Teachers & Staff

Zack Garban

Position: Sky Class Teacher

Phone: 429-3898 x55106

Email: [email protected]

Zack teaches the Sky 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.

Mischa Gasch

Position:  RSP resource teacher

Phone:  831-429-3898 X5105

Email:  [email protected]

Mischa is our Resource Teacher. He was born and raised in Germany. In 2007, after getting his Masters's in Special Education he moved to New Zealand to work in a school for Special Needs in Auckland. In 2009 he came to California after meeting his future wife on the Cook Islands. The two decided to move to Santa Cruz in 2011 and are living with their sons Max and Leon, a tiny dog and a huge cat on the west side. 

In his free time, Mischa plays music (upright bass and guitar), loves soccer, and enjoys being outdoors with his family. When the pandemic hit he started running and has completed several ultra-marathons since then.

Mischa is thrilled to be part of the Monarch family. He believes that our philosophy supports all students. He encourages students to use their creative thinking, to be independent, and to use their hearts in minds together in order to become valuable community members. 


Susie Heady

 Earth Class Teacher

Phone: 429-3898 x55102

Email: [email protected]

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: Ocean Class Teacher

Phone:  831-429-3898 X 55104

Email:  [email protected]

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 a part of Monarch Community School.

Michelle McKinney

Position:  Principal

Phone:  831-429-3898 X55228

Email:  [email protected]

Michelle McKinney has had the privilege of serving in many roles at Monarch Community School from parent, to secretary, instructional aide, student teacher, lead teacher, and principal. She values the power of community
—collective and focused energy with kindness at its core—to manifest the end of poverty and violence through democratic educational principles and practices. She takes a positive stance towards personal and professional growth; is committed to the belief that ‘we are all doing the best we can in the moment;’ and views mistakes as authentic opportunities to learn and grow. 

Six Words: Yes! Together. Possibility. Growth. What’s next?


Reyena Kimpton:  [email protected]
Maya Reber:  [email protected]
Callie Welch:  [email protected]
Penske Ripley-Phipps:  [email protected]
Senka Pavisic-Bogren:  [email protected]

Community Coordinator:

Sarah Ferreira:  [email protected]

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