CVCS Teachers

Contact Information, Supply Lists, etc.

Kindergarten Teacher, Jill Abraham

Jill grew up in Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado. She originally moved to Albuquerque, NM in 1989. She met her husband, Wayne, and had a son, Jordan, while in Albuquerque. Later she moved, with her family, to Tucson, AZ for 3 1/2 years, then to Reno, NV for 5 years. In the fall of 2005, they moved to Belen, NM to be close to both sides of the family. In January, 2006, Jill went back to school for her Early Childhood degree. She graduated summa cum laude in 2009 from UNM Albuquerque. In the summer of 2009, she obtained her Early Childhood license with a TESOL endorsement. During the 2009-2010 school year she substituted in the Belen and Los Lunas school districts. For fun, Jill enjoys reading, crocheting, spending time with family and entertaining friends at her home.

First Grade Teacher, Heather Burnett

Heather Burnett grew up as the oldest of five siblings in northern California. A long time resident of New Mexico, she received her Masters degree for Science Teachers from NMT in 2016 and her NISL (National Institute for School Leadership) training and Educational Administrative License from ENMU in 2020. She has been living in Socorro since 2018 and encourages in others the realization of individual potential through lifelong learning, courage, and practice. She agrees wholeheartedly with William Cowper’s “The Task” (1785): “Variety is the very spice of life, That gives it all its flavor.”

Second Grade Teacher, Jamie Fassett

Mrs. Fassett grew up in a ranching family in Nebraska and Colorado. She graduated from Oklahoma St. with a degree in Animal Science and completed her education program at NMSU. She lives in Socorro with her husband and two daughters, and in her free time, she reads, swims, works with her many animals, and explores new ways to make learning fun for her students. Mrs. Fassett began teaching second grade at CVCS in August of 2015. Classroom Philosophy: I want to inspire students' lifelong passion of questioning, problem solving, and desire to expand their knowledge.

Third Grade Teacher, Deborah Matcham

Mrs. Matcham moved to Socorro six years ago from Northern Vermont. She holds a degree in Recreation Leadership from Becker College in Massachusetts and later earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education/Psychology from Johnson State College, Vermont. Mrs. Matcham holds a New Mexico Level II license and started teaching at CVCS in 2016. In her spare time she enjoys reading, gardening, cooking, and spending time with her husband and sons.

Classroom Philosophy: Children need to feel safe, accepted, and valued before they can be ready to learn.

4th & 5th Grade ELA Teacher, Kate Burleigh

Kate learned to love reading growing up on the shores of Lake Erie, spending long summer afternoons fishing and reading. Hooked on mysteries. During her undergraduate degree at Emerson College in Boston, MA, where she studied performance and directing for Children’s Theater, she discovered that writing can actually come from movement, dance and storytelling rather than fighting the white of a blank page. With newfound passion for learning outside of fill-in-the-blanks, Kate completed her Master’s degree in Education at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA., in Integrating the Arts into School Curriculums. She holds a Level III NM teaching license in Language Arts with endorsements in Reading Instruction and Performing Arts and an Intermediate K-8 Elementary License.

4th & 5th Grade Math & Science Teacher, Chi Le

Mrs. Le grew up in New Orleans. She got her BA in Classics from the University of New Mexico where she met her husband Dan. She got her teaching license from CSULB and taught for four years in Los Angeles and four more in Espanola, NM. She is the proud mother of two children, Claire and Adele, at CVCS. Her hobbies include family outings and reading classical literature. She is a level 2 teacher with a master’s in teaching math and science from NMSU.

Middle School Math & Social Studies Teacher, Paula Sims

Paula is originally from Northern New Mexico. She lived in Rio Rancho for 20 years and has 13+ years teaching high school math in Albuquerque. Paula, her husband and three dogs moved to Socorro to be closer to her sister and her family and have found Socorro to be a hidden treasure filled with some of the nicest people anyone could meet.

"We are very happy to be here!"

Middle School Science & Math Teacher, Tommie McSherry

Ms. McSherry grew up on a small farm outside of Deming, NM. In 1999 she moved to Socorro to attend NMT, where she earned a B.S. and M.S. in Biology and a teaching license through the ALP. In her free time she enjoys being outdoors with her family gardening, playing and caring for their many animals, and hiking. Ms. McSherry began teaching at CVCS in 2012, teaching science, math, and gifted students.

7th & 8th Reading and Writing Teacher, Katy-Whitten Davidson

Katy-Whitten Davidson is a Mississippi native who holds a BA in English from The University of Alabama and an MFA in Creative Writing with a concentration in poetry from The University of North Carolina Wilmington. She has been in Socorro for three years, one of which she spent directing the Sound Partners phonics program at Cottonwood.

Katy-Whitten has a passion for teaching literacy. She is dedicated to engaging her students both in the classroom and in the world around them through literary work by diverse authors and underrepresented voices. She believes every voice is worth hearing, promoting both tolerance and inclusivity in her classroom. Her background in graphic design and book arts enables her to develop hands-on creative projects with her students to literally bring their writing to life.

In her free time, Katy-Whitten enjoys cooking, hiking, and camping with her husband and two boys, and (of course) reading and writing.

Special Education Teacher/Middle School History, Denise Gilson

Denise grew up in Socorro, NM, stomping and romping in the desert. She began her journey as a musician, earning her B.M. in Flute performance and M.M. in Music Composition. Later, she became a teacher with the NYC Teaching Fellows program, teaching while earning her M.S. in Special Education in 2009. Currently, Denise holds NM Level III licenses in Music K-12 with endorsements in Math 5-9, and Special Education K-12. In her free time she loves to run on trails, bake and eat deliciousness, hangout with her family and friends, and read YA novels. Classroom Philosophy: Questioning is learning.

Spanish Teacher, Emily Brindle

The study of language, culture, and faith are passions that led Emily to want to teach Spanish at CVCS. Originally from North Carolina, Emily began studying Spanish in 11th grade and earned a B.S. in Spanish and International Business at Meredith College, Raleigh, NC with studies abroad in Spain. She has an M.Div. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY and is nearly completed with an M.A. in Hispanic Linguistics from NMSU, Las Cruces NM. Emily has a Level 1 Alternative License with endorsements in Bilingual education, TESOL, and Modern and Classical Languages. Her favorite Spanish teachers are her husband from Spain and her two kids. Her goals for teaching K-5 Spanish at CVCS are 1) to facilitate a love for bilingualism, literacy, NM heritage and world cultures; and 2) to build heritage and second-language Spanish skills.

Special Education, Kristen Willoughby

Mrs. Willoughby grew up in San Antonio, NM and graduated from Socorro High School. She graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2015 with a bachelors in Liberal Arts and in 2019 with a Masters of Special Education. She lives in San Acacia with her husband, three children, two cats, dog, and horses. In her free time, she reads, bakes, and explores/learns new ways to help her students learn at their level and pace. Mrs. Willoughby has been teaching in Special Education K-8 for 6 years and holds a level II NM Special Education License.


Classroom Philosophy: A classroom should provide a safe and caring community for students, where they can speak their minds, thrive, and grow. It is my job to have flexible thinking and expectations in order to reach students on their individual level.


Music Teacher, Beth Crowder

It's hard to say whether music or farming is more important to Beth; neighbors have overheard her singing to her bees sometimes! She is in her ninth year of teaching music at CVCS, and loves her job of creating something special for each grade to participate in, from international tunes, math songs and campfire rounds, to popular music and building instruments. She holds degrees in chemistry and biology from UNM, and her family was part of the group who built the BEMP site that CVCS visits monthly. Her favorite three people are her own great kids! In her free time, Beth likes to hike, care for her farm/bees, ski, sing & play music with friends, and READ!

P.E., Amanda Saenz

Amanda grew up in Socorro, NM. She earned her B.A. at the University of New Mexico. She then moved to Texas for three years to complete her Master Degree in Coaching, Sport, Recreation, and Fitness Administration. Sports have always been a part of her life growing up, but, it wasn't until college when she started trying new physical activities, that she got into rock climbing, swimming, cycling, and spikeball. She's a "try everything once for the experience" type of person. Amanda feels that the more people you meet and the more of the world you see, the more you learn about yourself.

"If you have any questions or would like to teach me a new game I am always willing to learn!"

Art & 6th Grade Reading & Writing Teacher, Linnea Burleigh

From doodling cross-sections of mice homes and planting fairy gardens in baking pans to devouring books in the tree house and writing fictional letters to a friend across the ocean, Linnea's life has always been infused with imagination and stories. Her love of writing inspired her to pursue a B.A. in German and English at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, and she even seized the chance to study abroad in the crooked, cobble stoned streets of Heidelberg, Germany.

In spring 2016, Linnea took over as the art teacher at her childhood school. She has a Level I K-8 License through the ALP at Santa Fe Community College and has an endorsement in Visual Arts. She loves sharing art from different peoples, times and places with her students and helping them learn to rise to new challenges. She also has the privilege of writing with the sixth graders, where they dream up “juicy details.”

CVCS Educational Assistant, Patti Chavez

Patricia Chavez is from New Jersey and a graduate of Montclair State college with a BS degree. She moved to New Mexico in 2002 and is married to Mr. Mike. Patti has three children, all who are grown with careers. Her son's work in California, her daughter works in Oregon, and her stepson is an investigator in New Mexico.

Patti continues her career as an Educational aide. She has worked at Cottonwood Valley as a special education educational aide since 2007. Having worked in this field for 20 years, it still brings Patti joy! She continues to be an advocate for special populations here at Cottonwood Valley.

CVCS Educational Assistant, Eva Greenwood

Eva was born in Springerville, Arizona. She lived in various places in New Mexico while growing up. Eva volunteered at San Antonio Elementary School in the mid to late `80's, was a substitute in Magdalena `90-`01, and traveled many miles with the Magdalena FFA (Future Farmers of America), basketball and track teams. Eva stayed home after her two boys graduated high school. She then substituted at CVCS and began full time in 2002.

CVCS Educational Assistant, Lisa Arendt

Lisa grew up in Albuquerque and Socorro. It wasn't until attending NM Tech after high school that she embraced the beauty and outdoor recreational fun that surrounds Socorro. She lived in Santa Fe for many years working in home health as a CNA (certified nurses assistant) and completed an American Sign Language Interpreting degree from Santa Fe Community College. She returned to Socorro to be with her future husband and found her love for teaching young students while working at Head Start in Vegita and Socorro. After enjoying many years as a stay-at-home mom and completing her bachelor's degree in general studies from NMT she worked for CVCS's after school program and has loved being an educational assistant since 2017. In her free time she enjoys taking her children into the great outdoors!

CVCS Educational Assistant, Ana Jacobs

Ana is a Socorro native. She attended NM Tech studying Psychology. She is new to CVCS as an educational assistant but not new to educating children, having three of her own. Ana relishes every opportunity to learn more to better help her in working with children and their educational needs.

Outside of school, Ana can be found playing multiple instruments in the local community band, experiencing the joy of the great outdoors with her children and husband or simply unwinding with a good book (or Netflix).

CVCS Educational Assistant, Omar Ordonez