Our Staff 2018-11-19T13:53:18+00:00

Our Staff.

Email: jarnold@heritageacademyaz.com

Website: https://arnoldfrench.wordpress.com/

Mr. Arnold has been teaching French for over ten years in both Colorado and Arizona. He has taught beginning level French, starting as young as 2nd grade, through AP French. He is passionate about helping young people learn and explore new languages and cultures. He had the wonderful opportunity of living in France for two years. In addition, he has been blessed to be able to travel abroad with students and to see them experience being immersed in a new language and culture. Outside of teaching, he enjoys running, playing soccer, reading great literature and above all, spending time with his family. His wife and ten children live in Laveen and are grateful to be part of the community!

Ms. Arviso graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics Secondary Education and a Master’s degree in Secondary Education – Mathematics.  She has been a high school math teacher for 21 years but this is her first year at Heritage Academy. She enjoys teaching math, spending time with her family and watching football. She is grateful to be a part of such a positive and welcoming community.

Email: carviso@heritageacademyaz.com

Website:  www.usatestprep.com/member-login

Account ID:  halaveen46

Username and Password:  See Ms. Arviso

Assignments & Due Dates:  Please check this website weekly to determine assignment due dates

Email: easanovich@heritageacademyaz.com

I am fortunate to have been with Heritage Academy since it’s opening in Laveen. I graduated from University of Southern Colorado (now known as Colorado State University Pueblo), with a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science and Health Promotion. I began my teaching career in Colorado before moving to Phoenix in the field of health and wellness. As a former collegiate student-athlete in volleyball and basketball, I had the opportunity to coach at my alma mater. I currently coach volleyball at Heritage and am so thankful to be a part of the community.

After I received my bachelor’s degree from ENE-SON in Early Childhood Education, I continued my education and was awarded a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in bilingual education from ASU.  My study continued at UADEC, Coahuila, Mexico where I received a Master’s degree in Development and Promotion of Culture with a concentration in Cultural Legacy and Festivals. In addition to these three degrees, I earned endorsements in the areas of Secondary Education, reading, SEI, Spanish, and dance.

Over the past 20 years I have taught different subjects in public schools including general education bilingual and duo language acquisition.  My experience also includes teaching in the Montessori setting as well as Spanish, general dance, reading and ESL at Maricopa Community College. I have also taught Spanish and dance in a private setting.

My love for culture and the arts led me to found MEXFOLK. This organization proudly promotes culture through the arts.   As the producer and director of the Mesa Ballet Folklorico Fandango Ya! I have had the privilege of working with amazingly gifted artists. This group performs locally at public and private events.  My experience as a dancer includes ballroom dancing at Arizona State University, Ballet Folklorico from Universidad de Sonora, Ballet Folklorico Nacional de Silvia Lozano in Mexico, Ballet Folklorico de Latino America in both Arizona and Texas, as well as Ballet Folklorico Alma de Mexico in Mesa, Arizona.

Email: ccandiani@heritageacademyaz.com


Email: ACopper@heritageacademyaz.com

Ms. Copper graduated from Baylor University with a Bachelor’s degree in science and taught for two years before arriving here at Heritage Academy. She enjoys math, spending time outdoors on her three day weekends, sewing, and collecting essential oils. She is grateful to be a part of such a positive and welcoming community and looks forward to turning all of her scholars into “math people”. Go #HALheroes!

Website: coppermath.weebly.com

Email: gdenny@heritageacademyaz.com


Mrs. Denny was born and raised in the Phoenix area and now lives in Laveen with her family. She has a Masters Degree in Child Development and Education and has a passion for learning. She started playing musical instruments when she was in the third grade, starting with the alto saxophone. Over the years, she added the piano and flute to her repertoire, and by the time she finished high school, she had made it a point to learn at least a few major scales on each of the instruments featured in their symphonic ensemble. She studied music education for two years in college and has taught private lessons on piano and saxophone to students of all ages. She has experience in jazz and marching bands as well as symphonic and concert ensembles up through the collegiate level. She enjoys working with the scholars at Heritage to expand their love of music.

Email: PDurda@heritageacademyaz.com

Patricia Pirtle Durda began her professional teaching career in 1987 after receiving her Bachelor of Science in Education from The University of Texas at El Paso.  She continued her education while teaching and obtained her Master of Education in 1990.  After seven years teaching Middle School students, she was selected to design and facilitate the organization of the first alternative education school at Canutillo Independent School District.  After two years as administrator of The High Expectations Academy (6 portables behind the bus barn) with an outstanding staff of middle and high school teachers, she became aware of the great need to help students get a second chance to complete their secondary education.  At the alternative school she became familiar with the learning opportunities provided by computerized learning software and the success that students could have.  She had the opportunity to become an educational consultant with a computer software company to train teachers and administrators to best utilize educational software applications designed to benefit struggling students.  She spent the next 15 years traveling, training, teaching, and learning best practices to share with the public and private schools across the country.

Ms. Durda now looks forward to an exciting, new teaching experience at Heritage Academy, Laveen Campus!  

Email: kellsworth@heritageacademyaz.com

She has a Bachelors’ Degree in Education and a Masters’ Degree in Educational Leadership, she has more than 13 years combined experience teaching grades 7-12 and school administration. She is happy to return to Heritage Academy as principal of Laveen campus.

Email: mqellsworth@heritageacademyaz.com

Website: HALfinearts.com 

I received my Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies from ASU, Master of Fine Arts from ASU.  I have 13 years experience producing, managing and directing youth theater, 9 years experience teaching theater workshops and classes, and 11 years experience as special event producer, stage manager and tour coordinator.  In addition, I am a choreographer and technical designer and have 6 years experience as a music and vocal instructor.

I founded and directed the Actor’s Youth Theatre in Mesa, AZ for 10 years, was a course instructor/vocal teacher/theater instructor at La Musique Academy in Mesa, AZ for 7 years, was production manager/event producer/tour coordinator for Fame Events International for 6 years and was artistic director/tech director/theater instructor for Phoenix Center for the Arts for 3 years.

Email: bfarris@heritageacademyaz.com

Mrs. Farris is originally from Central Phoenix and has lived in Laveen for almost fourteen years.  She received her bachelor’s degree in international relations from Brigham Young University, with an emphasis in Russian.   She has more than five years’ experience working in office administration in education, both in secondary education and at the university level.  Her interests and experiences are varied as she has worked as a fitness instructor, pool manager, and even a seamstress.  She loves to travel to other parts of the world and to discover the good in other cultures and people.  However, she is proud to be an American and loves her country.  Her favorite colors are red, white, and blue!  She is glad to be a part of Heritage where American History is valued and our freedoms in this country are celebrated.  She and her husband have five spectacular children ranging in ages from 7-17.  She enjoys spending time with her family, exercising, playing the piano, traveling, swimming, and decorating.

I am a native of Washington State. The beautiful climate of Arizona (not a lot of rain) brought me to this state.  I attended Centralia College and Washington State University. For the last 15 years I have lived in Laveen.  I have enjoyed working in a classroom for the last 12 years, 5 of which have been here at Heritage Academy. Both of my daughters currently attend Heritage and we love our Heritage family!

Email: jfoerst@heritageacademyaz.com

Email: sford@heritageacademyaz.com

I am a South Carolina native and moved to Arizona during the Spring of 2014. I earned a B.A. in Spanish at Charleston Southern University and spent time studying abroad in Santiago, Chile at La Universidad Diego Portales. After working in education for 3 years in South Carolina, I moved to Spain to work in a cultural ambassador program. As a participant in that program, I taught bilingual English and Spanish subjects at a secondary school (grades 7-12) in Málaga, Spain. I’m excited about being at Heritage Academy and to share my passion for the Spanish language with our scholars!

Angie Gadberry has raised her family in the South Phoenix/Laveen area for the last 15 years.  She graduated from Northern Arizona University in 1993 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and Business.  She also had additional training at the University of Houston in Industrial and Organizational Psychology.  She began working in the classroom 11 years ago and has worked with small groups and full size classrooms in a variety of subjects, including Math and English.  She currently teaches 7th and 8th grade students in English.  In her free time, she enjoys hiking, traveling with friends and family, enjoying good food and participating in various athletic pursuits.  Of course, she always enjoys a good book!

Email: agadberry@heritageacademyaz.com

Email: egolding@heritageacademyaz.com

She received her Associate of Arts Degree from Mesa Community College, her Bachelor of Arts degree from ASU and her Master in Secondary Education form NAU,  and her Master of fine Arts from ASU.  She has been and Adjunct faculty member for the Communication, Theatre, and Education for Maricopa Community College District, 1996-2011.  Adjunct faculty of Communication and Education for Ottawa University, 2002-2004.  Student Teacher Supervisor for the Dept. of Education for ASU, 1998-2000

Email: bhalterman@heritageacademyaz.com

He received a Bachelor’s degree in Geological Sciences and Spanish from Arizona State University. After graduating from ASU, Mr. Halterman joined a well-respected groundwater science consulting firm in the Phoenix area where he has worked for the past 11 years as a hydrogeologist.  He also volunteers with The Boy Scouts of America as a Unit Commissioner and Merit Badge Counselor.

Email: fhulihee@heritageacademyaz.com



She received her Bachelor’s of science in Marine Biology from Hawaii Pacific University and for a brief time worked on the commercial fishing vessels that sailed out of Hawaii.  Tiring of weeks at sea, she then took a position in Hawaii’s premier food and water testing lab working as the lead chemist for 10 years. It was at this point that Florence decided to switch careers and become a high school teacher. Florence has taught a number of different sciences including chemistry, biology, marine biology, astronomy, and conceptual science. She loves all things science and is a self-proclaimed nerd. Here at Heritage Academy, she has coached both the Science Bowl and JV volleyball. In her spare time, she enjoys working agility with her dogs.

Email: GIurato@heritageacademyaz.com

Gloria J. Iurato​ is a graduate of the Mary Lou Foulton Teachers College at Arizona State University, graduating with a dual certification in Special/General Education. Mrs. Iurato has experience in teaching both in a general education classroom and in a self-contained classroom. Mrs. Iurato is a wife, mother and grandmother. In her free time, she likes to travel with her husband, make crafts with her grandchildren, and have Sunday dinner with the whole family.

Sean Katz received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Miami in South Florida. Upon graduation, he moved to Phoenix to pursue a Master’s Degree in Biomedical Sciences. Sean is an A-Level Scholar from the University of Cambridge and a recipient of the President’s Lifetime Volunteer Service Award. Sean has coached basketball at the middle and high school level. He enjoys traveling, watching and playing sports, and cooking. 

Mr. Katz teaches Science & Marketing.

Heritage Academy – Laveen Campus

Email: skatz@heritageacademyaz.com


Email: skuecker@heritageacademyaz.com

Website: HALfinearts.com 

She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art Education from the University of Arizona. She has taught art for the past 25 years in both Colorado and Arizona. She has experience in teaching art history as well as multiple art media including drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics, printing, photography, woodworking, and textiles. Ms. Kuecker believes in using art education to help develop a well-rounded student. For seven years, she was the Children’s Program Director for the Anderson Ranch Arts Center where she developed art programs for non-profit agencies such as the Roger Pepper Foundation for Severely Burned Victims, for disabled children in Challenge Aspen Organization, and for disabled adults with Mountain Valley Developmental Services.

Email: kleybas@heritageacademyaz.com

Mr. Leybas received a Bachelor of Arts in Portuguese, a Master of Arts in Secondary Math Education from Arizona State University and a Master of Science in Educational Leadership from Western Governor’s University.  Before coming to Heritage he taught choir and math while coaching football, soccer, and baseball at Sierra Linda High School.  Prior to that he taught math and reading with coaching basketball, soccer, and volleyball at Lassen Elementary School (grades 7-8).

Mr. Leybas is excited to contribute to academic excellence and grow a successful athletic and football program.  Mr. Leybas also teaches guitar and math lab.

Mr. Richard Mack, aka Sheriff Mack, is the former sheriff of Graham County, AZ. He spent 20 years in Law Enforcement and five years as a DARE Instructor. Sheriff Mack has a degree in Latin American Studies and Sociology, is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, and in 1997, won a landmark case at the U S Supreme Court. Both Mr. Mack and his wife, Dawn, are native Arizonans and live in Gilbert. He now teaches Economics, Government, and Criminal Justice and is happy to be back at Heritage Academy.

Email: RMack@heritageacademyaz.com

Megan Mickenberg received her Bachelor of Science degree from Brigham Young University – Hawaii in Exercise and Sports Science as well as completing a minor in Microbiology, also from Brigham Young University Hawaii.  While at BYU-Hawaii, she worked as a gym manager and college athletic trainer for more than 6 college sports. Before that, she studied abroad in England for two years. She is an experienced and qualified personal trainer, Level 1 CrossFit instructor and a certified Olympic Weight Lifting Coach. She has over 5,000 hours training over 116 college athletes.  Megan has been a volleyball and soccer coach at the High School and Junior High School levels. She enjoys teaching scholars on how to be fit and gives them the tools they need to meet their fitness goals.

Email: memickenberg@heritageacademyaz.com

Email: mmickenberg@heritageacademyaz.com

He received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona in Nuclear Engineering, a Master’s degree in Teaching from Dayton, Ohio, and a Ph.D. in Natural Health from Clayton College of Natural Health. He has taught multiple science and math classes at the high school and college levels and management classes at the graduate level. He has coached volleyball, swimming, track and field, basketball, wrestling and soccer. He has served in the US Air Force as a Special Forces Pararescue Specialist and a nuclear engineer.  He was a teacher for the Department of Defense Dependent Schools in Lakenheath, England.

Originally from Tucson, Arizona, Hannah Mougharbel received her Bachelor of Science in Biology with an emphasis in Biomedical Science from the University of Arizona. She moved to Phoenix where she received her Master of Science in Biomedical Diagnostics from Arizona State University.  Her desire to teach began in her undergraduate courses when she was given the opportunity to work side by side with her professors. She has experience teaching at the university level and finds new ways to break down difficult subjects.

Geometry & Anatomy

Email: hmougharbel@heritageacademyaz.com

Website: http://msmougharbel.weebly.com/

Email: knadjafi@heritageacademyaz.com

Website: HALfinearts.com

Kristina danced professionally as a soloist and company dancer with Ballet Spartanburg in South Carolina, performing in both classical and contemporary ballets. Some of her roles included Dewdrop and Arabian in The Nutcracker, Mustardseed in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Stepsister in Cinderella. She also toured China in the Great American Dance Tour with Artifact Dance Project and performed with the Arizona Theater Company.

Kristina grew up in Vancouver, Canada and got her early ballet and jazz training there.  She is trained in both Royal Academy of Dance and Cecchetti having completed the Advanced level vocational exams in both disciplines. Kristina’s love for dance took her around the continent training in intensives at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Boston Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and Alonzo King LINES Ballet.   Kristina continued her training at the University of Arizona where she obtained her BFA in Dance, graduating summa cum laude.  Subsequently, Kristina completed her MBA in finance at Northcentral University.

Kristina has taught ballet, jazz, contemporary, modern and numerous other genres of dance both in Canada and the US, sharing her love of dance with children and adults of all ages.  She is also certified in Pilates, Yoga and Progressing Ballet Technique.

Mr. Nash grew up in Southeastern Idaho and Arizona and attended Heritage Academy as a young Scholar. It is at Heritage that he learned a deep appreciation for the Founding Fathers and the American system of Government, as well as his love for history. It is also where he met his wife of 12 years.

Mr. Nash attended Mesa Community College where he received his Associates of Arts Degree and Arizona General Education Degree. He then went on to Arizona State University where he studied at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education – History.

Mr. Nash has four “particularly rambunctious” boys who keep him and his wife very busy as well as a German Shepherd Dog named Pilot.  Mr. Nash enjoys playing video games with his boys, playing racquetball, riding bikes, reading, taking walks, camping and hunting, and working as a volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America.

Email: jnash@heritageacademyaz.com

My website is http://mr-nash.weebly.com/

He has a Master of Art’s degree in Teaching from Chapman University in Orange, CA. He has a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems from the University of Redlands in Redlands, CA. He has a Professional Clear Teaching Credential issued by the state of California. He has been teaching for 12 years at a charter school in Victorville, CA.  While there he taught Engineering Geometry with Physics for 3 years. This course was approved by the University of California. Mr. Plumb also helped design this course at the UCCI Institute. (University of California Curriculum Integration). He also taught Architectural Drafting, Engineering, and CAD (Computer Aided Drafting). Prior to teaching Robert worked in the fields of Architecture, Engineering and Manufacturing for 20 years as a Drafting Technician. This year he was one of the Assistant Football Coaches at Heritage Laveen. He played football all throughout Junior High and High School right here in Arizona at Page High School and Mesa High School. From Mr. Plumb, “I enjoy working with scholars and athletes who love to learn and take on new challenges.”

Email: rplumb@heritageacademyaz.com

Email: hromito@heritageacademyaz.com

Website: sites.google.com/heritageacademyaz.com/hromito

Heather Romito has been teaching High School English in Arizona since 2008. She has nine years experience teaching at the highschool level, including teaching freshman English and Creative Writing. She received her BSed in English and Creative Writing from Montana State University-Billings and her MFA in Creative Writing and Literature from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 2017.

Outside of school, Ms. Romito loves to read, write, and travel whenever she gets a chance.

Email: krowland@heritageacademyaz.com

Kathryn Rowland began working in the education field in 2011. She received her Associates in Arts (history) and Associates in Science (mathematics), both with Highest Distinction, while at Estrella Mountain Community College, and her Bachelor’s in Secondary Education – Mathematics at ASU. She is excited to bring her passion for mathematics and history to Heritage Academy Laveen. In addition to teaching, she also serves as backstage manager for Heritage Academy drama productions.

Class website: http://krowlandmath.weebly.com/

Email: asaathoff@heritageacademyaz.com

Mr. Saathoff is excited to be joining the Heritage Academy team. For the past four years he has been teaching World History, US History, Government, and Economics at AAEC South Mountain. Andrew is originally from Michigan, where he attended Grand Valley State University. He graduated with a major in History and Secondary Education and a minor in Political Science. He is currently attending ASU and will receive his Masters in Educational Leadership in May 2016. He has been part of the Laveen community since 2010. In his free time he likes to play all kinds of sports and go to concerts.

Mr. Sheffer is trilingual, obtained a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in German, and completed requirements to teach Spanish, all through Arizona State University.  These studies included German Literature, German Civilization, the Nazi period, Spanish Literature and Linguistics, Latino Studies and Second Language Acquisition research.  Mr. Sheffer taught for three years at Arizona State University and for seven years at Mesa Community College. He also has 24 years of experience in the foods distribution industry, seventeen of those years in supervision with additional experience in Business Process Improvement. He is an Arizona Native who has lived in South Phoenix for the last 30 years.  He enjoys spending time with his wife, eight children and five grandchildren. He also enjoys playing sports, doing comedy and has an affinity for old Volkswagens.  Mr. Sheffer loves the youth of this area and is excited to share his passion for history with them.

Email: msheffer@heritageacademyaz.com

Website: https://sites.google.com/a/heritageacademyaz.com/american-history-sheffer/



Email: msmith@heritageacademyaz.com

Mr. Smith holds a Bachelor’s in Security Management and a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction. Mr. Smith has completed requirements to teach Spanish I, II, and III through Southwest University.  Mr. Smith has worked with Boeing, and Lockheed Martin in charge of the classified Security programs, contracted for the Missile Defense Agency. Mr. Smith served 21 years in the military; four of which were in the USMC and 17 in the US Army. During his military service as an intelligence agent he served on the Defense Threat Reduction Agency working with Russia to reduce nuclear inventory and prevent nuclear proliferation. Mr. Smith loves spending time with family and enjoys the great outdoors. His favorite sport is racquetball and loves to dabble in art on his free time as an artist. Mr. Smith holds multiple computer certifications from CompTia and is a certified Green Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Elise Stoffer embraced the performing arts at a young age and has performed with Phoenix Children’s Chorus in Germany, Russia, Canada, and various venues in the U.S. She has earned numerous awards including 1st place Musical Theatre Division 3MW NATS, 1st place Classical Division Artist of Promise, 1st place Musical Theatre Artist of Promise, and 1st place Division 1W Musical Theatre NATS. Her favorite musical theatre roles include Baker’s Wife from Into the Woods, Domina in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and Chiffon in Little Shop of Horrors. She graduated from Santa Fe University of Art & Design in May, 2016 with a BA in Contemporary Music with an emphasis in vocal technique. She received her Masters degree in Musical Theatre Performance from the prestigious School of Music at the Herberger Institute at Arizona State University in 2018. Elise Stoffer is addicted to her art and strives to communicate her passion through everything she does. She believes it is her responsibility to help rebuild the muscles of our imagination. She feels so blessed to have the opportunity to help open scholars minds to many genres of music.

Email: estoffer@heritageacademyaz.com

Website: HALfinearts.com 

Lee Turley is a veteran teacher with over 15 years of teaching experience. She has a  Master Degree from Grand Canyon University and her Bachelor from Upper Iowa University. Lee has taught at Arizona Department of Corrections – Perryville, Kyrene School District, and Des Moines School District. She has taught preschool, grade 6 – 9, and adults.

Email: lturley@heritageacademyaz.com

I love being at the front desk because it allows me to get to know our scholars and their families. I have so much fun helping to build our school’s culture and uniting our staff.  I attended Weber State University.  I have over 10 years of experience in the customer service industry and strive to apply those skills to provide a welcoming environment for our scholars and their families. I have lived in Laveen for 6 years and love our community.

All 3 of my children currently attend Heritage and we all love being part of the Heritage family!

Email: owilson@heritageacademyaz.com

She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance and has significant experience as a dancer and a choreographer.  She competed with a nationally ranked competitive dance team in Bartow, Florida for eight years in various dance genres including clogging, tap, jazz, and hip-hop. She also performed at Disney’s Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas in Orlando, Florida, and has performed on the Holland America cruise line.  While earning her degree, Mackenzie toured with the performing dance company, Dance Alliance, for three years. She had the opportunity to tour in Canada, California, Oregon, and Russia. Mackenzie was a Collegiate Director for the World Dance Team and taught clogging, afro-Caribbean, and stomp. She has taught jazz, ballet, tap, clogging and hip-hop to all ages. She is a former part-time faculty member for her alma mater’s Dance Department where she taught modern and jazz, and choreographed two main stage university musicals. Mackenzie worked as the full time in-house choreographer for the Playmill Theatre in West Yellowstone, Montana for five years where she had the opportunity of choreographing twelve full musicals. Mackenzie finds joy in moving, creating, and discovering new movement possibilities.

Email: mwoods@heritageacademyaz.com

Website: HALfinearts.com 

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