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High Scores, High Aspirations… High Bluff Academy

Teacher Biographies

Thomas Kolstad



  • California State University, Chico, B.S. in Applied Mathematics
  • California State University, Chico, B.S. in Pure Mathematics
  • California State University, East Bay, M.S. in Applied Mathematics

Thomas came to High Bluff Academy in January of 2015 after completing his Masters degree in Mathematics at CSU East Bay.  During his time at CSU East Bay, he was able to gain valuable teaching experience in the areas of remedial mathematics, while pursuing his upper level mathematics coursework.  He was hand selected by his advisers to pilot a program to revamp the remedial mathematics department, and it is clear that his hard work has transferred over to his work here at HBA.  He has a passion for teaching mathematics of all levels, from pre-algebra to honors calculus, and enjoys challenging his students.  When he is not teaching at HBA, Thomas teaches evening classes as an adjunct professor at Palomar Community College in San Marcos.

Lori Davidson

ESL, English & MathLori


  • Michigan State University B.A. Education
  • Northern Michigan University Lifetime Teaching Certification

Lori has been an educator for over 25 years. Her teaching career began in Michigan, and after ten years, she decided to relocate overseas. Lori has taught in the top American and international schools in Singapore, Caracas, Tokyo, and Santiago where she taught math, English, and social studies. These experiences broadened her worldview and inspired her to help students realize their potential. Lori has written curricula in both math and language arts, and has held leadership roles as math department head and language arts team leader. She also was a presenter at the AASSA conference in Venezuela. Lori’s mission is for each of her students to have a joy of learning, obtain the skills and confidence needed to enhance the global community, have a growth mindset, and personally achieve his or her goals and life-long dreams .

Dave Kemp

Spanish and Mentoring


  • University of Iowa, B.A. Spanish
  • National University, M.A. Education and Technology


unnamedDave is a native of Iowa who has a zest for traveling. He has studied and lived in a variety of Spanish-speaking countries.  He lived with host families while studying at the Universidad Nacional in Heredia, Costa Rica, and the Universidad de los Andes in Mérida, Venezuela.

He began his teaching career at Poway High for eight years then chose a path in the corporate world where his bilingual skills were highly valuable as a National Marketing Director.

He currently teaches at a local K-6 school and loves tutoring students at High Bluff Academy.

Dave utilizes a variety of teaching methods, technologies, and helps students have breakthrough moments of understanding Spanish.  ¡Vamos a hablar!


Geoffrey Stevens

GeoffEnglish, History, ACT/SAT, Chemistry


  • Trinity College (CT), BA in History
  • Boston University, MA in Social Studies Education

Geoffrey came to High Bluff Academy in 2013 with eight years of professional teaching experience.  He holds CA ‘Clear’ teaching certifications in secondary History, English, Biology, and Chemistry.  Throughout his teaching career, Geoffrey has taught a wide range of academic levels: from basic literacy, through college preparation, to college-level communications.  High Bluff students entering Geoffrey’s classes can expect to find a rigorous, engaging, and supportive environment.  Students exit with a large amount of content knowledge and a skill set that makes them better writers, speakers, and thinkers.

Cheryl King

Cheryl KingEnglish, History, ACT/SAT


  • University of Memphis B.A. Education
  • Oglethorpe University M.Ed. Education

Cheryl came to High Bluff Academy in 2007 with 25 years of teaching experience. She has worked in public schools, community college, adult basic literacy, and enrichment classes teaching English to students of varying ages and levels. Cheryl loves working with her students and uses methods to keep students involved and motivated in the learning process. She teaches students to challenge themselves and to set goals in order to achieve a strong sense of self-efficacy.

Donna DiBenedetto

Donna DiBenedettoEnglish Donna Fazio DiBenedetto obtained her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Literature and Writing Studies from California State University, San Marcos. She has been an educator since 1993 and has taught Middle School, High School, Community College, and University English. She has also taught for the US Marine Corps Staff Academy as a writing instructor at Camp Pendleton. Currently, Professor DiBenedetto is an Associate Faculty member at both Palomar and MiraCosta Colleges and teaches English Composition, Literature, and Critical Thinking courses. Ms DiBenedetto was a finalist for the Distinguished Faculty Award at Palomar College for the 2007-2008 school year, 2008-09 year, and again for the 2011-12 school year.. Her academic specialty is American Literature, political rhetoric, and composition studies. Donna has also served on the Arts Commission for the City of Encinitas from 2009-2011.

Adriana Garcia

Spanish and Math


  • UCSD B.A. Spanish Literature, minor in Mathematical Education
  • M.A. Education and Teaching Credential

Adriana grew up in San Diego speaking both Spanish and English, which makes her an ideal Spanish teacher. She models a native accent, yet is able to clearly communicate with her students in English. Adriana is a very creative teacher and loves to incorporate arts & crafts into her lesson plans. As a math teacher, Adriana specializes in working with students who have always struggled with math. She utilizes a variety of teaching methods and hands-on experiences that allow her students to grasp math concepts that previously escaped them.

George Humphreys

GeorgeAssistant Director and Science/ Math teacher


  • USD B.A. Chemistry-Biochemistry pathway, minor in Business Administration

After graduating college, George worked for four years in the pharmaceutical industry in research sales. In 2003 he discovered his passion for teaching and began teaching all levels of science and mathematics in private schools in San Diego. In summer 2007, he began working at High Bluff Academy as a teacher and assumed assistant director duties such as overseeing curriculum, student affairs, and organizational issues. Besides being an avid golfer and musician, he is the father of three wonderful children who occupy most of his free time, Lucy Belle (daughter), Jase (son), and little George (son). George specializes in teaching Chemistry and Physics.

Oscar Otañez



  • USD M.A. Education, emphasis in Leadership

Oscar has a passion for learning and teaching and was the first person in his family to attend college. He worked with the Upward Bound program for four years, helping low-income and first-generation high school students achieve their dreams of attending college. A teacher at High Bluff Academy since 2008, Oscar provides instruction in mathematics and SAT/ACT prep and has developed a unique music class that combines history, theory, performance, and production.

When he is not teaching, Oscar enjoys playing tennis, working out, and working as a DJ.