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 2013-2014 faculty here. (Please click on each name to read their bios below.)

    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."

    BARRANTES, ABBY • Languages Chair/ English

American Literature, Spanish 1, Advanced English Language Development

Mrs. Barrantes has eight years teaching experience. She holds a B.A. in English from Whitworth University with an Emphasis in Secondary Education and English as a Second Language, and a Masters in TESOL (Teaching English as a Second or Other Language) from Grand Canyon University. She loves working at Maranatha and states that “being able to incorporate my faith which is so deeply a part of me is unique and wonderful.” She also loves encouraging students to “be in charge of their own learning and guiding them to think outside the box.”

    BELL, RYAN • Dean of College & Guidance Counseling/ Social Science


Mr. Bell has served as our Dean of College & Guidance Counseling for two years and teaches one section of Sociology. He holds a B.A. in Psychology and Biblical Studies from Azusa Pacific University, a M.S. in Education Counseling from the University of La Verne, and a Pupil Personnel Service Credential. Before coming to Maranatha he had six years experience in College and Guidance Counseling in the public school system and is delighted to share his talents at MHS noting, "It allows me share my faith with students while at the same time guiding them towards reaching their educational goals."


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, Honors Spanish 3

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

Geometry, Honors Geometry, 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, Psychology

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."

    DANDORF, SHARON • College & Guidance Counselor/ Social Science


Ms. Dandorf has over twenty-five years experience in education as a teacher, college professor, principal, and counselor. She holds a B.A. in Education, a M.A. in Counseling, and a M.A. in Education Intervention and Leadership all from Ottawa University. She also has her California State Teaching Credential, K-12 and a Pupil Personnel Services Credential. She is grateful to share her talents at Maranatha and states, "God’s powerful Word provides theological focus for my Psychology class that reminds the students that 'His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.' (2 Peter 1:3)".

    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

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

AP World History, Honors Modern World History

Charles Hampton instructs A.P. World History and Honors Modern World History. 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.

    HARRISON, CLEONIE • Languages

Spanish 1, 2, 3, Honors Spanish 1

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."

    HO, GARY • College & Guidance Counselor/ Social Science

A.P. Psychology

Mr. Ho has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles, a M.S. in Counseling from California State University, Los Angeles, and Pupil Personnel Services Credentials in School Counseling as well as Child Welfare and Attendance. He has six years of teaching experience in college, high school, and middle school. Mr. Ho enjoys working at Maranatha "because value is placed on developing the Christian faith of students. As I teach Psychology, I want students to develop their critical thinking skills to strengthen their beliefs in Jesus Christ."

    JANG, DR. ALLEN • Science/Theology

Biology, Old Testament Theology

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, Psychology

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.”

    KOLBERG, AARON • Performing Arts

Concert Choir, Mixed Ensemble, Introduction to Music Theory, A.P. Music Theory

Mr. Kolberg is pleased to be teaching at Maranatha High School. He says, “Along with my colleagues, I strive for intentional, instructional and spiritual excellence as we equip the next generation of world changers.” He holds a B.A. in Commercial Music Arranging from Azusa Pacific University (APU) and is currently pursuing a Master of Music in Conducting from APU. He has fifteen years musical theatre, musical direction experience and has been at Maranatha for eight years.

    LADNER, ALAN • Math


Mr. Ladner is Maranatha’s most long-standing faculty, teaching here for over thirty-five years. He has also taught for eleven years as an adjunct professor at the university level. He holds a B.A. in Mathematics from Southern California College, a M.A. in Mathematics from Fresno Pacific College, and a California Single Subject Teaching Credential in Mathematics. Mr. Ladner is a published geometry book writer. Mr. Ladner states, “Teaching in a Christian school is best described by our former principal Jim Braley; it is ‘changed lives changing lives.’”

    LAYTON, JAMES • Theology Chair/ Theology

Jesus and the Gospels, New Testament Theology, Pastoral Theology

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.”

    MAGNONE, JENNIFER • Science/ Physical Education/ Head Cheer Coach

Honors Biology, A.P. Biology, Cheer

Mrs. Magnone has enjoyed teaching Science and coaching Cheer at Maranatha for two years. She has a B.S in both Psychology and Chemistry from Azusa Pacific University as well as two years graduate coursework in Biochemistry and Medicine. “I love working at a Christian institution because it gives me the freedom to integrate faith and Biblical applications into my lessons. It provides me with a great platform to share my own testimony with students and to help mentor them in their spiritual journeys.”

    MARTINEZ, DAVID '05 • English


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 and 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." 

    MURPHY, JOEL '97 • Chaplain and Dean of Spiritual Life/Theology

Theology Practicum

Mr. Murphy is a graduate of Maranatha High School and has served here as a faculty for eleven years and thirteen years as a football coach. Mr. Murphy is the school’s Chaplain and Dean of Spiritual Life. He has a Local Ministers License through the Nazarene Church and is near completion for ordination. He holds a B.A. in Christian Ministries and a M.A. in Theology and Ethics from Azusa Pacific University. Mr. Murphy is a national youth speaker for both churches and Christian camps. He says he is passionate about teaching at Maranatha because, “My life was changed and transformed as a direct result of the incarnational ministry of Maranatha. Coaches, Faculty, and Staff stretched my mind, cradled my heart, and equipped my hands for sacrificial service. In light of what I have received I'm compelled to give it back.”

    NEWKIRK, ED • Theology

New 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

Algebra 2, A.P. Calculus AB, A.P. Calculus BC

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.”

    RANDOLPH, WAYNE • Theology

Jesus and the Gospels, Missiology, Introduction to Film Class

Mr. Randolph has been at Maranatha for six years and is known for his passion for God’s Kingdom and missions. He has over fifteen years experience in international missions work both at the high school and university level. He has also worked on several international film projects, in seven countries, specifically with missionaries or missions organizations.  He holds a B.A. in Communications from Azusa Pacific University with a Minor in Sociology as well as extensive graduate work in Organizational Leadership, Anthropology and Theology. He asserts, “I am here to equip our future leaders, to disciple them, and teach them to listen and submit to the Holy Spirit. My prayer is that my students would be passionate about the Word of God and His children and feel empowered to continue His ministry of reconciliation around the world.”

    ROCHE, KERRY • English

American Literature and Honors World Literature

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.

    SCHALLER, REBEKAH • Social Science Chair/ Social Science

A.P. U.S. Government, A.P. U.S. History

Ms. Schaller has eight years Advanced Placement teaching experience in both public and private schools. She holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Redlands, California Teaching Credentials in both English and Social Science from Mount St. Mary’s College, and a J.D. in Law from the University of Southern California. “It’s a privilege to be a part of a richly diverse faculty that passionately serves its community beyond the classroom. Teachers and students at MHS demonstrate Christ’s love through consistent involvement with local service organizations and international missions. They participate and lead with an uncommon sense of purpose, personal dedication and a spirit of humility. Service to others is thus an integral part of each student’s high school experience and education. It is truly a blessing to be a part of a faculty that nurtures those values in our students.”

    SCHLENKER, BRENDA • Visual Arts/ Yearbook

Photo 1, Graphic Design, A.P. 2-D Design, Yearbook

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.”


Chemistry, Honors Chemistry

Ms. Smith-Russell has twelve years experience in instructing a myriad of sciences. Ms. Smith-Russell says, “her greatest strength is her love for humanity.” She is excited for the opportunity the Lord has given her and believes that, “Morals and the pursuit of knowledge go hand-in-hand. When we integrate our Christian viewpoint in an ethical manner, it produces students who are aware of the ways they can impact society and forges links to our beliefs in an empowering way.” Ms. Smith-Russell has a B.S. in Biology with a Minor in Chemistry from Norfolk State University in Virginia and is pursuing a M.S. in Biology with an emphasis in Marine Science. She holds a Virginia Teaching/Professional Licensure and is a member of the National Education Association and the National Science Teachers Association.

    SOMMERS, SCOTT • Social Science/ Head Softball Coach


Mr. Sommers has been teaching and coaching at Maranatha for over thirteen years. He holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of Southern California. He also has extensive experience in the private sector in financial planning.  “Teaching and coaching are strategic vehicles for investing in the lives of young adults. Doing so at Maranatha allows me to also freely integrate the spiritual component into that strategic investment.  I consider it a privilege and responsibility.  The words of the apostle Paul sum up my purpose and aspiration for teaching and coaching – ‘Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.’  I Corinthians 11:1”


Honors Math Analysis, Honors Algebra 2

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.”

    WAMMACK, TEBY • College & Guidance Counselor/ Languages

Spanish 1

Ms. Wammack is an experienced school counselor and Spanish instructor. Ms. Wammack has a B.A. in Spanish and a Minor in Music from Whitworth University and a Masters of Education with an Emphasis in Counseling from Point Loma Nazarene University. “I love the students at Maranatha! I feel privileged to serve as a counselor and teacher at MHS and am honored to be a part of such a strong staff.  I love adventure, and I always look to see what God brings for the freshmen class, as I help them to acclimate to high school, find their niche in the campus community, and begin preparing them for college.”

    WELLS, JOHN • Theology/Performing Arts

Orchestra, Old Testament Theology, Theology and the Arts

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”.

    WINSLOW, BEN • Social Science

Modern World History, Honors Modern World History

Mr. Winslow has a B.A. in Social Science and a Master's in Education from Azusa Pacific University. He has three years teaching experience and four years experience coaching football. His desire to teach comes from a “drive to provide winsome, Godly, and competent leaders for the Church and the marketplace. Students who attend Maranatha High School will go on to be the leaders in their respective communities. If students and faculty take full advantage of this time and truly love the Lord God with all our mind, we will be in a great position to effectively lead and win this world for Him.”

    WOODS, SHANEKA • Science Chair/ Science

Chemistry and A.P. Chemistry

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.”

    ZAMBRANO, JOE • Social Science

U.S. History

Mr. Zambrano has been in the classroom for over eighteen years and part of Maranatha's History faculty for over twelve years. He has a B.A. in Communicative Disorders from San Diego State University, a Masters in Education and Curriculum Design from Concordia University, and a holds a California State Teaching Credential in Social Science. Mr. Zambrano started instructing during his service with the U.S. Marine Corps. He has diverse experience instructing in classrooms ranging from severe handicap to Advanced Placement. Mr. Zambrano started the Adventure Club at Maranatha and has loved serving in past years as the Head Coach of the Swim Team. Mr. Zambrano says, "It has been a true blessing to work at Maranatha; not only do I have the honor of impacting students for the Lord, I cherish the staff and families here who walk with me as I grow in Christ and I consider that a rare gift."




Maranatha High School 169 South Saint John Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91105 | 626.817.4000 | Contact Us