Teachers


This is my 17th year teaching here in the Vail School District and my 3rd 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!  

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.

I am originally from Santa Barbara, California and came to Tucson in 1983 with my husband, Eric (an IBM engineer since 1981). We have one son, Karl, who was a Cienega graduate in 2005. I have been teaching since 1983, working with preschoolers all the way up to adults, and joined the Vail School District in 1997. Our paths might have crossed at Desert Willow, Cottonwood, Desert Sky or Rincon Vista. I hold a BS in Child Development, MA in Educational Leadership and a Reading Specialist endorsement. I am an avid reader and participate in a book club with several other teachers. I also love to be outdoors for exercise, horseback riding, cycling and critter watching. 

After more than 30 years of teaching, I find that each year becomes a new adventure when we discover as a class family our strengths, interests and unique expressions through reading, writing, creating and conversation. 

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.

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- Office Manager:

I enjoy working at the front office closely with each family and student. Come by any time!