Welcome to the Jose A. Castellanos Campus
Dear Jaguar Families,
Welcome back for our 23-24 school year. This year, we are excited about the foundation we've established across both our campuses for our school-wide priorities of Bridging Toward Belonging and Intellectual Engagement. For Bridging Toward Belonging, we've rooted our approach in our shared CARE values (Communidad/Community - Alegria/Joy - Respeto/Respect - Equidad/Equity). For Intellectual Engagement, we're leveraging the strong learning habits our students have built extending back to last school year so they can deeply engage in rigorous content and learning throughout the day.
We know that at our campuses we hold tremendous influence over the growth and development of our students, and we do not take for granted the powerful impact we make as educators. We also know that our students' families are their FIRST educators, and so we are forever grateful for your partnership and collaboration in supporting our students in reaching their highest levels of success.
Thank you for all that you do to foster our students' growth and development. We are excited to work as an entire school community to build strong bridges of belonging and deeply intellectually engage all our students this year.
Ms. Berenice Mendoza, Principal in Residence
Mr. Jay Laughlin, Principal
John "Jay" Laughlin
CAS / EIS Principal
John "Jay" Laughlin has been honored to serve as the principal at Castellanos and Eisner since the summer of 2020. Jay's motivation as an educator is grounded in a promise to provide all students with an excellent education that empowers them with access to opportunity. Starting in 2009, Jay began his career in education as a teacher in Chicago Public Schools. While passionate about serving the students and families in his classroom each year, Jay became interested in finding ways to make a positive impact beyond his classroom. In 2015, Jay transitioned into a school leadership role as an Assistant Principal at The Chicago Academy Elementary School, a public PK-8 school on Chicago’s northwest side. After one year in the Assistant Principal role, Jay took on the Principal position at The Chicago Academy from 2016 - 2020, and during this time The Chicago Academy earned the highest possible rating across Chicago Public Schools.
At Castellanos an Eisner, Jay has prioritized investing in students, families, and staff in order to build collective capacity and ensure every student is engaged in an excellent educational experience everyday. Jay, along with the Castellanos and Eisner team, knows that family partnerships are foundational to the success of the educational program. Jay sees the amazing potential in our students. He knows that integrating strategic supports across our school, our students will rise to the high expectations we set. Jay earned an undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University, a Master's in Teaching from Dominican University, and a Master's in School Leadership from Harvard Graduate School of Education. Jay lives with his wife, Alexandra, his nearly 3-year-old son, Miles, and his 1-year-old daughter, Ella.
Principal in Residence
|Berenice Mendoza is responsible for coaching and supporting teachers in classroom management, curriculum, instructional strategies, school and community routines and expectations, and other aspects of teaching and learning. She joined Camino Nuevo Charter Academy as a teacher. She has worked in education for over 20 years, including 10 years as a teacher. On her spare time, Berenice enjoys traveling and spending time with family and friends. Berenice earned her undergraduate degree in child development from California State University, Los Angeles and a master's degree in education from the University of Phoenix. Most recently, she attended California State University, Dominguez Hills where she earned a second master's degree in educational leadership with a preliminary administrative credential. Berenice also studied at the University of California, Riverside, where she earned a bilingual cross-cultural, language and academic development certificate.
Assistant Principal of Instruction
Claudia Castillo is the Assistant Principal of Instruction at Jose Castellanos. She is responsible for coaching and supporting teachers in classroom management, curriculum, instructional strategies, school and community routines and expectations, and other aspects of teaching and learning. She joined Camino Nuevo Charter Academy as an Assistant Principal during the 2022-2023 school year. Before transitioning into an administrative role she taught for 11 years in South Los Angeles. Claudia earned her Undergraduate Degree in Spanish Literature and Masters Degree in Liberal Studies and Teaching Credential at Occidental College. Most recently, she attended California State University, Dominguez Hills where she earned a second master's degree in educational leadership with a preliminary administrative credential. In her spare time, Claudia enjoys playing soccer and tennis and spending time with family and friends.
Assistant Principal of Student Supports
Kara Lorenzana is the Assistant Principal of Student Supports at Jose Castellanos. She is responsible for developing and overseeing the implementation of school-wide systems that promote a safe and positive school culture and environment, a restorative and trauma-informed approach to accountability and discipline, and socioemotional learning within the frameworks of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and Multi-tiered System of Supports (MTSS). Kara currently has 10 years of classroom teaching experience. Before transitioning into an administrative role, she enjoyed being the TK-5 STEM specialist at Castellanos from 2017-2022. Kara earned her Undergraduate degree in Psychology with a minor in English Literature from Ateneo de Manila University in Manila, Philippines. Kara holds a Master's Degree in Elementary Education with a multi-subject credential from Loyola Marymount University and a Master's Degree in School Leadership with a preliminary administrative credential from California State University, Dominguez Hills. Most recently, Kara was awarded a Fulbright for Global Teacher's Fellowship from the US Department of State which allowed her to participate in a rigorous year-long professional development on best practices in Global Education alongside a diverse group of K-12 educators across the United States. This culminated in a two-week long international field experience in a different country. During this time, Kara traveled to Colombia to immerse herself in the Colombian education system and participate in cultural exchange with Colombian educators, students, and families.
Kara endeavors to integrate what she has learned about Global Education at Jose Castellanos. In her spare time, Kara enjoys learning salsa dancing, ballet, and exploring the diverse food, music, arts, and culture scenes in Los Angeles.
School Operations Manager
Wendy Lobos is the School Operations Manager at Jose A Castellanos. She oversees the daily non-instructional operations of the campus along with her operational team that includes the front office, cafeteria and custodial staff. Wendy has over ten years experience serving the charter school community across the greater Los Angeles. Her background includes budget planning, inventory management, organizational development and operations optimization. She is dedicated in creating and maintaining a safe and clean campus for our students and their families.
Wendy earned her Bachelor's degree in Business Administration with a focus in Global Management from the University of Phoenix. Wendy holds a Master's in Business Administration with an emphasis in Project Management from Grand Canyon University. In her free time she enjoys traveling and experiencing different parts of the world.
CAS/ EIS Family Services Coordinator
Yesenia Rivas-Hernandez is the liaison between the school and the families at the Jose Castellanos and Jane B. Eisner MS. Prior to joining the school's leadership team, she worked for Youth Policy Institute for nine years. There she developed a passion for working with children and families as a tutor, serving students in the Pacoima and San Fernando area. She has an extensive background in coaching, budget management, workshop development and facilitation, and cultivating connections from school to home. Yesenia graduated with a bachelor's degree in liberal studies from California State University, Northridge.