The Skirball Teacher Advisory Council (STAC) is a collaborative, resource-sharing group of active classroom teachers who work closely with the Skirball’s Education department. This dynamic group of teachers and leaders champions LA County’s diverse student populations and shares in the Skirball’s mission to foster empathy, collaboration, and community.
The STAC meets regularly to co-create and implement innovative programming and lesson plans for students and fellow educators. A stipend of $500 is available and STAC teachers receive priority registration for Skirball school tours.
Interested in being a part of STAC? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Martha Cervantes, Grade 2 Teacher at Suva Elementary School
Martha Cervantes has been a teacher for over twenty years. She holds a multiple-subject teaching credential with a bilingual Spanish certification and a Master's in Educational Technology. Martha has a passion for teaching English-language learners and mentoring new teachers. She is a member of her district's Elementary Math Teacher Lead Team. Martha believes that Skirball Cultural Center is a special place and is excited to introduce it to her students and her friends. In her free time, she enjoys walks in nature and gardening.
Gina Debuque, Reading Intervention Teacher at Sendak Elementary School and ACT Magnet
Gina Debuque taught second graders at Vena Gifted Magnet for more than twenty years. She is loving her new challenge as an intervention teacher--helping struggling primary students break the code. To engage her students, she incorporates the arts and multimedia into her daily lessons. Gina used to be a professional ballerina and enjoys playing the ukulele. She was named Teacher of the Year for LAUSD in 2016–2017. Her core belief is that children come to school not just to learn subjects, but to become the best version of the wonderful human beings they are.
Jane Ching Fung, Retired Educator
Jane Fung is a newly retired teacher. She taught for thirty-six years in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Jane is National Board Certified, a Milken Educator, and one of LAUSDs 2021 Teachers of the Year. Jane is the mother of two sons, a senior pup, and a seventy-five pound puppy. Her interests include early childhood education, road trips, Dodgers and Clippers games, taking Zumba classes, and exploring art. Providing students with field trip experiences has always been one of Jane's passions. She has taken her students to the Skirball for the past eighteen years and looks forward to working with museum educators in her retirement years.
Shannon Garrison, Grade 5 Teacher at Stonehurst STEAM Magnet School
Shannon Garrison is a National Board Certified educator with twenty-six years of classroom experience. In 2008, she received the Milken National Educator Award. Shannon served two terms on the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress. She was named a Teacher of the Year for LAUSD and Los Angeles County in 2016-2017 and was a semifinalist for California Teacher of the Year. A highlight of her career was being selected to carry the Olympic torch in Scotland for the 2012 London Olympics. Shannon currently teaches fifth grade at Stonehurst STEAM Magnet.
Maria Guerrero, Grades 6–8 Dual Language Arts Teacher at Lennox Middle School
For the past twenty-six years, Maria Guerrero has been a middle school educator in the Lennox community. A proud member of the Lennox Middle School faculty, she has taught multiple subjects in both English and Spanish to first-generation students, and newcomers to the country. Maria is passionate about introducing her students to the importance of knowing and becoming more of themselves, as well as pursuing higher education. A first-generation student herself, she hopes to inspire her students to continue their education and create the lives of their dreams.
Loribeth Mau, Grade 6 Teacher at Robert Hill Lane Elementary School
Loribeth Mau is a passionate sixth grade educator at Robert Hill Lane Elementary School. As a National Board-Certified Teacher with nineteen years of experience and a Science and Engineering teacher leader within the Division of Instruction in LAUSD, she has a great love of working with both students and teachers! Her favorite activity outside of school is exploring national parks with her husband, three kids, and their dog, Gummy.
Maria Mendez, Teacher at Lennox Middle School
Maria Mendez is in her fourteenth year of teaching. She started teaching in New York City, and for the last nine years, has been teaching at Lennox Middle School. Maria has her master's degree in teaching English Language Arts, is a Reading Specialist, and is pursuing an additional certification in Social Studies. Over the last seven years, Maria has attended the Reading and Writing Project of Columbia University professional development multiple times. During her career, she has strived to create engaging activities to motivate students in their study of literature and writing. Many were struggling learners, and she was sensitive to their varied academic needs and interests. Maria’s passion is to help struggling readers and writers develop and improve their voices, be successful, and feel confident.
Polina Protensko, Chair, Fine and Performing Arts Department at Loyola High School
Polina Protsenko is an educator and artist herself! She previously taught elementary school and now has moved onto her third year at Loyola High School in Los Angeles as a visual art teacher and chair of the fine and performing arts department. Prior to teaching, she divided her time amongst nonprofit work at Open Doors Art (Massachusetts); which increases access, participation, and representation of people with disabilities in the arts to develop an art-integrated learning experience that promotes inclusion and supports academic, social, and emotional growth, and Dramatic Results (California); which engages students through hands-on in-class and out-of-school art programs, as well as provides professional development for classroom teachers. Polina believes that the mastery of craft comes in service of developing conceptual thinking through experimentation of various approaches. Students, teachers, staff, and faculty all have something to offer, and building upon those skills leads to open-mindedness and civic responsibility within our culture.
Dolly Sanders, Grade 6 Teacher at Grant Elementary School
Dolly Sanders has more than twenty-seven years of teaching experience at the elementary school level. A big believer in constructivist teaching, Dolly supports the theory that learning occurs best when students are actively involved in constructing their knowledge as opposed to passively receiving information. Second only to teaching is her great love of travel. She’s traveled extensively throughout six of the seven continents. Dolly has been fortunate to have the opportunity to combine her two passions—education and travel—by teaching in Nepal as well as Korea. Dolly has Bilingual, Cross-Cultural, Language and Academic Development (BCLAD) authorization in both Spanish and Russian.
Nadine Shindel, Grade 1 Teacher at Calvert Charter School
Nadine Shindel is in her twenty-sixth year of teaching with LAUSD. She earned a Bachelor's degree in Deaf Studies from California State University, Northridge (CSUN), with focuses on teaching; speech and language, audiometry, and linguistics. She holds a Child Development Certificate, a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, and a Mild/Moderate Disabilities Credential for K through Grade 12. She has taught students at every grade level TK-5 with Gifted and Talented Abilities, Mild Disabilities, English Language Learners, and/or “Typical” abilities. She spent a year as a school Coordinator to learn the behind-the-scenes collaboration with administration, staff, parents, and students. Nadine teaches her students to value and grow with their mistakes because, as actress Helen Hayes poignantly shared, “Every expert was once a beginner.”
Susie Shiver, Grades 3–5 Teacher at Lassen Elementary School
Susie Shiver is a National Board Certified Education Specialist. She has been teaching students with special needs for the past thirty-plus years. As an advocate of inclusive education, Susie believes all children learn better when provided opportunities to work and play alongside their same-aged peers. When she is not teaching she spends time with her family and various pets. Susie has a passion for social studies, art, and traveling to historically rich destinations.