Maria TheoniCentral Testing Coordinator and Homeschool Teacher
My name is María Isabel Thoeni. I live in Salinas with my husband, Nick, whose free time is spent practicing archery and getting sooty over his blacksmith’s forge. I have three children under 10 who live with us too (thank goodness!). Tristan loves to explore nature and engineer things. William delights in anything that involves counting or cheese. Liliana spends a lot of her time playing with her dollhouse and pretending to be a cat. My favorite pastimes are gardening, yoga, baking, reading, hiking… actually, I enjoy a lot of things!! Our gift of life together is a joy.
I value family and the individual gifts we have all been given. When our gifts are nurtured, we can use them to spread a community of love and improve our world. This philosophy has guided a lot of my career and life choices. I began working in education as an inclusion aide to serve students with special needs. I did this for two years before I pursued a teaching credential. I worked as a teacher in a “brick and mortar school” for 2 years in East San Jose, then 2 years in San Francisco’s Western Addition in a Spanish bilingual program. Finally, I spent 5 years teaching in Soledad.
For the next three years, I homeschooled my son, Tristan, and served homeschooling families through a different independent study style charter school. Inspire Charter School is the first place that I have worked where family and student learning truly seems to be at the forefront of every choice. I will do my best to support you in realizing your hope for your children’s education.
Sheila WalshHomeschool Teacher
Hi, I’m Sheila, and I’m thrilled to be starting at Inspire. I live in Santa Cruz with my husband and children, Taegan, Lazuli and Juliet. I homeschooled them for ten years, and I like to consider myself a “guardian of childhood.” I believe in homeschool because it creates a strong family culture while allowing children to be children. Children learn at different paces, and giving them the space to learn creates so many amazing possibilities. I am grateful for the experiences I have had both in the home and in the classroom, because before I was a homeschooling mom, I was a high school history teacher for six years in Gilroy and Scotts Valley. I received my single subject teaching credential from Dominican University in 1997. In addition to education, I am also passionate about nutrition, conscious parenting and nourishing healthy families. I have combined these passions into a podcast, The Moms I Know, as well as a website which supports healthy families. Besides the literature, road tripping was the highlight of our homeschool journey. We are an adventure family, and homeschooling allowed us to be on the road and take advantage of our national parks and our beautiful state. I am looking forward to supporting families in San Benito and Monterey Counties to be successful in homeschooling. I want to inspire families to know that homeschooling is a possibility in changing the world because when children are valued they will contribute positively to our world.
Sara Maguiresmaguire@inspireschools.org Homeschool Teacher
Hi there! Throughout my teaching career, my focus has always been on developing thoughtful and positive relationships with students and families. I believe in nurturing the whole child while encouraging critical thinking and creativity by finding the best paths for growth and achievement. I have a B.A. in Art Studio from UC Santa Barbara (1995) and a Multiple Subject BCLAD Teaching Credential from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (1997). I have taught at a Monart Drawing School, Title I schools, and a Spanish Immersion charter school. After eight years as a full-time public school teacher, I started a family and became the most important kind of educator of all--a parent. Since then, I have been a classroom volunteer and a substitute teacher for the Carmel Unified School District. Joining Inspire, I am excited to be working with families to create wonderful and meaningful learning experiences! I enjoy running, hiking, reading, writing, and making art. I learn something new every day with my husband and two children.
Linda Empleolindae@inspireschools.org Homeschool Teacher - Regional Coordinator
Hello! My name is Linda Empleo, and I am very excited about beginning this new journey with Inspire Charter School. I will be serving as a Homeschool Teacher and Regional Coordinator forMonterey and San Benito Counties. My deepest, heartfelt desire is to further build and create a trusting and supportive fellowship of homeschooling families in this area. I hold my BS in Communication Disorders and Sciences from SanJose State University, a M.Ed in Multicultural Education from National University, and a CLAD Multiple-Subject Teaching Credential. I’ve worked with families through the home-based charter school option for almost 20 years. Prior to earning my degrees, I was a homeschooling mother to my own children, to whom I taught all grade levels at different times. When I was new to the homeschool world, I hoped and prayed to find a mentor to guide me along the way. It was difficult to find others who had walked this path. I have made it my goal to become that person for others. I am a Monterey Peninsula native, and it continues to be my home. I have five wonderful adult children,and four adorable grandbabies who I love to spend time with. In my downtime, I enjoy gardening, reading, hiking and traveling. I consider myself a lifelong learner, and am currently learning to play ukulele. I am hoping to add some art classes to my schedule in the near future. I truly love the homeschooling community and consider it my “baby.” I hold great pride in seeing my students develop to their greatest potential, as would a mother to her child. My aim is to build trust and mutual respect for each student, parent, and family. I strive to assist my charges in developing and nurturing a love of learning. My goal is your educational success.
Kim Souderkimberlys@inspireschools.org Regional Coordinator and Homeschool Teacher
My name is Kim Souder and I am a teacher, homeschool mom, and Regional Coordinator for Inspire Charter Schools in Central California. I earned my degree from Fresno Pacific University and went on to teach 6th grade for many years in a traditional school. My family is currently living in Chowchilla where my husband is the Worship Pastor at Valley Harvest Church. Since my roots are in the Fresno area and my home is in the Madera/Merced area, I work in both regions. Inspire has provided me with the opportunity to homeschool my own children while keeping a teaching job. My husband and I have three children. Twins who are graduating this year and a son who is starting junior high in the fall. We are pursuing adopting a fourth child sometime this year. As a teacher and a mom, I desire to provide educational experiences for my children that are unique to their individual needs. On this journey, I have tried many different elementary and high school curriculums and learning options with my kids on the quest to find what works best for each of them. I have seen, firsthand, how homeschooling has made a difference in my son, who has ADHD, and provided extra time for my kids to pursue their individual interests. My passion is to find a learning path for each child which values who they are and inspires and equips them to grow and to learn. As an Inspire teacher, I desire to join my families on their journey and offer encouragement and support as they seek to meet the individual needs of their own children.
Katie Millikankmillikan@inspireschools.org Homeschool Teacher
Hi, I’m Katie! I graduated from Azusa Pacific University in 2008 with a BA in Psychology. After graduating, I spent a few years working as a Flight Attendant and traveling which was so fun! However, I always felt called to teaching so I went back to school and received my Teaching Credential. I have five years of public and private school teaching experience and I’ve spent the last few years home with my babies. I am married with a blended family with five kids ages 15, 13, 11, 3, and almost 1! It’s a busy but very sweet life! God is good!
I have a huge heart for homeschooling. Growing up I experienced private school, public school, and homeschooling. This gave me a unique perspective on the different choices and the benefits of homeschooling. In addition, dyslexia runs in our family so I have done extensive research on how homeschooling can be a perfect option for students with special needs. Personally, I have more of an eclectic homeschool perspective (whatever works!), but I do favor Charlotte Mason a bit. Researching different curriculum and finding a perfect fit for each individual student and family is one of my favorite hobbies! Working for Inspire and getting to support families on their own homeschool journey is pretty much my dream job!
Leslie Nebekerleslien@inspireschools.org Homeschool Teacher
Greetings! My name is Leslie Nebeker and I live in Merced, the heart of the Central Valley. I began my career teaching reading in a middle school in Utah for just one year before dropping out of public education to raise a family. Six children and 20 years later, I completed the requirements for my California teaching credential. Since then, I have worked ten years as a reading clinician in Merced, eleven years as a virtual charter school teacher, and this is my second year supporting homeschool families for Inspire Charter Schools. Some of the things that inspire me are my husband and family (which now includes 13 grandchildren), teaching, traveling, good books, and the wonders of nature. As a teacher, my goal is to find a learning path for each child which values who they are and inspires and equips them to grow, to learn, and to meet their educational potential. I am very excited to be a part of the Inspire Central team and honored to have the opportunity to support you as you seek to meet the individual needs of your own children.