LA STARS Faculty


Brandon Zaslow, Program Director

M.A. in Spanish (Option in Applied Linguistics and American Literature), M.A. in Education (Option in Teaching Foreign, Second and Heritage Languages and Cultures)

Department Chair, Teacher of Spanish and Spanish for Spanish Speakers, Granada Hills Charter High School 

30 years with the project; 31 years teaching, grades K-18; Lecturer, Foreign and Heritage Language Methods, UCLA; author, Entre mundos (textbook program in Spanish for heritage speakers), Invitaciones (textbook program in Spanish for non-natives), contributor and consultant to the California’s 2003 Foreign Language Framework; chair of writing team of California’s 2009 World Language Content Standards.

California Outstanding Language Teacher, 1996, National Textbook Company Award for Leadership in Language Education, 2000, Distinguished Service Award for Contributions to World Language and Culture Education, 2009, Hal Wingard Lifetime Achievement Award for World Language and Culture Educators, 2016


Connie Johnson, Teacher Trainer

M.A., Counselor, Teacher of Spanish, Apple Valley USD

24 years with the project; 34 years in education, grades 6-14; Lecturer, Foreign Language Methods, CSUSB: TPRS Coach and Consulting Teacher.

Mentor, Department Chair; Member, writing team for the Golden State Exam, consultant to AP (Spanish Language) and Praxis (Spanish).

Past President, California Language Teachers Association; California Outstanding Language Teacher, 1995.


Ken DeShan, Teacher Trainer

B.A. in French, B.A. in English, M.A. in Education (Option in Adult Education). Graduate of the California Literature Project (UCLA 1987)

Taught French and English at Chaparral Middle School (8 years), French and English at Diamond Bar High School (2 years), all levels of French (1-4AP/IB) at Walnut High School (25 years), all schools in the Walnut Valley Unified School District.

District Mentor Teacher for 8 years in both English and Foreign Language. 

25 years with the California World Language Project (2 as a participant and 23 as a team leader/presenter).

Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year (2001)
California Outstanding Language Teacher (2002)


Lewie Johnson, Teacher Trainer

B.A., Spanish; M.A., Intercultural Education

Taught Spanish in the classroom for 35 years before retiring to focus on teacher training.  Since 1995 he has been a teacher leader with the California World Language Project, and since 2003, he has been a field supervisor for student teachers at California State University in San Bernardino where he has taught methodology for world language teachers.  In addition, he has served as president of the California Language Teachers’ Association.  Since 2008, he has been teaching English and providing summer training to English teachers in four cities in China.

Recipient of the Hal Wingard Award for Lifetime Achievement from the California Language Teachers' Association, named Outstanding Teacher by the California Language Teachers' Association, awarded "Excellence in Teaching" from the Southwest Conference of Language Teaching, and the California League of Middle Schools named him their 1991 Educator of the Year.  In his last year in the classroom, he was awarded the 2003 San Bernardino County Office of Education Medal of Honor as an outstanding educator. 


Rosallyn Celle, Teacher Trainer

B.A. in Spanish; M.S. in Educational Counseling

6 years with the project, taught Spanish at Granite Hills High School for 9 years, demo teacher for IE STARS, and resident/mentor teacher CSUSB.

Past treasurer, Inland Empire Foreign Language Association

Maria L

Maria A. Leinenwber, Teacher Trainer

BA (Spanish and Social Science), MA (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages/TESOL), National Board Certified Teacher/NBCT, World Language Other than English/Spanish; Bilingual, Crosscultural, Language and Academic Development (BCLAD)

30 years with the Project; 40 years in the secondary classroom, grades 7-12, Department Chair, FL/ELD; Program Director, California Foreign Language Subject Matter Project-LA STARS, Occidental College, Los Angeles and LASTARS Heritage Language/ELD Tier Leader; Member, National Teacher Development Team (World Languages Other than English Certificate)

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Trainer (1999-2001);  Johns Hopkins SDBTeacher Fellow (2006); Educator of the Year finalistCalifornia League of High Schools, Region 8, County of Los Angeles (2006); CLTA Outstanding Teacher of the Year (1999); Global Teaching Award, Immaculate Heart College Center (1990); Cooperative Learning/Culture Consultant for the textbook series, Acción, Glenco (1990-92); WASC Accreditation Committee Chairperson/Member (1993-2014); CLTA State Conference Presenter (1992-2013).  


Mike Rivera, Teacher Trainer

B.A. in Spanish, B.S. in Education, M.A. in Educational Administration

Has been teaching Spanish at Granada Hills Charter since 1998, and currently teaches Spanish and serves as the World Languages and Cultures Instructional Advisor. His role is to support teachers in his department and the language program.  Additionally, he has taught Spanish four more years in other high school outside of California.

In 1999, he attended L.A. STARS for the first time and then went on to learn from all of the programs available at that time.  Now, now he is a presenter of two different programs and has worked to present for the California World Language Project for over ten years.


Véronique Fastré-Blavier, Teacher Trainer

BA – California State University, Northridge (French)

Single Subject Teaching Credential – Foreign Language: French

Professional Educator since 2003 – member of GHCHS since 2003


Melinda Jones, Teacher Trainer

B.A., French, M.A., Applied Linguistics, M.A., French Language

Taught French in grades 8-12 levels 1-4/5 AP/IB for 28 years in the Walnut Valley Unified School District. Teacher on Special Assignment for 4 years, working with Pre—Intern and BTSA teachers, training beginning teachers in all disciplines and in classroom management.

Consultant/reviewer and contributing writer to three textbooks.

Over 20 years with the California Foreign Language Project.

California Outstanding Language Teacher (1986)
Recipient Rockefeller Fellowship (1989)
Teacher on Special Assignment (2000-2004)
National Board Certification (2003)


Tonja Byrom, Teacher Trainer

Tonja Byrom coordinates the Single Subject Credential Program for World Languages at CSU Fullerton. Prior to teaching there, Mrs. Byrom taught high school Spanish for seven years in central California. She has been an active member of ACTFL and the CLTA for many years, holding positions of leadership in both organizations.

A proponent of language learning, she is always looking for ways to collaborate with other teachers, and she works very hard to support language programs and teachers in her community. Mrs. Byrom is also the mother of three school-aged children and enjoys spending time with them and her husband on their poultry farm whenever they have the opportunity.

Ana E

Ana Estangui, Teacher Trainer 
M.A. in Spanish, Department Chair, Teacher of Spanish, LAUSD

12 years with the project at Occidental College (1 as a participant and 11 as a team leader/presenter), 1 year with the project at San Bernardino University; 22 years in education, grades 9 -12, and college; Mentor, Department Chair, AP Reader, and MCLASC member.

Maria I

María Inostroza, Teacher Trainer
B.A. in Fine Arts, Educational Technologist, Digital Artist, Flash Developer

4 years with the project at Occidental College, 1 year at California State Universiy, San Bernardino

Teacher Trainer in Innovative Technology for World Language Teachers at Santa Monica College and Chaffey College, Creative Technology for Educators, Webmaster


Maggie Chen, Teacher Trainer

Guest Teacher Advisor, College Board Guest Teacher Summer Institute

Technology Strand Program Leader, LA STARS Professional Development Seminars; Occidental College California World Language Project

Mandarin Strand Program Leader,LA STARS Professional Development Seminars, Occidental College California World Language Project

Program Leader, Mandarin Teacher Leadership Institute (MTLI) , UCLA

Advisory Board Member, Modern Chinese Readers《现代中文College Series

Co-author, Career Technical Education (CTE) course for Entrepreneurship in Mandarin, University of California Curriculum Integration (UCCI)

Instructor, UCLA Summer Institute for Bilingual Authorization


Jason Loose, Teacher Trainer

Jason Loose, B.A. in Chinese, B.A. in Sustainability (Arizona State University, Chinese Language Flagship Program), Teacher of Chinese, Thousand Oaks High School and Redwood Middle School.

Has been teaching Chinese and mathematics in the Conejo Valley Unified School District for four years. Five years with the Mandarin Teacher Leadership Institute/LA STARS program, four as a participant and one as a facilitator.

  Mercedes Thompson
  Noah Goldsmith
  Iman Hashem
  Ana Briceño
  Jason Fritze
  Aurora Martinez
  Svetlana Lazarova