Meet St. Justin School Teachers!

Meet the Teachers!

Preschool Director, Mrs. Shannon Barela

Barela Mrs. Gd-SShannon Barela worked as a preschool teacher at St. Justin for seven years before taking over the position of Preschool Director. She grew up in Massachusetts and moved to California when she was eleven. She graduated from Sequoia High School in Redwood City and attended San Francisco State University.  While working for a merchandising company, she decided to change her career path and go back to school to study Child Development. She has been working in this field for the last fifteen years and feels truly blessed to have found her passion. She is married and lives in Santa Clara with her family. Both of her children graduated from St. Justin. Her oldest son attends William Jessup University, and her younger son is a freshman at Curry College in Boston. They are an avid sports family and enjoy rooting for our local teams.

Pre-K Teacher, Mrs. Flor Catungal

florFlor Catungal comes from a family of teachers. Both of her parents are public school teachers, and she was an elementary school teacher at a Montessori school in the Philippines before immigrating to the United States in 2002. Her passion for teaching never went away while living in a foreign land. In addition to a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, Flor earned a credential in Early Childhood Education and currently holds a Child Development Site Supervisor’s Permit. She enjoys baking, scrapbooking, photography, and most especially, spending time with her family. She is married and blessed with two wonderful daughters.

Kindergarten, Mrs. Mildred Garcia

Mildred Garcia migrated from Manila, Philippines, in 2001. She graduated from the University of the Philippines-Diliman campus with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Law. She practiced law for 10 years before contemplating shifting her career to Early Childhood Education. It was not until their family migrated here to the Bay Area that she was given the opportunity to pursue her “dream.” Her career as an educator includes working as a K-1 Instructional Assistant, a Resource Specialist substitute, and a preschool teacher. She holds a Child Development Master Teachers Permit and Site Supervisor Permit. She has also completed graduate courses in Early Childhood Special Education and is currently completing a Reading Certificate Program with UC Irvine-Extension. Her passion is her family, which includes her husband and two daughters.  Her eldest is a junior at Ateneo De Manila University in the Philippines, and her youngest is a recent graduate of St. Justin and currently a sophomore at Notre Dame High School, San Jose. When she can find the time, she loves to watch TV or a movie with her family or curl in bed with a book.

First Grade, Mrs. Kathy Moore

G1-FirstMrs. Kathy Moore is celebrating her 29th year of teaching! Her experience includes 26 years of teaching first grade — 22 of them here at St. Justin School — and 3 years teaching kindergarten. Kathy received a B.A. in General Humanities as well as her Clear California Teaching Credential from Santa Clara University. She most recently completed the Catholic Leadership Program at Santa Clara University, giving her a master’s degree within the Diocese of San Jose. Kathy’s interests include gardening and traveling with her husband of 33 years. They have two grown children who have both graduated from St. Justin School.

Second Grade, Mrs. Kathy Foley

G2-SecondKathy Foley is a life-long Santa Claran and is the product of local Catholic education. She is a graduate of St. Clare School, Notre Dame High School, and Santa Clara University. At Santa Clara, she received a B.S. in Psychology and an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Education. She holds both a California Multi-Subject Teaching Credential and a credential in Special Education. She has worked in the Diocese of San Jose for over twenty years and has taught second grade at St. Justin School for nine years. Kathy is married to Matt, and their three children are graduates of St. Justin School. Her daughter recently graduated from Cal Poly University, San Luis Obispo, and her twin sons are freshmen in college–one at Pacific University and the other at University of Portland.

Third Grade, Ms. Tracey Gioia Aguilar

G3-ThirdTracey Gioia Aguilar was born and raised in Miami, Florida. After completing her bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Fine Arts from the University of Florida, she moved to the west coast to attend California State University, East Bay. There she earned a master’s in Clinical Counseling as well as a Clear California Teaching Credential. Tracey has been teaching at St. Justin School since 2000. Her three children attended St. Justin School and graduated from Archbishop Mitty High School. Two are now in college, majoring in nursing and engineering, and her eldest just earned her B.A. in animation from San Jose State University. Tracey’s interests include drawing, painting, playing the piano, traveling, and cooking.

Fourth Grade, Mrs. Gloria Los Banos

ID000002Gloria Los Banos is a product of Catholic education, born and raised in Mountain View. She spent 14 years working in environmental markets and high tech (marketing and sales) before returning to her first love — education. Gloria became a middle school catechist at the age of 16, taught 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade, and served as Curriculum Coordinator at St. Joseph Elementary School in Mountain View. She earned a B.S. from San Jose State University and received her Professional Clear Teaching Credential with CLAD certification from National University. Gloria loves to spend time with her family and sings in her church choir. She lives in Mountain View with her husband, Chuck.  Her son, Marcus, is a graduate of St. Francis High School and attends San Jose State University.

Fifth Grade, Mrs. Ria Amidon 

G5-FifthMrs. Amidon was born and raised right here in Santa Clara. She attended St. Justin School, Presentation High School, and then earned a B.A. in Liberal Studies with a minor in History at Santa Clara University. She holds a California Clear Teaching Credential with CLAD certification. This is Mrs. Amidon’s nineteenth year of teaching, sixteen of those years happily spent at St. Justin. Before coming to Justin to teach fifth grade, she taught preschool, as well as first, third, and fourth grade at public schools in San Jose. Mrs. Amidon is married to an amazing man named Andrew. Mr. and Mrs. Amidon enjoy watching movies, walking around the mall, riding bikes, and going to San Jose Sharks games. Go Sharks! Mrs. Amidon loves to bake and has three dogs. She looks forward to coming to school everyday and seeing her students’ smiles and eagerness to learn.

Sixth Grade/Religion, Ms. Alicia Aguilar

G6-SixthAlicia Aguilar is a California native and has lived in San Jose for most of her life.  She attended Notre Dame High School in San Jose and then earned her B.A. in English with a minor in Philosophy at Saint Mary’s College of California.  After college, Ms. Aguilar moved to Japan where she taught junior high English for one year.  When she returned, she earned a California Clear Teaching Credential with CLAD certification at Saint Mary’s.  She is currently taking courses toward her master’s in Pastoral Ministry at Santa Clara University.  This is Ms. Aguilar’s sixteenth year of teaching, nine of which have been here at St. Justin School.  Prior to teaching at St. Justin, she taught sixth grade at a public middle school in San Jose.  In her spare time, she enjoys being an active member in her parish, going to San Jose Giants games, and riding bikes with her friends.

Seventh Grade, Mrs. Barbara Kelly 

G7-SeventhBarbara Kelly is a California native and has lived in Santa Clara for over 30 years. She has been teaching at St. Justin School for 15 years, with experience in both 3rd grade (10 years) and middle school (the past 5 years). She received a B.A. in Theater Arts from San Jose State University and earned her Clear California Teaching Credential from Santa Clara University and UCSD. Barbara’s interests include cooking, reading, traveling, and baking anything that includes chocolate! She also enjoys the stage and can be seen in local musical theater productions. Barbara is married to Bill, the City of Santa Clara’s Fire Chief, and they have four children who have all graduated from St. Justin School!

Eighth and Sixth Grade Language Arts/Computers, Mrs. Carole Such 

G6-SixthCarole Such grew up in San Mateo, California, and has lived in Santa Clara since 2002. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California (Fight On, Trojans!) and heeded the advice from a favorite literature professor to follow an education career. Thank the good Lord for good teachers! She then earned her Clear Credential from San Jose State University, a tradition that followed in the footsteps of her grandmother, and has been working with children ever since. She began teaching in 1993 with an emphasis in middle school language arts and social studies.

Junior High Math, Mrs. Elizabeth Bennett

Middle School MathElizabeth Bennett was born in Salinas and grew up in Soledad, California. She graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a degree in Liberal Studies and remained there to earn her Clear California Teaching Credential. Elizabeth taught math for 5 years before taking a break to have a family. She returned to teaching and is in her 10th year at St. Justin School. Elizabeth enjoys reading, baking, backpacking, hiking, and biking. Elizabeth is married to Doyle, and they have two boys, aged 15 and 17.

Junior High Science, Ms. Nancy Floerke

MIddle School ScienceNancy Floerke was born in St. Louis and moved with her family to Los Angeles and then Kansas City. She graduated from the University of Kansas with a B.S. in Education and relocated to Portland, Oregon, where she got her Master of Arts in Teaching at Lewis and Clark College and an Integrated Science endorsement from Portland State University. After two years teaching high school, Nancy realized that she preferred the intense participation and boundless energy of junior high students. In 2008, she moved from Oregon to California and began to teach at St. Justin School. Nancy’s hobbies include travel, bird watching, hiking, backpacking, biking, spinning, gardening, reading, and playing with her grandkids.

Junior High Spanish, Ms. Belinda Cañas-Karazija

ID000003Belinda Cañas-Karazija’s students know — she was born in Texas in a town called Sonora but her name is señora. 🙂 Although born in Texas, Belinda was raised in San José and earned a B.A. and an M.A. from Santa Clara University. During her junior year at Santa Clara she studied abroad at the University of Madrid. Although she always knew she wanted to teach, it was during her time in Madrid that she became certain teaching Spanish was her goal. It has become one of her passions. She has 3 grown children: Ryan, Erin, and Lauren. Ryan lives in Iceland and tours the world with his band. His music is available on iTunes. Erin is a middle school math teacher in the Diocese while Lauren, a recent graduate of UCSB, is Assistant Curator at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. She is most proud of them!
 Belinda enjoys family time, sports, and being active. She’d climb Half Dome any day! ¡Vámanos!

Physical Education/Computers, Mrs. Lisa Sarsfield 

Physical EducationLisa Sarsfield is a lifetime Sunnyvale resident and has taught physical education at St. Justin School for 27 years. She also teaches computers to the primary grades. Lisa received her B.S. in Physical Education with a minor in Philosophy as well as her teaching credential from San Jose State University. An avid sports fan, she loves to watch and play most sports.  She also enjoys all kinds of music and likes spending time with her family. Lisa is married to Tom, who directs recreational tennis programs and teaches tennis lessons both privately and for Stanford University. She is mom to three sons–one a recent graduate of Santa Clara University, another studying at Chapman University, and her youngest who is severely autistic. This gives her a unique insight on the world of special education.

Science (K-5), Mrs. Michelle Varnau 

ElemScienceMichelle Varnau is a native of Michigan but has lived in the Santa Clara area for many years. She has been a part-time science teacher for the Diocese of San Jose since 1994 and recently joined the staff here at St. Justin. She earned a degree in Biology from Purdue University, an M.A. in Science Education from San Jose State, and currently holds a Single Subject California Clear Credential in Life Science. Mrs. V’s interests include watching science fiction, playing board games with family and friends, writing calligraphy, taking photographs, and trying out new science toys. She and her husband, Steve, have two young adult children.

Music, Ms. Judy Bayse 

judy-bayseMs. Bayse has been teaching music to junior high, elementary and preschool students for over 2o years.   She started at the preschool level and went on to docent with the Music for Minors program at her children’s elementary school after completing the 55 hour training.  She coordinated the Music for Minors program before creating her own Music program for Cumberland School in Sunnyvale. Recently she has taught at Nativity, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and St. Elizabeth Seton schools.  She has also served as Music Director for Peninsula Youth Theatre and Angels on Stage, a performing arts group for special needs children, ages 8-22.  She has a B.A. in Broadcast Communication Arts and is a singer/songwriter with her own cd, Purple Cow.  She has 2 grown daughters–one in London, and one in Atlanta.  

Athletic Director/Algebra, Mr. George Santich 

AlthleticDirectorGeorge Santich has always been at the heart of the Saint Justin community. With his kindhearted yet stern approach to teaching, he has positively affected the lives of many, both as an educator and as a coach.  Mr. Santich earned his Bachelor of Applied Science (BASc) in Biology in 1966 from Santa Clara University and started teaching at Patrick Henry Public School.  He then taught at St. Lawrence for a year before coming to St. Justin School in 1970.  The community has been very fortunate to have him here the past 46 years! In addition to teaching algebra, Mr. Santich serves as St. Justin’s Athletic Director and coaches football, basketball, softball, and track. His hobbies include gardening, taking care of his chickens, rowing, crocheting, and playing basketball.

Advanced Math (7th & 8th grade)/Study Skills Specialist (3rd-5th grade), Mrs. Ginny Orlando

ginny-orlando-1Ginny Orlando was born in Mountain View and then moved to Massachusetts when she was a child. At  the age of 16, she moved back to the Bay Area and attended St. Francis High School before heading to the University of Pacific in Stockton where she earned her B.A. in Liberal Studies/Education with an authorization to teach mathematics up to 9th grade. During college summers, she worked in preschools and in the daycare industry. After college, she became the Assistant Director and then the Director of a daycare before being hired by St. Joseph of Cupertino School as the 8th grade homeroom teacher. She spent 7 years teaching 6th, 7th and 8th grade math, 8th grade religion, 8th grade social studies and 7th and 8th grade music. While teaching, she went to Santa Clara University and earned her Masters in Educational Administration. In her last year at St. Joseph of Cupertino, she also served as the Vice Principal. During that year, she also met her husband, Martin, and they married in 2002. Ginny left teaching to be a stay-at-home mom. She has 4 children, 3 of whom currently attend St. Justin School. Next year, she will have all 4 of her children at St. Justin School. She has come back to teaching part time here at St. Justin as the 6th and 7th grade advanced math teacher as well as working as the study skills specialist for children in 3rd, 4th and 5th grade.

Learning Specialist, Mrs. Chris Washburn 

LearningSpecialistThroughout her extensive career, Chris Washburn has worked as a learning/reading specialist (32 years), an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University (17 years), the director of the Speech-Hearing-Learning Center (13 years), and a classroom teacher (10 years). A graduate of UC Berkeley, she holds two master’s  degrees — one in learning disabilities from Santa Clara University and another in reading from Colorado State. When not at St. Justin, she can be found teaching yoga, studying Sanskrit grammar, drinking chai, or visiting geo-sites with her husband.

Vice Principal, Mr. Travis Phelps 

G8-EighthTravis Phelps is Vice Principal at St. Justin School. He is a Google for Education Certified Trainer, Classcraft Ambassador, Remind Connected Educator, Participate Learning Expert, and an adjunct faculty member at Santa Clara University’s Academy of Blended Learning. His work can be found in numerous educational blogs, and he is mentioned in the forthcoming book, Flipped Learning for ELA Instruction. He has presented at numerous edtech conferences and is the lead organizer for the annual EdCamp San Jose educational conference. When he is not knee-deep in work, he spends time with his beautiful wife and three very charismatic children.

Principal, Ms. Karen Suty 

Principal-2Karen Suty is a local girl, born and raised in San Jose. She spent over a decade working in high tech (marketing and public relations) before returning to her first love — education. Karen became a middle school catechist at a young age, taught 2nd grade, and served as vice principal at St. Lawrence Elementary School and Holy Spirit School. She has her B.A. from San Jose State University and received her Teaching Credential, Catholic Leadership Certificate, and M.A. in Educational Administration from Santa Clara University. Karen loves to travel, spend time with her family, and play card games. She lives in San Jose with her dog, Lexi.