Faculty & Staff

Head of School

Dena Harris, M.Ed, became Head of School in 2016. Dena is an experienced educator with a broad vision for Winston.

A graduate of University of California, Santa Cruz and San Diego State University, Dena went on to earn teaching and specialist credentials from SDSU and the University of San Diego. She was recently accepted into the San Diego State University Educational Leadership Doctoral Program, where she is focusing on mental health and wellness programs for students.

Before joining Winston, Dena was chief executive officer of San Diego Global Vision Academies, a non-profit public charter school organization serving 320 elementary and middle school students. She was one of the leading founders of the charter school, and she presided over the school’s growth, management, fundraising and success. She is a board member and vice chair of the Charter School Facility Committee Prop Z Bond, which awards $350 million of bond funding to charter schools, and reviews and approves all charter facility development applications.

She has been a Reading and Educational Specialist, providing customized educational programs and interventions for students, families and schools. As such, she has designed curriculum, assessment plans, professional development and teacher mentoring.

Dena was the director of curriculum and instruction for the MAAC Charter School, part of the Sweetwater Union High School District, an educational computer consultant, a board member for the international dyslexia association , and a classroom teacher at Darnall Elementary School. Dena and her husband are parents to four young children.

Faculty

The faculty of The Winston School, San Diego, is composed of highly trained and experienced educators, therapists and support staff who passionately believe that every child can learn and achieve success in life. We strive to support students in reaching their goals, whether academic, artistic, personal or professional through the use of multi-sensory presentation, differentiated instruction, cross-curricular projects and specialized technology. The team of special needs learning specialists tailor their work according to what each individual student needs.

  • We have something at our school that you can’t find many other places. You know us for who we are. – Ian O’Brien ’07

The educational staff is carefully chosen for their educational credentials and experience as well as for the personal touch they bring to their interactions with students of all ages. All are certified and their professional growth is a major focus of the overall culture of the school.

By special arrangement, our master teachers support interns and student teachers enrolled in the following San Diego schools: Cal State San Marcos, University of San Diego and National University.

The Winston School faculty shares personal interests with students by participating in extracurricular events, sponsoring clubs, chaperone evening cultural events and travel opportunities. Many also pursue professional careers in the arts.

Riley Alvord
LOWER SCHOOL
Keene State College
  Lizette Cardenas
ADMINSTRATIVE ASSISTANT
BS, San Diego State University
  Linda Castile
ENGLISH, HISTORY
BA, Mt. Saint Mary’s College
MA, CSU San Marcos
         
Danica Chu
MATH
BS, University of California, Irvine
  Marcus Cortez
ASSISTANT TEACHER
  Chandra Dimitrievski
HISTORY
BA, UC Santa Barbara
MA, Education Specialist, Azusa Pacific University
         
Katalin Guttman
ENGLISH, HISTORY
BA, Cal State Fullerton
MA, CSU San Marcos
  Dena Harris
HEAD OF SCHOOL
BA, UC Santa Cruz
MS, San Diego State University
  Ernie Hartt
SCIENCE
BA, Texas A&M
MA, San Diego State University
         
Russell Jacobsen
P.E. TEACHER
Juniata College
  Mindy Kaplan
OFFICE MANAGER
  Jeanne-Marie Mandell
ENGLISH
BA, UC Irvine
Education Specialist, CSU San Marcos
         
Dan Peragine
ART, GRAPHIC/MULTIMEDIA ARTS
BFA, University of Nebraska
MFA, University of Nebraska
  Mario Rios
ASSISTANT TEACHER
BA, Long Beach State
  Osiris Romero
ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
BA, University of California San Diego
         
Norm Severe
DEAN OF STUDENTS
DIRECTOR OF COUNSELING
BA, UC Santa Barbara
MA, California School for Professional Psychology
PsyD, California School for Professional Psychology
  Ellen Soldinger
HISTORY
BS, University of Cincinnati
  Amy Spitler
DIRECTOR OF ADMISSIONS
ENGLISH, READING, LOWER SCHOOL
BA, UC San Diego
Education Specialist, CSU San Marcos
         
John Schwartz
ENGLISH, DIGITAL MEDIA
BA, UC Santa Cruz
  Erin Thompson
ASSISTANT TEACHER
BA, UC San Diego
  Mary Sterling-Torretti
ASSISTANT HEAD OF SCHOOL
ENGLISH
BA, UC Santa Barbara
M.Ed, University of San Diego
MA, CSU San Marcos
         
Samantha Vaccaro
SUBSTITUTE TEACHER
BS, St. Catherine University
  Susan VanZanten
SPANISH
BA, Point Loma Nazarene University
MA, Azusa Pacific University
Education Specialist, Azusa Pacific University
  Kayla Vits
READING
UW Milwaukee
         
John Weber
SCIENCE, P.E. TEACHER
BS, California State University San Bernardino
  Noah Wilke
SCIENCE, MUSIC
BMus, Berklee College of Music
MMus, Trinity Laban
  Deidra Wilkins
ASSISTANT TEACHER, LOWER SCHOOL
CSU, San Marcos
         
Heather Zuidema
PSYCHOLOGY, MATH
BS, Calvin College
 

The Winston School of San Diego is a registered 501(c)(3)