Skip to main content


Tava Barber: ESL, Spanish GED, & high school equivalency Teacher          


Tava is a Napa native with nearly a decade of teaching experience ranging from K-12 to Adult Education. She began studying languages at a young age, and later pursued advanced studies in Spanish, French and English linguistics both in the US and France. She enjoys traveling (40 countries and counting!) and working with students from all cultures.


  • M.A. TESOL, University of Southern California, Los Angeles


Amy Collins: Instructional Assistant

Amy Collins

After successfully completing the NVAE CNA course, Amy decided to support others going through the program. She enjoys teaching and helping others gain new skills or a better understanding of what they are learning or experiencing.

In her spare time, you can find Amy coaching CrossFit, on a trail hiking or with her mountain bike, planning trips in her camper Myrtle, or hanging out with her super-senior Miniature Schnauzer Uschi.

  • BA, Briercrest College


Maria Dowd: English as a Second Language Teacher

Maria Dowd

Maria was raised in Dublin, Ireland. She has been an ESL teacher at NVAE since 2014. She enjoys learning about different cultures and has travelled extensively throughout South East Asia and Europe. She thoroughly enjoys working with adult learners and strives to make learning fun and interactive in the classroom.



  • B.A. Liberal Studies, San Francisco State University
  • Adult Teaching Credential, UC Berkeley


Chef Paul Fields: Culinary Training Teacher


I graduated from Diablo Valley College with my certificate in culinary arts. I have worked in the industry for nearly 20 yrs and I'm currently the Chef/Director of the Salvation Army Culinary training academy. I have my teaching credential and I over-see our entire program. We have partnered with Napa Valley Adult Education to bring some structure and teacher support to the program. We are currently in our 5th year of the Culinary Program.


  • Culinary graduate, CTE certified




I have taught English at Napa High School for the last 25 plus years. I have taught English Learners throughout my career. I live in Napa with my wife and two daughters. I have been a staff member at Adult Education for the past three years and enjoy working with the adult English Learners in our community.



  • BA English, University Of California, Davis
  • Teaching Credential Sonoma State University, Sonoma, CA




Kathryn has lived and traveled in many different places in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. She has taught all levels of ESL in San Francisco, her native Napa, and Dallas, Texas. She loves to learn about cultures through language, food, and traditions. Her interests include theatre, British history, and cooking. Her goal is to make the classroom a fun and safe community of discovery for everyone.


  • Bachelor of Arts (English), Sonoma State University
  • Master of Arts (TESOL - Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages),California State University Sacramento




I was born and raised in the state of Maine, where I began my career teaching elementary classes ranging from Kindergarten to Third grades. My family and I moved to California for warmer and more inviting weather. I continued my career in elementary education, and retired after 20 years of teaching. However, I missed teaching so much, I returned to the profession to teach adult education.


  • BS Health Education, University of Maine
  • Masters, English and Language Arts Education


Bill Hazelton

Having a passion for cooking as a teen I entered Culinary school two months after my high school graduation. I cooked in various restaurants in the Tampa Bay area before entering the United States Navy in 1984. I was assigned to cook for Commanding Officers, Admirals and Dignitary's. After leaving the USN in 1988 I worked various restaurants and catering companies in the San Francisco bay area. I am proud to re-enter the culinary field to teach in the much needed hospitality industry.


  • AA, P-Tech Culinary Arts, St. Petersburg, FL
  • Advanced French Cooking, California Culinary Academy, San Francisco, CA


Rainer Hoenicke: Small Scale Farming Teacher

Rainer s

Rainer is a German native and has been an avid gardener, botanist, and animal-love all his life. He studied agriculture in Germany and obtained his Ph.D. in Ecology at UC Davis. Prior to retiring as scientific advisor to federal, state, and local agencies, his experiences included substitute teacher in the Pajaro Valley Unified School District, teaching at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, and UC Berkeley Extension. He is a certified Master Gardener, and has served the agricultural community in Napa County as a Board Member of the Resource Conservation District for almost 20 years.

  • Ph.D. in Ecology at UC Davis


Monica Howard: CNA Teacher

Monica Photo








Michele Keegan: English as a Second Language Teacher

Generic Female Image








David Kirby

I'm a certified loan signing agent and have been teaching notaries public for 15 years. I've been recognized for engaging style and passion for helping students learn,and receive numerous student accolades after every course.

Setting the right environment is the key to my success. I strive to make the class environment personable and cheerful. I design courses that acknowledge the knowledge and experience that students bring with them to our course.

I demonstrate commitment to student learning by always offering personal time to further clarify and explain any materials that a student would like to later review after class.

  • M.A.
  • B.A. 


Robert Kirtlink,: Basic Plumbing Teacher

I'm a Vintage High School graduate. After high school I applied for enrollment into the Plumber and Steamfitters Union Local 343. I was accepted and served the 4 year apprenticeship program. I graduated from apprenticeship to journeyman. 




Andrew Kohler: CNA Instructional Assistant

Andrew Kohler Image  ​​​​​​






  • B.S. Elementary Education


Kathryn Lucas: Citizenship Preparation Teacher


I have worked as an educator in the classroom as well as in educational publishing. I also have a business as an artist: I am a bookbinder, paper- and print-maker, seamstress, knitter, and quilter. Other interests include yoga and music.




  • M.A. Latin American Studies, UCLA
  • B.A. Spanish, California State University, San Diego


Chef Eric Magnani: Culinary Training Teacher


Chef Eric Magnani is a graduate of the esteemed CIA in Hyde Park, NY and is a Certified Master Taster. His work history boasts a who’s who of Luxury Resorts, Restaurants, Wineries and Private Clubs. His passion for the culinary arts paired with his 30 years experience has led him to teaching. He enjoys giving back to the industry by working with students overcoming trans-formative life challenges to become aspiring cooks.


  • A.O.S. Restaurant Management, Clark College, Vancouver, Washington
  • A.O.S. Culinary Arts, Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, New York


Yvonne Mariko Martin: English as a SEcond Language Teacher


I have been working for NVAE for over 15 years. I taught for eight years at a residential care facility in American Canyon in the Older Adults Program. Then, I joined the ESL department to teach multi-level English classes to second language learners. Prior to NVAE, I was a substitute teacher in the Vallejo school district for junior high, high school and adult school (adult with disabilities; GED; presently in ESL classes). I am committed to my students' success daily.


  • San Francisco State University
  • Sonoma State University
  • U.C. Berkeley Extension


Liz McAdams: Adults Supporting K-12 Success & Spanish teacher


Liz McAdams is a native Spanish speaker who enjoys teaching all levels of Spanish. Liz has been teaching for 15 years for Parent Education. She was selected as Napa Valley Adult Education Teacher of the year in 2009. She also received an award in Excellence in Teaching in 2016 by the California Council for Adult Education. Her greatest pleasure is teaching. She has been doing this for 24 years.


  • AA Solanco Commuinty College
  • University of Guadalajara, Mexico


Cynthia Meza: English as a Second Language Teacher

Generic Female Image








Kerasoula Millay: Certified Nursing Assistant Teacher

Kerasoula Millay


I'm one of the instructors for the Certified Nursing Assistant Program. My nursing career has been in long term care and skilled rehab. I've worked as a wound nurse for the past 12 years, and have been with NVAE since March of 2020. I enjoy teaching and mentoring our students to become the best CNAs that they can be.


  • A.S.N., Vocational Nursing, Napa Valley College 


Yolanda Montanez: English as a second language Tutor


I was born in St.Helena and raised in Napa. I graduated from NVC with an AA degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences. Transferred to Sonoma State University and graduated with a BA degree in Liberal Studies. I’ve worked at NVAE since 10/2018 as a tutor and as an Assessment Assistant since 01/2019. I love working at NVAE because I have the opportunity to work directly with our students, help them in their education, and see their progress. I also enjoy working with such wonderful staff at NVAE.

  • B.A. Liberal Studies, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park
  • A.A. Social and Behavioral Sciences, Napa Valley College, Napa


Kimberly Olson: High School & Academic Skill Building Teacher


Kimberly Olson has spent a lifetime teaching and learning, but only began her career as a formal educator in 2013. She teaches Special Education, ESL, Academic Skill Building, and CTE Instructional Assistant courses. She is working on her doctoral dissertation on the topic of EMF and student behaviors, and lives in Napa with her dog, cats, chickens, bearded dragon, boa constrictor, and about 2,597 hummingbirds.


  • B.A. English/Creative Writing, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY
  • M.S. Special Education, National University, La Jolla, CA
  • Ph.D. (ABD) General Education, Northcentral University, San Diego, CA.


Cynthia Ott: Office Assistant Teacher


Cynthia’s career in education started at Santa Rosa Junior College teaching Office Procedures and Technologies and continued on to Empire College where she taught Office and Project Management, Business Management, Entrepreneurship, and a variety of advanced digital technology courses. She received her MS in Online Learning and Teaching from Cal State East Bay and is finishing her Masters of Educational Technology as well as Technology Integration Specialist certificate this semester at Boise State.

  • BS Organizational Behavior/Business - University of San Francisco
  • MS Online Teaching and Learning - Cal State East Bay
  • Masters of Educational Technology – Boise State


Jack Paulson: Electrician Apprenticeship Training Director

Generic Male







Chuck Peckinpaugh: Building & Construction Trades Teacher


Chuck ImageMy name is Chuck Peckinpaugh. I’ve been teaching here in Napa since 2006. I have held full time positions at NVLA, Capell Valley Elementary, Valley Oak HS and I am currently teaching Construction Technology at American Canyon HS. Helping high school students and adult education students in the completion of training that provides them with strong entry level skills for jobs in the trades is a passion of mine. I look forward to being involved in the continued growth of our construction program.



  • B.S., University of San Francisco
  • A.A., San Joaquin Delta Community College


Krishna Lara Nino de Rivera: Teacher's Assistant


I was born and raised in Oaxaca, Mexico and completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. I practiced my career from 2012-2016 in the area of special education within regular schools, working with children, training and provided workshops for teachers and parents. In 2016, I emigrated to Napa CA where I had the opportunity to start working within the school district in June 2019 as a Teacher’s Assistant, supporting GED students in Spanish at the NVAE school.


  • B.A. Psychology, Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, Puebla, México.


Ellen Schwartz: English as a Second Language Teacher

Ellen Schwartz

I have been teaching for about 35 years. I taught children with learning disabilities and in the regular classroom (elementary) for 7 years. I was a director/teacher of EFL in Costa Rica for 2 years. Since 1995, I have taught ESL in private language schools and adult schools in the Bay Area. I have been teaching at Napa Valley Adult since 2006. During my years at Napa I have taught classes in ESL- conversation, grammar, writing, pronunciation, and beginning computer skills for ESL students.


  • International Certificate in TESL/TEFL, St Giles College, SF, CA
  • M.Ed.Elementary and Special Education, Lesley College, Cambridge, MA
  • B.A. Psychology, Case-Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio


Jeff Scott: Adult Secondary Education Teacher


I have taught at NVAE since 2015 in the evening Adult Secondary Education Program. I also work for Napa COE teaching in the Court Community School Program teaching Napa County's most at-risk youth. I am a World Traveler and golfer.




  • B.S. Political Science/German Studies, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA
  • Single Subject Teaching Credential,  Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA


Sam Shweiky: High School Diploma & GED Teacher


I'm a proud Napa native who enjoyed working in the wine industry before being inspired to go back to graduate school to become a teacher. It was a great decision! I love watching and playing sports with my son, especially when followed by post-game burgers.



  • Multiple Subject Credential, Dominican University, San Rafael, CA
  • Education Specialist Credential, Dominican University, San Rafael, CA
  • MBA, Sonoma State University, Cotati, CA
  • B.S. Management, Pacific Union College, Angwin, CA


Carolyn Staats: Certified Nursing Assistant Program Teacher


After retiring from Nursing from the State of CA for 34 years, I have the honor of being at NVAE. I have been teaching the CNA Program for 20 years, 4 years at NVAE. I also enjoy traveling, being with family, tandem skydiving and playing bassoon in the orchestra.




  • Bachelors of Science in Nursing, Public Health Nurse, University of Phoenix, 2014
  • Designated Subjects Adult Education Teaching Credential, Sacramento State University, 2005
  • ADN Napa Valley College, 1989
  • Psychiatric Technician Napa Valley College, 1981


Alejandra Soto: INstructional Assistant


I am currently an Instructional Assistant at Bel-Aire Park Elementary School and a Tutor for the ESL department at NVAE. I am passionate about teaching and supporting our students’ education. I have a bilingual Spanish/English educational background from Napa Valley College and Sonoma State University. I am obtaining a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Spanish and currently pursuing a Bilingual Teaching Credential. I am happy to support our NVAE ESL students and teachers.


  • B.A. Spanish, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, CA.


Eric Treskon: CNA Instructional Support

Generic Male Image







Sergio Valenzuela: Construction, Welding, and Tiling Instructor

Generic Male

I have been working in industrial construction for over 30 years.

  • Solano County Office of Education ROP Program Instructor





Zahid Vargas: Adults Supporting K-12 Instructor


When I attended Napa Valley Community college I was part of different student organization. I was a Math volunteer tutor and always felt the passion of supporting students.That was my open door to start my career in teaching and supporting adult students. Previous to star working in Napa Valley Adult Education I worked in K-12 education for seven years. I am really happy to teach and be part of the Adult education.


  • B.A Spanish, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park
  • M.A TESOL in progress, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park


Evelyn Wilson: Office Assistant Program Teacher

Evelyn Wilson

Most recently an Instructor at Empire Business College, teaching everything from basic skills to Law, Ms. Wilson has worked for many years in education. She has taught students from preschoolers to adults, in several subject areas, and has a variety of education management and administrative experience. She has worked as an entrepreneur in family businesses, as a volunteer in community organizations, professionally as an editor and manager in legal publishing, and practicing business law.

  • J.D. UC Hastings, B.A
  • Business Administration & B.A. History, University of Washington


Email Image
    Email Us