PASSIONATE EDUCATORS

The core of STARS Academy is our passionate team of teachers, who follow a high academic standard to guide their values, creativity and leadership. Take a look below to learn more about each of our team members.

 

STARS Academy also employs artists and other non-core teaching staff who have an appropriate mix of subject matter expertise, professional experience, and the demonstrated ability to work successfully with students.

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SHAYNA TURK
HEAD OF SCHOOL, FOUNDRESS

(B.A. Psychology and Spanish minor, from University of Southern California; Multiple-Subject Credential CSUN; Administrative Credential CSUDH; Masters in School Leadership CSUDH; Certified in Neurodevelopmental Theory)

The Head of School has a B.A. in Psychology and Spanish minor, from University of Southern California, her Multiple-Subject Credential from CSUN, her Administrative Credential from CSUDH, her Masters in School Leadership CSUDH, and is certified in Neurodevelopmental Theory. In 2003, at 11 years old, Shayna founded Shayna Turk’s Academy of Rising STARS. Through this, Shayna immediately realized her true passion in life: helping children build confidence and explore their creativity through performance. In 2010, Shayna received NFIB’S (National Federation of Independent Business) Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award as well as the Girl’s Going Places Scholarship. While continuing the STARS program, Shayna attended the University of Southern California and earned her B.S. in Psychology in May of 2014. By taking classes that focused on child and adolescent development, she gained a greater understanding of youth.​ She also took classes on theater in education. After graduating from USC, Shayna became a homeschool teacher for twin boys who participated in STARS. Together with their mom, Shayna created a curriculum using the arts to teach academic subjects. In 2015, Shayna attended Cal State Northridge's Michael Eisner School of Education, where she earned her Multiple Subject Credential. In 2016, she began her teaching career at CHIME Institute in Woodland Hills. For five years, Shayna was a third-grade teacher and further explored her passion for working with students of all abilities. She has served on the curriculum, professional development, and technology committees at CHIME. In the fall of 2020, she brought her vision of starting a school (STARS Academy) that uses theater to teach to fruition. Also in 2020, Shayna attended Cal State Dominguez Hills where she earned her Masters in School Leadership and Administrative Credential. She is grateful for the opportunity to work with the fabulous students, staff, and families of STARS Academy and looks forward to the years to come!

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JENNIFER DOLLINS
ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

(B.A. Liberal Studies, CSUN )

Jennifer Dollins comes to STARS with over 21 years of office management and administrative experience.  She graduated with her Bachelors Degree from CSUN in Liberal Studies.  Not only does Jenn have a background in administrative work, but Jenn has done many different kid centric jobs such as tutoring, nannying, working at a childcare center, and teaching kindergarten. She is a definite people person who looks forward to getting to know all of the STARS families and finding ways to assist you while making your experience at STARS as seamless and stress free as possible. Jenn met her soulmate, Eric, while working at a private school together, and he now works as an Elementary Science Specialist. They have two kids: Olivia Kate who is 15 years old and in 10th grade and Jack Charles who is 11 years old and in 5th grade.  Jenn, Eric and their kids are very dedicated to family, but there is one thing that they consider to be the thing that bonds them together the most: Disney.  They go to Disneyland any chance they get and have even snuck away to DisneyWorld in Florida four times already. Jenn hopes that you will stop by the STARS Office (Room 27) and introduce yourself so that she can start matching up faces with names as well as continue to build up the beautiful community that makes STARS the unique school that it is.  If you are unable to come into the office, you are more than welcome to call the school or email Jenn at jdollins@STARSAcademySchool.com.  Jenn will be answering the phones all day to get you the answers to your inquiries in the most timely way possible. Jenn is so excited to get to know the kids at STARS. They will probably get a pretty good idea of who she is by the Disney toy collection on her desk once she moves in, but whatever makes them feel more comfortable, the better.  The more people that a child has on campus that know them well, the better they can be helped and encouraged to do the right things not only academically, but also socially and emotionally.  Jenn. firmly believes that life is short; do what makes you happy!

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AMANDA DRUYAN
EDUCATOR, TITLE 1 COORDINATOR

(B.A. Psychology, Minor in Human Development, University of California, Davis 2021)

Amanda Druyan is a graduate of the University of California, Davis where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with a minor in Human Development. She has over five years of experience working in childcare and education beginning as a camp counselor, then as a nanny, a middle school tutor, and most recently as a preschool teacher for a religious school in Davis. Amanda hopes to continue her teaching career while attending a graduate program and earning a master’s degree in education. She was a member of El Camino Drama’s Play Production program for all four years of her high school career and is excited to join the Stars Academy community which highlights theater throughout its curriculum. Amanda is looking forward to bringing her love of drama and creativity to Stars Academy along with her educational background in development.

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HAYLEY SILVERS
EDUCATOR

(B.A. Philosophy & Religious Studies, CSU, Los Angeles)

 

Hayley Silvers loves nothing more than helping young people discover their passion, creativity, and strength. As a product of non-traditional and accelerated schooling and a performer, educator, and storyteller, Hayley believes that the only limits on what we can learn, what we can accomplish, and how we can grow are the limits we unknowingly impose on ourselves. Hayley received her Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Religious Studies at California State University, Los Angeles, as a member of their Early Entrance Program.  She brings with her over 15 years of professional experience at various traditional and non-traditional schooling environments working with grades K-12 to meet their academic and artistic goals. Most recently, she has been the Director in Residence at two elementary/middle schools, and Religious Educator and Songleader at Temple Aliyah and Shomrei Torah’s Jewish Learning Cooperative. 

 

Having seen first hand how access to the arts can unlock problem-solving, character building, and emotional intelligence in all who work with it, she firmly believes that the tenets on which STARS is built will not only benefit our immediate students but affect lasting change on childhood education for years to come. 

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MELISA MENDEZ
EDUCATOR

Melisa Mendez has eight years of experience in the education system. She has ten years of experience in special education, three years in mentorship, and two years in coaching various sports teams. Melisa is currently enrolled in school. She will be earning her bachelors in early childhood development. Melisa was a paraprofessional for five years at an LAUSD school and was a special education assistant for three years. She has a wide range of knowledge when it comes to working with students with special needs. She has been working in a school setting since her teenage years and has a passion for working with students with special needs. Melisa has received a variety of training in order to help children meet their social, academic, and IEP goals. Melisa is able to modify and accommodate work in order to help students be more successful. Melisa truly enjoys working in a school setting and helping every child meet their goal.

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JENNY ROMERO
ASSISTANT EDUCATOR

Jenny has worked with kids in all different age groups and special needs all throughout high school. She has gained skills through various jobs that have required her to be on her feet, be fast-paced, learn quickly, and above all, promote kindness. She has worked as a paraprofessional prior to joining us at STARS Academy. She has learned to accommodate students' needs for education and emotional support. She also has skilled medical training. Jenny is currently in school to get her bachelor's degree in Sociology and minor in Child Development. Overall, her goal is to be a supporting role to expand the minds of future generations. Jenny's hobbies include running (she ran the 2020 marathon) and dancing (she has performed in large crowds her whole life). Please help us welcome Jenny to the team!

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ANGELA ECHEVERRIA
PARAPROFESSIONAL

Angela Echeverria has been working with kids for as long as she remembers. She was in charge of her church group for three years, working with students ages 4-9. She worked at a daycare for a year and served as an ABA therapist prior to working at STARS Academy. Angela’s been passionate about working with children since she was in elementary school. She is very thankful to have the opportunity to live out her dream and looks forward to learning more each day. She is planning on enrolling in school to further pursue her passion.

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ALEC MANDELL
ELECTIVE TEACHER

(B.A. Communication, California State University, Northridge 2021)

Alec Mandell is a graduate of California State University, Northridge where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication. He has 3 years of experience working with children as a summer camp counselor. Alec has a background in the performing arts, acting in school drama productions from middle school through college. He also parlayed this skill set to his major, placing top three in public speaking for his university’s Speech and Debate team as well as helming the Director position for the school’s Public Relations club. Since earning his degree, Alec helped develop and currently produces all of the content for the online educational channel Law By Mike which seeks to educate the public on the judicial system and U.S. civics through digestible, easy to understand videos. The channel currently has over 7 million followers across YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. Alec is excited to bring his knowledge of story telling and digital multi-media to the classroom with his Video Production elective, where students will have the chance to tell their own stories using creativity to make the impossible possible.

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DAN SCHNEIDER
PE COACH

(B.S. Retail & Consumer Sciences, University of Arizona 2016)

Dan Schneider is a graduate of the University of Arizona where he earned a bachelor of science degree in Retailing and Consumer Science. Dan has experience coaching basketball at his alma mater Westlake high school - as well as his current job as a JV head coach at De Toledo H.S. He is a certified yoga instructor - completing his 200 hour teacher training program with Core Power Yoga in Westlake Village in 2017. Dan is excited to bring his love of sports along with his knowledge of breath work and stretching to the kids here at STARS Academy.

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GABI MILMAN
DANCE TEACHER

Gabi is the dance teacher and dance coach for the dance team at STARS Academy. She has been a part of the STARS family for 11 years, starting as a camper at the STARS theater program. She has been in 13 musicals and then began training to be a choreographer at age 12. She has been doing it ever since. She has choreographed over 20 musicals and absolutely loves it. She has worked with kids for many years now and loves the relationships and bonds she forms with them. She also loves being a confidant for them. Gabi competitively ballroom danced for 12 years and participated in the Junior Olympics of Ballroom Dance in 2014. She has taken 5 years of jazz and hip hop and immediately fell in love with them. She teaches the jazz and hip hop movement classes. She is currently in college, majoring in Psychology. She hopes to inspire each student with the expression that dance allows and for it to be something they continue to love and grow in.
 

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JACK BOCKIAN
ELECTIVE TEACHER

Jack Bockian has been involved in STARS for over 10 years. Jack is co-teaching a singing elective class with his twin brother Nick Bockian. He has had a background of doing professional musical theater and has had 6 years of classical voice training. He has taught singing classes before at the STARS theater program, and after participating in 17 shows and counseling/teaching for several years at STARS, Jack has developed a passion for teaching.

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NICK BOCKIAN
ELECTIVE TEACHER

Nick is one of the singing teachers at STARS Academy. Nick has been involved in the STARS community for nine years and has previously performed and worked at the STARS theater program as a counselor and singing teacher. He noticed early on that, for many children, singing was a nerve-racking and stressful activity. Through this, the anxiety prevented them from expressing themselves through song. Since then, he has worked hard to bring kids out of their shells, allowing them to sing their hearts out fearlessly. He has always enjoyed teaching and inspiring kids to sing confidently and to the best of their ability. While performing and teaching at the theater, Nick participated in over six years of classical voice training, finding a true passion and love for singing. For years now, he has enjoyed passing his knowledge down to others and helping kids find a passion of their own.

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STEVEN SILVERS
ELECTIVE TEACHER

(B.A. Philosophy, CSULA)

Steven Silvers has been passionate about Performing Arts since early childhood and has been involved in Arts Education for the past 8 years. A CSULA graduate, with a B.A in Philosophy, Steven serves as the Resident Music Instructor/Director for Camarillo Junior Theatre, a pre-professional theatre company for which he co-founded. Outside of his own company, Steven has proudly spent his career building drama departments, helming plays and musicals, and with the onset of the pandemic, expanding the realm of virtual performance and education. Though he has enjoyed executing many different theatrical roles, including Performer, Stage Manager, Technical Director, and AD, Steven always finds himself returning to his first passion, music. 

 

Steven is thrilled to be joining the STARS faculty, embarking on their mission to teach academics through a theatrical lens. He strongly believes that arts education, as it speaks to empathy, community, and critical thinking, is integral to the human experience.