Staff Directory

Laura Fulmer- Director, Credentialed Teacher

Laura’s background includes working as a professional photographer, managing a large private company and, after the birth of her children, working in public school support positions. Before returning to school herself to earn her teaching credential in 1997, Laura worked as a campus intramural coach, a classroom aide, a school librarian, a reading instructor and an office manager for the Ventura Unified School District. During those same years, Laura also served as PTA president, both at the school and district levels.

The juncture of educator and parent as co-contributors to a student’s education has been central to her journey into the charter movement. After receiving her credential in 1998, Laura taught grades 6, 7 and 8 for the Ojai Unified School District. In 2003, she accepted the leadership of Valley Oak Charter’s fledging homeschool program. Having a background in business and first-hand experience with many aspects of public education has helped Laura to understand, value and support all facets of the VOC program, not just the school’s administration. Laura has her BA in English Literature, a clear Multiple Subject Credential and a CLAD certification.

Craig Walker- Assistant Director, Credentialed Teacher

Craig has taught 38 years in public high schools and junior high schools. His subjects taught include history, English, computer studies, government, economics, and student council. He also served as the student activities director at Nordhoff High School, a California Mentor Teacher in the Ojai Unified School District, and teacher-in-charge at Chaparral continuation school. He is on the Board of the Ojai Valley Museum. For five years, he was president and director of the Ojai Federation of Teachers.

Nikki Sage- Administrative Assistant

Nikki is a long-time resident of Ojai, graduating from Nordhoff High School. She worked as a teacher's assistant at Noah’s Ark Preschool for five years and has been involved in the sports scene in Ojai for many years. She is currently Vice President and League Administrator for the Ojai Valley Girls Softball Association. Nikki and her family enjoy the outdoors, either on horseback or hiking with their dog.

Laurie Zatkowsky- Programming Coordinator, Credentialed Teacher

In addition to her teaching credentials, Laurie has a B.F.A. in Drawing/Painting and a life-long interest in the visual arts. She trained for five years as a docent with the Art Trek Program. This background in creative projects has helped her to create a variety of onsite classes and hands-on open time experiences for the students at VOC. Before her teaching career, Laurie was involved in anti-poverty/education programs, including Head Start Preschools in Santa Barbara County and parent cooperative preschools in Ventura and Ojai. Outside of school, she sings with the Ojai Madrigal Singers.

Brice Pace- Supporting Teacher

Brice has degrees in Arts and Letters and Elementary Education. He has taught for 33 years in both self-contained and open-classroom environments at the primary and intermediate grade levels. He has a clear Multiple Subject Credential and a High School Social Studies Credential. Brice also brings to his P.E. classes many years of coaching experience. He has 19 years of experience coaching soccer in middle school and high school, 16 years coaching middle school basketball and seven years teaching tennis to adults and students.

Kara Lakes- Credentialed Supervising Teacher

Kara has a background in elementary education, with a specialty in music. She was trained in a music education program that teaches appreciation and theory, as well as important social skills, through a series of singing games. She is an “Artist in Residence” for the children’s music education organization, BRAVO!, offered through the Ojai Music Festival. She teaches singing in the public schools as part of this program. She sings with the Ojai Madrigal Singers.

Cynthia Garcia-Doane- Credentialed Supervising Teacher voc8@valleyoakcharter.A native of Ventura County, Cynthia has been a long-time local educator for more than 30 years working in classrooms from TK-8 education in addition to 15 years at Ventura Community College.

One of the highlights of her teaching career includes being named California Teacher of the Year in 1998 by the California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE). Her work in incorporating culture into a high quality, standards-based curriculum, weaving in the arts is what she believes brought her this honor. She is also a National Board Certified Teacher and has done extensive consultant work for both the California Teacher’s Association (CTA) and West Ed (a non-profit research, development and services agency.) She has served as the co-director for the University of CA Math Project Summer Institute (K-12) and worked closely with the NSF funded Mathematics Educational Equity project based out of the University of CA, Santa Barbara for nine years as a project leader. In that project as project leader, she traveled with a project team that trained school district staff who work with students from diverse communities, assisting teachers in evaluating their own and district practices for biases, either intentional or unintentional and other barriers that may be excluding or hindering students from accessing their educational opportunities fully, while also modeling and training teachers in hands-on, cooperative techniques to better facilitate student participation and understanding. In addition, she is a University of CA President’s Grant recipient that allowed her to conduct a teacher action research project exploring hands-on techniques to augment and enhance student mathematics vocabulary and understanding. In addition to working as a bilingual classroom teacher for many years at different grade levels, Cynthia has worked in developing curriculum for many different program projects such as the Migrant Program, Saturday School, Summer School, & Intercession Classes. These projects included developing a technology-based literacy lab, Math/Science/& Computer Camp and many other programs to develop language (both speaking and writing) using art, science and other high interest topics.

Magda Perkins - Credentialed Supervising Teacher

Magda taught mathematics, AVID and computer studies at Matilija Junior High School for

30 years. In addition to teaching, she was a successful volleyball coach for the Lady Eagles,

served as a primary administrator and coach for the Ojai elementary and junior high

annual “Math Super Bowl” and “MathCounts” competitions; and served as a Mentor

Teacher in the Ojai Unified School District. Her proudest achievement is raising three sons

who inherited her strong math skills and love of science. When she is not teaching she

enjoys zipping around Ojai on her new e-bike.

Barbara Amador - Supervising Teacher/Administrative Intern

Barbara has been a part of the Valley Oak Charter community since 2004 as both a teacher and a homeschooling parent. She has a B.S. in Biological Science and is pursuing her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and currently working as an intern for VOC. Barbara taught Biology and Physical Science at Santa Paula High School and has always had a passion for education.

Nancy Welter- Supporting Teacher

Nancy has worked in the field of education for 30 years. She has a B.S. in Biological Science and a Masters of Education in Reading. Having a Single Subject Credential in Science and Math and a Multiple Subject Credential has afforded her the opportunity to teach at the elementary, middle school and high school levels focusing on instruction in the areas of science, math and reading. For 20 years, she was employed by OUSD teaching life science, physical science and pre-algebra at Matilija Junior High. Ojai has been her home since 1990. She enjoys the active outdoor lifestyle it affords her family and has been involved as a leader in 4-H and Boy Scouts. She enjoys sharing the wonders of the natural world with children, helping them develop the skills of careful observation and thoughtful imagination. Her time spent outdoors often involves cycling, hiking, back packing, gardening and ocean sports.