Teachers & Staff

Tierra Pacifica is extremely fortunate to have excellent teachers and staff. They are the foundation of our school.


Jennifer Proudfoot


I have been a part of the Tierra Pacifica community since before our very first day of school back in 1998, and I’m so proud of everything we have accomplished together along the way. I have served in several different capacities here: parent, TA, teacher, board member, assistant principal. Now I hold the distinct honor and privilege of being the director. Tierra Pacifica’s mission to teach to the Whole Child has never wavered. My vision is to keep our mission and incredible programs strong. We still have art, music, movement and stewardship of our environment as key components in every classroom. We continue our school-wide focus on reading and providing early interventions for students with diverse needs. We continue our focus on diversity and making our community welcoming and inclusive to all. We continue to work on ways to strengthen our ties with the Live Oak district and local community organizations like the Live Oak Family Resource Center and the Boys and Girls Club. And we strive to deepen our commitment to incubating new educators by working with college and university programs to invite student teachers to learn alongside us and take what they learn from Tierra Pacifica out into the wider teaching community. After all, the purpose of charter schools is to innovate and share, so we all improve, and every student has the opportunity to get the education they deserve, no matter where they live. I hold a BS in Life Sciences from Cal Poly, a Master’s in Educational Leadership from CMU, a certification in Charter School Leadership: Policy, Finance, and Administration from UCLA, and teaching credentials in Science, and Multiple Subjects (Elementary). I am currently working on clearing my California Administrative Services Credential.

Kim Shankland

Finance Assistant

Tierra Pacifica is extremely fortunate to have excellent teachers and staff. They are the foundation of our school.

Sofie Radilla

Office Manager

I am so very blessed to be a part of the TPCS community! I am a Santa Cruz native (born and raised), and I attended Soquel high school. In my 20’s I earned a Criminal Justice degree, and quickly learned that criminal justice was not my passion, but I continue to be passionate about working and helping others.

I have worked managing small nonprofits in Santa Cruz for about ten years and now LOVE the work I do here for Tierra Pacifica!

I love spending my weekends with my five children. (Well that's if I’m lucky and my teen will join us!) You can find us most weekends walking along West Cliff or the beach, or taking a leisurely stroll downtown

Sean Sheehan

Office Assistant

Staff port

Gwynne Cropsey

Director of Finance

I am so honored to be a part of the Tierra Pacifica community! When we first found this gem of a school in 2004, as parents of a 6 year old, we were in small rooms rented from a tiny church. On the first day at Tierra Pacifica our son exclaimed "Here at this school the adults actually know what's going on with us kids!" We never looked back. For 16 years our children thrived at TPCS. As a parent I volunteered helping find the school site, building the school, teaching Spanish, leading field trips, helping Drive for Schools, teaching music, fund raising, class room helper, the list goes on. So when our wonderful Satsiha Furnish was ready to move on after so much loving care for this sweet school, I was honored to step in as Director of Finance.

As a graduate of the CSDC Leadership Certification process, I have been steeped in the particulars of California charter school finance. I bring a background in non-profit and independent business direction, and have run a small business for 25 years. Continuing the Tierra Pacifica goals of teaching to the whole child, experiencing nature, arts, science, and health and honoring all of the many "intelligences" and individuality of each child is my goal here at Tierra Pacifica. I look forward to working collaboratively with all of the talented staff and families of Tierra Pacifica!


Margo Ross

Head of Student Services

I have been involved with Tierra Pacifica since the early days -- attending backyard meetings and working on fundraising before the school opened its doors, then as a parent, classroom volunteer, class rep, electives teacher, board member, teaching assistant -- even as janitor for a while. I helped draft the school charter and many of its policies, and believe wholeheartedly in the school and its mission. I have been the kindergarten teacher since 2006. I did my undergraduate work at Johns Hopkins University, before attending law school at the University of Chicago. I practiced law for several years then moved to California, where I got an MSW from UC Berkeley and worked as a social worker. I moved to Santa Cruz in 1995, when my oldest daughter, Laurel, was a year old. I got involved with Tierra Pacifica when she was 3, because I wanted her to go to a school with Tierra Pacifica's values. From there, I developed a passion for teaching, and returned to school to get my credential from CalStateTEACH. In addition to teaching, my interests include spending time with my daughters and partner Julie, taking care of the animals on my ranch, watching birds, checking for critters in creeks and under rocks, drawing, reading and doing puzzles. I am grateful that my life is full of things I love.

Courtney Bowman


I started teaching at Tierra Pacifica in 2005. I have an educational background in geology, math, and biology. I started my professional career at the U.C. Berkeley Herbarium working on the first online database of botanical collections. While working there I started volunteering at a local middle school and fell in love with teaching. We had an amazing science classroom including the gardens started by Alice Waters at Martin Luther King Middle School in Berkeley. I went back to school to get my credential and worked for several years in the Bay Area before relocating to Santa Cruz. I found my way to Tierra Pacifica through my children.

My goal is to create a classroom that is supportive, rigorous, open to big ideas, and fun. With lots of additional training such as attending The Exploratorium Teacher Institute in San Francisco, CPM's Ideas and Inspirations Math Program, and Jo Boaler's Growth Mindset Class, I try to bring hands' on experiential lessons to the classroom everyday. Students are encouraged to take academic risks and to not be afraid to try new things...... and make mistakes.

I also work at the University of California, Santa Cruz in the Cal-Teach program.

When not working, I enjoy spending time with my family (husband, Erik and children, Elan, Jesse, and Mia) hiking, going to the beach, playing games, and traveling.

Elana Sifry


Elana has been a member of the Tierra Pacifica community for over 21 years. She has worn many hats at school including supporting the school director in the office, teaching kindergarten and first grade, and taking over for teachers on leave across the spectrum of grades. She has taken time off over the years to raise her two amazing kids.

Juliet Lohrey


My name is Juliet Lohrey and I have had the privilege of teaching the second and third grade class at Tierra Pacifica since 2010. I attended UCSC and have a B.A. in performing arts with a Masters of Education. I love being able to incorporate my love of the arts with my dedication to working with children. Before coming to work at Tierra Pacifica I worked with preschool age children. I was also a math intervention teacher for 4th and 5th graders. Having experience with children at different ages really helps me have a better idea of the bigger picture of a child’s education. When I plan my curriculum I am thinking about the knowledge and skills that they already possess, as well as what I am trying to prepare them for in the future. I enjoy working at Tierra Pacifica because of the intimate setting, as well as the encouragement for students, teachers and parents to share their passions in the classroom.

Jacqui Turner


Tierra Pacifica is extremely fortunate to have excellent teachers and staff. They are the foundation of our school.

Jennifer Housek


Tierra Pacifica is extremely fortunate to have excellent teachers and staff. They are the foundation of our school.

Classroom Support

Jade Zerpa


Tierra Pacifica is extremely fortunate to have excellent teachers and staff. They are the foundation of our school.

Mara Rothbard

My name is Mara Rothbard! I grew up in Thousand Oaks, Ventura County and then moved to Santa Cruz to attend UCSC. I graduated in 2020 with a bachelor's degree in Sociology and a minor in Dance. These two disciplines allowed me to see complex interconnections of the human experience. Dance challenges me to release judgments of self and to connect with others. While Sociology informed me of the diverse interactions of race and gender and class. These together give me insight on better understanding myself and the world in which I live. This will be my first time as a teacher's aid, and I am grateful to be at Tierra Pacifica. Everyone here holds a uniqueness and to be working with them is an exciting experience everyday. I wish to teach in a way that provides space and patience for the individual, along with challenging any misconceptions they may hold in themselves. Life is a learning and unlearning experience.

Tiger Prior

Oaks, Suns, Tech Support

Tierra Pacifica is extremely fortunate to have excellent teachers and staff. They are the foundation of our school.

Lorena Clark-Luna


Tierra Pacifica is extremely fortunate to have excellent teachers and staff. They are the foundation of our school.

Student Support

Sarah Chen

Reading Specialist

As the reading specialist at Tierra Pacifica, I meet with small groups or one on one with students to strengthen their reading and writing skills using the Orton-Gillingham teaching approach. This approach is specifically designed to help struggling readers by explicitly teaching the connections between letters and sounds. This is achieved by incorporating all learning pathways: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic/tactile. It is a pleasure and a privilege to work with each student as they develop their literacy skills.

I received my bachelors degree in Psychology from the University of California, San Diego. After a year as a research assistant in UCSD’s Teacher Education Program, I continued on to receive my Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. From 1998 to 2000, I taught second and third grade in the Los Angeles Unified School District. In 2000, I moved to Santa Cruz where I taught at Happy Valley Elementary School. I taught kindergarten and first grade, and became a trained Reading Recovery teacher. In 2003, I took a leave from teaching to spend time at home while my two children were young. When my daughter entered kindergarten at Tierra Pacifica in 2011, I worked as a teaching assistant in the Oaks classroom, until 2015 when I became the English Language Coordinator. Finally in 2018, I took on the roll as a Reading Specialist. I have been fortunate to participate in trainings at both Chartwell School and the Institute for Mulit-Sensory Education to learn the Orton-Gillingham approach.

In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, hiking, running, and reading.

Cynthia Strauss

Speech and Language Specialist

Cynthia Strauss is a Speech and Language Specialist who has worked for the Live Oak School District for 18 years. She loves her work and believes every person should have the chance to communicate their spirit to the best of their potential.

Melissa Edwards


Using tenants of mindfulness, art, play therapy and by creating a warm therapeutic environment, my hope is children can feel comfortable expressing themselves and create positive change. I have extensive experience working with children, youth, and families, trauma, grief and loss, substance abuse, anxiety, depression, and school-related issues.

I received my B.A. in Collaborative Health and Human Services working with youth struggling with substance abuse and maintaining recovery. I am passionate about supporting our most vulnerable youth in recognizing their inherent good. I received my Master's in Social Work in order to support communities, families, and individuals in a holistic way to support the healing of communities.

Lisa Zee

Speech and Language

Tierra Pacifica is extremely fortunate to have excellent teachers and staff. They are the foundation of our school.

Rebecca Turvy

Special Education Coordinator

BA in Psychology, Wesleyan University
MS in Counseling, CSU East Bay
PPS School Psychology


Desiree Hunt


Tierra Pacifica is extremely fortunate to have excellent teachers and staff. They are the foundation of our school.