Staff Spotlights

Photo of Israel

In this edition of our Staff Spotlight, we feature Israel Smith, the dedicated School Culture and Climate Ambassador at Fortuna Middle School. Israel began his journey working with youth as a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coach in 2019, transitioning to the educational setting by the end of 2022. Initially joining our district at Walker Elementary School as a SCIA (1:1 Aide), he now serves at Fortuna Middle School, where his efforts have had a significant impact! Israel's previous roles include working as a SCIA at Walker Elementary School and a Classroom Aide at Camp Discover Summer School. His commitment to fostering a positive environment for students is evident in everything he does. When asked about his role, he adds that he loves being a positive influence on students and that he wants each of the children he works with to know they are capable of great things, and he will always offer support.An interesting aspect of Israel's life outside the classroom is his involvement in mixed martial arts. Israel has been active in MMA alongside his twin brother for nearly a decade. He sets an example of hard work and determination for our students.Colleagues and staff hold Israel in high regard, noting, "Israel is a difference-maker on campus. His calm demeanor and engaging personality allow him to make strong connections with the students. The relationships he has built have improved the behavior of many students." Israel Smith's contribution to our school culture and climate is invaluable, and his unique background and approach to education continue to enrich our district's community.

- Israel Smith

Jana Reveles

In our latest Staff Spotlight, we are proud to feature Jana Reveles, the GATE Teacher/Librarian at Fortuna Middle School. Jana's journey in education is both inspiring and impressive, having dedicated over two decades to the field. With 23 years of teaching experience and 22 of those years within the Fortuna Elementary School District, Jana's educational background is extensive. She holds an Associate degree in Horticulture, a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education, and a Master's degree in Library Science, alongside multiple subject and Teacher Librarian credentials. Additionally, she is GATE Certified, demonstrating her commitment to specialized education.Jana's career has primarily focused on teaching students in grades 5 through 8. She began her tenure at Fortuna Middle School as a part-time librarian and the GATE Coordinator and has since transitioned to a full-time role. Currently, she teaches GATE, ELA, and Literacy courses in addition to managing the library. Her passion for her work is evident, particularly in her love for matching students with the perfect book, aiming to foster lifelong readers.A fun fact about Jana is her deep roots in the Humboldt County community; she is a 6th generation resident. She attended both Ambrosini and Toddy Thomas in the 1960s and 70s, highlighting her long-standing connection to the area.Jana's principal praises her versatility and team spirit, stating, "Jana wears many hats at FMS and is an excellent example of a team player. She genuinely cares for all students and is dedicated to providing a safe learning environment." Jana Reveles embodies the qualities of a dedicated educator and librarian, significantly impacting the students and community of Fortuna Middle School.

- Jana Reveles


This month's Staff Spotlight highlights Julie Meade, a dedicated 5th grade Math and Science teacher at Toddy Thomas Middle School. Julie's teaching career spans over three decades, during which she has educated students across a wide range of grades, from Pre-K to 8th grade, and even adults in English, both in California and Texas. Her journey in education brought her to Fortuna Elementary School District three years ago, following her marriage to Fortuna native, Tim Meade.Julie's academic credentials include a master's degree in Early Childhood Education and an administrative certificate from Texas, showcasing her comprehensive expertise in education. Her passion for teaching is driven by the creativity and problem-solving skills it nurtures. Julie finds joy in the challenge of presenting concepts in new ways to help students understand, ensuring that each day is unique and engaging.Outside of work, Julie enjoys riding motorcycles with her husband, drawing, painting, and gardening. She stays active with her trainer, Beth Sederberg.Her colleagues commend Julie for her teamwork, positive attitude, and ability to build meaningful relationships with her students, inspiring them to embrace learning. Julie Meade exemplifies the qualities of an exceptional educator, making a significant impact on the lives of her students and the broader school community.

- Julie Meade


We are excited to highlight Jessica Mills in our Staff Spotlight, a valued Monitor and Lunch Clerk at Ambrosini Elementary. Jessica is in her second year with us, bringing not only her dedication but also a personal connection to our school community as a parent of an Ambrosini student. Her journey from Canada to California 10 years ago has culminated in her contributing positively to the lives of our students, something she cherishes every day.Jessica's role at Ambrosini allows her to interact closely with students, whether it's on the playground or in the cafeteria, ensuring their safety and well-being. Her principal, Angela Schuetzle, commends her, stating, "She is incredibly positive and helpful. The students trust and love her, which speaks volumes." This acknowledgment underscores the impact Jessica has had in fostering a supportive and trusting environment for our students.What Jessica enjoys most about her job is the opportunity to build relationships with the students and staff at Ambrosini. The connections she forms are at the heart of her work, contributing to a friendly and welcoming atmosphere within our school.A fun fact about Jessica is her Canadian heritage. Born and raised in Canada, she ventured to California about a decade ago, bringing with her the warmth and kindness that have become her hallmark at Ambrosini Elementary.Jessica Mills exemplifies the qualities of a dedicated and caring staff member, whose positivity and helpfulness enhance our school community. Her commitment to our students' happiness and safety makes her an indispensable part of the Ambrosini family.

- Jessica Mills


We're thrilled to feature Katie Gerving in our Staff Spotlight. Katie is a dedicated Reading Intervention Teacher at Walker Elementary School, where she has been making a significant impact for over two decades. Katie's journey in education began after she moved from Southern California to attend Humboldt State University. It was here that she fell in love with the area, a sentiment that has kept her and her family rooted here ever since.Katie's principal praises her, saying, "Katie has such a heart for the students. She steps in to help colleagues all the time and puts everyone else first. There is no one sweeter or kinder on our campus!" This sentiment echoes throughout our school community, highlighting Katie's compassionate and selfless nature.Having started her career as a seventh-grade language arts teacher at Fortuna Middle School, Katie transitioned to a Reading Intervention Teacher in 2007. Her passion for her work is evident in her dedication to her students' progress. Katie finds immense joy in watching her students gain confidence in their reading abilities, celebrating their successes as they overcome challenges.Outside the classroom, Katie enjoys hiking and spending time at the beach with her family. A fun fact about Katie is that after receiving her teaching credential, she spent a year teaching in Japan. This experience allowed her to explore different cultures and parts of the world, further enriching her perspective as an educator.Katie Gerving's contribution to Walker Elementary School and her unwavering commitment to the success of her students make her a cherished member of our school community. We are fortunate to have someone of her caliber and kindness among us, inspiring both colleagues and students alike.

- Katie Gerving


🐝 In this month's Staff Spotlight, we are delighted to feature Carrie Allen, a devoted 1st-grade teacher at Ambrosini Elementary. With an impressive 30 years in education, 28 of which have been dedicated to our district, Carrie embodies the spirit of commitment and passion for teaching. She has enriched the lives of students across various grades, including 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th, showcasing her versatility and dedication to student growth at every level.Carrie's colleagues describe her as a joy to work alongside, citing her great sense of humor and excellence as a reading teacher. Not only is she regarded as a leader among the staff, but she is also cherished by students, families, and her peers for her warm smile and kind words, making her a beloved figure within the Ambrosini community.What Carrie loves most about her role is the opportunity to explore new ideas, motivate her students, and create lasting relationships. These elements are at the core of her teaching philosophy, reflecting her deep commitment to fostering an engaging and supportive learning environment.A fun fact about Carrie is her unwavering love for Ambrosini Elementary. Her statement, "It is a fact that I wouldn't want to teach any place else. I love Ambrosini!" speaks volumes about her dedication to the school and its community. This sentiment not only highlights her loyalty but also her appreciation for the beautiful area and the kind-hearted staff she works with.Carrie Allen's three decades of educational experience, combined with her enthusiasm for teaching and her ability to connect with her students, make her an invaluable asset to Ambrosini Elementary. Her leadership, humor, and compassionate approach to education continue to inspire those around her, making her a true pillar of our school community.

- Carrie Allen


This month, we're shining the spotlight on Angela Velasquez, our Climate and Culture Ambassador at Toddy Thomas Middle School. Angela has been in education for 24 years, and she's been with us for the last 5 months. Her journey in education has taken her from being an aide at Eureka High School, Washington Elementary, and Glen Paul School, before joining our team.Angela's passion for her work is rooted in the opportunity to be a part of someone's life story, witnessing and contributing to the unfolding of their potential. She finds immense joy in seeing students grow into the individuals they are destined to be. It's clear she cares deeply about helping each student become their best self.For a fun fact, Angela admits she's a big fan of true crime stories. This makes Angela even more interesting and fun!Angela's work in making Toddy Thomas a welcoming and positive place for everyone is something we're all thankful for. Her experience and heart for students make her a key part of our school's community. We're lucky to have her with us, making a real difference every day.

- Angela Velasquez


We are proud to feature Veronica Girsback, a dedicated First Grade Classroom Aide at our school. Principal Mrs. Nelson says, "Veronica has come in on the weekend with her family to do weeding and plant flowers! Her ability to wear multiple hats — from monitoring duties last year to her current role as a classroom aide — demonstrates her flexibility and commitment to supporting our students in any way she can. What Veronica enjoys most about her role is the opportunity to connect with students, witness their learning journey, and see them grow day by day. She values the daily interactions and the chance to be a part of their educational experience, contributing positively to their development. A fun fact about Veronica is her passion for woodworking and restoring old furniture. This hobby showcases her creative side and ability to see the potential in things, a quality she undoubtedly brings to her work with our students.

- Veronica Girsback