7337 Bollinger Road, Suite E, Cupertino, CA 95014 ♦ Phone: 408-777-8876 ♦ Fax: 408-503-0884 ♦ E-mail: info@communicationacademy.com


Communication Academy classes are taught by college professors, professional authors and poets, and high school speech and debate coaches.

The following are their profiles, organized by the subject(s) they teach.

PRINT/DOWNLOAD Instructor Bios as PDF

 

Aleisha Readye

 

 

Aleisha Readye earned a B.A. in Communication Studies with an emphasis in Intercultural Study from Texas Southern University, and an M.A. in Special Education from Chapman University. She is an award-winning public speaker and debater having competed and traveled with the world-renown Texas Southern Debate Team. Many of her notable achievements were at the college-level speech and debate categories of Interpretation and Parliamentary Debate. Aleisha has helped judge, mentor and coach high school and college-level speech and debate students who credit her for their successes. Currently, she is coaching the Dougherty Valley High School Speech Team and has experience teaching introductory debate to middle school students as well as college-aged students. She also has experience teaching Public Speaking and Speech Etiquette to students of all ages. She travels the world as a thought-provoking, entertaining, and inspirational public speaker. Aleisha is passionate about Speech and the art of communication, and excited about the opportunity to share her knowledge and create successful learning environments.

Andrew Le

Andrew Le graduated from the University of San Francisco with a degree in Education. He also studied in the University of Sussex for International Relations. He’s been teaching for Communication Academy for a year in Public Speaking and Writing. In his spare time he’s the Vice President of Public Relations for Toastmaster’s International and serves an instructor of Akido for kids of all ages.

 

Ben Fagan

 

With fifteen years of experience as both a competitor and a coach, Ben Fagan is one of the Bay Area’s top debate coaches. As the former debate director at Dougherty Valley High School in San Ramon, Ben coached the 2015 California State Policy Debate Champions and the 2013 National Congressional Debate Champion. He personally placed 9th in Public Forum at the National Speech and Debate Association Championship, qualified to the prestigious NPDA National Championship, and has debated as far away as St. Andrews, Scotland and Xi’an, China.

David Koppell

David Koppel is a Bay Area native and credentialed California public educator. He was a state and national qualifying finalist in speech and debate as a Bellarmine College Prep student and received his MFA in acting from the Yale School of Drama in 1998. In 2006, David founded Arclight Rep Theatre in San Jose dedicated to producing multicultural original plays and productions of Shakespeare. He has taught speech and debate classes to middle and high school students throughout the Bay Area and looks forward to working with the students at Communications Academy.

David Nelson

David Nelson earned his B.S. in Psychology, majoring in Human and Social Development, and holds an A.A. in Liberal studies with an emphasis in ECE and Child Development. He served as an educator for 9 years, working closely with pre-K through 12th grade students. David also served as a Day Care Director and Summer Camp Director for two years, where he utilized his skills in developing and implementing curriculum dependent upon student needs. As an educator with a strong emphasis on the value of public speaking, David continued his love for teaching by serving as a private tutor and therapist for over two years, primarily providing learning assistance and strategy building for children ages 3 through 18.

Douglas Threet

Douglas Threet attended Pepperdine University where he earned a B.A. in Speech Communication, Philosophy and Religious Studies, an M.A. in Speech Communication as well as an M.A. in Philosophy and Religious Studies. Additionally, Douglas earned his M.B.A. in Management Communication and Finance from Santa Clara University. He also received an M.A. From UCLA in Team and Organizational Communication, and continued his education to earn a Ph.D. in Organizational Communications, Systems and Development. Douglas teaches Communications Studies courses and Argumentation and Persuasion courses at the collegiate level, and has volunteered his time at the middle and high school level for speech and debate competitions. Doug is a spirited debate instructor at Communication Academy, where he encourages students to approach engaging topics with a newfound perspective.

Franciska Karpovich

Franciska Karpovich attends California State University, East Bay where she is completing her B.A. in English. She has dedicated her time in the last 5 years serving as a volunteer tutor for children grades K-9 as well as working at an educational support center program. During these instructional opportunities, Franciska assessed students’ educational needs and implemented appropriate learning materials and activities to facilitate academic growth. She also worked as a tutor for Super Stars Literacy at Park Elementary School in Hayward. As a member of the Chabot College Forensics Team, Franciska wrote award-winning competitive speeches, which she used to compete in forensics tournaments. In the classroom, Franciska enhances the curriculum by creating a positive and fun environment for her students to thrive. 

 

Gordon Barratt

 

Gordon Barratt grew up in Terre Haute, Indiana where he was a high school speech competitor. He attended Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois and graduated in 2012 with a degree in Political Science. While attending Knox, Gordon was elected Student Body President and Vice President of the Senior Class. He was also involved with several clubs and organizations, including volunteering with the local high school speech team, and serving as a judge at local speech competitions. After working on a San Francisco political campaign, he is now a substitute teacher in Redwood City and a Speech and Debate instructor with Communication Academy.  

Jill Reynolds

 

Jill Reynolds attended San Francisco State University where she earned a B.A. in Speech Communications with an emphasis on presentation development and delivery, where she was nominated Outstanding Speech Graduate.  She credits her public speaking abilities with her 20+ years of success in sales, training, management, and presentation consulting.  Her corporate experience includes companies such as Qwest Communications, the Nielsen TV Ratins, and the Art Institutes.  Her experience both as an executive speech coach and a Girl Scout leader have been equally valuable in cultivating her passion: helping others of all ages become poised and confident communicators.

Kathy Demerit

Kathy DeMerit earned her B.A. in Speech from Indiana’s DePauw University, and holds both a Certificate in Secondary Education from State of Indiana and a Speech and Drama Credential. Kathy brings over ten years classroom experience at the elementary and middle school level from working in the Saratoga Union School District and the Los Gatos Union School District. After working for more than twenty years in the world of corporate Sales and Marketing for such organizations as Sony Electronics Ltd, Inc. and Sun Microsystems, Inc., Kathy decided she wanted to bring her professional communication skills to her real passion: children’s education. She already had an impressive history in youth education: she volunteered for more than eight years as a Literacy Tutor in both the New York City school system and in the Santa Clara reading program, and spent nine years as a teacher/coordinator of youth educational programs for grades K-12. She now teaches Pre-Public Speaking and Public Speaking for Communication Academy, where she always creates an encouraging learning experience for her students.

 

Madison Weisbarth

 

Madison is a highly motivated educator with seven years of competitive speech and debate experience. After competing for four years, Ms. Weisbarth became a Speech Coach at James Logan High School from 2010-2013, assisting students in various forms of speech including: dramatic interp, humorous interp, duo interp, expository speaking, original prose, poetry, and oratorical interp. She led many of her students to state and national tournaments. As a Speech Teacher at MasterPrep Academy, Madison taught intro to speech and debate to 3rd through 12th grade students, in addition to coaching private sessions. She possesses a wide range of experience with all age groups and even worked with Kindergarten students at Palo Alto Community Child Care in their After School program. Madison brings a wealth of Speech and Debate expertise to her classes and is dedicated to helping her students learn and improve.

 

Mary Etta Eaton

Mary Etta Eaton is a Silicon Valley leadership communications consultant, coach, and public speaking instructor. Mary Etta helps entrepreneurial tech leaders, scientists & engineers at Stanford and beyond to reach their professional goals by creating clear, concise, and compelling messages. Before teaching at Stanford, Mary Etta was a public speaking instructor for the Keys School. She also worked at Hewlett-Packard for over 15 years, serving as a Human Resources Specialist and leading teams of 5-75 marketing professionals. She brings a wealth of management expertise and high-tech leadership experience in Management Development & Training, HR, and Marketing/Sales Development. Mary Etta teaches all levels of public speaking and debate to students at Communication Academy, including Professional Public Speaking and private communications coaching. With an energetic teaching style, Mary Etta creates an active and engaging classroom atmosphere centered on collaboration and creativity. 

 

Shilpa Garg

Shilpa Garg’s credentials include a B.S. in Statistics, a B.A. in Accounting and Finance, and an MBA from San Jose State University. She was a member of the Speech and Debate team at her high school and won many competitions. She worked as an Analyst and Project Manager at various companies like KPMG, Cisco Systems, and PeopleSoft in the bay area. For the next few years following the birth of her first child, she chose to become a stay-at-home mom which allowed her to be completely involved with everything related to children. She gained first-hand experience in education providing assistance for teachers and students while working at their elementary school which required much parental participation. For the last five years, she has taught Hindi Language classes to children in grades K-8th at a Sunday school. She has also managed the Destination Imagination Creativity program for last three years and led her team into State Finals at which they won the Da Vinci Award for creativity. She has been a VP of the PTA organization at her children's school and likes to spend her time working for their benefit to bring the best programs and experiences to their school. She is excited to share her passion for teaching to kids. She has an encouraging and inclusive teaching style where she makes sure each student benefits by being given the opportunity to work at their ability and walk away feeling successful. 

 

Alan Solis

Alan Solis received an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from San Jose State University and holds a B.S. in Physics and Computer Science. While at San Jose State, Alan taught Freshman Composition courses for two years. He is a published writer with a short story titled “A Hand in the Bird” published in the Beloit Fiction Journal as well as a poem titled “Campbell, CA” which appeared in the Best of Boston Literary Magazine. Alan’s life-long passion is Creative Writing, and as an instructor at Communication Academy, he has been able to cultivate the same passion for writing and interest in his students.

Alex Park

Alex Park earned a B.A. in Creative Writing and Economics: International Studies and continued his education to receive an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. For 5 years, Mr. Park dedicated his time to being a writing and communications instructor as well as a private tutor for elementary, middle, and high school students. Prior to teaching at the elementary level, Alex was a teaching assistant at San Francisco State University for three semesters and led groups in personal narrative, short story, creative fiction and non-fiction writing.

Dallas Woodburn

Dallas Woodburn, a 2013-2014 Steinbeck Fellow in Creative Writing at San Jose State University, earned her B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Southern California and her M.F.A. in Fiction Writing from Purdue University.  She is the author of two collections of short stories and is editor and publisher of the anthology Dancing With the Pen: a collection of today's best youth writing. A freelance writer for the past ten years, she has written fiction and nonfiction for more than 40 publications including The Los Angeles Times, Family Circle, Writer’s Digest, The Nashville Review, and Chicken Soup for the Soul, and her plays have been produced in Los Angeles and New York City. Woodburn’s work has been honored with the International Glass Woman Prize, the Brian Mexicott Playwriting Award, a nomination for the Pushcart Prize, and second place in the American Fiction Prize. She served as Director of the Young Writers Program of the Santa Barbara Writers Conference and has seven years of experience teaching writing workshops for students in elementary school, middle school, and high school.

Darrell Dela Cruz

Darrell Dela Cruz is a graduate of San Jose State University where his degrees include a B.A. in English with a Creative Writing minor, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing with an emphasis on Poetry.  His work has been published in literary magazines such as Reed, ZAUM, Third Wednesday, and Thin Air. Darrell has taught both at the college and high school levels in Creative Writing, seeing his students go on to become published writers and celebrated poets. He is currently a board member for Poetry Center San Jose. 

John Duong

John Duong received his B.A. in Japanese with a minor in Education from San Jose State University. As a graduate student, he continued his education to earn a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. After receiving his credential, John served as an instructor at Rocketship Si Se Puede Academy in San Jose, where he taught 5th grade and 1st grade classes. As an educator, he facilitated both focused and open-ended discussions with his students to keep them actively involved in the learning process. John is experienced in behavior management, creating effective lesson plans, and establishing open communication with his students in order to foster academic progress. 

Maren Lassner

Maren Lassner earned her B.A. in English at Santa Clara University and received her Master's in English and Comparative Literature at San Jose State University. She manages a thriving private tutoring business and has over 10 years of career experience in enrichment education. Maren is sagacious with all ages and abilities and is excited to utilize her knowledge, awareness, and expertise to help Communication Academy students succeed! Her passion for acquiring and sharing knowledge, coupled with her dynamic teaching style and outside-the-box approach to learning empowers students to be proactive, productive, and confident contributors in school and life. 

Patricia Pinedo

Patricia Pinedo received a B.A. in Literature with an emphasis on Creative Writing from UC Santa Cruz and continued her education at San Jose State University, where she graduated with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. As a graduate assistant at San Jose State, she assisted in instructing English courses. In addition to serving as a private aide and peer educator, she also has four years of experience as a substitute teacher in the Sunnyvale School District. As an educator, Patricia strives to develop fun and exciting curriculum for students to develop their skills further. Patricia is an energetic instructor who is thrilled to be working with Communication Academy. 

Steve Wood

Steve Wood loves to teach and has been enthusiastically involved in educating students of all ages for the greater part of his life. He graduated magna cum laude from San José State University, where he earned a B.A. in English (with an emphasis on Literature and minor in Philosophy) and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing (with a major in Fiction and a minor in Poetry). Among his numerous awards of distinction are the Mara Steffey Graduate Award (awarded to the outstanding graduate student in the SJSU English program) and the Lois King Thore Scholarship (awarded to the English major who shows the most promise in writing short stories). Many of Steve’s stories and poems have been published in literary magazines, including Beloit Fiction Journal, Orchard Valley Review, Reed Magazine, Viking Review, and Broken Spoke. Steve taught English at Del Mar High School for three years. When he’s not teaching, Steve continues to write poetry and fiction, and is currently working on a novel that examines, among numerous other themes, the perilous—though beautiful—side of the natural world. Steve believes that the greatest and most important joy in life is teaching students how to think, not what to think.   

Truc Ton

Truc Ton earned her B.A. in English from UC Davis in and received her Master’s in English from San Jose State University. She has dedicated much of her time during the past 12 years to teaching at various learning centers, serving as a teaching assistant, and educating students through after school tutoring programs. Truc has experience teaching from the kindergarten through the 12th grade level.  She strongly believes in developing critical thinking skills along with clear, simple, and effective writing as well as encouraging students to think for themselves and to apply what they read and learn to their daily lives. 

 

David Tseitlin

David Tseitlin earned his M.S. in Mathematics Magna Cum Laude from Tbilisi State University and has more than twenty years of experience as an instructor. He was the college professor of Mathematics at Tbilisi State University, and also served as a math teacher for gifted middle and high school students in Israel.  As a Math Olympiad and AMC8 coach, he has guided a number of teams to win first place in Math Olympiad competitions.

Debanu Das Debanu Das earned a M.S. in Chemistry and Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, went on to receive a Ph.D. in Structural Biology from Rutgers University, and has worked for the past 11 years at SLAC National Lab/Stanford University and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab/UC Berkeley. After teaching undergraduate chemistry and research courses at Rutgers from 1998 through 2007, Debanu sought new opportunities to share his knowledge of the STEM field. As a STEM educator and tutor as well as a parent class volunteer at Audobon Elementary School in Foster City, Mr. Das is dedicated to educating today’s youth to better prepare them for their futures. Currently, Debanu teaches Math Olympiad classes for Communication Academy to students 7 to 11 years old, and he continues to focus on his passion for education and the STEM field. 
KimVi Le Tran KimVi Le Tran earned her B.S. degree in Business Administration and her minor in Mathematics for K-8 Teaching from San Jose State University.  She also earned her A.A. degree in Mathematics for Secondary School Teaching from Evergreen Valley College.  To pursue a teaching career, she decided to enroll in the elementary education credential program at San Jose State University and is currently working to earn her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. KimVi has a student-centered teaching style in which students play an active and participatory role in their learning.
Melinda Nguyen

Melinda Nguyen earned her B.A. in Psychology with a Minor in Education at UCLA. She went on to earn her M.A. in Education and Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from UC Berkeley. She is currently in the process of applying for an additional Single Subject Mathematics credential. Her interest in communication began with a desire to overcome her fear of public speaking. Since joining and becoming Co-President of her high school Speech & Debate club, her love for teaching and communications has flourished. Melinda’s public speaking experiences include competitive public speaking in Interpretation, Impromptu, Oratory, and Prose & Poetry speaking. Her teaching experiences include teaching students across the K-8 grades in various capacities. Most recently, she has taught 6th grade math & science, and is currently teaching 5th grade in Cupertino. Her experiences both in and out of the classroom have proven to her that in order to succeed, having strong communication skills is vital. She looks forward to helping her students recognize their own voice and introducing the joys of public speaking and math to her students.

Paul Osserman

Paul Osserman has just retired from a 34-year career in public education. After completing his education at Stanford University with a Master’s degree in Education, Paul has taught 18 years at the elementary level and 16 years at the middle school level. His credentials include Single Subject credentials in Music and Math and a Multiple Subject credential. Paul loves teaching and inspiring students through coaching chess clubs, MathCounts teams, and teaching and coordinating GATE classes. He has been selected as Teacher of the Year, BTSA support coach, and student teacher mentor. When he is not teaching, Paul plays jazz and enjoys traveling. 

Swati Belwalker

Swati graduated with a Master’s in Commerce from Prune University and attended graduate school at National University where she received Level 1 credentials in General Education (multiple subjects) as well as in Special Education. She also holds a Master’s in Business Administration from MIT School of Management. Swati has over 10 years of experience at the middle school level having worked for Cupertino Middle School. As an instructor, she taught study skill classes focused in mathematics to a wide-range of students. She also completed the CBEST, CSET, and RICA. Swati has been a math instructor at Communication Academy for over 2 years, and she prides herself in promoting student interest as well as creating a classroom environment that fully engages her students.

Van Trieu

Van Trieu graduated from Santa Clara University with a B.S. in Math.  To pursue a teaching career, she enrolled in the teacher preparation program at San Jose State University where she earned her California Teaching Credential in 2005. Van has been teaching math since 2005 at the elementary through high school level. She has taught in the San Jose Unified, Berryessa Union, East Side Union, and Oak Grove School Districts. She feels that students learn best when an instructor uses a variety of instructional strategies and offers individualized support. By incorporating class discussions and cooperative learning in her classes, Van strives to facilitate an inquisitive class atmosphere.