Over 30 new teachers have joined the ranks at Corcoran Unified School District this year. There are new faces at all sites and starting this week, The Journal will spotlight the new staffers. First up are additions to Corcoran High School.
Caleb Araujo is a native of Hanford. He attended Fresno Pacific University where he graduated in 2011 with a bachelors in liberal studies. He is currently enrolled in the IPACT program through Tulare County Office of Education. He began his career as a substitute teacher and completed his first year teaching biology at Avenal High School.
A bachelor, Caleb shares his home with his dog, Frodo, although he attests he did not pick the dog’s name. He likes working out at the gym and competing in powerlifting. He also practices martial arts, which have been a part of his life for 20 years. He enjoys spending time with his parents and family.
Mr. Araujo is currently teaching biology and life science at the high school. He is looking forward to building strong connections with the students to help prepare them for a life outside of high school, as well as collaboration with the staff to learn the most effective teaching strategies for those students. He believes that the teacher in any classroom should be a person of many hats. He says there is not a one-way method to teach all students.
“That being said, the teacher I am striving to become is one who is dynamic in the classroom,” he added. “Every student can learn and grow and it is up to the teacher to find what works best for their growth.”
Desi Brantley was born and raised in Visalia. She attended Fresno State and Brandman universities, where she earned a B.A. in history, single subject credential in social science, and an education specialist credential. She taught an online history course for San Joaquin Valley College for two years and three years at Redwood High School.
Desi and her husband have a seven year-old son, Adam, and the household includes three cats. She loves to read and enjoys relaxing and spending time with her family.
In addition to being a social science teacher at the high school, she is the freshman class advisor with plans to build school spirit. As for her teaching philosophy, she believes that a teacher is morally obligated to enter the classroom with only the highest of expectations for each and every one of their students. She aims to bring an open mind, a positive attitude, and high expectations to the classroom each day.
“I believe that I owe it to my students to create a classroom culture that promotes safety, acceptance, and a ‘growth mindset,’” she says.
A native of Sanger, Nick Campbell received an A.A. from Reedley College prior to attaining a B.A. in athletic coaching education from West Virginia Tech. He added a masters in education with a focus on best practices from National University. He was a substitute teacher in Madera for two years and in Coalinga for a year and a half.
Nick was married in March and now has a step-daughter. The family also includes four dogs. An avid outdoorsman, he likes hunting, fishing and off-roading. With his family he enjoys traveling, mostly to Pismo for its beach, and Las Vegas.
At Corcoran, Campbell is not only a physical education teacher, but the new head football coach. He looks forward to developing long-lasting relationships with all of his students, athletes and co-workers. His number one goal as an educator and coach is to help his students and athletes realize the possibilities that they may not know exist for them behind high school.
“I want them to all understand that college is not out of reach for anyone regardless of their background,” he stated.
Rudy Cardona grew up in Fresno, where he still has a lot of extended family members. He graduated from California State University, Fresno with a bachelor’s degree in history and an Air Force officer commission as a second Llieutenant. He later obtained a master’s degree in aeronautical science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and an MBA in human resource management from Columbia Southern University. Cardona recently retired from the U.S. Air Force as a lieutenant colonel after 24 years of service. Over his military career he was honored to have been able to command three squadrons and serve as an inspector general, aircraft mishap investigator, and academic instructor. His career specialty in the Air Force was as a logistics officer specializing in aircraft maintenance and acquisitions where he was able to serve at the field and headquarters levels, lead in combat, and represent the United States to the Republic of Venezuela as an exchange officer.
He and his wife, Stacy, have three children: Jayden, Anastasia, and Olivia. His wife is from Utah where he met her while stationed at Hill Air Force Base in Ogden. His hobbies include running, marksmanship, family time and reading. He enjoys eating
out, going to festivals, watching movies and traveling.
Cardona is the senior aerospace science instructor (Air Force Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps) at Corcoran High School.
“I am looking forward to teaching students and getting to know the faculty. My teaching philosophy is to reach students by making learning fun, interactive, and that anything can be used to teach a lesson. I believe by doing so, we won’t leave anyone behind,” Cardona said
Katarina Crown hails from Pleasanton. She attended Las Positas College and California State University-Fresno, where she received her degree in history. This is her first teaching job.
Katarina has a boyfriend and enjoys watching television, movies and going to the beach. She also has a dog named Kida. Her hobbies include making jewelry, collecting coins and scrapbooking.
She is a social science teacher at Corcoran High, teaching classes in U.S. government, economics and world history. She is looking forward to connecting with her students.
“I believe everyone can learn and that students need to know they are cared for,” she adds.
Gwen Filipski was born in Bakersfield and raised in Hanford. She attended Thomas More College of Liberal Arts where she received a degree in classics and literature. Before coming to CUSD, she taught speed-reading, was a substitute teacher and also tutored children with disabilities.
Gwen and her husband Soren, who is a writer, have two daughters: Judith, six, and Madeleine, eight, as well as two goldfish named Jack and Lucy. She enjoys knitting, reading, writing and going to the beach.
At Corcoran High School, she is teaching English and theater. She is looking forward to starting some fun theater programs for the students and getting them excited about performing. She also plans to teach them good student and reading skills that will last a lifetime.
She says her teaching philosophy is “I believe that connecting with your students on an individual basis is critical. If a student feels seen and recognized as a human being capable of learning and change, he/she is more receptive to the love and instruction that you have to offer him/her.”
Violet Germinaro comes to Corcoran from Orange County, where she attended Katella High School. While there, she earned 12 varsity letters! She earned her A.A. from Fullerton College with an emphasis in theater arts. She also earned a bachelor’s degree from CSU-Fullerton in communications with an emphasis in journalism. She received a teaching credential and master’s degree from National University in education with an emphasis in cross-cultural teachinig.
She has held many positions in her career, including head girl’s tennis coach, head girl’s track and field coach, freshman class advisor, and school site council member. Before she began teaching, she worked as a travel agent for the Walt Disney Travel Company and as a background actor for Central Casting. She has performed in many community theater productions and directed A Christmas Carol at Chowchilla High School, Grease the Musical at Villa Park High School, and Legally Blonde Jr. the Musical at La Sierra High School.
When not at school, she loves to spend time with family and friends, go to amusement/theme parks, attend the theater, and go shopping/site seeing. Her favorite movie is Stranger than Fiction, favorite musical is Les Miserables, and favorite book is Night Circus. She still believes in dressing up for Halloween and celebrating her birthday.
She is very excited to be a part of the Corcoran Unified School District family. This is her eighth year teaching, and she says she has never experienced a more warm and welcoming start.
She says, “I feel honored to have this opportunity to share my passion and experience with such an outstanding group of young people.”
She is teaching freshman honors English language arts, freshman college prep English language arts, CAHSEE prep English language arts, theater arts, and freshman intervention at Corcoran High School.
And, she adds, “I hope to be at Corcoran High for a long time. Go Panthers!”