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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 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. 

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 conflict resolution. 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 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.

Amy KahlerAmy Kahler, Principal - Star Academy

Amy Kahler is the Principal of Star Academy. In this role, she is the instructional leader and oversees all 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 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 with instructional leadership and 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.

Gareth LoveGareth Love, Associate Principal - Performing & Fine Arts Academy

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 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.

Vasa LokteffDr. 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.