BY SOPHIA BONE
Kortney Aronson – Student Services Teacher
Coming down from the Bay Area, new Student Services teacher Kortney Aronson cannot wait to make an impact at CHS through supporting and helping students. After graduating from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Aronson started working in Marketing and also began teaching yoga. She realized that wasn’t her desired path anymore and got her teaching credential at Saint Mary’s College of California.
Her first teaching position was at Acalanes High School in Lafayette, California, and then she moved to San Ramon to help at an elementary school level. Aronson, her husband and her 18-month-old son Ezra moved down to the Monterey Peninsula this summer when she got the job. Aronson still enjoys yoga, but also likes hikes at Toro County Park or walks along Carmel Beach.
Gracie Balistreri – Drama Teacher
CHS alum and drama teacher Gracie Balistreri—yes, another drama teacher named Gracie!—has wasted no time getting into the swing of things and has already started directing the double-casted play “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” to premiere in late September. Always having a passion for drama, Balistreri has worked at Pac Rep and taught at The Stage School in Chicago.
The former U.C. Berkeley student has also worked with a Tony-Award winning Broadway producer, served as Project Manager for Custom Broadway’s annual holiday event “Africa on Broadway” and created a virtual concert with Bryce Pinkham and Scarlett Strallon, two famous Broadway actors. She enjoys swing dance and is a huge Old Hollywood fan. Balistreri’s favorite musical at the moment is “Something Rotten!” and she also enjoys plays such as Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot.”
Kristine Bautista – Student Services Teacher
Located in Room 15 is student services teacher Kristine Bautista. Bautista, her husband and two younger children moved down to the coast after they had been in the Bay Area with Bautista working at Mountain View High School for 12 years.
Before teaching, she was in the food industry and also working as a food critic under a local newspaper, Metro Silicon Valley. Another U.C. Berkeley graduate, Bautista studied abroad in the Netherlands where she fostered a love of travel. Currently, she loves going to Marina State Beach with her family and exploring her new home through hikes as well.
Lorena Cruz-Rodriguez – Licenced Mental Health Therapist
Working in the CHS’ new Wellness Center, Lorena Cruz-Rodriguez is ready to help and support the students of CHS. Cruz-Rodriguez grew up in Mexico where she went to college and studied psychology, but then moved to California to get her master’s degree from the University of San Francisco. She moved around a lot before settling down in Monterey where she spent over five years with Monterey County Public Health in the Access Program and the Adult System of Care Program.
She also was working at Ohana, a youth program at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. Aside from her professional life, she and her husband have two daughters: Camila who is 10 and Emilia who is 7. Cruz-Rodriguez loves watching movies and reading, but her favorite show to watch is “The Office.”
Vanessa Gibaut – Spanish Teacher
Language teacher Vanessa Gibaut recently came down from the Bay Area to teach Spanish 1 and Spanish 2 at CHS. Gibaut had spent the last 10 years at Eastside Union High School in San Jose teaching AP Spanish, which she hopes to eventually teach at CHS. Despite going to college in UCLA where she majored in Art and Spanish, she has spent most of her life in the Bay Area, growing up in Morgan Hill and then starting both her career and family in San Jose.
Gibaut is excited that her two kids, a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old, will be able to go through the CUSD school system. In her free time, she loves to paint murals and pursue her passion for interior design in her home and in the homes of her friends.
Beckie Goodman – CTE Specialist
Even though she will not be working on campus as often as her fellow staff, Career and Technical Education specialist Beckie Goodman will have a great impact on students through helping them find connections in the community. She spent most of her life in San Diego where she went to college at a Chapman satellite campus and then went on to work at a high school in San Diego.
After raising her two kids, she took a step back and was an elementary school substitute teacher for eight years. Last year she got her master’s degree in school counseling and moved into Carmel. Goodman is a huge sports enthusiast who loves the San Diego Padres and coached volleyball for six years. In her time here at CHS, she hopes to really bring the school and community together.
Wilder Grummon – Health Clerk
Now in the nurse’s office, students can see the friendly face of health clerk Wilder Grummon. Some might remember the name Grummon from her late sister, Whitney, who was a beloved, award-winning teacher at CHS. Coming from being a Critical Care Paramedic in North Carolina to working as a senior medical devices specialist, Grummon made the move to be closer to family.
Through working at the school, she hopes to be able to connect to the community and to be a resource to students. Grummon has a sophomore of her own here at CHS. In her free time, Grummon enjoys pick-up tennis games and traveling. Watching live music is something she misses dearly, and she can’t wait to hopefully see Bubba Pickens back in action soon!
Marc Rodriguez – Tech Assistant
Coming just down the street from the district office, computer site tech Marc Rodriguez is actually not so new. Rodriguez has been part of the Carmel Unified School District for many years, also working at Carmel Middle School and Captain Cooper.
Before CUSD, he worked in tech for 15 years and in the Greenfield Union School District for another nine. He describes himself as a geek and loves spending time collecting and reading Marvel comic books. Rodriguez also spends time with his 5-month-old Gabby and exploring the outdoors through fishing and camping at Lake Nacimiento and Lake San Antonio.
CJ Veloz – Campus Supervisor
The first face most students see every day is that of new campus supervisor CJ Veloz. While he started working at CHS during our in-person time last year, this is his first year as part of the official staff. Before his time at CHS, this Pacific Grove High alum was working in the service industry, then decided to get more involved with schools and the community that surrounds that.
With time during COVID-19, he got his emergency substitute licence and started working at CHS. He hopes to eventually teach philosophy, which he majored in at U.C. Santa Barbara, or teach history. With his father a Pacific Grove High baseball coach, sports have always been a big part of Veloz’s life and he still enjoys watching sports and going to the gym.