Instructors

Lisa Allen

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor

Lisa Allen earned a bachelor’s degree in human development at Warner Pacific College in Portland, Ore. as well as earning her K-8 teaching credential for Oregon and Washington. She taught 2nd grade in Vancouver and Washington, community CPR classes in a hospital, homeschooled her twins for 7 years, and, most recently, she has taught Biola Youth Academics junior high classes including:

  • Math
  • History

Lisa Allen has a passion to help students enjoy math and she does so in a relational context....

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Janice Babad

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor

Janice Babad grew up in Washington State where she earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Central Washington University with a minor in psychology. She graduated with honors from CWU while maintaining involvement in musical theater, orchestra, vocal ensembles, worship in her local church, and swimming competitively. While working as a paraprofessional in a high school counseling department, Janice attended or led seminars in the following:

  • Suicide Prevention
  • Children of the Alcoholic
  • ...

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Anna Barber

  • BYA Torrey Academy Tutor

Anna Barber graduated from the Torrey Honors Institute and Biola University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in English. Her experience of the classical education model began as a Torrey Academy student, and continued through her undergraduate education at Torrey Honors and her studies at Oxford University. Anna is passionate about learning, the life of the mind, literature, writing poetry and fiction, and helping others cultivate a love of goodness, truth,...

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Susan Basile

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor
  • BYA Electives Instructor

Sue Basile received her associate's degree from Pasadena City College and then pursued a degree in fine art photography from Cal State Long Beach. She has experience teaching history, photography and art classes for the last 15 years; and teaching at Biola Youth Academics since 2008. Sue admits to being a history nut as she watches programs and reads books as often as possible to share new exciting facts with her class. She enjoys being able to tap into her knowledge and experience of art...

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Jill Bedell

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor

Jill Bedell achieved a doctorate in Christian education at Biola University from Talbot School of Theology. She also received a master’s degree in student development from Azusa Pacific University and a bachelor’s degree from Westmont College. Overall Jill has 35 years of teaching experience. She has a great passion for teaching from a Christian perspective in the following areas:

  • Personality/Career Development
  • Christian Education
  • World History

Outside of the classroom, Jill spends her time...

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Dana Bowers

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor

Dana Bowers received a bachelor’s degree from California Lutheran University, and continued her love of learning through homeschooling her three children. She has a special love for history and literature and has been an instructor for Biola Youth Academics since 2009. Dana enjoys travel, especially to national parks and historic sites. She also loves classes at the gym, coffee, the beach, Scrabble, knitting and crocheting, hiking and good books. God, her family, friends and students teach...

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Chelsea Bryant-Hassler

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor

Amy Day

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor

Amy Day was homeschooled through high school, and then went on to obtain a degree in mechanical engineering from Cal Poly Pomona. Her studies in engineering included a two-year sequence in calculus-based physics. She then spent four years working as a project engineer in the oil/gas/energy field before transitioning to be a stay-at-home mom. She passed the CBEST and has past experience tutoring math at all levels from elementary through college. Amy has been married to her husband Chris for...

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Barbara Dickerson

  • BYA Elementary Academics Instructor
  • Teaching Math

Dawn Dyer

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor

Dawn Dyer has been an instructor for Biola Youth Academics since 2003 and is certified by The Institute for Excellence in Writing. She began her love for language and as a medical transcriptionist where she gained knowledge of grammar rules and Latin roots. After receiving her medical assistant and x-ray technician certification from Mesa Community College, Dawn spent 10 years in the medical field. She received her medical transcription certification from Ventura Community College and is...

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Jessica Ehmann

  • BYA Elementary Academics Instructor
  • Teaching Language Arts

Lindsay Estrada

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor

Lindsay Estrada comes to Biola Youth Academics with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology from San Jose State University, a master’s degree in teaching from Chapman University and multiple-subject teaching credentials. She taught elementary school in the public and private sectors in her early teaching years, but found her niche in teaching and tutoring high school students in the following subjects:

  • Physical science
  • Chemistry
  • Algebra 2

Lindsay’s interest in teaching began when she...

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Susan Fosmark

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor

Susan Fosmark earned her Bachelor of Arts degrees in English, Spanish, and Psychology from University of California, Irvine where she then pursued her English Teaching Credential. Subsequently, she taught in Downey Unified for five years before she switched professions to become a stay-at-home mom. Her greatest passion is to disciple children in the love and grace of the Lord, Jesus Christ and is actively involved at her church’s children’s & women’s ministries. It brings her great joy to...

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Brian Funke

  • BYA Torrey Academy Tutor
  • Star Academics Instructor

Brian Funke is a graduate of Biola University as well as Torrey Honors Institute. He loves reading big books with long, confusing words just for the fun of it; he loves to learn, teach and have fun doing both! Along with teaching logic and world history for BYA, Brian also spends his time volunteering at the youth group at his church (WACC), tutoring individuals in English and history and reading many, many books at the Biola Library. One of his biggest passions is to help students grow in...

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Chaoyang Gao

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor

Mia Helman

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor

Mia Helman graduated from Point Loma Nazarene University and received a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies with a minor in Spanish. Since 2014, she has taught for Biola Youth Academics in the following areas:

  • General Literature and Composition
  • Spanish
Before BYA, Mia Helman has taught full time for the Escondido Unified School District, as well as co-op classes through various homeschool organizations. Mia Helman has a passion for the homeschooling community and hopes to continue encouraging...

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Kaitlyn Henning

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor

Kaitlyn Henning was classically educated at home for the majority of her K–12 education. This included Euclidian geometry, Latin and classic literature. Then, she continued on to Biola University and completed her B.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies. During this time, she worked at a private Christian school, taught in church settings, and held teaching roles in non-profits to gain practical teaching, training and mentoring skills. She is a people-oriented, positive person who has a...

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Luke Hernandez

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor

Luke Hernandez graduated from California State University, Fullerton with a bachelor’s degree in communications with a concentration in advertising. Luke is passionate about art. Whether it be photography or graphic design, he always finds a way to express his creativity. On weekends, he spends his time with friends and family.

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Collette Holzer

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor

Collette Holzer earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology with an emphasis in marine biology. Her love for God’s design started in high school. During the last 10 years, she has taught many science subjects, but focuses on life sciences. She has been an instructor at Biola Youth Academics since 2012. Her passion is to bring glory to the Lord through science and enjoys bringing new discoveries into the classroom. Collette Holzer desires that her students embrace the intricacies of the world and...

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Patrick Lavey

  • BYA Star Academics

Patrick Lavey graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and received his Master of Science in Counseling Psychology from California Baptist University. He spent a year working as an elementary school counselor. Since then, he has continued to teach psychology while also working for a recruiting firm that specializes in executive level engineering and construction positions. Patrick loves teaching and since 2011 has been developing his...

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Marcia Lee

  • BYA Elementary Academics Instructor

Marcia Lee earned a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies with a specialization in mathematics. She has taught various grade levels for more than 10 years and is excited to instruct for Biola Youth Academics. Marcia homeschooled her two children and one now attends Biola University. Her hobbies include gardening, jogging, hiking, and anything outdoors! A favorite verse is Psalm 16:6, "The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance."...

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Kelsey Lick

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor

Kelsey Lick earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and a Master of Science in Computer Science from University of California, Riverside. She taught computer programming at the university from 1997-2002 and has taught middle school and high school math at multiple charter schools. She has been teaching with Biola Youth Academics since 2014. Kelsey has been married for over 20 years and has two high school children. She has a passion for teaching and absolutely loves math. Finding patterns...

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Michelle Lum

  • BYA Torrey Academy Tutor

Michelle Lum is an alumna of the Torrey Honors Institute and Biola University where she graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Fine Art in Studio Art and a Bachelor of Art in Music. Once a Torrey Academy student herself, Michelle seeks to bring the intentionality and thoughtfulness developed from this classical education into her work as a teacher, artist, and musician. She is currently pursuing a Master of Divinity degree at Gateway Seminary. Michelle loves encouraging students to...

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Monica Marksbury

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor

Monica Marksbury has a bachelor's degree in English from Biola University. She has a passion for her students to see God's glory in every subject and in all aspects of life. She loves teaching and finding creative ways to help all students embrace learning. If the child doesn't fit the box, jump outside of the box with them! Monica and her husband, Andy, are the proud parents of Drew, who recently graduated from Torrey Academy, and Molly, who is a BYA student. They have been homeschooling for...

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Naomi Martiniuc

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor

Naomi Martiniuc is currently enrolled in Biola University's School of Nursing and has been tutoring and teaching a variety of subjects since high school. Though her future career is in the healthcare setting, she has a passion for working with kids, whether it be in school work or the health field. Throughout high school and while at Biola, she loved studying both the beauty of math and the flexibility of writing and interpretation of reading in English. In whatever spare time she has, Naomi...

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Alicia Mata

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor

Alicia Mata holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from the University of Phoenix. In addition has earned certificates in medical assisting, including back office, front office and billing, anatomy and physiology and a limited x-ray license. She has six years of homeschool training teaching all required high school courses as well as 25 years of teaching experience that includes:

  • Medical Assisting
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • CPR
  • Career Development
  • Teacher Leadership Training

Alicia Mata’s...

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Tessa McQuillan

  • BYA Torrey Academy Tutor

Tessa McQuillan graduated from Torrey Honors Institute and Biola University with a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies. Currently she is attending Fuller Theological Seminary for a master’s degree in theology.

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Kathryn Mercado

  • BYA Elementary Academics Instructor
  • Teaching Math

Michael Mills

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor

Mike Mills graduated from the University of California, Davis with a degree in Wildlife and Fishery Biology. After serving in full-time ministry for two years he then earned teaching credentials in mathematics and science. Mike later earned a master’s degree in Mathematics Education from California State University, Dominguez Hills. He taught for 25 years in the public school system, twice being honored as teacher of the year for his school. Mike started teaching for BYA in 2014 while also...

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Michael Munoz

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor

JD Neal

  • BYA Torrey Academy Tutor

JD Neal attended Biola University where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies. Currently, he attends Fuller Theological Seminary pursuing a master’s degree in theology. His experience with the Torrey Honors Institute has shown him the power and beauty of classical education and learning in the context of a loving community. JD Neal is a husband, a student, a theologian, a pastor, and a lover of community. He is part of Housechurch in Whittier, and he loves to see...

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Thien-Ai Nguyen

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor

Thien-Ai Nguyen graduated from the University of California, Irvine with degrees in biology and history. She also received her Master of Education degree from Biola University and holds single subject credentials in social science and biological sciences. She taught middle school in the Santa Ana Unified School District for a few years before starting a family and has been homeschooling her two sons ever since. Thien-Ai is passionate about helping youth and is a youth group leader and Sunday...

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Debra Nishi

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor

Debra Nishi graduated with a Bachelor of Science from University of California, Los Angeles and later earned a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. She has taught in public schools, has homeschooled and privately tutored students, as well as been an instructor for Biola Youth Academics for the past several years. Debra is married and has a daughter who is recently married. Her favorite pastime is to study the Bible. Other favorite things include traveling to historic places, training at the...

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Vreyah Palmantier

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor

Vreyah Palmantier has several years of teaching and TA experience in her pocket at both the high school and community college levels. Along with ASL, she taught Challenge A for Classical Conversations, which included the subjects of geography, Latin,and rhetoric. Vreyah married Jason in 2015 and they have a beautiful daughter named Zipporah, who is their purest joy! Vreyah is blessed to work with her all of her passions: ASL, theater and children. Along with teaching, she is a stage manager...

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Blake Pannell

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor

Blake earned his undergraduate degree in marketing from Arizona State University and his master’s from California State University, East Bay. Upon graduation, he worked primarily in the finance division of Fortune 500 companies for 20 years as a senior director until starting his own insurance company. In addition to his own corporation, he's taught for the past seven years at Classical Conversations. Blake has been playing golf since he was 4 years old ... so, you might say it's a passion of...

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Alea Peister

  • BYA Torrey Academic Tutor
  • Star Academics Instructor

Alea Peister is a graduate of Biola University who holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. She is also an alumna of the Torrey Honors Institute, where she watched classical teaching methods cultivate intellectual humility, community and love of beauty in her and her peers. She knows she is just beginning a lifelong pursuit of learning, and is eager to invite students into the same journey. A favorite Biola memory is the semester she spent at Oxford University. While there, she focused...

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Linnea Perez

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor

Linnea Perez earned a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and has worked as a materials engineer/chemist for seven years at Rockwell International, supporting the space shuttle program. She has experience teaching elementary through high school age students through Rockwell and Boeing Summer Science Camp workshops, numerous homeschool co-ops, as well as Biola Youth Academics. Linnea is married and homeschools her four children. Teaching science is one of her passions. She believes in a...

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Antonio Rodriguez

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor

Antonio (Tony Jr.) Rodriguez graduated high school early and went to the Calvary Chapel School of Worship. After graduation, he knew he was called to continue studying theology. He continued this path and majored in Biblical Studies with a minor in History. Tony started teaching high school around 5 years ago at Calvary Chapel New Beginnings, La Puente. He started teaching when he sensed a desire from God to teach and serve young people. That desire never stopped! Currently, he teaches high...

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Ginny Schneider

  • BYA Torrey Academy Tutor

Ginny Schneider completed her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature at Biola University and is an alumna of the Torrey Honors Institute. As an undergraduate student she studied both Shakespeare and C.S. Lewis at Oxford University. Ginny has a "Victorian Museum of Curiosities" type collection of interests and hobbies. She is fascinated by collecting things, subjects and ideas that don't commonly go together. For example she's fond of poetry, less so of math, but loves each better when the two...

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Frances Sheegog

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor

Frances Sheegog received her Bachelor of Science in Engineering from University of California, Irvine and then went to work for a large municipal utility as a mechanical engineer. She switched careers to full-time wife and mother when the first of her three children was born. With the help of her husband, they home schooled all three children from kindergarten through high school graduation. During and since that time, she has taught junior high and high school math and science classes in...

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Tiffany Somerville

  • BYA Elementary Academics Instructor
  • Teaching ASL

Bryant Stone

  • BYA Elementary Academics Instructor

Bryant Stone attended Biola University and earned his bachelor’s degree with triple honors. He worked with Biola's education department for a number of years before joining the Biola Youth Academics team in 2016 as a math instructor. Bryant grew up in sunny San Diego where he and his four brothers were home schooled since elementary school. He loves teaching math in a fun and accessible way that helps students connect with the material and often uses his love and knowledge of games to create...

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Ruth Thompson

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor

Ruth Thompson graduated from Biola University and earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a minor in Bible. She worked for several years in the corporate industry as a training and education specialist. During that time she earned certification in various programs for organizational development and employee training. Ruth is fluent in Spanish and has applied it in her professional and personal communication for many years. Ruth and her husband have been married for 25...

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Sarah Thompson

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor

Sarah Thompson graduated from Mississippi College with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and a minor in Computer Science. She went to work for a major aerospace company for two years before resigning to attend graduate school. Currently, she is pursuing a Master of Science in Applied Mathematics at California Baptist University. Since junior high, Sarah has been tutoring mathematics to students of various ages and learning abilities. Education is one of her main passions and she desires to...

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Sarah Thornton

  • BYA Elementary Academics Instructor

Sarah Thornton graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a bachelor’s degree in general biology. She has taught her kids at home for the last three years, and over the last two years she has lead a science co-op for homeschool kids from her church. Sarah Thornton has been married for 13 years and has two children (ages 6 and 11). She enjoys painting, playing the ukulele, making crafts and learning more science. She likes to teach her own kids using projects and short...

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Renee Van Eck

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor

Renee Van Eck earned her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education with a general science group major from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich. She always had a love for science, her favorite subject in school. After earning her degree, she taught a combined first/second grade classroom for more than five years. Renee and her husband chose to homeschool their three children through high school. Currently they are all attending her alma mater, Calvin College. She began teaching for Biola Youth...

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C Lynn Wagenet

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor

Lynn Wagenet graduated from University of California, Los Angeles with a bachelor’s degree in economics, and earned a master’s degree in Christian education from Talbot School of Theology at Biola University. She has been teaching for Biola Youth Academics since 2006, in the following subjects:

  • Government
  • Economics
  • American History
  • American Literature
  • Geography
She especially enjoys sharing the synergy between these different subjects with her students. Lynn has been married for over 36 years and...

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Katelynn Wahlsteen

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor

Katelynn Wahlsteen graduated from California State University, Fullerton, where she earned a degree in English literature with an emphasis in secondary education. She has served the Anaheim Union High School District in multiple content areas and is currently pursuing a teaching credential. As an alumna of BYA, Katelynn is passionate about giving back to students and preparing their minds for higher-level thinking as she offers new perspectives on classical texts.

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Susan Weaver

  • BYA Star Academics Instructor

Susan Weaver is a credentialed teacher and has a master's degree in education with a specialty in reading. She enjoys teaching literature, composition and speech classes for children of all ages. Susan and her husband have homeschooled since 1987.

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