Meet the Staff

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  • Dawn A

    Steve Constantino, Principal

    Hello RISE students. I am so fortunate to be part of the leadership team at RISE and am grateful to be involved with a staff that is dedicated to adult education. We strive in supporting adults in reaching their academic dreams and  help open doors to the future. I have been a teacher and administrator in the Washoe County School District and have worked at Damonte Ranch High School, Hug High School, Vaughn Middle School and now RISE. I have earned a Bachelor’s Degree in History and a Master’s Degree in Teaching Social Studies at Stony Brook University in New York. I also earned my Master’s in Education and School Administration from the University of Phoenix. I have three wonderful children and enjoy being outside in the beautiful Truckee Meadows. I love working at RISE and gain my strength from witnessing hundreds of adults show courage in returning to school.



    Dawn A

    Dawn Adams, Assistant Principal

    I am proud to be the assistant principal at RISE. I have a B.A. in Spanish/Film from UNR, a M.A.TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) from UNR and a M.Ed in School Administration from Columbia University.  I coordinated the Carpenter Union's ESL and Math courses for adults for four years while also teaching in middle and high schools in WCSD.  I have instructed adults in university courses at UNR, and SNC for teachers pursuing their ELL endorsement for five years. I coordinated the middle and high school ELL programs for the school district before coming to RISE. My passion is empowering the community through education and I love working at RISE because we work to that end EVERYDAY!


  • Shannon Q Shannon Quinn, Counselor (A-L)

    I moved to Reno from San Diego, CA where I earned my MA in Education with an emphasis in Counseling and Guidance from Point Loma Nazarene University and a BA in Sociology from California State University, San Marcos. I also hold my Board Certification in School Counseling. Before becoming a school counselor I worked  as a Financial Aid Counselor and an Academic Events and Projects Coordinator for Thomas Jefferson School of Law. I have also worked in a variety of community agencies and educational programs.  I have been working at RISE since April 2014. I love working at RISE because I get to interact with amazing students that challenge and inspire me every day!

  • Christi

    Christi Klyne, Counselor M-Z

    I earned my BA in Psychology from California State University, Sacramento. Following graduation, I worked in the real estate industry and legal field for nine years. I then continued my education at the University of Phoenix in Reno and earned my MS in School Counseling. I’ve been a school counselor since 2011 and have worked at RISE since 2015. I hold my Board Certification in School Counseling. I enjoy working at RISE because I truly believe that everyone progresses according to their own timeline and I embrace the growth mindset.

  • Jeff  Jeff Levine, Distance Education Coordinator

    I am the distance education coordinator as well as teach Math proficiency and music.  I have a BA in philosophy from Brandeis University.  This is my 2nd year full time teaching adults.  I have worked previously with adults here in Reno as well as in California.  I like, actually love teaching at RISE for many reasons.  The most important reason is that I have never worked at a school that listens to student voice as well as teacher voice to assist in creating a program which gives the student the greatest chance to succeed and thrive. 

  • Janelle Janelle Maddox, CASA Coordinator

    I graduated from the University of Nevada Reno in 2000 with a B.S. in Special Education and recently completed a M.Ed. in teaching Reading. This is my 16th year teaching in WCSD and my 9th year working with adults. I love being a part of RISE Academy for Adult Achievement because I am passionate about helping adults to improve their academic skills, finish high school, and achieve their dreams. I am proof that learning is life-long and that it is NEVER too late to go back to school!  On a personal note, I have lived my whole life in Reno Nevada. My husband and I have been together for 20 years, and we have 2 sweet little kids- a 9-year old daughter and a 7-year old son. Some of my life experiences include waitressing in a restaurant, owning a record store, traveling through Europe with a back-pack, and singing in a band.

  • Mary S

    Mary Smith, Testing Coordinator

    I am a testing coordinator for RISE.  I oversee HSE testing and help with HSPE testing. I received my Bachelor of Arts from San Diego State University in San Diego, CA. I have worked with adults in agency programs, such as Vocational Rehabilitation and Job Opportunities in Nevada.  I started giving the GED in 2002.  In 2014, we started transitioning to the paper-based HiSET testing and this fall (2015) we will add computer-based HiSET testing. I like working at RISE because as a staff, everyone is committed to doing the best job possible for our scholars.  The staff looks at all possibilities to help scholars reach their goals—including online classes, classroom classes, HSE.



  • CiarraCiarra Proulx, ELL Coordinator


    Greetings! I am the ELL Coordinator at RISE Academy, as well as an English language instructor. I earned BA degrees in Anthropology and   Linguistics from UNR and an MA-TESL degree from Northern Arizona University. I had the pleasure of serving two years in the U.S. Peace Corps   in Mongolia and have also lived in China briefly. My passions revolve around teaching and learning both language and culture. RISE is an   amazing place to work because our students are here for personal enrichment, empowerment, and growth. Such tenacity and grit are a true   inspiration for our community.



  • Alison Simcox, School Nurse

    I am the school nurse for RISE.  I have been a nurse for 30 years and a school nurse for 11 years.  I’ve lived in Reno most of my life, and I graduated from Orvis School of Nursing at UNR. I love being a school nurse, and I really like working at RISE because I get to help students access our community resources for healthcare.  Have a great school year! 

  • Ian Moline, ED Tech Specialist

    The position I hold at RISE as custodian entails a variety of different things, some of which range from standard cleaning and general upkeep of classrooms and office spaces to fixing broken things and even doing a little office aid work… this is of course due to RISE's versatility and flexibility when it comes to my job description.  My educational background would be only the completion of 11th grade had it not been for RISE offering the program it does, which has in effect allowed me to procure the title of  “High School Diploma.” I am now a fully accredited High School graduate and current employee thanks to RISE. The staff here is incredible, everyone including the principal, dean, teachers, counselors, and secretaries. I have never liked going to work as much as I do now. Secondly, I also like being able to know that I am contributing at least a small part towards helping others succeed in what I once thought myself was unachievable…a “High School Diploma!”

  • Yerania AYerania Alvarez, Instructor

    Greetings! I am an Algebra teacher at RISE Academy. I earned a BS in education at UNR and have taught in Washoe County for three years. I have taught math and EL courses in the district, at TMCC, and previously at RISE. I am glad to be back at RISE while I complete my master’s degree. I am excited to share my experiences with math and help students feel successful!

  • Barbara B Barbara Barnes, Instructor

    Hello!  My name is Barbara Barnes.  I am originally from Montana, but I have lived in Nevada for nearly 14 years.  I love living so close to Lake Tahoe, the Sierra Nevada mountains (and, yes, ski resorts), and I also love the people I’ve gotten to know in Reno.  It’s a great place to live! I also love teaching.  I’ve taught in high school, middle school, and elementary school, as well as a multi-grade tribal school in North Idaho.  I love teaching in general, and languages in particular.  I have taught ESL, Spanish, and worked on various native language programs. These days my free time is spent with my four grand kids.  We have great fun hiking, swimming, playing ball, riding horses, and just about anything else outdoors.  Indoors…not as much fun, but I do love making quilts since I began a few years ago.  I never dreamed I would do that! It is a pleasure to work at RISE with so many awesome people!  We are all lucky to be a part of the exciting educational achievements that are being made each day.

  • Shelly Bergam, Instructor

    I teach in the English Language Learner (ELL) program at Rise. I currently teach Low Level English, but have also taught the Advanced Level classes at RISE. My educational background consists of a Bachelor of Science Degree in Social Work with a double major in Spanish from Brigham Young University. As a postgraduate I received a teaching certificate in Secondary Ed. I also received an ESL endorsement from the state of Nevada. I began teaching Adult Ed ELL in 2006 for Washoe High Adult Program. I have taught Low Level, Low Intermediate Level, High Intermediate, and Advanced Levels of ELL while employed by Washoe High Adult. During this time I also taught Adult Ed and ELL at Northern Nevada Literacy Council for two years. I enjoy teaching adults because of the unique life experiences that each student brings, as well as their desire to learn. I especially enjoy working at Rise because of the committed, helpful, competent, and friendly staff. 

  • Michelle Michelle Berry, Instructor 

    I teach High School Equivalency Preparation classes and Mathematics classes (Algebra 1, Geometry, & Algebra 2) at RISE Academy. I earned my Master of Education in Secondary Education from the University of Nevada, Reno. I also hold a Bachelor of Arts from Western Washington University and a Master of Arts in Foreign Language. I am licensed in the state of Nevada to teach Alternative Education, French, Spanish, and TESL. I’m proud to have been teaching at RISE since its inception in the fall of 2014, and feel that RISE promotes an engaging and stimulating learning environment that makes teaching and learning an amazing experience.

  •  BillBill Campbell, Instructor


    I graduated with my BA in Anthropology from the University of Kentucky in 2008 and received my teaching certificate from Sierra Nevada College in 2010.  I have been teaching mathematics for WCSD for 8 years and this is my first year with RISE Academy For Adult Achievement.  I wanted to teach math at RISE because many people have had tough experiences with mathematics and I would like to show everyone they it does not have to be that way and everyone can be successful with math!




  • Liz C Liz Carter, Instructor


    Hi.  I am excited to begin my work at RISE for the 18-19 school year.  I will be teaching EL to adult students for the first time!   It has always been my passion to facilitate learning to all students regardless of age or background.  I have had the fortunate experience throughout my career to work with children as young as three years old to seniors in high school.  I am excited to work with adults who desire to complete their education and learn skills that aid in their success.

  • Mary D Mary Dazey, Instructor

    I teach English Diploma classes at RISE Academy for Adult Achievement. My passion is teaching, and I love teaching YOU! I teach Writing through Film, Critics of Society and Short Story as well as preparation courses to help you pass the Reading proficiency test (HSPE.) I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from San Francisco State University in 1983 and am currently working to complete my graduate project in secondary education for my master’s degree. I have used English language arts and skills in a variety of ways, both teaching in many settings and educating the public about critical issues in the environment, human rights and social justice. What I like most about teaching at RISE is helping you frame your purpose in sharing your voice with the world, helping you find your audience and then sharing with you tools and skills to make your voice powerful!

  • Tony Tony Filicchia, Instructor

    I am a math teacher at RISE Academy. I mainly teach HSPE prep classes but I have also taught Algebra. I hold a Bachelor of Arts in Human Services from the University of New England, in Biddeford, Maine. This is my fourth year teaching HSPE prep as an adult educator and I love teaching at RISE because I am able to help change the courses of many of my students' lives. I enjoy how motivated the students are, and how confident they are in their math skills as they leave my class. 

  • Samantha Ham, Instructor

    I teach a Level 1 ELL course at RISE.I received my BS in Spanish Education and TESL from Minnesota State University Moorhead (MSUM). This is my 6th year teaching and my 3rd year with WCSD. I work with English Learners at 2 schools—Pine Middle School and Shaw Middle School. I have lived in 5 states—Kentucky, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and now Nevada for 3 years. My family consists of me, my husband Kelly, and our two cats who we affectionately call Kitty and Mouse. We love spending time in the mountains hiking, camping, and backpacking. I also love to travel, learn new languages, and encounter new cultures. I want to learn Levantine Arabic next! I have a passion to advocate for and empower English Learners with the linguistic and intercultural skills they need to fully contribute the many and varied gifts they bring to our community

  • Vicki Vicki Hardy, CASA Coordinator

    I currently teach ABLE Mathematics for RISE Academy for Adult Achievement, and provide support for all RISE students through the CASA (Center for Academic Success and Accessibility).  My education, licensing, and experience include Elementary and Special Education, Middle School Math, Science and ELA, as well as School and Program Administration.  Prior to teaching adults at RISE, I taught at the middle school level for sixteen years, five of which were in the special education setting.  I taught elementary school over the summer months, and have spent a substantial amount of time in classrooms of all levels as a Special Education Program Consultant, grant supervisor, mentor teacher, and special programs coordinator. My years of experience as both a general and special education teacher have afforded me the opportunity to interact with diverse populations, institute a teaching style that is favorable to all learning styles, and to establish and maintain effective working relationships with teachers, administrators, counselors, and other staff members, as well as parents, students, and other stakeholders.  My experiences to date have permitted me to become, not only knowledgeable, but also passionate, about Special Education Law, instruction design, and appropriate IEP design and implementation.   

  • Malake I Malake Itani, Instructor

    I am Malake Itani. I have a Bachelor in Science in Civil engineering from Beirut, Lebanon. I moved to the United States in 1987 while my husband was completing his PhD in Ann Arbor, MI. I earned my M Ed. in secondary education from UNR. I am licensed to teach Math and Science in the state of WCSD, I taught 14 years at Pine Middle School and at North Valleys High School. I taught Prob/Stats, Algebra II, Geometry, and General Science.  In 2014, I had some health concerns, so I contemplated retirement in order to take care of my health. Ultimately, resigned from being a full time employee at WCSD. After, all concerns went away, I am missing teaching and am finding that it is too early to retire. Currently, I am teaching couple of courses at RISE Academy. I am so proud to be part of the wonderful and resourceful educators at RISE. The students are eager to learn and very enthusiastic. I am thankful for this opportunity and ready to give all that I have to help our students and provide them with the needed knowledge in Math or Science in order for them to prosper in life.

  • Victoria JVictoria Jensen, Instructor

    I have been teaching English Learners in the Washoe County School district for over 6 years at the secondary education level. I am originally from the Los Angeles area where I was born and raised. I have a total of 14 yearrs of teaching experience and have taught English, Culinary Arts and EL. So farm teaching EL has been my favorite due to smaller class sizes and the ability to really see a change and be more effective at helping students with their educational goals. I started my educational journey attending East L.A. College and then transferred to Cal State Fullerton where I received my BA in English. I then attended Whittier College for my teaching credential and Master in Education. When I have free time, i like to spend it with my husband and children. I am excited to join the RISE family and look forward to helping my students feel prepared and successful. 

  • Kelle KKelle Kroeber, Instructor


    This is my first year teaching EL classes at Rise Academy. I am originally from North Dakota but I have lived in Nevada for 25 years. I have a B.S. in Education from Valley City State University and a Master’s Degree in Literacy from Grand Canyon University. I have taught different grade levels at different schools throughout Nevada. I currently teach EL at Desert Heights Elementary School. I am looking forward to working with everyone!




  • Diane M Joan  Diane Machen, Instructor

    I recently joined the cadre of talented staff at the RiSE Academy for Adult Achievement. For the past several years I worked as a forensic scientist and recently retired from this field to pursue my second career – teaching. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. A few years ago I returned to college to prepare for my new career and am finishing my Master of Arts in Teaching degree at Sierra Nevada College. I am licensed to teach kindergarten through twelfth grade. My area of specialty in secondary education is biological science, and I have a teaching English as a second language (TESL) endorsement. Teaching has always interested me because I believe learning is a lifelong process that provides each person with the knowledge and skills to direct and even change the course of his life as well as significantly impact the lives of others. As Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa, so eloquently stated, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”  John Dewey, the father of progressive education, succinctly summarized the value and purpose of education as, “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” These quotes align with my belief that learning is a vital part of life for every human being. I am honored to be part of RiSE Academy and to help others continue their educational pursuits.

  • Michele MMichele Mason, Instructor

    I have been a high school teacher for the past 9 years. I earned my teaching degree at the University of Nevada Reno, added my TESOL endorsement last year, and am currently working on my master's in administration through the Nevada Leads program at UNR. I have a passion for everything about education, I love teaching and am very happy to be a new part of the RISE team! 

  • Sam  Sam O'Brien, Instructor

    I teach US History at RISE, and this is my first quarter. I have taught adults in the college setting, as well as teaching a couple short sections of NV History for NHP Cadets. I hold a Bachelor's in English Language Arts from UNR, and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Sierra Nevada College. I am currently working on a Masters of Education at Sierra Nevada College. Working with adult students at RISE has been a wonderful experience. The students work extremely hard, and are attentive, which inspires me to go above and beyond in the classroom to meet their needs.

  • Christina Christina Rhodes, Instructor

    I teach English Language Learning classes at RISE. I hold a Bachelor’s of Arts in English and Education from Grand Canyon University, and I have taught adult education classes for 2 years. I think RISE Academy students are so amazing here because they strive for success! 

  • Lou SLou Stien, Instructor

    My educational journey has had many twists and turns.  I earned my Bachelor and Masters Degrees in Minnesota before moving to Reno 15 years ago.  In over 22 years of teaching, I have taught elementary grades 4-6 as well as Art, Math, English, and Science to 6th-8th grade middle students.  My current position is teaching Art at Vaughn Middle School, and I am very excited to add the title of Art Instructor for the adults at RISE.  In my free time, I enjoy spending time outdoors with my wife and two boys.  I also enjoy taking online classes to continue to improve my own artistic skills. 

  • Lijun WLijun Wang, Instructor

    I am so excited to have the opportunity to teach English Through Journalism at RiSE! I had worked as a newspaper reporter for 13 years in China before I came to University of California, San Diego as a visiting scholar. The one year visiting at UCSD led me to UNR for my Master’s degree in Journalism. I started teaching in 2015, and found it is where my passion is. My diverse background always helps me to have a better understanding on diversity and be more culturally responsive. I would love to help my students to explore the beauty of English through various journalistic resources.