Principal - Evelyn Castro

Evelyn Castro received her B.A. in Sociology, Women’s Studies and Spanish at the University of California, Santa Barbara and received her M.A. in Urban Education-­Policy and Administration from Loyola Marymount University.  Ms Castro is also an alumnus of Teach for America Los Angeles.  Prior to joining Ednovate, Ms. Castro served as an Assistant Principal at Alliance Health Services Academy High School in Los Angeles, where she led teachers in implementing a rigorous curriculum, reinforced strong school-­family communication, and led the school to full WASC accreditation.  During this time she also founded several programs including RISE (Rising Inner­-City Students through Education), a program dedicated to providing students and families with college support and guidance. For three consecutive years, Ms. Castro took three cohorts of  high school students in RISE to the East Coast to visit top universities. Ms. Castro is a passionate school leader who believes in creating and nurturing environment where every child is valued and where a student’s strengths, areas of growth, experiences, and passions can inform a truly personalized learning experience that prepares them for college and to make Positive Multigenerational Change in the world.

“I grew up in similar circumstances as many of the students that I will serve in Santa Ana, and that has made me a school leader that approaches every situation with a great sense of urgency. My service work is driven by my sincere passion and commitment to student empowerment and freedom. In my eyes, education is the most important social justice issue of our time, and it is my goal to revolutionarily lead my school in developing students who are ready to conquer collegiate level work, have a strong sense of self-­awareness, agency, and purpose, and effect Positive Multigenerational Change in their communities and the world.”

Assistant Principal - Fonda Held 

Fonda Held is an educator from Des Plaines, Illinois - the "city of destiny." She has always felt pulled towards education and service, especially the belief that all individuals deserve the chance to feel heard and empowered. She received her B.S. in Social Studies Education from Miami University in Ohio before spending five years on the near-south side of Chicago at UIC College Prep, a member of the Noble Network of Charter Schools. She served there as an Americorps member (and later mentor), high school social studies teacher, department chair and advisor to a group of twenty-four your women. In 2013 she left UICCP to work towards her Masters in Education and Leadership Policy as a trinity Fellow at Marquette University. While there, served in the Carmen Network of Charter Schools in Milwaukee, WI, where she sought to connect her roles as an instructional leader and assistant to the head of schools with her academic engagement with social justice education and critical pedagogy. She is excited to serve the students and families of USC College Prep-Santa Ana as an Assistant Principal in the 2016-17 founding year.

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Assistant Principal - Parisa Mazandarani

Parisa Mazandarani is the Assistant Principal at Legacy College Prep. She graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, with a B.S. in Psychobiology. She was born in Iran and grew up in Downey, Ca.

Prior to joining the education field, Ms. Mazandarani was a research assistant at UCLA studying diabetic mutations. She joined Teach For America and taught middle school science in Hartford, Connecticut. After completion of Teach For America, she joined the 9th grade team at Achievement First Hartford High School, teaching physics, health, and coaching volleyball. She created the school’s first health curriculum and wrote NGSS and CCSS aligned physics curriculum for the network. Ms. Maz is committed to holding students to the highest of standards academically and behaviorally. She promotes positive multigenerational change by partnering with students, parents, and the community of Santa Ana.

Dean of Instruction - Victor Gonzalez

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Victor Gonzalez graduated from UC Berkeley in 2012, where he studied English Literature and specialized in Mexican American/Chicano Literature. During that time, he volunteered as an after school tutor in Oakland. His experiences in Oakland, primarily working with the children of Chinese immigrants, reminded him of his own experiences as the child of Mexican immigrants living in East Los Angeles. He spent his last year in college preparing to enter the teaching profession through Teach for America. He has been teaching ever since! He chose to begin a new chapter of his life at a new school because he wants to be part of a school team that provides options and access for the youth of Santa Ana. He works hard so that his students can have the tools, mindsets, and character to choose the lives they want to live. He is overjoyed to have the opportunity to teach students at Legacy College Prep, Santa Ana. 


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Physical Education Teacher - Ruben Arevalo

Ruben Arevalo attended Mount San Antonio College in 2011 and completed his AA-T in psychology where he then transferred to Cal State Fullerton and graduated with a BA in Psychology in 2016. Ruben was proud member and high school graduate of the AVID program and tutored mathematics with AVID for 6 six after graduating from high school. He spends a lot of this time in realm of fitness and wellness, participating in athletic events like team baseball and Spartan Races regularly. He is excited to start a new full year of Fitness and Wellness.   

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12th Grade Math Teacher - Alemar Brito

Alemar Brito completed his B.A in Sociology with a minor in Feminist, Gender, and Sexualities Studies, and M.A. in Secondary Mathematics Education from Stanford University. He has experience teaching Integrated Math 1, 2, 3, Pre-Calculus and is excited to take both AP Calculus and Statistics. Outside of math, Alemar has had the opportunity to teach a wide range of subjects including Digital Art, Design Thinking, Biology, and Financial Literacy and currently coaches Cross Country. 

Aside from teaching, Alemar's passions center around social justice, community organizing, and creative expression. Alemar firmly believes that all students can learn math to the highest levels, and uses his versatile knowledge, interests, and perspectives to help students thrive in education and beyond.

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11th Grade Math Teacher - Chelsea Cross

Chelsea Cross completed her B.S. in Mathematics Education and Single Subject Teaching Credential at CSU, Chico.  She has taught many math classes including Intensive Beginning Algebra, Algebra I, Algebra Support, Algebra B, Geometry, Trigonometry/Statistics, Integrated Math 1, Integrated Math 2, and Integrated Math 3.  She also recently became a yoga instructor. Chelsea is very excited to join the team at Legacy College Prep this year and help students to build the skills necessary to create positive multigenerational change.

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Chemistry Teacher - Thong Dinh

Thong Dinh graduated with a B.S. in Biological Sciences with an emphasis in biotechnology from California State University Fullerton and received her teaching credential in Secondary Sciences. On her spare time, she enjoys the outdoors and exploring different National Parks. She is passionate and privileged to be working with your students to explore their interests in science related fields. Through inquiry based practices along with science and engineering practices, she hopes for students to truly embark on their interests in science to make connections between real world and classroom experiences.

Biology Teacher- Vicki Hernandez

Vicki graduated from UCLA with a BS in chemical engineering, biomedical engineering option.  She then began teaching in Washington, D.C. as a Teach For America corps member, where she taught 7th grade life science.  While teaching in Washington D.C., Vicki earned her master’s degree in secondary education: chemistry.  After her TFA corps commitment, Vicki continued teaching 8th grade physical science at KIPP DC: Will Academy for three years.  She then continued teaching in the Uncommon Schools network in Brooklyn, NY and then Troy, NY as a biology teacher.  Vicki is passionate about teaching science and instilling that same passion for science in her students.  She loves using her engineering background to help students relate the science they learn in her class to current breakthroughs in science discoveries that can impact their lives.  Her goal as an educator is to cultivate a sense of curiosity about the world in each student and equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to gain the confidence to pursue a STEM career.

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Instructional Aide- Desiree Lara

Desiree Lara graduated from UC Irvine with a degree in Criminology, Psychology, and Social Behavior.  Ms. Lara is currently pursuing her Masters in Social Work at USC. She enjoys building relationships with her students and seeks to make a collective impact within our community. In her spare time, she also enjoys hanging out with her sons, going to the gym and lifting.   

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Physics Teacher - Michelle Leon

Michelle Leon received her B.S. in Science, Technology, and International Affairs with a concentration in Energy and Environment from Georgetown University and received her teaching credential from Loyola Marymount University in Secondary Science. Prior to joining Ednovate, she was part Teach For America in Los Angeles where she taught Biology and Physical Science at both the middle and high school level. She practiced an inquiry-based science teaching methodology in the classroom to promote students' exploration of scientific concepts. She believes in emphasizing the "why" in scientific education and making content relevant and accessible by validating students' background knowledge and differentiating content. Ms. Leon also worked as a Learning Facilitator for the Tiger Woods Learning Center where she was involved in developing a structure for informal/formal learning organizations and Out-of-School Time partners to collaborate and create a learning continuum in order to better prepare students for future careers in STEM. Now, as a Santa Ana native, Ms. Leon is excited to be coming back home and sharing her love of learning with her students. Ms. Leon is passionate about empowering students through their education to help them reach their full potential.  

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9th Grade Math Teacher - Ashley Michelson

Ashley Michelson completed her B.S. in Business Administration from USC and M.A. in Urban Education at Loyola Marymount University. She taught math for 5 years in Northeast Los Angeles and is thrilled to join Legacy College Prep in its endeavor to create positive multigenerational change.

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10th Grade English Teacher - Kyle Michelson

Kyle Michelson earned his B.A. in English with an Emphasis in Creative Writing and M.A. in Education at Stanford University. While in college, he taught high school poetry, preschool math, and middle school analytical writing. For the past two years, he has taught English 10, English 11, and AP Language at Jesse Bethel High School in Vallejo, CA. Kyle is a written and performance poet, and believes fiercely that, through writing, students more powerfully fight for themselves and their community. He is thrilled to join the Legacy family this year.


Spanish 2,4, AP Teacher - Andy Ochoa

Mr. Ochoa received a B.A. in Spanish with a minor in Italian from CSU Stanislaus and a Master’s from Stanford University. Mr. Ochoa grew up in Mexico and moved to northern California after graduating high school. During college, he tutored Spanish, Italian, and coached competitive gymnastics for USA Gymnastics. He appreciates his language, culture, and traditions; appreciation that wants to instill in his future students. Mr. Ochoa enjoys the outdoors, dancing, exploring cities, reading, languages, and trying new food.

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World History Teacher- Casey Rich

Casey Rich studied Political Science & Philosophy at Grand Valley State University. He earned his MA Education from the University of Nottingham, UK where his focus was on instructional strategies for small group instruction. He taught World History & Geography in Shanghai, China for 7 years before returning to the United States. He served in Teach for America for 2-years in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he taught United States History. Mr. Rich has a passion for travel and current events that he loves to share with his students as they grow to become global citizens who will make positive multigenerational change in their community.

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Instructional Aide- Kendra Ubierna

Kendra Ubierna graduated from The University of California, Irvine, where she received her Bachelors in Education Sciences and a minor in Chicano Latino Studies. Working with students has been an absolute passion of hers, and she is excited to work at Legacy. She loves traveling and has lived in multiple cities including  Cuernavaca, Morelos and Huitzuco, Guerrero. Kendra loves Latin American History and identifies as a proud Chicana.

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Spanish1, 3 Teacher- Maria Winger

Mrs. Winger received a B.A. in History and Political Science from Boston University and a Juris Doctor from American University, Washington College of Law. She began her teaching career as a Teach For America corps member in Miami, Florida where she taught 6th and 7th grade social science. She then studied law in Washington, D.C. and practiced immigration law for 3 years. Afterward, Mrs. Winger returned to teaching - her true passion - and taught U.S. history at KIPP DC: AIM Academy in Washington, D.C. She is a native of the Dominican Republic and a mom to a beautiful 4 year old girl. Mrs. Winger loves traveling, reading and enjoying Italian and Indian food.

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US History Teacher - Sonia Wright

Sonia Wright is proud to be working in her hometown of Santa Ana! She graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a degree in American Studies and Sociology. After graduating, she worked in after school programming in the city of Santa Ana. During this time, she decided to join Teach for America and began working in Nashville, Tennessee with fourth grade. While living and working in Nashville, she completed a Master’s degree in Education from Lipscomb University. Ms. Wright looks forward to working and living in her community again as well as teaching social studies- a subject she is very passionate about.

Support Team

Parent Engagement & Student Recruitment Coordinator - Geraldine Galindo

Geraldine Galindo graduated from the University of California Santa Barbara with a Bachelor degree in Feminist Studies in 2012. She also received her Master of Arts in Collaborative Educational Leadership with a Dual Language Concentration from Fielding Graduate University in 2015. She has worked in the education field serving after school extended learning programs with Think Together in grades level ranging from kinder to 8th grade. She has served as a liaison with Los Nietos School District and has supported in school alignment and community partnerships.  She has served as our former Dean of Culture Assistant and Director of Athletics.  This year she will be moving into the role of Parent Engagement & Student Recruitment. Her passion for education is highly transparent in her desire to work with older youth and leadership development. She is excited to shape the learning culture on our campus. Most importantly she is excited to build intentional and long lasting relationships with our students, parents and staff.

11th Grade College Counselor- Janet Le

Janet Le earned a Master’s degree in Education from the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education and received her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Economics from UC San Diego. As a college counselor, she strives to help students as they work toward achieving their academic and personal goals, and is proud to be a part of a school that believes in every student.                    

Office/Operations Assistant- Maria Moreno


Maria Moreno earned a Business Administration certificate and is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s in Business Management. Ms. Moreno has worked in administrative/management positions for more than six years. She did her internship at a prestigious private security company in Wilshire Center in Los Angeles. There, she got involved in the Human Resources, Marketing/ Sales, Operations, and Accounting department. After she relocated to Orange County she worked in a private school in Santa Ana that catered to underprivileged children. Although, most of her time was spent in the office she got a chance to work closely with Syrian refugee students. Ms. Moreno has worked with all types of people. She believes that working with diversity has allowed her to grow both personally as well as professionally.

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Parent Engagement Coordinator - Sonia Rosiles

Sonia Rosiles graduated from Chapman University with a B.A. in Dance. Born and raised in the city of Santa Ana, she graduated from Santa Ana High and attended Chapman University. Her studies at Chapman ignited a love for working with youth through her service at a private after school program. Upon graduation, she pursued a career as an educator and taught 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades at a Montessori School in Orange. There, she built authentic relationships within her school community and managed school operations. She also has experience working in retail, where she honed her stellar customer service skills. Sonia is thrilled to be back in her hometown serving students who remind her so much of herself and creating parent engagement opportunities to strengthen the USC College Prep Santa Ana family.