Holly Uttecht, Pre-Kindergarten Teacher
Joan Patton, Kindergarten Teacher
Ms. Patton grew up in Kailua-Kona, and then moved to California where she attended the University of San Diego, graduating with a bachelor's degree and California Teaching Credential. Ms. Patton then went on to Point Loma Nazarene University where she received her Master of Education in Teaching and Learning. Ms. Patton moved to Maui in 2011 where she lived for five years with her husband, taught kindergarten and first grade, and became passionate about the arts and arts integration. Ms. Patton is passionate about arts, science, and technology integration, which she says makes learning more fun.
Erica Jensen, 1st Grade Teacher
Erica Jensen feels honored to be the first teacher many students encounter on their learning journey at Volcano School of Arts & Sciences. Erica has taught in both California and Hawai’i and holds a Highly Qualified Teacher status. Her goal is to create a caring classroom environment with developmentally appropriate, standards-based curriculum…and a lot of glitter! Erica has been a fan of Volcano School for quite a while. She liked Volcano School’s commitment to active, creative, and connected learning so much that she put her infant daughter on the waitlist for Kindergarten years ago. An ideal day for Erica involves spending time with her family, practicing yoga, enjoying a good book, strong coffee, and dark chocolate.
Jane Wells, 2nd Grade Teacher
Laura Warner, 3rd Grade Teacher
Mrs. Warner was born in upstate New York and moved to Hilo in 1982. She graduated from UH Hilo with a BA in Health and Fitness and earned her MA in Education. She worked as a PE teacher at Mt.View Elementary School and E.B. DeSilva Elementary in Hilo. After completing graduate work in education, Mrs. Warner became a teacher at VSAS in 2007. She loves taking her class on many field trips, swimming, and keeps active by keeping up with her four children.
Visit Mrs. Warner’s class blog at
Star Carlin, 4th Grade Teacher
Ms. Star moved to the Big Island from Northern California in 1999 and before long she heard about the plans for a school in Volcano. She was excited to be one of the teachers entrusted with the task of bringing the school vision to life. Ms. Star endeavors to make the process of learning challenging, intriguing and enjoyable for students. She especially enjoys teaching Language Arts and Science. Ms. Star is married to Greg Carlin and they live in Mountain View. They have three sons, who are young adults. She enjoys singing and playing music, as well as dancing, hiking and gardening.
Rebecca Hatch, 5th Grade Teacher
Rebecca Hatch grew up in Chicago, Illinois. She graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in English Education. She then moved to Cedar Creek, Texas, where she was a classroom teacher for 10 years. Mrs. Hatch started teaching at VSAS in 2014. Mrs. Hatch likes coffee, cookies, and crossword puzzles.
Kristin Wolfgang, 5th/6th Grade Teacher
Tamara Wong-Morrison, Middle School Humanities Teacher
Mrs. Morrison taught poetry in the Poets-in-the-Schools program from 1985-2004. “I’ve made metaphors with millions it seems.” One of her philosophies comes from Aristotle: “All art, all education can merely be a supplement to nature.” Mrs. Morrison did her Masters in Education research on the effects of identifying, creating, and using metaphors on reading comprehension. She’s from Kaua’i and has lived in Volcano since 1984 when Mauna Loa erupted. She loves gardening and her dogs.
Karen Costales, Middle School Math Teacher
Mrs. Costales was born in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, and reared in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. She has spent her adult life in South Carolina, Texas, Oahu, California, and Hilo, and has been an elementary school teacher or a middle and high school Spanish teacher in each of those places. Most recently Mrs. Costales has been a homeschool mom and a substitute teacher for Hilo's and Puna's D.O.E. schools. She spends her free time hanging out with her husband and four kids, hosting game nights, and cooking Mexican food for crowds.
David Wells, Middle School Science Teacher
Mr. Wells joined VSAS in the Fall of 2012 as the Middle School Science Teacher. He attended the University of Utah and completed his certificate in education from UH. He has worked at Waiakea HS and Kamehameha schools.
Lisa Barnard, Kula ʻAmakihi Community-Based Education Teacher
Originally from the Northeast, Ms. Lisa holds a BA in Literature from UMASS Amherst where she also studied education and taught children with learning disabilities. She studied Linguistics and Special Education at UH Manoa while earning her Hawaii certification. Ms. Lisa is a founder, dedicated to the vision of VSAS. She has worked at VSAS as a 6th grade teacher and Title I teacher for math and reading. She is an advocate for literacy, numeracy, children with learning differences, and teacher training to support these concerns. Her passion is enabling all students to learn and to see themselves as capable learners.
Rachaell Hilyer, Kula ʻAmakihi Community-Based Education Teacher
Jim Highfill, Special Education Teacher
Mr. Jim has been at Volcano School since January 2002. Previously he taught high school math in Ramseur, North Carolina and elementary P.E. in Auburn, Alabama. Other work includes the YMCA in Beaverton, Oregon; Health Force in Greensboro, North Carolina; and summer school in Mt. View, Hawaii. He is a graduate of Auburn University and attended graduate school at North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro, North Carolina. He is married to Leayne and has a beautiful daughter, Harper, who was born in 2009.
Mara Saltzman, Special Education Teacher
While a special educator, Ms. Mara works with all learners in multiple classrooms at VSAS. Mara has been a K-12 educator for 15 years. Prior to coming to VSAS in December of 2013, Mara taught special education in Hilo for over six years and k-12 art in New York for eight years. In 1996, Mara earned a BS. in art education from S.U.N.Y. New Paltz. She earned a MA in art education from NYU in 1998. Mara holds a Hawaii special education teaching license as well as highly qualified teacher status. Currently, Mara is pursuing post-graduate work in special education with Grand Canyon University. Besides making lava landscape collage and tiles, she enjoys staying busy with academic work. Mara is thrilled to be at VSAS because she loves inspiring young students to think originally.
Kim Miller, School Social Worker
Kim joined VSAS in 2006. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a Master’s degree in Social Work from Hunter College in New York City. She worked as a school counselor in NYC before moving to Volcano in 2001. In Hawai’i, Ms. Kim worked as a school counselor at DeSilva Elementary, as a social worker for the Department of Education, and as program supervisor for youth in long-term foster care before coming to VSAS. She is an avid reader and hiker, loves to travel, enjoys writing and cooking, and is deeply appreciative of the diverse beauty and cultures of Hawaii.
Kanani Wylie, Middle School Counselor
A long time employee at VSAS Kanani became the school’s art teacher in the Fall of 2015. Her previous teaching experience at VSAS includes Keyboarding, Nature Walk, and Environmental Science electives.
Xanthe Serafin, Japanese Teacher
Raised in Berkeley, California, Xanthe-sensei began her world language study in 2nd grade through the multicultural program offered by the Berkeley public schools. After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley with a BA in semiotics, she moved to Japan in 1987 to work as a voiceover artist, translator and interpreter. She relocated to Volcano in 1996, and helped to found the Volcano School of Arts & Sciences in 2001. She currently directs the Volcano School Japanese Language and Culture Program, is a writer of educational materials, and coaches swimming at the Warrior Aquatic Club.
Kilona Young, ʻIke Hawaiʻi Kumu, Sports & Games Instructor
Harold Tredinnick, Music and Digital Media Instructor
Uncle Hal joined the VSAS faculty in the Fall of 2015 as the school’s music teacher. He also teaches the Digital Media elective and heads the school’s Hiki No team.
Suzi Bond, Theater Instructor
Chris Quiseng, Gardening Instructor
Kalima Kinney, Principal
Kalima Kinney returned to VSAS in October of 2015 to serve as the Principal. Ms. Kinney has worked in administration and teaching in the Hawaiʻi Public Charter School System since 2003 including eight years at Volcano School of Arts & Sciences followed by three years at the State Public Charter School Commission (formerly Charter School Administrative Office). Ms. Kinney has worked closely with charter schools across the state and has served on Accreditation and other school review teams for both Hawaiʻi charter and Department of Education schools. Ms. Kinney’s areas of expertise include continuous school improvement, positive discipline strategies, arts in education, and working with high needs, at risk, and special needs populations. Ms. Kinney holds and a B.S. degree in Psychology and a M.Ed. in Educational Administration from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Christopher Kealoha King-Gates, Vice Principal
Mr. King-Gates grew up on the Big Island of Hawai’i in Mountain View and Volcano. He graduated from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland in 2003 with a BA in International and Intercultural Studies and Spanish. He has done graduate work in Education at Towson University, College of Notre Dame and North Georgia College and University. From 2003 to 2008, Mr. King-Gates taught Spanish at Randallstown High School in Randallstown, Maryland. At VSAS Mr. King-Gates worked as a middle school Special Education teacher, k-8 Movement teacher, and middle school Spanish teacher prior to becoming the school’s assistant director.
Ted Pirsig, Business Manager
Serena Aiwohi, HR and Business Office Assistant
Kaye Nagamine, SASA
Nani Stacy, Office Clerk
Lydia Meneses, Special Education Assistant
Ms. Lydia was born and raised in northern California and has a Degree in Library Technology from Sacramento City College. She qualified and participated in California State University Stanislaus’ Title VII Teaching Credential Program and majored in Liberal Arts with a focus on a Multi-Subject Credential. Ms. Lydia was employed 25 years with Sacramento City Unified School District as a Title I Teacher Associate K-12. For seven years, Ms. Lydia worked for Sacramento City’s after school literacy program, START, as Site Program Director, Literacy Coach and Special Program Leader Trainer. She joined VSAS staff in 2005 and has served on the local school board for two years.
Michelle Chambers, Special Educational Assistant
Ms. Michelle was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. She moved to Eureka, California in the late 70's where she lived until she and her daughter moved to the Kona side of the Big Island in 1986. While on a trip around the island, she fell in love with the beauty of Volcano and has made her home here since 1988. Ms. Michelle has a bachelor's degree in art and a minor in geography from UH Hilo. While volunteering at Mt. View Elementary School she discovered her passion for educating. Education experience includes, Title I Tutor and Educational Assistant for over eighteen years in grades K-12. Ms. Michelle enjoys hiking, bike riding, gardening and cherishes visits with her daughter and grandchildren.
Leona Matsueda, Educational Assistant
Hal Tredinnick, Educational Assistant
Taj Gunter, Educational Assistant
Chris Quiseng, Educational Assistant
Liana Young, Educational Assistant
Jenny Breitrick, Educational Assistant
Kalei Young, Cafeteria Manager
Amanda Leetag, Cafeteria Worker
Jason Soares, Custodian
Tim Schrobilgen, Custodian
Peter Serafin, Transportation Coordinator & Bus Driver
Henry LaPointe, IT