Cohort 5: 2020-2021
As a resident principal herself in Onward Leader Cohort 2, and a mentor principal to Cohort 4, Ashley Giron is beyond enthused to become an OL Mentor for a second time. Ashley was born and raised in Southern California and attended Catholic schools through eighth grade. She received her BA in Liberal Studies and Multiple Subject teaching credential from Cal State University, Los Angeles.
After working as a substitute for a year, she found her home at Saint Finbar Elementary in Burbank, CA. She received her Masters in Education with an option in Educational Technology & Leadership in 2016 from Cal State University, Los Angeles. In 2017 she became an Onward Leader Resident at Immaculate Heart of Mary with Allyson Alberto. She learned first hand what it takes to be a successful leader in the ADLA and in 2018 became principal at St. Jane Frances de Chantal School in North Hollywood. She was chosen to be a mentor principal for Cohort 4 and it was one of the best things to happen for her leadership and St. Jane Frances School. Ashley knows what a privilege it is to be chosen as a mentor again and is excited about the opportunities this year will provide for her and her community.
Carmela Lovano is presently the principal at Immaculate Conception STEM Academy and looking forward to being a mentor principal for Onward Leaders and part of the ADLA STEM Network in 2020-2021. Mrs. Lovano’s career spans over 42 years in various capacities in Catholic schools. Teaching has always been her passion. One of her mentors at CSULA encouraged her to always teach as if her own child was in the classroom. These words stuck with her as she taught primary grades and established a kindergarten program. Tens years ago Mrs. Lovano enthusiastically accepted a leadership position which led to Immaculate Conception STEM Academy. Immaculate Conception STEM Academy serves students from TK (transitional-kindergarten) through eighth grade. As a proud member of the ADLA STEM Network, our goal is to inspire and challenge our students to answer complex questions, investigate global issues, and develop solutions for real-world problems utilizing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Our innovative thinkers and effective communicators will be ready for a world of boundless possibilities.
Karina Mendez grew up in La Puente, CA with her parents who instilled her strong foundation of faith and value in education. Leaving their education, however, her parents immigrated from Mexico before Karina was born to give her better opportunities for her future. Karina became a first-generation college student and attended Loyola Marymount University (LMU) where she majored in Natural Science and Biology. Her love for science and passion to help students discover their potential drove her desire to become a middle school teacher. Karina continued her education and joined Partners in Los Angeles Catholic Education (PLACE) Corps, a LMU teaching corps program, as she received a Master of Arts in Secondary Education and a California Single Subject Teaching Credential. She served at San Miguel Catholic School in Watts, CA, for five years as the 6th-8th Math and Science Teacher and fell in love with Catholic Education.
Keeping her faith at the center of all, Karina, then, followed her call into Catholic school leadership and became a part of the first Onward Leaders cohort. Karina completed her year of residency at St. Turibius School and was blessed to also begin her journey as Principal at St. Turibius. Karina looks forward to leading and learning with Onward Leader, Audrey Blanchette at St. Turibius.
St. Turibius School is located in the heart of the Fashion District area of Downtown, Los Angeles and has been proudly serving families since 1949. St. Turibius school serves students from Transitional Kindergarten through Eighth Grade and is committed to developing the whole child by educating the whole child in body, mind, and spirit. St. Turibius School serves a predominantly Hispanic/Latino population and 99% of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch.The majority of families are working class parents who depend on tuition assistance to provide their children a Catholic education. St. Turibius School is committed to continued learning and growth to ensure that it continues to support all learners today and those in the future. St. Turibius School is a wonderful place because of the committed and hardworking students, parents, and staff that share their talents and gifts with the community.
Melinda Nassar grew up in the San Fernando Valley and is a product of Catholic education. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature from California State University, Northridge, and Master’s Degree in Elementary Education and Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from Loyola Marymount University. She later earned her Clear Credential at Mount St. Mary’s College. She taught in various grade levels and served as Vice-Principal at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary School for 15 years. In 2018, she was honored to be part of Onward Leaders Cohort 3 and served as Resident Principal at Immaculate Heart of Mary School in East Hollywood with Allyson Smith. In 2019, she became the principal at St. Bridget of Sweden School in Lake Balboa. Melinda is excited to welcome an Onward Leader to the St. Bridget of Sweden School community. She looks forward to lead, learn, and serve with the Onward Leader Resident Principal, through Faith, Excellence, and Stewardship.
Lorraine Ovalle grew up in Montebello, California. She received her Bachelor’s of Liberal Studies from California State University of Los Angeles. As her journey in education continued she received her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential along with a Master’s in Elementary Education from Loyola Marymount University. As she continued her education, she received her second Master’s in Administration from the California State University Northridge. She has worked in the public school system in Kindergarten through ninth grade. In 2005 she joined the Catholic School System. In 2017 she became an Onward Leader Resident Principal. In 2018, she became principal at St. Louis of France School in La Puente.
I am blessed to have the opportunity to be a mentor principal.
Allyson Alberto Smith
Immaculate Heart of Mary School, East Hollywood
Allyson Alberto Smith was born in San Francisco. As a first-generation Filipino-American college student, she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Communications with an emphasis in Journalism and a minor in Sociology at Loyola Marymount University (LMU). She received her first Master’s at LMU in Special Education as a member of the PLACE Corps Program and a second Master’s (again as an LMU lion) in Catholic School Administration. She was placed at Immaculate Heart of Mary School as a junior high math and science teacher in the PLACE Corps program twelve years ago and is blessed to have continued her ministry here as its principal for over seven years. She is blessed to have this be her fourth year as a mentor principal for the Onward Leaders program, grateful for the opportunity to continue coaching future principals.
Immaculate Heart of Mary Elementary School (IHM) is the hidden pearl in the bustling inner-city of East Hollywood, focusing on faith and moral formation, performing arts, blended learning, and academic excellence. IHM is home to immigrant and first-generation Filipino and Latino families. Our school has become an institution that focuses on music and performing arts. The IHM choir competed at the World Choir Games and won two silver medals. Some students sang in the soundtrack of the movie, “The Book of Life” and have won many competitions. Furthermore, the choir sang for Pope Francis in Rome, as well as in Carnegie Hall and in London. They also offer piano, voice lessons, guitar, and dance after school. IHM implements blended learning, a student-centered structure, in which students are working in centers with technology as a tool to differentiate instruction. With small class sizes, the students each get the personal attention that they need. Furthermore, students are getting accepted to rigorous high schools and later colleges with merit scholarships. The students have placed extremely high in the Academic Decathlon, as well. IHM continues to aim high as it prepares its youth for leadership, academic excellence, and the passion to be Christian stewards. The school’s lofty goals, born over 90 years ago, still provide inspiration and identity to the entire IHM community.