Meet Our Staff
Deborah Wallace, Principal
Born and raised in Napa, CA, Deb learned Spanish at an early age. After receiving her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from Santa Clara University, Deb began her teaching career in Santiago, Chile. She and her husband later returned to Napa and began their life-long careers as Bilingual teachers. Deb was one of the first bilingual teachers hired in Napa Valley Unified and later became a Program Coordinator, Assistant Principal and Principal at Napa Valley Language Academy, an award winning dual immersion charter school. She received a fellowship to study Bilingual Leadership Development at Sacramento State Univ, and obtained her MA in Ed Admin in 1997. She believes that by giving children two languages, we can build a bridge that brings families together to create life-long bonds, and has the power to transform a community.
Natasha Henneinke, Teacher - Grades 5/6 English
Meet Maestra Henneinke (Henn-IKE) -Originally from San Luis Obispo, Natasha has lived in Redding for 20 years because she loves being outdoors! Natasha, her husband Steven, and their 3 children love to bike, hike, swim, chase waterfalls, and EXPLORE all that northern California has to offer! Prior to teaching, Natasha worked as a Systems Analyst for 10 years (that's tech talk for identifying inefficiencies in business systems and creating improvements). She has worked in children's ministries at her church, First United Methodist, for over 10 years, public school for 3 years, and coaches just about every sport her children find themselves interested in! Natasha is a proud graduate of our local Simpson University (GO RED HAWKS!), where she obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Liberal Studies, a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, and her Masters in Education. Natasha says she is, "Continually in awe of the "love" and culture that Tree of Life has to offer, and in the positive influence our school has had on Juliana and Ryder's academic growth! I have GOT to join this team!"
Libertad Campo-Periago, Teacher - Grade 4/5/6 Español
Libertad, an European born and raised in Spain, who spent her childhood summer holidays with host families in many countries around the globe to learn the English Language and different cultures.
She graduated in Madrid (Spain) as a Honor Student with a BS in Elementary Education, a BS in Early Childhood Education and a MA in International Education (concentration in Bilingualism). Later she achieved her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, in California. She has worked at a Dual Immersion International School in Spain for several years. When she moved to California, she found a very inspiring school in the other side of the Earth from her country: Tree Of Life!! And she fell in love with it! Nowadays she lives in Shasta County, with her husband and her 2 year old bilingual daughter, where the outdoor activities are one of her passion!
As she mentions in the "I UCJC Educa Conference Book of Abstracts" as a participant; she believes students are always willing to learn, and so the teacher has to find and create that environment through creativity, interaction and motivation.
Cecilia Henson, Teacher - 3rd Grade
Cecilia Henson was born and raised in Bolivia, South America where Spanish is one of the main languages. After getting married, she lived in Peru for eight years, and moved to the United States in 2000 with her beautiful family. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish from Arizona State University and has taught this wonderful language for nine years in a local high school in Redding, California. She believes all children deserve and are able to know at least two languages fluently. Knowing a second language gives us many opportunities for better jobs, safety when traveling, and a new appreciation of our own language while opening our understanding of new cultures and their people. Cecilia loves to see her students succeed and grow in knowledge and confidence.
Laura Kufner, Teacher - 2nd Grade
Laura Kufner grew up in the small town of Dunsmuir California. She is first generation born in the United States in her family. Her family is originally from Jalisco Mexico. Laura grew up in a bilingual home. Upon graduating high school, Laura attended a Spanish language program at the Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon in Monterrey Mexico. She then went on to receive a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration from California State University Chico. After 15 years in the technology industry, she decided to pursue a career in teaching and went on to work towards her teaching credential at Simpson University. Laura is married with two young children who are very active in sports. If she is not at the school you will find her at soccer or football games.
Patricia Power-Bearden, Teacher - 1st Grade Rm. 4
Patricia was born and raised in Berkeley and Lafayette and began learning Spanish
in 5th grade, and has learned something new every day since then!
She has a BA in Social Welfare and Spanish from CSU Chico, BCLAD and MA in
Education. She studied and spent time in Morelia, Michoacan during college.
Trish visited our campus in the summer of 2017 when things were in boxes and a
school was about to be born. She is so thrilled to be here as a part of the
First Grade Team and the family and community that make Tree of Life
International Charter School strong and unique, loving and welcoming.
Mychal Garcia, Teacher - 1st Grade Rm. 2
Mychal Garcia was born and raised in Silver City, New Mexico and moved to Redding, California when she was 12 years old. She attended California State University, Chico where she received a double BA in Spanish and Latin American Studies and a MA in Teaching International Languages with a minor in Linguistics. During her undergraduate education, she studied abroad in Costa Rica for an entire academic year and this is where her passion for learning about new languages and cultures really began. During the years 2016-2018, Mychal lived and worked abroad in Lima, Peru in a 1st grade classroom at an international, bilingual school. When Mychal is not at work, she enjoys spending time with her family and dogs, eating yummy food, and going on adventures with her friends. She is very excited to be a part of the TLC family and cannot wait to see what the future holds!
Theresa Rivera, Teacher - Kindergarten Rm. 3
Theresa is a native to Shasta County but has experience working in nearby counties as well as in the bay area and Texas. She was raised in a bilingual / bicultural family. She started working for Migrant Education and as a bilingual aide since 2003. Theresa worked for 10 years as a bilingual Parent Consultant for Rowell Family Empowerment and helped Spanish speaking families understand the special education process. She has spent most all of her working career in bilingual education and special education. She currently serves on the board for the Northern Hispanic Latino Coalition (NHLC) and believes in the importance of community collaboration. Theresa has her bachelors degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and graduated from Chico State University with a Masters Degree in Education in 2016. Theresa has a passion for helping students and families of diverse backgrounds. She is proud to work for a school who believes that each child is unique and special; where love is our first language.
Claire Cecilia Izaguirre, Teacher - Kindergarten Rm. 1
Maestra Cecilia was born and raised in a small town in west Texas and studied Elementary Education/ ESL at Baylor University because of her love for kids and lifelong dream to teach. During college, she fell in love with Latin America and the Spanish language and has gone on many short-term mission trips to over 8 countries. After college, she moved to Redding for ministry school; then she spent the last two years as a missionary in Mexico, where she met the love of her life, Sergio. Cecilia is excited to help her students enjoy learning and exploring in creative ways!
Dee Cabanillas, Office Manager
Dee was born in San Diego and attended school in both Mexico and the US throughout her early years. She attended South Western College and Shasta College and graduated from Bethel School of Ministry. She worked for almost 6 years with Shasta Head Start in the Language Services Department as a Bilingual Case Worker, Parent Trainer, and CPR first aid instructor.
Noelle Williams, Music Teacher
Noelle Williams has had a lifetime of multi-cultural and music experience. She was raised in Delaware and Texas by musical Spanish Professor and linguist parents and she knew early on that her passions lay in music and culture. She has had extensive training in the singing and acting performing arts. She also has been working with children since a young age. Some of her performing experiences include the productions of Oliver!, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Cascade Theatre's Production of Tarzan (as Jane), Latin Dance Troupe, Fuzion Dance Troupe, featured soloist for Simpson University's performances of Handel's Messiah and the Bach Magnificat. She received her degree in Music Education K-12 with a Voice Specialty from Southwestern Assemblies of God University. Her music education experience include RevTab Gospel Choir director, Red Bluff R.O.C.K Choir Director, Ensemble Music Director for Harris Studios Summer Theatre Academies, Ensemble Music Director for Cascade Theatre's production of Mary Poppins and her position as a private voice and music education teacher at Harris Studios. Mrs. Williams has also worked in different education positions such as a councilor for the Lackland Airforce Base Youth Center and as a literacy coach and resource teacher for Redding School district. She absolutely loves sharing her passions of music and culture!
Steve Wallace was born and raised in the Land of Lincoln, Springfield, Illinois. He moved to California in 1978 where he attended San Jose Christian College (now William Jessup University) , graduating with a BA in Christian Education in 1983. Steve first fell in love with the Spanish language and Latin culture on a missions trip to Colombia while in college. Later he and his wife Deb spent 2 years as missionaries in Santiago, Chile where Steve perfected his Spanish working on many construction projects.
After returning to the states, Steve received his Bilingual Teaching Credential from St. Mary's College in 1989, and, after building their first home, Steve began his career as a Dual Immersion teacher, first in Vacaville, then later in Napa. Steve retired from teaching in 2013, but decided to support Tree of Life International as it's founding 1st grade teacher.
Steve and Deb have 4 amazing bilingual children ages 24-30.
Francisco Basurto, P.E. Teacher and After-school
Coach B grew up in a bilingual home in Southern Illinois. From an early age he loved soccer and played on every league available, indoor and outdoor was part of a traveling Club Team from age 12 to age 18. He attended Kaskaskia College where he continued playing college soccer and received his AA Degree in Liberal Arts. He continued on and received hi BA in Exercise Science from Concordia University, and is a certified personal trainer. As a native Spanish speaker, he knows first hand the importance of not losing your first language and the life long value of being bilingual and bicultural. His passion for seeing students grow mentally and physically has lead him to this school. He has volunteered in youth programs ( sports ) and as well as a foster care facility. He and his wife Kylie are thrilled to be moving to Anderson to be one of our founding teachers at Tree of Life International Charter School!
Jesse Morales(Coach J), Tech Coordinator
Jesse Morales, also known as Coach J, is the school's tech coordinator. He has a business degree from Montana State University Northern where he recieved a scholarship to play on the school's football team. After graduating with his bachelors degree he decided to go back to school for software engineering. Jesse loves everything tech related and sharing his knowledge with the kids.
Brandon Farris, Custodian
Brandon was raised in the Bay Area and involved in music at a very early age. Brandon is happily married to Yadira, who works as a bilingual aide at the school. Brandon and his wife have 4 amazing children, who are also enrolled at Tree of Life Charter School. Brandon is passionate about producing music and traveling. He has been on missions trips to Romania, Hungary, Nicaragua and Mexico. Brandon and his wife were also missionaries in Yadira's hometown of La Paz, Mexico. He loves providing a clean environment for the children to learn and is committed to striving for excellence in his custodial work. A fun fact is that he played drums at the age of 7 in his church Choir.
Charlotte McKenney, Garden Coordinator
Charlotte grew up in a small mid-western farming community in Missouri. As the Garden Coordinator she has the very unique opportunity to combine her love for teaching and enjoying the great outdoors to develop, implement and maintain a beautiful rich school resource into our Tree of Life multicultural garden and learning environment. During school time and out-of-school time she works closely with the teachers and staff to integrate the garden into the academic curriculum and provide garden-based learning opportunities to link with real-world experiences. She would like to see our TLC multicultural garden become a benefit to the community, and welcomes families and friends to come and participate with our students during garden class on Miercoles Maravillosas each Wednesday afternoon.
Erika Messner, Dance Teacher
Erika Messner, was Born in Cusco Peru. She absolutely loves working with children (she has worked with them for many years) and teaching is her passion! Throughout her education and life experience in her country, Argentina, and later in the US; she has come to truly appreciate what she had always heard, even at a young age, that children are the future of each nation. She now sees children not only as each nation’s future, but as the future of our planet! When she looks at them, she imagines them accomplishing the greatest they could be, and she truly feels honored to be part of their education and takes it as a privilege. Her other passion is dancing and learning about other cultures. Transferring this love and passion for dance and culture to children brings immense joy to Mrs. Messner’s heart.