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School Leadership


Jay Laughlin
John "Jay" Laughlin
Principal

John "Jay" Laughlin is honored to have the opportunity to serve as the principal of Castellanos and Eisner. Since 2009, Jay has worked in public schools as a teacher and school leader with a focus on ensuring every student is empowered with access to opportunity through an excellent education. Most recently, Jay served as the principal of The Chicago Academy Elementary School, a public preK-8 school on Chicago’s northwest side. At The Chicago Academy, Jay led efforts to implement vertically aligned standards-based curriculum, build school-wide capacity for educators to leverage student-centered teaching practices, and launch culturally responsive approaches to instruction that equitably serve all students. Jay engages in this work with an understanding that the success of every individual student is dependent on a network of supports. He is pleased to work with Camino Nuevo Charter Academy where family partnerships are not considered supplemental to, but rather foundational to the success of the educational program. Jay earned an undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University, a Masters in Teaching from Dominican University, and a Masters in School Leadership from Harvard Graduate School of Education. As new to the Los Angeles community from Chicago, Jay is excited to explore southern California with his wife Alexandra and (eventually) their baby boy who is expected in December.

Lindsey Rojas
Assistant Principal of Instruction

Lindsey Rojas is excited to bring her knowledge and expertise as a teacher and instructional leader to ensure that all students at the Jose Castellanos Campus are prepared for a successful transition to middle school. As assistant principal, Lindsey helps lead a dedicated team of teachers and support staff members who are committed to the school's mission of preparing students to graduate as bilingual, biliterate agents of social change. Lindsey started her education career teaching middle school English Language Arts in South L.A. She also was a literacy coach and a director of instruction. In these roles, she coached teachers, supporting and developing them to incorporate literacy in all content areas. Lindsey has experience in testing administration, summer school administration, data-driven instruction, curriculum selection, and targeted student interventions. Lindsey is a lifelong learner who likes to attend school herself. She earned her undergraduate degree in American Literature and Culture from the University of California, Los Angeles, a teaching credential in Single Subject English from California State University, Long Beach, and a master's degree in Educational Leadership with a preliminary administrative credential from California State University, Dominguez Hills. Lindsey also studied at the University of Washington, Orange Coast College, and the University of Minnesota.

 
Berenice Mendoza
Assistant Principal of Instruction

Berenice Mendoza is responsible for coaching and supporting teachers in classroom management, curriculum, instructional strategies, school and community routines and expectations, and other aspects of teaching and learning. She joined Camino Nuevo Charter Academy as a teacher. She has worked in education for over 20 years, including 10 years as a teacher. On her spare time, Berenice enjoys traveling and spending time with family and friends. Berenice earned her undergraduate degree in child development from California State University, Los Angeles and a master's degree in education from the University of Phoenix. Most recently, she attended California State University, Dominguez Hills where she earned a second master's degree in educational leadership with a preliminary administrative credential. Berenice also studied at the University of California, Riverside, where she earned a bilingual cross-cultural, language and academic development certificate.  

Diana Pena
Diana Peña
Assistant Principal of Student Supports

As Assistant Principal of Student Supports, Diana Peña supports the school leadership team to develop Castellanos's “whole child” approach. She collaborates with the school staff community to build a strong foundation for student achievement. Diana has over 10 years of experience in the education sector and is dedicated to providing an equitable education by creating a sense of belonging for students, families and communities. Prior to joining the Castellanos team, Diana was a community school coordinator at a school in East LA where she developed partnerships between the school, families and community. She was also previously a school counselor supporting students’ social and emotional wellness in Boston, Massachusetts. Diana is originally from San Antonio, Texas, where she taught as a bilingual teacher and helped with the founding of a dual-language school. She holds a bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education from the University of Texas at Austin, a master’s in education and an advanced degree in counseling from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She enjoys dancing, running and spending quality time with family and friends.

Nancy Cabrera
Nancy Cabrera
School Operations Manager

Nancy Cabrera was born and raised in South Los Angeles. She studied political science at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine and then moved to New York City, where she obtained a master's degree in social work from Fordham University. Nancy has always been passionate about building connections, empowering others, and youth and community development. During her time as a school social worker, she loved working with students one-on-one. She also understood that in order to better serve their needs, she needed to help create systems and structures that supported their educational experience. After six years doing social work, Nancy transitioned to become a community school director at a middle school in the Bronx, New York. There, she collaborated with the principal to help all students have equitable, consistent, and quality educational opportunities. Nancy joined the Jose Castellanos team in 2019 and is responsible for organizing, implementing, and managing systems for the school’s daily operations.

Yesenia Rivas
Student & Family Services Coordinator

Yesenia Rivas-Hernandez is the liaison between the school and the families at the Jose Castellanos Campus. Prior to joining the school's leadership team, she worked for Youth Policy Institute for nine years. There she developed a passion for working with children and families as a tutor, serving students in the Pacoima and San Fernando area. Later she worked as an after-school site coordinator, coaching and supervising staff and working in aspects of compliance, budget management, and parent relations. Yesenia graduated with a bachelor's degree in liberal studies from California State University, Northridge.