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TEAM

Our team is dedicated to designing for what humans need for growth and flourishing.

Andrew Collins

Founding School Director

I believe there is no better way to spend one’s life than to support the joyful flourishing of others. In addition to Managing Director for Phoenix Modern, I serve as the President & CEO of New Learning Ventures, our affiliated nonprofit corporation. Previously, I was the Senior Director for School Development at the Arizona Charter Schools Association and co-founded New Schools For Phoenix where I supported the design and launch of numerous schools serving low-income communities within the urban core of Phoenix. My greatest passions in life are to love others, imagine new opportunities, and inspire people to be their best selves. In addition to Phoenix Modern, I support Acton Academy Phoenix, a micro independent school and the Arizona Children’s Business Fair, a one day event for aspiring young entrepreneurs in K-8th grade. I love living in Phoenix with my wife Alicia and our brave and curious 2 year old explorer, Alina Rose.

Email Andrew

Jessica Taylor

Founding Program Director

I often say that I began my career in education while running birthday parties at an ice cream shop in my college town. I discovered that kids are funny and creative- they are eternally optimistic- they have an endless supply of energy and enthusiasm. And so, in between games of Hot Potato and Simon Says and over mountains of sprinkles and whipped cream, I committed myself to working with children for the rest of my career. Since 2005, I have worked with children of all ages, ranging from preschoolers to undergrads, and have supported hundreds of new and aspiring educators across the Valley. I have completed advanced coursework in Developmental Psychology and have a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership. I am an avid reader and researcher and believe that the learning environment can be as magical and joyful as a birthday party at an ice cream parlor (hopefully a little less sticky).

Email Jessica

Charlie Kaplan

Founding Operations Director

I am from Chicago and I like to build things. From electric go-carts in my dorm room to hyper-targeted local advertising campaigns and scalable school systems. My journey in education started five years ago when moved out to Arizona to help build the highest performing high school in Maryvale. With a double major in Economics and Business Management along with a focus in Entrepreneurship from Purdue University, I am excited to be reimagining school with our Phoenix Modern team! I love the challenge of trying new things and exploring new places. When I am not checking items off of a checklist you can find me on a basketball court or out for a bike ride. If you see me riding my bike to work go ahead and honk as you pass by.

Email Charlie

Monika Phillips

Lead Primary Guide

Like tumbleweeds, my family and I are lucky to have landed in this beautiful valley, after moving from Poland, to France, California, and Indonesia. As a passionate life-long learner, I am honored to be joining the Phoenix Modern Community. Although I have facilitated learning of people as young as six months and as mature as seventy years, my longest professional commitment has been to five, six, and seven years olds. I am proud to say that in the past fifteen years I have taught kids from sixty-five nationalities. No matter what language they speak, I find it fascinating how young children construct their understanding of the world. To help me do my best in guiding youngsters through their learning journeys, I have studied Teaching English as an Additional Language, Early Childhood Education, and Educational Leadership. When I am not in the classroom, I regularly spend time in nature, in company of interesting people and always… a book.

Email Monika

Alyssa Hoffman

Elementary Guide

I have spent the better part of the last decade teaching in innovative school environments across the nation.  Throughout my years in the classroom, I have experienced the magic that is possible when classrooms encourage children to become active citizens and creative problem solvers. I have developed multiple curriculums that center on social justice issues and authentic learning experiences.  My greatest joy is when my students become aware of their capacity to be agents of change in our world. I love to help children uncover the power that exists within literacy, storytelling, and the arts. We all have a unique story to tell and our stories deserve to be heard.  I have a Bachelor’s degree in Education from The Ohio State University and an advanced degree in Elementary Education from Antioch University Los Angeles. When I am not in the classroom you can find me hiking, browsing books at a local bookstore, or walking my dog Kody. I am excited to make Phoenix Modern part of my story!

Email Alyssa

Liz Wolfe

Elementary Guide

I believe that school should be enjoyable and relevant for children. My vision is to create a learning environment where each child feels valued and respected for being themselves. I strive to equip children to become compassionate and ambitious global citizens who are curious about the world around them. Ultimately, I want them to feel empowered to take action to make the world better in their local communities and beyond! I am originally from Pennsylvania and attended college at the University of Vermont. After college I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer where I gained a true understanding of what it means to focus on the “process” rather than the “product.”   As an agriculture volunteer there, I worked with schools and families to build gardens and promote sustainable farming and somehow learned two new languages: Spanish and Guarani (the indigenous language of Paraguay). After Peace Corps, I taught 4th grade as a Teach for America Corps Member and earned my Master’s degree in Elementary Education from ASU. I am so excited to join the Phoenix Modern community of students, families, and staff, and to embark on this adventure together!

Email Liz

Brianna Spadafora

Lead Elementary Guide

Since childhood I have truly loved learning and communicating with others — from playing school with my twin brother and sister, and helping my mom in her own classroom, to exploring communications and sociology in my time at Penn State University. I found my way back to education when I moved to Phoenix in 2013 to teach 6th grade in Maryvale as a Teach For America corps member. In the years since, I have worked with learners in 1st through 6th grade in Maryvale and central Phoenix. My favorite subjects are science and mathematics, but I also love to read, write in my journal, create paintings, and go outside. I believe that humans thrive on connection and communication. Discussing, creating, laughing, and processing together expands our perspectives as we develop within ourselves the empathy we need to make our world great. I am incredibly excited to continue on my journey of lifelong learning, communicating, and perspective taking with the Phoenix Modern team.

Email Brianna

Tracy Ryan

Middle School Guide

My long and winding path becoming an educator began in college teaching swimming and evolved over the years as I raised my own family.  After completing my Education degree in 2002, I have worked with middle school students supporting them both academically and emotionally as they reached for their goals. These students inspire me daily, building knowledge and skills to reach beyond their known environment to explore the greater world around them.  I believe that education is not just collecting information and checking off skills, but striving to understand how growth prepares us for greater challenges beyond these years. My own educational journey continued analyzing state standards for mathematics with the Arizona Department of Education and adding my own Master’s degree in Natural Sciences. In addition to being a certified teacher, I am a passionate reader, scientist, and budding programmer. My free time has been occupied with coaching robotics competition teams, so feel free to ask me about my robot!  I am excited to be a part of the team here at Phoenix Modern and look forward to guiding students through their own educational journey.

Email Tracy

Meliza Brillantes

Art, Music & Movement Specialist

I’m a certified and licensed teacher, a Star Wars fan, an artist of many sorts and an advocate for social justice issues including accessibility to the arts and quality education. I have built much of my skills and work with diverse populations and marginalized communities. From working in a preschool for homeless children to serving as a doula to refugee families to helping a community build a multi-age one room schoolhouse, I love to share my insight and experience with the people I work with. I have taught, volunteered and organized in various education, social service and arts collaborations in Hawaii, Charlottesville, Virginia, New York, New Jersey and Washington DC communities for over 25 years . I have worked in classrooms and programs from pre-school through high school and also as a trainer of teachers, a court advocate for children, a coop school facilitator, an organizer of arts events in the cities I’ve lived in and as a homeschooling parent. I have always known my purpose in life would be deeply connected with supporting families and amplifying children’s voices in the classroom, in the studio, on paper or in the streets. A mother of three and an avid traveler, I can squeeze in time to create with my family in my home studio and can still bring good energy and passion to my work with children and families. I’m excited that the Phoenix Modern community will be part of my purpose!

Email Meliza

Laurie Engquist

Primary Guide

Children are pretty much my favorite humans on the planet. They are constantly teaching me new things about myself and the world around us. I count it such a privilege to be a small part of their life-long learning journey. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin with a B.S. in Early Childhood /Elementary Education, I began my teaching career with Head Start in Milwaukee, WI. Since then I’ve taught several different grade levels, served as the administrator of a private preschool, and also a private K-5 school. At home, I am mom to 2 amazing daughters, Riley and Reagan, and have also been a licensed foster parent as well. I am passionate about finding purpose in each day, loving people, making an impact in the world and living authentically. I enjoy reading, dark chocolate covered anything, drinking lots of tea, and playing the piano. I am truly honored to be part of this gifted and inspiring Phoenix Modern team and look forward to the new school year together!

Email Laurie

Clarissa Alvarez

Movement & Wellness Specialist

Every culture has its own set of traditions, values and norms. Growing up in a Mexican culture has shown me to value a strong foundation of unity. I always think about my students as a family. We must include and engage everyone to help them succeed, while having high expectations. I graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor in Elementary Education with a Bilingual Emphasis in 2016 and joined Teach for America. Not only did I gain knowledge about equity, but I was able to put it into practice in my classroom. In addition to being a certified teacher and having a Spanish endorsement, I also obtained my Masters in Business Administration from Benedictine University in 2019. I enjoy exercising, reading and spending time with my family. I am so thrilled to be part of Phoenix Modern.

Email Clarissa

Danielle Niccum

Exceptional Student Services Director

I find joy in being a positive influence in a child’s growth and development. Teaching children has been a consistent joy for me, and giving back to the community has always been one of my primary goals. I believe that a teacher must be devoted to the children in her/his care, patient, and willing to listen carefully to what the children say. Supporting children to achieve their highest potential has been very rewarding. I believe that children learn best in a nurturing atmosphere where they feel free to be creative and express themselves.

Children thrive if they have a balance between structured activities and those that are self-chosen. All children need time to explore their environment, to discover and invent on their own. I am proud to say that for the past eight years I have grown in and with the field of education. I started as an assistant at a Montessori school and became their infant room lead teacher. I had a passion to do more and help more children so I started my journey in special education where I have taught various grades from kindergarten to high school. I attended Grand Canyon University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary and Special Education. I have an amazing and wonderful husband Tony, together we have two dynamic and adventurous boys Cameron and Nathan.

Email Danielle

Andrew Collins

Founding School Director

Hi! I am an Arizona native, educator, and social entrepreneur with over a decade of experience supporting children and educators through innovative school design and visionary leadership. In addition to Managing Director for Phoenix Modern, I serve as the President & CEO of New Learning Ventures, our affiliated nonprofit corporation. Previously, I was the Senior Director for School Development at the Arizona Charter Schools Association and co-founded New Schools For Phoenix where I supported the design and launch of numerous schools serving low-income communities within the urban core of Phoenix. My greatest passion in life is to love others, imagine new opportunities, and inspire people to be their best selves. In addition to Phoenix Modern, I support Acton Academy Phoenix, a micro independent school and the Arizona Children’s Business Fair, a one day event for aspiring young entrepreneurs in K-8th grade. I love living in Phoenix with my wife Alicia and our brave and curious 2 year old explorer, Alina Rose.

Email

Jessica Taylor

Founding Program Director

I often say that I began my career in education while running birthday parties at an ice cream shop in my college town. I discovered that kids are funny and creative- they are eternally optimistic- they have an endless supply of energy and enthusiasm. And so, in between games of Hot Potato and Simon Says and over mountains of sprinkles and whipped cream, I committed myself to working with children for the rest of my career. Since 2005, I have worked with children of all ages, ranging from preschoolers to undergrads, and have supported hundreds of new and aspiring educators across the Valley. I have completed advanced coursework in Developmental Psychology and have a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership. I am an avid reader and researcher and believe that the learning environment can be as magical and joyful as a birthday party at an ice cream parlor (hopefully a little less sticky).

Email

Charlie Kaplan

Founding Operations Director

I am from Chicago and I like to build things. From electric go-carts in my dorm room to hyper-targeted local advertising campaigns and scalable school systems. My journey in education started five years ago when moved out to Arizona to help build the highest performing high school in Maryvale. With a double major in Economics and Business Management along with a focus in Entrepreneurship from Purdue University, I am excited to reimagine school with the Phoenix Modern team! I love the challenge of trying new things and exploring new places. When I am not checking items off of a checklist you can find me on a basketball court or out for a bike ride. If you see me riding my bike to work go ahead and honk as you pass by.

Email

Monika Phillips

Lead Primary Guide

Like tumbleweeds, my family and I are lucky to have landed in this beautiful valley, after moving from Poland, to France, California, and Indonesia. As a passionate life-long learner, I am honored to be joining the Phoenix Modern Community. Although I have facilitated learning of people as young as six months and as mature as seventy years, my longest professional commitment has been to five, six, and seven years olds. I am proud to say that in the past fifteen years I have taught kids from sixty-five nationalities. No matter what language they speak, I find it fascinating how young children construct their understanding of the world. To help me do my best in guiding youngsters through their learning journeys, I have studied Teaching English as an Additional Language, Early Childhood Education, and Educational Leadership. When I am not in the classroom, I regularly spend time in nature, in company of interesting people and always… a book.

Email

Alyssa Hoffman

Elementary Guide

I have spent the better part of the last decade teaching in innovative school environments across the nation.  Throughout my years in the classroom, I have experienced the magic that is possible when classrooms encourage children to become active citizens and creative problem solvers. I have developed multiple curriculums that center on social justice issues and authentic learning experiences.  My greatest joy is when my students become aware of their capacity to be agents of change in our world. I love to help children uncover the power that exists within literacy, storytelling, and the arts. We all have a unique story to tell and our stories deserve to be heard.  I have a Bachelor’s degree in Education from The Ohio State University and an advanced degree in Elementary Education from Antioch University Los Angeles. When I am not in the classroom you can find me hiking, browsing books at a local bookstore, or walking my dog Kody. I am excited to make Phoenix Modern part of my story!

Email

Liz Wolfe

Elementary Guide

I believe that school should be enjoyable and relevant to children. My vision is to create a learning environment where each child feels valued and respected for being themselves. I strive to equip children to become compassionate and ambitious global citizens who are curious about the world around them. Ultimately, I want them to feel empowered to take action to make the world better in their local communities and beyond! I am originally from Pennsylvania and attended college at the University of Vermont. After college I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer where I gained a true understanding of what it means to focus on the “process” rather than the “product.”   As an agriculture volunteer there, I worked with schools and families to build gardens and promote sustainable farming and somehow learned two new languages: Spanish and Guarani (the indigenous language of Paraguay). After Peace Corps, I taught 4th grade as a Teach for America Corps Member and earned my Master’s degree in Elementary Education from ASU. I am so excited to join the Phoenix Modern community of students, families, and staff, and to embark on this adventure together!

Email

Brianna Spadafora

Lead Elementary Guide

Since childhood I have truly loved learning and communicating with others — from playing school with my twin brother and sister, and helping my mom in her own classroom, to exploring communications and sociology in my time at Penn State University. I found my way back to education when I moved to Phoenix in 2013 to teach 6th grade in Maryvale as a Teach For America corps member. In the years since, I have worked with learners in 1st through 6th grade in Maryvale and central Phoenix. My favorite subjects are science and mathematics, but I also love to read, write in my journal, create paintings, and go outside. I believe that humans thrive on connection and communication. Discussing, creating, laughing, and processing together expands our perspectives as we develop within ourselves the empathy we need to make our world great. I am incredibly excited to continue on my journey of lifelong learning, communicating, and perspective taking with the Phoenix Modern team.

Email

Tracy Ryan

Middle School Guide

My long and winding path becoming an educator began in college teaching swimming and evolved over the years as I raised my own family.  After completing my Education degree in 2002, I have worked with middle school students supporting them both academically and emotionally as they reached for their goals. These students inspire me daily, building knowledge and skills to reach beyond their known environment to explore the greater world around them.  I believe that education is not just collecting information and checking off skills, but striving to understand how growth prepares us for greater challenges beyond these years. My own educational journey continued analyzing state standards for mathematics with the Arizona Department of Education and adding my own Master’s degree in Natural Sciences. In addition to being a certified teacher, I am a passionate reader, scientist, and budding programmer. My free time has been occupied with coaching robotics competition teams, so feel free to ask me about my robot!  I am excited to be a part of the team here at Phoenix Modern and look forward to guiding students through their own educational journey.  

Email

Meliza Brillantes

Art, Movement & Music Specialist

I’m a certified and licensed teacher, a Star Wars fan, an artist of many sorts and an advocate for social justice issues including accessibility to the arts and quality education. I have built much of my skills and work with diverse populations and marginalized communities. From working in a preschool for homeless children to serving as a doula to refugee families to helping a community build a multi-age one room schoolhouse, I love to share my insight and experience with the people I work with. I have taught, volunteered and organized in various education, social service and arts collaborations in Hawaii, Charlottesville, Virginia, New York, New Jersey and Washington DC communities for over 25 years . I have worked in classrooms and programs from pre-school through high school and also as a trainer of teachers, a court advocate for children, a coop school facilitator, an organizer of arts events in the cities I’ve lived in and as a homeschooling parent. I have always known my purpose in life would be deeply connected with supporting families and amplifying children’s voices in the classroom, in the studio, on paper or in the streets. A mother of three and an avid traveler, I can squeeze in time to create with my family in my home studio and can still bring good energy and passion to my work with children and families. I’m excited that the Phoenix Modern community will be part of my purpose!

Email

Laurie Engquist

Primary Guide

Children are pretty much my favorite humans on the planet. They are constantly teaching me new things about myself and the world around us. I count it such a privilege to be a small part of their life-long learning journey. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin with a B.S. in Early Childhood /Elementary Education, I began my teaching career with Head Start in Milwaukee, WI. Since then I’ve taught several different grade levels, served as the administrator of a private preschool, and also a private K-5 school. At home, I am mom to 2 amazing daughters, Riley and Reagan, and have also been a licensed foster parent as well. I am passionate about finding purpose in each day, loving people, making an impact in the world and living authentically. I enjoy reading, dark chocolate covered anything, drinking lots of tea, and playing the piano. I am truly honored to be part of this gifted and inspiring Phoenix Modern team and look forward to the new school year together!

Email

Clarissa Alvarez

Movement & Wellness Specialist

Every culture has its own set of traditions, values and norms. Growing up in a Mexican culture has shown me to value a strong foundation of unity. I always think about my students as a family. We must include and engage everyone to help them succeed, while having high expectations. I graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor in Elementary Education with a Bilingual Emphasis in 2016 and joined Teach for America. Not only did I gain knowledge about equity, but I was able to put it into practice in my classroom. In addition to being a certified teacher and having a Spanish endorsement, I also obtained my Masters in Business Administration from Benedictine University in 2019. I enjoy exercising, reading and spending time with my family. I am so thrilled to be part of Phoenix Modern.

Email

Danielle Niccum

Exceptional Student Services Director

I find joy in being a positive influence in a child’s growth and development. Teaching children has been a consistent joy for me, and giving back to the community has always been one of my primary goals. I believe that a teacher must be devoted to the children in her/his care, patient, and willing to listen carefully to what the children say. Supporting children to achieve their highest potential has been very rewarding. I believe that children learn best in a nurturing atmosphere where they feel free to be creative and express themselves.

Children thrive if they have a balance between structured activities and those that are self-chosen. All children need time to explore their environment, to discover and invent on their own. I am proud to say that for the past eight years I have grown in and with the field of education. I started as an assistant at a Montessori school and became their infant room lead teacher. I had a passion to do more and help more children so I started my journey in special education where I have taught various grades from kindergarten to high school. I attended Grand Canyon University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary and Special Education. I have an amazing and wonderful husband Tony, together we have two dynamic and adventurous boys Cameron and Nathan.

Email

JOIN OUR TEAM

We’re always seeking talented educators who are ready to eagerly support children as one of our guides.

Phoenix Modern guides are game makers, motivators, and thought partners, working in collaboration with children to find answers and discover the world together. Children have what it takes to actively seek knowledge and make sense of their world. Our guides develop the conditions and experiences that give children the time and space to explore their environments, ask questions, gather information, construct knowledge and make sense of their world.

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A PHOENIX MODERN GUIDE

Phoenix Modern guides are game makers, motivators, and thought partners, working in collaboration with children to find answers and discover the world together. Children have what it takes to actively seek knowledge and make sense of their world. Our guides develop the conditions and experiences that give children the time and space to explore their environments, ask questions, gather information, construct knowledge and make sense of their world.

BENEFITS

– Competitive Salary
– Health Insurance
– Central Location
– Flexible Schedule + Time Off

CURRENT OPEN POSITIONS

Substitute Guide
– We’re Growing! Join us in ’20-21

HOW TO APPLY

Interested in joining our team? Please spend some time responding to the following questions and upload your resume here:
Apply Now

Phoenix Modern and New Learning Ventures, Inc. is an equal opportunity employer and an organization that values diversity. People from all diverse backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply. Spanish language proficiency is a plus.

PHOENIX MODERN’S BOARD MEMBERS

  • Andrew Collins, Co-Founder/CEO, New Learning Ventures, Inc; Founding Director, Phoenix Modern
  • Eva Shivers, Founder/Director, Indigo Cultural Center, Inc.; Director, Institute for Child Development Research & Social Change
  • Kevin Kemper, CEO/Co-Owner of Bird Dog Produce and Fresh Produce Logistics
  • Hope Parker; Founder, Giving Hope
  • Tina Sweis, Founder, Overachieving Women Association; Consultant, Social Impact Investing Consultant

 

Governing Board Meetings

Notices for the meetings are posted on the front office door of the school (200 E. Mitchell Dr., Phoenix, AZ 85012) as well as on our website homepage at least 24 hours prior to each meeting.

Contact Us

Email Us

 

(480) 779-3117

fax: (623) 444-5926

Our Campus

200 E. Mitchell Dr.
Phoenix, AZ 85012

Phoenix Modern is a free, public charter school in Phoenix, Arizona