Jillian Anderson-Rano - Conversational Spanish Instructor

Jillian Anderson-Rano comes from the midwest originally Nebraska to be exact.

She was born in San Jose, Costa Rica. She moved to Willits in 2005, lured by the promise of mountains no snow and a hometown feel. Jillian joined Willits Charter School in the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year. She teaches kids to be the change they want to see in the world, and to forget shooting for the stars but aim for what is beyond because there is no limit to what a person can accomplish.  

A firm believer that all people learn differently she works toward finding finding a way reach and teach all she can.

Scot Lamon - Special Education Teacher

Scot Lamon has been teaching at Willits Charter School for the last four years. He earned a BS in English literature and K-8 Elementary Education Certificate from the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. He later attended Seattle Pacific University and earned teaching certificates in both Math and Special Education.

Mr. Lamon moved to Willits in 1999 from Snoqualmie, Washington, earned his California Teaching Certification at Sonoma State University, and has been teaching in the Willits Unified School District for the past 17 years.

Mr. Lamon enjoys teaching the most challenging of all of our students, and has been successful with helping many students overcome difficult learning disabilities.

Erin Mendoza - Choir Instructor

Ms. Mendoza isa singer, voice teacher, and choir teacher in Willits. She teaches both choir and singing classes at Willits Charter School as well as private voice lessons. She also sings at both community and private events, including the Willits Variety Show, weddings, and memorial services. 

She has been singing her whole life and learning to sing has been an amazing journey for her. She went from being someone with very little self-confidence, to someone who has found herself and her voice through music. She believes that anyone can learn to sing; people just start their journeys from different places. 

Before deciding to start a career in music, she spent many years as a therapist, working with children, teens, and families, to help them overcome challenges and gain new skills. The parts she loved most about being a therapist were encouraging people, helping people build on their strengths, and watching people grow, to name a few. These are all things she loves about being a teacher too. It’s so much fun supporting someone as they improve skills and gain self-confidence, and she feel honored to be part of that process. 

Melissa Miles - 6th & 7th Grade Language Arts & Social Studies

Melissa Miles (M.E.) is joining WCS this year after moving from the SF Bay Area in April 2016. She earned her BA in Liberal Studies from San Francisco State University in 2009, followed by her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential.  Ms. Miles is currently teaching 6th and 7th grade English Language Arts and Social Studies. She enjoys incorporating performance and creativity into her lessons.

Prior to teaching, Ms. Miles was a street performer in San Francisco, working with her father to put on shows that incorporate magic, juggling, and ventriloquism into a pirate-themed show. They created a pirate ship out of a box trailer, with a working 15-foot mast and rigging.

Ms. Miles loves to write, particularly poetry.

Chris Wood - 8th Grade Math, Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry

Mr. Wood received his bachelor's degree in Mathematics from Sonoma State University with a emphasis on Teaching Secondary Math in 2012.  He graduated from Dominican University with a single subject teaching credential in 2013 and is in his 4th year of teaching.  

 

Most of his teaching experience has happened here at Willits Charter School, with one year at Piner High in Santa Rosa.  Mr. Wood’s entire teaching career has been during the era of Common Core Standards and she has fully embraced the concept of precision and mastery as requirements for passing grades.  

 

He believes that all students can master mathematics and he embraces mistakes as learning experiences.  He tries to instill in his students a love of learning of all types and works to improve their lives, current and future.

Lisa Shore - Physical Education Instructor

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around...
— Leo Buscaglia

Ms. Lisa Shore has been teaching wellness and fitness for over 20 years before coming to teach Physical Education at Willits Charter School.

 

Her career in fitness started in the early 1990’s when she started teaching a “Fit Under 5” class at the local hospital based wellness center. In this class she taught children under 5 how to eat healthy and exercise regularly. Her class was so successful that she was asked to help develop and run a sports/fitness summer camp for school age children. The program enabled her to work with children ages 6-15 years old with a variety of fitness levels. She enjoyed working with children and their families so much it prompted her to open her own fitness studio on September 11, 2001, which she named Personal Touch Fitness.

 

Lisa had the pleasure of helping training children for the special olympic powerlifting team competition. When she wasn’t training her own clients, or taking care of her three children she training and competed in several powerlifting competitions herself all over Virginia. To her staying fit mentally and physically is a lifestyle that she wishes to share with everyone to make their life happier and healthy.  Lisa decided if she wanted to help her clients reach their personal fitness and nutrition goals she needed to study the field more, so she decided to get her Personal Training and Nutrition Certification from the American Fitness Professionals Association. After receiving her certifications Lisa opened a second gym named Denbigh Athletic Club, which was considered one of the largest athletic clubs in the community with over 10,000 sq ft.

 

When Lisa became a single mother of three children, she decided it was best for her family that she close her gym. She found a great job working at the local community mental health substance abuse center for children. Here she found other ways she could help the families in her community, by partnering with community members such as social services, probation and parole, schools, and mental hospitals she was able to offer the best possible resources to those suffering in the community. While at this job she incorporated her love of fitness and formed a fitness team with other coworkers in order to participate in the company fitness program. Her team came in first place for the first time in the history of the company's program. She was also responsible for training the entire staff verbal and physical crisis intervention skills, as well as being responsible for being an American Red Cross instructor training CPR and First Aid.   

 

Lisa’s passion to make a difference and help others lead her to going back to school in 2014 to get her B.S. in Substance Abuse Counseling from GCU. She is currently due to graduate in spring of 2018 and has managed to maintain a 3.56 GPA or higher throughout her college career, along with working fulltime and raising a family on her own. Is is important to her to be  positive role model and show that anyone can accomplish what they want if they work hard enough.

 

On February 12, 2015, she received a surprise that would change her life, a plane ticket to California. Lisa had a childhood friend that wanted her to come visit Northern California for a well deserved vacation. Lisa had never taken one before and figured with her children now being young adults with families of their own it was time to do something for herself. That visit would change her life forever, when Lisa returned to Virginia she put in her 30 day notice at her job, said goodbye to her family, and loaded her dog in her car and moved to Willits two months after her visit.

Ms. Charlie Widner - Food Services Director/Culinary Arts Instructor

Life is a banquet, and most people are starving to death...
— Mame

Ms. Charlie K. Widner, CDM/CFPP, has come a long way from picking tomatoes out of her family garden in Indiana to embarking upon partnering with Willits Charter School as Food Service Director/Culinary Arts Instructor. 

Her career path as an electronic technician changed dramatically with a manufacturing plant closure in Western North Carolina. NAFTA, North American Free Trade Agreement, financed her culinary education and in 1996, she graduated with honors from Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College with an AAS in Culinary Technology. 

Upon graduation, Chef Widner was offered a job at the prestigious Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island, Florida, a 4-star 5-diamond restaurant. Exposure to chefs and foods from all over the world expanded her knowledge of food and the hospitality industry.

Wanting to return to the mountains and fulfill a passion to educate people of all ages about food, in 1997 Chef Widner became Education and Catering Director of A Cook’s Gallery. A year later, she continued her path of sharing her culinary skills and became a Culinary Arts Instructor at Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College. Chef Widner taught all aspects of culinary and hospitality education, inclusive of safety and sanitation, knife skills, cooking techniques, batch cooking and plate presentation. She has touched the lives of many through culinary education and hands on mentoring.

With a burning desire to own a café, the Tomato Jam Café was born in 2005. The Jam fulfilled a much needed local organic farm to table food venue to health conscious customers. Her whole wheat “Cat’s Head Biscuits” were recognized by Roadfood‘s Michael and Jane Stern in their book 500 Things to Eat Before It’s Too Late: And the Very Best Places to Eat Them as the Best Biscuits in the South. The cafe was sold in 2010 to move the Widner family across country to be closer to in-laws and extended family in Northern California.

Ms. Widner was recruited for the Food & Beverage Director of a 300 resident Retirement Community in the Bay Area. During this time, with constant studying and attending on-line classes and conferences, Ms. Widner achieved her Certified Dietary Manager/Certified Food Protection Professional credentials. Ms. Widner established policies and procedures, taught and trained employees, developed cyclical menus and trained and instructed staff for preparation of menus, ordered all F&B food and supplies maintaining continuous inventory and was held accountable for all financial spend downs for all departmental accounts and payroll.

For balance and to build upon sense of self and community, enjoy and spend more time with her family, Ms. Widner is very excited to bring and share her culinary skills with the students and staff of the Willits Charter Schools.

 

Sienna Reno - Middle School Art & Ceramics Instructor

Ms Reno is a local artist and owner of Expansion Prints. As well as running her own business, she also enjoys working in education. She has an Associates Degree in Child Development and has been teaching Art & Ceramics at the Willits Charter School since 2013.

Ms Reno was a former Willits Charter School graduate, and was one of our school's original student body in 2000. She continued her education focusing on Child Development and Ceramic Arts. 

Today she passionately shares the joys of learning by encouraging her students to question their "personal limitations". Try a new style or technique you never have before, experiment and find out what you can do with it. Then teach the rest of us about it!

She welcomes the challenges of teaching in the modern age, and is motivated by a commitment to bring creativity to formal education in order to inspire the current generation to realize their dreams.