Taylion Academy K-12 Tailored To You — Online, In Class & At Home™

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Timothy A. Smith, Founder, Executive Director, and President
Timothy Smith has been operating and managing charter schools in Arizona since 1996. He has successfully written three charter school applications in Arizona, and two charter school petitions in California. He has assisted other groups in receiving their charters and has written numerous grants, including a national dissemination grant in 1998 for establishing a center for international education. Mr. Smith has led several school improvement teams and has sat on school improvement visitation teams. He led the International Studies Academy to become accredited through NCA in 1998 and assisted E-Institute Charter High Schools in becoming accredited, authorized by the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools and a member of the Arizona Alternative Education Consortium. Mr. Smith has led administrative and leadership teams in the following initiatives: Strategic Planning, NCLB, Curriculum Mapping, International Baccalaureate Authorization, policies and procedures adoption and implementation, school and district level budget planning and authorization, professional development planning and implementation, and virtual and blended learning teams. He has a bachelor’s degree in Asian studies and a bachelor’s degree in Korean language, from Brigham Young University.  Mr.Smith has a Masters in International Management from Thunderbird Global School of Management. He has completed coursework toward his Ed.D. in Educational Leadership at USC Rossier School of Education.


Shannon Creamer Smith, Co-Founder, Executive Vice President
Shannon Creamer Smith has been an educational leader since 1996. She has played a vital role in the growth and development of Learning Matters Educational Group and the schools that they manage. Shannon specializes in professional development, committee and team building and mentoring. Additionally, she has experience in the design of curriculum and instruction with an emphasis on literacy and assessment.Shannon has taken a lead role on employment policies and procedures and board development. She serves on several boards in Arizona including E-Institute Charter Schools and the Calibre Academy boards.Shannon is an advocate for young people and is actively involved in parent educational programs including the PTA of Sierra Verde Elementary School, the Renaissance Gifted Program of Highland Lakes School, and various committees of Mountain Ridge High School. Shannon has also led training of special education staff and has led and been involved with many student study teams related to student Individual Education Plans. Shannon had also led many student clubs and activities and spearheaded the Calibre Academy student outdoor leadership and environmental camp. Shannon has a degree in elementary education with an emphasis in reading instruction from Ottawa University. 
Vicki McFarland, Director of Federal Programs 
Vicki McFarland has served as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction since 2007 at Learning Matters Educational Group. Her current project involves leading administrators and teachers in systemic change utilizing data to drive instruction. Vicki has led several professional development sessions on the topic of new educational standards in math and language arts, and just completed the National Institute for School Leadership program. Her past projects have included curriculum mapping and standards based report card systems that are aligned to curriculum maps. Vicki has served as a capacity building coach for the Arizona Department of Education Comprehensive System of Personnel Development working with teams on the state improvement grants in reading and intervention, math, and Arizona high achievement for all (behavior). Previously, she served for 3 years as the Special Education Coordinator for Calibre Academy and E-Institute Charter High Schools, was a consultant for homeschooling parents in Arizona, and a Stanford test administrator. Vicki taught special education in New Mexico for fifteen years before moving to Arizona.
Benoni Pantoja, Vice President of Schools
Benoni Pantoja received his bachelor’s degree in United States History from the University of California, San Diego and later completed his master’s degree in secondary education from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. In addition to his teaching and administrative credential, he is Bilingual Cross-cultural Language and Academic Development Certified. He is passionate in closing the achievement gap and has led initiatives in the following: Strategic Planning, Instructional Leadership, Professional Learning Communities, Teacher Evaluations, WASC, Curriculum Development, SDAIE, and RTI. This is Benoni's 9th year as an administrator and he is proud to serve as the Vice President of Schools for Taylion. Previously he worked at Taylion San Diego Academy, Vista High School,  Animo Venice Charter High School and was a founding faculty member at Animo South Los Angeles Charter High School. Benoni also worked in Lennox Unified School District and began his education career at the San Diego Unified School District working with the AVID program. Currently, Benoni assists with supervising and supporting the Taylion Academy schools in North County San Diego, San Bernardino, Victorville, and Adelanto.  
Amy Riggs, Director of Academics
Amy Riggs graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Political Science from Vanguard University of Southern California. She also holds a Masters of Arts in Education and a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership at Azusa Pacific University. She holds both a teaching and administrative credential. For over ten years, Amy has taught at both the middle and high school level. She began her career working at Jehue Middle School in Rialto Unified School District teaching 7th and 8th grade history. Shen then moved into the private school sector where she worked for Riverside Christian Schools, where she taught World History, Economics, World Literature, and Speech & Debate. For a brief time, she worked for Project Life Impact in San Bernardino helping to serve elementary student in an after-school program. Amy has been with Taylion Academy since 2011, first beginning as a teacher. In 2014, she was promoted to Lead Teacher and quickly moved into an administrative role as Director at Taylion Academy - San Bernardino in 2015. She now supports the Taylion Academy schools throughout Southern California in her role as Director of Academics.
Philipp Pitchford, Outreach and Operations Manager 
Philipp Pitchford is an accomplished management professional with over 5 years of experience building teams, driving efficiency and reducing costs. Philipp has a proven ability to apply creative problem-solving skills and thought-leadership to achieve positive-sum results. He believes data is the difference between a good idea and an informed decision, but that people are what turn an informed decision into a great strategy. Philipp is passionate about the improvement of individuals' abilities through feedback and professional development. He brings a diverse background to the table including an MA in Global Affairs and Management from Thunderbird School of Global Management. 
Esther Batty, Human Resources Manager 
Esther Batty is an HR leader with a belief that culture drives strategy, and that employees should be the company's most valuable asset. With over a decade of experience in organizational development and people programs as well as a Masters degree in Organizational Leadership, Esther brings a diverse background into focus in Human Resources. Esther is passionate about building diverse teams and fostering individuals' abilities and successes, while aligning people programs with Taylion Academy's goals and values
Karen Ruffner, Director of Compliance and Testing Coordinator
Karen Ruffner has been with Taylion Academies since 2014. Her roles with the school have included being a teacher - her favorite position of all. Additionally, she is testing Coordinator and Compliance Director while also serving as Taylion's resident BTSA/Induction mentor. 
Rosario Zepeda, English Language Specialist
Rosario Zepeda came to Taylion Academy after 14 years with the Migrant Ed program. She brings her skills and knowledge to benefit Taylion's English Language Learners as well as their families and the rest of the Taylion community. 
David Wiessner, Internal Compliance Specialist
David Wiessner is the Internal Compliance Specialist at Taylion Academy. He holds a Bachelors of Arts in Human Development from Azusa Pacific University. He excels in math and enjoys creating policies and procedures that create a systematic guideline for our organization. His main duties are auditing the compliance files that provide all of the funding for Taylion. He also audits other areas of importance such as student cumulative files. David loves fishing, golfing and spending as much time as possible with his wife and 2 teenage kids. He will soon be a first time grandpa and looks forward to his fishing days with his grandson. 
Kathleen Bui, Resource Specialist 
Deborah Algario, Curriculum Coordinator