Meet Our Team

We have an amazing faculty! They bring experience from many types of public school settings from across the country. All our teachers are fully certified in their subjects, and most have Master's Degrees. 

Photo Credit: Peter Hellberg

Malia Burns, Founding Executive Director

Malia was born on Kauai, graduated from Seattle University and received her Master's in Education Leadership from Teacher's College at Columbia University. She began her career in the South Bronx where she taught Global History and Geography at the Bronx School for Law, Government, and Justice for three years, falling deeply in love with education. After relocating to Chicago, Malia joined Muchin College Prep, a campus of the high performing Noble Street Charter School Network, where she served for two years as a literature teacher before joining the school leadership team. Malia is honored to be leading a team of such amazing, passionate educators and is thrilled to have opened Sierra’s doors this August. 



L. Denice Randle, Assistant Director

L. Denice Randle is a transplant from the South and came to Washington State as a military dependent. She graduated from Pierce College and was soon after awarded the Act Six Leadership and Scholarship Initiative, which led her to Whitworth University as a change agent with a deep commitment to cross-cultural communication, social justice, asset-based community development. At Whitworth, she earned a B.A. in English Language Arts and one year later, she earned a Masters degree in Education with a teaching certificate from Pacific Lutheran University. Denice previously served as a TRiO Upward Bound teacher and Director of Education and Employment services at a community action agency in Tacoma, WA. She presently serves as a Board of Trustee at her alma mater, Whitworth University. She is very excited to have the opportunity to serve students, families and staff across the Summit Sierra community!




Tianna Lopez, Founding Operations Manager

Tianna Lopez joins us from Sunny Southern California as she spent the last eight years as Site Manager for High Tech High School, a high performing Charter School in San Diego.  Prior to her career in education she served as a certified nurse where she cared for post surgery patients as well as practiced home health aid.  She enjoys spending time with her daughter and teaching dance choreography.  Tianna is excited to bring her Charter School management experience to the founding Summit Sierra team and looks forward establishing lasting relationships with parents and students.


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Erica Baba, Founding World History 1 Teacher

This is Erica’s fifth year at Summit, coming to us from Everest Public High School in Redwood City. At Everest, Erica was the 11th grade AP US history teacher and was active as the school’s Athletic Director, organizing their first network-wide basketball tournament. Erica attended UC San Diego and majored in Sociology with a minor in Education Studies before earning her Master’s Degree in Education from Stanford University. Erica is excited to bring her past experiences at Summit to a new region in order to build with and learn from the students, families, and faculty.



Dustin Dacuan, Founding English Teacher

Dustin, a Seattle native, comes to us from Boston after teaching English at the Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School. He received his B.A. in International Studies from the University of Washington in 2012. Dustin was awarded a fellowship through the Woodrow Wilson Rockefeller Brothers Fund for Aspiring Teachers of Color. In Boston, Dustin earned his Masters in Education from the University of Massachusetts, Boston in conjunction with the Boston Teacher Residency Program. Dustin is most excited to be returning home to teach and learn beside students in his home community.


Duchanté Davis, Community Time Teacher

Duchante was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. This will be his second year of teaching and with Summit. Before coming to work at Summit Sierra, he was the Chemistry teacher and basketball coach at Summit Tahoma. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from High Point University where he majored in Middles Grades Education with concentrations in Social Studies and Science. He was awarded Student Teacher of the Year before working with Summit. He is excited to work and learn from an extremely diverse group of students and peers.



Aubree Gomez, Founding Math I Teacher

Aubree is a proud Washington native who comes to us from teaching mathematics at West Seattle High School and Chief Sealth International High School. She earned her B.S. in Mathematical Education from Washington State University and is a Martinez Foundation fellow. Aubree is excited to implement the Summit model and be able to watch students grow to be self-directed learners and contributing members of society. 


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Camden Hanzlick-Burton, Founding Biology Teacher

Camden comes to us after teaching at Olathe Northwest High School in Olathe, Kansas, where he taught Freshman Biology, Horticulture, and Advanced Placement Biology. Camden earned his B.S. in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from the University of Kansas, later earning his M.S. in Biological Sciences from Mississippi State University. During his teaching career, Camden has been awarded with the New Biology Teacher Award (2015) from the National Association of Biology Teachers. New to the Northwest, Camden is excited to be working to create a fantastic new school and culture. 


Richard Irvan, 10th Grade History Teacher

Richard Irvan, with his wife, relocated to Seattle from New York City not long ago when she accepted a new architecture position. Irvan earned his B.A. in Interdisciplinary Social Science from Michigan State University and a M.S. in Educational Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He taught and worked in instructional leadership for 10 years and began at a private academy in Seoul, South Korea. In 2006, he was a founding teacher at Democracy Prep Harlem, a charter school in New York City, where he taught and then trained teachers as the network History Specialist. He is excited to connect with his Sierra mentees and help our school grow with excellence.



Phil McGilton, Founding Learning Specialist

Phil McGilton has 10 years of experience working at Highline Big Picture School, Issaquah High School, and at the Resource Center in Bellevue Community College. A Spokane native, Phil received his B.A. in Behavioral and Social Sciences with a Minor in Communications at Eastern Washington University. Phil is excited to be part of an all-star educational team that will flip traditional Pacific Northwest educational paradigms on their head. 


Bo Mendez, 9th Grade Math Teacher

Bo Mendez graduated cum laude from Central Washington University in 2014 and joined Teach for America that summer. He has taught as a corps member in TFA for Noble Prep Charter Schools in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago, and most recently at Decatur High School in Federal Way. There he taught Algebra II and Pre-Calculus while continuing research for TFA in the area of excellent schools. As a Columbia City resident, Bo is excited to teach closer to home and join the Sierra team to impact the students of Seattle. He is most excited to have the opportunity to interact directly with our students' families as a local, and take advantage of the wealth of resources our city holds for our students.


Matt Nelson, Academic Coach

Matt is a Seattle native who grew up across the Duwamish in West Seattle. After graduating from the University of Washington with a BA in English Lit and Mathematics, he decided to test his grandmother's theory that Seattle was the most beautiful place in the world by moving across the country. In New York City, he attended Queens College and received his MFA in Creative Writing in 2015. While there he also started his own independent library in Brooklyn and was the Head Librarian for the Center for Fiction. Although he can't speak for every part of the world, from what he's seen, Seattle is at the top and he's overjoyed to be back.



Stefan Sobiek, Founding Spanish Teacher

Stefan is originally from Reno, Nevada and comes to us after four years of working at Leonard R. Flynn Elementary School in San Francisco as a dual immersion teacher. He fell in love with Washington while earning his BA in Spanish and Sociology at the University of Washington. He received his Masters degree from Loyola Marymount University  in Urban Public School Administration. Stefan is so excited to join the Sierra team and is looking forward to sharing his love of Spanish with his new students.



Rudy Sharar, Physics Teacher

Rudy Sharar taught Chemistry and AP Chemistry for the last five years and was the first science teacher to be awarded the Master Teacher distinction at Leadership Public Schools. He earned a B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Washington and a M.A. in Urban Education from Loyola Marymount University. He grew up outside the Seattle area and is excited to be returning to the area where he grew up and went to college. He is excited to get to know the incredible students at Summit Sierra as well as collaborate with the founding teachers to build on the success and culture that have already been established.



Miriam Todras, 10th Grade English Teacher

Miriam, a graduate of the University of Virginia and Lipscomb University, is incredibly excited to join the Sierra team to learn and grow in her teaching practice as well as build relationships with talented colleagues and a diverse group of brilliant students. Having taught Chemistry in Nashville, TN for two years and high school English in Richmond, CA for four years, Miriam looks forward to settling down and making Summit Sierra her new home. Despite the fact that Seattle is 2,800 miles away from her hometown of Richmond, Virginia, Miriam feels confident calling Seattle home because her childhood friend and Seattle Seahawks quarterback, Russell Wilson, has nothing but great things to say about the area!


Chineka Williams, Academic Coach

Chineka is a graduate of North Carolina Central University with a BA in Mass Communications/Journalism. She is also a graduate of Jones International University with a M.Ed in Secondary Education. She loves giving back to others through crochet and knitting charities/local homeless and playing clarinet in a local community band. She is excited to join the Sierra team to impact student's lives and to be a part of faculty in a supportive education environment.