.9911

Middle School
5610 S. Central Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85040
email: [email protected]
phone 602.268.9900
fax 602.268.9911

High School
4445 S. 12th St.
Phoenix, AZ 85040
email: [email protected]
phone: 602.842.1722
fax 602.441.0570