At Maranatha, we view our faculty not only as those who develop and teach the curriculum, but as the “living curriculum”. Faculty members lead clubs, mentor, coach, and tutor students on a daily basis and embody our Christ-centered mission in each student interaction. Faculty members are highly educated and credentialed in their fields and yet the requirements for Maranatha faculty extend well beyond the resume. MHS staff are known to hold an intentional Christian faith and strong relational ability that inspire growth, character development, and wisdom in and out of the classroom. We are proud to highlight our outstanding faculty here. (Please click on each name to read their bios below.)


Honors Algebra 2, Algebra 1, AP Statistics, Statistics

Ms. Albright is full of passion, not only for teaching, “but a desire to make learning math fun for students, to help them see the beauty of the subject and how we can use it to study God’s creation.” She holds a BA in Mathematics and a California Teaching Credential in Mathematics from Azusa Pacific University. She has experience teaching in a private Christian school and has also worked as an Educational Therapist. “In order for students to make connections from math to other areas of life, I bring in real world examples to the classroom, purposefully connecting the material to the lives and cares of the students.”

    AVAKIAN, DR. GARINEH • Performing Arts

Mixed Ensemble, Concert Choir, Introduction to Music Theory, Theology and the Arts

Dr. Garineh has fourteen years of experience teaching and directing music from the kindergarten through college level.  She holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s in Music from San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and a Graduate Certificate and a Doctorate in Musical Arts from USC, Thornton School of Music. She is proficient in music education, voice, choral and instrumental conducting, and music theory. She also has extensive performance experience in opera, concert, and oratorio and has performed at Carnegie Hall and the Turkish Embassy in Washington DC to name a few. She is fluent in English, Armenian, and Italian. “Teaching is about giving,” she says, “arts is about sharing your God-given gifts with others.”

    BAKER, DANIEL • Performing Arts

English, Learning Lab Specialist

Mr. Baker holds a BA in Writing from Azusa Pacific University and a MA in Humanities and Social Thought – Cross Cultural Communications from New York University. He has over four years of teaching and tutoring experience and also works as an adjunct college professor of English, where his courses focus on the intersection of faith, literature, and writing. In his graduate work he specialized in identifying Biblical truth and its impact on the lives of secular writers, as well as the failings of false religions. He states, “My hope is to strengthen the faith of students and to equip them to face the challenges of the world as victors in Christ.”

    BARNHART, DIANE • Visual & Performing Arts Chair/ Visual Arts

Painting and Drawing, Honors Painting and Drawing, A.P. Studio Art, Honors Portfolio Preparation

Ms. Barnhart has a B.A. in Art from California State University, Sacramento and a M.A. in Christian Education from Denver Theological Seminary. She has been teaching at Maranatha over twenty years. She also has experience in the public sector and as a freelance artist. Ms. Barnhart is the Art Club Advisor and European Arts Trip Leader. "As Christians," she says, "we should have a greater understanding of where creativity originated since we know the Creator. It is a joy to help students discover the creativity within them and guide them toward growing this skill and giving their talents back to God as an act of worship."


Theater 1,2,3, Theater Director

Our Theater Director, Jeremiah Blessinger, has a decade of teaching experience in the Christian high school setting as well as over 15 years of professional film and theatrical experience as a screenwriter and assistant director for various L.A. theater companies. Mr. Blessinger graduated from Azusa Pacific University with a B.A. in Biblical Studies. He considers it a blessing and a joy to be able to openly guide students in their pursuit of faith at Maranatha, noting that “Biblical truths bleed into everything we do. Through faith we can help students see who they are and how they value themselves, and also give them the courage and confidence to pursue the arts."


Spanish 2, Spanish 3, Honors Spanish 2, A.P. Spanish

Ms. Breitenbucher has been teaching at the university level for more than fifteen years and has taught in three different countries including Argentina, Mexico, and the United States. She holds a degree in Humanities, with an emphasis in Spanish Literature and Pedagogy from the Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia San Juan Bosco, a B.A. in French from L'Aliance Française in Argentina; a M.A. in Spanish Language and Spanish and Latin American Literature from the University of California, Riverside, and is in the final stages of her doctorate. Ms. Breitenbucher is "thrilled to work at Maranatha, where I experience students’ daily excitement and love, and where I have the opportunity to give them back God’s love through my humble dedication."

    CHAN, MONICA • Math

Calculus, Algebra 2/Trigonometry

Ms. Chan has over twenty years of teaching experience. She holds multiple degrees including a degree in Education and a Teaching Credential from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore; a B.S. in Pure Mathematics from the University of New South Wales in Australia; an M.A. in Education with an emphasis on Multicultural Teaching Strategies and Structure, and a Preliminary Single Subject California Teaching Credential in Mathematics from National University. Ms. Chan is multi-lingual, speaking English, Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien and Teochew), Japanese, and Malay. She has taught in three different countries including Singapore, Australia, and the United States. She is excited to be at Maranatha and says, “As an educator, I not only want to pass on mathematical knowledge to my students, but also my love for God. I want my students to develop great personality, integrity, and good moral values so as to honor the Lord Jesus Christ.”

    CHUNG, SHARON '02 • Languages/ Social Science

American Sign Language 1,2,3

Mrs. Chung holds a B.A. in Psychology and a M.S. in Clinical Psychology both from Vanguard University of Southern California. Mrs. Chung has experience teaching as well as a background in both Clinical Psychology and ABA psychology. She has been able to utilize her ASL (American Sign Language) skills, that she originally learned while a student at Maranatha, in all of her previous jobs in various capacities. Sharon loves working at a Christian school and shares, "I love being able to talk about my faith with my coworkers and students and be able to pray with them. You can see God in everything that we do here at MHS and it is my goal as a teacher to let His message and love shine through everyday to my students."

    EDWARDS, TIFFANY • Dean of Faculty/ English

A.P. English Language

Mrs. Edwards serves as the Dean of Faculty as well as a member of our English faculty instructing A.P. English Language. Her experience as an Assistant Principal, Dean of Humanities, and instructor of several A.P. and Honors courses is a blessing to our community. Mrs. Edwards has a B.A. in English Literature and Education and a M.A. in Higher Education and Organizational Change from the University of California, Los Angeles; a Single Subject California Teaching Credential in English/Language Arts from Vanguard University; and is presently pursuing a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Social Justice from Loyola Marymount University.  Mrs. Edwards enjoys showing God’s truths through examples in literature stating, “Humanity, God, and nature are the three main categories of characters within literature.”

    FOWLER, DIANNA • Languages

French 1, French 2, French 3, French 4

Dianna Fowler serves as our French instructor in our Languages Department.  Ms. Fowler has over twenty years of experience in Christian education.  She has extensive teaching experience along with over five years of administrative experience. Ms. Fowler has a B.A. in French from Mount Saint Mary’s College. “At Maranatha,” she says, “we are able to make an impact on students’ character by speaking Christ’s words, and by putting them in action. I enjoy working in a Christ-centered school because it gives me the ability to surround myself with opportunities to live out the message of Christ.”

    GRADWOHL, ANNA • Dance

Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Dance

Mrs. Gradwohl has over 18 years of dance performance experience, as well as extensive experience in teaching and choreography of a variety of dance styles. She received her B.A. in Dance Performance from Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida. Mrs. Gradwohl is passionate about dance and truly sees it as worship. She explains, “Dance creates an area where students can form explicit integration with their faith. This integration may take the form of liturgical worship dance, or it may create the meaning behind any style of dance. Dance allows students to express their faith physically. (Psalm 149:3)”

    HAMPTON, CHARLES • Social Science, Theology

Modern World History, U.S. Government, theology and the Arts

Charles Hampton instructs U.S. Government, Modern World History and Theology in the Arts. Mr. Hampton enjoys working at Maranatha because; “A Christian school provides a community and environment for students that helps shield them from the lies that they encounter on a daily basis. A Christian school, filled with faithful students and teachers, can help teach students how to live in the world and yet not be of the world.“ Mr. Hampton has a B.A. in History from Westmont College and a Master’s in Teaching with a California Teaching Credential from Point Loma Nazarene University. Before joining Maranatha, Mr. Hampton taught in local public high schools.

    HARRIS, SHAWN • Math

Geometry, Honors Algebra II

Mr. Harris holds a BA in Liberal Studies with an Emphasis in Mathematics from Cal Poly, Pomona. Mr. Harris has a special love for math and likes to help see people beyond just the equations. “I do like trying to get the students to look at Algebra and Geometry problems as puzzles waiting to be solved. With a little diligence and probing any question about our universe can be answered through Mathematics.” As an alumnus of Maranatha, Mr. Harris enjoys bringing the foundation he received into his own classroom. “As Christians we are charged with a standard of living that exemplifies service and love for one another, if a teacher conducts their classroom in a way that glorifies the Lord through these commandments, then no matter what the subject matter God’s love will shine through.”

    HARRISON, CLEONIE • Languages

Spanish 2, Honors Spanish 1, Honors Spanish 3

Mrs. Harrison has a B.A. in Spanish from Cal Poly University, Pomona, a Masters in Education from Azusa Pacific University, and is in the process of completing her Teaching Credential. She has been at Maranatha for eight years and has experience teaching at the college level and interpreting for the deaf in the public school system. "The ministry of transformation that takes place at Maranatha is what God has called me to be a part of here. It is not only about educating young minds but it is about building the Kingdom of God and allowing His Spirit to mold us into the servants and children God has called us to be."

    JANG, DR. ALLEN • Science

Biology, Physics

Dr. Jang has over thirty-five years of experience in primary, secondary and university-level education. He has served in both Christian and public schools as faculty, principal, vice-principal, and counselor. He has a passion for science and has started an annual science fair at every school he has worked at including Maranatha. Dr. Jang has training in both the Western and Eastern sciences which he shares in the classroom including such practices as acupuncture and Tai Chi. His is also a university instructor in Theology and Science, a licensed pastoral counselor, and hospital chaplain. He holds many degrees including a B.A. in Religion and a M.A. in Pastoral Counseling from Pepperdine University, a Ph.D. in Educational Administration and Religious Education from Columbia Pacific University, and an N.D. (Doctor of Naturopathy) from Trinity College of Natural Health. “After I became a Christian as an adult, I looked back on my years of questioning, searching, and puzzlement as a teenager raised in Buddhism and Taoism.  It has been my life-long goal ever since to make a difference in young people's lives by broadening their horizons so that they may see Jesus, too.” 


English 9, English Literature

Mrs. Johansen has eight years of experience in the classroom and has been at Maranatha for four years. She holds a B.S. in Psychology from California State University, Fullerton. Mrs. Johansen loves opening up new worlds through literature and believes that, “teaching literature opens up many opportunities to discuss who God created each one of us to be, and how to navigate this life understanding what the world asks of us without sacrificing God's calling for our lives. It is a blessing to be used to speak into the lives of young people, and God has given me so many amazing students that show me His love every day.”

    KOZAK, STEVEN • Theology, Dean of Spiritual Life and Student Leadership

Old Testament Theology, New Testament Theology, ASB

Mr. Kozak holds a BA in Social Science from Michigan State University, a MA in apologetics from Biola University, and a Master of Theological Studies from Moody Theological Seminary. He has six years of experience in a private Christian high school as a Theology teacher, Department Chair, and Director of Spiritual Life.  He is also a published author and part-time college professor. “There is nothing that captivates, motivates, or drives me and my family more than the mission of God, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As a result, “in the classroom,” he notes, “I am incredibly passionate about teaching students not just about God, but allowing them the opportunity to experience Him in a very real and tangible way. I want them to be prepared when they walk out the door to be solid Christians ready to take on the world for Jesus.”

    LAYTON, JAMES • Theology Chair/ Theology

Jesus and the Gospels, New Testament Theology, Pastoral Theology, Apologetics

Mr. Layton has a Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary and a B.A. in English from the University of Delaware. He has eight years teaching experience in private schools. Mr. Layton enjoys being involved in both local and international student outreaches and student clubs. “When I was in high school I found purpose and identity in Christ because teachers and youth workers had the courage share their faith and their lives with me. I teach because I want to be the same beacon of hope for my students that my teachers were for me.”

    MARTINEZ, DAVID '05 • English

Honors Composition, English Literature, Fairy Tales in Fiction and Film

Mr. Martinez is an alumnus of Maranatha High School. He holds a B.A. in English and Comparative Literary Studies from Occidental College. He has been teaching at Maranatha for three years and has been an active cross country and track coach for four years. “Working at a Christ-centered high school like Maranatha has allowed me to help my students tackle the hard questions presented in literature by honestly exploring how we as people respond to these issues. By integrating faith into the discussion, we can incorporate such a fundamental part of our worldview and life into our education.”

    MESISCA, PAT '92 • Theology/English

Beginning Speech and Debate, Advanced Speech and Debate, Old Testament Theology, World Religions

Mr. Mesisca graduated from Maranatha and has been teaching here for over fifteen years. He holds a B.A. in Biblical Studies from Biola University, a Master of Divinity and a Master of Theology from Talbot School of Theology. Mr. Mesisca established Maranatha’s award-winning Speech & Debate team and also oversees the school’s Chess Club. In his spare time, he is the head preaching and worship pastor of Christ's Church in Baldwin Park. He has authored a Christian apologetics textbook entitled, "Constructing A Christian Worldview". He states, "I have a passion for finding answers to life's toughest questions and providing young people with the resources to build a solid Christian worldview that will stand for eternity.  I seek to model and encourage others to be obedient to the mandate in 1 Peter 3:15 - "to always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have, but do so with gentleness and respect." 

    NEWKIRK, ED • Theology

New Testament Theology, Old Testament Theology

Mr. Newkirk has taught, coached, mentored at, and seen his four children graduate Maranatha over the last thirty years. “Maranatha is a unique place where we have great families with great kids coming together and where teachers and coaches have the opportunity to be the "living curriculum". God has called me to Maranatha and I love teaching here!” He has a B.A. in Physical Education from Biola University with a Minor in Bible, a M.S. in Exercise Physiology from California State University Fullerton, and a California State Teaching Credential in Physical Education with a Supplemental Certificate in Biology and Life Sciences. Mr. Newkirk has also coached and taught for a number of years at the university level.

    PELLETIER, SANDY • Math Chair/ Math

A.P. Calculus AB, A.P. Calculus BC, Math Analysis

Mrs. Pelletier has over thirty-five years teaching experience at the high school and university level and has been at Maranatha for over twenty years. She serves as our Math Department Chair and sponsors the American Math Contest and the Math Club at Maranatha each year. She holds a B.A. in Physical Science with a Concentration in Mathematics from Vanguard University as well as a California Single Subject Teaching Credential in Mathematics. “I have thoroughly enjoyed teaching Math at a variety of institutions and at all levels. As a teacher, we disseminate more than just information. I am thrilled to have the opportunity at Maranatha to point the way to the truth, pray with the class, apply and read Scripture in class, and celebrate the glories of knowing and loving the Lord.”

    PETERSON, ANTOINE • Physical Education

Beginning Weight Training, Advanced Weight Training, and Physical Education

Mr. Peterson has sixteen years of teaching experience at the high school, middle school, and elementary levels as well as twenty-two years of coaching experience in multiple sports. He holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Physical Education, both from Azusa Pacific University. As a college football player, he chose to pursue degrees in Physical Education to be “in the position of being a mentor to other student athletes.” Mr. Peterson is grateful to be at Maranatha saying, “To be in a Christian environment feels like I am home.”

    ROCHE, KERRY • English

English Composition, A.P. English Language, Honors English 9

Ms. Roche has a B.A. in Creative Studies with an Emphasis in Literature from the University of California, Santa Barbara; a M.A. in Literature from Cal State University, Los Angeles; and a M.A. in American Studies from Pepperdine University. Ms. Roche has over ten years teaching experience and says, “Working at a Christian school allows instructors to not only develop the mind, but the spirit of the individual. A Christian school educator cares about students holistically and ensures they are living through Christ in all daily activities.”

    ROUSE, KAY • Visual Arts

Art Introduction

Mrs. Rouse has served at Maranatha for over thirty years. She has a B.A. in Art from California State University, Long Beach. She has her own studio and pursues art on her own time, particularly enjoying mixed media and traditional water color. “I love being able to teach students from my Christian perspective leading them towards an understanding and appreciation of the importance of art. I also teach them the value of aesthetics and artists as shown through Scripture. I challenge my students to take an intentional place in the arts world as highly skilled and uniquely Christian artists.” Mrs. Rouse has seen her three sons graduate from Maranatha.

    SCHLENKER, BRENDA • Visual Arts/ Yearbook

Photo 1, Photo 2, Graphic Design, Advanced Graphic Design

Mrs. Schlenker has eleven years experience as a full time graphic designer, and has been a faculty member at Maranatha for over ten years while continuing to work part time as a freelance graphic designer/photographer. She holds a B.S. in Applied Art and Design with a Graphic Design emphasis from California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo. She shares, “We were created in the image of the One who creates. I love having the opportunity to encourage a visual means of expression to the next generation, providing tools and a place to discover an artistic voice that is inspired by the Author of Creativity.”

    SUAREZ, RUDY • Physics

Physics, AP Physics 1, AP Physics 2

Mr. Suarez has twenty years of classroom experience in both public and private school settings as well as avid experience in Christian youth work. Mr. Suarez has a BS in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles and is currently working towards his MA in Education from there as well. Mr. Suarez feels there is a great need to prepare the next generation. He says, “I want to mentor students to go out in their community and be the salt of the earth.” Mr. Suarez is bilingual English/Spanish.

    TURNQUIST, ERIKA • English

English 11, English 10

Ms. Turnquist has seven years of teaching experience in faith-based, charter, and public schools. She holds a Teaching Credential in English, a BA in English from Cal State University, Los Angeles; and is currently completing her Master’s in English, with a focus on British Literature. “It is not difficult,” she says, “to think of ways in which the ideals of Christianity can be incorporated into an English Literature class.” Some favorite aspects of teaching literature for her include: “exploring the history behind literature - to adequately describe the time period and set the tone for the story.” She also loves teaching anything on Edgar Alan Poe.


Honors Math Analysis, Honors Geometry

Ms. Van Spronsen holds a B.A. in Mathematics and a B.A. in Biblical Studies from Azusa Pacific University as well as a Single Subject Teaching Credential in Mathematics. As a graduate of Maranatha, she returned last year to join our faculty. Ms. Van Spronsen summarizes her role in the Math Department by saying, “Galileo once said that ‘Mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe.’ Working at Maranatha provides me with the perfect opportunity to share not only my love for the Lord but also the passion I have for math. Finding ways to integrate the two is a fascinating journey and Maranatha provides an atmosphere for students to explore their faith through the eyes of math.”

    WELLS, JOHN • Theology/Performing Arts

Orchestra, Advanced Orchestra, Old Testament Theology

Mr. Wells serves as a faculty member in the Theology Department and as the Director of the school’s orchestra. He has extensive experience writing his own musical productions and working as musical director at numerous churches. Mr. Wells has a B.A. in History from California State University, Northridge and a Master in Divinity from Biola University. Mr. Wells “loves to teach students and I believe God called me from full-time church work to specifically invest in young lives”.

    WOODS, SHANEKA • Science Chair/ Science

Chemistry, Honors Chemistry and A.P. Chemistry, Physics

Ms. Woods serves as our Science Department Chair and Science faculty member.  Ms. Woods is both a Trojan and a Bruin, having received a M.A. in Teaching and a California State Teaching Credential in Secondary Education in Chemistry from the University of Southern California, and a B.A. in Spanish Literature with a Pre-Medical Studies emphasis from University of California, Los Angeles. Ms. Woods has over six years experience as a science teacher and says she is “thrilled to be a part of the Maranatha family and be a part of an institution that places Christ at the center of all we do. When Christ is the foundation, we gather our purpose and press toward our higher calling.”



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