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NCS Leadership


 Dr. Joe Wood, Executive Director

Dr. Joe Wood is the Executive Director for Natomas Charter School. In this role he works with all five NCS academies. He started his career at NCS in 2012 as the school’s Technology and Assessment Director. Prior to working at NCS he was a middle school science teacher, technology and literacy coach in school districts in Sacramento and the Central Valley. Joe attended UC Davis where he earned a degree in Biological Sciences, along with an Masters in Education and elementary and secondary science teaching credentials at CSU Stanislaus. He recently completed his doctorate at UC Davis with a research focus on the experience of LGBTQ+ students in the school selection and evaluation process. Joe and his husband are also NCS parents with a son who attended Star Academy and is currently enrolled in PFAA. 


 Anita Schwab, Finance and Budget Director 

Anita Schwab is the Finance & Budget Director at Natomas Charter School. In this role she works with all five academies.  Anita has lived in the Sacramento Area since 2000. She  graduated with her Bachelors of Science in Accounting from Humphrey’s School of Business and Law in Stockton, California. Ms. Schwab has also received Accounting certificates from Heald Business College and San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, California. Ms. Schwab has over 31 years of experience and leadership in school budgeting and finance.  Anita’s career with Natomas Charter School began in 2013. Prior to her employment with Natomas Charter School, Anita served as the Accounting Supervisor for Dixon Unified School District as well as the Director of Financial Services for Natomas Unified School District. Prior to working at Natomas Unified School District, Anita had the pleasure of working for San Joaquin County Office of Education in Stockton, California, Tracy Public Schools in Tracy, California and Lincoln Unified School District in Stockton, California.


 Laura Bariel, Teaching and Learning Director 

Laura Bariel is the Teaching & Learning Director at Natomas Charter School. In this role she works with all five academies. She started her career at NCS in 2000 as an English teacher at PFAA after teaching in Sacramento City Unified for several years. While at NCS she has taught at the Virtual Learning Academy (VLA), was a principal for PACT & VLA, and the Student Support Coordinator. Laura attended UC Davis for undergraduate work, UC Santa Barbara for her credential and Masters in Education. Laura has focused her career on supporting struggling students with a major focus on literacy and English Learners. The spirit of innovation and high expectations at NCS in combination with the caring and accepting NCS community is why NCS has been her home for over 20 years.  Laura is also a parent of a former Star Academy and current PFAA student.


 Amy Kahler, Special Education Director 

Amy Kahler is the Special Education Director. In this role, she oversees a department of over sixty people and  the services offered to students at all NCS academies. She started her career at NCS in 2013 as a kindergarten teacher. Prior to working at NCS, she was a kindergarten, 1st grade and 5th grade teacher at a Title 1 Program Improvement school in Southern California, serving a very diverse population. Amy attended CA Polytechnic State University, Pomona, where she earned a degree in Business Administration in the area of Finance, Real Estate, Law and a multiple subject teaching credential. Additionally, she earned a Master of Arts in Teaching from National University. She is married and a military wife who enjoys spending time with her husband, dogs and nieces.



Petra LuhrsenPetra Luhrsen, Student Services Director

Petra Luhrsen is the Student Services Director. In this role, she works with all five academies. She started her career with Natomas Charter School as a classroom teacher at Star Academy and served in this position for several years before shifting into administration. Prior to her return to Natomas Charter School, she served as a site administrator for NUSD, San Juan Unified, a Principal Coach through Sacramento County Office of Education, Principal Coach for the Cultivating Leaders Program in SJUSD and has supported K-12 teachers in Northern California as an Area 3 Writing Project Teacher Coach. Petra attended the University of Northern Colorado where she earned a degree in Public Relations and Advertising, along with an MA in Elementary Education. Petra is passionate about providing equitable outcomes for all students by collaboratively developing predictable systems and supports for all.


 Alicia Carter, Principal - PACT Academy 

Alicia Carter is the PACT Academy principal. Her educational journey with NCS began in 2009 as a middle school math teacher at PFAA. She has also served at PACT Academy as an educational adviser. Prior to working at NCS, Alicia worked at Joe Serna, Jr. Charter School in Lodi as a classroom teacher and as an Educational Consultant with Project GLAD. Alicia attended University of the Pacific in Stockton with a degree in Liberal Arts and a math minor. Alicia and her husband have three daughters who are also NCS students.




 Gareth Love, Principal - Performing & Fine Arts Academy

Gareth Love is the Principal of PFAA. In this role, he assists in overseeing all operations at PFAA. He started his career at NCS in 2014 and spent 7 years teaching French and Spanish as well as serving as the World Languages Department Head. He arrived at NCS with 12 years experience teaching languages at both high school and college level. Gareth attended the University of Northumbria, Newcastle in the U.K. where he received his BA in Foreign Languages. He then earned a Masters in International Business from the University of Avignon, France and a Masters in French Literature from UC Davis. Gareth currently resides in Natomas with his wife and 3 children. He is also an NCS parent as his oldest two sons both attend Star Academy.


E. Prettol

Elsa Prettol,  Associate Principal - Performing & Fine Arts Academy

Elsa Prettol is the Associate Principal for PFAA, after 13 years as the Library and Media Instructor for the entire Natomas Charter School, especially developing library services at the Blackrock and Gloster campuses. As Associate Principal, she assists in overseeing all operations at PFAA. Elsa earned a BA in English and a Masters in Teaching French as a Foreign Language from her home university in Angers (France), and taught French to preschoolers and K-14 students in various institutions in Minnesota, North Carolina, and the Bay Area. Elsa is also a NCS parent, with a stepchild who graduated from PFAA in 2018 and a daughter currently at PFAA.



 Dr. Vasa Lokteff, Principal - Leading Edge Academy

Vasa Lokteff is the Principal of Leading Edge Academy. Over the last decade, Vasa has served students and families in the Natomas community as a teacher, board member, and principal. His core expertise was developed through a bachelor's degree in English Literature at Chico State University and a Masters in Teaching from William Jessup University. In 2021 Vasa completed his Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Administrative Service Credential at Sacramento State University. His research during that time focused on culturally responsive teaching and critical self-reflection. Vasa's family history in Sacramento dates back to 1952 when his grandparents migrated from Russia to West Sacramento. He currently resides in the River Park neighborhood of Sacramento, where he enjoys life with his wife (a fellow educator), new born son, and daughter.


Diana WilsonDiana Wilson, Principal - Star Academy

Diana Wilson is the Principal of Star Academy. In this role, she oversees the instructional program and operations of Star Academy. Mrs. Wilson is new to Natomas Charter School but  brings with her 17 years of experience in K-12 education, working at highly successful charter schools and school districts similar to Natomas Charter. She has spent the last 6 years working in school administration as a vice principal and principal. Previously, Mrs. Wilson taught kindergarten, second grade, fourth grade, and sixth grade, bringing extensive leadership and teaching experience to Star Academy. Mrs. Wilson holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management and a Master of Arts degree in Education with an emphasis on Teaching and Learning. Mrs. Wilson is married and has three grown children. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.