My name is Heidi Sicka. I was born and raised in Pasadena, California and knew from an early age that I wanted to pursue a career in the field of education. Always drawn to working with children and inspired by my 1st / 2nd grade teacher, I attended Pasadena City College where I earned a certificate in Early Childhood Education. After attending Pasadena City College, I attended National University where I earned a BA in Early Childhood Education. Currently, I am pursuing a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and Masters in Elementary Education at Loyola Marymount University.
I began working at Waverly Preschool which later became The Waverly School. During my 6 years at Waverly I assisted with several different duties, my favorite being the assistant Kindergarten Teacher. After leaving Waverly, I became a lead preschool teacher at St James Parish Day School in South Pasadena. I loved the 19 years I spent at St James, and I was very excited to join Holy Family School as a Kindergarten teacher.
My teaching philosophy stems from my own childhood experiences, education, and studies of theorist such as Friedrich Froebel, Maria Montessori and John Dewey, all of which believed that play has a very important role in a child’s early development and learning. I am most drawn to John Dewey and his beliefs of how children will gain meaning and understanding of their world through their own experiences. Experiences allow children to question and understand their world.
“Education is a social process. Education is growth. Education is not a preparation for life; education is life itself.”-John Dewey
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”-Nelson Mandela
1st Grade Teacher
Hello, my name is Carrie Levin. Growing up in an Italian, Catholic Family, I made it a career goal to teach in a Catholic School, where I could put my Catholic values and amazing educational experience to good use. I was born and raised in Pasadena, California, and attended Assumption Blessed Virgin Mary School in Pasadena for Elementary School, followed by LaSalle High School. Right after high school, I worked at St. Phillip’s School in Pasadena as the Director of the Extended Care program for six years. I left St. Phillip’s to pursue a career in Television and Film Casting, and eventually worked my way up to being a Casting Associate for a major Casting company in Los Angeles, California for three years. This three-year experience away from children provided me with the understanding of what I truly wanted to be in life, and that was a teacher. I missed working with children the moment that I left. With this in mind, I went back to school to get my degree and credential. My heart led me back to where I started, and that is with working with children and I believe that it my true calling and passion.
I graduated from Cal State LA with a degree in Child Development, and Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. I have worked with children for 18 years of my life, and have never felt more at home being here at Holy Family for the past 12 years. Holy Family has provided me with the opportunity to work with many different age groups: 3rd grade (for four years), 4th grade, 5th grade, Kindergarten (for two years) and currently as the 1st grade teacher for the past 3 years. I feel blessed and lucky to be a part of this fantastic school community!
1st Grade Aide
2nd Grade Teacher
Mrs. Jennifer O’Neil is lifelong alumna of Catholic schools, having attended St. Elizabeth School (Altadena), Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, and Loyola Marymount University. She has an MA and CA clear credential in elementary education. Prior to joining the Holy Family faculty in 2016, she taught second grade in for nine years in Catholic school.
Mrs. O’Neil regards teaching as her true vocational calling and states, “My teaching philosophy reflects the idea that every person in my classroom is of value and can learn from the other.” Her goal is to create “engaging lessons…rich in projects, conversation, and personal connection to subject material.” Her other interests include organizing retreats for students, parents, and staff in the school.
3rd Grade Teacher
I have been the third grade teacher at Holy Family School for 21 years. Prior to becoming the third grade teacher, I worked as an instructional aide in 5th and 6th grades at HFS. I also taught middle school math to Dolores Mission and Holy Family students in the Bridges summer school program. I believe in a Catholic education and love both the parish and school community. My husband, Ernie, and 3 sons, Jeff, Matt and Michael, are all alumni of Holy Family School. I want my students to know that I loved being in third grade as a child and would be happy being a “third grader” forever. I hope my students always remember the fun and the memories made together.
3rd Grade Aide
4th Grade Teacher
My name is Nicole Smiland, and I am absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to be your child’s 4th grade teacher. This is my 16th year working at Holy Family School. During my time at Holy Family, I have worked as a TWS After School Care and Kindergarten counselor, a teacher’s aide, and a substitute teacher. I have been a member the Holy Family Parish since I was a young child. I attended the University of La Verne and then Cal State LA, where I received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies, with a focus in Elementary Education, and my Multiple Subject Teaching Credential.
My teaching philosophy closely reflects that of Holy Family School’s. I believe my job as a teacher is to work to develop well-rounded Catholic individuals, that demonstrate respect and concern for others, and strive for academic excellence. Therefore, it is my aim to establish a classroom environment in which the importance of these characteristics is consistently stressed. The 4th grade classroom is a respectful learning community, in which positive interactions between students and teachers create a warm and welcoming setting that benefits all learners. Students are not only expected to make responsible choices that benefit the teaching and learning of others and themselves, but are also expected to demonstrate a Christian attitude and exemplify Christ by practicing Christian virtues and making moral choices based on their Catholic faith.
In my classroom students are consistently encouraged to assess their own behavior and performance and determine whether or not they are meeting the above mentioned expectations. Students will often be encouraged to ask themselves self-reflection questions like, “Am I being a responsible and respectful member of the classroom learning community” and “What Would Jesus Do?”. Additionally, as a teacher, I hope to instill in students a love for learning, and desire in them to not only meet stated expectations, but to go above and beyond, in hopes of exceeding them. Students will be encouraged and motivated through positive reinforcement, and recognized for their special gifts, talents, and accomplishments. I want students to feel confident in their abilities, and valued and appreciated, and I will do all I can to make that happen daily. I truly look forward to sharing this year with your child. It will be a fun and memorable year for all!
5th Grade Teacher
I joined the Holy Family School faculty in August 2007 with 4 years of prior teaching experience. I attended California State University, Long Beach for my undergrad and earned my B.A. in English-Creative Writing. A few years later, I attended Loyola Marymount University for graduate school and later earned my Multiple Subject teaching credential, as well as an M.A. in Elementary Education.
When not busy at work, I am busy at home as a wife and mother. My happy home consists of my husband, Cyrus, and two daughters, Ava Isabella (10) and Sofia Elize (7).
In regards to my philosophy on teaching, I believe that teaching is a calling- a choice resulting in the ability and honor to guide students along their life journey. It is a commitment to affect change, and be changed. The spirit of a teacher encompasses a willingness to sacrifice and be challenged. It is a life spent in dedication to others—many whom I will never forget.
Believing this, I see my purpose as an educator is to affect change. My hope is that in some small way I can inspire my students to strive for greatness. I believe that the most important gift that I can leave my students with is the desire to always do better. I am an advocate for the social equality of all my students, and their ability to overcome any challenge.
5th Grade Aide
6th Grade Homeroom & Social Studies Teacher
7th Grade Language Arts Teacher
8th Grade Language Arts Teacher
I have been teaching at Holy Family since 2011. I grew up in San Diego and attended Occidental College in Eagle Rock. After graduating from Oxy with a degree in Diplomacy and World Affairs and minors in English and Political Science, I moved north to attend Stanford Law School. I spent ten years practicing law, first as a clerk to an appellate judge, then as a trial attorney at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and finally in private practice here in Los Angeles. To spend more time raising my three children, I “retired” from the practice of law. During those years at home, I rediscovered my love of literature and found that I really enjoyed helping my kids with their writing and literary analysis. These discoveries led me to obtaining my teaching credential in order to share my love of reading and writing with young people. At Holy Family, I have been fortunate to also use my legal training as a coach of the mock trial team. Our 2015 championship was easily one of the highlights of my professional career! I was also lucky enough to be selected by in 2016 by the Museum of Tolerance for an educator fellowship in Berlin focused on teaching the Holocaust, an experience I have tried to bring into my eighth-grade classroom.
In my spare time, I love to travel, read, watch my youngest daughter play soccer, seek out new and interesting restaurants with my husband, and try to catch up with my two kids in college!
Time Well Spent Counselor and Reading Aide
8th Grade Homeroom Teacher
Middle School Religion Teacher
7th Grade Science Teacher
8th Grade History Teacher
I am an alumnus of Holy Family School and graduate of South Pasadena High School. Sports were a huge part of my high school experience, particularly basketball, volleyball and football. I graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Bachelors of Science degree in History and minor in Biology. I received my teaching credential at California State Los Angeles.
During high school and college, I worked at Trader Joe’s in South Pasadena. In 1992, I was hired at Mayfield Jr. School, where I worked for 2.5 years. During that time, I started a Masters in Education Administration program at Mount St. Mary’s.
In May of 1994, I was hired by Dr. Susan Grant to be the 7th grade homeroom teacher at Holy Family for the next school year. During my time here at Holy Family, I have been very busy! I have taught 7th & 8th grade Math, 6th grade Earth Science, 7th grade Life Science, 8th grade American History, and middle school Religion. I have coordinated both science camps – CIMI for 8th grade (for 17 yrs.) and 6th grade Outdoor Science School (for 4 years). I was the Bridges Coordinator with Dolores Mission and coordinated the Science Fair for 10 years. I was the Middle School Coordinator and Vice Principal for 2 years. I coordinated the Academic Decathlon for 15 years.
Currently, I am the 8th grade homeroom teacher. I teach middle school Religion, 7th grade Biology, 8th grade United States History. I am the Religion Coordinator responsible for organizing school Masses, Stations of the Cross, the Thanksgiving and Holy Thursday Prayer Services, and Funeral Altar Serving Teams. As the 8th grade homeroom teacher, I have the privilege of assisting students and parents with the high school application process and 8th grade graduation.
I am happily married to my wife, Katie, and we have a son, Bradley Patrick. My hobbies and interests include, biking, skiing, golfing, camping, and collecting G-scale trains.
I live by this: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
I believe in:
- Living one day at a time
- Enjoying one moment at a time
- Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace
- Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it
- Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will
- That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.
Physical Education Teacher
6th Grade Science Teacher
BA – Human Development, Azusa Pacific University
MS – Physical Education, Azusa Pacific University
CA Single Subject Teaching Credential (K-12, Physical Education)
Coach Buzz is currently in his 16th year at HFS. In 2011, he became a CAA, Certified Athletic Administrator (national certification). Since 2006 he has served on the CYO Athletic Advisory Board. His biggest thrill is watching the kids succeed on the field or court and continuing that success as they move on to high school. During his tenure, Holy Family has had teams in flag football, boys basketball, boys volleyball and girls volleyball advance to the CYO Final Four; all firsts for Holy Family athletics. Coach Buzz also works for the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) and serves as a regional representative for the northern region (43 schools). Additionally, in 2010, Coach Cook was named the HS coach of the year by the LA Times for the Burbank/Glendale areas while serving as head coach for varsity baseball at Flintridge Preparatory School in La Canada from 2001-2012.
Having attended Holy Family School, Mayfield Senior School and Loyola Marymount University, I am a lifelong supporter of Catholic education. After earning my BA in Studio Art, I worked as a graphic designer and a mural painter. From 2003-2011, I taught computers and visual art at Good Shepherd School in Beverly Hills. During this time, I returned to LMU to earn my credential and Masters in Secondary Education.
I am grateful for the wonderful students, parents and faculty at Holy Family School. As the technology teacher, I enjoy working with students on creative projects in the computer lab and classrooms each week.
It is truly a blessing for me to be “back home” at Holy Family School.
Middle School Spanish Teacher
Prior to becoming an educator, Maestra Aceves worked in banking and telecommunications for over 10 years. After her second son was born she decided to make a career change and pursue her passion for education. As a native Spanish speaker, Maestra Aceves used her Spanish language skills routinely with her international business clients. Combining business background, her natural first language, and passion for education, Maestra Aceves developed a custom Spanish language immersion program for all ages, Alegria Learning. While working with Alegria Learning clients she also began assisting the Spanish program at Holy Family School in 2012. In 2014, she was hired as HFS’ middle school Spanish teacher.
A strong focus of Mastra Aceves’ teaching approach is to incorporate technology and other innovative methods to keep students engaged in their language learning experience. Emphasis is placed in improving the student’s level of proficiency in the target language.
In addition to the language itself, students are taught about culture associated with the Spanish language. During the year students learn about fun and interesting cultural traditions and events, such as Día de los Muertos, Hispanic Heritage Month, Los barriletes de Guatemala, Los Gauchos of Argentina, Inti Raymi Festival from Perú, and the list goes on!
Maestra Aceves feels that her journey as an educator over the past six years has been a true blessing.
Time Well Spent Director
My name is Ericka Giordano. I am in my fifteenth year as a staff member at Holy Family School. I am a HFS alumna and have been a parishioner of Holy Family Church since as long as I can remember.
I have been Director of the Time Well Spent after school care program since 2005. I love to see the excitement and energy each child brings to Time Well Spent each day.
In addition to leading the Time Well Spent program, I am the Library Tech at Holy Family School. Reading is a great passion of mine and it is my hope that this passion is imparted on the students.
This is also my fourth year as Student Council Moderator and it is an amazing opportunity to be there to watch these student leaders develop their skills as commissioners of the Holy Family School student body.
I am Nurse Jackie Ficht. I graduated from Columbus Hospital School of Nursing in Chicago, earned a BS in Health Science at the University of Redlands, and became a Certified Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner through Harbor General Hospital/UCLA.
Prior to working at Holy Family, I worked at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. I have been at Holy Family School since 2002.
I have two daughters – Annie and Allison.
Working with the students, families and faculty at Holy Family has been a really rewarding experience!
6th Grade Language Arts Instructor
7th Grade Social Studies Instructor
626-403-6188Mrs. Natalie Daily grew up in Illinois and graduated from Vanderbilt University in Nashville where she began her teaching career first as a student teacher, and later taught English honors to students in 9th and 11th grade. After moving to Los Angeles, she taught 7th and 8th grade English and Literature at Le Conte Middle School, Hollywood. She most recently worked as an English teacher to students at a virtual high school.Mrs. Daily has been married to her husband for 15 years, and they have a nine year-old daughter, a six year-old son, and a six year-old daughter.
7th Grade Homeroom Teacher
Middle School Math Teacher
8th Grade Science Teacher
Time Well Spent Counselors
Middle School Math Aide
2nd Grade Teachers’ Aide
Roberta Gomez, M.A., LMFT joined the staff in 2015, and she leads Holy Family’s counseling program. Prior to coming to Holy Family, Ms. Gomez worked in various counseling settings, including schools. Her background helps her to understand the kinds of emotional barriers that can impede learning. She is here to assist individual students, as well as groups, by working with students and families to realize practices that will improve a student’s educational experience at Holy Family.
Spanish Teacher, Grades K-5
Mrs. Rosie Etters became a faculty member is 2015 as the Spanish teacher in the primary grades. Prior to that time, Mrs. Etters spend six years teaching 2nd grade at St. Philip the Apostle School in Pasadena, where she advanced student learning by focusing on critical thinking, role-play, and incorporating the child’s own learning experience. She is a native speaker of Spanish, and is very excited to be entering this new phase in her teaching career. She will work closely with Ms. Aceves, our middle school Spanish teacher, to create a seamless program that prepares our students for the rigors of high school and beyond.
Kindergarten Teachers’ Aide
4th Grade Aide
Sixth Grade Teacher’s Aide
This is my fourth year at Holy Family and I am absolutely blessed to be teaching here. I have had such a wonderful learning experience working with students from grades kindergarten through twelfth grade. In addition to obtaining my California multiple subject teaching credential, I have completed over sixty hours of observation at daycares, elementary, high school, middle school and charter schools. In addition, I will complete a Master of Arts in Education: Instructional Technology and Leadership in fall, 2016. My goal is also to have a well rounded experience in all forms of education so I can apply my experiences in my own classroom. I have also had the opportunity to work with many talented and inspiring teachers who have inspired me through my teaching career.
I am very passionate about ensuring that my students will receive quality education that will allow them to reach their full potential. I absolutely love this quote by John Cotton Dana because I really believe that it is true: “Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.” I look forward in learning new things that will benefit my classroom. As time changes I like to be updated with the current methods using new technologies and strategies. My mission is to adapt to the new era of the digital age where I can have the opportunity to utilize technology to inspire student’s learning, creativity and discovery. I want to design a learning experience that incorporates collaboration using digital tools. I believe that every child deserves to have quality education.