Mr. Giovanni Paolo Romeo (Assistant Dean of Instruction; IB Coordinator) was born in Rutland, Vermont. He is a Boston Red Sox baseball fan, Long Trail thru-hiker, and world traveler. Having earned his BA in history, political science, and classical studies at Elmira College in Upstate New York, Mr. Romeo completed a MA in modern European history at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. Mr. Romeo has been an educator in New York City, Mungyeong, South Korea, Abu Dhabi, and Qingdao, China before joining Navajo Preparatory School here in Farmington, New Mexico. He has taught English, History, Geography, and the Theory of Knowledge before becoming an IB Coordinator. He is conversational in Korean and enjoys Italian cooking, as well as Ethiopian and Turkish coffees.
Group 1- Language and Literature
Mrs. Myrna Mendoza (IB Language and Literature Y1; English 10) is originally from Cebu, Philippines. She received her Bachelor of Secondary Education at St. Theresa’s College, her Master of Arts in Literature in University of San Carlos and her Master of Science in Special Education and Doctor of Education in English Language Teaching in the same school which is Cebu Normal University. She is also certified in English as a Second Language (ESL). She has been teaching at Navajo Prep since 2014 as a Language and Literature teacher.
Mr. John Russell (English 9; English 10) grew up eating lobster and swatting mosquitos on the coast of Maine. After high school, he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Ohio at Oberlin College, where he studied Comparative Literature and Creative Writing, minoring in French. After college, he joined the Peace Corps and spent two years teaching English in Mongolia. There, he met and married his wife Kaede, a fellow Peace Corps volunteer who grew up in Japan, Idaho, and California. After returning to the States, Mr. Russell obtained a Master of Arts in Teaching from Marian University in Indiana. In addition to Mongolia and Indiana, he has lived and taught in California, Pennsylvania, and, most recently, back home in Maine. In 2021, his wife was hired as a labor and delivery nurse at Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock, and they relocated to Farmington where they live with their two children, Ronan and Magnolia, and two cats, Leila and Hades. When he’s not nerding out over literature, Mr. Russell enjoys writing, cooking, hiking, beekeeping, and facilitating his children’s stuffed-animal-related fantasies.
Mrs. Cheryl Wolfe (IB Language & Literature Y1, Y2; Theory of Knowledge; Dual Credit Psychology) Mrs. Wolfe was born in Houston, Texas. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English at Oklahoma Panhandle State University and her Master of Arts in Teaching (English) and her Graduate Certificate in Psychology from Western New Mexico University. During the school year, she teaches IB English A: Language and Literature II, Theory of Knowledge and Dual Enrollment Psychology. She is an intense fan of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings sagas. She is partial to drinking tea, walking daily and growing flowers.
Group 2- Language Acquisition
Mr. Desmon Tippeconnie (Dine Language & Culture I, II; Traditional Material Arts; UNM Dual Credit) is Tsi’naajinii born for the Tábąąhí. His maternal grandfathers are Bit’ahnii and his paternal grandfathers are Kinyaa’áanii and is from Farmington, New Mexico. He received his Associate of Arts Degree in Native Studies at San Juan College in 2019 and his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Native American and Indigenous Studies at Fort Lewis College in 2021. Desmon has obtained his Level I licensure with the Division of Diné Education in Window Rock, Arizona and has been teaching Diné Language and Culture classes at Navajo Preparatory School since the Spring of 2022. Prior to Navajo Prep, Desmon has worked at San Juan College as a Navajo Language tutor from 2013 to 2021 and worked with Dine language educators, instructors, and students in gaining proficiency and teaching experience with the language.
Mr. Hiroshi Iwana (IB Spanish Ab Initio Y1, Y2; Spanish I,II; Japanese) is a Spanish and Japanese teacher. He has been teaching at Navajo Prep School for ten years. He loves Navajo Prep School and he loves teaching Spanish and Japanese language and culture. He uses many tools and methods through activities and actions. He is in charge of the Japan Club. He teachers the Japanese culture and food cooking through the classroom and the club activities. He also is the international tour leader. He has taken the NPS to Costa Rica and Japan. He is mentally still young.
Mrs. Kim Becenti (Dine Language & Culture II, IV) is Navajo Language teacher & originally from Pinon, Az. She is a loving mother to 2 sons and 5 daughters. She enjoys traveling and crafting with her family. She greets all her students with “Shiyazhí” and encourages them to have fun while they learn Navajo language with her.
Mr. Dustin Begay (Dine Language & Culture III, IV) is Bit’ahnii and born for the Tó’aheedlíinii. His maternal grandfathers are Nát’oh Dine’é Táchii’nii and his paternal grandfathers are Hashk’ąąhadzohí and from Rock Point, Arizona. He has worked as a Navajo teacher for years teaching grade levels Kindergarten through High School. Dustin has obtained his level I licensure with the Division of Diné Education in Window Rock, Arizona, and has joined our Diné Language educators this Fall 2022. Prior to Navajo Prep, Dustin had worked for Red Mesa School District as a Navajo Language and Culture teacher. Dustin is also a practitioner of the Japanese Martial of Judo as well as taken studies in Polynesian Culture, Language and Dances.
Group 3- Individuals and Societies
Mrs. Lesley (Duffus) Tohtsoni (IB History of the Americas Y1, Y2) is a life-long educator at Navajo Preparatory School, where she has taught grades 9th-12th. Since 1996, Lesley has been committed to impacting student learning and achievement at Navajo Prep. She has served as a class sponsor, is an Advanced Reading Gifted and Talented Instructor and an active member of the School Improvement Team. Lesley was instrumental in Navajo Prep’s authorization as an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School. Currently, Lesley is an US History (HOTA) Instructor for the IB Diploma Program at NPS. Lesley earned her Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from New Mexico Highlands University. Lesley is originally from State College, Pennsylvania and taught at an international school in Kenya, Africa prior to working at Navajo Prep. Lesley is happily married to her husband John, an educator and school administrator; together they enjoy watching college football and going to George Strait concerts.
Mrs. Denise Jensen (Navajo History/Government; Foundations of Dine; Navajo Culture Dual Credit) is Tó’aheedlíinii, born for Mą’iideeshgiizhnii. Her maternal grandfathers are of the Ta’neeszahnii clan and paternal grandfathers are Kinyaa’áanii. She grew up in Chinle, Arizona and originally comes from Canyon Del Muerto. Mrs. Jensen began her teaching career at Navajo Prep in the Fall of 2006. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education from Arizona State University and Master’s Degree in Bilingual/Multicultural Education from Northern Arizona University. She teaches Navajo Culture as a Dual Credit class for San Juan College, Foundations of Diné Teachings and Navajo History & Government. In addition to being a classroom teacher, Mrs. Jensen is a Gifted and Talented instructor for the Navajo Prep Naat’áanii Youth Council and coordinator for the Freshman Academy academic support program.
Mr. Larry Sorensen (NM History; US Government) enjoys teaching New Mexico History and U.S. Government. He grew up in Indiana, but has been teaching in the four corners area for over 40 years. He is a Purdue graduate and avid Boilermaker football and basketball fan. He enjoys fishing and gardening, and his Grandchildren are the center of his universe. His wife Barbara is from Sweetwater and they have 5 children and 6 Grandchildren.
Mr. Erik Wesley (World History; Economics) has lived, worked, or studied on four continents across fourteen nations. He brings with him a deep understanding of world history, cross-cultural contextualization, philosophy, and classics. He has, like Diogenes, always seen himself as a “citizen of the world.” Mr. Wesley can speak fluent German, conversational Mandarin, is literate in Latin and looks forward to studying Dine Bizaad. In addition to teaching, Mr. Wesley holds a coaching license and looks forward to helping broaden the athletic offerings at Navajo Prep. Mr. Wesley’s clans are Norwegian, German, Sami and Ashkenazi. He spent the best years of his boyhood in Montana.
Group 4- Sciences
Mrs. Yolanda Flores (Integrated Science II, IB Chemistry Y1, Y2; Dual Credit Anatomy & Physiology) is originally from the Philippines. She carries with her many years of teaching experience in science. She graduated with the degree Bachelor of Science in Education and Master of Arts in Teaching Science at Saint Louis University, Baguio City Philippines.
Mr. Kevin Keeley (Integrated Science I; IB Environmental Systems & Societies) came to Navajo Preparatory school in 2005. He teaches science classes, currently 9th grade Integrated Science and IB Environmental Systems and Societies. He and his wife Karen have five sons. He loves the out-of-doors, astronomy, gardening, and his grandchildren. He received a BS degree in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from Utah State University and a master’ degree in education from the University of Phoenix.
Ms. Allison Henry (Integrated Science II; IB Biology Y1, Y2) came to Navajo Preparatory School in 2014. She teaches science classes, currently 10th grade Integrated Science and IB Biology. She has 1 son, Nathan, who is a 2021 NPS graduate. She loves coffee, reading, listening to music, and traveling when she gets the chance. She received a BS degree in Biology with a focus in microbiology from University of New Mexico, a BS in Education from the College of Santa Fe and a master’s degree in Special Education from New Mexico Highlands University.
Group 5- Maths
Mr. Ramesh C. Singh (IB Applications & Interpretations I; IB Analysis & Approaches Y1, Y2) came to Navajo Preparatory School in 2022. He is a certified IB DP and MYP facilitator. He teaches IBDP Mathematics (A&A, A&I). He and his wife Jagriti have two daughters. He received BS degree in Engineering from VTU (India). He has teaching license from Arizona State Board of Education. He loves visiting new places and meeting new people.
Mrs. Janet Clafton (Algebra 1; Algebra 2; IB Applications & Interpretations Y1) has been a mathematics teacher at Navajo Prep since 2015. Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics from South Dakota State University and Master’s degree from the University of New Mexico. She is originally from Minnesota.
Mr. Paul Stewart (Geometry; IB Applications & Interpretations Y2) came to Prep in 2018 after retiring from teaching and coaching. He is originally from Alamosa, CO. He teaches Geometry and Math A & I and is the MESA advisor. He and his wife, Linda, have five grown children. His interests are technology, math, reading, and playing Clash of Clans. Mr. Stewart has multiple degrees, the most recent is a law degree specializing in Indian law from Michigan State University.
Group 6- Physical/Health Education, Design, Arts
Mrs. Sabrina Gutierrez (Intro to Art; Advanced Art; IB Visual Arts Y1, Y2; Yearbook) is the Visual Arts and Yearbook Instructor. She is the youngest in her family with 5 sisters and 2 brothers. Her family is originally from Counselor, NM. Sabrina currently lives in Farmington. She has a dual Bachelor of Art degree in Studio Art and Photography from Southwest University of Visual Arts in Albuquerque, NM. She has been teaching art since January 2020. Prior to this, she worked at Moji Studios as a Photographer, Graphic Designer and as a Sales Manager for 7 years. She also served 14-years in the Army and the New Mexico National Guard in the Communications and Electronics field as a Staff Sergeant. Sabrina is married and has 2 dogs and a cat. She enjoys taking photos, painting, shopping, outdoor activities and taking walks. Sabrina attended Navajo Prep for 2-years in high school from ’93 to ’95 and is very honored to be able to come back and teach at Navajo Prep.
Ms. Katayan Ameri (Physical Education; Weight Lifting; Lifetime Sports) was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. She received her B.S. in Health & Physical Education from East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania where she played Division II soccer. She loves the outdoors! She loves camping, fishing, skiing, hiking, kayaking, and lounging on the beach whenever she can get to one. Her passion is teaching and being a mother to her daughter. She loves life and always finds the positive in any situation.
Mrs. Roxane McCasland (Health; Nutrition 1, 2) teaches Health and Nutrition classes. She is originally from Iowa and raised on a farm. She received her B.A. degree in Vocational Home Economics at the University of Northern Iowa. Roxane is married, has 2 grown sons (Jake and Morgan). She likes to watch sporting events and enjoys hiking, baking, and visiting her family. She loves Navajo Prep students and experiencing the culture, relationships, and learning every day with them.
Ms. Martha McCabe (Band; Choir; Piano; Guitar/Ukele; Digital Music) hailing from her home in Kirtland, NM on the Navajo Nation, earned her 2015 music education Bachelor’s and Level I Orff certification. Before coming to Navajo Prep, she taught several years in elementary music and beginning band in the southwest area. Miss McCabe actively plays in community ensembles such as the Southwest Civic Winds and Navajo Nation Band. Outside of teaching, she loves to travel, run, and hike.
Mr. Brent Garcia (Intro to Film; IB Film Y1; Adobe VFX; Digital Design; Intro to Audio; Adobe 2) is the digital media arts teacher at Navajo Prep. He is an industry professional and maintains a creative branding and marketing company. He has directed and produced several full-length feature films including “Aurora’s Law” A family drama dealing with mental health in the family starring Steven Michael Quezada (Breaking Bad) and Quinton Aaron (The Blind Side). He has produced, directed, and shot several award-winning short films, nearly 100 commercials, and a dozen music videos, including a behind the scenes video for Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line’s hit song “Meant to Be”. In 2019 he established the Film Four Corners, a not-for-profit organization created with the goal of industry development, education, and training for people in the Four Corners Region. The Four Corners Film Festival has a large representation of Native films to showcase indigenous stories. Brent also worked closely with city, county, and state leadership to raise $1.5 million that was invested in film industry infrastructure for the area. This funding was used to purchase and renovate a historic theatre and build a back lot for film use. He is passionate about teaching others how to use film and video to tell their stories and make an impact in the world.
Mr. Mike Gordon (Robotics; 3-D Printing; Website Coding; Video Game Programming) is a veteran teacher whose core values stem from church, family, community, and nature. Using the IB Learner Profile, he describes himself as a principled, caring, inquirer. He and his beautiful wife Debbie have one son, and 2 grandchildren. His hobbies include mountain biking, rock collecting, fishing, and gardening. His favorite animal is the horned toad.
Mr. Sam Alika Bautista Bader is originally from Hilo, Hawai’i. He is of multiethnic background and identifies most strongly with his Native Hawaiian (Kanaka Maoli) and Filipino heritage. He graduated with his Bachelor of Arts (Anthropology major, Ethnic Studies minor) from Lawrence University, a small liberal arts college and music conservatory located in Appleton, Wisconsin. Raised in a family of musicians, he enjoys playing and teaching music in the community in his spare time. He lives in Farmington and is happy and proud to be a part of the Navajo Prep family.
Librarian and Driver’s Education
Mrs. Tami Jo Bechdol is originally from Farmington, NM. She received her Bachelor of University Studies from the University of New Mexico and her Master of Information and Library Science from the University of Arizona. She has specialized areas in Native American and Hispanic literature and has over 10 years of experience serving as a Children and Teen Librarian. She serves the community by participating in the San Juan College One Book One Community and New Mexico Battle of the Books committees.
Special Education Coordinator
Ms. Susan Boyles has taught gifted and special education for over twenty years, initially for Farmington Municipal Schools. After retiring from FMS, she transitioned to Navajo Prep as the Special Education Coordinator. She has a Bachelor’s in education from UNM, a Masters in Special Education, and post-graduate hours in Gifted Education from NMSU. In her free time, she enjoys reading, crafting, and spending time with her children and grandchildren.
Governance & Administration Organizational Chart
The Governance Administration- Org Chart 22-23 displays the hierarchy of NPS Administration rolls.