At the heartbeat of a Pacifica education are the faculty and staff, partnering together with students and parents to guide, serve, lead, and love. They are here to teach content, hone skills, deliver outstanding educational outcomes, and help form young lives. In doing so, they live and model a life of abundance and human flourishing that points to a loving God.
They are a staff who exhibit purpose and joy, who are committed to living with character and modeling the way of Christ. With every year there comes change, but Pacifica is thrilled with the staff whom will serve during the 2021-2022 school year. They are uniquely talented and situated to move Pacifica forward.
This week, Pacifica is officially announcing some of the exciting changes in store next year, as well as a few heartfelt goodbyes to staff who will be dearly missed.
Notable goodbyes this year include our Founding Athletic Director Kevin Kelsey, as well as teachers Arami Yoon, Melissa Beck, and Academic Advisor Molly Jang. Congratulations to all as they move on to new opportunities and family adventures.
Pacifica also offers a "hello" to a new History teacher Kirsten Anderson, and "congratulations" for new positions and job descriptions within Pacifica to Brandon Shaw, Andrew Soria, Wally Hirsch, Rachael Nyabadza, and Michael Balsley.
Founder Kevin Kelsey To Join Westminster Schools Of Augusta
Founding Athletic Director and Head Varsity Basketball Coach Kevin Kelsey will be joining the faculty at the Westminster Schools in Augusta, Georgia. He will be the associate athletic director, middle school Bible teacher, and varsity basketball head coach.
Kevin began his work at Pacifica in the fall of 2005. Under Kevin's leadership, the Pacifica athletic department was formed including the naming of our mascot, school colors, homecoming traditions, founding the Seawolves Scholarship Fund, establishing important rivalries, years as a beloved red team leader on the All School Retreat, and more. Most importantly Kevin poured into the Pacifica student body.
Coach Kelsey's care and concern for each athlete and student set the tone and has been exemplary of our mission of teaching students to think and live well. Prior to Pacifica's first day on September 7th, 2005, Kevin served on the school's founding committee, which began work in 2002 and has helped to shape the mission, vision, and overall direction of the school for close to two decades. We pray for God's goodness in his life as he moves on and will be forever grateful for his Pacifica journey. Thank you Coach for your year's of dedicated work, service, and support. Kevin will be missed.
Brandon Shaw To Lead Pacifica Athletics
We are pleased to announce that Brandon Shaw will take the lead as Director of Athletics for Pacifica Christian's athletic department. Brandon was the California High School State and Junior National Champion in the 800 meters. He was an 8-time All American in Outdoor & Indoor Track at Azusa Pacific University and ran professionally for Nike. He was ranked in the top 10 nationally in the 800 meters and made two Olympic qualifying appearances. Brandon began at Pacifica in 2011 and has served the school over the past ten years as a coach, administrator, and leader.
Brandon has helped build the program and looks forward to accomplishing new strategic goals that will strengthen the program well into the future. Brandon also serves on the school’s executive committee, helping to make important schoolwide decisions. “Brandon is a uniquely gifted leader who brings wisdom, maturity, and forward-thinking to Pacifica. His work with the staff, relationships with the parents, and love of the students are what Pacifica seeks to embody. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have him at the helm,” remarks Head of School, Jim Knight.
Michael Balsley Devotes His Focus To Pacifica’s Advancement Office
Michael Balsley, Associate Head of School for Advancement, has served the school since its founding in 2005 and has been a key factor in the schools’ success. He helped found the school, guided Pacifica through the early years, and has been integral to the school, settling in as a fixture in independent schooling on the Westside of Los Angeles.
Michael has directed the arts program, run student affairs, the advancement office, and served on the executive team. For the past three years, he has led both the advancement and student affairs departments. Moving forward, his sole focus will be leading the advancement office and serving at the core of the administrative executive team. He will focus on development, alumni affairs, admissions and enrollment, and marketing. Michael is uniquely skilled to serve and lead at Pacifica. He received his MFA from New York University Tisch School of the Arts and his MBA from Pepperdine University's Graziadio Business School.
“Michael has been an important force behind Pacifica’s success for 15 years. His strategic thinking, ability to lead, and keen understanding of private education and the Westside are invaluable to our success. He is a founder and visionary. With his sole focus on advancement the school is in excellent hands,” remarks Mr. Knight.
Wally Hirsch Shifts To Lead The Student Affairs Department
Wally Hirsch currently serves as the Associate Head for Academics, running the academic office and overseeing the faculty and the counseling department. He also serves on the school’s executive team. Next year, he will move from the academic office and serve as the Associate Head of School for Student Affairs to oversee athletics, visual and performing arts, student discipline, mental health, student life, and spiritual life.
Wally has a deep connection with Pacifica’s mission and core values. His vision, strength in leading staff, engaging with parents, and his many years of experience working with teenagers make him the perfect fit to follow in Mr. Balsley’s shoes in student affairs. With this shift, the student affairs department will have a leader who is solely focused on the department. Before coming to Pacifica, Mr. Hirsch was on staff with Young Life. Today, he is the board chairman for West Los Angeles Young Life – a ministry to high school students. Wally has his MFT degree from Pepperdine.
“Wally has a keen insight into the world of teens. He is gifted with the ability to help them and their parents craft a customized road map for the future. It is great to work with Wally as he delicately guides each student's journey. He is an expert. I am excited for Mr. Hirsch to implement his vision for athletics, arts, student life, and spiritual life alongside his capable team,” remarks Mr. Knight
Andrew Soria To Serve As Associate Head For Academics
Beginning next school year, Andrew Soria will lead the Pacifica academic office as Associate Head of School for Academics. Andrew started at Pacifica in the English department and served as department chair. In addition to English, Mr. Soria served as the Director of Digital Learning and has helped lead the school through remote learning during the Covid-19 pandemic.He currently sits on the school’s executive team.
Mr Soria's work as a classroom teacher, with educational technology, curriculum development, professional development, event planning, and parent outreach makes Andrew well suited to step into the shoes of Mr. Hirsch to lead Pacifica’s academic program. Andrew studied English and Spanish at Azusa Pacific University's Honors College, where he was one of seven students to receive a full-ride Trustees' scholarship. He then went on to receive his M.A. in Comparative Literature from USC before joining Pacifica.
“Andrew is a talented leader, who is bright, forward-thinking, and who cares deeply about student and teacher success. Pacifica is fortunate to have him crafting our educational program and building our teaching staff,” remarks Mr. Knight.
Dr. Rachael Nyabadza To Serve As Director Of Curriculum & Instruction
Dr. N has served Pacifica's students faithfully and well for the past five years as a classroom teacher. Her style, excellence, and love for her students have been a gift to Pacifica. Dr. N will take on a new role in the administration. She will work in the academic office alongside Mr. Soria to serve the needs of the faculty and to oversee Pacifica's curriculum as our new Director of Curriculum and Instruction. "Rachael is a fantastic teacher, and I am excited to have her join the administrative team to oversee our curriculum and make sure that a Pacifica education remains rigorous and missional," remarks Mr. Soria.
Mrs. Yoon has been an important part of the Pacifica faculty for the past seven years. We are thankful for her service, her dedication, her passion for science, and for her dedication to the integration of faith and learning. Mrs. Yoon is planning to enjoy time with her family as she explores new career possibilities that will stretch her skill sets. We wish her well.
Mrs. Jang has been part of the counseling team for the past two years serving the classes of 2021 and 2022. She is passionate about students and we are thankful for her devotion to our community and will miss her at Pacifica. Ms. Jang looks forward to potentially starting a family with her husband this summer and moving into the higher education field. We wish her well in this transition.
Ms. Beck has served as Pacifica's mixed media art teacher for the past two years where she helped to sculpt students into not only as artists but mature young adults. In a sense, we all are "works of art" in progress and Ms. Beck has been formative in helping our students to grow in the arts. Next year, Ms. Beck will be teaching at Biola University and Cal Baptist University in addition to having an art devotional book published. We are thankful for her creativity and her service and wish her well as she teaches at the collegiate level. And Staff Hellos!
Kirstin Anderson Joins Pacifica's Teaching Faculty
Mrs. Anderson will join the History Department for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year. Mrs. Anderson received a B.A. from Biola University in History, and a Minor in Biblical Studies. Mrs. Anderson has had the pleasure of teaching various grade levels and students from all backgrounds - including teaching English Language Arts at a boarding school for international students. Most recently, she has taught United States and AP World History at a charter school in downtown Los Angeles.
In addition to teaching, Mrs. Anderson enjoys reading, cooking with family, and adventuring with her husband. "Mrs. Anderson is an outstanding teacher with vision, deep faith, and strong pedagogy. As I leave the classroom to work in the administrative office I could not be more thrilled to have Mrs. Anderson join the Pacifica team. Our students will be in good hands." Remarks Dr. Nyabadza.