Meet Us

Meet our Faculty

The people who help make Kino a community.

Kino teachers are mentors, collaborators, coaches, scientists, musicians, artists, and educators. Many of our teachers have certifications, master’s, and specialized degrees in their teaching fields. But what sets our teachers apart is their passion for lifelong learning and eagerness to share that passion with Kino Students.

Vanessa Phillips

Vanessa Phillips

Director

Vanessa Phillips will be starting her third year as the Director. She worked as a homeroom teacher at Kino from 2006-2012, during which she taught primarily high school and junior high English classes.

Vanessa graduated from the University of Arizona with a B.F.A. in Art Education, with an emphasis on ceramics. In 2012, she returned to Montclair State University in New Jersey to pursue her M.A. in English, with a dual focus in Writing Studies and American Literature. She is looking forward to offering high school and junior high English classes and ceramics lessons again.

In her free time, Vanessa likes to do glasswork and pottery, play board games, and run. She has one daughter who is a Kino student!

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Kassia Finkler

Kassia Finkler

Financial Advisor

Kassia and her family moved back to Tucson this summer after being away for seven years due to her husband’s Air Force career. Kassia has a Bachelor of Science degree in core mathematics from Purdue University. She has been a stay-at-home mom to her four children for the past 18 years but has been significantly involved in her kids’ schools, volunteering in and out of the classroom and on the P.T.A. board. Kassia has also been the treasurer and is very active with other non-profit organizations in the local communities.

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Nancy Bachelier

Nancy Bachelier

Administrative Assistant

Nancy Bachelier has worked at Kino for many years in various capacities, including working with Mary Jane to teach primary language arts. She now is in charge of the front office. She is the first person to greet us when we arrive at school every morning.

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Lisa Rakestraw

Lisa Rakestraw

Homeroom/Math

Lisa Rakestraw was born in California. She grew up in San Diego and went to college at UC Davis, studying Zoology. She moved to Tucson in 2006 and fell in love with the surrounding wilderness. She has three children and enjoys hiking and watching movies with them. Her favorite food is homemade cookies. She teaches K-8 classes in Language Arts, Math, and Science. She also leads nature walks and teaches animal care.

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Charlie Duncan

Charlie Duncan

Computers/Greenhouse/Shop

Charlie Duncan assists with the Plant Science class and oversees the greenhouse, gardens, and outdoor learning area. Charlie has extensive experience in caring for and using native plants, rainwater harvesting, landscape management, sustainable design, and working with concrete, brick, and rock. With knowledge of computer technology, he would like to teach a class in computer programming in the future.

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Jennifer Shelton

Jennifer Shelton

Homeroom/Art

Jennifer has been teaching at Kino since 2007. She received her A.A. in Liberal Arts and A.A. in General Studies from Pima Community College and her B.F.A. in Art Education from the University of Arizona with an emphasis in Photography and Community Arts. Jennifer teaches visual arts, art history, creative writing, photography, and cooking.

At Kino, Jennifer has facilitated several community outreach projects with organizations such as Therapeutic Riding of Tucson, The Humane Society, Casa Maria Soup Kitchen, and La Cañada Care Homes. Jennifer has taken students everywhere, from the Dragoon and Chiricahua mountains of Arizona to the glaciers and peaks of Glacier National Park and Yellowstone.

She lives near the University with her partner and two dogs. She is a professional photographer in her spare time and likes playing her Celtic harp.

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 Michael Skidmore

Michael Skidmore

Science/P.E.

“Coach Skid,” as his twenty-plus years of students and athletes call him, spent his early years in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota, where he developed his lifelong love affair with the outdoors. He has worked with young people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds for over two decades. First in athletics, coaching numerous levels from peewee to high school varsity, and numerous sports from girl’s softball (state champs!) to wrestling to football and many more. Coaching led to a desire to work with young people full-time, culminating with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education at 48. Coach says this was the best decision of his life!

Mike recently moved back to Tucson after more than thirty years away. His niece and nephew attended Kino, prompting a strong desire to teach here, and he is extremely excited to finally get the chance to work with the amazing Kino family of staff and students!

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Scott Cherba

Scott Cherba

Music

​​Scott is a geologist, educator, scientific illustrator, and large-format photographer based in Tucson. For more than 30 years, he has specialized in southwest North America’s geology and natural history from the Colorado Plateau to the Gulf of California. His clients have included non-profit organizations, universities, government agencies, N.G.O.s, and museums worldwide. Most recently, he spent several seasons as a geoscientist and park ranger on Grand Canyon’s North Rim. He teaches high school math and science, helps Lisa with mid-level science, and leads music and rock band classes. 

​Visit him online at cherba.com or write him at science@cherba.com.

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Brian Dahl

Brian Dahl

P.E.

Brian began attending Kino as a kindergarten student in 1991 and continued until high school graduation in 2004. Brian serves on our Kino Board of Directors and works part-time as Charlie’s right-hand man/assistant. Brian also works for a local screen printing company. He enjoys hiking and traveling in his spare time, and we count on Brian to stay in touch with our Kino alums.

Cezanne Rahner

Cezanne Rahner

Spanish

Cézanne is Kino’s Spanish teacher and librarian. She has been working here for three years and teaches grades K-12! Cézanne graduated from NAU with a BA in Spanish and a BA in Political Science. She enjoys integrating her interest in art, music, and Latin American political history into her classes. Cézanne believes that a strong foundation in a second language is an important part of a well-rounded education, and her goal is to foster a lifelong interest in language for her students. As a teacher and librarian, she wants to encourage Kino kids to explore the world beyond their comfort zone!

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Neha Datta

Neha Datta

Homeroom/Math

Neha Datta joined Kino School in 2014. She has a Bachelor’s in Molecular and Cellular Biology and a Master’s in Public Health Policy and Management from the University of Arizona. In the past, Neha has worked as a researcher in pancreatic cancer at the Arizona Cancer Centre. In addition, she is a certified chemistry and occupational health instructor at Pima Community College. Neha recently returned from the U.K. after working a year and a half in the National Health Service (N.H.S.). Neha is passionate about teaching and education and specializes in teaching the sciences and mathematics.

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Caroline Champagne

Caroline Champagne

Homeroom/Humanities

Caroline is a Tucson native, dog enthusiast, and former Kino student. Before transitioning into the world of education, she worked with children and families at child advocacy and behavioral health non-profits. Caroline holds degrees in Psychology, Linguistics, and Educational Leadership and is certified in K-12 Special Education. She teaches Language Arts and Humanities classes for Mid Level, Junior High, and High School students.

In her spare time, Caroline enjoys hiking with her dogs and conducting research on education and social justice at the University of Arizona.

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Jennifer Krichbaum

Jennifer Krichbaum

Homeroom/Language Arts

Jennifer was born in New York and grew up in the woods of northern Maine. She relocated to Arizona in 2015 as a military spouse. Her background is in social work. She taught preschool for thirteen years before moving to High School E.L.A. and Middle School Science. She places a strong emphasis on nurturing social/emotional skills.
She has five children and two dogs. She also coaches competitive cheerleading.

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Dawn Straley

Dawn Straley

Science

Dawn moved to Tucson from her home state of Utah a few years ago. However, she is no stranger to Arizona. After completing her Bachelor of Science in Biology & Zoology at Southern Utah University, She completed her master’s in legal studies and environmental law at Arizona State University. Her areas of expertise are genetics, biotechnology, clinical research, water, and energy law. After 15 years in biotech, she has decided to work with children and hopes to inspire in them the same passion she has for science. Dawn is a proud momma to three boys, two of whom are Kino students. On the weekends, you can find this former rodeo queen with her boys at the BMX, racing, hiking, camping, enjoying horses, and exploring nature.

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Tony Harsh

Tony Harsh

Homeroom/History

Tony and his family recently moved to Tucson from Minneapolis after they fell in love with the desert after a visit this winter. Tony has a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a Master’s in Teaching, focusing on Social Studies. He has three daughters, and his wife is a Designer at Target. Tony is a musician and has played and engineered with his bands for many years. He has also owned a remodeling business, fixing bathrooms, kitchens, and restaurants. He enjoys teaching, especially project-based curriculum, and is excited to join the Kino community.

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Bobby Carlson

Bobby Carlson

Teacher

Bobby has a BS in history and an MA in English from NAU. He’s worked extensively with people of all ages with disabilities since 2008, and last year worked as an office administrator and teacher of reading and writing to grades three through five at a small elementary school. He is a musician and occasional visual artist.

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Kino students pose with "be kind" signs on a community service trip.

“The first, and probably the most influential, lesson a teacher presents is her own humanity. Students learn quickly what kind of person the teacher is, how she treats others, what she thinks is important. You will not see this as a course offering, but it’s at the heart of education, and might be called: How to be a human being in the world.”

—from David Anderson’s eulogy for Patti Crowley, who taught at Kino from 1975 to 1998.

Give to Kino

Support our mission.

Kino School is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. It depends, in part, on the support and engagement of our parents, alums, friends, and students to ensure the school has the resources to sustain our mission. All donations are fully tax-deductible!

A stick figure holding up a heart.