The Team

Raj Bechar

Raj Bechar

Director

The Principal of Pilarcitos Alternative High School. Raj, whose family is from Fiji, taught math at Cunha Intermediate School, is a composer/performer and helped his dad establish a successful local business, Ramans Coffee and Chai.

Shari Deghi

Shari Deghi

Coordinator

I have always had a passion to help my students reach their dreams. I started an ESL program here in Half Moon Bay over 25 years ago, have taught ESL for more than ten years. Now I am thrilled to help prepare students at La Costa to move into the jobs of their dreams. We are teaching English to people from many countries and Spanish to English speakers so we can all form stronger bonds in our community and support each other. I have lived on the coast for 30 years with my husband and son. I teach an opera appreciation class and love art, traveling, and bird watching.

Hilda Villegas

Hilda Villegas

Administrative Assistant

My passion for helping people led me towards a Psychology Degree from Sonoma State University. I grew up in Half Moon Bay and am so grateful to be of service to my community.

Josefina Gernimo-Uribe

Josefina Gernimo-Uribe

Teacher

Both academic and employment opportunities have shaped the work I have completed in education. First, at the high school level teaching all levels of Spanish from Level 1 all the way to AP Spanish Literature. Conversation circles are also part of my experience from continued work at Lake Tahoe Community College Intensive Spanish Summer Institute (also known as ISSI). My recent transition to Adult Education has opened opportunities to teaching ESL and Spanish. Lastly, my heritage and personal travels are an integral part of why I am in education and work towards being effective in the classroom.

Jan McFarland-Brown

Jan McFarland-Brown

Teacher

I have been teaching in the Cabrillo Unified School District for the past 16 years. My family and I have lived on the coast for 40 years and my two children attended K-12 in CUSD. I have taught 2nd thru 5th grade and am currently teaching 3rd grade at Farallone View Elementary School. I feel very strongly about giving back to this wonderful community and teaching ESL has given me the opportunity to do this.

Luisa Hernandez

Luisa Hernandez

Teacher

I am an enthusiastic Colombian teacher who has always been interested in languages and cultures. After earning a degree in English, I came to our Elementary School in 2014 as an intern, and now work as a second grade teacher. I have experience working with children and adults, and now I am teaching Spanish for La Costa.

Susan Kerby

Susan Kerby

Teacher

I have always been interested in other cultures and languages. In high school I was an exchange student to Sweden. In college, I majored in Spanish and spent a lot of time studying in Mexico. Later, I lived in Brazil for 2 years where I began teaching English as second language. Next stop was France for several more years and I became a certified TEFL teacher at the American University in Paris. Later on I received TESL and TEFL certification from UC Santa Cruz. I also spent many years teaching at a private school as an ESL and kindergarten teacher.

Pat Olson

Pat Olson

Teacher

I am a high school social studies teacher at Half Moon Bay High School. After receiving a BA in Broadcasting and graduating with honors from SFSU, I earned a teaching credential and a Master’s in Education from SFSU. I have lived on the coast since 1990 and also work as sports announcer for the USF Dons athletic teams. I teach GED at La Costa.

Celia Sanchez

Celia Sanchez

Teacher

Teaching is what I love to do, and I love it even more because I have the opportunity to know and learn from other cultures every day. I am from Colombia and was a teacher assistant in the Spanish immersion program for a year. I teach Spanish at La Costa and I also work as a kindergarten teacher in the Spanish Immersion program. I have a degree in English and French and I’ve taught English and Spanish to different ages and populations. I like this community and I hope I can help as many students as possible to feel confident and secure in the language and culture of our environment.

Maria Skinner

Maria Skinner

Teacher

A graduate of Occidental College and Notre Dame de Namur, my passion has always revolved around languages, teaching, and travel and have spent several years living in France, Germany, Italy, and Mexico. I have worked as an English, Spanish and French teacher, translator and interpreter, and was co-owner and producer at a computer graphics studio. I’ve worked for Cabrillo Unified for over 12. I’ve been able to raise my two children here on the coast side, am very fond of the cultural mix in our community, and am enthusiastic about helping our local adults achieve their academic goals!

Graeme Westwood

Graeme Westwood

Teacher

I was born in Essex near London and have lived in Spain for 7 years, France for 3 years, and speak 3 languages, so I appreciate the challenges of learning another language. I am an English, ELD and journalism teacher at Half Moon Bay High School and responsible for the Paw Print school newspaper. I’ve been here for 7 years and have two wonderful kids. I love living and teaching in our community.

Jacqueline Willson

Jacqueline Willson

Teacher: Level 1 ESL

Has taught volunteer English Conversation and Literacy classes on the Coastside for the past three years. After a 30+ year career as an attorney, Jackie received a certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language from UC Berkeley Extension in 2015.

Janet Wyer

Janet Wyer

Teacher: Level 2 ESL

Has always been very interested in languages. She has a degree in French and worked for the airlines, which gave her the opportunity to travel around the world. But she always wanted to be a teacher, so she went back to school to earn a MA TESL (a Master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language) from San Francisco State University. She has been teaching ESL in Half Moon Bay since 2012 and is very happy to be teaching in her own community.

Maria Cortes

Maria Cortes

Child Care Provider

I consider myself to be very patient and creative and I’ve always loved working with children. I work at Farralone View Elementary School as a Para Professional. I’ve been in the community as a nanny for three years and am now working in La Costa’s child care program.

Rosa Palma

Rosa Palma

Child Care Provider

I will soon be graduating from Half Moon Bay High School. I love spending time with children so that’s why I am planning on going to college and studying Early Childhood Education.

Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison

Child Care Provider

I have been a full time father of my two daughters for the past 10 years. After volunteering in their classrooms during their first couple years of school, I decided to take a position at Hatch Elementary as a ‘Yard Duty.’ Surprisingly, I find this work to be incredibly rewarding and it has compelled me to pursue further work with the kids in the best community on earth, ‘The Coastside.’