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NCS Leadership

Dr. Joe WoodDr. 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 MA in Education and elementary and secondary science teaching credentials at CSU Stanislaus. He recently completed his doctorate 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. 

Dr. Addie EllisDr. Addie Ellis, Director of Student Services 

Dr. Addie Ellis is the Student Services Director at Natomas Charter School. In this role she works with all five academies.  Dr. Ellis oversees counseling, special education, safety, and complaints. She started her career at Natomas Charter School in 2017. She received her doctorate from Drexel University and did her undergraduate work at the University of California, Riverside. Her passions include writing, hiking, reading, and advocating for those in need.

Laura BarielLaura 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.

Anita SchwabAnita 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 Degree 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.

Ronda RufsvoldDr. Ronda Rufsvold, Special Education Program Specialist 

Ronda Rufsvold is the Special Education (Inclusive Education) Program Specialist and she supports those that work with students with IEPs, including parents and teachers across all five academies. Ronda attended University of the Pacific with an undergraduate degree in Speech Language Pathology and received a graduate degree from University of San Diego in Special Education. Additionally, she received her doctorate degree from Columbia University in Special Education. Her educational passions include educational policy, empowering students with hearing loss, and inclusivity. When not reading research articles, she spends  time with her young daughter and large white swiss shepherd dog.

Amy KahlerAmy Kahler, Principal - Star Academy

Amy Kahler is the Principal of Star Academy. In this role, she oversees all programmatic operations at Star Academy. 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 with a district in Southern California, serving a very diverse population. Amy attended California 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.

Franchesca DonatoFranchesca Donato, Associate Principal - Star Academy

Franchesca Donato is the Associate Principal of Star. In this role, she assists in overseeing all  operations at Star Academy. In addition, she serves on the Inclusive Leadership Team supporting the implementation of Special Education services for NCS. She started her career at NCS in 2012 as an academic advisor at PACT. Prior to working at NCS, she was an inclusive education teacher in Brevard County, Florida. Franchesca attended University of Central Florida where she earned a degree in Exceptional Student Education with a concentration in Learning Disabilities and teaching credentials in Elementary Education and Varying Exceptionalities. In addition, she earned a Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Concordia University. Prior to her pursuing a profession in education, Franchesca served in the United States Navy as a Hospital Corpsman during the first Gulf War. Franchesca and her husband are also NCS parents with a son who attended PFAA and VLA.

Alicia CarterAlicia 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.

Sima GandhiDr. Sima Gandhi, Principal - PFAA 

Sima Gandhi is the Principal of Performing and Fine Arts Academy (PFAA). In this role, she oversees all programmatic operations at PFAA. She started her career at NCS as the Associate Principal in 2019. Prior to working at NCS she was a Science teacher, Instructional Coach, part of the MTSS Leadership team, and worked with her team to develop various programs to support students in ensuring they are college and career ready. Sima attended UC Berkeley where she majored in Integrative Biology, holds a single subject science credential and an Administrative credential. Recently, she completed her Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from UOP. Her research interests include ensuring all students are college and career ready by the time they end their K-12 educational journey. She is married with three school aged children and is actively involved in the South Asian and her local community.

Gareth LoveGareth Love, Associate Principal - PFAA 

Gareth Love is the Associate 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 U.C. 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.

Kevin DobsonKevin Dobson, Principal - VLA 

Kevin Dobson is the Principal of the Virtual Learning Academy (VLA). He has worked in the field of education for nearly 10 years as both a classroom teacher and a principal. This includes time at a large inner city high school in Springfield, Massachusetts, working with homebound students in New Castle, Delaware, four years in Center Joint Unified School District, and six years at Natomas Charter School. During these years, he participated in a wide range of leadership activities on a variety of school campuses and demonstrated a continued passion for hands-on learning. He possesses two masters degrees. The first from the University of San Diego in Education and Curriculum with an emphasis on technology in the classroom. The second masters from the University of California Sacramento in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. In his classroom, students have received national and local recognition for their work. For two straight years, multiple students placed in the national CSPAN StudentCam documentary competition. In addition, a 7th grade class received local notoriety for their collaborative presentation with the City of Sacramento’s Special Project Manger to the planning and design commission. 

As a high school principal, he has helped develop a school-wide system of support and led the effort to build a dual enrollment program between Natomas Charter and American River College. Kevin has also coached numerous sports and is a graduate from the Sacramento City Management Academy. He was also recognized as an innovator of the year for his academy in 2018 and was nominated for the Gilder Lehrman History Teacher of the year for the 2018-19 school year prior to moving into administration.

Vasa LokteffDr. Vasa Lokteff, Principal - LE 

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. Last spring, Vasa completed his Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Preliminary 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. Vasa currently resides in the River Park neighborhood of Sacramento, where he enjoys life with his wife (a fellow educator), new born son, and daughter.