Meet the Faculty & Staff
Our inspiring team of faculty and staff are the heart of our school community. First and foremost, they are committed to truly knowing and understanding each individual child - both academically and personally - to ensure that each student gets exactly what they need to meaningfully connect with learning material. But they are also equally committed to their own personal advancement, working hard to learn new techniques in order to bring learning alive for our Westerly students.
Our faculty and staff believe that strong communication between family and school is key to ensuring each student's success. Please feel free to contact them with any questions about your child or our classroom activities.
Outgoing, Swimming enthusiast, Avid reader, Foodie
Simmons College (Boston); B.A. political science and philosophy
Mills College (Oakland); M.A. Education and teaching credential
CSULB; administrative credential
Michelle joined Westerly in 2017 after spending almost a decade at Chadwick School in Palos Verdes, California. She has been a leader in work with elementary/middle school students, mathematics, global programs, and technology at schools in both Northern and Southern California.
She brings with her a passion for equity, social justice, curriculum development, social emotional learning, and developing student leaders. Michelle believes that equity is the ability to give each student the particular and specialized knowledge, education, tools, and skills that she or he needs to be successful as a global citizen.
Education is a life-long endeavor; students should be celebrated and valued as independent thinkers, active community members, and curious knowledge-seekers. A robust curriculum does not simply focus upon academics; it inspires students and asks them to dream big, develop their leadership talents, delve into service learning, and learn about the global community. Michelle believes Westerly is a joyful school environment that offers learners this type of transformative community.
In her free time, Michelle enjoys spending time with her children, exploring the ocean, reading, traveling, and embarking on new adventures.
Foodie, World Explorer, Dance Enthusiast
University of California, Los Angeles, CA
Prior to joining Westerly’s Leadership Team in June 2016, Jessica worked as the Assistant Director of Admission at Polytechnic School in Pasadena. Previously Jessica has held positions at Mark Day School as the multicultural and admission fellow and PwC as a tax associate. As Director of Advancement and Admission, Jessica oversees the school’s fundraising efforts, capital campaign, admission and enrollment management.
Jessica believes that Westerly is a safe and inclusive community where students’ unique talents and perspectives are not only accepted, but celebrated. Through strong support and encouragement from faculty, staff, and peers, students reach their full potential intellectually and socially at Westerly.
In Jessica's free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, trying new experiences, and exploring different neighborhoods of Southern California.
Sports-Enthusiast, Techie, Life-long Learner
University of California, Los Angeles, CA
California Multiple Subject Credential
Pedro came to Westerly in 2006 after teaching K & 1 at The Buckley School for eight years. He is a believer of lifelong learning and throughout his career, has sought out opportunities to grow in his profession, passing on this passion and inspiration to his students and colleagues. The safe, nurturing learning environment that Westerly provides, along with the individual attention Westerly gives to every child, makes this school feel like home, and truly a great place to be an educator and have his own children learn and flourish.
After 10 years as Westerly’s 2nd Grade Teacher, Pedro’s role now is to help drive the vision of integrating educational technology into Westerly’s classrooms, supporting both students and the faculty & staff. He is an Apple Teacher, a certified trainer for SMART Technologies and other software, part of the SMART Exemplary Educator program, and currently serves as a board member for the Computer Using Educators Los Angeles organization (CUELA). Pedro also assists with the coaching of the lower school basketball team and is involved in different community programs such as the Youth Leadership Long Beach Institute.
Pedro loves having time with his wife and 2 children, spending time at the beach, pools, or traveling to lakes and rivers. He enjoys participating in a variety of sports, is an avid runner and recently began participating in triathlons. He also loves listening to music, watching movies and using his tech gadgets.
Elizabeth joined the Westerly community in 2013 with over 14 years experience working in private schools in Nebraska and San Diego.
As the Administrative Assistant for Westerly, Elizabeth is one of the first people you will meet at the school. Her job is multi-faceted and not only includes managing the front office, but acting as the school nurse and the school’s registrar.
Elizabeth believes that Westerly is a tight-knit friendly community. It is a nurturing safe place where students can express themselves and take risks both socially and academically.
In Elizabeth’s spare time she enjoys reading and spending time with friends and family; especially her husband Darren and 2 children.
Voracious Reader, Biking Enthusiast
Toni’s career experience includes software and technology development in the automotive, credit reporting, and fashion industries. Her contributions to companies have included website development, marketing and accounting/office management.
As a Business Office Associate, Toni is responsible for daily accounting tasks under the direction of the Director of Finance.
In her short time at Westerly, Toni has enjoyed working with the Administrative team and seeing first-hand their commitment to education and providing a great learning environment for students.
During her free time, Toni enjoys reading, biking, and spending time with her family and friends.
Life-long Learner, Lover of Jazz, Fun in the Sun
California State University, Long Beach
MS, Educational Administration 2013
Administrative Credential 2013
California State University, Fullerton, CA
B.S. Child Development 1995
Multiple Subject Teaching Credential 1996
Prior to joining the Westerly Community, Mrs. Estrada taught kindergarten in the public school setting for 11 years. She began teaching Kindergarten at Westerly in 2007. Along with being part of the Green Team and Sustainability committee, Mrs. Estrada is also the liason for CSULB and the internship program. Additionally, she also assists in maintaining the school garden by overseeing the afterschool Garden Club.
Mrs. Estrada believes all students have the potential to become life-long learners. The key to accomplishing this is to create an environment where children feel safe and secure enough to take the social and academic risks needed to push themselves out of their comfort zone. She feels if students are embraced for their differences and unique ideas they will have the self-confidence needed to flourish.
Mrs. Estrada believes Westerly’s close-knit community, along with its unique curriular choices, give students the opportunities necessary to compete in the new age world. Understanding how to work in collaborative groups, with a variety of people, and problem solve are just a few of the skills Westerly students develop on a daily basis. Preparing students to compete in the 21st Century requires educational institutions to be flexible, teach to the whole child, and think globally. Reading, writing, and arithmetic alone no longer prepare children for tomorrow’s innovative world.
During her free time, Mrs. Estrada enjoys spending time with her wife and children. Her son is a graduate of Westerly and she currently has a daughter in lower school. Mrs. Estrada takes pleasure in reading, listening to live jazz, and going on bike rides and hikes. She appreciates the benefits of yoga and mindful breathing. Mrs. Estrada looks forward to exploring traveling abroad.
Community Activist, Passionate, Creative
In Progress- California State University, Long Beach, CA
Tianna began her work with students at the ArtX Summer Art Experience. During her 5 years there, she was able to share her knowledge and love of art with young artists in the Long Beach area. In 2015, Tianna started at Westerly with the after school Wildcat program; she continues her work there introducing new programs and creating a fun environment for students with her coworkers. She began working as a Teaching Associate in 2017 and believes that helping young people to grow and find themselves is one of the most fulfilling careers she could ask for.
In addition to working at Westerly, Tianna enjoys volunteering at The LGBTQ Center Long Beach working with youth in the community. She is passionate about music and spends a couple of evenings a week playing clarinet and rehearsing in the Beach City Symphonic Band. When she is not volunteering or performing, she enjoys spending her free time with her beautiful cat and family.
Jewelry-Maker, Healthy Living Advocate, Passionate Reader
University of Illinois
B.A. English Literature
Double minor in Art and Speech Communication
Credential and M.A. in Education- in progress
After seven years at Brentwood School as a Kindergarten Teacher, Nancy began teaching at Westerly in 2004. She believes that learning should be an adventure, filled with variety, passion and excitement. Her goal for each student is to become a lifelong learner, filled with curiosity and confidence in their abilities, and to have the tools to find success along this path of learning. Students develop these skills through hands-on, interactive, and thematic learning.
Nancy believes Westerly is a special place because of its close-knit community. All teachers know all of the students and help them along the way. She also appreciates the diverse education and incorporation of the arts. She is proud that her son is a student here and her daughter graduated from here and is enjoying being well-prepared for high school.
For fun, Nancy likes to travel, especially with her family. She has traveled the world and has been to more than 35 states and a dozen different countries on three continents. Her goal is to make it to all of the 50 states and to all of the seven continents. She loves photography, making jewelry, being creative, reading, and doing Pilates. A lot of her free time is filled with supporting her children in their sports and extra-curricular activities.
Fun loving, Creative, Relaxed
UC Irvine, BA in Fine Arts
Tufts University, MFA, Interdisciplinary Art
Alyssa learned about her love of teaching during her Master’s program at Tufts University, where she was asked to be a Teaching Assistant. She spent a brief period as a Professor of Fine Arts, but quickly realized she preferred teaching young students the building blocks of academia. She spent a year teaching 5th grade students in Hartford, CT before returning to Southern California to continue her work with children.
Alyssa believes that learning should be an exploration. Learning, in the way that it was once conceived, is no longer enough for a 21st century student. It is important for the student to learn how to problem solve and discover knowledge in a safe and nurturing environment, so as to allow the student the confidence to continue this exploration through life. This environment is obvious at Westerly, and Alyssa loves watching the students discover how much they are capable of, and how much information they can absorb.
In her free time, Alyssa loves sketching, surfing, swimming, cuddling with her cat, and relaxing with her friends and family. She is hoping to find the time to begin to perform again, and keeps promising herself that she will pick up a paintbrush one day.
Open Minded, Globe Trotter, Long Beach Lover
California State University, Long Beach
Human Development; Minor: Spanish
Study Abroad Program: Universidad de Belgrano in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Sophia comes with unique personal, volunteer, and work experiences that contribute to her love of children. For several years she worked with Long Beach foster agencies Families Uniting Families and Childnet, in which, she cared for children while in the foster care system. These experiences really sparked her interest in child development, and the impact of strong role models in the lives of children and their academics. Sophia also enjoys volunteering as a Big Buddy at Comfort Zone Camp, a bereavement camp for children; she has embraced this position since 2009.
Since joining Westerly in January 2017, she is thrilled to be a part of a community that makes sure that all students are uniquely known and embraced. The students at Westerly are surrounded by a community of role models (mentors/ staff/ parents) and this will surely contribute to their growth into confident lifelong learners.
Sophia is currently pursuing graduate programs in school counseling/ psychology. During her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, taking Pilates classes, and dreaming of her next big vacation spot; she’s been to over 25 countries so far!
Traveler, Chef Extraordinaire, No Nonsense
California State University, Long Beach, CA
B.A. Liberal Studies: Multiple Subject Education
Irma has been at Westerly since 2002 and has taught both second and third grades. The time she spent as a student and teaching intern solidified her desire to work in a classroom setting. Irma really enjoys encouraging her students to be inquisitive and question the world around them.
It is important to Irma that her students feel comfortable expressing themselves freely in the classroom and she believes, when they develop that kind of confidence early on, it will only help them excel throughout the duration of their educational career. Westerly is a great fit for a variety of students given its opportunities for project based learning, access to the arts, and a small, safe, and nurturing classroom environment.
Irma enjoys cooking, going to concerts, home improvement projects and traveling. She has been very fortunate to have traveled extensively to various parts of the world including Armenia, the whole of Europe, Argentina, Uruguay, Canada, and Puerto Rico with both family and friends. Irma and her family (both immediate and extended) have always been close and she is grateful for the life lessons she has learned by being linked to so many different generations.
Shopping Addict, Dessert Craver, Dog Lover
Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
B.A. Liberal Studies
After graduating, Lauren decided to explore her other passions before working with children. She studied skin care at Golden West College. Shortly after receiving her esthetician license from the State of California, Lauren began her career at Westerly’s afterschool program, Wildcat. Quickly falling in love with the students and school, Lauren knew she was working at the right place. Soon she was asked to become a T.A. in the 3rd grade classroom, and has enjoyed every single day she has spent with Miss Hamayan and the 3rd graders.
Lauren decided to become a teacher because she loves the energy and enthusiasm children bring to education. She says that every day is different and you never know what to expect, which always makes work exciting. Lauren loves how Westerly is a small and tightly-knit, friendly community.
Lauren spends her leisure time in the company of family and close friends. She considers herself an easy-going person. Some days you can find her lounging on her couch watching movies, and on the days she’s feeling daring, you can find her jumping out of an airplane!
Soccer mom, Restaurant Enthusiast, Reality T.V. fan
California State University Long Beach, CA
B.A. Communication Studies (Interpersonal and Organizational Communication)
Multiple Subject Teaching Credential-in progress
Lauren began her teaching career at Westerly as the 4th grade Teaching Associate for 3 years. She transitioned into the 4th grade teaching position to help students develop their full potential socially and academically. She works to create a learning environment where every student can be successful.
Lauren believes that every child has a strength. She loves to help them find their strengths and channel that into the subjects that they investigate. Students should have freedom that allows for expression and creativity. When students take ownership in what they are learning, they are motivated to work hard and master the skills necessary to reach their goals. It is a joy to watch students flourish.
Westerly is special because there are many opportunities for kids to engage in learning that goes beyond the classroom creating life- long learners. It is also a place where strong friendships are developed between families, faculty, and students that make this a very supportive and safe environment.
Lauren spends her free time traveling to Northern California with her husband to watch her daughter play college soccer. Her favorite places to travel are Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Hawaii. She also enjoys shopping and playing Candy Crush.
Sports enthusiast, Avid Reader, Runner
Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA
B.A. Finance and Marketing
California State University, Dominguez Hills, CA
Multiple Subject Teaching Credential
Gina began teaching 4th grade at St. Mark School in Venice in 1997 where she taught and coached for 4 years before moving to LAUSD. She taught both 5th and 2nd grade at Grape Street Elementary School from 2001-2006 before coming to Westerly School in the fall of 2006.
Gina loves challenging students with new ideas; she wants her students to strive to be well-rounded individuals. Her mission is to facilitate and empower her students to reach their top level of independent, academic, and personal excellence.
Westerly is Gina’s home. It is not only where she works, but it is where she goes to see her friends and watch her own children grow and progress. Gina loves that as a teacher, she is able to be creative and make learning something for her students to love.
Mother, Runner, Spontaneous
University of California, Los Angeles
B.A. Psychology (1988)
California State University, Long Beach
Multiple Subject Teaching Credential (1991)
Kristen comes from a family of teachers and followed in the footsteps of her grandmother, mother, and sister. She began teaching 4th grade in Long Beach Unified School District in 1991, continued in Carlsbad Unified as a 3rd grade teacher, and came back full circle to Long Beach Unified, teaching grades 1-8. Kristen came to Westerly in 2013, and feels at home teaching her favorite subject, science.
It is Kristen’s goal that each student will gain a deep understanding of the content standards of their grade level, develop a curiosity about the natural world through hands-on, inquiry-based instruction, and apply scientific learning to their own experiences and the world around us. She hopes her students will think, “Science is so cool and I know why that happens!”
Outside of work, Kristen enjoys being with family, exercising or doing anything outdoors, and traveling. The highlight of her summer is being able to spend time with her two college age children when they come home to visit.
B.S. Business Administration
Master of Education
Multi-subject Teaching Credential
Justin studied at California State University, Long Beach and earned his BS in Business Administration. He also holds an M.Ed. from Pepperdine University as well as a multi-subject teaching credential. He began his career at the International School of the Peninsula, in Palo Alto, a K-8 French and Mandarin Chinese full-immersion day school. He also worked for the University of California, Berkeley, in administration and academic development. Most recently, he taught at Turning Point School, a rigorous independent PreK-8th grade in Culver City, as a 3rd grade teacher.
Justin is thrilled to join Westerly School and be a part of this dynamic community! He enjoys spending time with his wife and three-year-old son, James, and frequently can be found chasing after James throughout the city of Long Beach!
Educator, Community Advocate & Curriculum Specialist
California State University Long Beach
B.A. Intercultural Communication
Loyola Marymount University
M.Ed Social Justice in Education & Single Subject California Teaching Credential
Loyola Marymount University
Ed.D Educational Leadership for Social Justice
Dr. Casey Quirarte has worked for 12 years as a Humanities instructor, administrator, and curriculum specialist in K-12 Independent Schools. In 2015, Dr. Quirarte completed her Educational Doctorate in Educational Leadership for Social Justice at Loyola Marymount University. Her continued research is on student-centered curriculum design and adolescent socioemotional development. Before joining the Westerly faculty, Dr. Quirarte worked as an independent editor, a guest speaker on adolescent development, and she continues her work with high school seniors in her community on crafting competitive college essays and scholarship applications.
In her classroom, “Dr. Q” strives to facilitate experiences for students that inspire them to think critically and act ethically. She regards all children as future world and community innovators, and believes they must develop the competencies necessary for effective leadership in the 21st century. Dr. Q is committed to creating a classroom environment that is inclusive and equitable. She believes all students can be successful and experience academic growth if they are given the resources to do so. Dr. Q truly believes “Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world” (N. Mandela).
As an alumna of both Woodrow Wilson Classical High School and California State University Long Beach, Dr. Q is very much at “home” here at Westerly School in Long Beach. Dr. Q loves reading, yoga, Starbucks, sushi, and going for long walks at the beach with her dogs Basil and Fig. She is also very active in the Southern California Beach Volleyball community.
Basketball Lover, Competitive Spirit, Adventure-Seeker
BA Journalism minor Sports Management
California State University, Long Beach
Single Subject Credential, Physical Education
University California, Los Angeles
University Induction Clear Credential Program
Before becoming a teacher, Shannon played college basketball at Gonzaga University as well as professionally in Holland, Finland, Switzerland, and Puerto Rico. Shannon also tried out for the Los Angeles Sparks in 2006. In 2007, Shannon began her teaching career at St. Patrick Catholic School in North Hollywood and then moved to Notre Dame Academy in Los Angeles in 2011. She rejuvenated the physical education programs and increased the number of after-school sports teams at both schools.
Teaching physical education allows Shannon to combine her love of sports and her desire to make a difference. She believes in teaching life skills through sports, helping students to build their confidence, develop their cooperation skills, and increase their fitness knowledge.
Shannon believes that Westerly is a special place for its commitment to a diverse learning experience.
In her leisure time, you can find Shannon playing basketball, riding her bike, binge-watching TV shows, or traveling to beautiful beaches!
Theater Fanatic, Dog Lover, Vocalist
Ithaca College- Bachelor of Music, Music Education
Boston University- Master of Music, Music Education
Prior to joining Westerly’s faculty in 2016, Susan worked as the Director of Education for Pacific Symphony, overseeing their large in-school partnership program- Class Act. From 2012 to 2015 Susan was the Music Teacher and Co-Theater Director at the Jemicy School of MD, a K-8 independent school that caters to students with dyslexia and other language-based learning differences. In addition to private school teaching, Susan has also taught in the Quincy Public School system (Quincy, MA) and the Fairfax County Public School system (Fairfax, VA).
Susan is constantly pushing herself to explore new means of musical communication and encourages her students to do the same. Westerly’s motto- Innovative Learning for Curious Minds- aligns beautifully with Susan’s personal teaching philosophy. She wants her students to develop a life-long love of, and curiosity for music. Westerly understands that music is a vital part of a well-rounded education and Susan loves working with such talented, creative faculty who embrace and support music development.
In Susan’s free time, she enjoys walking her dogs on the beach, attending local performances, and trying out new restaurants.
Foodie, Sports Lover, Music Maker
Berklee College of Music
Bachelor Degree - Music Production & Engineering
Bachelor Degree - Classical Composition
Mr. Giaimo’s teaching background stems back to his senior year of high school when he started teaching private trumpet lessons to incoming freshman. He maintained a regular private teaching studio even after moving to Boston to pursue a music degree. While still in school, Niko took a job with the Boston Symphony Orchestra as the Education Department coordinator, eventually becoming a teaching artist for underprivileged music programs in the Boston area. Mr. Giaimo continued his journey in education upon moving home to California in 2013, where he eventually became the Woodwind & Brass instructor for OC Music in Rancho Santa Margarita, building a reputation and a personal studio of over 25 private students. Niko has given music workshops for multiple Middle Schools and High Schools in the Orange County area including Tuffree Middle School, Yorba Linda Middle School, Yorba Linda High School, El Dorado High School, & Tesoro High School. Along with his role as Instrumental Music Instructor at Westerly, Mr. Giaimo also works in the Education Department for the Pacific Symphony Orchestra in Orange County, serving as the coordinator for their flagship music outreach program, Class Act, which brings music into the lives of over 32 schools and 20,000 students in the Orange County area.
Mr. Giaimo believes that every student deserves to have music in his/her life despite their background or experience. Nothing is more rewarding for Mr. Giaimo than watching his students develop a passion for music! Like sports, music is a team activity. Music students at Westerly will learn to take responsibility for both their instruments and the quality of product that they are producing musically while receiving regular attention to ensure that they grow both in and out of the music room.
The wonderful culture and environment of Westerly and its community is palpable, and in Mr. Giaimo’s opinion, one of the key characteristics that makes this school so special. The relationships built at Westerly are strong!
When Mr. Giaimo isn’t in the classroom teaching music, he can be found performing music across Southern California, regularly recording trumpet & guitar on sessions in Los Angeles & Orange County, as well as live shows in Orange County, Los Angeles, and San Diego. Separate from music, Mr. Giaimo loves basketball (especially the Lakers), being outdoors, surfing, and playing with his dog!
Community Arts Activist, Baseball Enthusiast, World Traveler
Orange Coast College
Fine Arts Studies
California State University Long Beach
Urban Art in the Public Landscape
Long Beach City College
Metal Fabrication Certification
Stephen Elicker has been translating community dialogue into relevant public expression for more than 20 years. Steve thrives on the challenges and rewards specific to the public art process. His primary focus is on three dimensional sculpture. He was selected by the Smithsonian Foundation to serve as artist in residency with the Cooper-Hewitt National Museum of Design and Architecture. He has been recognized for his contributions to community improvement through the arts by the Long Beach City Council and received the Algalita Marine Foundation’s Environmental Hero Award for his efforts on the creation of the Pacific Avenue Community Gardens. Steve was named the Arts Professional of the Year for 2003 by the Arts Council for Long Beach. Steve is the Co-Founder and Board Member of the ArtExchange Visual Arts Center located in the East Village Arts District in downtown Long Beach.
Steve believes that each child has a unique story to tell. The diverse community at Westerly fosters a sense of community where individual expression is celebrated and collaboration is encouraged at an early age. Art helps develop critical thinking and problem solving skills that translate directly to other areas of study.
Steve studied the art of glassblowing under several Master Artists, operates his own glass and ceramic studio in Long Beach, and has completed numerous local public art projects. He enjoys spending time in the great outdoors with his family, coaching his son’s little league team, and shares a passion for reading with his daughter. Steve has traveled the world and has many adventurous stories to share.