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This semester, Blake begins his 5th year at Napa Valley College and 4th year as a Napa resident. Blake began his teaching career in the high schools of his native Los Angeles, including family alma maters Hollywood and Belmont Highs.
After completing his Master’s degree in English at Sonoma State University (where he has also taught), Blake spent several years in New York City, working in beer, meat and cheese shops.
A lifelong pianist, reader, and foodie, Blake can be found around town playing at venues like the Blue Note or picking up shifts at The Fatted Calf or Napa Bookmine.
Blake and his wife Paulina, an art historian, recently celebrated their first wedding anniversary. In their spare time, they like to travel, visit art galleries and museums, and enjoy food and wine with friends in town.
Currently, I am an Adjunct Anthropology Instructor at Napa Valley College where I teach Introduction to Cultural Anthropology and the Anthropology of Sex, Gender, and Sexuality. I have experience teaching Biological Anthropology and Linguistics courses as a substitute and feel very comfortable with the subjects. I have extensive experience with the Spanish, Russian, Korean, and Mayan languages. I am also well versed in the theories and practices of archaeology, as I worked for a Cultural Resource Management firm in San Jose soon after graduating from San Diego State in 2001. This experience was unique and I was able to conduct an excavation of an Ohlone tribesman in San Mateo, conduct field reconnaissance, write reports, and do lithic analysis among other things.
My teaching career has spanned nearly thirteen years and included teaching severely handicapped students in grades Kindergarten through third grades and fifth through eighth grade students with learning disabilities, where I conducted IEP’s and worked with developing modifications and accommodations for those students needs. Before moving back to California and teaching at the community college level, I taught Advanced Placement US History, World History and World Governments and Politics to college prep high school students at Seoul International School (SIS) in Seoul, Korea for three years. Many of the students that I taught and wrote recommendations to are currently attending Cornell, NYU, Brown, and UC Berkeley. Living in Korea enriched my life on so many levels and allowed me to utilize my anthropological training as I lived and worked in a very different culture than my own for three years. I cherish the opportunity I have had teaching such a diverse group of students from all over the globe, they truly have added a unique texture to my life.
While teaching in the Hollister School District and SIS I was very involved in the leadership aspects of education. Specifically, I worked as the Head of the Social Studies Department at Seoul International School (SIS) and the Department Head for the English Department while I worked at Rancho San Justo Middle School. I have also participated in School Site council for many years and was a member of the SIS Assessment Committee. I also worked with the Hollister School District as part of the Superintendent’s Committee, and was a member of the Transportation committee and the Bicycle and Pedestrian committee for the city of Hollister.
Aside from being an anthropology instructor at Napa Valley College, I am the co-founder and CEO of a Sonoma County based social benefit corporation (World Progress Now) focused on building responsible tourism. This endeavor has transformed me into an applied anthropologist, focused on tourism and its interaction with culture. I currently work on preserving cultural identity through helping tourists realize their impacts on both local cultures and their environment, while trying to build a responsible tourism infrastructure.
I have had extensive training and experience with qualitative and quantitative research. I received my Master’s of Arts degree in Anthropology, where I focused on Identity of the Yucatan Maya. The cultural phenomena I studied was the spring equinox at Chichen Itza where over fifty thousand people observe the setting sun cast a shadow on the pyramid as a tangible representation of Kukulkan (the feathered serpent god of the Maya). The anthropology of magic, witchcraft, and religion was a guiding focus of my fieldwork. I utilized participant observation, key informant outreach, structured and unstructured interviews, while utilizing qualitative analysis to complete my thesis.
Following the completion of my Masters degree in Anthropology, I went back to graduate school and completed a Master’s of Public Policy degree (MPP), where my focus was on School Choice. Along with being the Facility Master Plan Intern, I developed surveys, developed strategic plans, held focus groups and worked directly with the Hollister School District to develop policies and write a universal magnet school grant. The grant was intended to fund a transformation of all eight of the local schools into magnet schools in order to create a more equitable, interest based learning environment in the Hollister School District.
My current passion and focus is the Anthropology of Policy, specifically, what cultural elements move policy forward and then the subsequent cultural impacts of that policy. Specifically, national education policy as it relates to charter schools, standardized tests, school growth, and the accreditation process is my main focal point. I have been a member of the American Anthropological Association since 2006 and I am currently a member of the Association for the Anthropology of Policy. I have a passion for strategic planning, stakeholder outreach, data gathering, leadership opportunities, school policy, and school culture. My training as an anthropologist has embedded the human element into my quest for understanding larger societal phenomena while learning to become a friend of culture. My policy training has given me practical tools for analyzing and creating policy solutions to issues of inequity, inequality, and socioeconomic inefficiencies.
Pam's early dance education and performing opportunities began in the Los Angeles, North Hollywood, and Hollywood areas. She studied ballet with teachers from the Ballet Russe and Royal Danish Ballet, tap with instructors from vaudeville to stars of movie musicals (including the Nicholas Brothers), and jazz from a variety of instructors from all over the U.S. Pam also competed in gymnastics at the state level during high school.
Pam began her teaching career at the age of 16 for Louis Da Pron Dance Studio, Showcase Studios, and Anita King Ballet School.
Shortly after her move to Napa in the 1970s, Pam became owner of Napa’s Academy of Dance. She was the director/choreographer of the studio for the next 17 years, and performed in Napa and throughout the San Francisco Bay area. During that time, she studied ballet at The Ballet School in Walnut Creek, and took master tap, ballet, musical theatre dance and jazz classes from well known teachers across the country.
She began teaching and choreographing for Napa Valley College in 1978. She is adjunct faculty for the Napa Valley College Physical Education division in Dance and Arts & Humanities division in Dance and Theatre. She continues choreographing and teaching for Napa Valley College and also choreographs for a variety of Napa Valley events and musical presentations. Among the many musicals she has choreographed, some of her favorites are: Fiddler On The Roof, Carousel, Music Man, Seussical, Cabaret, Phantom of The Opera, Sweeney Todd, La Cage Aux Follies, Anything Goes, Once On This Island, and Forever Plaid.
In addition to her work in theatre and dance, Pam earned her Masters of Science degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology, and works full time as a Speech Language Pathologist.
When not working, Pam enjoys travel, photography, and sharing her love of dance with people of all ages.
“Dance is the hidden language of the soul”
― Martha Graham
Adriana was born and raised in Berlin, Germany where her late father was stationed with the US Army. Her earliest fascination with classical music came when her 2nd grade class went on a field trip to the Berlin Philharmonic, learning and listening to Beethoven symphonies.
Being an "Army Brat" did not allow for formal piano lessons, so Adriana taught herself how to play the guitar. After playing for a few years, she decided to study classical guitar as a way to finally enter the world of classical music.
When her family relocated to the United States, she was accepted at the University of Hawaii to study Classical Guitar Performance. She studied with Charles Michael Brotman and Byron Yasui, but also applied piano with Paul Lyddon and composition with Armand Russell, Allan Trubitt and Neal McKay.
Adriana's passion for Beethoven continued into her graduate studies at the California State University, East Bay under the tutelage of David Stein and Giancarlo Aquilanti. She won First Prize for a presentation on Beethoven's Bagatelles Op. 33 and how these piano pieces relate to his Fifth Symphony. She subsequently based her master's thesis, The Genesis of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, on this topic and received an Outstanding Thesis Award from the Music Department in 2004.
In her free time she enjoys hiking and nature photography.
I have been teaching at Napa Valley College as a Speech Communication Adjunct Instructor since the Summer 2016 semester. In those years I have taught classes in Public Speaking, Interpersonal Communication, Small Group Communication, and Career Communication in a variety of schedules. I have also been teaching at California State University, Sacramento since the Spring 2016 semester, and since I live in the East Bay, I have been very fortunate that my schedules have aligned so I only travel to one campus per day. However, there were two different semesters that I also taught at either California State University, East Bay (in Hayward) or American River College in Sacramento – those were very busy, freeway-flying semesters!
My interest in and passion for teaching and communication was born as a 2nd year student at Folsom Lake College – I was just taking classes to satisfy the General Education transfer requirements and exploring some different subjects but taking Public Speaking and Interpersonal Communication pulled me into that subject matter and has maintained its grip since. I later earned by B.A. in Communication Studies at CSU Sacramento in the Spring of 2011 and knew that if I wanted to teach at a collegiate level, I would need a graduate degree. I decided to go straight from undergrad into graduate school, was able to confirm that teaching was my calling by working as a Graduate Assistant and Teaching Associate and earned my M.A. in Communication Studies in the Fall of 2015.
Graduate school was not just responsible for my career, but for my home life as well. It was at a future professor’s house on a swelteringly hot August afternoon in Sacramento during the graduate school orientation that I met my future wife, Julie. We began dating before the end of our first semester, and after several years of term papers, theses, comprehensive exams and job hunting, we married in August of 2016. She is the social media manager for the Fair Trade Certified non-profit organization in Oakland, and when we are not fighting traffic to get to and from work, we snuggle with our cat (Abby), watch episodes of Chopped, and try out different recipes in our own kitchen. I also enjoy watching and studying film (my Blu-ray collection is embarrassingly close to 800 in number), and recently enjoyed rekindling my long-suppressed interest in video games during the winter break.
One of the main reasons I love teaching are my students. We are blessed in California to be home to a truly diverse population, and it excites me to teach people from a variety of backgrounds and to get to learn from them as well. Every class, every semester has brought a new perspective on life to my attention, and it is both an enlightening and humbling experience. I am grateful to Napa Valley College for not just providing me this opportunity to teach, but for also providing so many people the opportunity to learn about and explore all of the wonderful experiences this life has to offer.