Our Team

Faculty

Jimelle Carlson

Jimelle Carlson

Founder / Program Director

Hello, my name is Jimelle Carlson, and I have the honor of being the Program Director for Foundations Cognitive Schools. As a teen, I volunteered in a special education classroom, and I knew instantly that my mission in life was to work with at-risk youth and to help find solutions for struggling students who so often fall through the cracks. At Foundations Cognitive Schools, our vision has been to develop a program for children that offers hope, and helps students grow to their full potential. Our goal is to move beyond the standards of traditional special education, and to instead focus on cognitive development and the psychology that produces long-term change in the brain. As a result, we have watched student after student experience growth, and in-turn, find joy and self-confidence that they previously did not think was possible. I feel blessed beyond measure to get to spend my days doing what I love and being part of our students’ growth journey.

I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Arizona State University, and am approaching completion of a Master of Education: Inclusive Learning, Special Education, and Universal Design at the University of San Diego. I am a certified Arrowsmith Cognitive Teacher, and have also received certification in TCU’s Trust-Based Relational Intervention Program, Moyer’s Learning Systems, and the Advanced Brain Technologies Listening Program. Most recently, I have completed the certification process to receive my license as a Tomatis Practitioner.

My husband, Ed, and I have six wonderful children between us – three boys and three girls – and two precious grandchildren. We also have a goofy German Shepherd, and two cats (who think they are dogs), so our house is definitely full of love and laughter. We are very involved at our church, where I assist the tech team, my husband plays guitar, and two of our daughters sing on the worship team.

One of my favorite quotes is, “We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes.”  – Charles R. Swindoll

Geri Hamada

Geri Hamada

Assistant Program Director / Lead Teacher

Hi, my name is Geri Hamada and this is my fifth year working at Foundations. I hold a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from Cal State Fullerton with a minor in Child Development. I have also received certification in TCU’s Trust-Based Relational Intervention Program. Although I did not teach in a formal setting while raising my five children, I did experience teaching all levels through homeschooling elementary to high school.  I have a heart for children with learning challenges and gained valuable experience over the last 20 years that I have incorporated into my classroom. 

Teaching has been my life long passion and I feel so blessed to be part of the Foundations team. Over the years, I have witnessed amazing growth in each of our students.  It is such a joy to watch their excitement as they conquer difficult programs and succeed where they once struggled. I truly enjoy encouraging them each day and helping them become the best they can be. 

In my spare time I enjoy reading, hiking, playing tennis with my husband and spending time with my family and our dog Leo. 

One of my favorite Bible verses is from Isaiah 40:31 “but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Val Westover

Michelle Krugh

Admissions Director

My name is Michelle Krugh, and I have had the privilege of being a part of Foundations for the past 6 years. I completed my Bachelors in Liberal Studies from the Master’s College along with a Masters in Marriage, Family & Child Counseling from Hope International.

As Admissions Director, I have the opportunity to meet with potential parents to explore how Foundations might be a solution to their child’s learning challenges. It is such an honor to learn about each student’s unique journey and hear their stories of overcoming adversity.

In addition, I host the Foundations monthly coffee meetings for parents. My JOY is to hear the shared stories from our parents who have seen growth and change in their child. I am always so encouraged by our parents in their dedication and commitment to their child and how the changes they have experienced in their son/daughter has affected their entire family.

In my free time, I love to run, walk, and hike with my husband and 4 kids. I enjoy being outside on the beach trail or in the hills, seeing the beauty of God’s creation.

My favorite Bible verse, which gives me hope and encouragement, is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” This verse reminds me daily, that in my weakness HE is strong. I know with hard work, discipline and the Lord working through me, I can accomplish all that He has in store for me, as a wife, as a mom, in my work and in my play. Thankful for words of truth that teach about growth and I desire to extend this hope to others.

Kristi Lancer

Kristi Lancer

Administrative and Student Services

Hello, my name is Kristi Lancer, and I have been working in administrative and student services for the past 10 years. I graduated from Cal State University Long Beach with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and I love to see how the power of positive thoughts can affect our lives in wonderful ways! I am thrilled to be part of the Foundations team, and to have the opportunity to work with students who struggle with learning challenges. It brings me great joy to know that our school doesn’t just help our students “cope” with learning challenges, but actually helps to heal their brain! My favorite part of the day is sitting with the students during lunch. I love to hear their conversations and listen to the creative ways they think. They inspire me all the time!

In my free time, I enjoy participating in outreach events with my church, and have had some incredible experiences on missions trips to Cuba and Colombia! During the weekends, my husband and I love to E-bike with our friends, go to the beach, surf, waterski, snow ski and hang out with our Golden Retriever, Roxy. We have two wonderful grown boys, ages 21 and 23.

One of my favorite bible verses is from Proverb 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.”

Danielle Chambers

Danielle Chambers

Elementary Teacher

Hello, my name is Danielle Chambers, and I have been blessed to work at Foundations for the past five years. I received my Bachelor’s in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Psychology at Azusa Pacific University. I am also certified in TCU’s Trust-Based Relational Intervention Program.

One of the greatest joys of working with Foundations students is watching their self-esteem grow as they persevere and have success in areas where they previously struggled. It is so beautiful to see the students have more confidence and believe in themselves. I am also blessed to remind them of how loved, smart, and wonderfully created they are.

In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, going to the beach, and doing yoga.

A bible verse that means a lot to me is Isaiah 43:2, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

Raechel Costello

Elementary Teacher

My name is Raechel Costello and I have 9 years of experience teaching and supporting students from Pre-K to Sixth grade. I graduated from Rider University in New Jersey with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education in 2012. From there, I have worked in private preschools, public schools, and was most recently a private pod teacher in California. I hold a valid Elementary K-6 Teacher Certification. Interacting with students and watching them grow in academic confidence is what I enjoy the most about working in education. 

In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my husband and dog at the beach or at the park. I also like to cook, read, and explore local theme parks. 

A quote that has inspired me is one from Walt Disney: “Our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children.”

Kristen Matson

Junior High & High School Teacher

My name is Kristen Matson and I am beyond excited to be joining the Foundations family this year. I hold a Multiple Subject Teaching credential as well as single subject credentials in English and Music Education from Azusa Pacific University. I have had the pleasure of working in the public school system and have taught almost every grade level in elementary and middle school. I have also owned my own private tutoring business for the past ten years and have seen the struggle many students have. It is one of the great joys of my life to see a student reach that, “Ah Ha,” moment when a concept finally clicks!

In my spare time, I love to spend time at the beach, hike the beautiful trails in the area, and lead worship at my church. I have two amazing children who are 23 and 20 and away at college. I also have a wonderful dog named Megan who keeps me on my toes!

My favorite Bible verse is Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Tasha Querantes

Junior High & High School Teacher

Hello, my name is Tasha Querantes and I have worked in private school education for the past four years, both at Saddleback Valley Christian School and Fairmont Private Schools. I have also worked in the healthcare field as an educator and project manager for a non-profit organization. I worked with developing curriculum and engaging healthcare professionals to partner together. Through this experience, I discovered my joy for teaching and inspiring students and healthcare professionals to reach their goals.
 
I graduated from Cal State Fullerton with a Masters in Business Administration. I am married and have two high-schoolers and a very energetic dog. In my spare time, I enjoy taking spin classes, traveling, and being with family and friends. I am very excited to be a part of the Foundations team, and to help encourage students to always strive to do their best.
 
My favorite Bible verse is John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Jennifer Winfield

Assistant Teacher

Hi! My name is Jennifer Winfield. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts with a minor in Psychology, a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, and certification in the Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment Program and Learning Potential Assessment Device. All are from California Lutheran University.

By the time I was eight years old, I knew I wanted to be a teacher, and that desire has never changed. After college, I taught for several years in a special education program that implemented some cognitive exercises, similar to Foundations. Later, I homeschooled my son and daughter from preschool through high school graduation. Most recently, I volunteered as a first grade teacher’s aide in the Irvine Unified School District.

This is my first year at Foundations, and I am excited to be part of the team! The ability of the human brain to adapt, and the different ways people learn fascinate me. I am passionate about helping children reach their full potential, and I look forward to seeing the students’ growth day by day.

In my free time I enjoy reading books, chatting with friends while sipping tea, watching movies with my husband, hanging out with my adult children, and riding roller coasters whenever I get the chance!

“… a person’s performance rarely reflects that person’s potential… intelligence and competence are much more modifiable than we often give them credit for being.”  –  Don’t Accept Me As I Am by Feuerstein, Rand and Rynders

Madison Koelliker

Assistant Teacher

Hello! My name is Madison Koelliker. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Brigham Young University. That is also where I received my Professional Educator License and my endorsement for teaching English as a second language. 

I have taught multiple grade levels, including kindergarten, fifth grade and sixth grade, and have tutored all grades in between. I have always loved working with kids, and I especially love seeing the excitement on their face when they finally accomplish something that they have been working so hard on. For this reason and many others, I am excited to be a part of the Foundations team and to help children grow and see their true potential. 

In my free time I love cycling, swimming, reading and working on all my art projects and DIYs. I also love spending time with my family! 

My favorite bible verse is 1 Corinthians 16:14 “Let all that you do be done in love.”

Elizabeth Muller

Elizabeth Muller

Assistant Teacher

My name is Elizabeth Muller. I hold a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Concordia University Irvine, and I plan on completing a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy with a concentration in trauma. I have recently completed certification in TCU’s Trust-Based Relational Intervention Program.

I love working with students and have led a small group of high school girls for the past four years. It’s such a joy to be part of the Foundations team because we get to encourage students as they learn new concepts and grow in self-confidence. It’s so special to care for and build connections with these students!

In my free time, I enjoy camping, surfing, and sewing. I also love spending a morning reading in a coffee shop, especially because I used to be a barista!

A verse that I love is Isaiah 43:19, “I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and streams in the desert.”

Annie Kosor

Assistant Teacher

My name is Annie Kosor, and this is my first year working at Foundations! I’ve previously taught both middle and high school. I have a single subject teaching credential from Cal State Long Beach. I’ve also recently worked as a writing tutor. I love encouraging students to do their best and watching them grow and learn as they achieve personal success! 

My husband and I have three children. One in high school, one in middle school, and in elementary school. Throughout the years we’ve enjoyed being involved in our church through volunteer work and building friendships within our community. 

In my free time I enjoy taking Zumba classes, walking, reading on a beautiful beach, and spending time with my family and friends. 

One of my favorite quotes is “We do not need guns and bombs to bring peace, we need love and compassion.”  – Mother Teresa

Kit VanRensselaer

Kit Van Rensselaer

Teacher’s Aide

Hi my name is Kit Van Rensselaer. This is my second year working for Foundations Cognitive Schools. Before joining the Foundations team, I worked for Saddleback Valley Christian School for several years. I also worked as a nanny for 8 years while I was attending nursing school at Saddleback College.       

What I enjoy most about working with Foundations students is being able to encourage them to overcome their challenges and watching them gain confidence through the process.    

I’ve been married for 26 years and have two daughters – one is in high school and the other is in junior high. We love to be at the beach and in the ocean as much as possible.  We also love to camp and go on road trips. We recently adopted a two year old Labrador named Toby. He needed a new home and now he goes everywhere with us!  We love doing life with each other and with Jesus!        

One of my favorite verses from the Bible is,  “What no one ever saw or heard, what no one ever thought could happen, is the very thing God prepared for those who love him.”  ‭‭- 1 Corinthians‬ ‭2:9

Logan Cranford

Teacher’s Aide

Hello, my name is Logan Cranford. This is my third year working for Foundations Cognitive Schools. Prior to Foundations, I was a summer camp counselor at Saddleback Valley Christian School, and I was an intern at Crossline Church. I am currently in the process of completing my BA at Vanguard University.

What I love about Foundations is watching each student grow over the course of the school year, and the relationships I get to develop with our students.  

In my free time, I enjoy everything creative – I write and record music, I am on the dance team at Vanguard University, I perform in musicals, and I am on the worship team at my church.       

My favorite bible verse is Ephesians 2:8, “For it is by grace you have been saved.”