Meet the Civano Staff


This is my 18th year teaching here in the Vail School District and my 4th here at Civano. During this time, I have taught Preschool, Kindergarten, 1st, 6th/7th grade and served as a Reading Specialist for 6 years. I have a bachelor’s in Elementary Education and a Master’s in Language, Reading, and Culture, both from the U of A. I also have a reading specialist certification and a special education endorsement. I am married and have 3 young boys and we live right here in the Civano neighborhood. In my spare time (ha!) I enjoy reading, singing, watching movies, riding my bike and I’m learning how to play the guitar!  

Civano is a community school that is unlike the rest. Students are encouraged to use their imagination when they play; creating their own “potions” and “shops”. Our students learn to be part of a community, build independence, practice problem solving skills, and collaborate with one another.

Civano is our home away from home. We work together for a common good. Welcome!

Gianni Wanaka- Administrative Assistant
If you have a question call me or come by any time!

My passion for teaching and learning began as a child and is still the guiding factor in my life. I was raised here in Tucson and just love the desert. I’m an Arizona Wildcat, completing two degrees at the University of Arizona. My first degree is in Anthropology because I have always been curious about human societies, their cultures and development. While studying Anthropology, I was an intern at the Arizona State Museum and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. My experience in those two museums inspired me toward my second degree, Elementary Education. I absolutely loved teaching children in these two amazing museums. My quest for a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction is ongoing through Grand Canyon University, I expected to graduate at the end of August 2017!

For eleven years, I lived and taught on a small island in the Western Pacific called Saipan (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands). Teaching in this culturally diverse population of people was the experience of a lifetime. My time there allowed me to travel to many different countries and gave me a unique perspective on the world. What better way to combine my passion for teaching, learning, and curiosity about other cultures!

I have two wonderful children, my son just began his college career at the U of A, and my daughter is a Junior in high school.  I just got engaged at Thanksgiving, we are planning a spring wedding. My family and I enjoy hiking, camping, watching movies, traveling and just being silly together. In my free time I love reading, drawing, and doing just about anything outside.

After a career as a software product manager, I started volunteering at my daughter’s school in the Vail School District, while helping start Civano Community School as one of the first residents. After a year volunteering in the math classes, I became a parapro and then a teacher, earning my post baccalaureate degree in Elementary Education.  It’s been almost over 15 years!  During that time I also earned my MA in Curriculum and Learning. I love teaching math and science through real-life application and exploration, so I am constantly seeking new ideas to incorporate into my evolving curriculum.

Joanna K. Norman is the middle school science and math teacher.  Joanna was originally part of our Civano Community as a parent and volunteer. Both of her daughters attended Civano for K-8th grade and she volunteered at the school teaching electives and as a lunch lady.  She joined our staff as a teacher in 2014.  Joanna holds a BA in Biology from Pomona College and a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of California, Irvine.  Her passions have always been nature and teaching.  She came to Civano after taking time off from full-time work to raise her daughters.  She joined Civano with 10 years of teaching and teacher professional development experience at the university level.  In her spare time, Joanna is a quilter and hiker.  She also volunteers as a Guide Dog Puppy raiser and you will often see her at school and around the neighborhood with a puppy in training.

This is my first year at Civano, and I am excited to be here! I travelled all the way from Pittsburgh, PA to become part of this wonderful community. I previously lived in Tucson for 7 years, and am overjoyed to move back to the place I truly feel is my home. Currently, I am enrolled a Masters of Education of Applied Behavioral Analysis program. Upon graduation in 2018, I will be able to sit for the BCBA exam. I graduated with a BA in 2016, where I majored in Communication Disorders and minored in Developmental Psychology. I enjoy working with children, listening to music, refurbishing old furniture, and going on nature hikes with my daughter.

This is Kelly’s first year working with Civano as our district administrator. She is always available to answer any questions or concerns and can be reached at 879-2095 or pinkertonk@vailschooldistrict.org.

Kelly has been working in Vail for 19 years.  She’s taught 1st-4th grade, was a Student Achievement Teacher for 5 years and then has done curriculum work for the last 9 years.  She has been working with the Vail Innovation Center for 5 years. 

On a personal note, she and her husband have two boys.  She enjoys doing crossfit and vacationing in Mexico.