Element Education Administrative Staff


Terri Novacek

Executive Director


Ms. Novacek has worked with the organization since 2002 and became the Director in February of 2004.  She began working with youth in after-school programs, camps, and athletic coaching at the age of eighteen, and taught in traditional site-based classrooms for ten years.  After resigning to have more time with her two children, she began a tutoring and educational consulting business and worked part-time with Capistrano Unified School District serving home-bound students. Two years after home-schooling her own children through a district independent study program, she discovered Dehesa Charter School.  Appreciating the balance between choice and accountability offered by the school, her children remained enrolled in Dehesa for ten years.  Both children have earned their Bachelor degrees at California Universities.  In addition to an Administrative Credential, Ms. Novacek holds a Master of Arts in Montessori Studies and coaching certificates for Learning Styles, Positive Discipline, Multiple Brain Integration Techniques (mBIT), HeartMath, Autism Movement Therapy, and Servant Leadership.  Ms. Novacek drives the vision of all the world’s a classroom and the belief that the most important thing we can teach children is how (not what) to learn. 


Doug Miller

Chief Business Officer


Mr. Miller manages the financial strategy and operations of Dehesa Charter School, Community Montessori and Dimensions Charter School with more than 1,600 in ADA, 170 employees and total revenue for fiscal year 2016/2017 of $15 million. Mr. Miller is committed to maximizing long-term financial success of the charter schools thus ensuring their ability to continually and  positively affect student achievement and success.


Previously, Mr. Miller was a Senior Financial Analyst at the City of San Juan Capistrano, where he was the City’s acting Procurement Officer, and managed the financial aspects of the City’s capital improvement project in excess of $100 million.   In addition, Mr. Miller assisted in budget preparation and management.


Mr. Miller holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance from California State University Fresno and a Masters of Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance from the University of California, Irvine.  Mr. Miller has successfully completed the California Association of Business Officials (CASBO) CBO Boot Camp and in August 2018 completed the CABO’s CBO Partner Training program at the San Diego Count.y Office of Education and is currently a candidate for CBO certification.



Tony Drown

School Director, Dimensions Collaborative School


Mr. Drown, School Director of Dimensions Collaborative School, has worked with the organization since 2012 as a Regional Manager and became Dimensions School Director in January of 2019.  He began his career in 1984 as a special education teacher and worked in several school settings, grades K-12.  To address the needs of at-risk students, he developed an alternative computer-based, self-paced education program within a comprehensive traditional high school.  He’s also served as principal of a K-12 Non-Public School, as a Director of an experimental alternative high school, and as a Chief Operating Officer for a local non-profit social and mental health services agency for foster youth.  Mr. Drown has Professional Clear Credentials in Special Education, Physical Education, and Social Studies.   He has a Master of Arts Degree in Special Education, Behavioral Disorders, and is currently working toward his CA Administrative Credential.   Mr. Drown is a proponent of a highly personalized and self-directed learning approach to education.



Roland Yung

School Director, Community Montessori


Mr. Yung, has eighteen years in education.  He has served as a middle school and high school classroom teacher, a Curriculum and Instruction Specialist, a Director of Academic Planning, and has served in various other educational roles.  As a Master Teacher, Mr. Yung served as a mentor to new educators.  Through a grant, he created a school within a school to support at-risk incoming freshman.  Mr. Yung was also a founding teacher at KIPP Adelante which served at-risk students, many who became the first in their families to attend college.  In addition, he was on the startup team for National University Virtual High School (NUVHS).  He oversaw the development of over 75 semester courses, many with University of California A-G approval, and led the teaching staff at NUVHS which culminated with NUVHS receiving WASC accreditation.  He began as Director of Academic Planning for Dehesa Charter School in 2006, supporting the educational program which included the analysis and interpretation of local and state assessment data, implementation of new curriculum, and the development of new educational programs.    He has been overseeing the daily operations of CM since it opened in 2013. Since then, the school has expanded to five Resource Centers and a Home Study Program with an enrollment of over 650+ students. 


Mr. Yung has a Master of Arts in Education, a Professional Clear Administrative Services Credential, a Montessori Administrators Credential and has served as a SDCOE VPSS Course Developer and Instructor, WASC Chair and Visiting Committee Member, and Positive Discipline Parent Educator.



Kiran Sihota

Director of Human Resources


Ms. Sihota holds an MBA in Corporate Governance and Global Business, a Juris Doctorate, and a Bachelors in Speech Sciences and Psychology. Her broad experience includes benefits, employee relations, compliance issues, and talent acquisition. She has experience in various industries including education, medical, legal, and tax. Prior to joining Element Education in 2016, Ms. Sihota was a Director of Administration and Human Resources for a medical clinic. She supported the medical center by advising it through its stages of creation, growth, and stabilization. She was responsible for working with the management team in defining and implementing training, recruiting, employee engagement, compliance, workers’ compensation, benefits, and more.  She actively participates in updating and developing policies and procedures for Element and manages all personnel files, HR and safety compliance, and professional development.  Ms. Sihota was an active attorney for over five years in the areas of tax, bankruptcy, family law, and unlawful detainers.  She remains an active member of the California Bar Association.



Brandi Rodrigues

Director of Special Education


Ms. Rodrigues holds Multi-subject and Learning Handicapped and Resource Specialist credentials.  She has worked at a non-public school within a residential facility with adolescents with Emotional Disturbance, an Elementary Special Day class in a full inclusion model, and a Junior High School as a Resource Specialist (multi-track). She is highly experienced in assessing students, developing IEPs, collaborating with general education staff, developing and implementing behavior plans, implementing life skills training in the community, instructing students with ED, Autism, ID, learning disabilities, ADHD, etc., monitoring student progress towards goals, facilitating IEP meetings, communicating with parents on student progress and needs, and training staff on special education concepts and best practices.  Ms. Rodrigues began with Dehesa Charter School in 2003, and now oversees the Element special education program.  She manages a staff of six resource specialists, two School Psychologists, and one Behavior Counselor.  Element schools have approximately 10% special education population. 


Paul Johnson

Director of Accountability


Mr. Johnson has been with the organization since 2002 and became the Director of Accountability in July of 2018.  He has a Single Subject Teaching Credential in English and a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction and is currently completing the Administrative Credential Program through the San Diego County Office of Education.  He has served as a middle school and high school classroom teacher in San Diego schools.  Hired in 2002 as a K-12 Educational Facilitator for Dehesa Charter School, he has since served in roles of Humanities Team member, Regional Manager, and Student Programs Manager.  Mr. Johnson served as WASC self-study coordinator, oversaw all standardized testing, and developed and managed student programs (e.g. Robotics, Mock Trial, Field Trips, Prom).  Mr. Johnson was also responsible for advocating for an establishing a partnership with Project Lead The Way to develop an engineering program for high school students.  He has attended AVID training and has been a WASC Visiting Committee Member.


Lois Ingber

Behavioral Counselor


Ms. Ingber, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Positive Discipline Lead Trainer.  Lois holds a Bachelor Degree in Sociology from UCLA and a Masters in Social Work degree from SDSU where her focus area was Children, Youth and Families.  Lois has worked in social service, private practice, hospital, clinic and school settings, most recently for seventeen years at Rady Children’s Outpatient Psychiatry providing school-based counseling services.  Lois was a Community Montessori and Dehesa parent prior to joining the staff in 2016 and brings this perspective to her role.   Lois is responsible for providing education, collaboration and support implementing the Positive Discipline model and social/emotional competencies in the Learning Center and home learning environments, in line with Element’s philosophy of self-directed learning and the development of mastery, autonomy and purpose for students and the adults who serve as their guides.



Tracy Goettsch

Resource Center Manager


Ms. Goettsch has been with the organization for six years, managing the resource center which houses student curriculum, printed materials, and learning tools. She has a degree in Journalism and is currently pursuing a degree in Library Technology. Ms. Goettsch is professional and extremely knowledgeable in library administration. She has an understanding of the curriculum available at Element Education in support of families, students, and staff. She has three children, all of which have been students in the Dehesa Charter School program. She looks forward to assisting parents, students, and educational facilitators in any way possible.



Eva Arguilez

Resource Center Assistant


Ms. Arguilez, has worked with the organization since 2007 and works closely with the Resource Manager. In this role, she leads the Resource Center which houses student curriculum, printed materials and learning tools. As well as, maintaining the structure and flow with the focus of purchasing, organizing and distribution of materials. She takes pride in supervising vendor orders, managing the receiving process of materials and specific projects. She worked three year in the library at California State University, San Marcos were she developed and expertise in servicing the curriculum and research needs of the students and staff that she encounters on a daily basis. Ms. Arguilez helps empower the organization mission of promoting a culture of education to find and develop the student passion to inspire the natural desire of explore and learn through choice and flexibility.



Emily Snow

Administrative Services Specialist


Ms. Snow holds an MA in Education and a BA in U.S. History from UC Santa Cruz and is a proud banana slug! She has been with the organization five years and currently serves as the Assistant to the Registrar. Ms. Snow began her career with the organization in 2013 as a Regional Assistant in the Mission Valley region where she provided support to students, parents and staff alike, while helping to build an environment that fosters learning and engages students. In the summer of 2018, Ms. Snow was hired on to the administrative staff to support the Registrar’s office and help oversee the student records of the DCS schools. Ms. Snow prides herself on working closely with families and staff to ensure a smooth enrollment process and transition for students joining DCS.