Faculty

Office Staff

George Gay
Principal
ggay@heritagechristianschool.com

Our founding principal, Mr. George Gay, has been in Christian Education for over 35 years. Mr. Gay has founded two other successful Christian schools and has consulted with many other schools in several states. Mr. Gay has implemented and directed excellent curriculum and instructional Christian School programs, which have received accreditation from ACSI and WASC. Mr. Gay’s passion is to daily nurture, train, encourage, challenge, and love kids, all for the glory of God. Mr. Gay received his B.A. from California State University, Fullerton. His teaching credential is from Southern California Christian College and his Masters in Educational Administration from Concordia University. Mr. Gay has been married to his wife Edie for over 44 years. He and Edie have 4 daughters & 9 grandchildren.

Angela Shea
Jr. High / High School Administrator
ashea@heritagechristianschool.com

Angela graduated from Vanguard University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. Prior to graduating, she had the opportunity to attend Calvary Chapel Bible College in Austria. She has been blessed to be the Children’s Ministry Director of Reverence Bible Church for more than 15 years. She loves teaching and ministering to children!  Although she has taught Algebra, History, Art, Writing, and Biology, her favorite subject to teach is the Bible. She believes there is nothing more exciting and fulfilling than seeing a student realize that the Creator of everything loves them personally. She experiences great joy in her work when HCS students see their Lord as bigger than they did before, and in response glorify Him. She has been married to Pastor Matt Shea for over 23 years, and she has three girls, Annalea, Cambria, and Samantha. She enjoys traveling, horseback riding, and spending time with her family and at church. She is thankful to be the JH/HS Administrator, and she looks forward to seeing what God has planned for HCS!

David Del Padre                                                                                                                                                              Jr. High / High School Dean, International Program Director 
ddelpadre@heritagechristianschool.com

David has recently completed a quarter century as a teacher and administrator.  He has taught some amount of time in every grade level 1st-12th. David has been licensed and taught in Virginia, Nevada, California, and North Dakota.  He has a Bachelor’s degree from University of San Diego, a Master’s of Education from Old Dominion University and a Master’s in Education Leadership from Rocky Mountain College.  David is honored to have served this great country in the U.S. Navy for 10 years.  He loves teaching HIStory and helping students to make an impact with their story of Jesus Christ in their life.  He is blessed to be teaching in his third Christian school with his wife Lori.  They are blessed to have two adult children and three grandchildren.  He considers it a blessing from God to be back in California and close to his family heritage and now also as a member of Heritage Christian School. 

Lynette Johnson
Operations Manager
ljohnson@heritagechristianschool.com

Lynette has her B.A. in Christian Education as well as supplementary education in Computer Technology and Media Arts and is thrilled to be able to put all of these things to work for HCS. She has been married to husband, Don, for over 50 years and they have 3 wonderful children and 4 beautiful grandchildren. Although Lynette worked many years with her husband in pastoral ministry, she also spent several years supporting Executives of pharmaceutical, medical device, and medical consulting companies in the local area, where she provided administrative support to HR, Legal, Finance, and Corporate Culture departments as well as to the CEO and CFO. She loves being a grandmother and enjoys passing along her love of reading to her grandchildren. In addition to working and being ‘grandma’, she does a little writing and community theater.

Meredith Reuter
Registrar
mreuter@heritagechristianschool.com

Meredith has her B.A. in Business Administration from UC Riverside and Masters work in Educational Administration from Auburn University – War Eagle! She has worked in sales and marketing for Microsoft Corporation and served as both a Dyslexia Consultant and MOPS Speaker advocating for students with learning disabilities. She was previously the Registrar, AP Coordinator, and Database Administrator for Saddleback Valley Christian School and the Registrar at Fairmont Schools SJC. She and her husband, C.J., are blessed with a son and twin girls. She also has a therapy dog named Reba who has been certified and involved in visiting adult day health care centers and students in schools as a R.E.A.D. dog. Her passion is to help all students and families find success and to serve Him as they walk across the stage and into life.

Rebecca Hayes
Director of Curriculum & Instruction
bhayes@heritagechristianschool.com

Rebecca Hayes graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and a minor in Psychology and History. Becki completed her Master’s Degree in Theology and Christian Education in 2007. She holds a Lifetime Kindergarten-Eighth Grade Teaching Credential and also an ACSI Teaching Credential. Becki has taught in grades first through fourth for over 36 years in both public and Christian schools throughout the United States, with the last 26 years in California. She attends Lutheran Church of the Cross, where she serves in the Stephen’s Ministry program. She enjoys playing with her grandchildren, Hayden, Ethan, Marcy, and Elizabeth, walking her corgis and reading. Becki is called to the teaching ministry and to Heritage Christian School. She feels that every child is a gift from God and loves involving children in ministry work. Her desire is to help each child reach the potential that God has placed within them.

Joanne Lee
Finance & Human Resources Administrator
jlee@heritagechristianschool.com

Joanne has her B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Irvine and a California Clear Multiple Subject Credential from California State University, Long Beach. Joanne worked at an Actuarial Consulting firm as an Analyst when she felt God’s calling to go back to school to get a teaching credential. With a teaching credential, Joanne was blessed to teach for 15 years in both 2nd and 3rd grade.  Joanne then moved into a Finance Administrator role at a neighboring Christian School for 5 years before coming to Heritage Christian School. She is married to her husband, Jerry and has 2 children, Jeffrey and Jamie. Joanne’s passion is to serve others and she is grateful to be able to work in an accounting field and to bless others.

 

Maria Kloessner
School & Student Activities Director
mkloessner@heritagechristianschool.com

Maria has a B.A. in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication from California State University, Long Beach. She is also certified as a trainer for “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. Maria worked as a Subcontract and Training Manager for ResCare Workforce Services for over fourteen years and was committed to helping individuals and families become self-sufficient in a supportive atmosphere.  Maria and her family attend Reverence Bible Church. Maria and her husband, Robert, have two beautiful daughters, Grace and Faith, who attend HCS. Maria loves camping and traveling with her family and enjoys anything Disney. HCS was an answer to prayer for Maria and her family. She and Robert searched everywhere for a school where their daughters would be fed the Word of God daily, grow academically, and be supported by kind, loving, and caring staff, teachers, and administrators. Her goal is to contribute to the success of our school by supporting and collaborating with parents, teachers, staff, and administrators.

Preschool Staff

Melanie Munson
Preschool Co-Director
mmunson@heritagechristianschool.com

Melanie has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Child and Adolescent Studies from Cal State Fullerton. She obtained a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from CSUF. She taught grades kindergarten through 6th grade for Irvine Unified School District for almost ten years. When her children were born, she transitioned away from teaching in order to be home with her kiddos while they were little. She and her husband have been married for over fifteen years. In 2020, they enrolled their four children at Heritage Christian School. After an amazing year, she felt called by God to become part of the HCS family. As a Preschool Director she hopes to share God’s love each day with the preschoolers. She is thrilled to be able to work at the same school that her children attend. 

Wendy Braun
Preschool Co-Director and Transitional Kindergarten Teacher
wbraun@heritagechristianschool.com

Ms. Wendy has been with Heritage Christian School for more than 10 years and has been teaching for more than 22. She absolutely loves teaching and is excited to take on the Preschool Co-Director role. Prior to teaching, Ms. Wendy was a Hairstylist and owner of her own salon. Ms. Wendy went into teaching, so that as a single mom, she would be able to go to work and school each day with her own children and this was such a blessing. Ms. Wendy has three children, Sloane,  who lives in Carlsbad and does interior design, Makenzie, who is a Hairstylist, and Hunter, who is the Assistant Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator for Laguna Beach football. Ms. Wendy loves to spend time with her kids going to football games, shopping, and little getaways. She also loves the beach and feels close to God while sitting and enjoying the sounds of the waves. She loves going to movies, having family BBQ’S, and spending time with her dad. Ms. Wendy loves working at Heritage Christian School. She loves the family feel that you get the minute  you arrive on campus, the Christ-centered curriculum, and all the wonderful teachers and staff she gets to work with each and every day.

Courtney Sicro
Preschool Teacher

Courtney is beyond blessed and grateful to be at Heritage Christian School.  She has been working with children for over 10 years. Teaching preschool is her passion as she feels it is a special time for them to expand their love for learning, to use their imagination to explore new and wonderful things, and to learn all about God’s love. Courtney has her Associate Certificate in teaching and is currently in school to continue her degree in Early Childhood Education. She has a son and they love to play outside and go on adventures, anything to get them out of the house. Courtney attends church every Sunday and she loves to enjoy every second that God has given her and to live in the moment.

 

Rebecca Velasco
Preschool Teacher

Rebecca has been teaching for over 30 years and has spent many years as a training specialst for students with disabilities and also assisting adulsts with mental health. She has been blessed with three sons and a granddaughter. Her heart is in helping others. She enjoys the outdoors and water sports. She is a certified scuba diver and loves the ocean. She feels blessed to be teaching at Heritage Christian Scool!

 

Audrey Ramirez
Preschool Teacher

Audrey is excited to be a part of Heritage Christian Preschool! She was born in Orange County, CA and spent time growing up in South Carolina before moving back to Orange County at age ten. She has her Associate Degree from Saddleback College in Child Development and is working on her Bachelor’s in Child and Adolescent Development at Cal State Fullerton with a focus in elementary education. Audrey’s professional experience includes being an assistant teacher, a para-educator at an elementary school, and now a preschool teacher! She enjoys serving at church in the preschool, elementary, and high school settings. Her love for teaching only continues to grow as she gets older. She loves traveling, hanging out with her dog, drawing/painting, watching movies, and being with family and friends.

Rachel Savas
Preschool Teacher

Rachel is excited to be a part of the Heritage Christian family! She was born in Mission Viejo and grew up in San Clemente. She graduated from Grand Canyon University with a B.S. in Educational Studies. In the past, she has been an after school teacher, preschool aid, and a nanny for several years. Her passion has always been teaching and she has a huge heart for the little ones. In her free time, she loves to spend time with family and friends, go to the gym, attend country concerts, go shopping, and tan at the beach or pool.

Hope Kielb
Preschool Aide

Hope was born and raised in Rancho Santa Margarita. She developed a  love of preschool when she was just three and a student at Mission Viejo Christian Preschool. She stayed an extra year because she loved it so much. She believes that being a preschool teacher was her destiny. She joined the HCS Family in February 2021 and has been loving it. She is currently working toward her AA in Child Development at Saddleback College. In her free time, she loves to spend time with family, friends, and three French Bulldogs that she loves to spoil.

 

Makenzie Braun
Preschool Aide

Makenzie was born in Arizona and moved to California when she was three. Starting at the age of four, Mackenzie became a cheerleader which eventually led to her involvement in high school and competitive world cheerleading where she traveled and competed in different states on the worlds stage. She attended Golden West College where she received her cosmetology license and she worked as a hairdresser for four years. Makenzie has always loved being around children, and although she loves the hair business, she knew she wanted to follow her dream of becoming a teacher. Makenzie is currently attending Saddleback College and working on her degree in Early Childhood Development. She is thrilled to be a part of the Heritage Family and looks forward to learning from all the amazing teachers and staff here at Heritage Christian School. She attends Harbor Point Church and enjoys doing volunteer work for their food bank and serving the less fortunate. She loves the beach, hanging out with her family, and spending time with friends. 

 

Elementary Staff

Susan Reed
Kindergarten Teacher
sreed@heritagechristianschool.com

Susan graduated from San Diego State University in 1993 with a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Arts and Sciences, Liberal Studies. She then earned a Multiple-Subject teaching credential from National University. In 1998, while teaching at Foothill Ranch Elementary School, she earned a Master of Science in Administration from Pepperdine University. There she also assisted the principal with administrative responsibilities as “Teacher on Special Assignment”. Susan has taught Kindergarten, First and Second grades in public and private institutions. Susan’s classroom environment is one that her students feel safe, loved, and encouraged to achieve their best. Susan focuses her teaching on developing each student’s spiritual, academic, social and physical well being. She incorporates God’s word in her teaching by including the Holy Bible in all areas of the Kindergarten day. She believes that encouraging a student’s relationship with God at an early age allows Godly principles to become the foundation for growth in character and academic achievement. Susan is honored to serve at Heritage Christian School as she teaches and empowers her students to achieve God’s plan for their life.

Hadee Espinoza
1st Grade Teacher
hespinoza@heritagechristianschool.com

Hadee received her Masters in Education from the University of Phoenix and is also an accredited ACSI teacher. She has taught several grades in both public and private schools. Hadee’s teaching passions are in the areas of Reading, English as a Second Language, and Special Education. As the spouse of a United States Marine, Hadee has traveled and seen the country from coast to coast and loves having the opportunity to be able to teach the Gospel and reach many families from a diverse range of cultures. Hadee believes her latest calling by God is definitely to serve here at Heritage Christian School. By her example, Hadee teaches her students the many ways God will move us from place to place to make disciples everywhere we go. Hadee was born in Mexico but calls Texas her home.

Tiffany Koopsen
2nd Grade Teacher
tkoopsen@heritagechristianschool.com

Tiffany attended Grand Canyon University and Biola University where she studied Youth Ministry and Elementary Education. Tiffany taught for several years and coached cheer at private schools in Whittier, CA and in Pebble Beach, CA. She came to Heritage Christian School shortly after moving to Laguna Niguel. Tiffany loves to try new things and often spends her summers traveling around the world with her husband. Tiffany’s favorite part of teaching at a Christian School is being able to worship and share the love of God with her students. 

Lori Del Padre
3rd Grade Teacher
ldelpadre@heritagechristianschool.com

Mrs. Del Padre loves Jesus, and she loves children.  She knows she has been called to teach 3rd grade students at Heritage Christian School.  She comes to us as a seasoned educator with over 25 years experience in which the majority of time was spent in Christian education.  She graduated from USD with a BA in Diversified Liberal Arts with a bilingual emphasis.  In addition, she is accredited through ACSI.  Mrs. Del Padre and her husband raised their daughter and son while living in Mission Viejo. As empty nesters, God called her and her husband to North Dakota for the past six years which they consider was an adventure of a lifetime. They have been called back to CA to be closer to family. Mrs. Del Padre loves hearing and sharing about God’s faithfulness.  She is passionate about reading her Bible, listening to and singing along with worship music unto the LORD, and praying as directed by the Holy Spirit. Whether it is with her students or young grandchildren, she enjoys reading aloud –silly to serious books– from a wide variety of genres.  Whenever possible, she can be found swimming, walking or hiking, or tap dancing.  She freely shares her God given gift of creativity which inspires her students, and they inspire her. Mrs. Del Padre is a lifelong learner and believes teaching children core subjects with a Biblical Worldview is a high calling and a privilege which requires daily dependence on God.  She is excited for the upcoming school year and looks forward to teaching, spending time with her students, and being a part of the HCS family.

Bryan Roney
4th Grade Teacher
broney@heritagechristianschool.com

Bryan graduated from Cal State Fullerton with a Bachelors in Liberal studies. Before graduating from Fullerton Bryan attended Fresno State where he played soccer on scholarship. He attended National University for his teaching credential. Bryan worked for several years in public school as a substitute and a high school soccer coach. He has been married to his wife Melissa for over 10 years and has three wonderful children Sadie, Maverick and Braylon. He attends Reverence Bible Church, Heritage Christian’s home base. In his free time Bryan loves to watch soccer, movies, and spend time with his family. Bryan feels extremely blessed to be joining the Heritage Christian family. It has always been his dream to be a teacher and to work in ministry. Now he gets to do both.

Kathy McDaniel
5th Grade Teacher
kmcdaniel@heritagechristianschool.com

Kathy McDaniel grew up in a wonderful Christian home in Fresno, CA, where she accepted Christ at the age of 4. She moved away from the heat to South Orange County for college and never left. She graduated with a B.A. in Sociology from UC Irvine, received her teaching credential from Concordia University, and has been pursuing her Master’s degree in Christian Ministry from Southern California Seminary. She has a passion for apologetics and finding ways to teach both the “what” and the “why” of Christianity to all ages so that their faith is built on a solid foundation of truth. She holds a California Clear Multi-Subject Credential, as well as a Single Subject Credential in English. She taught 8th Grade Language Arts and Drama for many years in public school prior to having her two children. Since her return to teaching, Kathy has taught 7th and 8th Grade History, as well as 5th Grade. She loves 5th Grade as they are on the cusp of making the big decisions in their life but still have a child’s innocence. The ability to impact their lives for Christ is huge. Kathy attends Pacific Coast Church where she has served in women’s ministry and youth ministry. She is highly involved in her church now as a curriculum contributor, event photographer, and VBS coordinator. Kathy is an avid Los Angeles Kings fan, loves sports (Hockey and Football), theater, amateur photography, politics, music, travel, adventure, and doing things with her family. She is thrilled to be teaching 5th Grade at Heritage.

Wendy Luttinen
6th Grade Teacher
wluttinen@heritagechristianschool.com

Wendy Luttinen has over 25 years teaching experience in both public and private education. She earned her B.A. in English from Whitworth College in Spokane, Washington. She graduated from the University of Washington with her M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis on Writer’s Workshop. She is ACSI certified with a lifetime membership. Wendy has taught under Mr. Gay’s leadership since moving from Washington State to California in 2001. She has wanted to teach since she was a first grader and is living her dream. Her passion for writing is contagious as she is able to inspire all students, from the most reluctant to those who are gifted in writing.

Becky Trojan
Physical Education
btrojan@heritagechristianschool.com

Becky has over 30 years of teaching experience in both public and private education. She grew up in the Philippines attending a Christian school for missionary kids. Becky earned her Bachelor of Science in Physical Education and teaching credential K-12 at Biola University. She was an Elementary P.E. Specialist 10 years in the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District, where she also coached both Jr. High and High School sports (basketball, soccer, softball and volleyball). Becky was also a Swim/ Water Safety Instructor and Jr. Life Guard trainer for many years. Other related hobbies include VBS, camps, coaching and officiating Little League baseball, girls softball, AYSO and club volleyball. She and her husband, Dave, married over 25 years, have a son, Steven, 1st Lt. Air Force fighter pilot; and a daughter, Traci, attending Cal State Fullerton. Becky loves the Lord and serves Him as the Awana Ministry Director at Mission Hills Church. Her desire is to teach and encourage kids to give their best and to make physical activity fun so it becomes a life-long goal.

Rachel Miles
Athletic Director
rmiles@heritagechristianschool.com

Rachel Miles earned her Bachelor of Science in Human Development from Hope International University. She has been certified through the American Sport Education Program and the California Interscholastic Federation – CIF Coaching Education Program. Rachel has been a PE teacher for over 16 years and an athletic director for over 8 years in Christian education. She coached softball for 16 years and brought home the championship 6 times. Rachel grew up in a Christian home and feels very blessed every day of her life for the parents God gave her. She has two wonderful young adult sons whom she adores, Sean and Ryan. In her free time, she likes taking walks on the beach, reading, and watching a good softball game!!! She also spends time with the Special Olympics, where she helps coach their co-ed softball team and special events. Jesus is her Lord and Savior and without Him she is nothing. Rachel always tries to live her life in a manner that would honor God. She feels God has led her to Heritage Christian School and is very excited to see how God is going to use her here at HCS. It is an honor and a privilege to be on staff at HCS!

Jr High Staff

David Del Padre, Jr High/High School Dean, Director International Program
Bible, Electives, Math
ddelpadre@heritagechristianschool.com

David has recently completed a quarter century as a teacher and administrator. He has taught some amount of time in every grade level from 1st-12th. David has been licensed and taught in Virginia, Nevada, California, and North Dakota. He has a Bachelor’s degree from University of San Diego, a Master’s of Education from Old Dominion University, and a Master’s in Education Leadership from Rocky Mountain College. David is honored to have served this great country in the U.S. Navy for 10 years. He loves teaching HIStory and helping students to make an impact with their story of Jesus Christ in their life. He is blessed to be teaching in his third Christian school with his wife Lori. They are blessed to have two adult children and three grandchildren. He considers it a blessing from God to be back in California and close to his family heritage and now also as a member of Heritage Christian School. 

Emily Updegraff, Jr High/High School Activities
History & Spanish
eupdegraff@heritagechristianschool.com

Emily has been a teacher at the Jr. High level teaching World History, United States History, Spanish. She has also coached three Tri-Way League Championship Volleyball Teams. She has always dedicated herself to education. Emily received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Education at Hope International University and is credentialed by ACSI. Emily attends Compass Bible Church with her family. In her free time she enjoys coaching volleyball and spending time with her family. Emily has been with Heritage Christian School since its inception. She believes in the work God is doing here. Her goal for all of her students is to learn how to love God wholeheartedly and love others unconditionally.

Scott Bruce
English, History, Science
sbruce@heritagechristianschool.com

Scott Bruce is excited to be a part of the Heritage Christian School family. This is Scott’s 18th year teaching, and his third at HCS. He was born and raised in Southern California and after graduating from Irvine High School, he attended Orange Coast Community College and San Diego State University where he earned his B.S. Degree in Psychology. Scott continued his education at National University. Along with teaching at HCS, Scott is a coach at Saddleback Valley Volleyball Club. He has been married to Kristan for over fifteen years and has been blessed with two sets of twins, Lexie and Matthew, and Ryan and Jack. In his free time Scott enjoys volleyball, skiing, camping, and going to the beach with family and friends.

Kelly Dy-An
English, Algebra, Speech
kdyan@heritagechristianschool.com

Kelly Dy-An graduated from California State University, Fullerton with a Bachelor of Science in Child and Adolescent Development. She entered Fullerton’s rigorous master’s program and earned both a Master of Science in Education and Multiple Subject Teaching Credential.  She has worked in public and private education and taught 1st through 8th grades for five years.  Her goal is to create a God-centered, caring, comfortable classroom environment where her students will flourish.  When she is not teaching, Kelly enjoys hiking, swimming, crocheting, and reading.  She loves spending her free time with her husband Patrick and their dog Teddy.

Dee Goto
Math, Science
dgoto@heritagechristianschool.com

Dee Goto has over fifteen years teaching in both Mathematics and Science. She began her teaching career in Mathematicsand has taught Math from 3rd Grade through High School PreCalculus. In addition, she is  currently a member of Voyagers Bible Church and serves on the prayer team. Dee is married and has three children and one grandchild with whom she likes to spend all her time. Her favorite things to do are hiking, reading, watching movies, and spending time with my husband and kids. And she loves a good joke!

Deborah Comstock
Visual Arts
dcomstock@heritagechristianschool.com

Deborah has had a lifelong passion for the arts.  A native Californian, Deborah earned her B.F.A. degree in Art from Cal State Fullerton and also holds an Associate Degree in Design.  Teaching Art in private Christian schools for over 20 years and part of the HCS family since 2011, Deborah believes God has blessed every child with the ability to succeed in Art.  It is her commitment to bring out this potential and foster a love for God and all the art He has created for us to enjoy.  An avid supporter of the arts, Deborah has participated in the annual Festival of the Arts show in Laguna Canyon and Arts Alive event in the city of Mission Viejo since 2010.

Becky Trojan
Physical Education
btrojan@heritagechristianschool.com

Becky has over 30 years of teaching experience in both public and private education. She grew up in the Philippines attending a Christian school for missionary kids. Becky earned her Bachelor of Science in Physical Education and teaching credential K-12 at Biola University. She was an Elementary P.E. Specialist 10 years in the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District, where she also coached both Jr. High and High School sports (basketball, soccer, softball and volleyball). Becky was also a Swim/ Water Safety Instructor and Jr. Life Guard trainer for many years. Other related hobbies include VBS, camps, coaching and officiating Little League baseball, girls softball, AYSO and club volleyball. She and her husband, Dave, married over 25 years, have a son, Steven, 1st Lt. Air Force fighter pilot; and a daughter, Traci, attending Cal State Fullerton. Becky loves the Lord and serves Him as the Awana Ministry Director at Mission Hills Church. Her desire is to teach and encourage kids to give their best and to make physical activity fun so it becomes a life-long goal.

Rachel Miles
Athletic Director
rmiles@heritagechristianschool.com

Rachel Miles earned her Bachelor of Science in Human Development from Hope International University. She has been certified through the American Sport Education Program and the California Interscholastic Federation – CIF Coaching Education Program. Rachel has been a PE teacher for over 16 years and an athletic director for over 8 years in Christian education. She coached softball for 16 years and brought home the championship 6 times. Rachel grew up in a Christian home and feels very blessed every day of her life for the parents God gave her. She has two wonderful young adult sons whom she adores, Sean and Ryan. In her free time, she likes taking walks on the beach, reading, and watching a good softball game!!! She also spends time with the Special Olympics, where she helps coach their co-ed softball team and special events. Jesus is her Lord and Savior and without Him she is nothing. Rachel always tries to live her life in a manner that would honor God. She feels God has led her to Heritage Christian School and is very excited to see how God is going to use her here at HCS. It is an honor and a privilege to be on staff at HCS!

High School Staff

David Del Padre, Jr High/High School Dean, Director International Program
Bible, Electives, Math
ddelpadre@heritagechristianschool.com

David has recently completed a quarter century as a teacher and administrator.  He has taught some amount of time in every grade level 1st-12th. David has been licensed and taught in Virginia, Nevada, California, and North Dakota.  He has a Bachelor’s degree from University of San Diego, a Master’s of Education from Old Dominion University and a Master’s in Education Leadership from Rocky Mountain College.  David is honored to have served this great country in the U.S. Navy for 10 years.  He loves teaching HIStory and helping students to make an impact with their story of Jesus Christ in their life.  He is blessed to be teaching in his third Christian school with his wife Lori.  They are blessed to have two adult children and three grandchildren.  He considers it a blessing from God to be back in California and close to his family heritage and now also as a member of Heritage Christian School. 

Emily Updegraff, Jr High/High School Activities
History, Spanish
eupdegraff@heritagechristianschool.com

Emily has been a teacher at the High School level for the last several years. She has taught World History, United States History, Spanish. She has also coached three Tri-Way League Championship Volleyball Teams. She has always dedicated herself to education. Emily received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Education at Hope International University and is credentialed by ACSI. Emily attends Compass Bible Church with her family. In her free time she enjoys coaching volleyball and spending time with her family. Emily has been with Heritage Christian School since its inception. She believes in the work God is doing here. Her goal for all of her students is to learn how to love God wholeheartedly and love others unconditionally.

Scott Bruce
English, History
sbruce@heritagechristianschool.com

Scott Bruce is excited to be a part of the Heritage Christian School family. This is Scott’s 20th year teaching, and his fifth at HCS. He was born and raised in Southern California and after graduating from Irvine High School, he attended Orange Coast Community College and San Diego State University where he earned his B.S. Degree in Psychology. Scott continued his education at National University. Along with teaching at HCS, Scott is a coach at Orange Coast Volleyball Club. He has been married to Kristan for over twenty years and has been blessed with two sets of twins, Lexie and Matthew, and Ryan and Jack. In his free time Scott enjoys volleyball, skiing, camping, and going to the beach with family and friends.

Rick Niswonger
Psychology, Bible, Economics, Government
rniswonger@heritagechristianschool.com

Rick Niswonger is a graduate of John Brown University, a small Christian college in Arkansas. He majored in Social Studies and Secondary Education. He then began his teaching career at the Southern California Military Academy in Signal Hill. It was a Christian school with K-9th grade where he served as teacher, chaplain and coach. It was here that he met Janet another teacher and now his wife of 41 years. She and Rick had two children, Jeremy and Emily. After ten years at that school the Lord miraculously provided a job in the computer software industry for 15 years. Rick eventually jumped back into Christian education as the head-of-school at Brethren Christian Junior and Senior High School from 2002 to 2017. He and Janet have been in Christian education for a combined 65 years. Raised in a Christian home, Rick began to have doubts about his Christian faith in College. He started to think you could never be certain of the truth. But at JBU, he was confronted with the evidence for the resurrection, the fulfilled prophecies of Jesus, and other historical evidence. It was with great surprise and joy that he realized the Christian faith was actually, verifiably TRUE! Forty years later Rick is still and increasingly, in awe of who God is and how He loves us! Heritage Christian School is a priceless jewel in God’s kingdom. Its Godly leaders navigate against the flow of our decaying culture honoring our treasured nation and lovingly training up our precious children in the nurture and instruction of the Lord. Rick is grateful to God every day for the opportunity to serve the fabulous students of HCS helping them understand the truth of God’s Word in Apologetics class and the blessing our nation has been to the world in “Government” and “Current Events” classes. Rick says, “The best part of each day is walking out of the classroom at the end of the day and saying “Man that was fun and then realizing, Whoa! This is my JOB!” Rick says: “Here the students relate to one another in a family way, and yes, that means even the Junior High boys.” (BTW Rick admits that he, himself, is a recovering Junior High boy.) “The students seem to like, appreciate and encourage each other. I have not heard a mean word spoken yet by anyone!” Final Note: Rick Niswonger graduated from John Brown University with a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education, Emphasis: Social Science. Additional course work: California State University, Biola University, California Baptist University, Talbot Seminary and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He possesses a Single Subject California Credential (Social Science), and an Association of Christian Schools International Certificate (Secondary Principal). Rick spent 15 years in software education and has been a Christian School educator for 25 years.

Kelly Dy-An
English, Drama
kdyan@heritagechristianschool.com

Kelly Dy-An graduated from California State University, Fullerton with a Bachelor of Science in Child and Adolescent Development. She entered Fullerton’s rigorous master’s program and earned both a Master of Science in Education and Multiple Subject Teaching Credential.  She has worked in public and private education and taught 1st through 8th grades for five years.  Her goal is to create a God-centered, caring, comfortable classroom environment where her students will flourish.  When she is not teaching, Kelly enjoys hiking, swimming, crocheting, and reading.  She loves spending her free time with her husband Patrick and their dog Teddy.

Dee Goto
Math
dgoto@heritagechristianschool.com

 Dee Goto has over fifteen years teaching in both Mathematics and Science. She began her teaching career in Mathematics and has taught Math from 3rd Grade through High School PreCalculus. In addition, she is currently a member of Voyagers Bible Church and serves on the prayer team. Dee is married and has three children and one grandchild with whom she likes to spend all her time. Her favorite things to do are hiking, reading, watching movies, and spending time with my husband and kids. And she loves a good joke!

Deborah Comstock
Visual Arts
dcomstock@heritagechristianschool.com

Deborah has had a lifelong passion for the arts.  A native Californian, Deborah earned her B.F.A. degree in Art from Cal State Fullerton and also holds an Associate Degree in Design.  Teaching Art in private Christian schools for over 20 years and part of the HCS family since 2011, Deborah believes God has blessed every child with the ability to succeed in Art.  It is her commitment to bring out this potential and foster a love for God and all the art He has created for us to enjoy.  An avid supporter of the arts, Deborah has participated in the annual Festival of the Arts show in Laguna Canyon and Arts Alive event in the city of Mission Viejo since 2010.

Becky Trojan
Physical Education
btrojan@heritagechristianschool.com

Becky has had over 30 years of teaching experience in both public and private education. She grew up in the Philippines; attending a Christian school for missionary kids. Becky earned her Bachelor of Science in Physical Education and teaching credential K-12 at Biola University. She was an Elementary P.E. Specialist 10 years in the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District, where she also coached both Jr. High and High School sports (basketball, soccer, softball and volleyball). Becky was also a Swim/ Water Safety Instructor and Jr. Life Guard trainer for many years. Other related hobbies include VBS, camps, coaching and officiating Little League baseball, girls softball, AYSO and club volleyball. She and her husband, Dave, have been married over 25 years, and have a son, Steven, 1st Lt. Air Force fighter pilot, and a daughter, Traci, attending Cal State Fullerton. Becky loves the Lord and serves Him as the Awana Ministry Director at Mission Hills Church. Her desire is to teach and encourage kids to give their best and to make physical activity fun so it becomes a life-long goal.

Rachel Miles
Athletic Director
rmiles@heritagechristianschool.com

Rachel Miles earned her Bachelor of Science in Human Development from Hope International University. She has been certified through the American Sport Education Program and the California Interscholastic Federation – CIF Coaching Education Program. Rachel has been a PE teacher for over 16 years and an athletic director for over 8 years in Christian education. She has coached softball for 16 years and has brought home the championship 6 times. Rachel grew up in a Christian home and feels very blessed everyday of her life for the parents God gave her. She has two wonderful young adult sons whom she adores, Sean and Ryan. In her free time, she likes taking walks on the beach, reading, and watching a good softball game!!! She also spends time with the Special Olympics, where she helps coach their co-ed softball team and special events. Jesus is her Lord and Savior and without Him she is nothing. Rachel always tries to live her life in a manner that would honor God. She feels God has led her to Heritage Christian School and is very excited to see how God is going to use her here at HCS. It is an honor and a privilege to be on staff at HCS!

Auxiliary Staff

Ireny Naguib
Heritage Harbor Daycare Program 

Ireny earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture from Egypt’s Cairo University. She was born and raised in a Christian family and loves working with children of all ages. She has been working at HCS since 2018 and loves the Christian environment and the love of Jesus in the school. 

Betsy Holritz
Librarian
bholritz@heritagechristianschool.com

Betsy received her B.A. in Christian Education from Biola University. She loves people of all ages and has devoted a great part of her life to raising five children as a stay at home mom. One of her greatest loves is reading and books. She has a passion for helping children develop a love of reading and to find books that fuel their desire to read. She finds great joy in bringing books to life by reading aloud to children of all ages. Her life verse is John 17:3, which speaks of having a personal experiential relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Deborah Comstock
Visual Arts
dcomstock@heritagechristianschool.com

Deborah has had a lifelong passion for the arts.  A native Californian, Deborah earned her B.F.A. degree in Art from Cal State Fullerton and also holds an Associate Degree in Design.  Teaching Art in private Christian schools for over 20 years and part of the HCS family since 2011, Deborah believes God has blessed every child with the ability to succeed in Art.  It is her commitment to bring out this potential and foster a love for God and all the art He has created for us to enjoy.  An avid supporter of the arts, Deborah has participated in the annual Festival of the Arts show in Laguna Canyon and Arts Alive event in the city of Mission Viejo since 2010.

Krystal Calabrese
Elementary Music
kcalabrese@heritagechristianschool.com

Krystal Calabrese graduated from Saddleback College with an A.A. in Journalism and Music. She went on to Cal State Long Beach and received a B.A. degree in Speech Communication with an emphasis on public speaking. She has been in music ministry since she was a child, singing worship at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa for many years. Krystal has been professionally trained in musical theater, vocal exercise and instruction. She has many years of experience as a singer, dancer and actor, and brings that training to the stage directing the HCS school musicals. Krystal lives in Portola Hills and is a devoted wife to husband, Sammy, and loves nothing more than being a mom to her two amazing kids. She attends Calvary Chapel Pacific Hills and has served as a lead vocalist on their worship team for 10 years. Krystal enjoys traveling, good food, and spending time with her family. She absolutely loves teaching music at Heritage and her goal every year is to teach her students to love and appreciate music while growing in their relationship with the Lord through worshiping our King.

Tiffany Koopsen
DSL Head Cheerleading Coach
tkoopsen@heritagechristianschool.com

Tiffany attended Grand Canyon University and Biola University where she studied Youth Ministry and Elementary Education. Tiffany taught for several years and coached cheer at private schools in Whittier, CA and in Pebble Beach, CA. She came to Heritage Christian School shortly after moving to Laguna Niguel. Tiffany loves to try new things and often spends her summers traveling around the world with her husband. Tiffany’s favorite part of teaching at a Christian School is being able to worship and share the love of God with her students.

Lori Clark
Elementary Aide

Lori graduated from San Diego State with a double major in Speech Pathology/Audiology and Psychology. She worked in pharmaceutical sales prior to coming to work for Mr. Gay 20 years ago. Lori has served in different grade levels over the years and is currently serving as the Kindergarten Aide. Lori is committed to loving and serving the students, parents, teachers, and staff with compassion and excellence. She is excited for what the Lord has in store for Heritage Christian School, knowing He will be faithful every step of the way. Outside of her time here at Heritage, Lori serves as the Prayer Chair at Community Bible Study in Irvine. She and her husband have two grown daughters and they are expecting their first grand baby!

Tricia Fitzgerald
Elementary Aide

Tricia Fitzgerald is an Orange County native and has been married to her husband, Ryan, for over 15 years. Their three kids, Weston, Lainey and Kaiya, all attend HCS. Tricia has worked for HCS as a Teacher’s Aide for the past four years. She feels very blessed to be a part of an organization that seeks to honor God in their decisions and one that truly feels “like family”. Tricia’s love language is acts of service, so the role of teacher’s aide is a perfect fit, since it utilizes her abilities and desires to help others. In her free-time, Tricia loves doing any kind of exercise; from hiking to mountain biking, paddle boarding, soccer, and especially carving on her longboard skateboard! You will often see Tricia in the valet line, opening car doors and greeting the students, which is a highlight of her day!

Claire Brull
Elementary Aide

Claire received her Bachelor of Science in Marketing and a Psychology Minor from San Diego State University. She retired from the corporate world to be a full-time Mom. During that time, Claire served in childcare at Saddleback Church and also provided new employee training for Women’s Bible Studies and the Celebrate Recovery Program. She also helped start up and teach their first Parent and Me Kiddie Gym Program. Claire has worked as a Kindergarten Aide at Stoneybrooke Christian and a First Grade Aide for Saddleback Valley Christian. She and her husband, Chris, have three beautiful daughters. Claire has a lifelong passion for children and she loves sharing Jesus Christ with them. She feels so blessed to be a part of Heritage Christian School and looks forward to serving the students and their families!

 

Holly Lee
Elementary Aide

Holly has been a teacher’s aide at Heritage Christian School for 3 years.  She loves working with children and encouraging them in the Lord. Holly loves to support the teachers with any needs they may have. Her favorite scripture is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” She loves to hike, rock climb and go for bike rides with her husband and two boys who also attend Heritage Christian School. 

 Delmy Rios

Elementary Aide 

Delmy lives in Lake Forest, has been married for over 13 years, and is Mom to two wonderful children, Dayanara and Nathan. Delmy started teaching at HCS in 2014. She attended Saddleback College and is certified in early childhood development. She met Jesus Christ as her Savior when she was 18 years old and notes that this was the best decision that she has ever made. Delmy has always had a calling to serve in children’s ministry, loves that she can be involved in Christian education, and feels blessed to be able to serve God at HCS.

Edie Gay
Elementary Aide
egay@heritagechristianschool.com

Edie graduated from Saddleback College with her A.A. degree in Early Childhood Education. She is
one of the original staff members at HCS and has worn “many hats” during her 15 years at the school. She loves working at HCS and considers it a privilege to be involved in this ministry and to work alongside her husband, Mr. Gay. She has been married to her high school sweetheart, Mr. Gay, for over 44 years and has four beautiful daughters. When she is not working at school she enjoys spending time with her nine grandchildren, watching OU Football, and reading. She accepted Christ as her personal Savior in 1980 and her life verse is Jeremiah 29:11.

Kelsey Lullo
Elementary Aide
klullo@heritagechristianschool.com

Kelsey is a recent graduate from Grand Canyon University with a Bachelors in Psychology. She is currently working on her Masters degree in Clinical Counseling with Concordia University Irvine. She loves Jesus, working with kids, and helping those in need. She is very excited for the opportunity to be at Heritage!

Brooke Wilsman
Elementary Aide
bwilsman@heritagechristianschool.com

Brooke played collegiate volleyball for 4 years while pursuing her education at Lee University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies K-6 Education in 2018. She then pursued playing beach volleyball at Vanguard University while obtaining her Masters in Leadership in 2020. She is also ACSI certified. Brooke is involved in serving at Mission Bible Church in Costa Mesa. She is pursuing certification in biblical counseling through ACBC ( Accredited Christian Biblical Counseling) in order to serve the women at MBC with any counseling needs. Brooke likes to stay active through hiking, playing beach volleyball, and spikeball. She desires to grow in love for others. She tries to walk in obedience and remain faithful to God through reading His Word and living it out every day.

Johnny Mendoza
Elementary Aide

 Johnny graduated from The Master’s University with a Bachelor’s in Biblical Counseling. He spent two years as a Youth Pastor and also worked in a counseling center while in Jacksonville, Florida. He is certified as an ACBC Counselor. His hobbies are camping, fishing, woodworking and he enjoys serving as a Youth Group Leader for Arbor Christian Fellowship.

Elvis Illescas

Janitor/Custodian

Elvis enjoys spending time with family and friends and watching TV. Elvis has two children, one boy, and one girl, and he has 3 grandchildren that he adores. He has worked at Heritage Christian School for over a year and his favorite scripture is Psalm 91.

Ask the Principal

HCS Elementary & Preschool Campus

22081 Hidalgo Mission Viejo, CA 92691

(949) 598-9166

(949) 598-9166 ext. 115 (Preschool)
(949) 598-1892 (FAX)

HCS Jr. & High School Campus

23302 El Toro Road Lake Forest, CA 92630

(949) 446-8133

(949) 598-1892 (FAX)