South Sacramento Independent Study Program


SAVA Charter School South Sacramento – SIM Center


SAVA Principal:
Morri Elliott

SAVA Vice Principal:
Tara Jones

6207 Logan Street, Suite 900
Sacramento, CA 95824
P: 916-286-1940
F: 916-379-9606


SAVA Charter School South Sacramento – SIM Center Staff

South Sacramento Charter School

Name: Mike Mendoza
Location: SAVA Charter School South Sacramento: George Sim Center
Position:  Independent Study Teacher – Multiple Subjects; Middle School

Education: B.A., in Liberal Studies from CSU Northridge, Multiple-Subject Teaching Credential from CSU Northridge

About Me:  I received my B.A., in Liberal Studies and my Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from CSU Northridge and began teaching at SAVA in December of 2013. Prior to my time at CSU Northridge, I attended Mt. San Antonio Community College where I pole vaulted for two years and reached a height of 13’6”. After graduation I moved to the Sacramento area and have spent my time since then helping students achieve their goals. On top of teaching, I coach high school pole vault and enjoy integrating sports and academics.

Interests:  I have been happily married since 2007 to my wife, Carrie. During my spare time I enjoy watching and playing sports (especially hockey!). On March 1st, 2014 I ran my first Half Marathon and plan to stay active in the Sacramento running scene for years to come.


Name: Christina Nelson
Location: SAVA Charter School South Sacramento: George Sim Center
Position:  Independent Study Teacher – Multiple Subjects; Enrollment Specialist

Education: BA in Psychology and Social Behavior from UC Irvine, Multiple-Subject Teaching Credential from CSU Northridge

About me:  My name is Christina Nelson and I am so excited to be part of the SAVA Family. I am originally from the Sacramento Area and moved down to Southern California for college. I graduated in 2007 from UC Irvine with a BA in Psychology and Social Behavior. Soon after, I started volunteering in a classroom and it was then, that I discovered my passion for teaching! I received a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential in 2010 from CSU Northridge. Following that, I was an administrator for several years at a learning center and worked with students from kindergarten to twelfth grade. One of the reasons I joined SAVA, was that it gives me the opportunity to be able to work with my student’s one on one and provide them the attention they deserve.

Interests:  In my spare time, I love to spend time with my husband Greg of 5 years Greg, and my Shih-Tzu Molly. When I am not working, I travel as much as I can and am always planning my next trip! At home, you will usually find me reading or watching the San Francisco Giants and the 49’ers!!

Name: Daniel Cacho
Location: SAVA Charter School South Sacramento: George Sim Center
Position:  Independent Study Teacher – Multiple Subjects

Education: J.D., M.S.

About me:  Hi. I came to SAVA with professional experiences in various academic programs, primarily in Alternative Education where I taught in public and private classroom and charter settings, creative teaching hybrid models for GED, ESL, Adult Learners, and Independent Study. My experiences have also resulted in Adjunct Faculty teaching, Spanish mentoring, Educational Administration, and Correctional Education.

I enjoy motivating and working with credit recovery and “promise” students, juveniles or adults who are part of the criminal justice system, either probation or parole, and other high risk offenders in community-based or transitional reintegration programs to ensure they reach their personal, academic, and professional goals for success. I believe every student can learn and achieve their desires and as a result set high expectations to ensure their preparation and focus toward a goal of higher education in the future. I have been very fortunate to have worked with so many wonderful students and to be a small part of their amazing journey.

Interests:  I enjoy spending time with family, test preparation strategies, conducting research, watching movies, taking pictures, criminal justice and law related matters, and traveling, particularly to new places.

Name: Elizabeth Losson
Location: SAVA Charter School South Sacramento: George Sim Center
Position: Para Educator

Education: Currently enrolled in Sacramento City College pursuing a degree in Nursing

About Me: I have been a para-educator at SAVA since the fall of 2016. I work in the high school room of Sim Center, and help students with their math and other homework needs. I love working at SAVA because I enjoy the close atmosphere and special relationships we build with the students. Nothing is more exciting for me than seeing a student power through a difficult problem, and realizing that they can do anything that they put their mind to.

Interests: I enjoy spending time with my friends and family, doing arts and crafts, learning new things, hiking, and playing with my dog, Athena.


Name: Kyle Castleman
Location: SAVA Charter School South Sacramento: George Sim Center
Position:  Independent Study Teacher – Multiple Subjects

Education: BS Business, MS Teaching Credential

About Me: Mr. Castleman started at SAVA in January of 2015. He attended CSUS for both his degree and credential. He also grew up in North Sacramento. He enjoys teaching both academic and life skills.

Interests: He loves the outdoors and is always up to something active.

Name: Nathan Lee
Location: SAVA Charter School South Sacramento: George Sim Center
Position:  Independent Study Teacher – Multiple Subjects; Social Science Specialist

Education: BA in Social Science, CSU Sacramento; Single Subject Credential in Social Science, CSU Sacramento

About Me: Hello! In 2016 I returned to SAVA as a Teacher/Social Science Specialist. I had previously worked at SAVA for 2 years as a Para Educator before leaving to earn my teaching credential, and I couldn’t be happier to be back! I love teaching at SAVA because it allows staff and students to build strong and meaningful relationships. At SAVA we strive to achieve the goal of providing a rich education for our students and also preparing them for life after high school.

Interests: Outside of school I enjoy spending time with my beautiful girlfriend, Brenda, and our *kids* (dogs), Tinkerbell and Oliver. When we’re not watching Netflix we like to get out of the house for a hike or a weekend adventure or the occasional baseball game (GO GIANTS!!!). I am a big sports fan, I love watching or playing anything! A few nights a week I like to pretend I’m an athlete and play slow-pitch softball.

Name: Nary Sonesouphab
Location: SAVA Charter School South Sacramento: George Sim Center
Position: Para-Educator

Education: AA Psychology, AA Criminal Justice (In Progress)

About Me: I’m originally from Colorado but have lived in California for the majority of my life. I sometimes forget that I’m not actually from here… Growing up being the eldest of five children and working in settings revolved around youth, has played a role in my desire to work with such. I actually used to attend SAVA, so it’s a pleasure to be back here and see how much this school has expanded and thrived. SAVA has immensely impacted my life, so to be on the opposite side of that now, impacting the lives of the students here, is an honor and pleasure.

Interests: I enjoy spending time with friends, family and any dog I come into contact with, coffee, watching San Francisco Giants games (preferably live at the ballpark!), going to the beach, exercising, sleeping, reading, and roadtrips!

Name: Jason Wasserman
Location: SAVA Charter School South Sacramento: George Sim Center
Position: Independent Study Teacher – Multiple Subjects

Education: BA Psychology, Humboldt State University. MS Recreation Administration, California State University Sacramento.

About Me: My first job as a teacher was at Highlands High School where I taught Reading and Freshman English and coached soccer. In the summer time I worked as a whitewater river guide. I moved to San Francisco for several years where I worked primarily as a Program Director at a community center where I designed youth and family programs in addition to teen travel camps. Eventually life brought me back to Sacramento where started teaching again at Sacramento Job Corps before joining the team at SAVA in the fall of 2016, a move I could not be happier about.

Interests: I enjoy family time, nature, gardening, playing and watching sports.


Name: Ekaterina Kostyuk
Location: SAVA Charter School South Sacramento: George Sim Center
Position: Site Manager

Education: B.S. in Business Management from CSU Sacramento

About Me: I joined the SAVA family in January of 2013 and I am currently an site manager for all SAVA sites. In May of 2013 I graduated from California State University, Sacramento with a B.S., in Business Management. I love to provide support to SAVA staff, parents, and students.

Interests: Traveling, being outdoors and spend time with my family.

Name: Rebecca Duke
Location: SAVA Charter School South Sacramento: George Sim Center
Position:  Independent Study Teacher – Multiple Subjects

Education: B.A., in Philosophy from CSU Sacramento, Single-Subject Teaching Credential from Fortune School of Education

About Me:  I began teaching at SAVA in 2011. I hold a BA in Philosophy, a Single Subject Teaching Credential in English and I’m also NCLB qualified to teach social science. Encouraging students to read and think critically in an independent study school setting is my dream job (tied with being a world-famous philosopher and author).

Interests: In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family and getting as much outdoor exercise as possible.

Julia.JonesName: Julia Jones
Location: SAVA Charter School South Sacramento: George Sim Center
Position: Middle School Para Educator

About Me: I will be graduating from Sacramento State and going towards my Teaching Credential next year.
I am from Sacramento and have been working with kids for more than five years. I love working with students and I am very excited to finish school and to be closer to reaching my ultimate goal, which is to become a teacher.

Interests: I love spending time with my family, friends, and especially my chihuahua, Bruiser.


Name: Sarah Sons
Location: SAVA Charter School South Sacramento: George Sim Center
Position: Independent Study Teacher – Middle School ELA

Education: BS in Psychology and working towards my MA in Education!

About me: I have been teaching at SAVA since 2015. This is my first teaching job, and I couldn’t love it more! The students at SAVA are so amazing, and I love being able to have the opportunity to guide and teach them every day. I am working towards building a Theatre program here at SAVA to give students the opportunity to explore the arts!

Interests: I enjoy spending time with my husband and friends. Often we like to take hikes or go camping, many times with our golden retriever Ollie. I love to travel, read, and dabble in photography from time to time.

Name: Helen Deng
Location: SAVA Charter School South Sacramento: George Sim Center
Position:  Independent Study Teacher – Multiple Subjects

Education: BA in English Literature from UC Berkeley, Multiple-Subject Teaching Credential from Cal State Teach.

About Me: Hello, I’m Helen and I am a part of the high school teaching cohort. I was born in Korea but moved to the states and raised in southern California. One of the things that really drives my passion for teaching is my experience in learning a new language in a new country. I had wonderful teachers who invested in me to strive for my goals and dreams. I decided to pursue teaching, not just as a career, but as my passion. Which led me to be part of this wonderful community at SAVA. I work with the best staff who inspire me and the best kids who teach me new things every day.

Interests: I love trying new things to eat! I enjoy a nice cup of coffee at trendy hipster cafes. Also, I like exploring new places to eat with my husband Caleb, son Isaac, and dog Bradley.