2022-2023 NEWS ARCHIVE
Click on the links below to access previous editions of the St. Serra Sunday News:
January 1 (New Years Day - no St. Serra Sunday News)
December 25 (Christmas Day - no St. Serra Sunday News)
November 20 (no St. Serra Sunday News due to Thanksgiving week)
August 14, 2022
August 21, 2022
August 28, 2022
March 23, 2023: Mrs. Suzanne Edwards to Join St. Serra as Lower School Principal
March 10, 2023: Second Trimester Student Learning Assessments
March 6, 2023: Anchor Ball Friendly Reminders
March 1, 2023: St. Serra Parent Education Series - What Parents Need to Know About the Fentanyl Crisis
February 17, 2023: St. Serra Parent Education Series - Parenting in a Digital World
February 16, 2023: Mrs. Carol Reiss Announces Retirement
February 10, 2023: Summer School is Back!
February 1, 2023: 2023-24 Registration for Current Families Update
January 31, 2023: Reserved Parking Reminder
January 30, 2023: Memorial Mass for Audrey Tellers
January 23, 2023: Important Safety Reminder
January 18, 2023: St. Serra Parent Education Series - The Battleground: Parents vs. Children
January 11, 2023: 2023-24 Registration for Current Families Reminder
January 2, 2023: 2023-24 Registration for Current Families Now Open
December 25, 2022: Christmas Blessings 2022
December 20, 2022: St. Serra Update
December 15, 2022: 2023-24 School Year Registration for Current Families
December 9, 2022: Sylvia Peterson Named St. Serra's Teacher of the Year
December 7, 2022: Charism Crusader Award Winners for Trimester 1
December 2, 2022: First Trimester Student Learning Assessments
November 24, 2022: Thanksgiving Blessings 2022
November 18, 2022: Giving Week Incentive Winners
November 15, 2022: St. Serra Parent Education Series - Raising Holistically Well-Grounded Children
November 14, 2022: Giving Week Results
October 4, 2022: Candlelight Vigil for Grace Scheipe '19
September 2, 2022: St. Serra Updates
August 30, 2022: St. Serra Welcomes New Director of Campus Safety
August 23, 2022: Display Traffic Placards
August 19, 2022: Back to School Updates
August 5, 2022: St. Serra Catholic School 2022-2023 School Year Information
2022-2023 ST. SERRA SPOTLIGHT
Teacher Spotlight: Mrs. Jessica Miyashiro
This week, we are getting to know Mrs. Jessica Miyashiro, Preschool Teacher at St. Serra, and known to her students as “Miss Jessica.” Miss Jessica was a parent volunteer at St. Serra initially, and eventually joined our staff as an assistant in Transitional Kindergarten in 2017. Now working in our Preschool, Miss Jessica finds that she truly enjoys working with small children. “I enjoy the innocence in Preschool,” she shares. “I get to create an entertaining, engaging and creative classroom. My goal is to promote learning as well as social, cognitive and emotional development. Each day brings unexpected learning experiences as the children engage with each other.” One of the many things Miss Jessica’s class focuses on is growing closer to God everyday. For Lent they have planted gardens to grow alongside the students, and they are anticipating blooms by Easter.
Miss Jessica attended Azusa Pacific University, majoring in Human Development and minoring in English. She graduated from the school’s integrated Bachelors and teaching credential program in 2003. In addition to working at St. Serra, she has been the Early Childhood Coordinator at San Francisco Solano Catholic Church for the past five years. Her role at Solano involves welcoming young families to become involved in their faith. Prior to working at St. Serra, Miss Jessica enjoyed teaching kindergarten and fifth grade in the Diocese of San Bernardino, and third grade in the Diocese of Los Angeles. Her involvement in her parish and in being a teacher at Catholic schools has proven to be a vocation and a calling for Miss Jessica, as she loves sharing her faith with others.
Miss Jessica is married to Mr. Miyashiro, one of our very own second grade teachers at St. Serra. They have been married for fourteen years. They have two daughters who are students at St. Serra as well. Their oldest daughter, Jamie, will graduate from eighth grade at the end of this school year. Their youngest, Jenna, is currently in sixth grade. Spending time at St. Serra is definitely a family affair! “We are so proud of our Serra Bears,” says Miss Jessica. “[We] know that St. Serra has prepared them for their [future] educational and spiritual journeys.”
Teacher Spotlight: Mrs. Stephanie Leavey (March 12, 2023)
As the teacher for Advanced Plus ELA and Math for Grades Two and Four, Mrs. Stephanie Leavey finds that working with different age groups is especially rewarding. She shares, “I get to see the students in two different stages of development.” She also enjoys bringing her experience as a former Catholic school student into her role at St. Serra, remembering fondly, “how kind and patient the teachers and nuns were at my elementary school.”
Mrs. Leavey attended Catholic school herself, starting in Kindergarten and continuing through her senior year of high school. She believes her faith was strengthened as a result of being able to talk and learn about religion at school. She is a graduate of Chapman University and worked in the Garden Grove Unified School District, teaching first and second grades, until she had her first child. She feels fortunate that she was able to stay home with her children when they were little. She returned to teaching when her youngest child was in first grade, which is when she first started St. Serra.
Mrs. Leavey’s husband, Greg, is also a teacher. He teaches U.S. History to eighth graders at Corona Del Mar Middle School. They are looking forward to celebrating twenty-three years of marriage this July. Both of their children, Emily and Kellen, attended school at St. Serra from TK through eighth grade, and then went on to Santa Margarita Catholic High School (“SM”). Emily is now a sophomore at Butler University in Indianapolis. Their son, Kellen, is a senior at SM and currently deciding on where he will attend college. They also have an Italian greyhound named Finn, who keeps them very busy. He is affectionately referred to as their “third child.”
In her spare time, Mrs. Leavey loves to cook and bake. She is always trying out new recipes, which are not hard to come by due to her sizable collection of cookbooks! A fun fact that she shares: “Right after college graduation my roommate and I were on Supermarket Sweeps and won! My five minutes of fame!”
Mrs. Leavey’s second graders are currently reading The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary. It is the second of three novels they are reading this year - they already read Freckle Juice by Judy Blume, and their next read will be E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. In math they are working on multiplication facts. Her fourth grade students are starting the Sid Fleischman novel, By the Great Horn Spoon!, which is a tale that takes place during the California Gold Rush. In math they are currently enjoying lessons on fractions.
Teacher Spotlight: Mrs. Tricia Crowe (March 5, 2023)
This week we are excited to get to know Mrs. Tricia Crowe! Mrs. Crowe teaches Small Group ELA and Math to Grades Two and Four. “I enjoy getting to work with two different grade levels,” she shares. “It is fun to see how much they learn, grow and change throughout the year.”
Mrs. Crowe received her teaching credential from Concordia University, after which she worked in the Saddleback Unified School District for many years. She was one of the original staff when Robinson Elementary School was established in 1994 in Trabuco Canyon. From there, she went on to Portola Hills Elementary where she shared teaching contracts with Mrs. Howard and Mrs. Jung (both are current St. Serra teachers!). Mrs. Crowe also spent time as an instructional assistant in Special Education, and was the intervention teacher at Serrano Intermediate in Lake Forest.
Mrs. Crowe and her husband, Bill, are currently looking forward to celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary on July 31, 2023. They have three daughters and a one-year-old maltipoo pup named JJ. Their oldest daughter, Holland, is a school counselor at Tesoro High School. Their middle daughter, Macey, lives in San Diego and is an interior designer for a restaurant development company. Their youngest daughter, Delaney, will be graduating from San Diego State University in May of this year, and already has a job lined up as an accountant, starting in the Fall. In her spare time, Mrs. Crowe enjoys taking JJ on walks, trying new restaurants, and most of all, spending time with her family. “My family is the greatest joy of my life,” she says.
Mrs. Crowe’s classes keep busy throughout the school year. Her second-grade class is currently focused on some special projects related to Read Across America and Grandparents and Special Friends Day. In her fourth-grade class, they have been learning about our school’s patron saint, St. Junipero Serra, and are currently finishing up their essays about his life and accomplishments.
Teacher Spotlight: Mr. Brian Allison (February 26, 2023)
Want to know a cool fact about Mr. Brian Allison, one of our Fourth Grade Teachers at St. Serra? He was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and attended high school with NFL quarterback, Tom Brady. He also loves going out to eat at exciting restaurants and considers himself a “foodie.”
At St. Serra, Mr. Allison finds fulfillment teaching fourth grade. He says, “I really enjoy fourth grade because I get to start preparing the students for middle school. I enjoy working with all the fourth graders since we rotate classes throughout the day.”
Mr. Allison feels fortunate to have attended private Catholic schools all his life, including in college. He attributes his deep faith to his Catholic education and upbringing. Before he came to St. Serra, he worked in both the Cypress Unified School District and the Capistrano Unified School District, where he taught multiple elementary grade levels. He feels this experience provided him with the ability to work with students of varying ages and abilities. He draws upon his strong Catholic faith to impart wisdom and life experience to his students, saying “I feel that…my experiences throughout my life have been great examples to my students…[the students] are building a stronger relationship with God as they develop their faith.”
February has proven a busy month for this husband, father of three, and active parishioner of Holy Trinity Catholic Church. His youngest son, Beau, turned two at the beginning of the month, which was followed by the celebration of 17 years of marriage with his wife, Selena. They have two older sons as well; Brian, 12, is in seventh grade at Ladera Ranch Middle School, and Brayden, 9, is in third grade at Oso Grande Elementary. He and Selena met in college, and once they were married, they moved to Orange County. They love traveling! Favorite family vacation spots include Lake Arrowhead and Palm Springs.
Currently in fourth grade, they are preparing to read their second novel of the year in ELA. Students will get to learn more about California history and the Gold Rush in the book, By The Great Horn Spoon, a novel by Sid Fleischman. Mr. Allison always looks forward to reading this book with his class every year, saying, “We get to engage in meaningful discussions, complete fun activities, and conclude the novel with creating a scrapbook project.”
Teacher Spotlight: Mr. Chris Gray (February 19, 2023)
Mr. Chris Gray is a well-known teacher to our middle school students! In addition to teaching history to 6th grade (Ancient Civilizations) and 8th grade (U.S. History), he manages all of our sports programs and teams as our Athletic Director. He has a passion for both teaching and youth sports, sharing, “I most enjoy getting to know my students and forming lasting relationships. Watching students grow and learn is fulfilling to me both inside the classroom and on the courts and field. When students find success and develop new skills, whether in their studies or in sports, I know I have made a difference.”
Mr. Gray has a degree in History from the University of California at Irvine. He received his Crosscultural Language and Academic Development (CLAD) Certificate and teaching credential through Concordia University, also in Irvine. A teacher within the Diocese of Orange for 24 years, Mr. Gray has taught at St. John the Baptist in Costa Mesa, Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, and St. Simon and Jude in Huntington Beach. Once a former student himself at both St. John the Baptist and Mater Dei, he feels called to teach in Catholic schools. One of the things he remembers most about being in school is playing sports. He says, “Some of my best friendships, to this day, were made in the eighth grade and high school playing sports.” Because of this, Mr. Gray tries to make sure to include as many students as possible in sports at St. Serra, in hopes that they will have similar positive experiences and memories.
Mr. Gray and his wife, Barbara, also a teacher, live in Huntington Beach. They have a very active gray labrador named Kody, who enjoys getting up early for three-mile morning walks. When they are not working, the Grays enjoy riding their bikes to the beach, kayaking in the harbor and swimming in their pool. They also enjoy traveling (their most recent vacation included a visit to Boston, Massachusetts, where they walked the Freedom Trail and visited many historical locations) and going to concerts (Mr. Gray loves the band U2 and has seen them in concert more than two dozen times!).
And yet, at the end of the day, Mr. Gray’s love of sports dictates where he spends most of this time. During the Winter sports season, for example, Mr. Gray can also be found running the Varsity basketball team through practice drills at Edison High School in Huntington Beach, where he has been the team’s assistant coach for 13 years. His favorite quote is one from John Wooden: “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” To Mr. Gray, it means that everyone is good at something, “we just have to find out what that something is!”
Teacher Spotlight: Mrs. Angela Johnson (February 12, 2023)
Mrs. Angela Johnson wears many hats at St. Serra! Her primary role is as Educational Technology Coach Teacher, in which she trains and supports the teachers as they learn new digital tools and online platforms, and helps them effectively integrate technology into the classroom. Her job includes creating video tutorials for both teachers and students, working closely with our Information Systems Department, and managing all educational software including our Learning Management System (LMS), Canvas. In addition, she also serves as the Advisor for the SerraVision Crew and Director for the Chromebook Boot Camps during the summer. Says Mrs. Johnson, “I enjoy being able to use my skills in technology and my knowledge as an educator to help others! I also love working with our seventh and eighth grade students on SerraVision to plan each morning’s broadcast and bring our faith community together in prayer.
Mrs. Johnson graduated from Santa Margarita Catholic High School (SMCHS) in 1995, and went on to earn a Bachelors of Arts degree in Elementary Education from Saint Mary’s College - Notre Dame. She began her teaching career in 1999 as a first grade teacher here at St. Serra. Two years later, she was teaching in St. Serra’s newly established Primary Technology Lab, as appointed by our Founding Principal, Mrs. Audrey Tellers. She later earned a Masters degree in Education (with a specialization in Educational Technology) from National University, and held numerous teaching positions in both public and private schools, including a stint in Europe where she taught at the American Overseas School of Rome. She eventually returned to both California and St. Serra; she is now in her fifth year as our EdTech Coach.
Mrs. Johnson’s husband, Tom, is a Senior Product Marketing Manager in Critical Care for ICU Medical. In addition to being on staff at St. Serra, Mrs. Johnson is also a proud
“mama bear” to her own three Serra Bears! Their son, Dean, graduated from St. Serra in 2022, and is now a freshman at SMCHS. Their daughters, Avery and Paige, are currently in second grade and TK at St. Serra, respectively. They spend their weekends taking Tori (their Rhodesian Ridgeback) on trail hikes, rolling out wrestling mats in their garage for family Jiu Jitsu matches, and cheering on their kids at soccer games and wrestling tournaments.
Currently, Mrs. Johnson is supporting our teachers in evaluating materials and digital platforms for a new ELA curriculum they will be piloting. She shares, “Whether it’s troubleshooting software, meeting with educational software reps, working with teachers, or supporting parents and students, each day brings something new and challenging my way!”
Teacher Spotlight: Mrs. Melodie Kabashima (February 5, 2023)
Meet Mrs. Melodie Kabashima, Middle School Teacher for Grade 5 Science and Grade 6 Religion at St. Serra. Mrs. Kabashima truly enjoys teaching this age group. “I love teaching 5th and 6th grade,” she says. “The students are fun and overall eager to learn.”
Mrs. Kabashima received her teaching credential from the University of California at Irvine. She took some time off from her teaching career to be home with her two children when they were born. That was a number of years ago. Now, her son and oldest child, is a freshman at the University of California at Riverside. Her daughter is a sophomore at The Orange County School of the Arts and a dancer in musical theater. Both kids are also talented in playing the piano.
During the years when Mrs. Kabashima was not actively teaching in the classroom, she found a passion for teaching fitness classes. She says, “I love all dance cardio!” In her spare time, she still teaches Zumba and strength training classes at the YMCA.
Currently, Mrs. Kabashima’s 5th graders are working on an Ecosystems project, and learning about how living and nonliving things are connected in an ecosystem. Her 6th grade Religion students have a retreat coming up at the Sacred Heart Retreat center in April. They are looking forward to learning from the Sisters of Sacred Heart and attending Mass with them as part of the retreat.
Teacher Spotlight: Ms. Sheela Rao (January 22, 2023)
Meet Ms. Sheela Rao, Lower School Art Teacher for Grades TK - 4 at St. Serra. As our art teacher, she helps our students find their creative and artistic side. “I love encouraging students to be creative,” says Ms. Rao. “I want them to explore their own ideas and express themselves, in the form of art.”
Ms. Rao received her Bachelors of Art from California State University - Fullerton. She also has her multiple subject teaching credential and extra coursework, focusing on teaching art to elementary-aged students. This is her nineteenth year teaching art at St. Serra. Prior to joining St. Serra, Ms. Rao helped to organize, and volunteered in, the “Meet the Master’s Art Program” for the Capistrano Unified School District.
When Ms. Rao is not working, she loves to spend time with her family, go on hikes, create her own art, work on home renovation, and take on fun projects. She has one daughter and has been blessed with two grandsons. Ms. Rao’s oldest grandson is now a third-year Serra Bear, in our current Kindergarten class. “We really love our school,” says Ms. Rao.
Currently, Ms. Rao’s TK and Kindergarten classes are learning about perspective and the art concept known as a “resist” using pastels and watercolors to create a snowman. In first grade, students are focusing on still life art and creating a gumball machine using pastels. For our 2nd and 3rd grade students, they are learning about the French Expressionist Artist Georges Rouault and recreating his stained-glass themed portraits with pastels. And finally, our 4th grade students are currently creating a realistic depiction of their assigned California Mission, which will serve as the cover for their 4th grade written report. So much fun here in our St. Serra art classes, thanks to Ms. Rao!
Teacher Spotlight: Mrs. Kim Biasca (January 15, 2023)
Meet Mrs. Kim Biasca, our Creativity Lab teacher for students in TK through Grade 4. Mrs. Biasca is integral in bringing our students project-based, hands-on learning in the subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEAM). Students also focus on 21st Century Learning Skills, such as collaboration, problem-solving and critical thinking while completing each project.
She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of California at Merced. Prior to coming to St. Serra, she was a 1st grade teacher at St. Catherine of Siena Parish School for three years. She has also worked as a Teaching Assistant and Substitute Teacher at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School and St. Anne School. Mrs. Biasca has two children aged two years and nine months. Her husband works in the medical field.
Currently, many of the younger students are working in circuitry and focusing on the 21st Century Learning Skill of social responsibility. Meanwhile, Grades 3 and 4 are currently working with a variety of manipulatives, including structural building, coding, animation and circuitry.