Staff and Board

The IDEA School employs life-long learners who are committed to our philosophy, engaged in the practice of inquiry, and bring a special combination of experience, skills, talents, and passion to the table for the benefit of our students and their families. If you feel that you would be a great fit for our school, or wish to volunteer, let us know

COLLABORATOR STAFF

Clint Baker, Early Childhood Collaborator

Clint grew up in Phoenix, Arizona but moved to Tucson to attend the University of Arizona, studying English and Creative writing. After finishing his Bachelors, he returned to the U of A to pursue a Master’s of Education. After completing his education he spent many years in the craft coffee world, tasting great coffees and serving beautiful cappuccinos and becoming closely familiar with the Tucson community.

During his stint in coffee, Clint had the opportunity to explore much of the southwest, seeking out remote thorn-choked canyons and shady banks to hang a hammock. Bringing along his two dogs, Bubble and Billie, he was able to survive run ins with snakes, angry deer moms, countless lost water bottles, three broken water filters, rock falls, hailstorms, and even the occasional burnt marshmallow.

In his free time, Clint still loves spending time outdoors camping, rock climbing, and adventuring with his pups. At home, Clint spends his free time cooking and binge reading non-fiction books. He loves music of all sorts and has recently taken on learning the banjo.

About joining the IDEA school Clint says “I am so excited to be a part of a community of learners and teachers that truly centers the experience of the students. The inclusiveness, the empathy, and the care that goes into this school really inspires me to be my best self and has made me fall even more in love with the Tucson community.”

Marissa Amezcua, Early Childhood Assistant Collaborator

Marissa is our EC collaborator/collaborative asst. A California Native transplanted to Sahuarita/Tucson, daughter of parents from México. She enjoys creative writing, cooking, nutritional neuroscience facts, bullet journaling, film-creation, and is a plant-based foodie.
She has worked in multiple industries including the criminal justice system, immigration, workforce development, and early childhood theatre. Marissa earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Leadership Studies & Practice from the University of Arizona.
She currently serves on the board with Dancing in the Streets AZ, where she supports the ballet education organization.
She has served as chairwoman and treasurer of the Board of Directors at Tucson Youth Development since April 2018. She was nominated as “Outstanding Youth Nominee” with the Pima County Workforce Investment Board Youth Council in 2014, as part of TYD’s After-School & Summer Youth Employment Program from 2011-2013. This experience instilled her value of education as a means for change and commitment to providing access and resources to all.
I’m excited to be a part of the IDEA School and collaborate with our kids through playful learning and storytelling in the classroom!

Caitlin Rathbun, Lower Elementary Collaborator

Caitlin was born in Tucson and spent most of her childhood growing up in Yuma, AZ. She has called Tucson home since moving back to attend the University of Arizona in 2010, where she studied Elementary Education. After graduating from UA, Cailtin put down roots at a local public school, where her love for teaching grew over the past seven years. In addition to teaching 1st and 2nd grade, she also participated in after-school tutoring programs as well as leading a mindfulness and yoga class for children ages 5 to 10.

In her free time, Caitlin volunteers with a women’s rock climbing non-profit whose goal is to provide an inclusive and safe space for women within the climbing community. She can also be found biking in the beautiful mountains that surround Tucson and traveling with her partner Carlos and their two pups- Bowie and Atlas.

Caitlin is thrilled to have the opportunity to join the IDEA community and to engage in meaningful learning experiences with your children!

Daniel Dominguez, Lower Elementary Collaborator

Daniel joined the IDEA School team last year.  He really enjoys working with children, showing them how to have fun and learn at the same time. In his free time Daniel loves doing arts and crafts. He feels creativity is a way to sharpen the mind which in turn helps with problem solving skills in life.

“Be part of the solution, not the problem”

 

 

Zack Armstrong, Upper Elementary Collaborator

Zack loves to learn and has dedicated his life to the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge.  An Arizona native, he has lived and traveled worldwide, but the Sonoran Desert always calls him back.

Born and raised in Phoenix, he then got wise and attended the University of Arizona where he received a BA in Creative Writing and English Literature in 2001. For the last 9 years, he has taught English, mostly to 5th graders. He also taught history and English to grades 8-10.

After college, he moved to Chicago to study improv comedy at the Second City, IO, and Annoyance theaters. For the last 8 years, he has been an instructor and performer at the Tucson Improv Movement and spent 3 years as director of the comedy school.

He ran away to join the circus in the Pacific Northwest in 2005 and has more than 15 years experience teaching and performing juggling, clowning, and other circus arts at camps, libraries, and festivals with Cirque Roots, the WonderFools, and more.

Zack learned Spanish and Portuguese while juggling his way through South America and was lucky enough to perform in the Spanish-speaking improv troupe, ¿Como se Dice?, from 2017-2020.

When not facilitating education, he can be found hiking on trails, biking on streets, reading, writing, publishing, editing videos, trying to be funny, or any combination therein.

“I’m ecstatic to work at the IDEA School! I can’t wait to learn, share, and collaborate with so many wonderful humans.”

Dalziel Dominguez, Middle School Collaborator

Dalziel is a Southwest native originally from Yuma, Arizona. He came to Tucson in 2006 and was captivated by the rich Sonoran Desert that thrives in this region. He attended the University of Arizona where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in biology with a minor in chemistry.

Before joining IDEA School, Dalziel worked as a tutor both in private and public school settings, working with a broad age range of students who were struggling, and facilitating learning mostly around mathematics. At IDEA, Dalziel has developed his skills and expertise as the Upper Elementary co-collaborator, focusing on math, inquiry, and social-emotional learning, as well as movement and music.

Prior to becoming a classroom teacher, Dalziel worked with local and naturalized plants of the Southwest. In 2010 he completed the Sonoran Herbalist Apprenticeship program which centered on learning how to work with local plants as medicine and food. He also worked as a gardener at the Tucson Botanical Gardens for a couple of years and lived on a local CSA farm learning organic and sustainable farming practices.

Dalziel loves movement and martial arts. Growing up amongst siblings and older cousins was a never-ending wrestling match, and in his later teens, he got some guidance from his first martial arts teacher, with whom he studied Karate. Upon coming to Tucson he quickly found his place within the local Capoeira scene and a local Wing Chun Kung Fu school.  Dalziel is also no stranger to expressing himself through dance and song. He enjoys spending time singing, playing guitar, dancing, and practicing Capoeira.

Sara Johnson, Exceptional Education Specialist and Librarian (Volunteer)

Sara is Jaime’s mom and has been a staunch supporter of the IDEA School since it was only an idea! After retiring from TUSD as an Exceptional Education Specialist with decades of experience in the classroom, Sara has devoted her volunteer time and energy toward helping the IDEA School mature and grow over the years. Sara provides professional development support around serving the needs of students with special needs, is our school librarian, and all-around #1 Volunteer. We are so fortunate to benefit from Sara’s passion and expertise. Thank you, Sara!

CO-DIRECTORS and ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF

Jaime Johnson, Co-Director

Jaime is a co-founder of IDEA School and serves as the Director of Curriculum and Student Services, in charge of the pedagogical vision and its implementation.  She began her career teaching first grade and kindergarten in Tucson Unified School District where she met the challenges of overflowing classrooms, narrow state standards, and report cards. At TUSD she had an epiphany: To realize their full potential, children must be intrinsically motivated; but to preserve intrinsic motivation, education must be child-led and play-based.  Informed and inspired, Jaime moved on to a private preschool, Second Street Children’s School, teaching two-, three-, and four-year-olds.  This work, coinciding with the powerful experience of becoming a mother, gave her new insights into how children learn through active, purposeful play.

In 2011, Jaime co-founded Downtown Community School as a child-led, play-based preschool in Barrio Viejo. Her vision there was to support students in their discovery as they grow through the years. It is at Downtown Community School that the seeds of the IDEA School were planted.

Jaime’s role at IDEA School has evolved as we’ve grown, but her heart has always remained in the classroom. Today, Jaime supports her fellow collaborators with planning and assessment, works one-on-one with students who need extra support, and leads daily classes in literature, language arts, and history, with an eye toward helping students build their empathy as well as their literacy and critical thinking skills. Jaime’s calling is to engage students deeply and productively within a safe environment in which they can take healthy risks and be themselves.

In addition to her administrative role, Jaime also teaches in the Upper Elementary and Middle School classrooms.

Jaime’s daughter, Tula, attended the IDEA School and is now in high school.

 

Laura Wilson Etter, Co-Director
Laura is a working artist, journalist, general mess maker, and lover of laughter. Laura’s educational philosophy stems from her family life. As the daughter of a Reggio Emilia-inspired teacher, she grew up with constant opportunities for open-ended, project-based exploration. She was fortunate to receive an amazing education in the public schools in Tucson, at a time before standardized testing dictated learning opportunities. At IDEA School, Laura teaches our Lower Elementary classroom, providing enriching learning experiences for her students across the curriculum including Language Arts, math, inquiry, and art, as well as social-emotional learning and development.
After becoming a mother to her two boys, Sidney and Henson, Laura became acutely aware of how every child deserves an educational structure that firmly supports their individual needs and interests. Having a child with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder has made her an advocate for the differences we all possess and has also greatly enhanced the way she communicates with all children.
Professionally, Laura’s path has taken her through a wide variety of areas, including non-profit fundraising, business management, event planning and coordination, mentorship, and education; however, her heart has always been with working with children. She has hosted a variety of art-based workshops around the concepts of kindness, empathy, and community, and spends her summers working in the Art Lab at Playformance. Before joining IDEA School full-time for the 2018-19 school year, she taught art workshops at IDEA and was also the artist-in-residence at Miles ELC, a public school in Tucson.
Laura loves hiking, painting, making, creating, reading, designing, watching movies, and learning, but her favorite thing to do is spend time with her boys, her husband, and their 100-pound dog named Turtle.
In addition to her administrative duties and mentoring collaborators, Laura also teaches in the Upper Elementary and Middle School classrooms.

Jayme Berge, Admissions and Administrative Officer

Jayme is originally from New York, where she enjoyed exploring galleries, bookstores, and small music venues. She studied English and Philosophy in school. After college, she worked for a non-profit music and art school in lower Manhattan, where she learned more about process-oriented art and student-centered education. 

Jayme and her husband left NY for the west coast in 2010. In 2017, they came to Tucson, and Jayme joined the IDEA School as our Office Manager and School Administrator. We were thrilled to welcome Jayme and her family back to Tucson in 2021 as our full-time Administrative and Office Manager.  Jayme ensures that the trains run on time and is our lead source of support for families navigating school tuition organizations and Flex Tuition.  Jayme enjoys fiber arts, reading, and old sci-fi and monster movies. She always appreciates book recommendations. 

Brooke Sanders-Silverman, Donor Relations and Operations

Brooke is a native Tucsonan who grew up with parents who were educators and activists.  She followed in their footsteps and studied education at Evergreen College, a university where the philosophy is similar to the IDEA School.  She taught in early childhood education for a number of years and then founded and directed a preschool in Southern Oregon that emphasized the importance of learning through play as well as following the interests of the child. 

 For several years after returning to Tucson, Brooke was Director of Education at the Children’s Museum Tucson.  Subsequently, she worked at Habitat for Humanity Tucson as the Philanthropy and Engagement Officer.  Brooke has been active in the Tucson community serving on several boards and committees, including Ben’s Bells, Primavera Foundation and Literacy Connects.  

 Over the past few years, Brooke took a sabbatical to raise her daughter Sage but is excited to be back working for a school for which she is passionate.  During her free time, Brooke loves camping, traveling, and doing yoga.  She is also an avid collector of vinyl records and disco balls! 

IDEA BOARD

David Higuera, IDEA School Co-Founder, Board Member

Katie Kurtin, Consultant, Board President

Cecelia Aguilar Ortiz, CHRPA, Board Member

Frieda Baker, Retired Educator, Board Member

Faffs Riederer, City of Tucson, Board Member