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Administrators

Elin Bradley
Director of Therapeutic Schools and Residential Programs
BS California Polytechnic University, Pomona

Elin is the Director of The Help Group’s Therapeutic Schools; Westview School, North Hills Prep and Parkhill School. She also provides oversight to Project Six/The Commons, The Help Group’s residential treatment program. She received her B.S. in Social Work. After graduation, she began working as a Program Administrator in a residential treatment center with foster youth and provided oversight for a Foster Family Agency. For the past 19 years, Elin has served as an Administrator for non-public schools. Elin has been with the Help Group since 2011.

Alicia M. Jennings
Director of Education
BA Brigham Young University
MA National University

Alicia is the Director of Education at Westview School for The Help Group. She received her B.A in English Literature from Brigham Young University and her M.A. in Counseling Psychology from National University and also holds a Single Subject Teaching Credential in English. Before joining The Help Group, Alicia served as Director of Education for a non-public school and residential treatment center and has advanced to promoting non-profit institutions of learning and nonpublic school programing as well as serving for six years in local charter school programs where she specialized in curriculum development, accreditation and licensure, and teacher stewardship.

Cheryl Myers
Administrative Principal

Christa Occhiogrosso, LMFT, ATR
Assistant Clinical Director 
BFA Otis Art Institute, LA
MA Loyola Marymount University

Christa studied at the School of Visual Arts, NY from 1979-1982 and obtained her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1990.  She received her MA in Marital and Family Therapy/Clinical Art Therapy in 1997.  Christa began working at The Help Group Child and Family Center in 1999 as an outpatient therapist and day treatment coordinator.  She transferred to Village Glen West School in 2003 where she provided psychotherapy services, clinical supervision and trainings on the Clinical Applications of Art Therapy.  In her current position at Westview she oversees the clinical department, provides clinical supervision and facilitates coordination between the clinical and educational teams in order to best meet our students’ social and emotional needs.

Annette Semedo Jordan
Dean
BA California State University Northridge

Annette has been the Dean of Westview for 29 years.  She has always had a knack for knowing exactly what is required in order to motivate youth to make life altering decisions that propel them into a more positive academic future.  She has implemented a behavioral management system called the Level System that monitors student behavior and rewards students with success.

Faculty

Julie Franzen
Administrative Teacher
BA Luther College

Julie earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work & Sociology.  She moved to Los Angeles in 1997 where she began working as a teaching assistant and earned her Teaching Credentials from California State University, Northridge.  She has been teaching in special education since 1990. She is now in her 3rd year as a teacher at The Help Group.

Justin Merz
Mentor Teacher
BS Education-Brenau University

Justin received his BS in Education from Brenau University in Atlanta, Georgia.  He first began his journey in education in his early twenties as a substitute teacher and as an instructor in two different after school programs in Atlanta, Georgia. After moving to Los Angeles in 1998, he was the Director of Education at Santa Monica's Sylvan Learning Center. He received his teaching credentials from UCLA.  Justin joined the team at Westview School in 2000. In addition to teaching, Justin is also a screenwriter. He worked on book adaptations and sold original screenplays to DreamWorks Pictures and Walt Disney Studios.   

Fshaye Woldemichael
Teacher Specialist
BA California State University, Northridge
MA National University

Fshaye has his B.A. is in Film Directing. He earned his level one teaching credential from Cal State University Northridge and level two from National University.  He has been teaching for the last 20 years in the special education environment.  He taught for 17 years with Westview School and the last two years with The Help Group’s Westview School.  He has served as head coach for varsity soccer team for the last 8 years.  In his spare time, Fshaye volunteers with Eritrean Sports Federation in North America for 10 years to help develop young people’s interest in healthy living through organized sports, healthy eating, and regular exercise.

Kyle MacDonald
Teacher Specialist
BS California State University, Northridge

Kyle earned his B.S. in Kinesiology.  He then earned his teaching credential from UCLA in 2015 while doing his student teaching at Westview. Kyle has lived in the San Fernando Valley all his life and worked in the field of Special Education since he was 18 years old in various ways. He worked as a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program technician for teens for over a decade before coming to The Help Group. He has been able to take all of his combined knowledge in many areas and apply it to the students he works with on a daily basis. 

Jason Daglis
Teacher Specialist
BS Springfield College
MS Central Connecticut State University

Jason is a credentialed special education teacher and has been working with students with special needs for the past 8 years in both public and private school settings. Jay received his Bachelor of Science in General Education and his Master of Science in Special Education. Jay currently teaches U.S. Government/Economics, Algebra, and Physical Education. Jay is also an assistant coach of the Westview Soccer Team. This is his 2nd year working with The Help Group.  

Adrian Pop
Teacher Specialist
 BA University of Cluj, Romania
 MA California State University, Northridge

Adrian earned his Bachelor’s Degree in English.  After graduation, he taught English in his hometown for twenty years.  After moving to the United States with his family, Adrian began working as an English teacher at the Westview School in Los Angeles and earned his Level II Credential in Special Education, as well as a Master's Degree in English.

Steve Goltra
Teacher Specialist
BA Biochemistry-Temple University

Steve received his Bachelor of Arts degree in biochemistry from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA.  His first job out of college was with the Philadelphia Water Department, where he did water testing and monitoring for the City of Philadelphia.  He went on to become a forensic scientist for the Philadelphia Police Department crime lab, specializing in processing clandestine drug laboratories.  He began his teaching career working with children with special needs in Roswell, Georgia at The Cottage School.  In addition to his full time position as a science teacher, Steve also tutors students in biology and chemistry at several local community colleges. He is interested in horticulture, and along with his students, has constructed raised bed gardens.  The garden was recently outfitted with an automatic sprinkler system, and he and his students are constructing a greenhouse so they can grow vegetables year-round.  Steve volunteers with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, in the Condor Recovery Program, during his summers. 

Mary Ellen O’Donnell
Teacher Specialist

Before becoming a teacher, Mary Ellen worked as a software engineer for 25 years. She worked on projects such as the Patriot Missile System for both the U.S. and Japan and collaborated on a research project for NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab on tracking the spread of mosquito borne disease. She earned a Master's Degree in Physics/Engineering/Math and Special Education from the University of Massachusetts at Boston and has been teaching at the middle and high school level for three years.

Nancy Hamilton 
Instructional Assistant
BA California State University, Los Angeles

Nancy is a Mexican-American Teacher Assistant who graduated with a BA in Spanish.  She has been working with special needs students for over 3 years. She is a caring and committed person who loves to teach her native language and reach out to students as individuals and recognizes their important strengths and talents. She loves to spread her heritage by involving the students in different cultural school celebrations, events, and activities. 

Collin Friscia
Instructional Assistant

Antonesha Jackson
Instructional Assistant
BA Howard University
California State Preliminary Multiple subject CTE credential

Antonesha earned her BA degree in Computer and Information Systems from Howard University.

Charlena Young
Assistant Athletic Director/Teacher’s Assistant

Charlene has been working for Westview School for over seven years. She has had a variety of roles including Assistant Athletic Director, Coach, and Instructional Aide. Charlena has a passion for mentoring kids. She likes to keep students motivated and encouraged. She keeps positive relationships with students and staff. Charlene's motto is "athletic success cannot be achieved without academic success".

Clinical Department

Billy McGuire
School-Based Counselor
BA
MA Psychology- The Phillips Graduate Institute

Billy is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and has been working at The Westview School for more than twenty years. Billy believes that respect for the student and taking the time to understanding their own unique process is essential to developing a trusting and supportive relationship. It is his goal to support students as they navigate the challenging tasks of meeting academic expectations and belonging to a school community. He enjoys watching students gain greater awareness about themselves and the people they want to become.

Natasha Behnam 
School-Based Counselor
B.A. – University of Southern California
M.A. Psychology – Alliant International University
Ph.D. Clinical Psychology – Alliant International University

Natasha is a graduate of the doctoral program at Alliant International University with a specialization in Family and Children. Natasha began working at The Help Group in 2014 by the way of completing her doctoral internship. During her time at The Help Group, Natasha has worked at North Hills Prep, Project 6 (The Help Group's residential treatment facility) and the Outpatient Department. In the past, Natasha has conducted psychological testing and provided therapy to children in the adoption/foster care system and private practice, with a focus on complex trauma, family reunification, mood disorders, sexual behavior problems, and anxiety. Additionally, Natasha trained at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where she provided therapy to children and families facing cancer and blood disease.

Christina Stansbury
School-Based Counselor
BA
MA Antioch University, Los Angeles

During Christina’s traineeship, her work focused on the treatment of adults and children struggling with Depression, Anxiety, Family and Peer Conflict, and Learning Disabilities. During her time as an intern, Christina worked with children and adolescents in various school and community settings, where she focused on topics including anger, conflict-resolution, and communication skills.  Christina joined The Help Group in November 2014. 

Craig Cacek
School-Based Counselor
BA      San Diego State University
MA     Pepperdine University
PPS     California State University, Long Beach

Craig obtained his BA in psychology, his MA in counseling psychology, and his Pupil Personnel Services Credential with a specialization in school counseling.  Craig started his counseling career with The Help Group, acquiring five years of residential treatment experience.  He has worked as a school counselor for the last 25 years, including seven years as an administrative consultant.

Teacher Assistants

Christina Lopez

Claudia Monroy

Support Faculty

Lisa May
Assistant Dean/Behavioral Interventionist
BA Loyola Marymount University

Lisa obtained her BA in English Literature from Loyola Marymount University, a Certificate in College Counseling from the University of California, San Diego, and a Certificate in Baking /Pastry from The New School of Cooking. This is her 12th year with Westview and her 3rd year with The Help Group.

Jeshanna Ray 
College and Career Counselor
BA Texas Tech University
MA Lubbock Christian University

Jeshanna’s Bachelor's degree is in Exercise and Sports Sciences and her Master's degree is in School Counseling.  She got her teaching credentials in 2003 and has worked in education for 9 years.  Jeshanna will be at Westview on Wednesday's and Friday's.  Jeshanna is looking forward to working with the students at Westview to find the direction they want to go when they graduate from High School.