In a year like no other, we are overjoyed to welcome twelve new faces to 500 Bellefontaine for the 2021-22 year, including two Mayfield alums. There are additions to the art department, world language department, our student support team, and our Development office. As always, the one thing our new faculty and staff all share? A commitment to our Holy Child educational mission—and to our Mayfield families. Please read more about our growing Mayfield community!
Malissa Balderama ’09, Annual Fund Manager
After graduating from Mayfield Senior School, Malissa Balderama ‘09 went on to continue her studies in Portland and Phoenix in elementary education. Upon returning to Pasadena, she was overjoyed to work at her former elementary school, St. Philip the Apostle, where she served as the children’s librarian, math tutor and athletics coach before venturing into the Development world.
Fundraising for an educational institution was a natural transition from teaching, because the ultimate goal of all faculty and staff at a school is to nurture a caring environment for students to learn and grow. A beloved uncle likes to remind her that the job suits her because “she likes to talk”—an attribute she acquired from growing up in the restaurant business. Her family has owned a couple of Thai restaurants in Pasadena for the past 34 years. Nosy about conversations her mother and aunts had, she became fluent in conversational Thai. Malissa also had the opportunity to grow up visiting her grandfather's ranch in the Central Valley where lines of vineyards made delicious raisins. (“Yes,” she said, “I was the kid who LIKED when people handed out raisins trick-or-treating!”) She hopes to one day write a children's book about her father and his five siblings growing up on "The Ranch."
Malissa will be returning as a member of our basketball coaching staff for the fifth year. Some of her fondest memories from her days at Mayfield stemmed from the basketball court. Along with the fits of laughter, it's the dedication and support that her team has exemplified that reminds her that "some things just never change."
Now, she is happy to be back full-time at Bellefontaine as the Annual Fund Manager, to ensure students who seek a Holy Child education have the opportunity to do so. Mayfield’s mission in providing a sense of community has made a huge impact on Malissa and she looks forward to seeing the joy back on campus this year.
Lyn Beecher, Learning Specialist
Lyn Beecher has over 10 years of experience as a teacher and an administrator at the elementary and secondary school levels, and she joined the Mayfield staff as a part-time Learning Specialist in the spring of 2021. Lyn is thrilled to join the Mayfield Senior School family this fall as a full-time member of our Student Support Team as a Learning Specialist and Chair of our Fitness and Wellness Department.
Lyn was born and raised in Upstate New York. She graduated from Wells College and earned a B.A. in Psychology. She moved to California soon after graduation, and went on to earn her Master of Arts in education at Claremont Graduate University and her Administrative Credential from Point Loma Nazarene University. Lyn describes her training “as being focused on preparation to be a catalyst for positive change.” It was grounded in the understanding that “teaching and learning happens best in engaged communities that foster every student’s intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual gifts.”
As an educator and a mother, she instinctively approaches life as a teacher and a learner. She is deeply committed to high-quality education for all ages and all learning styles keeping expectations high, practices fair, and content accessible and engaging.
Lyn’s two daughters, Kate and Grace, were her first introduction to the Holy Child educational approach, both attending Mayfield Junior School. Raising her children gave her the opportunity to volunteer at school, at church and inside the community. She served as MJS Parent Board President and as Benefit Co-Chair, Past President of the Pasadena Area Chapter of the National Charity League, and she currently serves as an Elder and Mission Coordinator for Trinity Presbyterian Church.
Family remains a cornerstone in Lyn’s life. Her daughter Kate is a sophomore at Wellesley, where she competes on their volleyball team. Grace is an active sophomore at Polytechnic High School, pursuing her interests in horseback riding, musical theatre and volleyball. “As a family, we love to travel far and wide and the more remote the more appealing,” says Lyn, “If we can scuba dive even better. We are a family that strives to dive!”
Lyn brings boundless excitement to be joining the Formation Of Self (FOS) team, thrilled to train and work with our team of instructors to continue to fortify the FOS curriculum with timely topics and relevant skill building opportunities for all of our students.
Paul Cales, Technical Theatre Director
Paul Cales says he has “worn many pairs of shoes on his journey to Mayfield.” Born in Detroit, “when Motown ruled the pop charts,” Paul eventually discovered his true love and lifelong talents years later in Chicago. After studying theology at Evangel University in Missouri, he jumped on a motorcycle and drove across the country. When he heard about a counter-culture, inner-city church working with the homeless on the northside of Chicago, Paul moved to work with the city's abandoned and met his future wife, the love of his life.
In Chicago, Paul learned the type of creativity, craftsmanship and commitment that would guide his life. Working in various trades, Paul found his calling in working in finish carpentry and woodworking. As a crew leader, he spent his free time rock climbing and training to climb mountains worldwide. Paul eventually transitioned into event management and was assistant director of Cornerstone Festival, an outdoor Christian music and art festival in Illinois with over 25,000 attendees. During this time, Paul returned to education to study film production at Columbia College in Chicago. He directed a short film, Merci, which screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2005.
In 2007, Paul moved to Los Angeles with his wife and daughter to pursue their interests in the arts. Using the foundation of building skills he learned in Chicago, he designed and built professional scenery for theaters, film and commercial settings. In addition, Paul taught set design and construction for Culver City High School's theatre productions and designed and built sets for Alverno Heights Academy for the last 14 years. He thrives on the collaboration process and loves to see everyone at their creative best.
Paul is pleased to join Mayfield Senior School as the Technical Theatre Teacher. He is eager to start assisting Ms. Householder “in her vision for igniting student creativity!”
Danielle Hill, Development Coordinator
Danielle Hill, a newcomer from Cleveland, Ohio, arrived in California in 2019 after completing her B.A. in arts management and entrepreneurship at Baldwin Wallace University (BW). While in Cleveland, Hill worked at the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) as Development and Donor Relations intern and then Stewardship Specialist. Hill also participated in BW’s Voices of Praise, where she traveled to Atlanta, New Orleans, and D.C. to sing God’s praises. She then received an M.A. in arts management from Sotheby’s Institute of Art at Claremont Graduate University (SIA/CGU). After graduating, she gladly accepted a position as Development Coordinator at Mayfield Senior School in March 2021.
Danielle’s passion for development began as an intern at the CMA. She recognized the impact an institution has when its community rallies together for a common cause. As a graduate student at SIA/CGU, Hill interned at Exploring the Arts (ETA), an arts education organization founded by music legends Tony Bennett and Susan Benedetto. The internship at ETA deepened her understanding of the power and barriers of adequate arts education. At Mayfield, Hill is able to engage in her passion in development and surround herself in Cornelia Connelly’s belief that arts education aids in creating well-rounded young women.
Danielle was inspired by the confidence and poise of current students and alums while preparing for Mayfield’s capital campaign. “I watched students and alums uplift another while filming,” she says. “They spoke with confidence and directness about Mayfield and I am honored to be a part of an institution that transforms young women into leaders.” And she is equally impressed by the Mayfield faculty and staff, saying, “The Mayfield community welcomed me with joy and I immediately knew that it was my family.”
Danielle’s free time is spent gallery- and museum-hopping with friends, singing, painting and studying art history. Her favorite thing to do on warm days is to lay in the park with her plants and books. She is excited to combine her passions in art, arts education and development at Mayfield.
Boyoung Kim, Theology Teacher
Boyoung Kim is a proud Koreatown native who graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in psychology and theology. After her undergraduate studies, she lived in South Korea to teach English and also immersed herself into her heritage for the first time. Her experience in South Korea confirmed her love of teaching and ignited her passion for travel, wandering and exploration. After two years in her Motherland, she returned to Los Angeles to pursue a graduate degree in education while teaching third grade in the Los Angeles Archdiocese and teaching high school Sunday School at her parish, St. Gregory Nazianzen. She quickly learned that the high school classroom was her calling.
Prior to Mayfield, Ms. Kim taught theology at Marymount High School, and also served as the Service Coordinator there. Her overall goal in the classroom is to assist her students in figuring out more about themselves and use that knowledge and awareness to love God and love their neighbor. Her philosophy of theological pedagogy includes intellectual formation, spiritual formation and a commitment to the Gospel message of love through justice. Her experience at Marymount motivated her to go back to school to deepen her own theology education. She left Marymount to pursue a Master’s of Theological Studies at Boston College.
After she graduated in May 2020, Ms. Kim relocated to Silicon Valley to serve as Campus Minister and theology teacher at Woodside Priory in Portola Valley, CA. After a year, and some divine intervention/inspiration, Ms. Kim found herself wanting to go back to Los Angeles, and applied to Mayfield as a theology teacher. She is eager to come back home and ready to immerse herself in the Holy Child mission.
When she is not teaching, Ms. Kim loves to hang out with her two dogs and go on hikes. She enjoys exploring Los Angeles for hidden gems and delicious restaurants. Please give her any recommendations (she especially loves old places that are off the beaten path). Finally, Ms. Kim loves to travel in order to meet new people and hear different stories. She firmly believes that all people have a story-worthy life and is eager to hear yours.
Amy Lareau, Co-Director of College Counseling
Amy Lareau joined Lynn Maloney as Co-Director of College Counseling at Mayfield in August 2021. Amy grew up in Massachusetts playing tennis, participating in musical theater, singing in choirs and working as a cantor at her Catholic church. After her Confirmation, Amy went on to attend Bates College, where she majored in anthropology, minored in theater, sang a cappella, and participated in service-learning within the Somali diaspora in Maine. This exposure to the refugee experience inspired Amy to seek summer work teaching English as a second language to teenagers in the greater Boston area through Harvard University’s Summer Urban Program: Refugee Youth Summer Enrichment for two summers. Also in her undergraduate years, Amy studied abroad in South Africa, where she conducted ethnographic research for her honors anthropology thesis on the post-apartheid education system.
Upon her return to the States, Amy was motivated to work in college admissions, first as a Senior Admissions Fellow then as a Summer Interviewer for the Bates Admissions Office. Next, Amy worked at Paul Smith’s College, where she supported students from educationally and economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Living amongst the Adirondack mountains led Amy to tap into her more adventurous side as she learned to ski, mountain bike, and throw axes (watch out!). As a dedicated thespian, she has enjoyed performing in roles from productions like Stephen Sondheim’s “Assassins” and the original play, “A Boarding School Musical.”
Amy moved west to spend four years working at Colorado College, where she was an Assistant Director of Admissions, then returned to Massachusetts in 2014 to switch sides of the admissions desk, launching her career in high school college counseling. For seven years, she worked as a College Advisor at Deerfield Academy, a boarding school in Massachusetts. In addition to her college counseling work at Deerfield, Amy served as a dorm resident, coached JV ice hockey, led outdoor excursions, advised the student yearbook and the LEEF (“let’s eat ethical foods”) club.
Amy was inspired to relocate and start the next chapter at Mayfield because she felt connected to the school’s vision of love through action and joy in the learning process. She is particularly inspired by Mayfield’s female leadership and heartened by the warmth and brilliance of the colleagues and students she has met. She is also happy to make California her new home, where she can (hopefully) garden year-round, volunteer with animal welfare groups, eat at the plethora of vegan restaurants and enjoy sunny excursions with her chocolate labradoodle, Daisy!
Tim Lewis, Art Teacher
Tim Lewis is a Southern California native who grew up in the San Gabriel Valley. Tim has over two decades of experience teaching art at the college and high school level.
Tim received a BFA from Pitzer College in 1995 where he was the recipient of the Milton Avery Scholarship. He then attended The University of Southern California in 1998 and received an MFA. In 1998, he received a fellowship to attend the prestigious Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. In addition, Tim holds an MA in Arts Education from Loyola Marymount University. Tim speaks nationally on the topic of arts education. In 2017, he spoke in Washington, D.C. at the National Coalition of Girls Schools on the subject of Contemporary Art, and in 2018 at the National Art Educators Association in Seattle, WA on creating a curriculum that combines naturalist’s principles through art, design, and science. In 2006, Tim was awarded Sierra Madre’s “Teacher of the Year Award,” for his service and instruction at Alverno Heights Academy.
Along with his strong teaching background, Tim has significant and relevant experience as a practicing artist. Tim is an active plein-air painter and observer of the natural world. His own practice as an artist is rooted in studies and observation of the natural environment both real and imagined. His work continues to be exhibited in various venues in and around Los Angeles. Being committed to a studio practice along with an engagement in the art community at large has remained central to his development as an artist and teacher.
Tim says one of his most satisfying moments as an art teacher came when one of his previous students was an intern at the public radio station KCRW and gave Mr. Lewis a “shout-out!” on the show Morning Becomes Eclectic.
Erika Mastrobuono, School Counselor
Erika Mastrobuono, LCSW, is overjoyed to join the Mayfield community as the School Counselor. Erika has lived and worked in the Pasadena/Altadena area as a mental health counselor and therapist in the Pasadena Unified School District for over 10 years, and in private practice as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in South Pasadena.
Erika was born in New York City. Growing up in Brooklyn gave Erika a unique perspective about the importance of diversity and a love of community. Erika came to Los Angeles in 2003 with a theater company and never quite made it back to New York—now considering the West Coast her second home. Her passion for social justice issues led her to earn her Master’s in Social Work from USC in 2012. Since that time she has become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) providing individual and family therapy, as well as facilitating support groups for adolescents and parents.
Erika lives with her amazing husband, brilliant daughter and their very expressive dog. Although she misses her big family in New York, she is so blessed to have their unconditional love and support, and loves going to NYC to visit them as often as possible.
When Erika first encountered the “Holy Child Approach” section on the Mayfield website, she found a deep resonance with it all. She stumbled on this phrase describing Holy Child education as: "love of learning, commitment to service, a strong sense of self, a joyful spirit, and true respect for the inherent worth of every human being,” and was amazed how much this approach perfectly aligned with the principles she lived by, especially as she gave young people the tools to value and enrich their own mental health.
In addition to supporting every student with an authentic and holistic approach that nurtures empowerment, connection and growth, Erika is also thrilled to be able to embrace the values that she loves about social work: service, social justice, dignity and worth of every person, importance of relationships, integrity and competence. Erika is grateful to be joining this community, and looking forward to getting to know all of the students and their families.
Elliott Piros, Latin Teacher
Dr. Elliott Piros moved to the Los Angeles area in 2012 to begin a PhD in Classics at UCLA, which he completed in 2019. He joined the Mayfield community in 2021 after teaching at colleges in California, North Carolina and Kentucky. Growing up in New York, New England, “old” England, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and the state of Washington, Elliott jokingly remarks that he sometimes thinks of his own journey not unlike Odysseus (the hero of Homer’s Odyssey) because he has “come to know the cities and minds of many people.” He even spent time in East Sussex, not too far from Mayfield, where Cornelia Connelly established the first Mayfield School!
At Mayfield Senior School, Elliott teaches Latin 3 and 4 and oversees the Mock Trial program and Debate team. He believes that Latin is a language particularly well suited for giving students an appreciation of what humans are doing when they communicate with each other in any language, or even without words.
When Elliott is not spending time with his long-haired cat Lope (named for his wolfishness: Lope, two-syllables, comes ultimately from Latin lupus, “wolf” – think Remus Lupin!). He loves to hike in the Arroyo Seco and the San Gabriel mountains, while away hours in antique malls, watch old movies, and listen to audiobooks, especially on long drives through the deserts and valleys of eastern California. He aspires to have a garden where at least most of the plants are flourishing.
Elliott finds that students learn to expand their appreciation for the beliefs, ways of being, traditions, and institutions that make up the diversity of our current age by grappling with the thoughts of people whose civilizations and ways of life existed centuries ago, in radically different times. He also thinks it’s cool that learning Latin allows people to, in a sense, time travel!
Maribel Ruiz Garcia, Spanish Teacher
A dedicated high school teacher and college professor, Maribel Ruiz Garcia joins Mayfield this year to teach Spanish 1, Spanish 1 Advanced and Advanced Placement Spanish Literature. Maribel has served as an academic leader and department chair at two other Catholic High Schools, and has also taught in the Modern Languages and Literatures Department at Loyola Marymount University. She has taught advanced placement courses and served as a mentor teacher to many of her colleagues. Her passion for education stems from collaborating with her colleagues and inspiring her students through innovation in the classroom, while appreciating different cultures and languages.
Maribel received a B.A. from California State University, Long Beach in Spanish Linguistics with a Minor in Latin American Studies. Maribel also earned her Master's Degree in education with an option in educational technology and media leadership.
Teaching at a Catholic school felt a natural fit for Maribel, who maintains a faith emphasis in her own life. She believes that everyone is on a spiritual journey and “within that journey you learn along the way the tools necessary to enrich the community that you serve.” She believes that, “God places you in the community where you are needed to share your spiritual gifts with others.” The incarnational philosophy of a Holy Child aligns with her own worldview, because she personally tries to hone the skills to always “see God's presence in everyone you meet.”
Student growth and development drive Maribel as well. “I want my students to understand how they learn and apply that to excel in their classes,” says Maribel. “I believe each student feels empowered when they know how they learn best. I want to educate my students to become great effective leaders that are able to communicate and listen compassionately and apply these skills among our community and in society.”
Jennifer Saparzadeh, Photo and Video Teacher
Jennifer Saparzadeh was born and raised in Los Angeles to a Jewish family of refugees who emigrated from Iran. Formative experiences with the challenges and limitations of language furnished a deep love and admiration for visual forms of expression. Jennifer received a B.A. in Film and Literature from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts and an MFA in Film from ÉCAL in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Throughout these studies, Jennifer also worked in education. Whether as a teaching assistant at the university level, co-spearheading a media literacy program for third-graders approaching English as a second language, or working with teenage girls seeking refuge in Austria—an active commitment to cultivating nourishing space for people on their learning journey has always been present. Jennifer engages students with a teaching philosophy rooted in joy and exploration, and the belief that when people feel safe and comfortable—when they are having fun—they are learning. Jennifer taught at La Salle College Preparatory and received a Signum Fidei award from the students in 2021. Jennifer is deeply committed to the student journey of expression, saying, “Holding space for students as they seek out their personal vision and creative calling is of the utmost importance.”
Jennifer's work in filmmaking and education exist in similar praxis. Learning, much like art, provides the opportunity to imagine, to liberate oneself by expanding, to witness what you do not know, and to absorb the shifts once these new understandings are integrated. Jennifer’s short art films confront the dissonance between a vision of freedom and the fact of its denial, and have screened at places such as MOCA Los Angeles, Edinburgh International Film Festival, TIFF Lightbox, L'Alternativa Film Festival, Media City Film Festival and more. Speaking engagements at The Broad and at educational institutions such as Pasadena City College and MassArt have equally provided an opportunity to share in communal imagining and expansion.
Jennifer brings tremendous gratitude and excitement as this new journey begins with Mayfield, and looks forward to classes beginning soon!
Morgan Shaner ’11, Chemistry Sub
As a Mayfield alum, Morgan Shaner ‘11 knows the value of a Holy Child education and she is honored to return to the community as a long-term Chemistry substitute. After she graduated from Mayfield in 2011, she went on to pursue a Bachelor of Science in physics at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Morgan has had the privilege of working with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) at California State University, Los Angeles, while pursuing her Master’s in Physics. Her work with LIGO started while attending Mayfield when she worked as an intern at the local Caltech LIGO lab.
Morgan completed her Master of Science in oceanography at Florida State University this past April. Along with her education and research, she has an extensive teaching background which began during her volunteer work with ProScience in Edinburgh, Scotland. She worked with local students in surrounding high schools underrepresented at the college level to help them with their Science and Math education and encourage them to pursue careers in STEM.
For the past five years, Morgan has been working with college students as a Graduate Teaching Assistant. She has taught a variety of physics and astronomy labs and activities as well as online general education courses in environmental science and oceanography.
Ms. Shaner notes that her curiosity for the sciences was sparked here at Mayfield by her math and science teachers, and she has always aimed to pay it forward by volunteering her time. She explains, “I want to ensure girls have positive experiences with science and gain exposure to women in science at a young age.”
Teaching has always come naturally to Morgan, and during her time here at Mayfield, she hopes to inspire the students to be more curious, to improve their science literacy, to encourage them to question the world around them and to engage in important scientific dialogues throughout their lives.
Morgan finds teaching rewarding because she has been able to watch young students find themselves through their science and math courses. Morgan is a pet lover and has been enjoying spending time with the neighborhood peacocks while she gardens. While she’s not teaching, she can be found experimenting in the kitchen or outdoors swimming, kayaking and hiking.