Our Staff: Fostering Innovation and Development
Dr. P. Antonio Cuevas is a nationally recognized, award-winning educator with over 20 years of experience working with incarcerated felons, gang members, drug addicted teenagers, and migrant families. His recently published research, The Journey from De-culturalization to Community Cultural Wealth: The Power of a Counter Story-Telling Curriculum and How Educational Leaders can Transform Schools, was featured as a core educational pedagogy and was implemented institutionally helping to close the achievement gap. The ancestor of Spanish speaking immigrants, he brings a unique perspective to three generations of Latinos coming of age in the United States exposing the injustices and racism that many migrant men encounter yet still manage to provide for their families. Prior to joining the CCESA, he was the founding principal of DCP El Camino in San Jose where he implemented his Counter Story-Telling Curriculum and has also incorporated storytelling into all aspects of the educational institution. He received his doctorate from CSU East Bay in 2013. He attended Killip Elementary, East Flag Junior High and graduated from Coconino High School. It is a dream come true for him to return to Flagstaff and serve his community.
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Suzie Hite joined the CCESA I & D team in 2014 as an Administrative Specialist. She primarily supports the Professional Development efforts for the Division. Suzie attended the University of Vermont and Northern Arizona University. She has held administrative positions at Honeywell in Phoenix and Northern Arizona University School of Nursing. She and her husband owned and operated Northern Arizona Wilderness Tours, Inc. in Flagstaff, conducting tours in Northern Arizona from Lake Powell, Grand Canyon, Canyon de Chelly to the red rocks of Sedona. Suzie has been a longtime resident of Flagstaff, enjoying all that this region of the state has to offer. When not at work, you will find Suzie on one of Arizona’s many beautiful golf courses!
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Flora Hatch joined Coconino County in 2018 and specifically the CCESA I & D team in 2021. She is originally from Holbrook, AZ but lived in Yuma for 15 years before her husband was transferred to Flagstaff. Flora has earned her bachelor's degree and master's through the University of Phoenix, where she is currently a doctoral student. Flora enjoys spending her free time with her kids, husband, and granddaughter.
Samantha Abramowitz graduated from Northern Arizona University in 2008 with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary and Special Education. She then went on to teach Special Education for Kindergarten through sixth grades for five years before becoming the Special Education Coordinator for the Coconino County Education Service Agency. Samantha received her Master’s degree in 2014 from Grand Canyon University in Curriculum and Leadership with a reading emphasis.
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Kelly Donatell, Coconino County Education Service Agency I & D Professional Development Coordinator, has been developing and facilitating teacher trainings since 2013. Kelly is a skilled and adaptable educational professional specializing in formative assessment and project-based learning. She possesses knowledge of effective teaching pedagogy and best teaching practice and is committed to helping educators advance practice to transform the educational experience. Prior to joining the CCESA, Kelly worked as a physical education and health teacher for the Flagstaff Unified School District for six years. After graduating from Northern Arizona University with a BS in Health Promotion Secondary School Health and Physical Education, she began working for Flagstaff Unified School District, where she has taken on many roles. Over the years she has served as a coach, club sponsor, department chair and Content Area Specialist for Secondary PE. In 2012, Kelly was selected as the AZAHPERD Health Education Teacher of the Year.
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Emily Evans, Coconino County Education Service Agency I & D Professional Development and Research Coordinator, has a broad background in science education and research. She has taught in a variety of formal and informal education contexts through professional positions with State Parks, Outdoor schools, after-school programs, University undergraduate programs, and the K-12 school system. Since moving to Flagstaff in 2013, she has focused her work on preparing and providing professional development and support services for K-8 teachers. Emily has a PhD in science education from University of California Davis and complements her work as a professional development coordinator by developing and implementing grant-supported projects that incorporate education research and evaluation components. As part of this work, she has had the opportunity to work with teachers, administrators, and science education professionals across the state of Arizona. She enjoys the opportunity to collaborate with other educators, think creatively about education strategies, and help teachers access the resources and professional learning opportunities they need to support their students.
Hesper Petersen, Coconino County Education Service Agency I & D Professional Development Specialist and Data Analyst, has worked as a middle school math teacher for 10 years & a professional development specialist for three. Ms. Petersen’s areas of expertise are in Arizona's Mathematics Standards and pedagogical practices. She facilitates Mathematics Professional Development across Northern Arizona. She also compiles and analyzes school assessment data to inform that the CCESA’s development of professional learning is designed to meet the needs of Coconino County educators.
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Melissa Rhodes, MSW, LCSW, Mental Health Program Coordinator, joined the CCESA fulltime in January 2021. She leads the Building Resilient Youth and Schools program and provides clinical consultation and counseling services in Coconino County schools. Before joining the CCESA, she was the Clinical Director for the Arizona Child & Adolescent Survivor Initiative, an innovative victim services project housed at Northern Arizona University (NAU) and then Arizona State University. Melissa has served as faculty for NAU's Bachelor of Social Work program and has provided clinical services to children, adolescents, and their families for over 20 years. Her clinical social work experience includes individual, group, and family therapy with child, adolescent, and adult clients in private practice, schools, and community mental health settings. For 14 years she has provided counseling services to K-12 students in Hopi and Navajo tribal communities. Melissa has served as a volunteer consultant and clinical supervisor for Coconino County Victim Witness Services, as a member of the Coconino County Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team, and for several years, led children's divorce groups for the Coconino County Integrated Family Court. Melissa has a long-standing commitment to advocating for the social-emotional needs of youth.
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Esther Cadman is a Native American from the Navajo tribe. She comes from Pinedale, New Mexico and is from the Mountain Cove People born to the Meadow People Clan. Her maternal grandfather is of the Two Who Came to Water and her paternal grandfather is of the Towering House Clan. Esther has successfully achieved a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with a minor in Family Studies from the University of New Mexico, an educational specialist degree from the School Psychology program at the New Mexico State University, and in November of 2020 she earned her PhD in School Psychology from Northern Arizona University. Esther has 10 years of experience as a practicing school psychologist within New Mexico and Arizona. She has also developed specific research interests related to trauma, adverse childhood experiences, wholistic well-being and strategies that are instrumental in resiliency, especially within Native American communities.
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Lee Irby, Coconino County Education Service Agency I & D Professional Development Specialist, is originally from the Midwest, but considers Flagstaff her home. In 2004, she graduated from NAU and began her teaching career with FUSD in 2005. Her areas of expertise are in literacy training and social studies instruction. She facilitates Arizona English Language Arts awareness classes across Northern Arizona.
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Catherine “Cate” Malone, Coconino County Education Service Agency I & D Professional Development Specialist, is also an Instructional Specialist for Puente de Hozho Elementary, a tri-lingual school, in Flagstaff, AZ. As an accomplished educational professional, Ms. Malone has a proven track record in producing high quality presentations. She is a dynamic presenter who has delivered seminars to educators in the areas of literacy innovation, mathematics, and special education. Catherine has taught and worked with students in multi-cultural environments from kindergarten through sixth grade. She has coached elementary, middle school and high school teachers and teams focusing on student achievement. Ms. Malone earned her Master’s in Bi-Lingual and Multi-Cultural Education from Northern Arizona University and a Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Iowa. She also has certifications in Elementary Education and English as a second language.
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Joey Persinger, Coconino County Education Service Agency I & D Professional Development Specialist, is a National Board Certified teacher working in the Flagstaff Unified School District. With a life-long passion for literacy, Joey earned her NBCT in Early-Middle Childhood Literacy: Reading, Language Arts in 2013. She is a certified teacher for Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) and Teaching Reading Effectively (TRE). Working with teachers through CCESA has profoundly influenced her enthusiasm for on-going professional development.
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