Sarah Avanessian joins the Castaic High School leadership team as the English Department Chair. Ms. Avanessian has taught all levels of English at Wm. S. Hart High School since 2002. A graduate of UCLA, Ms. Avanessian holds a Bachelor of Arts in English. She also holds a Master of Arts in Education, Curriculum and Instruction from Cal State Bakersfield. In 2016 she was named the William S. Hart District’s Teacher of the Year and was honored as one of The Signal’s “51” most influential residents of Santa Clarita in 2017. Her educational philosophy centers around building community and she is honored to be part of a team that will create a unique school culture and educational experience for future Castaic Coyotes.
Throughout her career, Ms. Avanessian has worked with many different student populations. In 2005 she implemented the AVID program and worked to help students who would be first in their families to go to college. Currently, she teaches AP Language and Composition and Newcomer English Learners. No matter who the students are who sit before her, she finds ways to bring them together as a community of readers, writers, and creators. For instance, she implemented a department program called “Carpe Librum!, or “Seize the Book!”, as a way to help students become passionate readers. Students who were only reading 2-4 books a year are now reading ten, twenty or more! The program has reached beyond students as many adults on campus rekindled their love for reading as well. A believer that teachers must bring innovation to the classroom, Ms. Avanessian also has her students write and perform spoken word poems, blog for real-world audiences, and produce TED Talks for their peers. She carries a writer’s notebook to “capture bits and pieces” of the world and asks her students to do the same. Her goal is to empower students to use their voices in creative ways to not only tell their stories, but to also make changes in the world.
Ms. Avanessian also has extensive experience with teacher leadership within the Hart District. She was a Literacy Coach for the Summer Intensive Literacy Program (ILP) for many years where she worked with teams of teachers daily to help improve their practice. In addition, she was Hart High School’s first Professional Development Coach and is currently the Instructional Coach on campus. In her role as an Instructional Coach, she supports all teachers as they strive to improve student achievement. She also writes HartLiteracy.blog, highlighting teachers, best teaching practices, and educational resources. Blogging about the teaching lives of her staff is a way to help eliminate teacher isolation and build a community based on shared learning. Ms. Avanessian has also served as the English Department Chair at Hart High for the past five years and enjoys leading her colleagues in the latest professional development. Understanding the power reflection has for educators, she writes about the teaching profession as often as possible and has published three articles in California English, the journal of the California Association of Teachers of English. Ms. Avanessian brings not only her teaching experience, but also her passion for continued professional learning to Castaic High School.
Mrs. Avanessian is a resident of Santa Clarita where she lives with her husband, Arthur, and their two young children, Charlotte and Boston. Although she dedicates a great deal of her time to her career, her family reminds her to slow down and savor the little moments that life offers.
Lori Hermelin joins the leadership team at Castaic High School as the Teacher Librarian. She brings over 20 years of experience teaching in the Hart district to creating a library that will encourage the diverse school population to explore, discover, invent, and share. She works with colleagues to establish programs developing positive and ethical research skills, building digital citizenship, growing information and media literacy skills, and nurturing a culture of readers. She looks forward to growing a program from scratch at Castaic High School.
Mrs. Hermelin has a degree in English and a teaching credential from California State University Northridge, a Masters in Library Science and second teaching credential from San Jose State University. Throughout her career in the Hart district, she’s been an instructional leader bringing enthusiasm, innovation, and positivity to helping all learners succeed as effective communicators. She has presented at conferences, been an AVID coordinator, a dance team advisor (she tap dances between the book aisles), a GATE coordinator, a California Scholarship Federation advisor, and an assistant director/choreographer for school musical productions (she knows quite a few showtunes). In her career as a Teacher Librarian, she brings a creative approach to her advocacy to build research skills guiding students to solve the Case of the Missing Teacher, formulating their own research questions, and providing access to diverse books through “speed dating.” Mrs. Hermelin firmly believes in the transformative power of reading. There is a reader lurking inside everyone and the goal (and sacred mission of the librarian) is to connect each person to the perfect book that will open the door to lifelong learning.
Mrs. Hermelin has lived in the Santa Clarita Valley since 1991 where she and her husband raised two children in the Saugus and William S. Hart school districts. While her children are grown and farflung, they are central to her life. She loves traveling with them and uses travel as a springboard for gathering ideas and experiences that enrich her personal and professional life.
As a lifelong resident of the Santa Clarita Valley, Hart District graduate (Arroyo Seco and Valencia), and a current resident of Castaic, Mrs. Kennedy is thrilled to be joining the team at Castaic High School as the Special Education Department Chair!
She has been with the Hart District since 2007, when she joined the staff at West Ranch High School. Mrs. Kennedy taught Yes I Can and all grade levels of English for students with Asperger’s Syndrome and High Functioning Autism. She is especially proud of the strong peer-mentoring program in Yes I Can that assisted students with developing interpersonal relationships that they were able to carry past their high school years. Additionally, she served as the Department Chair and Intervention Coordinator at West Ranch, as an Induction Mentor and Common Core Pilot teacher for the district, and was selected as the Teacher of the Year for West Ranch (2014-2015).
In 2014, Mrs. Kennedy was selected as a PAR (Peer Assistance and Review) Consulting Teacher by the Hart District PAR Panel. Since then, she has been a full-release mentor, working with new teachers from all content areas and grade levels in both general education and special education, providing them with the support necessary to meet the California Standards for the Teacher Profession. In 2017, she presented a session titled “Unique Needs of Supporting and Mentoring New Special Education Teachers” at the National Symposium on Teacher Induction. Mrs. Kennedy has continued as an Induction mentor, observing and meeting with candidates in both the Hart and Castaic districts, guiding them through the formative assessment process to reflect on their classroom practice and make progress toward their personal goals for professional learning. Her favorite part of this position has been the opportunity to reflect on her own teaching practice and to learn from the teachers with whom she has worked.
Outside of the classroom, Mrs. Kennedy is involved in the community through Junior Chamber International, working on Santa’s Helpers, and event that provides a holiday experience for underprivileged children in the community. She also volunteers with the Santa Clarita Valley Family YMCA as a volunteer director for YMCA Camp Whittle, a week-long resident camp experience for school-aged children. In 2011, she was selected an honoree for the “40 Under Forty,” which recognizes outstanding young professionals for their contributions to their professions and community, and was a nominee for the 2013 “40 Under Forty” Alumni of the Year award. In her free time, she enjoys reading, running, and spending time with her husband, Cody, who is also a teacher, and her two children, Myles (4) and Amelia (7 months).
Mrs. Kennedy is ecstatic to be returning to the classroom at Castaic High School and to have the opportunity to develop a culture of inclusion and success for students with exceptional needs.
Mr. Marcucilli is honored to be Castaic High School’s new ASB Director and to work alongside Mrs. Hagman, Mrs. Delawder, and the leadership team at such an exceptional school.
An alumnus of Valencia High School (Class of 98’) and Castaic Middle School (Class of 94'), Mr. Marcucilli has lived in Castaic and the Santa Clarita Valley for over thirty years. Mr. Marcucilli holds dual teaching credentials in California and Texas and has completed his Bachelor's Degree in English - Literature and Master’s Degree in English - Education at California State University, Northridge with honors. Mr. Marcucilli has taught over a dozen subjects within general and special education classes across the district’s middle and high schools. Currently, Mr. Marcucilli teaches English as a Special Education Teacher at Hart High School, is the Safe School Ambassador Advisor, and serves on ten leadership committees within the district.
Mr. Marcucilli has been honored as Hart High School’s Teacher of the Year in (2014-15), has been nominated twice thereafter, has been recognized with awards by the California Legislature Assembly, the County of Los Angeles, the City of Santa Clarita, the Santa Clarita Valley Education Foundation, and the United States Air Force Recruiting Service for outstanding support, dedication to education, and the ideals of the United States. Mr. Marcucilli has donated countless hours to the SCV community, promoting children’s literacy through the Santa Clarita Literacy & Arts Festival, Co-Directing youth apprentice companies for the Santa Clarita Shakespeare Festival, or assisting yearly with Hart ASB’s annual Holiday Dinner. Mr. Marcucilli is also the recipient of two collegiate scholarships and is currently working on a Teacher Innovation Grant for Hart High School.
“Castaic High School will not only be one of the best schools in California, but will become one of the most revered in the nation. It is going to take innovation, community, and passion to get there—but we will get there. We will get there through our amazing staff. We will get there through our involved parents. But most importantly, we will get there through our students—whose passion and grit will inspire all of us.”
Mr. Marcucilli owes his passion for teaching to his amazing wife Melissa Marcucilli, his parents (Annette and Joseph Marcucilli -- all award winning teachers in Santa Clarita), and to his son Anthony Gary Marcucilli.
Ecstatic is the word Ms. Perez uses to describe her feelings regarding being chosen as the Department Chair for World Languages at Castaic High School. She is looking forward to serving the Castaic community through her passion, her commitment to students, and her drive to ensure that all students can be successful language learners.
Charles Deuschle is thrilled to be joining the Castaic High School Leadership team as Practical Arts Department Chair and Video Production instructor.
Throughout Mr. Deuschle’s 17 years with the Hart District, he has diversified himself in the areas of English, Theatre, Video Production, and Broadcast Journalism. When Golden Valley High School opened in 2005, he was selected to create the video production program from the ground up. Over the past 15 years, he has continued to grow and refine the video curriculum to provide his students with the best possible real world training available at the high school level. His TV Production class that produces the school’s daily live news show, GVTV, has won numerous awards for their content including: Student Television Network Awards for excellence in filmmaking and commercials; first place at the national level for unscripted talk show; twice selected as one of 8 video programs across the U.S. to participate in the STN Collaborative Documentary project; the Digital Voice award for concert coverage; silver metal in the Safe Streets PSA contest; three first place awards from The Signal for video news stories; and most recently, two of his students were selected based on their training to be part of the prestigious 21st Century Fox funded Ghetto Film School in Los Angeles, which is a program that is run concurrently with students’ high school classes.
In addition to his teaching, Mr. Deuschle also served as a teacher mentor through the district’s Induction program. Currently, he conducts content seminars for elective and PE teachers and also serves on the professional development team for his school. Through these forms of collaboration with various disciplines, he’s excited at the prospect of creating and fostering relationships with other classes at Castaic High School to create the best interdisciplinary approach possible for students in the video production career path.
He holds a B.A. in English and Theatre from the University of Minnesota, a minor in Art History, an M.F.A. in Technical Design and Production from the California Institute of the Arts, and a credential in Career and Technical Education in the area of Arts, Media, and Entertainment.
When not in class, Mr. Deuschle enjoys visiting Disney theme parks across the world with his husband and his two sons, independent films, the Hollywood Bowl, and unique dining experiences in the LA area and around the globe.
Mr. Hodge brings 13 years of counseling experience to Castaic High School and feels truly blessed to have this opportunity to be apart of such an unique high school in the Hart District.
Over the last 13 years in the Hart District (1 at Valencia High School & 12 at Canyon High School), Mr. Hodge has counseled and coached students to be the best version of themselves. He believes three main areas need to be addressed in order to have a successful students, athletes, and eventually employees. First is attendance, students need to understand attendance is mandatory in order to earn acceptable grades and eventually sustain employment. Second is behavior, students must come to school with a good attitude ready to learn. Third is achieve, pay attention in class and don't miss any assignment, students should also be comfortable asking for help on campus. That is the culture Mr. Hodge wants to set at Castaic High School. Mr. Hodge believes all students should have access to an exceptional learning experience and push themselves to achieve as much as they can during their time at Castaic High School.
Athletics are a big part of Mr. Hodge’s life as he credits athletics for where he is today. As a Saugus High School student athlete he participated in Football and Track & Field. As a collegiate, he participated in Football at L.A Pierce College and University of Oregon. During his 13 years in the Hart District he’s coached Football and Track & Field. Mr. Hodge feels Castaic has the opportunity to have elite athletics as well as other co curricular activities due to the educational and career opportunities available at Castaic that are not available at any other high schools.
Mr. Hodge and his wife are excited at the opportunities Castaic High School will provide as they will have 5 children attend and graduate there over the next 15 years, beginning with this inaugural class of freshman. Castaic High School will be like no other high school and Mr. Hodge feels Castaic will be the crown jewel of the Hart District very soon.
Joe Brusca is excited to be a part of the leadership team and is privileged to be Department Chair for the Fine Arts and Performing Arts Department at Castaic High School. Mr. Brusca has worked at Hart High School in the William S. Hart District for the past six years and has lived in Santa Clarita for seven years until recently moving to Frazier Park. Mr. Brusca has a Bachelor of Science in Graphic Communication from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo with a concentration in Design Reproduction Technology and a minor in Art. He holds a Single Subject Teaching Credential in Art from California State University, Fullerton.
Mr. Brusca is thrilled for the opening of Castaic High School this coming fall because he was a student in the second graduating class at Santa Margarita Catholic High School. As a result, Mr. Brusca knows firsthand how important it is to start new traditions and legacies, as well as the rare opportunities a new school can bring to students. While he was a high school student, he helped establish the high school’s water club which transitioned to an official CIF qualifying team his senior year. Currently, he teaches all levels of the Fine Arts and Ceramics, is the Fine Arts/Practical Arts Department Chair, and is the supervisor for the Art Club and for the Comic Books, Gaming, & Animation Club.
Mr. Brusca plans to continue these student-run clubs on Castaic’s campus because he knows these lead to opportunities for student leadership and for relationship building among the student body. While at Hart, his Art Club students created three art murals in teachers’ classrooms. They also fundraised by having small themes art shows at lunch and were able to then take a field trip to Blizzard Entertainment in Irvine, one of the biggest online gaming companies in the nation. Mr. Brusca, being a gamer himself, has found this hobby helps open connections and communication with his students.
Mr. Brusca’s vision for the Fine Arts program at Castaic includes “out-of-the-box” creativity and discipline through project-based learning, along with effective teaching strategies and instructional techniques for a diverse group of high school students. He will work with all levels while emphasizing the elements and principles of design and art history. Also, he envisions preparing students for today’s technological standards by incorporating industry-related expertise into their curriculum from the experience he gained working as a production manager and graphic designer in the digital printing and graphic design industries. Equally, his goal in the classroom is to foster an enjoyable, educational art practice in a social, active and productive environment with cultural diversity, open-mindedness, and inventive approaches that allow for creative learning and critical thinking. Lastly, he plans on establishing a space for students to commune, set up and showcase their artwork in an art gallery-setting on campus.
When not teaching, Mr. Brusca enjoys his time with his family, adventuring with his wife, Amy, his son, Finneas (10), and daughter, Remy (6) by traveling, camping, and hiking. Furthermore, Mr. Brusca continues to establish himself as an artist in the Greater Los Angeles area showcasing his art work in shows and exhibitions. Also, he loves playing the guitar, soccer, snowboarding, computer gaming, and going to music concerts and museums.