Home / About Us / Staff

Leadership Team

Lihi RosenthalLihi Rosenthal
Acting Executive Director

Wendy DurstWendy Durst
Acting Director of Operations
Elizabeth SanchezElizabeth Sanchez
School Leader

Operations Staff

Nicole HarrisNicole Harris
Business Manager
Mimi JansenMimi Jansen
Office & Outreach Manager
Markiss Cooper-EvansMarkiss Cooper-Evans
Student Engagement Coordinator

Teaching Team

Lisa MillerLisa Miller
Kindergarten Humanities Teacher

“I have the pleasure of teaching your child reading, writing and social studies skills this school year. I graduated from Western Michigan University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Early Childhood Elementary Education. It is my belief that all children can enjoy learning and can thrive at school.

Kindergarten is a time for hands-on learning, routines, and growth. Your child will be growing physically, emotionally, and intellectually throughout this year. Your involvement, enthusiasm, and interest will help make this a wonderful year for you and your child. In our humanities class your child will be learning new vocabulary words, asking in-depth questions, learning how to put their thoughts down on paper, and exploring the people and relationships around them. We will be focusing on the process of learning more than the final product and gaining new skills along the way. I believe that it is important to have a cooperative teacher/parent relationship for your child to grow. I look forward to working with you throughout the year. I hope to serve my students to the best of my ability and to be an advocate for their education.”

Natalie SaloNatalie Salo
Kindergarten Math/Science Teacher

“I am happy to join SOAR Academy as the Kindergarten Math and Science teacher. I moved to Mighty Tacoma in 2013 and concluded that it is truly the City of Destiny! I received my master’s degree in education from the University of Washington in 2015. I have had the honor of working with children and families in an educational setting since the 90s.

My work in early childhood education shifted after graduation, as I became part of the Early Achievers Initiative in Washington State. My role was to train coaches and technical advisors that support teachers in providing high quality care and education. My role as an environmental training specialist gave me a unique opportunity to observe learning settings that were successful and classrooms that faced challenges. The classroom I aim to create for your child will encourage inquiry and give a solid foundation for their future academic success. I encourage parent-teacher communication and look forward to providing high quality education for your child this coming year.”

Amanda PowersAmanda Powers
First Grade Humanities Teacher

“I am so excited to be a part of this wonderful school full of alternative teaching methods and hearts for children. I would love to invite you to meet me and see the new layout of our classroom; we now learn in a room where we stand, sit, lay, read, write, dance, and sing throughout our day. The main focus of this year is to expand our individual abilities in writing, reading and comprehension. We will also begin to think and learn about our place in the world and society. Your kids have the most creative minds! I look forward to their academic and social growth over the course of this wonderful school year that is upon us!

A little about me is; I was born in Sweden, but have lived in Sammamish, WA, most of my childhood. I received a degree in Theatre Arts Pedagogy as well as Elementary Education from Western Washington University. I have taught Kindergarten at Hiram Bingham International School in Lima, Peru as well as 1st grade at Bellevue Children’s Academy. I love kids and have a passion for using arts and literature to help students think critically and learn to express themselves appropriately. I really enjoy cooking, hiking, snowboarding, and traveling. I enjoy learning about cultures and new places. I am excited to get to know the city of Tacoma!”

Lily BielettoLily Bieletto
First Grade Math/Science Teacher

“I am pleased to introduce myself to you and welcome your child to our class. A little bit about me: I was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I graduated from the University of Minnesota and have been teaching Kindergarten and/or First Grade since moving to Tacoma three years ago. I live with my husband Eliot, my puppy and my cat. I strive to create a safe, enjoyable, academically stimulating environment in which your child, and all of the children in my care, will become successful first graders.

Every student is unique and has different interests and learning styles. I want to ensure that I spend an adequate amount of time learning about all of my students and having them learn about me. My goal is for our classroom to be a community of learners based on mutual respect for all individual differences. I want you and your child to know that our (not my) classroom is a safe environment where students are encouraged to share, learn from one another, and learn from me—just as I will learn from them. I am looking forward to the start of the school year!”

Marcella TomlinMarcella Tomlin
Second Grade Humanities Teacher

“I am very happy to be one of the 2nd grade teachers here at SOAR! As the ELA and Humanities Teacher, I am so excited to work with the children as they grow and learn more about the world around them.

I am a former Army brat that has been located in the Tacoma area since I was five-years-old. I attended Fern Hill Elementary, Baker Middle School, and Foss High School, going on to earn my B.A. in Sociology from Western Washington University and my MA in Education from Grand Canyon University. I love Tacoma, and though I have traveled all over the world (most recently to Seoul and Beijing), I think we live in the best city, poised for so much growth and renewal. I believe in a true revival in the Tacoma area, and as someone who has a strong, community-focused mindset, and as someone who knows this city, I believe that we are developing a community of leaders who can be catalysts for positive change! I look forward to getting to know more of you throughout the year, and please feel free to let me know some ways that you would like to engage with SOAR. We are always looking for ways for our students to interact with the world around them. Don’t be afraid to bring a piece of your world in with you!”

Allison HaagensenAllison Haagensen
Second Grade Math/Science Teacher

“My classroom theme is learning through community. I’ve created a blended learning environment through art, math and science. As a class we’ve enjoyed making observations in our science notebooks, learning about the properties of solids and liquids, and participating in projects that combine creative art thinking with math. For instance, our place value robots allowed students to create their own robots by mastering math standards with a sense of creativity”

Ms. Haagensen, a recent transplant from Oakland, CA has joined the teaching team. She has her teaching credential from Cal State East Bay and also studied at San Francisco State University. She is fluent in Spanish, having earned her Spanish degree while studying abroad in Mexico City. Ms. Haagenesen would ideally love her students to experience a sense of urgency and joy while working collaboratively to meet or exceed 2nd grade content goals. Ms. Haagensen is a certified yoga instructor who revels in helping her students foster mindfulness practices.

Erricka TurnerErricka Turner
Dance Teacher

Ms. Erricka Turner Davis has performed with Poetry+Motion, 5th Avenue Theatre (Hello Dolly), Village Theatre (Showboat), Chamber Dance Company, Intiman Theatre (Black Nativity, Mary, Angel), and Seattle Opera (Un Ballo En Maschera, Rigoletto, and Florencia in the Amazons), Sankofa Theatre (Maafa Suite). Ms. Erricka is currently a freelance performer and teaching artist, as well as a liturgical/praise dance artist. She is Miss October in Black Ballerinas of the 20th Century Calendar. Ms. Erricka received her BFA in Ballet Education with honors from The University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA, and her MFA in Dance from University of Washington. She has choreographed, taught, and lectured at 2016 Jack and Jill of America Honoree Ball-Seattle Chapter, Broadway Performing Arts Center (11 Days of MLK, Jr.), Harlequin Theatre (Soul on Fire, Let the Good Times Roll), Spectrum Dance Theater, Northwest Tap Connection, ARC Dance Productions/ARC School of Ballet, Tacoma School for the Performing Arts (SOTA), Allegro Performing Arts Academy, Ensemble Ballet Theatre, Irene’s School of Dance, Ballet Bellevue, Evergreen State College, Northwest Dance Intensive, Evergreen City Ballet, Rainier Dance Center, University of Washington Dance Series, and other venues throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Mary LietzMary Lietz
Learning Resource Teacher
mlietz@soaracademies.orgMy name is Mary Lietz and I am so excited to begin the 2016/2017 school year at SOAR Academy! I moved to Washington State from Illinois this summer, and will be the Learning Resource Teacher. I enjoy outdoor activities, Netflix binges, traveling, and spending time with my family and friends. I’m anticipating a great year of learning and growing with SOAR Academy!

Rachel StromRachel Strom
Learning Resource Teacher
rstrom@soaracademies.orgI am a recent newbie to Washington. I grew up in Colorado and have lived there my entire life so I am excited about a new school and a new place to live! I completed my BA in Human Development and minor in Spanish from Metropolitan State University in Denver in 2009. I then went on to complete my MA in Early Childhood Special Education at the University of Northern Colorado in 2013. For the past 6+ years I have taught at the Rise School of Denver, an inclusive preschool. I also worked for the last year providing ABA therapy in the home setting. I have always been involved in early childhood and teaching, as my mom owned a preschool in Estes Park, CO. I have 3 sisters, one of which lives here in Washington. I grew up loving the outdoors and can’t wait to explore Washington. I’m very excited to be a part of SOAR for the very first year!