School Administration

Chuck Leslie : Pastoral Overseer | 619-226-7625

Chuck Leslie has been Pastor of Stewardship of the Rock Church since 2012 and has been the Pastoral Overseer of the Rock Academy since 2016. Prior to coming to the Rock, Mr. Leslie served as the Superintendent of Christian Unified Schools in El Cajon and before that the Director of Development at Santa Fe Christian Schools in Solana Beach. He has 24 years of Christian school administrative experience including a consulting practice that has provided strategic planning services to a variety of schools and other non-profits around the country.

Married to Carolyn Leslie since 1989, they have four grown boys who have are all the product of Christian Schools. He received a B.A. in Political Science with Honors of High Distinction from the University of California, San Diego. He received a Van Lunen Fellowship in Executive Management in Christian Schools from Calvin College, and is in the process of completing a Master’s in Education Leadership from Concordia University.

Mr. Leslie contends that there are few things more important than providing young people with a strong foundation that is based on the truth of God’s word. Beyond just offering strong college prep academics, he believes that Christian schools help students see the world through the lens of God’s love while helping them internalize Godly wisdom and Christian character.

Amy McCutcheon : Financial Controller | 619.764.5200

Amy was born and raised in Orange County, CA. She is the third of six kids in her family and grew up in a Catholic/Christian household. She attended Azusa Pacific University majoring in Business Management and minoring in Psychology. From an early age and throughout her youth, Amy has had a heart for the less fortunate. Amy has been involved helping the homeless and displaced with organizations such as Corazon, the Catholic Worker in Santa Ana, Project Achieve in Long Beach and the Isaiah Project in San Diego. She has also played active roles in Children's Ministry and was instrumental in starting a preschool children's ministry class at her last church here in San Diego.

Amy has always worked in some type of bookkeeping or accounting position beginning with the family business at the age of 14, doing payroll and cash reports for her parents convenience stores to bookkeeping at a Restaurant and later a Land Development firm. Prior to joining the Rock Academy, Amy was running the Accounting Department for an Architectural firm in Costa Mesa.

Amy met her husband, Chad, in 2004 and they married in early 2007. They moved to San Diego at the end of 2009 with their two shelties, Jasper and Cocoa and green-checked conure (a type of parrot), Carona after purchasing a home in Mira Mesa where they currently live. In 2014, the McCutcheon household grew when their son, Jeremy Andrew, was born and again in 2015 when their second son, Owen Matthew was born. Jeremy and Owen currently attend the Rock Academy Preschool. Amy loves being a part of the Rock Academy Family and looks forward to the next phase of growth and achievement alongside an incredible team of educators and staff, partnering with such wonderful families.

Emilie Goodman : Elementary Principal | 619.764.5200

Emilie was raised in a God-loving family in Montreal, Canada. She had the privilege of attending a Christian school where she discovered at the young age of 7 that she wanted to be a teacher. She fondly remembers the times in her life when she would ask her father a million questions about God. Through the years, God continued to reveal Himself to her through life-changing mission trips to Europe and Guatemala. It was there she discovered first-hand that living her life for God was indeed the most exciting life she could ever hope for. 
After teaching in public schools in her hometown, Emilie felt that God was preparing her for new opportunities. She decided to step out in faith, and she moved to beautiful San Diego in July 2008. Since then, she has been amazed at God's faithfulness on a daily basis and feels incredibly blessed to have joined a great team at the Rock Academy. Emilie was the 5thgrade teacher at The Rock Academy for 5 years before becoming the Elementary Principal. Each year she looks forward to partnering with families and staff in growing God’s kingdom through Christian education. Her favorite part of her profession is the freedom she has to share her passion and enthusiasm for learning and to inspire students to pursue God's perfect plan for their lives.
"Do not lose the courage you had in the past, which has a great reward. You must hold on, so you can do what God wants and receive what He has promised." Hebrews 10:35

Kristen Cherry : Junior and Senior High Principal | College/Academic Counselor | 619.764.5200

BA in Human Development
Cleared, Secondary English Credential
Master’s in Education with an emphasis in Administration.
Kristen is married to Chris and is the mother of three children: Blake, Kelsie, and Madison. All three of Kristen’s children have graduated from high school and are in college and/or working full-time. In 2013, Kristen and Chris opened their home to an International Student from China who attends the Academy. Being a mother is an important aspect of her life, and she believes that each one of her children is a gift from the Lord.

In 1998, Kristen went back to school and earned a BA in Human Development and a Secondary Teaching Credential in English from Christian Heritage College, graduating Summa Cum Laude. Immediately following, she applied to Pt. Loma Nazarene University and earned a Master’s degree in Education along with an Administrative Credential. She taught for 7 years at Foothills Christian High School where she was the English Department Chair and the AVID site coordinator. She then took over the Counseling Department and worked closely with students as their academic counselor and advisor. In 2007, Kristen moved over to the Rock Academy to help develop and maintain a counseling center for the new high school. Besides running the counseling office, she also taught high school English. Kristen believes that academic advising is a key to the success of every student and should begin as early as possible. Kristen is also a Master Teacher and has helped to train new teachers in their student teaching programs. In 2012, Kristen accepted the position of Assistant Principal of Student Services for the Academy. She currently oversees all student programming, curriculum, and instruction. Kristen is also an Adjunct Professor for Ashford University in the Education Department.
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11


Office Administration

Darnell Uhland : After School Care Coordinator | RYP Camp Director | 619.764.5200

Darnell grew up in Chico California before moving to San Diego to attend UCSD in 2002. While at UCSD, he received a Bachelor's of Arts degree in Communication. Being from Northern California, he is a big fan of the Sacramento Kings, Oakland A's, and Oakland Raiders (Please don't hold that against him).

Darnell gave his life to the Lord when he was 16 while attending a Christian theatrical play. It was at there that he realized that being a nice guy isn't enough for eternal life, but that he needed Christ. From that day, Joshua 1:9 has always been a verse that he has held close to his heart. (Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.)

Darnell and his wife, Nicole, have two children, Quentin and Jayde, who are attending The Rock Academy. The Uhland household are big on unity as they all like the same sports teams.

Darnell previously worked at Horizon Christian Academy from 2007-2017. At different times, he coached football, baseball, basketball, and soccer at the Jr. High and High School levels. He taught PE, Freshman Bible, and subbed for an Algebra 2/Pre-Calculus class. He was the Jr. High Athletic Director from 2009-2013 and the After School/Seasonal Camp Director from 2013-2017.

In his spare time, Darnell enjoys watching his kids play sports, going on dates with his wife, mini golfing, and eating California Surfin burritos from Lucha Libre.

Autumn Daldo : Admin Team | Worship and Arts Teacher | 619-764-5200
Autumn grew up on the East Coast in a small western NY town. She is the second of eight children and spent her childhood in a loving, Christian home. She met the Lord at a young age but had an experience in worship at 14 that set her heart on fire for Jesus. Autumn started leading worship then and became involved in ministry from there on. She attended Pinecrest Bible College where she studied Theology and Ministry. After completing school, she spent 5 years working for an itinerant ministry serving in various capacities as worship leader, bookstore manager, and intern director. She travelled extensively during these years doing in ministry all over the east coast, mid west and overseas in Jamaica, Honduras, Israel and Germany. She married the love of her life Brent in 2004 and together they have four children Ethan 10, Jace 8, Ava 6 and Luc 2. Autumn spent her early motherhood years primarily at home but also recorded two worship CD’s, taught private piano lessons and ministered as a worship leader. She worked on staff for her church, Bethel Cleveland, for several years assisting in administration for events, worship director for school of ministry and eventually worship pastor.
Autumn’s family relocated to San Diego in 2015 where she found the Rock Academy and was so excited to come on staff.  Autumn loves real food, cooking, hosting, travel and family. Her life verse is John 16:3.
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:3
Debbie Lloyd : Admin Team | Nurse | 619-764-5200

Debbie was born and raised all over the state of California. She became a follower of Jesus Christ in 1993. Years later, she came to the Rock Church in 2009. Debbie is married with two teenage boys that attend the Rock Academy. She is a BIG football fan.

"Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God."  Titus 2:3 - 5

Donna De la Torre : Registrar | International Student Coordinator | 619.764.5200

Donna De la Torre is a native born Southern California girl. She grew up in the Nazarene Church but at the age of 16 had a life changing salvation experience. An Evangelist was speaking at a teen rally at the Long Beach Convention Center, to about 3000 young people. He spoke on Isaiah and challenged all who were there, who really wanted God to be in complete control of the rest of their life to stand up and shout, “Here am I Lord send me!” Well, being a shy somewhat quiet person that was a big challenge. But with the power of the Holy Spirit helping her, she stood and heard herself shout those words. In an instant everything changed. The sky looked brighter and the leaves on the trees rustled with purpose; she became aware of the lost-ness of the people around her and dedicated her life to making the most of every opportunity to share the gospel.

Donna has been on several short term mission projects to Mexico, Nicaragua, and Vanuatu. Vanuatu was another life changing experience. She has been working in Christian Education for the past 15 years. Donna has worn many hats including Interim Principal, Assistant Administrator, Summer Day Camp & Summer School Director, Athletic Director, ASCI Chairperson for Math Olympics and Spelling Bees, Emergency Preparedness Supervisor along with CPR/First Aid Trainer.

She has two adult children Ryan and Renee, and a wonderful daughter-in-law Daisy. Donna has two grandchildren, Noelle and Ronnie, who have her heart.

Donna has always been an adventurer. Skydiving, rock climbing, spelunking, rappelling into caves, white water river-rafting, skiing, jet skiing, scuba diving, paragliding, kayaking, and cave kayaking are some of the adventurous sports she has enjoyed.



Cathy Dodd : 6th Grade Teacher | 619-764-5200

Cathy was born in Roseburg, Oregon where she lived only a few months. Her family moved to Arizona living in Williams, Holbrook, Flagstaff, and Yuma. Growing up with two brothers, she enjoyed fishing and camping. Family vacations always included a visit to her grandparents who lived in Illinois and Texas. She attended junior high, high school, and college in Flagstaff where she enjoyed hiking, skiing, and playing in the snow.

Cathy has been married to Chuck for 31 years. They have three adult children (Britni, Ryan, and Michael) who all live in Arizona. They raised their children in Yuma where Chuck worked as a golf professional and business developer and Cathy was a teacher.

Cathy earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary and special education from Northern Arizona University as well as a master’s degree in educational administration. She taught in a resource room for students with learning disabilities and 2nd – 6th grade. In addition she served as Staff Development Director for 11 years. After teaching for 30 years, she and her husband made the decision to retire and escape the Yuma heat moving to the San Diego area where she had been vacationing for years with her family. She worked in the education department at Legoland where her favorite shifts were teaching robotic classes. Her experience with The Rock Academy began with substitute teaching where she discovered the amazing students and staff.

Cathy doesn’t remember a time when Jesus was not a part of her life. She accepted Jesus as her personal Lord and Savior in a small Baptist church in Holbrook at the age of nine. She and her husband raised their children in non-denominational Christian churches in Yuma. She loves being a part of small group Bible studies and loves to see the way God has worked in the lives of her family and friends. She feels blessed and excited to be able to teach in a Christian setting.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Gayl Mills : 4th Grade Teacher | 619.764.5200

Gayl was born and raised in San Diego. She has always had a love for working with children. She began working in the church nursery when she was eleven and was involved with children and youth ministries ever since. Her love for working with children led her and a friend to begin an after school childcare center servicing schools in the Bay Park area. Many students in their child care center struggled academically so Gayl and her friend felt God’s calling to begin a home-school tutoring program. In this program students were able to use the world as their classroom and participate in project based learning.This hands-on approach of learning helped many struggling students to achieve greater academic achievement. During this 20-year adventure, Miss Mills taught various subjects to grades 1 - 7.

After teaching for so many years in a small private setting, Gayl pursued her credential from San Diego Christian College. After getting her credential, she has been amazed at how God opened the doors for her to work at the Rock Academy and feels confident that this is exactly the place she should be. She looks forward to getting to know her students and their families each year and inspiring them to learn and grow both academically and spiritually.

Haley Shade : 3rd Grade Teacher | 619-764-5200

Haley Shade was born and raised in Chandler, Arizona with her older sister, Kelsey (who is also a teacher) and two really awesome parents, Doug and Julie. She grew up in a strong Christian household and made her faith her own during her senior year through an off-campus ministry. Through this ministry, Haley had the opportunity to walk alongside of high school and college-aged girls and share with them God’s adoration for them.

Haley attended Arizona State University to receive her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education, which she received in 2014. Immediately after graduating, Haley taught first grade in the town she grew up in, but the Lord eventually called her to move to San Diego. Haley started at the Rock teaching Kindergarten in 2015 and is now teaching third grade. She is extremely grateful and humbled that the Lord called her to work in such a stellar work place.

If Haley is not in the classroom, you can absolutely find her camping in the trees somewhere or hiking to a peak! She loves being outdoors; however, Haley loves spending time with her family over anything. If she is not spending time with her family or camping somewhere, she is definitely eating pizza.

"There is no fear in love because perfect love casts out fear. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." 1 John 4:18

Holly Nease : Kindergarten Teacher | 619-764-5200

Holly was born in Newark, New Jersey and grew up in Altadena California. She enjoyed swimming competitively and playing water polo for many years. Music was always a big part of her life as she played the piano and guitar. Being a Song Girl and making up routines was a highlight of her senior year in high school. While attending college at Point Loma Nazarene University, she heard the gospel preached in a fresh way and received Jesus as her Lord and Savior. She earned her B.A. in Early Childhood Education and received a teaching credential. Holly met and married her college sweetheart Brad at PLNU. She then earned a Master’s degree in Bilingual, Multicultural Education from Cal State Los Angeles.

Holly enjoyed teaching First Grade and Kindergarten in Pasadena Unified School District. She took some time away from teaching to raise a family with her husband. They have three amazing adult children and one son in law. Damon, Heather and Lauren are Westmont College graduates and Ben graduated from Point Loma Nazarene University. Their 3 grandchildren bring much joy and love into their family. You can find Holly out on her paddle board, working on her sewing machine, and creating her “Holly Wear” items found on Etsy in her spare time.

Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.  Proverbs 3:5-6

Ines Cruz : Elementary Spanish Teacher | 619.764.5200

BA in Education
AA in Business Administration


Sra. Flores is so excited to be your child’s Spanish teacher! She was born and raised in Ecuador, she came to the United States at 17 years old and lived in Georgia, New York and New Jersey before moving to California. She came to the Lord when her daughter Isabella was born in 2006, now she loves Jesus with all her heart!

She had the opportunity to meet several cultures and understand the value of learning  foreign languages. She has traveled to Hispanic countries such as Peru, Colombia, Mexico and Spain. She is very passionate about sharing the Latin culture with her elementary students. She is eager to have them motivated and engaged through several activities and projects that will help them become successful with Español and their future.

She holds a Bachelor's degree in Education from Ashford University, and an Associates in Business Administration and Finance.  She has experience working with project based learning at a charter high school as well.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you, not to harm you, to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Lisa Wesner : 2nd Grade Teacher | 619.764.5200

Lisa was born and raised in a Christian home in Chappaqua, New York, a suburb in Westchester County. She accepted Jesus into her heart at age 7, during a vacation bible school at her church. The Lord guided her as she attended the local public school and went away to college in Maryland to pursue a degree in nutrition and dietetics. Following graduation she had the opportunity to work at a non-profit nutrition education organization in California for many years during which time she worked with teachers and administrators in public and private schools. She also became a certified fitness instructor through ACSI and ACE and taught exercise classes part time for 6 years at various fitness locations in San Diego. During these years Lisa married and started a family. All these experiences helped develop her interest in child development and early education. In God’s timing she eventually returned to school to earn her degree in Education and a California teaching credential. She completed her student teaching assignments in San Diego City Unified School District, at Sequoia elementary with 5/6 graders and at Jerebek elementary with Kindergarteners. Lisa has been a full time teacher in Christian private schools since 2001 and joined the elementary staff at the Rock Academy in 2007. Her passion for teaching a variety of learning levels in the classroom, while helping young children develop Godly Character traits is what gives her the energy and anticipation to come to school and see what the Lord has planned for her and her students each day.

Family time is very important to Lisa. Raising her daughters as Christians is a priority and church participation is an integral part of their lives. In addition, she and her family have enjoyed taking fun trips and vacations throughout the years. Her interests involve a variety of outdoor activities, reading, nutrition and fitness. Her favorite hangouts are La Jolla Cove, Mission Trails Regional Park, and the San Diego Zoo.

Marisa Bajenski : Elementary Pillars Teacher | 619.764.5200

Marisa is a California girl from the Los Angeles area. Downey to be exact. She is an interesting multicultural mix of Mexican, German and Dutch. Her husband describes her as feisty, organized and a penny-pincher. They were married in 2000 and have a fun-loving son, who attends The Rock Academy.

As a teenager, Marisa always felt like something was missing, but had no idea what. She was purposeless and had no passion for life. At age 16, she met a new girl in class who invited her to church youth group. She was relentless! Finally before the summer, she invited Marisa to go to a Christian camp. At the camp, Marisa saw the kids there were excited about life and passionate about God. They had this hope for their life that she desperately wanted. Marisa accepted Christ on the last day of camp and has never been the same. Her whole life has one purpose now, loving and serving God with her whole heart.

After she became a Christian, God turned her love for children into a deep passion. She received her bachelor degree in Child and Adolescent Development in 2000. Then God decided to show her where she belonged. As a substitute teacher in La Canada, CA, she was called to substitute teach in a school for students between the ages of 12-18 with emotional and behavioral disabilities. She was hired as a full-time teacher the following school year and then went back to school for her teaching credentials and master’s degree in Special Education. God filled her with a passion for students struggling with academics, as well as, emotional and behavioral difficulties. Her biggest joy is seeing a student reach their goals and the moment they discover they have a purpose in life.
After teaching Special Education for 4 years, she and her husband decided to move to Poland as missionaries. For 8 years they worked with church planters, training pastors, and running projects like “Rock Your City.” While in Poland, God also gave her a passion for discipleship. She was leading discipleship groups with women for many years.

Her family arrived in San Diego in the fall of 2013, when her husband was hired to be the “Do Something” Church pastor. He is also the Global Outreach pastor. She feels blessed that her husband works at the Rock Church as she is serving as the Pillars Support Teacher at the Rock Academy!

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139:14

Megan Thomas : Librarian | Elementary Computer Teacher | 619.764.5200

Megan was born in Honolulu, Hawaii where her dad was stationed as a Naval Flight Officer, but she was raised in San Jose, CA. She has an older sister and a younger brother and is very close to her siblings. She is blessed to have been raised in a Christian family where the importance of being obedient to God and serving others was modeled daily. She had the opportunity to attend a private Christian school from 3rd grade through high school where her faith was nurtured. This Christian education provided her with a strong foundation for living out her faith, as she got ready for college at Cal Poly. It was at Cal Poly that she was challenged to share her love for the Lord in her classes, dormitory, and with her friends and became a Bible study leader with Campus Crusade. Megan student taught both 2nd and 6th grades in the San Luis Obispo area, while completing her credential, and was awarded Cal Poly’s Student Teacher of the Year. After Megan graduated she moved home to teach first grade for two years at San Jose Christian School before moving to San Diego.

While visiting the Rock one Sunday in the spring of 2008, Megan saw a video about the Rock Academy and she began to pray about teaching at the Rock. God confirmed these desires in her once she moved here and was hired as a substitute teacher. She immediately felt God’s love as the staff and families of the Rock welcomed her. Megan is passionate about Christian education because she sees the impact it had on her own life in her formative years. She recognizes that parents are the primary educators of their children and looks forward to partnering with them to instill a love for learning in such a way that allows students to see God at work in His World. As Christ’s image bearers, it is her goal to see that each student reaches his/her full potential. There is nothing she enjoys more than being able to share freely with her students the love Christ has for them and how He has uniquely gifted each child.

Megan enjoys swimming, traveling, cooking and loves to compete in sprint distance triathlons and open water swims.

Tammi Waitley : Elementary Performing Arts Teacher | 619-764-5200

Tammi was born and raised right here along the beaches of sunny San Diego! She grew up in a non- Christian home, but had strong Christian influences in her life, beginning at an early age. Her parents divorced when she was two years old, so while her single mom worked, she went to a home day care that was run by a strong Christian woman whose name was Lillie. Lillie guided Tammi and taught her about the Lord, taking her to weekly church services with her family and even leading her to Christ at the age of four years old. Lillie’s family became a strong, life long, bond in Tammi’s life, and she and her family are who kept her strong in her faith as a child and throughout her teen years. Tammi’s mom remarried and she was adopted by her step father when she was ten. This blended family gave her three brothers, two older and one younger.

Tammi always loved theatre and music, even singing her first solo in church at the age of five! She attended San Diego Junior Theatre and enjoyed taking acting, voice and dance classes as well as performing in productions from the ages of eight to eighteen. In high school her major was musical theatre, but she changed it to early education in college. Tammi taught preschool for over twenty years, then began teaching kindergarten and first grade at a home school tutoring program for eight years. As much as she loved working with children in academics, her heart still loved the arts. So she began leading a Christian show choir and touring group based out of Mission Valley Christian Fellowship for kids, age eight to twelve. Once the students turned twelve, no one wanted to leave, so she added a teen group as well. Tammi led the two groups, known as King’s Kids and Extreme Youth, for over seventeen years and was blessed to perform at venues all over San Diego, as well as Orange County.  In 2007 she began teaching classes and directing, and musically directing, productions at Christian Youth Theatre. Her years at CYT led her to even more opportunities teaching weekly Chorus classes in different public schools, working with Girl Scouts, and led to a position teaching music classes at Mira Mesa Christian School. God’s timing is perfect and He already had the Rock lined up for her, as she had musically directed Mary Poppins at the Rock last year with Mrs. Payne. She was excited when the door was opened for her to teach Performing Arts to Kinder through Sixth Grade at Rock Academy.

Tammi has been married to her awesome husband and best friend, Darren, for 27 years. They have four children, three boys and one girl. They’re oldest son, Shane, works at Children’s Hospital. Their next son, Kyler, is a singer at Legoland, and is a college student studying Theatre and Music. Their daughter, Danica, is an animal trainer at the Pet’s Rule Show at Sea World and is also a college student. Their youngest son, Kaden, loves surfing and playing drums and is starting sixth grade here at the Rock Academy this year!  Darren and Tammi are so excited for him to attend this incredible school!

Tammi loves to swim and paddle board and spends any free time she has at the beach!

Tammi is looking forward to getting to know your child and hopes to share her love of the arts with them!


Junior and Senior High

Erika Payne : Social Science and Yearbook | Performing Arts Director | 619.764.5200

BA Dance & Education
MA Educational Technology

Erika Lin Payne comes to the Rock Academy after working for the Rock Church in the Youth, Operations, and Finance Departments. Prior to her seven year stint in ministry, she spent five years in the classroom. (Yes, she’s that old.) Mrs. Payne taught high school social science in a public high school in Riverside County before moving home to San Diego to get her graduate degree. While in graduate school, she taught performing arts to fourth graders at the School in the Park before moving on to a combination first and second grade class at a small private school. God then led her to another public school where she led a resource program for mild/moderate special education students. Ever since Pastor Miles shared the vision for the Rock Academy, she knew she would help shepherd students there.

A born-and-bred East County girl, Mrs. Payne met Jesus through her best friend as a senior at El Cajon Valley High School. She served as the women's discipleship coordinator for Asian American Christian Fellowship while studying dance and education at UC Riverside. Mrs. Payne earned her graduate degree in Educational Technology at San Diego State and was engaged to the love of her life—an East County boy named Jayson—shortly after graduation. They have two sons who joyfully attend the Rock Academy and are proud host parents to an Academy alum (class of 2015).


My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old—things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us. We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. Psalm 78:1-4

Jenny Zark : Jr./Sr. High English and Bible Teacher | 619-764-5200

Jenny Zark was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. She became a Christian through the ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ, now called Cru, during her freshman year at the University of Florida. After earning a bachelor’s degree in English, she went on to earn a Master’s degree in secondary English education, also from the University of Florida. She taught at a public high school in Florida for 2 years before moving to China to teach at an international Christian school for 5 years. At that time, she met her husband, who is a native Californian, so she moved to Los Angeles to marry him, and she continued teaching in East Los Angeles and Santa Clarita for 3 more years. She and her husband, Brian, then moved to Michigan where Brian completed a degree in law at Michigan State University. During their stint in the Midwest, Jenny continued teaching, and the Lord blessed the Zark family with their daughter, Allison Faith, and their son ,Hudson Robert. When Brian graduated from law school, he got offered a job at North Island Naval Base, so the family moved to San Diego in 2015. Jenny took a year away from teaching to stay home full-time with their then, 2 year old daughter and 4 month old son. However during the summer of 2016, through a number of amazing God-orchestrated events, Jenny was offered her dream teaching position at The Rock Academy.

She loves teaching, but more importantly, she loves students and has no doubt that she has been called to be a teacher and called to the Rock Academy. Her passions are the Lord, her family, teaching Truth, literature, writing, and Gator football and basketball. Hopefully in that order. Her favorite verse, and what she strives to model is Colossians 1:28-29

“He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” Colossians 1:28-29

Joey Vargas : Jr./Sr. High Fine Arts Teacher and Spanish Teacher | 619-764-5200

B.A. Art Education
Joey was raised in Los Angeles, CA. He comes to the Rock Academy in his fourth year of teaching. Joey attended the Christian college, Friends University, for his Bachelor of Arts in Art Education.

Joey came to know the Lord many years ago as a little boy through his loving, attentive aunt. He is married and has two children. They moved to San Diego from Kansas in 2016. Their family are huge Jayhawks fans! They also love to travel the country.

Be on your guard; stand firm in your faith; be courageous; be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13

Melena Dailey : Jr./Sr. High Mathematics Teacher | 619.764.5200

Bachelors Degree in Liberal Studies,
Point Loma Nazarene University
Masters Degree in Education and Mathematics Instruction, Ashford University
Melena was raised in a non-Christian home in Pasadena, California. Her parents decided to send her to a Christian elementary school because they thought it would be "safer." It was in the 2nd grade that Melena accepted the Lord as a result of hearing the salvation message during a school chapel. Melena's parents allowed her to choose where she attended junior and senior high school, so she followed her friends to the local Christian schools to get more exposure to the Christian faith. She started attending church during her senior year in high school, which was where she was introduced to Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. As she desired a college experience where she could grow both academically and spiritually, Melena both attended and then graduated from PLNU. Melena completed her teaching credential the summer after graduation.

Melena is grateful for her Christian education. She believes that if it weren't for her numerous teachers who helped shape and transform her over the years, she may not be who she is today. Her Christian education inspired her to become a teacher and has given her the desire to be what her teachers were for her when she was in school.

In May 2009, Melena was awarded San Diego Teacher of the Year, as well as the Southern California Runner-up Teacher of the Year by the California Air Force Association (CAFA). The award was presented to her by Mike Peters, Far West Region President and Brigadier General Eric W. Crabtree, Commander 4th Air Force, Air Force Reserve Command.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

Natalie Ippolito : Jr./Sr. High Pillars Teacher | 619-764-5200

BA in Kinesiology
Cleared, Pupil Personnel Services Credential
Master’s in Education with an emphasis in Educational Counseling
A born-and-raised San Diego girl, Natalie grew up in a Christian home where her father, mother and brother supported her. She attended Christian schools and graduated from San Diego Christian College, as well as Azusa Pacific University. The Lord lead Natalie to The Rock Church in 2010, where she immediately found Impact 195, and joined the very first class of 2011. Over the past six years, The Lord has completely transformed her life and has now opened an incredible door for her to serve, teach and use her passion for counseling and education for His glory, at the very place she found her way back home!

Natalie comes to the Rock Academy after working in the Poway Unified School District, as a school counselor for both middle and high school students. Natalie has an extensive background in health and wellness and strongly feels that this contributes to teaching and the education of students. Her passion is to equip students and give them the tools to have a healthy mindset and live a balanced life for optimal health and well-being. Natalie’s heart is to counsel and teach to the whole child. To instill in adolescents the importance of living a healthy lifestyle which includes: physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, spiritually as well as occupationally.

When Natalie is not in the classroom, you can absolutely find her at the beach! Although she loves to travel, she is a true San Diego girl, at heart. A few of her favorite things include: sushi with her friends, mornings when she gets to sleep in, her super comfy sweatshirt collection, rainy days and good books, coffee on her morning commute, beach cruising in her favorite city, good tunes on the radio during a road trip.

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  Romans 8:28

Nick Bertaux : Athletic Director | Social Science Teacher | 619.764.5200

Bachelor of Art - Social Science
Nick grew up in a very non-traditional "Christian" home. He was saved at the age of 8, but soon after he hated going to church. He played basketball all his life and ended up making it his idol, instead of his relationship with Christ. Nick transferred schools in his junior year to Christian High because he was told that he would get a college scholarship to play basketball. God then strategically placed people in his life that showed him what it meant to be a follower of Christ. Immediately basketball became number two.

As soon as Nick rededicated his life, he went on a mission trip to Honduras where he taught English to little kids. Right then and there he knew he wanted to become a teacher. He returned to school to get his degree so that he could influence many youths for Christ.

Nick’s desire is to help students understand history from a Christian perspective, and help them grow spiritually. He has coached girl’s and boy’s basketball for 5 years now and he loves giving back to the youth of today. His ultimate goal is to point the students toward Christ and let God take care of the rest. Nick has been teaching for 4 years at the Rock Academy and has had an amazing time serving the children of God's people.

In his spare time Nick enjoys playing basketball and surfing.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45

Rali Schwartz : Dean of Student Life | 7th/8th Grade Bible Teacher | 619.764.5200

BS Kinesiology

Rali grew up in New Jersey before relocating to San Diego for High School. While attending La Jolla Country Day School, Rali was a captain and all-league selection for the Football and Track & Field teams. He then attended San Diego State University where he studied and earned his Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Fitness, Nutrition and Health.

While in college, Rali recognized his need of Jesus’ salvation and became born-again. Shortly after graduating, Rali married his high-school and college sweetheart, Mary. They now reside in La Mesa with their daughter, Cecilia (Cici), and son, Jason and attend Journey Community Church.

Rali has worked at the Rock Academy since 2012, previously as the Elementary PE teacher. Rali has been the Head Football coach for the Rock Academy since 2015 and has coached Track & Field. In addition to being the Dean of Student Life for the Jr/Sr High School, Rali also teaches 7th/8th Grade Bible, is the Head Ultimate Frisbee coach, and is the school’s Strength and Conditioning Coordinator. Rali still enjoys competing and participating in various sports and activities, such as flag-football, ultimate Frisbee, track & field, surfing, hiking, rock-climbing, jiu-jitsu and weight-lifting. He also enjoys relaxing and traveling with his family as well as reading a good book or watching a fun movie.

Stacy Halbert : Jr./Sr. High Spanish Teacher and Home Ec. Teacher | 619.764.5200

Stacy was raised in a Christian home in Temecula, California, where she accepted Christ into her heart at a very young age. With age and maturity Stacy's relationship with her Lord and Savior grew and guided her through high school and into college where she attended San Diego State University. In college Stacy discovered her passion to not only serve the Lord but also serve him through the study of Spanish. Stacy spent time abroad in Cuernavaca, Mexico, and Spain, Madrid, where she gained a love and understanding for the Spanish language and culture. She quickly decided that she wanted to use this love and passion to serve God as a teacher.

After college Stacy spent one year teaching Spanish and dance, and directing ASB at Linfield Christian School in Temecula. Once she had completed a year of teaching in Temecula she believed that God had called her back to San Diego to use her gifts and love for teaching to educate students at the Rock Academy. Stacy is entering her seventh year as a teacher for the Rock Academy and loves being a being a part of The Rock family.

Stacy is married to Justin Halbert who is also a high school educator and is grateful to do life with her best friend. This year Stacy and Justin welcomed their first child into the world; a baby girl named Essie Jaye Halbert. They couldn’t be more in love! Stacy loves to spend time with friends and family, and she greatly values community in her life. Stacy is excited to continue to share her passions for Spanish, dance, and living skills with The Rock Academy.