Teachers & Staff

Jamie Andres-Larsen

Position: Ocean Class Teacher

Phone: 429-3898 x104
Email: jsandres@sccs.net

Jamie is a parent of a Monarch Community School alum. She started volunteering when her son was in Kindergarten, and for several years, volunteered her time a couple of days a week. When the part-time aide resigned, the teaching staff invited her to apply for the aide position. She accepted the offer, and worked as the part-time aide for the next five years. The following year, the school moved its location and Jamie took the full-time aide position. At the same time, she enrolled in a teacher credential program. Her son graduated from the 8th grade, but Jamie stayed on, obtaining her credential and accepting a part-time teaching position at Monarch.

Schooling: BA, Occidental College (Geology major), MS, University of California, Santa Cruz (Computer Science), Teaching Credential, CalStateTEACH

Other interests: Yoga (Jamie is also a certified TriYoga® instructor and teaches locally), reading, playing piano, movies, hiking and bicycling, cooking, gardening and traveling.

Denise Blair

Position: Sky East Class Teacher

Phone: 429-3898 x106
Email: dblair@sccs.net

Denise, the Sky East Class teacher, grades 3rd–5th, has been at Monarch since 2001. She began her teaching career in 1995 at Gault Elementary.

Prior to teaching, Denise spent 2 1/2 years abroad in Spain and Portugal. Upon returning to the States, she chose to pursue teaching as a career. In January 1995 she earned her Teaching Credential at San Francisco State University and that following summer received her bilingual certification. Denise's hobbies outside of school include spending time with her 19 year old daughter, hiking, outrigger canoeing, reading, writing and relaxing at home.

‚ÄčShannon Blake
Position: Sea Class Teacher

Phone:  831-429-3898 X 103
Email:  sblake@sccs.net

Shannon was born in the Bay Area, but has lived in Santa Cruz the last 8 years where she attended UCSC as an undergrad studying Sociology and Education and also her Master Degree in Education. One of her favorite things about Santa Cruz is the beach, where she spends time doing shell art in the sand. 

Shannon has been working with children for as long as she can remember and started babysitting when she was 12 years old. She always knew she wanted to have a job working with kids and teaching is the perfect fit for her! Besides teaching, she love dancing and movement. Shannon was a gymnastics and dance teacher for 7 years and worked at both June Bugs Gym and Toadal Fitness for kids. Other passions of hers involve being creative and artistic which you might be able to tell from looking around her classroom.

Shannon hopes to inspire her to use their imaginations and paint a picture of what they see for their future. Dream big! She is working hard to help each student reach their personal and family goals while learning, laughing and smiling!

Zack Garban
Position: Sky West Class Teacher

Phone: 429-3898 x105
Email: zgarban@sccs.net

 Zack teaches the Sky West Class at Monarch.  He grew up in Las Vegas, NV and earned his Bachelor’s in Anthropology from the University of Nevada, Reno.  Upon meeting his wife, Annie, a Santa Cruz area native, he decided that the weather was much nicer on the coast and relocated.  Believing in hands on learning to be one of the best ways to engage children, Zack worked at the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose as one of the field trip greeters. At the museum, Zack experienced many Aha! moments as he pushed children to discover new ways of thinking.  While working there, he attended San Jose State University, earning both his teaching credential and Masters in Education. 

 Outside of school, Zack enjoys spending time walking among the redwoods, watching the latest comic book movie,  and reading anything he can get his hands on.

Susie Heady

Position: Earth Class Teacher

Phone: 429-3898 x102
Email: sheady@sccs.net

Susie has worked with school aged children in a variety of settings since 1989. She has taught in alternative and traditional education since 1991, coming to Monarch in 2002 to teach the K/1 class. She received her BA in Sociology (specializing in multi-cultural K-8 arts education) in 1989, and her CLAD teaching credential and MA in Education from UCSC in 1998. She has completed a Level 1 Orff music instructor course and enjoys teaching music and dance to all of the Monarch students. She incorporates many of the visual and performing arts into her curriculum as well. Susie is grateful to be working at a school where collaboration between staff and community involvement with parents is so strong and valued. Teaching in a school where children are supported in learning to be good citizens, kind respectful people, and creative critical thinkers is very rewarding. Monarch's philosophy and hands on application of it's values has made her appreciate coming to work each day. When she is not at school, she enjoys being a mom to her fabulous daughters, spending time with an amazing network of family and friends, exploring nature, and being creative with many forms of art, music, and dance.


Laura McFarland

Position:  Tierra Class Teacher

Phone:  831-429-3898 X 101

Email:  lmcfarland@sccs.net

My name is Laura McFarland, I live in Santa Cruz with my husband, Bryan, our two boys, Jack and Deklin, and our Bernese Mountain Dog, Charley.  I have been teaching in Santa Cruz county within many different schools since 2005. Besides spending time with my family and teaching children, I love the outdoors.  Hiking, camping, hanging at the beach and enjoying snow sports- just to name a few.  I love just about all sports (my husband is from New England, so we are a Boston sports family!), and seeing live music. My husband and I moved to Santa Cruz in 2005 from Missoula, MT.  We love the mountains, we love the beaches, and everything in between.  I have always known that I wanted to be a teacher.  When I was five years old I would have the entire neighborhood of kids (mostly boys) playing school with me each day.  We would climb trees and play baseball, then come to my house for "homework assignments."  My mother always told me she knew I'd be a teacher because I had all those little boys sitting in a row raising their hands.  I see each child as a truly unique and special soul.  When we try to conform and fit people into perfect little "boxes," rebellion and loss of motivation occurs.  I want to inspire children to want to learn, and for them to reach their highest potential.  Not all children need the same thing, but they do all need a lot of love and someone to believe in them.  I feel honored to be the teacher of the Tierra class.  

"Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children."  -Sitting Bull

Janelle Rhoads

 Position:  Ocean Class Teacher

Phone:  831-429-3898 X 104

Email:  jrhoads@sccs.net

 Janelle was born in Santa Cruz and feels blessed to still live in the area, especially since her sisters and parents are local too.  She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and attended UCSC for her teaching credential and Masters in Education.  Janelle knew at a young age that she wanted to be a teacher and has had many jobs working with children.   

 Janelle has four children, two of whom are Monarch students.  Her favorite hobbies are reading, running, hiking, and playing with her kids.  Her favorite local places are the library, the redwoods, and the local thrift stores!

Lysa Tabachnick

Position: Co-Principal

Phone: 429-3898 x228
Email: ltabachnick@sccs.net

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