Yvonne Kibombo Ayesiga
STEMinar | This is Yvonne Kibombo Ayesiga’s first year at Valley Catholic Middle School. She will teach 7th grade STEMinar. Yvonne earned her bachelor’s degree from Wartburg College in 2013, where she double majored in International Relations and Political Science with minors in History and Intercultural Studies. Yvonne went on to earn her master’s degree in Postsecondary Education, Student Affairs from the University of Northern Iowa in 2016. Yvonne is currently working to earn her EdD in Student Affairs at the University of Portland.
Yvonne enjoys spending time with her spouse, watching movies, cooking, and watching the Trail Blazers and Timbers play.
English Department Chair and Math Teacher | Paul Caballero '10 returns to the Valley Catholic Middle School community as the English Department head and mathematics teacher. Paul teaches two math courses, Sixth-grade Math and Seventh-grade Pre-Algebra, as well as three sections of English, Sixth- Grade English, Seventh-grade English, and Eighth-grade English. Paul is a returning alumnus to the Valley Catholic Community, attending Valley Catholic K-12 and graduating from VCHS in 2010. He continued his education at Gonzaga University, where he received his bachelor's degree in secondary education and English literature in the spring of 2014. While studying at Gonzaga, his coursework included mathematics courses as well as training in secondary education academic subjects. He is very passionate about working with students across all age groups, and feels privileged to work with a handful of VCMS teachers who first inspired him to pursue his teaching career. Outside the classroom, Paul enjoys reading, hiking, playing and watching soccer, and spending time with family and friends.
Science and Math | Though she chose Smith College in part because she would never have to take a math or science class again, Heather Ferebee graduated with a degree in Biology and a passion for connecting students of all ages to the phenomena of science. She has twenty years of experience teaching in a variety of public and private secondary schools, both indoors and out. She earned her MS in Science Education from Montana State University and began putting it to use at Valley Catholic in January of 2020. Heather’s interest in science is driven by her interactions with the natural world. When not working, she can be found hiking or camping, reading, in/on/under the water, or planning her next travel adventure with her family....
Electives Teacher | Courtney Ferrari has taught at Valley Catholic School in Beaverton since 2000. Courtney earned a Bachelor of Arts from Lewis and Clark College, majoring in history and sociology. She has lived abroad in Germany, Senegal, and Japan. In 2010, she received the Oregon Middle School Social Studies Educator of the Year award from the Oregon Council for the Social Studies. In 2011, she received the Global Educator of the Year Award from the Oregon World Affairs Council. She has served on teacher advisory boards for the Portland Art Museum, Middle East Studies Center at PSU, and the Let’s Get Healthy program at OHSU. She has been a board member of the Oregon Council for the Social Studies and for the peer-reviewed Oregon Journal of the Social Studies. Courtney travels whenever possible and has received study abroad fellowships from the Turkish Cultural Foundation and Embassy of the United Arab Emirates. Teacher institutes she attended in the US included Ritual and Religion in the Medieval World (Fordham University, New York City), Martha Washington and Women of the 18th Century (Mount Vernon, Virginia), and Civil Rights, Civil Wrongs: Portland’s Black History (Portland, Oregon).
VCMS Principal | Jennifer (Passadore) Gfroerer ‘87 has a B.A. and M.A. from College of Notre Dame, an M.A.T. from Lewis and Clark College, and an Ed.D. in Neuroeducation from University of Portland. During her career, Jennifer opened three new middle school programs and authored, published, and presented on topics ranging from Neuroscience to standardized testing to STEM education to Catholic education. Jennifer is an adjunct professor at the University of Portland and serves as a member of the Oregon Cognia Advisory Committee. She and her husband, Jeff, have two children, who both attended Valley Catholic School.
Sarah Gram joins the Valley Catholic community as the 6th grade religion teacher and middle school choir assistant. Sarah attended Valley Catholic K-12, graduating from VCHS in 2017. During her time on the VCS campus she took piano and vocal lessons, while participating in the school choir. In middle school, she was selected to participate in the Oregon Music Education Association (OMEA) All-State Conference.
After high school, she continued her education at Oregon State University where she pursued a bachelor’s degree in English. Outside of the classroom, Sarah enjoys reading, playing volleyball, volunteering, and attending trivia night with her friends. She is so excited and thankful to return to the Valley Catholic community....
Religion Department Chair | Nicholas Hegwood has taught at Valley Catholic since 2008. He currently teaches eighth-grade religion, and is the Director of Community engagement. Nicholas is a graduate of Beaverton High School and Portland State University and has a strong background in history, religion and archaeology. He is truly passionate about his subject and his faith. In 2012, his colleagues recognized his contributions to Valley Catholic with the Middle School Spirit Award.
Outside of school Nicholas enjoys spending time with his family and friends. He has a passion for sports of all kinds, especially football and basketball. He truly believes that Valley is a second home and loves being a part of this community.
Director of Design Thinking | Melissa Iserson is the Director of Design Thinking, the STEM Department Chair and teaches math and STEM classes. She graduated from Marquette University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and spent time working for a global management and technology consulting company prior to pursuing her teaching career. After building her technology background, Melissa earned a Master’s degree in teaching at University of Portland. She is a passionate teacher who enjoys working with students of all ages. Melissa is a Digital Citizenship Certified educator by Common Sense Media’s Digital Citizenship program. Outside of teaching, Melissa enjoys running, hiking, traveling, camping, spending time with her family and friends, and exploring the Pacific Northwest.
Math | Kipp Johnson has taught mathematics at Valley Catholic since 1986, and is the chairman of the math department. His current assignments are AP Calculus I, AP Calculus II, Accelerated PreCalculus, and Honors 7th Grade math. Kipp earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Princeton, a master’s in mathematics from Portland State, and a master’s in theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. His hobbies are doing the New York Times crossword puzzle (best Saturday time: 15 minutes) and playing the piano (and still, after 60 years, working on Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in E flat minor).
Digital Art | Yin-Fang Liao joined VCMS in 2019 and teaches Digital Arts and Stop Motion. After graduating from Fu-Jen Catholic University in Taiwan with a BFA in Graphic Design, she moved to the United States to pursue her MFA degree in Computer Art/Animation at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Her passion for computer animation led her through over 15 years of production experience in the film industry involved in Visual Effects Compositing, 3D Layout, and Character Animation in various major movie productions: the Laika films “The Boxtrolls,” “ParaNorman,” and “Coraline;” Blue Sky Studios film “Robots;” and Big Idea Productions’ Veggie Tales. Wanting to give back, she earned her Career Technical Education License with an endorsement in Media Arts through Portland Community College. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends as well as traveling....
PE Department Chair | Kara Moore teaches physical education and health. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky, and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Concordia University in Portland, Or. While attending Bellarmine, she played for four years on the softball team and her senior year was voted the conference player of the year. She finds joy in teaching middle school students and appreciates their enthusiasm, energy, and thirst for knowledge. While not teaching, she enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, camping, and playing just about any sport. She also enjoys visiting her family in her hometown of Owensboro, Kentucky.
VCMS Counselor | Alyse Rostamizadeh, MSEd, is an elementary and middle school teacher, author and educational consultant, known for her inclusive practices that build learning communities where children thrive. Her ability to foster relationships with young learners adds to her strong theoretical background in neuroscience and learning. She whole-heartedly believes that all children can learn. She has worked in a variety of educational settings in both private and public schools and from early childhood through higher education. She is well-known for her implementation of Viconic Language Methods™ with learners, which allows marginalized students to be a part of the classroom community. She is the co-author with Dr. Ellyn Arwood of Neuro-Viconic Education....