Welcome To WA!—New Faculty & Staff

Welcome To WA!—New Faculty & Staff

Miriam Avila, P.E. Teacher and Assistant Swimming Coach—Coach Avila graduated from Kansas State University with a Master’s Degree in Public Health with an emphasis in physical activity. Coach Avila will conduct P.E. classes for lower school and middle school girls. Originally from Mexico, she is passionate about understanding and educating people about healthy behavior. She is excited to join the WA family and be part of a great Christian community.

Nicholas Cabral, Strength & Conditioning Coach—Coach Cabral graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. Coach Cabral will conduct strength and conditioning classes for middle school and high school. He will also serve as our varsity offensive coordinator specializing in quarterbacks. A native of South Florida, Coach Cabral has trained and worked with some of the top athletes in the area for over ten years in addition to coaching.

Matt Calderin, Middle and High School Band Director—Mr. Caderin comes from Stoneman Douglas High School, where he taught music for four years. While at Stoneman Douglas, he directed the jazz band to win the 2018 Lakeside Jazz Festival. In 2019 the jazz band received an accolade as being one of the top 5 Jazz Bands in the country by the Bob Mitzner Jazz Competition. He was the All-County Jazz Band Director for Broward County in 2015 and a jazz clinician for the Florida Bandmasters Association’s MPA festival. Mr. Calderin is a graduate of the University of Miami and has been a touring musician and educator for over twenty-five years.

Lindsay Gonzalez, First-Grade Teacher—Mrs. Gonzalez comes from Broward County Public Schools, where she has nine years of elementary teaching experience. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and endorsements in ESOL, reading, and gifted education. Mrs. Gonzalez has two boys, one of which is in PK2 at Westminster Academy. She is very excited and grateful to be a part of the Westminster Academy family! 

Tracy Hildebrandt, Second-Grade Teacher—Mrs. Hildebrandt has over 20 years of teaching experience in public schools. She has been teaching second grade for seven years as a general education teacher, interventionist, and teaching high achieving students. She is certified to teach Elementary K‑6 with an Endorsement in English for Speakers of Other Languages K–12. She brings substantial knowledge and experience of technology integration skills, current best practices, and co-teaching. Mrs. Hildebrandt graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education from Florida International University. She is married with two boys in WA.

Cara Johnston, Kindergarten Teacher—Miss Johnston is a WA alumna, Class of 2015. She attended Palm Beach Atlantic University, where she studied Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education. Her time at PBA is where she first fell in love with learning to teach young minds and watching them flourish in their education. Upon graduating from PBA, Miss Johnston taught first grade at Palm Beach Christian Academy. Miss Johnston is so excited for this new school year. Along with working with young children, her interests are dancing, traveling, and spending time with her family and friends. 

Jonathan Knight, Latin Teacher—Mr. Knight joins Westminster Academy to teach Latin. Before Westminster Academy, he was the Latin Teacher at Canterbury School in Greensboro, North Carolina, Oaks Christian School in Westlake Village, California, and Frederica Academy in Saint Simons Island, Georgia. During his tenure, he taught introductory to advanced levels of Latin in grades fifth through twelfth. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, where he majored in Latin, and Boston University, where he majored in Film. He currently lives in Dania Beach with his wife and two Yorkies. When not keeping busy with teaching, you can find him at the beach.

Sarah Maba, Assistant Upper School Principal—Mrs. Maba is a WA alumna (Lifer), Class of ’04. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida in Secondary Mathematics Education and experience teaching middle and high school math in several Christian schools in South Florida. In addition, Mrs. Maba earned her Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Palm Beach Atlantic University. Mrs. Maba previously served overseas as a missionary in the South Pacific with Evangelism Explosion International and as Girls Ministry Coordinator and Director of Outreach at Coral Ridge. She is passionate about Christian education and discipling young people to know their identity in Christ. She and her husband have one daughter, Eviana, currently in Kindergarten.

Wendy Parzich, Fifth-Grade Teacher—Mrs. Parzich is thrilled to join the WA faculty this year. She comes to WA with 20 years experience in third grade and two years of teaching PK3 at Crossroads Ministries. Wendy is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania but has spent many summers here in Lauderdale by the Sea. Mrs. Parzich has a Bachelor of Science in Education from Clarion University and the California University of Pennsylvania. She moved here in June with her husband, Ron. She has two children Jed and Jodie, and three grandchildren, all residing in Pittsburgh.

Joel Pelland, Upper School Dean of Students—He has a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education from Northern Illinois and a Master of Science in Education from Chicago State. He currently teaches and coaches at Glenbard East High School in Lombard, Illinois. Mr. Pelland has a dynamic personality and an intense love for Jesus. He is accomplished, well regarded, and prepared to set the tone for our upper school. 

Sarah Renken, Speech—Mrs. Renken is a Westminster alumni class of 2006 (maiden name Byrne). She graduated from Florida State University with an undergraduate degree in Communications Sciences and Disorders. Mrs. Renken attended Nova Southeastern University, where she obtained her master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology. She worked for six years as a board-certified and licensed Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist for Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, formerly known as Miami Children’s Hospital. Mrs. Renken has a passion for working with children and helping others. She has been married to her husband Corey for four years, and they have one daughter, Kenley. She will be starting as a “Little Lion” in PK2 this year.

Allison Shapansky, Fifth Grade Support Teacher—Mrs. Shapansky has over ten years of experience in elementary education, including previously teaching 5th grade at WA. She has taught in Florida and Texas with roles such as lead ESOL teacher, mathematics representative, technology representative, and has mentored university students through the Junior Achievement program. Mrs. Shapanksy (Alexander ’06) is a WA alumna and thrilled to be a first-time WA parent this year with her son entering PK3.

Jenn Thompson, PREP Principal—Mrs. Thompson has served in Christian education for 20 years in roles that include math and science teacher, coach, assistant principal, principal, head of school, and mom. Previous to her position at WA, She was the Superintendent of Ontario Christian School, just east of Los Angeles, where she served more than 1,200 students and 150 faculty and staff. She has also served as the Head of School at San Jose Christian School in Campbell, California, and in various positions at Westminster Christian School in Miami. Mrs. Thompson has an undergraduate degree in Sociology/Biology from Wheaton College and a Master in Science in Educational Leadership from Florida International University. In whatever spare time she has, Mrs. Thompson enjoys traveling to watch baseball games or to visit family who are spread all over the globe.

Bryan Vidal, Eighth Grade Bible Teacher—Mr. Vidal earned his bachelor of arts in Biblical Studies at Liberty University with minors in Biblical Languages, Hebrew and Greek. He is passionate about sharing the Gospel with the next generation and could not be more pleased to be a part of the faculty at Westminster. He is married to his wife, Hannah Vidal, and together they are looking forward to the work God has for them. He is often reminded of Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Hannah Vidal, Kindergarten Teacher—Mrs. Vidal holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Florida State University and has teaching experience in kindergarten through second grade. This will be her second year teaching Kindergarten. She recently married Bryan, who will be in the Upper School teaching Bible. In her free time, she enjoys exploring new places and playing with their dogs, Cooper and Cali!

Daniel Williams, Eighth Grade Civics Teacher—A former United States Marine, Mr. Williams was part of a response unit after Hurricane Katrina and was the Director of Operations (static security/bodyguard) in New Orleans for several years after. He was responsible for securing the city and aiding the police department with the spike in crime. He has a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University and has been a certified firefighter and EMT. He is in his fifth year of teaching and coaching soccer at the travel club and varsity level and will be helping to coach this year. He also is the Director of Family Ministry at a small church in Hollywood, Florida, but is also attending Coral Ridge every Sunday. Mr. Williams has two sons, Tristan and Gabriel, who are in fifth and second grade at WA and is married to his wife Yezi, who is also in ministry.