Saddleback has new additions to staffBy Trisha Maldonado
Saddleback Liberty Traditional has three new teachers this year. Kindergarten and Special Education Director, Edward Mealy; fourth and fifth grade teacher Ruth Acedo and physical education Juan Carlos (J.C.) Criado Ortiz.
Mealy, retired from the Army in 1995, has been teaching for 14 years. He taught at Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic School in Sierra Vista. He took a year off to work on his master’s degree in Special Education then was hired at Saddleback.
“The most rewarding thing for me is watching them (students) read their first book,” said Mealy. “The thing I have found most challenging is the language barrier here.”
Former Bulldog basketball and baseball player J.C. Ortiz joins the staff of Saddleback just months after graduating from Douglas High School. He plays in the Agua Prieta basketball leagues and is currently taking classes in Criminal Justice at Cochise College.
“It’s fun me I get to teach them something I have done my entire life, I get to show them how to exercises and play sports,” Ortiz said. “At the end of the day it’s pretty satisfying because you see them getting the hang of sports.”
Acedo has been teaching in the Douglas area for 12 years. She has taught at Clawson Elementary and Omega Alpha Academy.
“The most rewarding thing for me is when they get it.” Acedo said. “When their light bulb comes on and they just get it.”
Mealy, Acedo and Ortiz join a diverse faculty that includes longtime Douglas teacher Rita Long and Kiley Sjogren, who has taught English in Thailand.
“All of the teachers at Liberty are highly qualified and selected for their ability to serve as role models for students,” said Superintendent Raena Janes. “They keep students engaged in learning with hands-on projects and the use of the latest technology.”
“You can’t offer quality education without quality educators,” said Principal Sean Watins. “Regardless of state regulations ensuring teacher qualifications, we make sure that our students’ education is in the hands of the right people.”
Liberty Traditional Charter School opened in the fall 2011. Like its sister campus in Phoenix, Liberty Traditional Saddleback offers students in K-5th a quality education, tuition free. Liberty Traditional Saddleback strives to develop in students a lifelong love of learning, community service and integrity.